Wednesday, December 19, 2012

IX: More Folly and the Usefulness of Equilibrium


IX

My Dear Nightshade,

     You insufferable, careless, idiotic git! It has been less than a week and you allowed your man to stumble into the most dangerous man on that whole campus, when he just happened to be there. The pariah of a man is not even a student there! More to the point you had been well warned of his influence within the dossier I sent you. Then, as if your ignorance to the danger wasn't enough, you let your man, (who was once so deliciously afraid and shy) share his goals immediately with the man.
     Worse than all of that; I can read, with perfect acuity, your intentions. You did not lazily slide into this disaster, by Belphagor, no! You caused the whole mess. I spent a few years instructing first years as a adjunct at the training college before this post as senior tempter opened up, and never in all of the simulations and role playing that was done was so naïve a plan conceived. Never once! Allow me to guess your motives, I will wager your compensation on it. If I am wrong in a single detail you may skip your corrective training with impunity.
     Firstly, you have allowed him to pray consistently for fellowship with christian men. You surely believed that since fellowship itself is a wandering generality to him that he could pray for it with little ill effect. An inexcusable oversight. Again you have made the mistake of viewing our battle as your patient views it, not as it truly is. I might accept that you saw the fact that with all his intentions he had failed to act on them, and that prayer would be an appropriate substitute for action. I could almost appreciate your realism, but our enemy is too vigilant to project our superior philosophy onto His own illogical strategy. He values the pathetic creature's intentions, sees into their “hearts,” as it were. In the case where your man has a desire to follow the enemy and an intention to do it, prayer is the absolute last thing that you should allow him. I will have to write to you more fully on the subject of prayer at some time, but I have not the time to instruct you on the subject now.
     So there you were, allowing him to pray specifically for fellowship with other Christian men, and not only for the fellowship, but with a specific set of goals in mind thereafter! If there is one thing you should never allow your man it is a clear veiw of his goals and the path to them.
     Enough of what should have been done, you have already (although you have been inexcusably tardy in doing so) discovered your folly, let us move forward. Your situation is more dire than ever before, the enemy is sure to be working hard against your every move, and your task will be doubly hard. Subtlety is the key, drive him to the path of relative goodness, a short stint in the wrong direction to convince him he deserves time to himself, which however he uses it will be infinitely less dangerous than whatever the enemy, via this new influence, has planned.
     In fact, I will elaborate on this topic briefly. Your situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. This tool of relative goodness, which I have discussed before, will be very useful. Any time that you can fix in his mind the idea that he deserves anything, even if it has no vice in it, you have done a good thing. One of the excellent byproducts of our progress in the last decades is the death of work ethic. Boys and men alike are punctuating their entertainment with work, rather than the other way round. They begrudge each demand on “their” time, (how funny that they believe themselves to have ownership of it) and move to entertainment or dissipation quickly after each task, however brief. In the past only through slavery and oppression were the humans allowed such luxury, and then only a select few. There are exceptions, but through the cunning application of technology we have managed to make this new addiction to entertainment the rule. In the case of the disciple, (you are outmatched here, and you may as well start planning for that possibility) we can use the pattern to more subtly undermine the enemy's work.
     Allow me to write in parable. In their sciences (primitive as they are) they have discovered that the final state of any system in nature is equilibrium. Reactions take place, and the system finds it's lowest energy state. Any reaction, no matter how violent, must end and when it ends the system finds equilibrium. This is a useful idea. Patently false, but useful. The humans' simpleminded physics or chemistry could never account for the alchemies that drive our deepest infernal mechanisms and schemes, let alone the grand mystery of the Enemy's creation... would that our researchers could unravel that skein. I digress.
     Equilibrium! In this case let your boy go to social gatherings, meet new people, work on homework (the most harmless, by far) but at each turn press upon him the desire to return to his comfortable, natural, equilibrium state. If you do this well, then you will have your man believing that he needs to set aside time in his comfort zone in the same way that he must take time to sleep, and he will be driven to it just as powerfully. Define as clearly as you can the boundary of a world, outside himself, over which he can believe he has exclusive control. This is not so hard as it seems, especially now. You would think that the obvious truth that nothing in their physical realm can belong to them in any real sense would cross their mind but in a pathetic imitation of our own grand avarice their desire to contol and own blinds them to the impossibility of their really owning anything. It doesn't matter how large the area that he carves out for himself is. Some men retreat to their homes, and the endless journey of home improvement, finding just the right color, building the new addition, furnishing the perfect room. Others simply retreat into a computerized world.
      Whatever the space, real or imagined, physical or ideological, once a man believes he can control it, and he deserves to control it, there is no man, however firmly in the enemy's camp that you cannot win for our father below.

Your Affectionate Uncle,

Screwtape

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