I am extremely disappointed that your patient decided to return to the faith after many years with us.
You will be punished for this, but it will only make you a better tempter – and prevent a relapse once you reclaim her. Remember, human nature is on our side. She may have decided to recommit to Christ, but she has many bad habits that still shine brightly for Our Father.
One of the great assistants in our quest is the church itself. To be clear, I do not mean the great apologists and martyrs it has produced throughout history. Even thinking about people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Mother Teresa, to name a couple recent examples, make me nauseous. Their force would be overwhelming. I am talking about the present churches, which are obsessed with conforming to today’s world and often have abandoned their principles in search of acceptance by those in power. It’s almost impossible, much to our joy, to hear the name of Jesus in a mainstream church service these days. He’s considered very polarizing and even mentioning him reminds people of the exclusive claim he asserts on their lives. If you haven’t noticed, exclusivity is anathema to cultured people. To them, all religions are equal, which begs the question why they go to church in the first place. But I do not question that which helps Our Father.
It is too bad your patient is not a Catholic. Decades of child and adolescent sexual abuse by priests and cover ups by those above them have decimated its moral authority. Much to my delight, the stories seem to be endless. I just read that the former Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis resigned his post at a university board following questions about how he handled clergy abuse scandals. And last week Pope Francis hauled in a German bishop who allegedly spent €350,000 on walk-in wardrobes for his home and €15,000 on his bathtub! Who knew the Vatican would again become such a great ally? And we thought the Medici popes were the most useful. Selling forgiveness and handing out bishoprics to family members was laudable, but it’s as if the entire operating system of the church is corrupt today. Pope Francis, however, needs to be watched. He has a terrible habit of shunning the trappings of wealth and power. What kind of pope drives himself around the Vatican in a 30-year-old car and cold calls his flock to check in on them, for example? And he seems to want the church to act like Jesus. He said recently that, “I see clearly that the thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the Church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds.”
This is a dangerous development for us – one that might have caught us a teensy bit off guard after so many centuries of often gilded and isolated living by his predecessors that made us look so good without trying.
But don’t worry. The Protestant church offers many opportunities, too. In their quest to attract members many have become nothing more than self-help centers for the downtrodden who think joining will lead them on a path to riches. The Enemy never made that promise. He and many of his followers lost everything for their faith, even their lives, so it is satisfying to see his message distorted by pastors who adeptly morph a cultural quest for self-improvement and financial success into a central tenet of Christianity. That is not to say that we enjoy it when people turn their lives around because of these churches, find work and a reason to support their families and communities. As I may have mentioned before, we like it when people are lazy and disinterested in using their talents. Those traits make it almost impossible for them to experience joy.
And then there are churches in which God could be mistaken for the honorary head of the Republican Party. These have been quite fertile ground for us of late because their candidates of choice have not won the presidential nomination, leading many within those places to question a God who would abandon those who so clearly have America’s best interest at heart.
And I haven’t even begun to talk about America’s mainline protestant churches, which have been feeder schools for us for decades. So obsessed are they with being culturally relevant that they have become little more than Sunday cocktail parties without alcohol, where God has morphed into an endorser of their latest causes. When the church stops focusing on Christ and starts trying to keep up with various political changes, it’s like we are getting free help!
Thank goodness there are so many of those churches from which to pick in your patient’s city. Direct her to one of them. We want her to focus on modern Christianity, not Christ whenever possible. It does not hurt that those who attend those types of churches often look down on communicants of more traditional houses of worship as backward and intolerant. That will cultivate spiritual pride, not to mention friendships with people who often care about causes Jesus would allegedly champion more than knowing Him.
Never let her think about what a church should really look like. Make her focus on belonging to something important. If you can do that you will have all of eternity to let her think clearly – in Hell.
Work hard to keep her from feeling disappointed that one of your carefully selected churches has abandoned God in favor of social causes. Let her desire to be known by the Enemy be extinguished by a desire to belong. The Enemy will not let the original spark completely die, but you can exploit it so that her attention shifts elsewhere. He knows that we can manipulate his creations but takes the chance because he wants humans to freely choose him. He wants them to come to him on their own! Can you imagine!
Of course, even if your patient does start to question the motives of the clergy and parishioners in a select church, that skepticism can be used to the good of Our Father if it turns her against Christianity in general and not just what she sees practiced around her. But if left unchecked, her questioning could lead her to a place that strives to know Him and not use him as a means to achieve power or money or standing in the community.
That could be very dangerous. You must not let that happen.
Your affectionate aunt,