"For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica" (2 Timothy 4:10).
Why the long face, Wormwood? The Wachowski brothers did us no favor with that little stunt of theirs 10 years ago but never mind, most people saw only a movie. Try to see the humor in it-a nation of pseudo-spiritualists combing every line of The Matrix for hidden meanings. Reminds me of the joke we played with The Beatles record, having them listen to it backwards. Even those who "got" the film are in no danger of acting on it. It's one thing to understand on some level that they inhabit a mass delusion, it's another to rally the will to fight it.
You would do well to review my former epistles: "They find it all but impossible to believe in the unfamiliar while the familiar is before their eye. . . . Keep everything hazy in his mind" (The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis).
September 2001 and September 2008 were close calls-engineered by our best minds but twisted, as usual, by the Enemy for his own purposes. He does the same with that sideshow in Iraq and Afghanistan, jolting people out of the chloroform of ordinariness that we work so hard at maintaining.
Quick action on the part of the Department of Public Relations and Misinformation controlled most of the damage: the endless repetition on the radio that economic downturns are natural and normal, spoken in calm and educated voices. Encourage denigration of "doomsayers"; use the word "cyclical" a lot, and "what goes down must come up." Find British accents when possible.
I admit we should have resisted the Twin Towers episode. The pleasure of direct terror is too risky a gamble. I have heard that some were won to the other side by that indulgence: little cracks in the Matrix, they called it. Nevertheless, most of the churches, after an initially uncomfortable spike in point-blank gospel sermons and altar calls, have subsided to business as usual. I heard a few congregations in Chiapas that are studying Revelation. You know what to do.
Still, the Demas case is very encouraging. Here's a fool who followed the Christians around for years but we got him in the end. You will notice that Paul mentions him in two other letters, the one to Colosse and to Philemon (the traitor), but where almost everyone else on his greetings list receives some commendation, the Greek is merely mentioned. I wonder if Paul already had an inkling. In any case, that's the idea: More Demases! more Judases! Keep them on the periphery, straddling, taking it in but noncommittal. The perpetual self-styled "seeker" is as good as in the bag. Like their own prophet said about them: "always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth."
Our poster boy is Cypher. Let me quote him directly by way of spurring you on to bad deeds. The day he squealed like a girl to return to the Matrix, repenting that he had ever taken the red pill, he said: "I don't want to remember nothing. Nothing. You understand? And I want to be rich. You know, someone important, like an actor."
Every age has them. The One called them seed that falls on rocky ground. The rich young man walked away sad because he knew he couldn't give up the lie. Perhaps he was even aware of Jeremiah's words: "Truly the hills are a delusion, the orgies on the mountain. Truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel" (Jeremiah 3:23).
We have much going for us, Wormwood. Many positive developments over the last 10 years: Internet porn; Nasdaq numbers dominating every newscast like a holy vigil; iPods and cell phones in every hand. When is the last time you saw someone walking down the street with his ear not plugged into something? Forgive a tad of pride if I quote from a former directive: "It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality, our best work is done by keeping things out."
Keep in mind my very first letter: "To us a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense."
What He sees in the little varmint, who can say? Imagine dying for trash like that.
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