I recently found myself wondering what it might be like to get an e-mail from the devil.

This bizarre thought came to me after my recent study of C.S. Lewis’ classic satire, “The Screwtape Letters.” The book is a series of letters from a fictitious demon named Screwtape who coaches his nephew Wormwood on how to harass new Christians.

Thus, Lewis’ book became the genesis of the following satirical e-mail addressed to me from a conjured colleague I’ve named, “The Devil’s Chaplain.”

My dear fellow Chaplain,

I hope you aren’t too alarmed by getting this e-mail from Hell Corp. Please, let me assure you that we’re not all bad down here. We even believe in God. As your scripture teaches, “Even the Devil and his angels believe in God and tremble.”

Of course “tremble” is a bit overstated, let’s just say we have a healthy respect for our opponent.
I’m also aware that your scripture says the struggle of faith “. . . isn’t against flesh and blood . . . but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

In that regard, you are a worthy adversary.

However, I think we can make our competition a bit more interesting if you’ll consider our devilishly detailed suggestions below.

First, we’d like to see you give a stronger emphasis in your columns on the exclusivity of heaven accompanied by a reminder that most people are coming to us. Our theory is that most “believers” will be more excited about heaven when they know that the people they despise are, well, let’s just say downwardly mobile.

Along those same lines, we find your efforts to help people understand other faiths commendable. But, have you considered how your numbers might increase if you’ll egg on religious debate and force people to choose sides? Besides, perhaps more arguments would encourage wars that will lead to our anticipated victory at Armageddon.

Don’t get me wrong, you should still encourage everyone to find a place of worship. God needs your stained-glass houses to feel your support. However, the stories you write about finding God in the workplace or on the beach or during a fishing trip trouble us a bit. Our thinking is that God gets a little cranky when folks disturb him beyond his Sunday office hours.

Second, speaking of disturbing God, your columns often promote prayer. Don’t you think God’s a little busy to hear from everyone? Prayer isn’t such a big deal; it’s just a conversation with God. Even my boss has talked to God a few times. But to be candid, if prayer was so important, don’t you think everyone would be doing it? They’re not. I know.

Of course you and I both know prayers are often answered through the help of another. But honestly, shouldn’t the care of hurt people be left to professionals like you? After all, you’re the one with the title and the degrees. The wounded need their privacy. Amateur helpers ought to keep their distance.

Finally, I’ve noticed that as the elections approach, you encourage people to vote for competency instead of the candidates’ religious beliefs. That’s nice, but perhaps if you’d persuade voters to restrict their support to candidates of their religious commonality, we could keep hate alive. After all, isn’t it the hate that keeps the two of us employed? Job security, my friend — that’s what it’s all about. Yours truly and spitefully, The Devil’s Chaplain Note: While I’ve had a few reader e-mails that sound as though they were written by the Devil himself, any resemblance to those readers living or dead is purely coincidental. Mostly.