We don’t give much thought to the devil these days – we’re well beyond all that.
The best you might get is a funny t-shirt that says ‘The devil made me do it’ with, say, a picture of a naïve but guilty looking figure beside another with a pitchfork and red leotards.
But what if there is something else in this world, something bigger and darker and more hideous and less human than anyone really cares to imagine? Evil, after all, is simply the word live spelled backwards.
Have you ever noticed this? How to l-i-v-e a life that is e-v-i-l is to take the very gift of life and live it in a backwards fashion?
So, for evil to get its way, up becomes down, light becomes darkness, truth becomes lies … you get the idea. There is a sort of Great Reversal. And, it stands to reason, a Great Reverser.
I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about this, Mr. Millard.
But it seems to me that you have thought of at least some things, because you are a thinking person. I believe you’ve shown this to be true.
And, if I may, you’ve now had some time and space to think. About many things, I imagine. Yes, you have to admit, Mr. Millard, in such a busy world, that’s at least one advantage of a prison cell that you wake up in morning after morning.
But what? You’re now charged with killing not only Tim Bosma, a stranger, but your own girlfriend? What ever happened to Laura Babcock, we wonder. And, what else, your own father? What are we in the outside world to now make of these charges?
I should note here, Mr. Millard, that I don’t intend this letter to be long. But, then, I have a feeling that I will be corresponding more with you as time goes by.
You weren’t at Tim’s funeral, I realize, but let me tell you, I was. And one memorable moment was when Sharlene (I think you know Tim’s wife, Sharlene) got up and told us, told the world, really, that (in her words) the devil knocked on her front door one quiet evening and then smiled at her before he took her Tim.
Yes, she said that she looked right into the face of the devil himself.
And then I shared how (in my words) the devil shoved a long knife through her heart because this is just the sort of thing that the devil loves to do to anyone who happens to be standing in front of him.
You realize that the funeral happened to be in the same hall that Tim and Sharlene were married, do you? I personally find that remarkable, how life can be poured out in such a way, like wine, so bittersweet. And there was the devil (maybe, do you think it’s possible?) laughing and laughing.
Anyway, the best reading that I’ve personally ever come across on this, on how the devil goes about his daily business, is this little jewel of a book written by a well-known Oxford man, C.S. Lewis. Yes, he’s better known by children around the world – certainly by mine – as the author of the Chronicles of Narnia.
(Yes, yes, Narnia of the Disney movies. You know that Disney, always looking for a buck.)
But Lewis was a thinker of many things, really, and this particular book, The Screwtape Letters, is all about a little minion who is in an ongoing but somewhat hopeless correspondence with his Uncle Screwtape, a much grander demon who really knows the score, so to speak.
The entire story hinges on how on earth, literally, these artful demons can trap the soul of a man in the Great Reversal that I mentioned above. And how they fight with all their strength for this soul, yes they find that much value in just one person’s soul.
It really is fine reading, Mr. Millard, I have to say. So, if you are allowed this sort of literary treat in your current unfortunate state of incarceration, then, well, I just wanted to mention it to you. You can find it, to order it if you like, here.
(And, if you can’t do this, well, I can always share more later sometime.)
In the meantime, I should close.
Oh, but I did also want to mention this one little footnote, that, as fate would have it, C.S. Lewis died on the same day that JFK was killed. Yes, the same day that John F. Kennedy was shot in the head. What are the odds of such an occurrence, two great souls leaving this old world on the same day?
Of course, Kennedy’s assassination received all the attention of the news gatherers, and it was rightly so, I suppose, that Lewis’s death was relegated to the back pages of the day.
But, I mean, really, what a way to go. To get shot in the head. What to do you think?
Of course, we all have to die sometime. But you’d have agree, Mr. Millard, it would be a rather brutal experience, to be shot in the head, would it not?
Your father. What do you think your father would say?
A Fatherly Friend