The Screwtape Missives, Part VIII

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,

I see that you’ve met with some limited success in striving to focus your patient on his ambition to become Count Gray’s squire. You now have him emulating other squires’ foolish, playful behavior as though it were the duty of a squire-aspirant, much like a fraternity pledge.

Your effort to make him constantly obsequious to Count Gray, and always underfoot has failed, but you have responded well. He is now engaged in the peculiar practice of following the knight around specifically in order to not help him. While you are about this, don’t forget to prompt him to tease anyone who actually might assist the Count with his armor or pavilion as a “brown-noser.”

This may prove a successful tack. You have him paying lip-service to the ideals while not actually practicing any of them. Just remember to keep it all in moderation.

Then of course there is the matter of him actually annoying Count Gray. Whenever the Count begins to play his role in a ceremonious fashion, “putting on his hat,” so to speak, your man, sooner or later, in private or even in public, will be there to tease him about becoming arrogant or trying to grab attention. Count Gray will laugh at these jibes, but it will begin to chafe him; he has an ego like any other.

But it is worthwhile to consider what the enemy may do. Were it I opposing you, I would encourage the Count to take your man out to the field to properly get his attention again, then put him on probation for a month or so, to see if his conduct can improve. At the successful completion of this time, I’d have the Count make him a squire in order to better focus his attention on his conduct. Count Gray is the sort to enforce constant effort to attain an ideal until those efforts are a habit, and your man will never be satisfied unless he has done his best to be the best and most virtuous knight he can be.

Your response to this, should it come about, must be to try to undermine your man’s commitment. Whisper in his ear of how little he’s enjoying his virtuous behavior, even before he’s begun. Get him to question how much he really even wants to be a squire, at least Count Gray’s. There are many other knights, you can tell him, who would be honored to have him for a squire. Remind him of the foolishness he has lately so enjoyed; wouldn’t he rather be doing that now? In short, get him to reject his goal altogether, or at least waiver enough to fail his probationary period.

It’s completely unfair that even in these times, our Enemy has bred secular pursuits that are so conducive and rewarding of his spiritual standards.

Your affectionate uncle,

Screwtape

Continue to The Screwtape Missives, Part IX

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