Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ask Thugfang: Theology of the Body, Part II

His Right Dishonourable Loathsomeness, Master Thugfang, is a demon of great infamy among academic circles. He is a frequent columnist for “Tempter’s Times”, an assistant editor for “Wickedness Weekly” and current chair of Tempter’s Training College’s Department of Defense Against the White Arts, after the sudden disappearance of the most recent head under mysterious circumstances. Now, His Right Dishonourable Loathsomeness takes your questions. Having problems with a particularly troublesome patient? Meddlesome enemy agents stymieing you at every turn? Don’t wait, write immediately to “Ask Thugfang” C/O “Underworld Magazine."

Dear Master Thugfang: My patient has recently read The Polish Pope’s Theology of the Body, and now he is less accessible to porn temptations. What do I do? Sincerely, Needs Options.

My Dear Readers,

Since this particular questioner has thoughtlessly neglected to mention whether his patient is married or unmarried, I am forced to answer with a two part column, thus taking valuable time away from all of your other questions, of which there are many good ones. However, this issue is important enough that I think it better I address it thoroughly.

As you all know, my specialty is Defense Against the White Arts. Well, the Polish Pope’s Theology of the Body is undoubtedly a White Art, among the more dangerous I’ve seen. However, its very whiteness can be turned to our advantage. The Polish Pope presents a sublime and spiritual vision of what most humans have recently been considering something strictly physical, and also an earthy and physical vision of something that most humans consider very spiritual. Most humans think of things in two separate categories, material and spiritual. On the one hand they have food, money, clothing, bills, medicine, cars, traffic, and sex. On the other they have prayer, sacrifice, philosophy, theology, the sacraments and the virtues. If we do our job right, the two categories remain separated by an unbridgeable chasm in the human mind. Not only do they not intermingle, they don’t even exist in the same mind. Our job is to fracture the human person and disintegrate it. Spiritual schizophrenia, that’s what we want. Then it doesn’t much matter whether we make the human a materialist, or a spiritualist; a hedonist or an ascetic; an atheist or a pantheist. As long as he loves the one category and hates the other, it will do.

This, of course, is the danger of the Polish Pope’s work, not that it unites the two, exactly. Even a casual reading of the Enemy’s Book would have done that. No, the danger is that it unites the two particularly where we have been most successful in dividing them, i.e. the realm of human sexuality.

This is its greatest strength, but also our opportunity, because we can use that perception, that TOB is all about sex, to isolate it from the rest of the human’s life. This is especially easy with male humans, whose sex drives are already so thoroughly isolated from the rest of their lives thanks to the male habit of compartmentalization and the cultural work we’ve done in shaping that ability.

I wrote earlier that the way to pull the teeth of TOB for the married patient is to confine it to the bedroom. The principle is the same for the unmarried human, except that it is easier. Since our questioner’s patient was undergoing the standard pornography treatment and is now not responding to it, this tells me that he is at least aware that he is in trouble and on some level wants to change. Well, let him change. If he’s thoroughly addicted that’s easier said than done, but in any event, the TOB that he’s filling his mind with should be connected in his head only with his porn habit. I should encourage the connection if I were you. Hammer it home to him. Every time he tries to resist a specific temptation muddle his mind with trying to remember specific passages or quotes. (You’ll recognize a fairly standard approach here, that of encouraging the patient to try to resist by sheer will power alone. The more he focuses on his own efforts, the less likely he is to cry for help.) If he fails you now have reams and reams of new truths to bash him over the head with. He has, after all, failed again, even with this brave new strength in his heart. He must, therefore, be hopeless, beyond any help, if even TOB couldn’t save him. Remorse and self-condemnation are virtually assured, rather than sorrow and contrition.

 If he succeeds in resisting once or twice, well, that’s always disappointing, but you mustn’t waste time with disappointment. You need to start exploiting it right away. Pride, self-congratulation, confidence in his “new strength.” Encourage him to expect that victory to be a permanent one. Not on any conscious level of course, but subconsciously he ought to be surprised by the next temptation five minutes later. If he were paying attention he would be expecting it, but if all he is thinking about is his own “success”, it will catch him off guard.

Encourage TOB? Yes, my darling demons, yes. Take it from an expert, the White Arts are best kept light-years away, but second best, pull them in close and keep them close. Manipulate the patient’s use of them. By encouraging him to think about it in connection with his porn habit only, you are subtly drawing him away from the real issues. Ironically, these issues are plain as a pikestaff to anyone who takes the TOB as a whole, but you are picking and choosing what he pays attention to, and in the grand scheme of things, his porn use is not the most important thing we have going on with him. It does us little good for him to struggle constantly with lust, if it is going to be a recurring occasion for repentance, a window of humility, an incentive to charity, and a constant reminder of his own helplessness. The TOB should have told him that his real issue here is the fact that he is longing for relationship, but is too frightened and cowardly and selfish for relationship. Porn is easier. If he thinks of porn as the root problem and wastes his energy fighting that, he will never seek out that so called “Communion of Persons” which would be his salvation. Friendships, an honest open relationship with a spiritual director, or (Hell forbid) a holy and happy marriage, all of these are death to us. In his mind, he is trying to overcome his “besetting sin” so that he can be worthy of these things. Not that he would put that into words, because then it would be too ridiculous to be believed, but it is there in his head and it is keeping him from the strongest natural medicine that might heal him. So let him hack away at the branches all he wants. We control the root and it will bear its rotten fruit in due season.

The other issue is that, if he paid attention, he would see that TOB has to do with everything, from the food he puts in his body, to the care he takes of it, to the woman he marries, the hands he shakes, the things he looks at and the books he reads. If he really took that message to heart he would start integrating his entire life into a single spiritual whole, enlightened by The Enemy and his “graces”. That is what we don’t want. We want him splintered and impotent. It is worth giving a little ground in one area to keep him that way. Trust me, if you can keep the rest of his life from being influenced by this new fad, any success he sees from it in this one area will be short lived, the relapse will be accompanied by even greater despair, and he will descend further into the pit than ever, with less desire of breaking free.

Just keep at it. Never slack off for an instant, because that will be the instant that “grace” will come flooding through and all your work will be undone. Damnation doesn’t just happen on its own.


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