Devilish Advice

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 76, Spring 1998 The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

Part One (leaked by Larry Repass)

My Dear Larvalog,

You ARE full of surprises! First, you pulled that stunt at the Super-D Store last year, and now you have the gall to write to your “loving uncle” for advice!

Well, don’t think for a minute that I would be swayed by your flowery appeal to a possible correspondence similar to that between my famous father and yours. I am willing to write you, but for a price. More of that later.

I want two things clearly understood at the beginning. First, after reading each letter I send you, breathe it to ashes! I don’t mind telling you that Wormwood, even if he was your father, showed extreme stupidity in allowing my father’s letters to remain in existence. That fellow who published them let a good number of our secrets out of the bag. (You will recall that MY father did not keep Wormwood’s letters!) Screwtape’s son is not about to be blamed for another such setback to our Cause. I’ve suffered enough just being known as his son.

The second thing I want you to understand is that you must not expect our correspondence to be as much help to you as my father’s would have been to Wormwood had that cretin only followed the advice in every case. I have, in fact, made no attempt to even approach my father’s brilliant standards of strategy. He himself told me, during his worst bout with psychic suffering, that the greater one’s powers to do evil the greater one’s exposure to its retributions. I determined early on to “be not iniquitous overmuch” but to learn and do as little as possible, hoping thereby to lower my allotment of pain.

You ask me what to major in at the Academy. Don’t be surprised if I suggest christian publishing. A lot of damage can he done to our enemy’s cause by influencing what most of his prisoners think is just another type of ministry. At the same time, since “the common herd” — whether his or ours — tend to denigrate reading of any sort, you are not likely to be blamed much if little comes of your work. You can even claim success by simply pointing out that no “major influential christian book” has come out during your career, so our Cause has you to thank for it. I will be glad to add my comments to that effect if and when I see that you can indeed be of service to meas well.

The single most important motivation of both writers and publishers is selfishness, albeit justified by the obvious “good” they think will accrue to their master’s cause. They want the message preached but under THEIR byline. True, some are content to be unknown but you will discover soon enough that it’s a good living and at doing something they like. Few would consider that selfish, but you must be alert to that trick of the Enemy. He from time to time engineers one of his famous litmus tests (allowing some occasion to arise in which a moral decision may cost the writer or publisher some “business” or a promotion or even a job). Few are willing to rock the boat when they are in deep water

You must forgive the way my pen zoomed off the page. My pressure goes up each time I remember a certain writer who has done just that in recent years, staked her 35 year reputation as a scholar, having seen through our well-disguised plan to discredit C. S. You Know Who.

It calms me down a bit to remember that these courageous stands seldom occur. But I must rest before continuing. I’ll write more tomorrow.


Part Two (leaked by Larry Repass)

My dear Larvalog,

I suggested yesterday that you choose as your Academy major, the industry of christian publishing.

If you dedicate yourself to Evil Influence among christian writers, you can save some energy by ignoring all those who say (usually in the prefaces to their books) something like “this book had to be written” or “this thesis is sorely needed for our times.” Those writers are already so egotistical that we can be sure that their writings are tainted enough to make them ineffective for our Enemy’s ultimate purposes.

You might, of course, convince booksellers to stock them in a big way. They will prove to be only variations on well-known themes but not so well-written as the so-called Old Masters’ writings. While doing us no harm such sales will promote the writers’ egos and the publishers’ coffers, which are the unspoken goals of both groups anyway.

As a matter of fact, you will find it a good tactic to encourage a proliferation of books on the same subject. It creates confusion and discourages a good many souls. There is nothing like a dull book on a given subject to dissuade a reader from pursuing it any further. It’s even better when the first book taken up turns out to be entertaining but with little substance (and you will find that this is by far the largest category in the religious press).

I know of some instances of the BEST manuscript on a subject being rejected because the publishers were already committed to one by another author whose “name” would sell more copies, however inferior the famous one’s content might be.

Oh, yes, son of my empty-headed cousin, the christian publishing industry is full of unchristian practices; sometimes a key person or an entire company is completely controlled by OUR agents. If you sign up for the course you will learn of power-plays, hypocrisy “politically-correct” though unethical conduct, cut-throat competition and a plethora of examples to prove that the bottom line always begins with a $ sign.

One final and all-important suggestion: Under no circumstances should you try to destroy what I have called the christian publishing “industry.” Genuine christian writing would continue to be done but more simply and sincerely (much as in their earliest period which produced that Book which causes us the most harm). With no profit motive to derail them, their message would once again become more important than the package. Simple, photocopied writings would be passed around, shared on the Internet, etc. Demand would eventually produce some permanent form for the better works. To make a long story short, the chaff would find its way into waste baskets and only the more damaging to us would eventually come out in hardback, perish the thought!

You should make a note to look up professor Leaventongue. He created that brilliant campaign which brought so much Freud into christian writing. We kept a great part of two generations off-balance with that one. Why, in the sixties he even laid the groundwork that resulted in a host of young ministers actually subscribing to Playboy magazine. Get him to tell you about it. And don’t forget to praise him. If you cultivate the old swelled-head it will help you pay me back later for my generous counsel as you choose a field of battle.