Back in the mid-20th century, writer-theologian C. S. Lewis of The Chronicles of Narnia fame (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, etc) wrote a book entitled The Screwtape Letters.
This work consists of more than thirty letters from Screwtape (a senior level devil of Hades) to his nephew Wormwood (a devil in training) toward gaining the soul of a certain unnamed "damned" man. Throughout the letters, Screwtape provides advice to young Wormwood in his ongoing attempts to obtain the man's soul. And through these letters, the writer Lewis provides his reader with enlightenment toward avoiding the pitfalls in life that can lead a person in the direction of such damnation. It is, in the end, a triumph of good over evil, which is the theme of much of C. S. Lewis' work (The Chronicles of Narnia included).
With that thought in mind, I provide here my own updated version of The Screwtape Letters, entitled The Duct Tape Letters:
My dear nephew Warm Milk,
I hope this letter finds you well ... and holding a continued interest in moving forward with the training you have thus far begun. Harvesting a soul can be tricky business, and you must always remain alert to the wants and desires of your subject, lest you miss opportunities to lead him further down the dark path. For instance, last week you missed a number of perfect chances when the man in your charge was clearly exhibiting signs of questioning his religious faith and ultimately his belief in God. He was weak and ripe for the picking. And where were you? Down the street at the local pub shooting pool and smoking cigars with the regulars! Heck, those souls are already won. They've already got their free ticket to Hades when their days on Earth are done! You have to concentrate on the subject at hand! Next time, pay more attention to your mission. Enclosed please find a check in the amount of $666 to help out with your living expenses during the remainder of your training period. Please, try not to spend it all at the pub!
Your affectionate uncle,
Dear nephew Warm Milk,
Greetings. I trust you received my previous letter as I notice my check was cashed. Once again I must point out the importance of remaining focused on the job at hand. Capturing a man's soul is a 24/7 proposition. For instance, in today's world there are many distractions tugging at a man's heart and mind. And not only the traditional distractions that have plagued man throughout the centuries, but more modern-day distractions as well. Just the technology alone - available to the modern man - is mind blowing. So many gadgets! So many gismos! Not like in the old days when a man's only vices were alcohol and gambling. Today we have to compete with every form of contraption - computers, laptops, cell phones, PlayStations, iPods, MP3 players, PSPs, palm pilots, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, the list goes on and on and on. So, my advice to you is to somehow work this seductive technology into your plan. Use today's vices to your advantage. Allow his soul to wallow in the omnipresent technology. Stay alert! Stay focused! And for the last time - stay out of the pool hall!
Your devoted uncle,
Dear Warm Milk,
Sometimes I wonder why I waste my time trying to teach you the ways of snatching men's souls. Just the other day you missed yet another golden opportunity. Once again your subject was having doubts about his faith ... and where were you? Off fishing! This is no time for silly behavior. Get back on track! Focus! Focus! For Hades' sake, focus!!
My Dear Warm Milk,
Are you receiving my letters? I haven't heard any word from you in weeks! Would you mind please sending me a letter or a postcard to let me know what you are doing and how you are progressing toward the goal at hand! I am becoming concerned, as are my superiors - and you know how they can be!
Your aunt and I are both worried. We have not heard from you in over a month. Would you please call or write as soon as you receive this note.
Uncle Duct Tape
You disappoint me. From the postmark of your recently received postcard am I to understand that you have not only failed in your training, and have failed in securing the subject's soul, but that you have actually gone over to the other side?! Wait, don't tell me -- they promised you a shiny new set of wings?! That Saint Peter - I must admit he's one shrewd negotiator!
And so, in the end Warm Milk turned in his pitchfork for a harp. As for the man who was questioning his faith, Duct Tape sent another young apprentice and another and yet another, but none were able to secure the man's soul. Duct Tape finally gave up. He eventually retired, and he and his wife bought a used mobile home and are presently visiting all the "hot" spots that the underworld has to offer. Occasionally they receive a postcard from their nephew Warm Milk, which typically reads something like: "Wish You Were Here ... But, Alas, You're in Hades!" with a gleaming picture of the pearly gates and a bearded Saint Peter waving from the entrance.
To be sure, the road between Heaven and Hades is a twisting, turning, pothole-filled highway containing plenty of detours and wrong turns along the way. From day to day it is unclear which way to turn or whether to continue onward along the current path. No one knows for sure what lies ahead just beyond the next bend in the road. It would certainly help to have a map! Or better yet, GPS!