From Lord Foulgrin’s Letters, a novel by Randy Alcorn
My disappointing Squaltaint,
Your report on Jordan Fletcher is far too sketchy. I need details.
The Enemy deployed another warrior to assist Jaltor when Fletcher was driving? That’s a dead giveaway he’s been targeted. Fine, you got Fletcher to turn up the radio and drown out their voices. But they won’t give up on him. We must counterattack.
I’ve reordered the hit list, shifting Fletcher’s priority level from gamma to beta. (Only Christians are on my alpha list.) A conversion plot may be in the works—at all costs you must keep him from falling into Enemy hands.
I advocate double teaming and rotation of duty among a small group of tempters. Your orders are to work more closely with the five other operatives in your cadre—Scumsuck, Hackslay, Muckdrool, Baalhoof, and Conhock.
Each of you has a different primary patient. Confer regularly and exchange information on your sludgebags. Explore how you can best use them against one another. At times you will play a zone defense, at times man to man. Study the game films of Fletcher’s life. Run them back and look for the little things. Discuss how best to attack him and exploit his weaknesses.
Today’s lesson: To succeed with Fletcher and the other sludgebags, you must understand the differences between how we see them and how the Enemy sees them.
To us, they are food, meals to be chewed and swallowed. We seek to expand the borders of our selfhood, becoming ever bigger through absorbing their wills into ours. He, on the other hand, calls upon them to voluntarily submit their wills to His. We want them as slaves to exploit and dominate. He wants them as sons and daughters to “love” and promote to higher service. We want to devour them; He wants to empower them. We would rape them; He would woo them.
The Enemy has put these misfits at the center of His battle plan—a fatal mistake! He could have entrusted His schemes to our warrior counterparts. True, they’re a crop of fawning bellboys, but they’re still a thousand times stronger, smarter, and more reliable than humans.
Consider whom we are dealing with here. These parasites called image-bearers are so ignorant they imagine the cosmos is limited to what they can see and hear and touch, taste and smell. The rest of the universe, 99.999 percent of all reality, in their puny minds simply doesn’t exist. Can you imagine? They’re like those slimy babies in their vermin mother’s womb, never suspecting there’s a vast world beyond the realm of their senses.
These ignorant fools are the weak links in the Enemy’s plan.
The gnawing emptiness Fletcher’s feeling affords you understandable pleasure, but beware—the Enemy draws their attention to their emptiness to fill it Himself. When the Enemy or that flunky Jaltor whispers to him, prompt him to turn up the radio, turn on the television, pick up his cell phone. Let him do anything other than examine his life, his emptiness, and especially his mortality.
Your job is to help Fletcher move impulsively to fill his emptiness with all the things the Enemy forbids. These have value not simply because they’ll destroy him, but because they’ll distract him. In the final analysis, distraction from the Enemy is all we need.
Obsmut implores me to make clear to you what should be obvious—my letters must never fall into the hands of others except those directly under my command. Let your platoon members read my letters only while you’re present. Then breathe on the letters and burn them completely.
Can you imagine what would happen if they fell into the hands of enemy warriors or the sludgebags? The key to success in any battle is “Know your Enemy.” In a grave tactical blunder our Enemy has recorded His training instructions and strategies for us to see! Think about it, Squaltaint. His battle plan, designs of cosmic conquest—documents that should be locked in top-secret file cabinets—are littered in hotel desk drawers across the planet!
He’s spilled the beans. He’s poured out His intentions, allowing us full access. The humans put the forbidden book on display tables and shelves. But we actually read it; indeed we must, no matter how loathsome.
Foulgrin’s third rule: Whatever the Enemy wants, we want the opposite. The forbidden book tells us what He wants, and therefore serves as a photographic negative of what we want.
Of course, the Enemy has also planted in the forbidden book false information to misdirect us. The most obvious red herring is the persistent claim that He “loves” the sludgebags. Since it’s an inherent universal law that the powerful subjugate and exploit the weak, He cannot be serious when He claims to love them in any sense other than a man “loves” a piece of pie or a prostitute. What is there to love about these little insects? Even before they rebelled they were weak and useless. And since those two morons in the garden first betrayed the Tyrant, their bumbling offspring have committed an unending sequence of offenses against Him. (Aided and abetted by us, of course.)
Consider it, Squaltaint. If the Tyrant sent us packing from Charis—we who are the vermin’s superiors in every conceivable way—can anyone seriously believe He loves them? Obviously, this “love” is a cover for some ultimate betrayal He’s setting them up for. He speaks to them of comfort and wiping tears from their eyes and one day saying “Well done,” and welcoming them into Charis. Ridiculous! Who does He think He’s kidding with this patronizing nonsense? If you can see through the propaganda, studying the Enemy’s book can equip you to thwart His work. Indeed, judiciously chosen passages can serve as bread crumbs to lead your prey down the sloping path to hell.
Foulgrin’s rule twenty-three: Tactics without strategy are useless. Sometimes shortsighted demons gang up on a skid row bum and incite him to rob a store or jump off a bridge. Then they strut and gloat, as if they’ve done something noteworthy. But these maggot-feeding humans are already ruined—what help do they need from us? They’re lures, I think, planted by the Enemy to distract us from strategic targets. Don’t waste your time with low-maintenance drug addicts and petty criminals. They’ll do bad without you.
It’s the educated and influential unbelievers and the Christians of all kinds who have most potential for the Enemy’s purposes, and therefore our own. Look at Fletcher. Well educated. Respected. An accomplished businessman. A wandering soul, confused and uncertain, but projecting an image of self-sufficiency and confidence. An ideal tool.
It’s long-term results we seek. Tactics count only in so far as they produce the desired impact on Fletcher—reality distortion, moral failure, thoughts, and actions displeasing to the Enemy. Whatever sends them to hell, we support. Whatever draws them toward heaven we oppose.
I stress the expression long-term. Your service record reflects a tendency to inflict great pain and suffering on the humans today. This is quick, cheap gratification. I have drunk deeply of the pleasures of administering agony to the sludgebags. Sometimes, I confess, I would love to unleash a few megatons of roach spray and rid the planet of them. But this remains outside our present abilities.
Honestly, Squaltaint, you remind me of an undisciplined little boy pulling legs off an insect. You must act more strategically. If withholding pain or even giving him a morsel of pleasure will keep your prey a safe distance from the Enemy, then by all means do it. Eternal misery—not temporary suffering—is our overriding goal. Stay focused!
Keep Fletcher from thinking about his imminent death and what awaits him on the other side. Blind him to the obvious fact that since his last day is coming, he ought to prepare for it. Don’t let him ponder hell. Or if he does, let him view hell as one big party where all the fun people will be.
Fun in hell? A most useful illusion. Don’t let him see that every vermin is alone there, in unending solitary confinement. Misery may love company, but there’s no company in hell. Only misery. But for now, let that be our secret. The road to hell is easily traveled. It’s the arrival and accommodations that take the toll!
As for Charis, Lord Satan commands us to slander the Enemy’s place every way we can, to convince the image-bearers it’s unworthy of attention, undeserving of excitement. Let them first imagine heaven is their default destination. Second, that it’s a boring habitation of stick-in-the-muds, a drab tedious residence they’d rather be delivered from than to. The less clearly they think about heaven, the better.
As long as you adhere to your duties, Squaltaint, I will endure you. If you fail me, or try an end run around me, you will experience terror you’ve never known. The Enemy may not give you hell before your time—but I will!
Serving the vermin...upon a plate, Lord Foulgrin