Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Snakebite Letter from a Senior Demon

A Letter from a senior Demon, Snakebite, to an apprentice Demon, Braintwister, instructing him in methods of tempting men and winning men's souls from "the Enemy" (God). 
From The Snakebite Letters by Peter Kreeft, in the tradition of The Screwtape Letters of C. S. Lewis.

My dear Braintwister,

    See? We've won the teachers, soon we'll have the students. Once you capture the cause, you soon own the effect. And these teachers aren't limited to the classroom; through TV, movies, internet, magazines and music, we've turned the whole society into a classroom. And the lesson plans are written by us.
    We have a right to preen a bit over this success, but we should also be realistic and candid. Not only do we have the usual Enemy counterattacks to fend off; but we're also struggling with a contradiction within our own strategy, and if the humans ever sense it, our plans may be ruined.
    Here's the problem. On the one hand, we want the human vermin to be bland, egalitarian conformists. Our strategy has been to produce photocopied souls, and we've labored long and hard (and quite successfully) for more than a century now to rid them of the very concepts of excellence, nobility, superiority, hierarchy and authority. Nearly all of them, when they hear those words, react with a negative knee jerk. Their unconscious creed is: What all cannot attain, no one should.
    But on the other hand, the masses remain much more traditional, religious and moral in their beliefs than our elite. We don't want souls to conform to the real majority just yet—not until the majority is ours. You must therefore keep your patient from noticing the contradiction between his egalitarianism and his elitism.
    But here's the good news: You'd be amazed how easy this is. Remember our basic principle of keeping his mind and his morals in separate compartments.
    The Enemy wants him to be an elitist about ideas and ideals, and an egalitarian about people; to be suspicious and critical of ideas but open and welcoming to all people. Our strategy is to make him just the opposite: an elitist about people and an egalitarian about ideas. Make him think his teachers and scriptwriters are superior people, but also that one idea isn't really superior to another, that all ideas are equal, that there's no objective truth, no real right and wrong, and thus no one has any right to "impose his own values on others". (You simply will not believe how much mileage we've gotten out of that hog-wash!)
    Once again, keep his mind away from noting the self-contradiction in our propaganda, the value judgment that there are no real value judgments, the dogma against dogma.
    How can they not notice such an obvious contradiction? They can, Braintwister, they can—especially the well-educated ones. The more educated they are, the less they believe in logic and common sense. It's the firm boys and cleaning women whose minds we've been unable to twist.
    Really, did you think the sexual revolution of the 1960s just "happened"? No, it was the flowering of a long, deliberate strategy. The basic principle of our approach is a one-two punch: Hit them where they're soft and weak, and at the same time hit them where they're hard and proud—in other words, between their legs and between their ears.
    They've always been soft in the reproductive organs, of course. How typical of the Enemy to invent that obscene joke of a "rational animal", to put an angel-like spirit in an ape-like body! But now we've softened their heads too. They've always had trouble obeying the Enemy's law of chastity; but they've never had such trouble understanding it and believing it until now. It's not new that we've tempted them to live promiscuously, but it's thoroughly novel that we've tempted them to justify it, to glorify it even to sanctify it.
    How did we manage it? We had some success with philosophers, playwrights, artists, novelists and poets over the last century, but our campaign really took off with the advent of movies, internet and TV. The secret is the power of images. The humans can put up defenses against ideas, which have to pass the gate keeper of their mind, Reason; but they're weak as water against images. Images sneak in through their unconscious, which is a helpless child.
    If we plant the same kind of image in them over and over again through TV, internet and movies, they'll gradually be desensitized. Sex and violence are our two specialties, of course. Our media elite personnel have relentlessly pressured for more. If the sex and violence curve continues at the current rate, we'll have Hell incarnate in their minds in just two more generations. There's nothing, literally nothing, these creatures won't allow. Already, most things the last generation would have regarded as unthinkable are commonplace on TV and internet.
    With the movies, it was a two-step strategy. First, their films showed more explicit sexual promiscuity, but within a moral context— "crime and punishment", so to speak. Movies like Carnal Knowledge, Alfie and Shampoo typify this stage. Then, once the explicit images became commonplace, the sheep were too passive to protest the removal of the moral frame. Their moralists played right into our strategy; they were so hung up on how much flesh was shown that they forgot the lesson the images taught. They were so shocked at overt eroticism, even in a framework of fidelity, that they hardly noticed the snide little smirks for infidelity.
    The upshot is that now, nearly every single movie that's made for young people must have a dash of nudity, no matter how gratuitous (and of course never, never between married people). And every time a boy first kisses a girl, the next scene always shows them in bed. What a triumph of image propaganda!
    The lesson it bores into them unconsciously, like holes bored in the hull of a ship, is so obvious I'm surprised they don't get bored with it: that the normal, the natural, the inevitable corollary of kissing is copulating.
    Notice the power of images, Braintwister. Not even a professor could be fool enough to fall for that as an argument. Put it in words, and it's ridiculous. Put it in images, and it's compelling.
    Thus we've persuaded them to rationalize their lust, to believe that feeling, not marriage, justifies sex. Most of them don't yet believe in infidelity, but they do believe in fornication. The only structures they put on copulating are "emotional maturity"; and "contentment", which are vague enough for anyone but an infant to claim.
    Oh, we've had a field day with their heads. There have been times and places in the past where we've had as much success with their hormones, but never with their heads. That's because never before has a society been so educated, and never before have we so dominated the education industry, especially the extracurricular one, the media.
    We've also succeeded in imposing a total media censorship on the one subject that is the most important thing of all in the lives of the majority of the people in the country, but which is never allowed to enter even the most "realistic" movies or public TV shows. I mean, of course, religious faith. Religion is shown occasionally, but from the outside, and never as true. The only characters shown as deeply religious are either bigots or sissies.
    Though we've undermined their sexual morality, we haven't yet rotted away the rest or their Christian ethics. We've persuaded only a few to accept cruelty, the last bastion of their moral absolutism; but we've succeeded in glorifying it and desensitizing them to it, for example, just by making "slasher" movies fashionable. Wait till they see the next step!
    But we mustn't let our love of violence distract us from our main task. Niceness is as useful as nastiness, stamp collecting is as useful as murder, if only it sucks these vermin from the Enemy's grasp. That's the only thing that matters in the end.
    The Enemy has this utterly ridiculous thing about repentance, you know. Sometimes I suspect He deliberately allows us to tempt some of the vermin to great sins just so that they'll see them more clearly and repent more strongly, and thus escape our two most deadly nets, pride and self-satisfaction. That supremely troublesome philosopher Thomas Aquinas let out a secret of the Enemy's strategy when he said that just as a doctor may tolerate a lesser disease to free his patient from a greater one, the Enemy often deliberately withholds that loathsome thing He calls "grace" and allows a soul to succumb to our temptation to some dear, external sin in order to free it from pride and bring it to repentance.
    The Enemy really will forgive any sin, you know—that is, any sin He can forgive, i.e, any sin that's repented of. So impenitence is what we must aim at, by dulling their consciences to guilt, making them feel more guilty about guilt than sin.
    Your patient does, unfortunately, have something of: conscience. That's our enemy, Braintwister. Conscience is the Enemy's own mouthpiece in the soul. Shut it down at any cost.
    Our end, of course, is not simply to inveigle the brutes into bed with each other, but (1) to win their souls through corrupting their society (after all, a "good" society is simply one where it's easy to be good, as one of their more dangerous but fortunately obscure thinkers Peter Maurin, has said); (2) to corrupt their society through destroying its fundamental foundation, the family, the one place they naturally learn the Enemy's philosophy of unselfish love, being loved just for who you are, not for what you do; (3) to destroy the family through destroying marriages; (4) to destroy marriages through destroying fidelity, their anchor and glue; (5) to destroy fidelity through the new philosophy of "sexual liberation" and the "sexual revolution"; and (6) to do that through our domination of the media. It's a simple six-step sexual strategy.
    One of the most pernicious ideas that can creep into your patient's head is throwing away his TV set and gadgets. That would burn the bridge by which we march into his heart. But that's an act so radical that few of them are ever capable of it—no junkie likes going cold turkey.

Your affectionate uncle,