Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate them. I don’t even dislike them. You wouldn’t either if you got to know them. They are much like you. They have parents, siblings, and children. Many even have a dog. If you struck up a conversation with them in a line, you would be impressed with their education, attire, and sense of humor. After he places his order you might even say, “I’ll have the same.” They are very nice people. But they do very evil things.
C. S. Lewis’ book, The Screwtape Letters comprises 31 letters written by a senior demon named Screwtape to his nephew, Wormwood, a younger and less experienced demon, charged with guiding a man (called “the patient”) toward “Our Father Below” (Satan) from “the Enemy” (God). In the Preface to the 1961 edition, Lewis explains why he uses a business model as a backdrop for the forces of evil,
“I like bats much better than bureaucrats. I live in the Managerial Age, in the world of ‘Admin.’ The greatest evil is not now done in those assorted ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the offices of a thoroughly nasty business concern.”1
We continue to be shocked, and rightly so, when the nightly news headlines on a “den of crime.” We say such people should be locked away. Ahh, but then comes the next story, and after hearing from the lawyer and company spokesman, the act doesn’t seem so bad. I mean, they look like such nice people. Sort of like you and me.
“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain . . .” – Proverbs 31:30
- C. S. Lewis. The Screwtape Letters (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1961), x.