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This fictional essay is part of a series inspired by C S Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters. Each essay seeks to respond to the satirical concepts laid down by Lewis, and to twist them around a little. Lewis was once an atheist and died a Christian. This author was born into Christianity and lives as an atheist.

Marcion’s Movement in Time concerns a brief history of demons and their relationship with the Church and the struggle between demon and the good Marcion.

Opening extract

Demons are cunning creatures, and yet they must move with the times. They wouldn’t be Demons if they couldn’t! In the old days, Demons helped people fear the Church, by fermenting in their minds the consequences of failing to live up to the Church’s ideals. It unwittingly worked in well with Demons, much to their delight. This is Screwtape’s Church, the ‘half finished, sham gothic erection on the new building estate’. Quite a few who bravely spoke out (they couldn’t help themselves could they!) ended up at the stake, or were laying their bare heads on the chopping block, and they became martyrs. The Church’s retributions had gone too far! Not a good look for those Demons at work on them. The ultimate goal for every Demon of course is to go with its charge to the grave, fully sinful as is the Church, and to be there at the ultimate completion of an earthly life when the mind closes for good. A human life, sinful when it is born and sinful when it dies is the only perfect life according to the charter of Demonology.

The last thing a Demon wants is its charge, in this case good Marcion, to be making a guiltless confession at the very point of death. If there is one thing a Demon cannot do, it is to prevent a good man like Marcion from turning toward salvation in spite of sin. Here, Marcion’s moral soul is winning the mind over, with its promise of a reunion with Jesus. Marcion has always felt that he is good man, and lately he has decided the Church was not responsible, but him unto his own light. The safe and blissful passage from death to the afterlife will confirm it. Marcion hitherto doubts whether the Church really understands goodness, and whether its path to Heaven should be the same as his. And because of these doubts Demons have often been caught off guard. Those burned at the stake are martyrs, and yes the Demon was there at the point of death as was a competing priest, but in its struggle to capture the leaving soul, it abandons it to the power of goodness, and to the future which rewrites history at will.

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