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The Screwtape Missives, Part I

Guest article – An SCA-based parody of The Screwtape Letters, a collection of advice from an experienced devil to a junior tempter, by C.S. Lewis

by Viscount Sir Galen of Bristol

©2004, Paul T. Mitchell,
This work may not be reproduced in any form, written or electronic, without the permission of the author.

My Dear Wormwood,

So your patient has joined the Society for Creative Anachronism. Kindly control yourself; while a favorable step, this is not such a triumph as you imagine. In the end, the SCA is as much an opportunity for the enemy as it is for us. Its founding ideals are all disgustingly virtuous, and some of its members have met with great success in personifying these values. It would be best to keep your man away from those.

Fortunately, there is ample opportunity. The SCA is rife with the vain, the gluttonous, the lustful, the avaricious, the proud, the enraged, and the deceitful. Of course our work to suppress such (to us) harmful literary notions as “The Seven Deadly Sins” has met with such success that, even to such (comparatively) well-read folk as SCA members, “The Seven Deadly Sins” is merely a trivia question, and one which few of them could fully answer. They are largely ignorant and unwary of these well-laid traps.

By associating your man with these, while blindly supposing that having sent $25 to California makes him somehow superior (never let him examine in what way he is superior!), he will make such people his admired role models, and aspire to emulate them, all because of their pretend “rank,” no matter how low it actually may be in their organization.

Remember, to him it all seems magical and wonderful. The most ludicrous fabric and rusty metal armor seems to him gleaming and glorious. Crudely-executed heraldry and a simple campfire can make him think himself “transported” to another, supposedly better time. That he has little idea of how life was actually lived in that time, he should not be allowed to notice. Nor should he actually bestir himself to try to practice any of the virtues he honors the past for embodying.

Rather, let him think that, solely by virtue of his SCA membership, his conduct is automatically chivalrous, honorable, and courteous; this may seem difficult, but it is not. He does not know what chivalry, honor or courtesy really are; what he does know is that these qualities are expected of all SCA members. As he is an SCA member, his tendency is to think of himself as practicing these behaviours. That he wants to be virtuous is not in our favor; however, through only a little subtle misdirection on your part, his attention can be drawn away from his conduct, which he might improve, to his ideals, which will — especially now at first — blind him to his own faults.

In my next, we shall discuss what sort of company to avoid, and which to seek.

Your affectionate uncle,

Screwtape

Continue to The Screwtape Missives, Part II

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