Dear Master Thugfang, I read with great appreciation your recent column on the use of family to corrupt infants before they reach the age of reason, and I thought I would write in to provide my own testimony. My patient is an ex-Catholic in her late twenties. Due to the abusive, repressive atmosphere I was able to establish in her home she rejected the Catholic Church entirely when she left home. Now she tries to tell all her Catholic friends how wrong and perverse the Catholic Church is, she never receives the Sacraments. She did try to go to Mass once, but she had an anxiety attack and left right away. That was five years ago. She is so completely insulated against the Faith that nowadays I barely even have to work at all. Yours Truly, Success Story.
My Dear, Darling, Wonderful Success Story,
Please allow me to join you in telling you how amazing you are. As you know (because you tell yourself this constantly) you are undoubtedly the greatest tempter the world has ever seen. Why don’t I promote you to undersecretary of a department, and let you write this column and teach all my lectures? Oh, I remember…
It’s because you are an arrogant little sprite who still thinks anxiety attacks are great fun. The mark of an immature palate is the over attention paid to cheap, passing torments. What can you know of the nuanced, subtle complexity of an entire human life drowned in misery, despair and sorrow? Nothing. You’re too busy with pranks. And you are lazy to boot. By your own admission you are not pressing your advantage on this patient. Not only did you admit it, you boasted!
Do you not understand we are at war here? Or did you think that the Enemy will abandon that patient the way you apparently have? I promise you, in your absence while you were fondly imagining that your work was done for you, the Enemy has not been absent for a moment. His agents never sleep. No matter how far she has run, I guarantee this patient has not closed herself off to them completely. Hardly any of them ever do before death.
Do you congratulate yourself on the work so far? Yes, there have been some successes, but not so deep or so permanent as you blissfully imagine. The patient has rejected “the Church” has she? Fool! She never knew the Church! Not the Church as we know it, that damnably tough bastion of human happiness, freedom and virtue. We see the spiritual reality spread out through the millennia, an agonizingly bright cavalcade of martyrs, poets, philosophers, saints, and millions upon millions of souls forever and ever, eternally, achingly lost to us. Do you for an instant believe that Church is what she rejected? Ha! She hears “Church” and sees her mother yelling at her about her neckline. That is what she rejects. Her “faith” was hardly worth the effort of destroying. Essentially you spent the first seventeen or eighteen years of her life telling her lies about what the Church was. First chance she got she rejected that shadow church outright. Does that put things in perspective for you, you insufferable little know-it-all?
Now, she still believes those lies, to some extent. She really thinks the Church is oppressive and self-contradictory. You had better hope she never learns the truth, because if she does it will cut through all your claptrap like a lighthouse through fog. This brings me to the biggest fault I find with you, given the very limited information in your letter. She tries to convince her Catholic friends to leave the Church. May I ask what the Heaven you are playing at? If you don’t want to lose that soul, you had better put a stop to that quick. Is it not obvious to you that the very fact she tries to argue people away from the Church is because she still really cares? Deep down inside she cannot quite get away from the haunting need to belong to whatever little bit of the real Church that touched her. Even hatred of the Church is not so useful as you might think, and I don’t think she really hates it. It might even be that she really cares about her friends and wants to rescue them from her nightmares. That really is the height of incompetence, to allow anything done from love to continue. Any love, even misguided love, is the Enemy’s territory.
Besides, hasn’t it occurred to you that talking about the Church at all with her Catholic friends is the best way I can think of to endanger all your lies? Don’t you see that it’s only a matter of time before she runs into a Catholic who actually does know a thing or two about the real Church? What do you think will happen then? You’ll be facing a long, long time in a very dark place, that’s what. It is only our unrelenting work within the Catholic Church that has saved your neck thus far. The general mediocrity among Catholic humans in her society is entirely the work of wiser and more motivated demons than yourself. That is what you have to thank for her continued ignorance, not your own skill.
Argument in general is not something I would rely on. Oh sure, it can be an opening for our own particular brand of argument. A flurry of half-baked ideas and barely hidden resentments clothed in cheap rhetoric, that is the closest you ever want to get to real argument. Real argument teaches her to ask whether this thing is true or not. Truth is something we don’t believe in here in Hell. You had better curb the idea in your patient as well, or she will never get here, and then… well… let’s just say we won’t be going hungry.
Not to mention that if she does find her way back in it is likely to be a more serious thing than you are ready for. What I mean is, the new faith she finds through hard searching is likely to be a real faith, chosen in her will, based on her intellect. It is not going to be something forced upon her by anyone. She will have had to face up to her fears and overcome them. She will have had to look your lies in the face and see through them. Hence she will value her new faith. She will also be poignantly aware of the difference between “The Faith” and the distortions and abuses that can creep in, so she will be on her guard against them.
Forget the argument. Put a stop to her even talking about the Church. We aren’t trying to reason her away from it. What you really want right now is a really solid vice or two to saddle her with, something that will distract her and absorb her. Maybe it doesn’t even have to be a vice. Save the Whales will do, as long as it takes up her time and attention away from her need for conversion and repentance. But I think while a cause or a hobby is all right as a distractor if you have to use it (the more vacuous the better) I think you’ll get more mileage out of a vice in the long run. You want something that will call up all that old, half-forgotten shame and guilt she associates with the very mention of the Church, which will cause her to resent the mention of it, and will cause her to insulate herself from those who will mention it. That’s how to get the patient to do your work for you. The sicker she gets, the more she will run away from the only medicine which might cure her. But don’t for a second dare to think you can stop chasing her. Temptation duty is not a vacation.
I have your file in front of me as I write. Perhaps, on second thought, we should meet.
I promise, if you don’t stop slacking off and bring us some results, you will be called back. You don’t want that. I don’t even want that. Really, all I want is to help you do your job better.