Christmas in Hell

Father Shane Tharp

The following is the product of an idle conversation and an idle thought. For a priest, the preaching of Christmas and Easter is always a trial. You are stuck trying to figure out what to say that will catch people’s attentions and imaginations so that these principal feasts can be moments of conversion. Here is my offering for Christmas this year. You can vote below if you would or would not have liked to heard it delievered.Christmas Homily: Christmas in Hell
December 25, 2006
Introduction
This last week, I think it is safe to say that Christmas has been on everyone’s collective minds. The hanging of lights and the wrapping of final presents have filled everyone with a certain Christmas spirit. Well, it turns out that we weren’t the only one with Christmas on our minds. Through some sort of technical error, perhaps a misdirected mailer daimon, I received a really interesting email. Apparently, Christmas has been on the minds of those in Hell. I thought I would share with you the relevant portions.
The email begins: “From The Senior Infestation Adviser @ HYPERLINK “mailto:screwtape666@hotmail.com” screwtape666@hotmail.com (That seems appropriate)
My dear Wormwood and other junior members of the Infestation Directorate:
I have received a large number of requests concerning how to deal with the upcoming Christmas season. There seems to be a general concern amongst the directorate’s junior members that all of their hard work in the past year will be for naught because of the holiday. Once again, I would remind all members of the directorate to review the policies and procedures laid out in the red and green binders designated “Infestation of Subjects – Special Events Planning: Volumes 1 & 2.” The Infernal Bureaucracy works very hard through many subcommittees in composing these manuals. When our Enemy Above’s Inflitration of Earth first took place (I think he’s referring to the Incarnation here), we were caught unawares and unprepared; the policies we have laid out are well tested over the intervening two thousand years. Please make sure you are up to date.
Email Topic One: Charity
On the matter of charitable giving, we below would seem to be in dangerous waters by encouraging this behavior in our patients. After all, generosity and kindness, detestable as they are, might make our patients think of our Enemy and respond to the kindness and generosity he has shown. The key is to make them think only of giving things. If you focus them upon the shiny wrapping papers and the lingering credit card bill, they will not see what the gift was actually supposed to be. Through that haze, they will forget rapidly that this object given represents a gift of themselves. Once that unfortunate truth is left behind, there is nothing more to do than encourage a sense of entitlement and they are yours.
 It is worth noting that our Enemy above is very clever on this point. Naturally, those beastly creatures He has made want to act like He does. Hence, when they are given something, they wish to reciprocate. Thankfulness, however incomprehensible to us, drives this response. Therefore, if we are to succeed, you must shut that down. His dwelling with them in their own ghastly flesh was supposed to cement the union between them; this at least is the intelligence gathered by our forces. Our Enemy’s cleverness doesn’t end there. 
By coming as a baby, he is yanking on the heartstrings of those creatures. It might sicken you to reflect upon this, but those creatures love babies. They are drawn to hold, to cradle, to pay every attention to the baby. It is to Our Enemy’s credit that he found a way to hold their attention through such an effective marketing strategy. However, I would remind all directorate members to not lose any sleep over this. When that child grows up and has some very grown up things to say to these creatures, they will swiftly lose interest.
 Further, make sure that your patient pays attention only to the difficulties and hardships gift-giving entails. If he catches so much as a whiff of the joy that charity can elicit, you’re going to have your work cut out for you. With one paltry sense of charity and generous care for another person, the patient will stop focusing upon his wants and desires and begin to consider the good of the other. I needn’t tell you how problematic that can be for the overall project of their damnation.
Email Topic Two: Humility
Second, we must never lose sight of the humility of our enemy. Regardless of how repulsive we find this fact, it is a fact nonetheless: Our Enemy actually loves those creatures he made. Granted, if we had been in charge of making them obedient, we would simply have terrified them into line; fear remains the greatest tool in our arsenal. No, our Enemy wants them to love him and so he approaches them in a way that they will understand. He would rather convince them of his love than use force to bring them in line. Here again, we have an opportunity if you will exploit it. Encourage your patient to attend only to the infant and brush away the adoration of the shepherds. If he sees only a baby and forgets the Enemy’s real presence as the infant, then he will promptly forget how God abases himself and then you can safely lead him away from any demands that humility might have upon his life.
 Speaking of the shepherds, we have another good opportunity to play on the vanity of our patients. By announcing his presence to the shepherds first, our Enemy was trying to show he was God for the greatest and the least among his creation. Consult Intelliegence Report designated XC-143 for further details. For centuries now, we have exploited the vanity of many by suggesting that faith and devotion are expressions for the simpleton. The sophisticated (and which of these creatures have you ever encountered that doesn’t want to be thought sophisticated?) turn up a nose at the simplicity which with our Enemy appeals to them. This vanity will be their undoing and it is worth your best efforts to cultivate.
Email Topic Three: History and Reality
Lastly, we must consider the most problematic issue of them all: the fact of the Incarnation itself. The Department of Infernal Affairs, when this event first took place, made certain to document all relevant details. You can find that data in the report designated “IXC – 4BC/33AD.” You would think that the repeated emphasis and insistence that this event actually happened would undermine our efforts. Between that wayward tax collector’s report of the family line and the physician’s situating this in the reign of Herod (I think he’s referring to St. Matthew’s and St. Luke’s Gospels), you would think that everyone would get the message that the Incarnation actually happened. However, a curious thing has taken hold: as history stretches away from the actual event, the more these creatures disregard the event. 
Kudos to our marketing and research department for their work in bringing the television industry into our cooperation. Every Christmas, we can count on the major news networks to televise shows which discount or at minimum downplay the historical reality of our Enemy’s Infiltration. I personally am pleased with my own work on promoting the Gnostic Gospel Program to most of these groups. To think that documents written well-after the events they are meant to relate can throw most folks into a cloud of confusion is quite frankly genius. I am expecting a big bonus because of it. 
We must also commend our marketing department for selling the intellectuals on the spurious historical research which surrounds Him whose name is unspeakable. (Oh, he means the “historical Jesus project.”) This historical image is an artifact, the image of the author writing the book rather than the image of the living God. The historical image reduces our Enemy to the realms of what is possible for his creatures. Because what is possible for creatures is so far beneath what our enemy is capable of, this will introduce doubt and doubt will lead them away more surely than a thousand temptations.
Conclusion
Before I conclude, I want to address one more matter which has not penetrated your thick intellects. I know it has not penetrated because it comes up every year, namely the matter of whether to encourage them to attend religious services. The concern is that this will generate a habit of going to worship and then we will lose them all together. However, nothing could be further from the truth. For most of these creatures, when they go to services at this time of year, they go because it will be nice or they have nostalgic feelings for the past or they have someone insisting that they go. You will notice absent from the list the one thing that ensures continued attendance: a sense of justice toward God. Our greatest success in this matter has been to convince these creatures that they go to religious service to “get something out of them,” rather than returning in justice what they owe to our Enemy. In encouraging this attitude, you are preparing them well for the situation amongst us here below. And how delicious will that be for us all.
 In closing, please do not lose your peace of mind, my fellow demons. When the calendar turns over to December 26, most of these creatures will forget about Christmas. The only two groups we must be worried about are the Catholics and the Orthodox as they have a season of Christmas lasting through the early part of January. Fortunately for us, most of the adherents don’t pay attention to this; do nothing to encourage that in your patients.

Sincerely Yours in the Service of our Infernal Master,
Screwtape.
 
 For those who think this is merely artifice on my part, please remember a basic fact of our lives as Christians: the Incarnation of the Son, his Flesh-taking is meant for our salvation. Without His intervention, these demons would have quite a little feast on their hands. Whether we care to admit it, the season of Christmas is cataclysmic. It denotes the end of one era and the beginning of another. As we gaze into the manger, may the truth of our Lord’s love and service to us change us for the good. Merry Christmas, everyone.

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