The Dementape Letters: One

Posts in the The Dementape Letters series

  1. The Dementape Letters: One
  2. The Dementape Letters: Two
  3. The Dementape Letters: Three
  4. The Dementape Letters: Four
  5. The Dementape Letters: Five
  6. The Dementape Letters: Six

[The following correspondence was found in the storage area under the stairs in our condo, which is also where we keep the catbox. Its authenticity has yet to be verified.]

To my dear niece, Gutrot:

Congratulations on your new post. I hope you realize the honor that Our Father Below has bestowed on you, untested as you are. In the past, when a new Branch has needed to be opened, He has left it to experienced tempters He knows can be trusted to follow established protocol through to success; however, He has judged that the Enemy’s latest move must be met with the vim and vigour of youth, such as we have left. I would never think of questioning His wisdom in this decision…but since it is my Department of Kingdom Thwartation whose budget will suffer if you fail (and because your mother IMed to let me know you are feeling some post-graduation uncertainty about the efficacy of your training), I consider it my personal responsibility to ensure your triumph. Hence, this note.

Dean Stinkknees forwarded your transcripts to me at my request, and I am impressed with your marks, though I should point out that when I graduated from Tempter University (back in the centuries when it was still Tempter College, and ambitious demons could expect a well-rounded education), the curriculum was much more demanding. I will be truly impressed when I see you in action and when I taste the fruits of your labor. (Ah, Gutrot…there is nothing like the taste of the First Soul that joins us in Our Father’s House Below as a direct result of your tempting expertise. You will never be truly full, but you come closest when tucking in to your First.) If you will keep in mind everything you have learned in the last fifty years and do exactly as I say, I am confident you will descend the ladder of accomplishment as quickly as can be expected.

Now to your current situation: To be as honest as I can be (considering my inherent nature and millennia of exceptional deception), I’ll tell you right out that we don’t know what to expect. This “Emerging Church” idea of the Enemy’s is either His best or His worst in years…and it is up to us to make sure it is the latter, rather than the former. We could wish, in our more wistful moments, that the Enemy and His loathsome Son could have been content to maintain the status quo (which, of course, always stagnates in Our Father’s favor) rather than open Themselves to the risks one can expect when one innovates. (It is in dread of these risks – and the fact that we are incapable of creativity – that Our Father eschews innovation of any kind. The Other Side is always the one to think of something new and terrifying, leaving it to us to scramble for a response.) But since we are not in the habit of wistfulness, we do not have the luxury of wishing for long; instead, we must celebrate the Enemy’s penchant for taking the Battle onto untried ground, and hope that we can exploit His love for dangerous territory.

Your assignment to the leadership of the local “Emerging Church” calls for a look back to past sudden and aggressive attacks from the Enemy. You should remember most of these from your classes at University, but I will cover them in detail (with specifics of some of our counter-attacks with which we had the most success) in subsequent missives. For now, I advise you to review your history texts and begin with a simple temptation toward Pride.

Pride, of course, is the temptation to which all those Subjects the Enemy has chosen to use in His abominable innovations are most susceptible. It is enticing for Humans to believe they have been chosen for innovation because of some intrinsic value that places them above the Humans that have been chosen to safeguard the Enemy’s Church from attack. (It is always more glamourous to be on the offensive than the defensive…for us and for them!) This is obvious fallacy, since the Enemy values all of those created in His appalling Image as much as they could ever be valued…but our specialty is fallacy, so if there is an opportunity to exploit this already extant lure, do so immediately.

My advice is to take the leader of Christian Service as your primary Subject, at least as you begin to infiltrate the Operation. Historically, these leaders have been the most difficult nuts to crack (you already know this from your classes), since Service was so low on the priority list of most of the Enemy’s Children that only the most dedicated, humble, and compassionate Humans would bother to scale the mountains of red tape and bother we put in their way. Under this new paragdigm, however, it seems obvious that the Emerging Church contingent of the Enemy’s Body considers Service right up there with Preaching or Music (and perhaps just above). This opens temptation opportunities on two fronts: 1) Pride because Service has been by and large neglected and now the leader of Christian Service is “getting it right” more than anyone before, and 2) Pride because those Humans who give of their time, resources, and Love to those who need any of the above are the “rock stars” of the Emerging Church, and are regarded with notoriety that would make the odiously humble Son blush.

Make the most of this. Observe that prong of attack to which your Subject may be most vulnerable, and exploit it. If you need examples of lines, see Appendix V in Tempting the Enemy’s Humblest Servants. (My especial favorite is “You should get a badge for humility.”) I expect a full report in triplicate via email, fax, and Express Mail on Monday. If you need emergency counsel before that time, feel free to txt me.

Your vile and affectionate aunt,

[read part two]

Next in series: The Dementape Letters: Two

22 thoughts on “The Dementape Letters: One

  1. aly hawkins Post author

    For the record, this [maybe] series and this post in particular is NOT a response to the recent outcry against the Slice/Kyle Lake business. I think everyone here is doing a great job staying on the good side of the line between justified outrage and smug conceit. I’ve been thinking for a few weeks about the temptations that inevitably come along with being part of a new move of God, and thought this might be a fun way to dialogue about them.
    Anyway, just wanted you to know I ain’t frontin’.

  2. corey

    …the line between justified outrage and smug conceit…”

    this very well describes what I feel. It’s tough not to just write her off as the imbecile who makes up in Volume what she lacks in Substance. As I was mowing the lawn yesterday, I kept thinking about this dance we do when we point out (in christian love, of course) the errors in other peoples’ ways. As soon as I address someone’s lack of Christ-likeness, I too am lacking. It’s tough. The conclusion that I came to is that Van Halen is right… we’re all just Humans Being, and it looks like one swirling, wonderfully tragic dance. I know it sounds like a post-modern I’m-okay-you’re-okay-wouldn’t-you-like-to-be-a-heretic-too mentality, but I spend so much time wrestling with God, that I can’t let go of my grip long enough to wrestle with anybody else.

    By the way, I know that I’m on Blog Probation for three days for referencing Van Halen in theological discourse. I accept my punishment and I’ll see you all on Thursday.

  3. Chad

    Great piece. I have an image of Gutrot wearing Ugg boots and feverishly tapping temptations into her Blackberry. Thanks for that.
    I know, for myself, that I will not be able to sustain my outrage at Fundamentalism much longer. I just don’t have that kind of dicipline, despite the insanity of the piece that got posted last night. I have said before, and I’ll say again, that I have gotten some specific food for thought from that website. I think it would be much easier to avoid smug conceit were we able to actually dialog with them. I think there are some things about his life of faith that we postmodern types could learn from them, and we all know there are things they need to learn from us. It begs the question, are there people who share that worldview who are willing to actually dialog with and mentor us. I hope it’s yes, but I fear the worst.

  4. Bobby

    Aly – great post. I have been struggling with where to draw that line lately and it’s good to see I’m not the only one that has a direct line to God’s insight… er, I mean going through the same thing.

    Corey – I believe Van Halen is OK as long as you refrain from any and all references to:
    1. David Lee Roth’s solo career
    2. Sammy Hagar’s solo career
    3. Gary Cherone

    Although I think mentioning a song from the Twister soundtrack would get you at least one demerit if several of us hadn’t seen it together up in Canada when it came out.

  5. Chad

    DUDE!!! That theater sucked! I forgot about that. Talk about being unjustifiably excited about a film. The sad thing was that I went back to see it again in a better theater once we got home, to hear what it was supposed to sound like. Haven’t watched it ever since.

  6. Bobby

    My favorite part was all of us Americans inflicting ourselves on the poor Canadians, being loud and pretty much obnoxious, even by American standards, mocking Bill Paxton because, well, he’s Bill Paxton, and cheering when things got destroyed.
    Then, as the camera pans across the rubble of Waketa (is that right?), the 8-year old boy behind us lets out a Canadian shout (3db above an American whisper) “Look at that pile of junk!” – at which point he was summarily shushed by more than one member of our entourage. Good times.
    Actually the sad thing is the movie is better than the ride.

  7. Morphea

    Corey, Aly and Chad, all really good thoughts. I luuuuuv to laugh at people – it’s one of my worst traits, actually – and since I left the church so long ago it’s been the church that I love to laugh most at. The ridiculous bits, I mean. I’ve found that my mirth (and smug conceit at being so much more liberal-minded and tolerant now) is usually borne of fear. The Christianity I grew up with still scares the shizzay out of me, especially when the Fundies try to dabble their fingers in politics. I think we laugh at each other and express outrage and rebuke and gossip and proof-text (no one here, but you understand…) mostly because we of opposing views frighten each other. At least, that’s the deep, sticky motivation behind MY, ehm, boisterous sense of humor when I’ve just snuck over to Slice for a peek.
    I mean, don’t you ever wake up in the night thinking, “Oh, lordy, if James Dobson is right I don’t want to L-I-I-I-I-I-V-E!”?

  8. Chad

    Oh Cerise.
    You have no idea how small the world truly is, my dear. Your degree of seperation from Doctor D. dropped to three when you met me. (That sentence really rolls off the tongue, try saying it three times fast.)
    I’m like the Kevin Bacon of all Chrisendom.

  9. Chad

    Oh yes, believe it.
    Brace yourself for this one. You are also now only three degrees of seperation from Barry Goldwater’s failed 1964 Presidential bid. I hope you don’t mind voting for Condeleeza, ’cause this boat’s leaning right, sister.

  10. Chad

    The funny thing is that in reality, I may just bore a hole in the darn boat always trying to find the freakin middle.

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