The Crookedhart Emails – Re: How To Make a Crap Confession

Dear Rothoof,

You disgust me. Do you even try to get people down here? You keep making the same, classic mistake explained in the Infernal Textbook; Letting sentimentality distract you from reality. Let me remind you of how this mistake works, seeing as you appear to be utterly incapable of retaining information in that thick, angelic head of yours.

A disgustingly Catholic boy meets a delightfully modern, agnostic girl. They become incomprehensibly and embarrassingly in love, and agnostic girl wants to become Catholic. Now sentimentality speaks thus: “The girl is only converting out of love for her boy. We below need not worry, for her faith will be dependent on him, a weak and shallow faith at that.” But reality speaks otherwise.

The reality is that there is always two views to any human action, the apparent and the spiritual. Why Our Enemy created such an awful, incongruous joke is beyond me, but we must remember it. So yes, the apparent view would say that the girl is only converting for her boyfriend. But the spiritual view is this: Our Enemy put that boy in the girl’s life, guided him to her and her to him, and formed her love all for the purpose of ensnaring her, and bringing her closer to him. He really will sink to such depths to bring them to Him. It is an idiot who only sees the apparent view.

I love idiot humans and so it’s something I encourage, getting them to run around saying, “Oh, he’s only converting because of his mother” or “She’s only being holy because she’s on a retreat,” or those delightful phrases tinged with a silly pride: “They only believe in God because they’re poor, they only go to church because they’re black, she only prays because she’s an emotional woman…” Do they realize the converse, that the heathen must therefore only disbelieve in angels and demons because he is a rich, white male? Like I said, I love stupid humans. But stupid demons is entirely different matter.

You are making this mistake with your man. He is scheduled to go to confession, an awful Cheat, and you don’t care. From what I can understand, you are relaxed about his decision because you think it is merely sentimental, that he goes to impress his Grandmother out of his desire to feel included in his new Church. You do not believe he will confess all his sins. You are an idiot. Even if this sentimentality was your man’s true reason for attending confession, do you not understand? Our Enemy will bend so low as to use even the sentimental if it means His so-called love will fall on an open heart. So attack, attack, attack. Here’s my patented Three Steps to Making a Bad Confession for your use. I no longer trust a moron like you to get anything right.

1.  Generalizations.
These are delightful, and can work in all sorts of ways. The most obvious are the most boring, and rarely work. Obviously, if you can get a teenager to describe watching pornography as “engaging in impure acts”, excellent. But for all their delicious sins, most humans label such maneuvers as  - and I could be wrong, as the term makes little sense to me – ‘bullshit’. Humans like being honest. So instead, press on to deeper generalizations. Let them forget that they live in the present, let them confess their states of being and ignore their actual actions. It is hard to say “I drank last night and screamed at my kids.” It is easy to say “I am an alcoholic.” The latter avoids a sin committed in the present moment, passing it on to some all-encompassing “condition”, while the former admits guilt and is thus rid of it. So let men confess their “sexual addictions”, and not their affairs.

2. Fear
This really is the best way to ruin a Confession. There is absolutely no reason that the humans shouldn’t be joyful and giddy over this disgusting Cheat. They are having everything handed to them, really! The power to live anew! I hate it. Luckily, we have a million methods to make humans focus on their own shame and guilt, on stupid things like what the priest will think of them, whether others will hear, etc. etc. All of this serves to erase the fact that Confession is pure love and forgiveness, a thing they enjoy.

3. Overthought
This is perhaps the best of the three, and should be used especially if the others fail. It is also useful for the holiest of Catholics. If they are struggling to avoid generalizations and evasions, have them over-concerned about the trifles. Let them entertain the gnawing doubt that, unless they describe every gory detail of their anger or hate, they will not be forgiven. That Our Enemy’s mercy hinges on accurate description. Let them spend days in the worry that they are not “really, really truly sorry” for their sins, and should thus not darken the confessional door. Let them, above all else, think like adults. Planned, calculated, perfectionist sinners. Do not let them got to confession like children, running to their loving Father, confident in forgiveness, weeping for joy afterwards, with gratitude on their lips. Amen, amen I say to you, unless you make them thoughtful grown-ups, they shall not enter our warm, warm embrace.          

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07632005486245515873 Calah

    This is awesome, Marc. Particularly the generalization one. I've never really talked with anyone about that sort of thing in confession, but have always had a gut feeling that it's better to be explicit than gloss over things, even though saying, "I broke the (X) commandment" is a lot easier than re-living it. I'm really glad to see someone address it. I love this series.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03325576300752777588 Annony11

    Have to second, Calah.. another awesome Crookedhart post! Nice to see the fear element stated. When one thinks about it, being afraid of concession is about the dumbest thing possible. Still, at least for me, I find myself in line cracking my knuckles and full of anxiety. But then, overthought can be just as problematic. Way too easy for those of us "blessed" with overanalytical minds.BTW… reading your Madrid post yesterday was the final thing that convinced me to go. I'm just a hop, skip, and a jump away in Hungary but I hadn't actually decided to go until last night. Now, I'm just praying that my payment goes through and I get housing (it was a registration option last night but not today…eek!) Prayers much appreciated — I'd rather not spend a week sleeping on the streets of Madrid!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12679230722483582032 Marc

    Annony11if you find yourself without a place to stay shoot me an email! it wouldn't do to let a reader go homeless. ( :

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03213347207192806180 Clare

    Wow. You really cut to the heart of the matter in that one. Thanks.

  • T Anne

    screwtape letters-spinoff!! wow loved it. I’m reading the actual letters right now and am finding them to be quite catholic in nature (I wonder if Lewis ever realised this?)…especially the bit one of the first letters detailing ones posture when praying.


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