Friday, October 12, 2012

Ask Thugfang: Questions

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, I have just been assigned to young patient, the youngest of a very large Catholic family. The previous custodians of all of the patients have just been reassigned, presumably to much warmer jobs, because the Subvisor felt that their progress was inadequate. Naturally I am anxious to avoid a similar fate. Simply put, all of these human siblings are on the receiving end of a focused, detailed, incessant catechesis by their parents day in and day out. This whole house practically reeks of the White Arts. Some of the big ones are practiced on a daily basis. My patient is too young to begin learning such things at the moment, but the older siblings are not promising. They all accept the Catholic teachings without question. How do I keep my patient from ending up like that?

Sincerely, Ready to Get to Work.

My Dear Ready,

Ooh! That tingle of fear that shivers your existential core! Don’t you just love it? No better motivator for an up-and-coming young tempter like yourself than the knowledge of a predecessor’s fate. You should think about it regularly to make sure that this present salutary terror does not pass away. Fear and hunger, my young friend. They are the source of our strength, the mainspring of all our success. Embrace them both with open arms.

Now, as to this problem of yours, it does sound a bit grim, doesn’t it? All those lily-white souls just trembling on the brink of life, just on the cusp of the great struggle; will they hang on to what they were given, or will we be able to cajole, trick or intimidate them into letting go. I am positively licking my lips just at the thought of so much innocence, practically mine for the taking! But your patient is not there yet. You are trying to prevent the damage from being done, which is very wise of you. As much fun as it is to snatch a soul right from the very jaws of life, it is always better not to let that life get its teeth well sunk in in the first place.

Unbeknownst to you, you mentioned the answer to your own dilemma in your letter. I wonder you didn’t see it? But that is why I am the Master and you are just a lowly tempter. Never fear. You may yet learn.

So the older siblings accept the Faith “without question” do they? That is very interesting. Very interesting indeed. You see, the natural response of a human being, especially a young one, to something as stupendous as the Enemy’s Church is to ask questions. A human who really meets that Church usually spends his entire life asking questions, learning and growing ever further and further from us. Every new truth (faugh!) learned only wets their appetite for more. I don’t understand how the little rats can consume so much of the stuff. I personally find it nauseating and overrated. But that is what happens when a human really encounters “Truth.” They start wanting more and more of it. A human who is not asking questions is still open to us. All we need to do is stall them, keep them from really encountering this “Truth” until over time the sound of His voice dies away and is buried under layers and layers of business.

Now then, what you need to do is scurry round that homey little nest of theirs and sniff out the reason why these wholesome young lads and lasses are not questioning. Ten to one you’ll find it’s because the parents are not questioning, and there you will find the chink in the armor. You have practiced squeezing through smaller cracks in school, I hope. Now is your chance to slip through a real crack under fire (you didn’t think the enemy agents were going to let you have it all your way, did you?)

Young humans are born with question marks in their brains. Every word out of their filthy, slimy little mouths, once they learn to use them for anything other than stuffing their bodies with matter, is “Why.” Curiosity, my Dear Ready, is a truly nauseating trait in either man or angel. I hope you never indulge in it. Almost the most important use for an older human in charge of a young human is to stifle that curiosity. This can be done by parents, teachers, peers, priests, nearly anyone, but it is most effective if it is done by parents. Parents can get started so much earlier than anyone else, and they have so many more options. Take a good long look at how these adult humans respond to the questions of their younger offspring. In the natural order of things the adult humans would positively delight to be asked questions. They would listen honestly with attention and humor and answer clearly and straightforwardly, or admit it if they didn’t know the answer. In the order of what the Enemy calls “Grace” the results can be truly horrifying. Adults can actually use the questions of an ignorant, stupid child as opportunities to grow and learn themselves. Some of the more clear-headed humans go on to great lengths about simplicity and “fresh perspective” and such rot.  The curiosity of a child has been known to reawaken real curiosity in adults of even very advanced age, and curiosity is only one step removed from humility. Without upsetting your young head with further obscene details, suffice it to say that we categorically do not want this reaction to the child’s curiosity.

Fortunately hardly any humans are that natural all the time, and most humans are never that natural. We have many ways of twisting this dangerous dynamic to our ends.

The oldest and easiest standby is simple impatience. The human child is a creature of infinite repetition. It does not get tired of asking questions, but the adult is not so energetic. Adults get tired of answering questions. This is our opening. You need to keep the adult busy. It doesn’t matter what it is working on, so long as it feels pressured to finish that task, and snubs the young one’s question. As one rather insightful human put it, “Can’t you see that the paint on the walls is more important than the joy in your heart?”

Or, if the adult tends in the opposite direction, you can make it a slave to its offspring’s questions. Not as common or as useful, but I have seen it work.

But I think your particular situation is going to call for something a little more subtle. You say the parents actively catechize, which means they are answering questions at the very least when the children are younger. It means that they are trying to stuff those little heads with truth, so any intimation that the children are interested will no doubt fill their hearts with parental happiness. The parents have too much committed, and you are not going to be able to stop that process, but can you twist it?

Given that the older offspring are simply accepting everything the parent’s say without question, I am guessing one of two things is going on: either they have never been exposed to anything that could challenge their parents’ teachings, or they have learned that their parents do not want them to challenge it. If they have never been exposed to a challenge you have a decision to make. Do you want to bring in a little outside influence, or do you want to keep them sheltered.

Do not underestimate the effectiveness of the start they have been given. Culture shock and infatuation with the world may draw college kids away from the practice of their faith for a time, but in my mind it is rather a dangerous game. Some few of those who go hog wild never come back to the faith, but most of them do, and when they do it is a much more mature and balanced faith. Having sinned greatly they are more likely to be patient and understanding with the sins of others. The infamous dictum “There but for the grace of You-Know-Who,” has a powerful reality for them. The enemy is such a vilely unfair opportunist. Instead of blasting them for their first willful insult to His dignity, He patiently allows them to come back and then uses even their worst sins as opportunities to bind them to Him more powerfully than ever.

So the world that the parents fear is, in my opinion at least, not the most effective means of stealing the souls of the children. The parents fear it because it is visibly and measurably evil but we, as pure spirits, are not fooled by all the flim-flam.

If you can, I suggest you continue the isolationist trend. The faith that the children have been given thus far is very unlikely to be the real thing. Not that it is totally false, or that it won’t become the real thing, but they have not invested themselves totally in it, because they are teenagers. We want to delay that investment. In one sense it doesn’t matter how many of the externals of the faith they follow, so long as they follow them by mere habit. Going to Mass because their parents require it is perfectly acceptable to the Enemy when the human is eight years old. When the human is twenty-eight years old and still following the rules out of shear apathy or human respect, well, that, my dear demons, is a blighted human soul.

Now, even if the children do see or hear things that cause them to question, we can largely neutralize this if we keep the parents subtly under our control. Very few parents ever actively and deliberately punish their children for asking questions, but even the best parents can be made to discourage such questions. There are two ways a human can ask a question. One is to ask quite honestly for information. The second is to ask in a rhetorical fashion. For example, “Dad, Bobby said there is no such thing as heaven. Is that true?” is a legitimate request for information. The mind is open, and a wise human will take the opportunity to fill it with truth. “Why can’t I go to that movie with my friends? Who gave you the right to run my life?” is not a request for information it is a challenge. The child’s mind is closed. A wise parent may still answer this, or may choose to respond some other way, but we want parents to treat this as an affront to their dignity and blast the children into oblivion. In a sense we want them to do to the children exactly what the enemy hasn’t done to them.

The next step is to get the parent to treat every question as the challenging kind of question, and then voila! Our work is done. Whether it is a harsh response: “Young Lady, you will not see those friends any more, and I want you to forget what they said and never repeat it again.” Or a seemingly kind and loving response, “Don’t worry your head about it, dear, they were just being silly and they don’t know any better because they weren’t raised like you are.” The end result is that the child’s question is not answered and he learns that that sort of question is not welcome. Very soon he will either stop asking them altogether in an effort to please his parents, or he will rebel against his parents and ask all the questions he wants, but he will be biased against anything that sounds like what his parents would say, and will ask them of the world. At that point you will have to coordinate with our networking department. We have ways of ensuring that the answers he gets are our answers.

This is not foolproof, of course. The enemy did say that any who seek will find eventually, so on the whole I prefer the little vermin do not ask questions at all. Kill that instinct as quickly as you can and get the parents to do it for you. We have done a great deal of work with the current education system, and it also does an excellent job of stifling that unfortunate tendency. A human who does not seek will never find, and he is as good as ours.

Not that you can let up on the disgusting creatures, though. You never can tell with humans, and you wouldn’t want to let one slip away at the last minute. It would rather dull your prospects, I should think.



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