The Screwtape Lectures: The Enemy’s Tantrum

A series of history lectures from the vantage point of  Screwtape, who aims to remediate a group of half-wit tempters in the service of their Father below. 

I overheard the most asinine conversation concerning last week’s lecture on our triumph in Eden. Demons Reif and Eileil questioned whether our Father truly assumed the form of a snake to tempt the Enemy’s toys. Such irreverence for our Father is cause for immediate spiritual remission, but your babble misses the point. It was not our Father’s form that succeeded, but his feint. He led the Enemy to believe we’d strike Him, and lured those naked brats into disobedience, so the Enemy would have to strike them himself.

Unless you wish to remain the half-rake amateurs with the abysmalarchy’s most deplorable success rate, you’d better learn from our Father’s example. I have reported this insolence to Infernal Affairs, and if I could hope for anything, it is to consume part of you to compensate for the genius I proffer each week of sprite school.

With spite, the rest of you seem no better than the humans you let slip through your fingers. But, so we may procure more patients for our cause, confines, and coffers, I am to remediate your loathsome techniques by surveying our Father’s victories and the principles needed to become better tempters. In everything we strive to ruin the Enemy’s work; and should we fail, we prepare for the future. We’ll examine these principles in light of what humans call the Exodus, referred to in our hexbook as the Enemy’s Tantrum.

In His Tantrum, the Enemy destroyed the land of Egypt with plagues and the tiresome presence of Moses. One would think our cause ruined after such a rout, but once the Enemy drove His sheeple into the desert, we set about ruining His work. First, we incited hatred amongst them, as scorn strengthens so when humans hate their neighbors. With nearly a million of these brats wallowing in their own filth, we had no trouble turning them against each other. Do what it takes to make them loath those closest to them, and soon they’ll suspect even the most innocent act betrays a desire to dominate. If we could make Moses’ own family turn against him, what excuse have you for your failures?   

Still, far easier is it to sow doubt. We beset our patients with serpents, scorpions, and the constant prick against their conscience: “Does the Enemy really care for us?” They dismissed the Enemy’s promises and longed for Egypt’s abundance, forgetting they’d been slaves marked for extinction. So it is with many patients who prefer stability over the inconstancy of the Enemy’s service. This makes them easy prey, considering the material comforts they crave and the Pharaoh-like attitude of political leaders to ensure such comforts are provided. Undermine their confidence in the Enemy’s so-called love, and your patients will likewise beg for a slavedriver with food instead of a cloud that talks.

If your patient resists loathing their neighbor or doubting the Enemy, bring to mind the Enemy’s rules. Humans want to believe they’re kings, but the Enemy’s law remind them of their true condition, and Moses’ sheeple could not long endure the Enemy burning mountains or barking orders. Indeed, once the Enemy finished with Moses, they snapped and honored Him with a likeness resembling His dull personality: a cow, made of the gold the Enemy gave His people upon leaving Egypt. They exchanged the Enemy’s gifts for an idol, breaking the Enemy’s commandment as soon as He gave it in hopes of controlling Him—o, such sweet victories, for once the Enemy turns against a people, He turns them over to us.

Still, should you fail, see you make some use of it. Our Father knew the Enemy’s triumph would form a central portion of his precious, little book. The next Pharaoh worshipped us still and wanted to efface Egypt’s shame just like we did. At our Father’s bidding, they erased the evidence of the Tantrum ever happening, every trace of the Enemy’s people in the land of Egypt. We may have lost the battle, but today those in the Enemy’s service must explain why such an awe-inspiring event left so little evidence

The Enemy’s people contend their system is based on real, historical triumphs, but in belying their footprints in the desert, such claims look like idle boasts. Should a patient doubt an event so central to the storyline, they’ll soon dismiss the whole book outright and label attempts to speak for the Enemy as irrational and unfounded. You see, our Father’s success in planning for the future, even when it seems we’ve lost in the present. But the Pharaoh of the Tantrum? There, I’m afraid I’m sworn to secrecy.

Ruin everything the Enemy does and prepare for the future, and you will have no end of success. This will do for tonight, but in addition to real progress with your patients, read chapter 2 of A Demon’s History of the World.

Until then, I remain your unyielding Professor,

Screwtape.