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

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