Monday, July 23, 2012

Letter #5

My dear Blankweed,
                                               The problem you raise, which is that having carefully scrutinised your patient’s patterns of behaviour you cannot find her “dream”, the lifestyle she aspires to, is not an uncommon one.  What most human beings lack is focus.  Your patient doesn’t have a single dream, or lifestyle aspiration, she has multitudes.  And this is just the way we like it. A human being with a single, focused aim, is a dangerous thing. You may not think this – you might assume that as long as we take care to ensure that the human’s aspiration or ambition is something other than the Enemy’s service, all is well. And in many ways that is true, as I outlined in my last letter: someone whose aspiration is power in a single domain can easily be developed into a full blown tyrant; someone whose aim is to be seen as “the woman who has it all” can sacrifice her family to her vision, and create herself as one huge ego which cannot be restrained and in whom charity is completely eliminated. But you have to remember that a human being with the capacity to focus on a single path that seems to be angled in our favour can be turned into a human being with a single minded pursuit of the Enemy. I’ve seen it happen. You need only look at that unfortunate incident in Damascus.  But there are, sadly,  many examples.  The danger is in the capacity for single-minded focus. Yes, we can exploit such focus, and wrap it in vanity and greed, but the Enemy can also use it for His purposes. 
                                                          We want them to be divided selves.....

So, it is all to the good that your patient lacks a focus on a single lifestyle aspiration. What you can do, then, is to place different media-generated lifestyle images in front of her at irregular intervals and have her chasing all of them.  We want her buying yoga mats, incense sticks, and whole food cookery books one moment, longing for a boat and a skiing holiday the next, and telling her husband she needs an MBA and power suits the next.  In other words, we tempt her with multiple lifestyle images. The advantages are that she will spend more money she doesn’t have that way, and she can’t achieve her dreams because many of them are mutually exclusive.  You can’t, for example, become a marathon runner, a corporate business woman and an earth mother at the same time.  It can’t be done. For a start, such “lifestyles” exhibit different and conflicting values, and for another, no-one can achieve so many things simultaneously because a human being only has so many hours in the day.  The trick is to have her chasing not one rainbow but many, and wearing herself out and achieving nothing in the process. I keep telling you how much sheer pleasure there is in our job – and here is another example.
Your next question concerns just what we’re tempting your patient with here in our aim to tempt her to pursue a life style, or multiple lifestyles: is it greed or envy or vanity? Blankweed, we don’t always need labels for what we’re doing – but it is an interesting question.  In many ways it is all these things, but in the main we can call it pride. Because the focus of a lifestyle is the way it is viewed by others, then pride must be its primary concern. We’re tempting them to take pride in something that is not real: an image they think they’ve created. Of course they haven’t created it: we have created it through our manipulation and management of the media, aided by the values of consumerism. But in their ignorance and vanity, they think that they have created an image. And they’re unlikely to connect that image with the golden calf in that book the Enemy is so proud of – and it’s our job to make sure they never do.
However, I have hesitated over whether to describe this kind of aspiration as pride, because deep down it is connected to something even more powerful and desirable: self-hatred.  The human that can be tempted to aspire to a lifestyle, to the creation of an image for the sake of representation to others, finds him or herself  to be inadequate. They look in the mirror, and they see something ordinary (of course) and they wish (with a little prodding on our part) others to see them as extraordinary. And so we encourage them to create (or think they create) a fiction to hide that deplorable self. It’s the Garden of Eden and the fig leaves all over again. The Enemy, of course, declares that they are in fact extraordinary, that he has made these miserable vermin in his own image, and that they are, therefore,  a delight to his eyes, fragrant as the scent of heaven. Our job is to ensure they never suspect this for a moment, and if they do, that they don’t believe it.  If they are, even for a second, under the influence of the Enemy, encouraged to consider that the words “in the image of God” might apply to them, you only need to have them stand in front of the mirror, first thing in the morning, with their bed hair, bleary eyes,  and every line and blemish clearly visible, and the idea will seem laughable to them. 

                                                                the image of God.....

And yet – and this is one of our clearest indications that the Enemy is in fact mad, that he has no contact with reality – this person, precisely as they are, without finery or disguise, before they can put on their public face (or one of their public faces) is precisely the person the Enemy loves. He looks at them and, despite everything,  he sees both the thing he made and loves, and himself reflected back. What he wants initially is for a person to “be themselves” – to say what they think, to do what they enjoy,  to spend time with people whose company is pleasing to them, to wear what they like and eat the foods they prefer. Even if some of the things they think or say or do are explicitly sinful, He can work with them, bring them to Himself. He cannot work with or relate to a fiction. And so, our job is to grow the fiction, to develop the false self, the illusion that humans present to the world, to such an extent that the real self is entirely lost. So that a person couldn’t even tell you what they really thought or really wanted to do, because they are be too absorbed in the image they have invented (with our help) and how that image is seen by others.  
You may think this is delicate work, but it is not. We feed them the line that what they are is inadequate, stupid, ugly, and despised by others – and they will have had enough experiences in the playground, in their homes, in their interactions with others to reinforce this belief. And then we show them the solution: hide yourself. Create instead, the illusion of a self. And as the soul itself shrinks from sight, the Enemy is rendered (almost) helpless. And when the Enemy responds – as He will – with messages that they are beautiful, loved, all that they should be because He made them and redeemed them – they won’t believe it. And thus they are inoculated against salvation.  Game over.

Your affectionate friend


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Letter #4

My dear Blankweed,
                                                We’ve spent enough time for now considering how to manage your patient while she’s visiting the Enemy’s camp. It is equally important that we focus our efforts on other aspects of her life, because these will also influence whether she returns to church and what she does while she’s there.  There are many paths we might explore here, but let’s start with the bigger picture.
Your patient is, I see from the details of the dossier, middle class, well educated, and reasonably affluent. Furthermore, she’s married, with a family, and she’s at a critical point in her career.  Because of the latter point, there is pressure on her in terms of time, levels of achievement, and also, oddly enough, in terms of appearance – by which I mean her own physical appearance (right clothes, right grooming) and the appearance of her lifestyle.
There is an important distinction to be made between a life and a lifestyle. The life of an individual is experienced moment by moment by the individual themselves: waking up in the morning and feeling the warmth of the bed and the light through the curtains , deciding whether to get out of bed or not, looking out of the window to observe the weather, heading to the bathroom and so on. A life, as it is lived, is experienced in the present. And the present, as you know, intersects with eternity in ways that present specific dangers. And the Enemy wants his creatures to focus on their life, this present moment.   We have not yet managed to create life as such, but we have managed something better: the illusion of a lifestyle. This is a particular condition, experienced only by the educated and wealthy, and it is entirely our own invention, and a very successful invention at that.
While a life is experienced by an individual in the present, a lifestyle is designed to be seen by others.  When a human focuses on their “lifestyle” they focus on something – a home, a piece of clothing or furniture, - as it will be viewed and valued by other people. Let me give you an example. Imagine two women planning new kitchens for their homes. The first woman, focusing on her life, will view the kitchen by her own values: she will ask questions of herself such as will it be functional, will it be beautiful (according to how I view beauty), will it be fun for my family to cook and eat in? Whereas the second woman, who is viewing a new kitchen through the lens of a lifestyle , will primarily concern herself with whether it will be admired by others.  The former may talk about “my beautiful kitchen” but the latter will talk about “my bespoke kitchen”. 

                                                       Tempting her to the perfect, stress-free lifestyle
 We develop ideas about lifestyle primarily through the media and advertising, although the idea of a lifestyle is contagious, that is, it can be passed from one person to another like a virus through envy or greed.  Magazines are most useful in developing the idea of a lifestyle:  we encourage the editors to paint images of celebrities and their lifestyles, eg women who “have it all” – handsome successful husbands, beautiful children, large homes, fashionable clothes from the “right” shops or designers, “fairy tale weddings”, and their own businesses or endorsements. Critical to these images are photographs, which showcase the celebrities and their perfect lifestyles.  Of course these photographs present a false image:  we don’t see pictures of such celebrities screaming at their cook or nanny, weeping with tiredness,  or throwing heavy vases at the handsome husband who has come home  to the beautiful house late from the office again.  Instead the celebrity is beautifully presented, as designed by a team of the magazine staff, placed in a carefully designed context, and  posed in a position of perfect happiness.
You’d think, even with their minuscule intelligence, that they’d see through it, and at some level they do.  They know that no life is so simple or perfect, and that such an image is false, transitory and cannot be developed without a large staff. But these images are insidious – and of course they present wonderful material for us to work with. Because we can suggest, over time, gently, that they too should look like this (even though they haven’t got the money, the staff or the time) and have a lifestyle like this.
We can also lean in heavily with less obvious images. “Lifestyle” magazines present ways to develop your house to present a particular look. Advertisements show images of ideal children perfectly behaved and manicured, or women or families who look a particular way. Real estate agents design house advertisements as providing a lifestyle (“buy the house/clothes/accessories and buy the lifestyle” is the line we train them to take).  Of course, once they buy the house, the clothes, the accessories, or the art work and first editions if they’re the arty types, or the gym gear or fishing rods if they’re sporty types, they find that the lifestyle does not automatically arrive with it (and indeed it can’t, because it’s pure illusion). You’d think they’d wake up then, but this is where we do our best work:  we suggest simply that they haven’t got the right house/clothes/accessories, and so the whole cycle of spending starts again.
I’ve known humans who have bankrupted their families in pursuit of a lifestyle.  I’ve seen children ground down with the weight of parental expectations that they conform to images in the media, or confined to a small space in front of a television because they’re not allowed to play in any of the carefully designed rooms in their own home.  I’ve seen spouses of both sexes sink into depression or commit suicide because they can’t provide or live up to the lifestyle expectations of their partners or parents - or even children.  We’re so lucky in our work, Blankweed – we can have such fun! We have them chasing mirages, one mirage after another, and, handled carefully, they don’t wake up until their final moment when all mirages are seen for what they truly are.
Even the Enemy’s followers can be lured into the temptation of a lifestyle.  Christian bookshops and television programmes love to present images of the perfect life led by those who commit themselves to the Enemy’s service. Look around the average Christian bookstore and you’ll see shining images on the book covers  of broad-shouldered, suited men, with thick hair and dazzling smiles,  with an arm around a woman with perfectly groomed hair and face,  and five perfect, clean children. Read the inside covers and you’ll find that the men are heads of large corporations, the women homeschooling their five perfect children (plus three adopted from orphanages abroad), while managing a small business successful enough to support a staff of 10 happy workers.  Turn to the Enemy, these books imply, and your life will be transformed: your teeth will straighten, your husband become successful, your children become model citizens who never answer back, and you will be imbued with super-human abilities. Quelle rire!   Not only is this a mirage, but in this way we transform turning to the Enemy into nothing more than a means to an end. He’s not very keen on that.  
In some ways you could call this obsession with lifestyle greed or envy or vanity, but it’s more subtle than that. It feeds on greed and envy, but patients are generally aware of those emotions, and do not rate them highly, and so are in danger of resisting them.  But with the lifestyle mirage they won’t even be aware of the danger they’re in.  I’ve known men who consider themselves honourable, virtuous, and kind, who nevertheless ruin their families and their lives in pursuit of a lifestyle.
Now, your patient, because of her class, is eminently suited to these kinds of temptations. The poor are generally not so vulnerable because they’re too busy keeping a life together (though we’re working on it). And oddly enough the long-term wealthy are not so vulnerable to it either, because, able to buy anything they want, they become aware of the true value of possessions.  But those who are rich enough to have all they need but not all they want are perfectly positioned for the temptation to aspire to a lifestyle.
                                                       Tempt her with the country cottage lifestyle...
What we need to decide, then, is what kind of “lifestyle” is your patient most vulnerable to? She lives on the outskirts of a small town: is she therefore the type to hanker after the lifestyle cottage,  with designer gumboots at the door, a springer spaniel by her side,  and a country kitchen?  Or can she be tempted to turn her house into a small art depository or antiques museum? Can we feed her the superwoman myth: the image of a woman, dressed in a perfect suit who waves goodbye to her perfectly manicured children in the morning, manages her brilliant career during the day, and then comes home to nurture her family with homemade bread and soup and apple pie made with apples from her own garden?   
                                                        Or maybe she's more vulnerable to the Superwoman myth?
Ferret out her dream, Blankweed, and then feed it with magazines and reality TV programmes.  In such a way we can encourage her to look with distaste at her home, her furniture,  her clothes, her children and partner, and even her own image in the mirror – even though these things are, by the standards of most of the world, pleasing and desirable as they are.  We can encourage her to spend more than she can afford on things she doesn’t need, sow discord with her partner who may not share the same lifestyle dream (even better if he has a different lifestyle dream of his own!), and establish a pattern of hope and despair , and a growing bitterness, that will leave her with little time or energy to pursue her temporary, half-hearted interest in the Enemy.
Concentrate, Blankweed – and enjoy the game!

Your affectionate friend


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Letter #3

My dear Blankweed,
                                                Now please settle down and stop bombarding me with questions. I know you’re anxious, but this patient is young and we have time on our side. Remember, we’re playing a long game here.
I’m a little puzzled by your attitude to time, incidentally. These humans live constricted by time, not us. So I’m not entirely sure where your “what if” questions come from. However, let’s look at one of you “what if” questions as an illustration of a general principle.
“What if, “ you ask, “ she decides to go to one of the tradition services at this church she’s attending? All your advice would then not apply. What would I do?”.  Blankweed, it is all perfectly straight forward: you simply keep a level head (admittedly, something you don’t seem to find easy) and change strategy.
Human beings are forever engaging with these types of questions. Should I take this path or that? Which would be the better option? Young adult humans can get totally caught up in such questions, almost as if they believe that there is one right route for their lives which they somehow have to guess at. Even those engaged in the Enemy’s service can get caught up in these kinds of questions: what does the Enemy want them to do now?? How will they know? Should they move to this town or stay where they are? Should they go to this church or another? Ironically enough, for both the Enemy and for us, these questions are, generally, irrelevant. They’re irrelevant to the Enemy because he simply wants them to engage in the right way in any path they take. You’d think His instructions were pretty straight forward: rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances sound like simple enough instructions to me.  Or love justice, show mercy, and walk humbly with your G--.  That’s all He wants. But of course we like to tangle them up in theological knots, so that even a single one of these instructions becomes complicated and fraught with difficulty.
For us, these questions are irrelevant because they simply offer different opportunities requiring different strategies. This is the principle you need to understand: any situation offers different but equal opportunities.  It simply doesn’t matter which kind of service she goes to, Blankweed.  A “low” family service and a higher or more traditional service offer the same level of opportunity for distraction and temptation: we simply employ a different strategy. The only exception to this rule is a decision to serve or not serve the Enemy. When a terrible event such as this arises, when a human is faced with this decision, we really are against the wall. But if – hopefully not when – this happens,  we’ll send back up. You won’t face such a terrible event alone.  Of course, the Enemy will employ an army. But we have armies too.  Harmwink and his staff are, as we speak, developing new weapons that will be impervious to the Enemy’s attacks.  Or so we hope.
But let us continue with an exploration of this particular case.  If your patient decides to continues to attend the family service, then we bombard her, as I outlined in my previous letter, with issues to do with unfamiliarity. As I say, humans hate feeling out of place. But if she decides to attend a traditional service, then we bombard her with temptations or distractions based on her contempt of the familiar. Because, curiously enough, while humans hate change and feeling out of place, they are also contemptuous of the familiar and immune to the dangers it presents.
When your patient sits in a traditional service, she may initially feel peacefully at home, and of course that is a very bad thing. But with a little skill, after a short period of time,  you can both distract her and/or fuel her discontent.  First, distract her. Let her revel in the poetry of the language, as if alliteration and metaphor were the equivalent of prayer.  As long as her focus is on the words themselves rather than their meaning, and her engagement with and affirmation of that meaning, then she might just as well be reading or listening to Dylan Thomas.
If you’re feeling really artful, then you could make this “love of language” the primary reason for attending church: make her an expert on ecclesiastical language if you like. Of course, there’s always danger in humans being exposed to prayer in any form, even its most turgid, but if you can get her to say the responses for the sheer joy of how they sound, or the way they transport her back to “a more innocent time” (there’s that nostalgia theme again!), or even for their theological appropriateness or subtlety, then those prayers are of no use to the Enemy at all, in fact may become actual barriers between your patient and the Enemy. Make her feel strongly about how the words should be said, so that if one service leader says the words in a way other than the way she prefers, she can be absorbed in impatience.
Alternatively, fuel the little beast with discontent. As I say, humans are, in some strange way, contemptuous of things that are familiar to them.  We work on marriages by fuelling this contempt of the familiar: a woman can be contemptuous of the man she once loved and disregard all his needs and everything he says simply because she’s seen him in his pyjamas every day for 20 years. In the same way, we can encourage people working in the same place for a long period of time to become dissatisfied with their work, even if it is, objectively speaking, interesting and well-paid work, solely on the grounds that they feel they’ve done it all before.  Even though both work and relationships are forever changing in subtle and complex ways, human beings can be made blind to this fact because they have this sense they’ve seen it/heard it all before.  Contempt of the familiar: it’s a fun tune to play!
So, if the words of the service or the hymns are familiar to her, play on her contempt. The church hasn’t changed in 30 years, so how can it possibly have anything relevant to say to the modern world? How can something couched in the language of the 19th Century have relevance to a world imbued with technology undreamed of 150 years ago? Who are these people, sitting in the church listening to and saying the same old words week after week, and not even seeing the world change around them? Are they stuck in a time warp, some theological bubble? If you’re really playing your cards carefully, she could even sing those hymns and say those words ironically, enjoying the language but playfully delighted by her sense of their irrelevance.
With any luck, these people in the pews will generally be older than she is – in fact, most of them will probably be a lot older. We have done a sterling job over the last 50 years in the Western world of instilling in younger people (ie those under 40) a fear of the elderly. The outcome has been excellent: it means that the elderly feel side-lined, neglected, invisible, and helpless, and any wisdom the older generations might pass on to the younger ones will be entirely unheard. I’ve looked in the church report: there are some powerful members of the Enemy’s ground troops attending this service, which should present a real danger to us in regard to your patient. But there is no danger: she’ll look around the church and see a mop of grey curls and bald heads, and some very unsightly cardigans and baggy trousers, and she’ll steer well away.
You see, Blankweed, it’s all a matter of strategy. Any situation offers unique opportunities that we can exploit to our advantage. Learning to turn on a pin and think on your feet can be a very satisfying experience. And if you can’t think quickly, enrol in a remedial course in contingency planning.
Your affectionate friend


Monday, May 28, 2012

Letter #2

My dear Blankweed,
                                                You ask whether nostalgia is always a good thing. I don’t know what they’re teaching you in training these days: of course it is.  When humans look back, caught as they are in time, they always do so to compare the past with the present.  We encourage them to do so through the lens of nostalgia, which throws a rosy glow over the past.  By encouraging them to remember only what was good about the past, we ensure that they are, in effect, comparing ice cream or candy floss with – well, an imperfect apple. One is artificial, unhealthy and man-made; the other is fresh but flawed.  Next to the sweetness of candy, an apple will always have a bitter edge. And thus we sow this seeds of discontent. Your patient is a little young to develop a full blown case of nostalgia, but you can encourage a taste for it now.
So, let us return to the very promising topic of your patient’s  uncomfortable experience in the Enemy’s camp.  She returned to the church based on her memory of childhood stories, and so she assumed, at some level, that the church would have remained unchanged in the last 20 years. Why she would expect this when every other aspect of life has changed is unclear and illogical – but typical of human behaviour. Of course it isn’t the same! The prayer book may have retained its essential structure, but the music is different, the delivery is different, and the behaviour of the people around her is different to the way it was 20 years ago.  Encourage her to feel some indignation about this.  Make her feel , for example, that some of the technology that is being used instead of pew sheets and hymn books is “not reverent” . I know that doesn’t make any sense at all – technology and pieces of paper are neither reverent nor irreverent, they’re just forms of delivery.  But let her bristle with indignation – place in her mind an entirely fictitious vision of the past, where people stood together in unity in the pews, sharing hymn books and smiling together, and contrast that with the “impersonal” nature of words on a screen.  If you can organise some glitch in the technology – or better still, an incompetent or inattentive operator - so much the better.
Work on her feelings of displacement. The words of some of the prayers she remembers from childhood, such as the Lord’s prayer, have been modified.  She’ll feel uncomfortable when she slips into the old style – encourage her to feel that her slip-ups are the fault of the church.  The whole language of the church has changed since she was a child, the scriptures will be read in a modern (very unpoetic) translation: since she has a “love of language” encourage those feelings that somehow the message, whatever that may be, is lost in translation, that it’s lost its poetry – and never let her wonder why she feels the Enemy , or a modern congregation, needs to speak in poetry. Never let her think “well, why would I expect the language of the 17th Century or the 19th Century as a suitable way of expressing worship in the 21st?”
Not only the language, but the details of church have changed. Take clothes for example. She will have been used to the service being led by clergy dressed in full regalia – feed on her doubts: is the person leading a lay person or a church leader in mufti? And what about seating? Human beings can get very emotional about pews, you know. If the church she’s attending has chairs, you can fan a very effective rage into flames.
Of course none of these details matter in any way. People can worship the Enemy seated on pews, chairs, cushions, or sitting on the top of high buildings, if they have a mind to.  But given her longing for the church of the past, these trivial details matter to her. Just don’t let her entertain, even for a moment, the thought that such concerns are irrelevant. He’ll try to suggest it of course, but all you need to do is rock her plastic chair and she can be pushed down the path of discontent.
And while she’s feeling unsettled, she’s also, happily for us, aware that all the members of her family are unsettled by her new venture.  Her husband, a quiet solicitor by profession, fancies himself as a well-read sceptic and philosopher by nature. Of course, he’s never read any of the great philosophers himself, but by delving occasionally into modern, popular discussions of philosophy, he likes to carry himself off as an expert.  His noisy amusement at your patient’s church attendance is very helpful, and you need to liaise with Cutfroth to maximise domestic discord on this matter. The children – for whose sake these visits are ostensibly taking place – are also bored and resistant.  One of her sisters – the sophisticated city sister, the one she envies and resents – is openly scornful, while the hippy sister she pities and patronises is enthusiastic. All of these reactions she will deeply resent and you need to encourage that resentment. Make her feel it’s just too much to handle.
But best of all is the reaction of her mother.  Now this needs careful handling. As you are no doubt aware, her mother is deeply immersed in the Enemy’s faction, and has for many years been imploring the Enemy daily to bring her daughters to faith. All of which is dangerous and deplorable. With some subtle management on your part, your patient’s suspicion of anything that pleases her mother can stop her at the door of the church. Her mother is trying hard to contain her delight: but she’s human, and her excitement that the Enemy is finally showing signs of listening to her pitiful petitions will be – indeed is – difficult for her to contain. Your patient is still young enough to have a deep resistance to conforming to her mother’s wishes. I know she’s a grown woman, but it takes a good 30 years or more for an adult woman to throw off the adolescent impulse to differentiate herself as much as possible from her mother. Remind her that she doesn’t want to be told what to do by her mother. Of course, her mother isn’t telling her to do anything, but that doesn’t matter. Even her mother’s most carefully controlled, neutral questions about her experiences at the church can upset her, if you encourage her.  Keep telling her she’s her own woman and she doesn’t need her mother pushing her into anything. 
(Just as an aside here, I love that phrase that some humans are so fond of “I’m my own woman/man”. No-one is their own person: they either belong to us or to the Enemy. They’re either ours to torment in this life and devour in the next – or, or they’re…His.  To do with as He pleases. Of course, He tries to explain away his own colonisation of their puny lives as a form of “setting them free to be more truly themselves”; we know this is propaganda but even High Command has not fathomed out what this really means)
The trick is to bombard her with negative feelings – about the church and about her family. Human beings are, for the most part, at the mercy of feelings. The fact she lives a busy life will make these feelings even harder to bear. Feed her some helpful lines: do you need this on top of everything else you have to deal this? Isn’t it all too much trouble? Remind her that this was supposed to be a happy experience for her and her children, and then draw her attention to the way her children are squirming in their seats and asking how much longer they have to sit still. Let her feel the effort of keeping them quiet – without her becoming conscious of how hard they’re trying to please her and hard it is for them to sit quietly, since they’ve never had to do so before. Build those negative feelings in every way you can. Humans are blithely unaware of the transitory nature of feelings, and we need to keep them ignorant on this matter. They are also hugely impatient of the unfamiliar, without any real awareness of how quickly the unfamiliar can become familiar.
It’s just all too hard – that’s the line you need to take.
Your affectionate friend

Friday, May 18, 2012

Letter #1

My dear Blankweed,
                                While recent events are indeed unfortunate, and the usual penalties arise, I wouldn’t want you to see my assignment to your case as a punishment.  Rather, you should see me as a guiding hand, an affectionate and experienced uncle perhaps, who is here to point out and correct ill-informed judgements on your part and point out possibilities you may not have considered.  Your mistakes, as I’m sure Higher Command understand, are the result of mere inexperience, and  I’m here to help. I hope you’ll turn to me with any doubts or concerns.
But of course I jest.  You’ll grow to understand my sense of humour over the many years ahead. You’ve stuffed up, Blankweed my dear, and I’ve been put on your case. Which is good news for me – because if you fail, I’m first in the queue for a meal (not that I go hungry these days). And bad news for you. Trust me at your peril, because one more slip-up and I’m right on the spot to turn you in. In fact I’d be tempted to give you poor advice just for the joy of seeing you fall except for the fact I cannot abide the thought of one more of those vermin falling into Enemy hands. And of course our correspondence is being monitored.
No, I’m here for the long haul because you can’t be trusted.  And I hope over time we’ll develop a warm and successful partnership. Because you really have slipped up. Your patient is going to church. This is bad. What you were thinking in letting her even think of such a thing, let alone act on it is beyond me. At any point you could have steered her in the right direction. But what’s done is done, and we must make the best of it. Because all is not lost. Yet.
She’s going to church and this is highly dangerous because it means, despite all we throw at the situation, we cannot prevent her from being exposed in some way to the Enemy and to those advanced in the Enemy’s service.  But we have opportunities here because a. her motives are still in our favour , b. she hasn’t yet committed herself in any way, and c. her first experience in this church has been very unsettling, not just for her, but for those closest to her. All good.
Let’s consider the opportunities offered by her motives first.  She’s telling others – including her husband – that she’s going to church because she wants her children to “experience some of the stories I knew as a child”.  I don’t know why she couldn’t content herself with reading Winnie the Pooh and Alice if it’s old fashioned story-telling she’s after.  That’s how we’ve steered others who briefly engage in this kind of nostalgia.  You’ve suggested that I suppose?  These gospel stories she’s referring to – while highly toxic in themselves – are not enough for the Enemy and he’ll try to pull her in deeper, but if we can keep her at this level of engagement,  then all she’ll need is for the children to attend a few sessions of Sunday School  and she’ll grow bored and give it up. The children won’t get told the stories anyway – we’ve managed to infiltrate most child-level programmes by suggesting to those that run them that the little ones need to learn about love, and being a Good Friend or a Good Sport, more than hearing about the Enemy directly. This means that at worst they encounter some kind of humanist moral training (which can be completely disconnected from service to the Enemy) and at best they simply get lessons in Being Nice and having fun.  That’s all in hand.
But I suspect from reading the dossier that your patient has motives she either isn’t mentioning to anyone or isn’t even aware of herself. There are some important people in her profession attending this church, and it’s likely that she’s motivated by a desire to be seen by these people she wants to impress. She’s ambitious – and this church attendance is one way of furthering that ambition. Of course the Enemy doesn’t care about such paltry motives. He has no proper pride. He’d be happy to turn a dung beetle into a stallion:  He’s just glad to work with the driest bones, and he has, throughout history, turned similar pathetically motivated humans into warriors in his cause.  Appalling.
But no matter. Try to get her, subconsciously, to focus on her desire to be seen by these people and to emulate them. Distract her when she’s most in danger – during a sermon, for example,  or during a prayer by someone who means what they’re saying – by asking her where the important people are sitting so she can walk near them when the service is over. You could even try an indirect strategy: draw her attention to their clothes so she can start planning a new wardrobe, or just feeling dissatisfied with her own. These creatures are driven by vanity;  you can play on hers quietly by making her aware that she doesn’t quite measure up.  It’s painfully difficult for these vermin to concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes, so if you can encourage a distraction into a full blown pre-occupation, she won’t even notice the most dangerous words from the front.  Don’t be too obvious about these distractions though: if she notices that she’s being driven by ambition and vanity, we are in serious danger.  Self-knowledge always invokes a strong response from the Enemy, so distract her lightly, and tease her down the path of self-absorption rather than self-awareness.
Next up: commitment. The moment she walks into a church someone will be there, handing out little forms and inviting her to join groups. If churches understood just how off-putting this is to many newcomers they’d stop it, but happily they’re blissfully unaware, mostly, so some cheerful, insensitive soul is bound to walk up to her, smiling hopefully. It would be helpful if this person could be some kind of person she doesn’t want to emulate. It doesn’t matter if we know this person to be a great warrior in the service of the Enemy: if he’s wearing the wrong clothes or is too old, she’ll be repelled. Play on this. Let her consider whether she wants to join in a group that admits exactly the kind of people she prefers to avoid.
The invitation to join will, at any rate, appal her. These days we’ve made all humans commitment-phobic. The very idea of sitting in a group of people she doesn’t know and who aren’t what she aspires to be will horrify her. Get her to question the church members’ motives. What do they want from her? Encourage the thought “but I came here for me! People are always after you for something: but I expected better of the church.”  Remind her of how busy she is – so much busier than other people (or so she sees it). With any luck, she’ll head out the door before she’s even got in. At the very worst, she’ll fight off her oppressor and sit down in the church feeling very ill at ease.  There’s plenty there to make her feel uneasy. But more of that later.
And most of important of all, her first visit to the church has unsettled her because it wasn’t what she expected it to be. And I’ll save discussion of this, and how we might take advantage of it, until my next letter.

Your affectionate friend