My Dear Wormwood, Letter II


My dear Wormwood,

Your patient has lost someone she dearly loved? Your concern that this tragedy will draw her closer to the Enemy is really quite foolish. By now you ought to know that loss creates a chasm between the patient and the Enemy. The practice of utilizing loss has beenin vogue since our Father Below employed it with His pathetic patient, Job—that pet of the Enemy. Little inflicts more pain on our patients than felt estrangement from the Enemy, especially after bereavement. Your task is simply to make the patient feel as if this perceived chasm between herself and the Enemy is truly there. Of course, we know this to be false. Our Enemy never really forsakes His little pets. They are to Him children. Even what He takes from them is really for their benefit. This insipid truth, though known to us, is not always plain to them. Though you are right that He plainly conveys this to them in His book (the same book they may, at any moment, take up and read), you ought to know by now that their emotions blind them to truths which stand right before them. You will be helped by the fact that human vermin are easily shipwrecked by a storm of emotion.

By now, your patient will be in the first phase of grief—despondency. The patient will first be nearly paralyzed by her loss. It is to her like losing a limb—she no longer knows how to function without it. Yet do not foolishly suppose she will remain this way; do not be idle. As the sniveling prophet once said, He heals the wounds inflicted by his blow. Her paralysis will not last; do not gloat to see her so pathetic, dear boy. You have much work to do.

Your task is to make her feel a painstaking isolation from all around her. Let her sorrow become an invisible blanket wrapped round her, shielding her from the concern and love of others. Prevent her from thinking of the present or the future—in these she may find hope. Instead, preoccupy her with the past. Fill her mind with memories and let them sting red-hot. Her preoccupation with the pain of her loss will divide her from those around her. Recall the human tendency to rewrite the past—they do love to make their past better than it ever was—this will serve you well. The more preoccupied she is with memories, the more distant she will be from her surroundings. Her dream world will make the real world unbearable.

This brings me to my next point and the most crucial point of the operation: the patient’s perception of the Enemy Himself. She must feel that the Enemy is completely silent. Do not hinder her prayers; let her pray, cry, and snivel as much as she likes—yet do not let her feel for one moment that she is heard. After a prayer has been offered, fix her attention on the quiet that follows—the kind of quiet the humans find waiting in their doctor’s examination room while sitting quite stiff and awkward amongst the sterile equipment. The Enemy must feel entirely absent, or if present, He must be cold and austere, unfeeling and unsympathetic. At the same time you are impressing upon her the sensation that the Enemy is silent and detached, you must make her own thoughts clamor loudly and incessantly. Keep from her mind His specific promises; instead, fill her mind with vague truisms— our small bandage on a gaping wound. The best lies are, after all, mixed with truth.

Now, while you are causing her to forget the Enemy’s goodness, do not cause her to forget His power; let her feel that He has been intricately involved in all of her life, including her suffering (here, our mixture of truth). Once you have removed His goodness and left only His power, the Enemy becomes a cruel sadist, inflicting loss and pain on his own children. Thus, a chasm stretching infinite lengths
is construed. The patient will at first feel a subtle resentment towards the Enemy; He has, after all, taken what she loved the most and left her to bear the pain alone. This resentment will only deepen, as she begins to view the prayers she so fervently offered in the first phase of grief as foolish and childish.

You see the idea? The aim is to create the chasm. This, of course, cannot be done when the humans see the Enemy’s true nature; thus, we must conceal it.

Your affectionate uncle,



Prose and photo taken from the 2021 edition of Artos, the literary journal of Bethlehem College & Seminary students. Photo, “City Life” by J. Heinrich, College Student.