A Venomous Letter
by Rev. Geoff Browning
Editor’s Note: The following correspondence was intercepted through the NSA’s terrorist surveillance program. We cannot be sure exactly how this correspondence was intercepted or even verify its veracity because Homeland Security has refused to divulge any further details.
My Dear Wormwood,
As you can see from the morning news, we have once again succeeded in stirring the pot of war in the Middle East. All of this leads to more suffering and despair, which is right where we want them. Humans are much more pliable when they are put through the furnace of violence and war.
In your earlier correspondence, you asked about my references to the doctrine of RV or Redemptive Violence. As a tempter noviate, you should remember RV from your induction training. The fact that you didn’t learn this is more than pathetic, and Python, the Induction Programmer, will have hell to pay for his incompetence. The doctrine of Redemptive Violence has proven to be the single most effective tool we have for sowing strife, hatred, violence and suffering in the world. Redemptive Violence has been kneaded into the human psyche for over five thousand years. We ran a beta-test project, part of the Babylonian Creation story, or Enuma Elish, which caught on beyond our wildest expectations. Since your training has been so pathetically truncated, I will reiterate a few of the tenets of RV.
First and foremost, the doctrine of Redemptive Violence is the belief that violence is necessary and salvific. Imagine that, we have sold humans the fool’s gold that violence is the answer to their problems, that it can save them or their communities, that it can restore the splintered fabric of their society and their lives.
Second, RV bifurcates the world into black and white, friends vs. enemies, and as one of their leaders famously said, “You’re either with us or with the terrorists.” That was a great day for RV!
Third, RV allows the projection of evil onto others. “They attacked us first;” “They broke the truce before we broke the truce;” “We have a right to preemptively attack them because we think they have WMDs.” The acolytes of Redemptive Violence would not be able to bear the darkness of their souls if it was not for this feature of RV. Never forget, with this doctrine we are providing an essential service to these pathetic humans.
Fourth, the gods themselves are violent and as the gods have shown, chaos can only be tamed with violence. To be violent, therefore, is to be godlike. As I said, it has been wildly successful for several millennia. We have made a few tweaks and upgrades along the way to adapt to new challenges and innovations from the Enemy, most notably in the area of religion.
It was our coup de grâce, if you’ll excuse the irony, even as we were confronted with our most serious challenge in the person of an itinerant teacher from Nazareth who thought he could defy the Roman Empire! Even now I cannot bear to pen his name lest I inadvertently invoke some hidden mystery. This teacher not only resisted the doctrine of RV, he claimed that liberation could be achieved by resisting domination with nonviolence and love. Yet another absurdity because everyone knows that liberation without domination is an oxymoron! Puny human history proves it. This fellow had to be dealt with, and we made an example of him. But our problems didn’t end there because his followers claim, even to this day, that he continues to live. Yet in the midst of this disaster, we achieved what may be our most important victory. His death, which was meant to be the nail in the coffin of Redemptive Violence, turned into an affirmation of RV. How, you may ask, did we snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat?
It took a terrible patience because the teacher’s early followers believed they were saved by emulating his life and ministry. So we began a campaign to co-opt their message. We accomplished this in two important ways. First, we brought the persecuted church into the place of power when Constantine became the first “Christian” Emperor and defeated entire armies under the banner of this teacher. It wasn’t long before he was even going to war against other Christians. So much for the early church’s 300 years of pacifism! Step one accomplished.
Step two, we launched a campaign suggesting that the teacher’s death was not an act of state sponsored terror by the Empire, which it was, but the work of the teacher’s own Father, and necessary for their salvation. Slowly, over time, their emphasis began to shift away from the teacher’s life and teaching, and toward his suffering and death. Crucifixes slowly became more prominent only after the 10th century. And eventually salvation became synonymous with his violent death. Voilà, the doctrine of Redemptive Violence is reaffirmed. Remember, the ends justify the means and from this has flowed a profusion of wars, crusades, pogroms, and racism in manifold forms justifying its deeds through our doctrine of RV. Iraq is just one more example in a historical string of successes. Long live Redemptive Violence!
As you are a tempter novitiate, I warn you; we must not become overconfident in our abilities to move humans toward more suffering and despair through war and violence alone. Because, in the midst of every tragic event is the seed and possibility of change. Very few humans know this and even fewer realize it. Our task is to make sure they never realize this possibility for change. And the best way to make sure they never realize this is to keep the possibilities shrouded from them through fear, grief, and anger. Don’t give them time to reflect, keep them dodging rockets and bullets, keep them busy avenging the death of a friend, loved one, or comrade. Keep them so preoccupied with the “atrocities” of their enemy that they have no time to consider other possibilities.
The lesson here is that you must never give up. Remember that our teacher teaches the true doctrine of Redemptive Violence and through it the world and all the pathetic souls in it will be ours.