Dear Uncle Screwtape,
You recently advised me to make sure my patient was permanently fixated on politics, but I have found that focusing his arguments, gossip, and obsessions on other people’s personal piety works just as well. Making sure to keep my patient in a permanent state of moral posturing and virtue-signaling alleviates him of having to consider and engage the ideas and views of others.This allows him to place people and opinions beneath him when, in truth, they are really beyond him.
The goal is to divide in his mind “politics” from “piety”, making him think the two are mutually exclusive (when we both know they are not.) This is the danger and the key: he can never be allowed to see that all things are connected; that it can be virtuous to discuss politics, that his engagement in civil society is a moral expression of his piety. By keeping these separate, I’ve been successful in convincing my patient that whoever talks politics is impious.
You’ll be happy to hear there are now entire wards of patients who have given up discussing politics for psychoanalyzing one other’s souls. It’s a disease that breeds like wildfire.
— Yours Affectionately, Wormwood
P.S. Did you really write that previous letter? I looked everywhere for its citation but could not find it.