The demon Slubgrip: “We must admit that all we can really do about it is to limit the pleasure—twist, and distort it as much as possible, and use it as a kind of false god which drives their attention away from the Enemy”…
Slubgrip Instructs: Fifty Days with the Devil by Dwight Longenecker (Stauffer Books, 2015)
When invited to conduct parish missions during Lent, I present two talks on the various “ism’s” that infect popular American culture. Each of the “ism’s” is a different sub-set of relativism. Thus Utilitarianism, Materialism, Scientism, Historicism, etc. offer different perspectives on the infiltration of Relativism into our society.
Audiences, finding the talks interesting, then asked for a written version. Thinking that I might make the topic more interesting, I stole C.S.Lewis’ idea in Screwtape Proposes a Toast of a diabolical college of tempters. My own demon, the Machiavellian Slubgrip—has been demoted to teach Popular Culture 101 in Bowelbages University down below.
His freshmen students are various sorts of invertebrates, slugs, and worms. The idea being that when a demon is demoted he returns to a larva stage and must make a long, slow progress back up the infernal greasy pole to become snail, toad, frog, and various forms of reptile before ascending once more to a fully-fledged demon.
Thinking that Lent would be a good time to focus on the nefarious misdeeds of the demons, I had Slubgrip deliver a different short lecture on every day during Lent. While doing so, he and his old friend Knobwart are scheming to overthrow the college president Thornblade.
As Lenten reading, therefore, I offer Slubgrip on Hedonism…
Come to attention, slugs. I hope you have done your homework and read the chapter on hedonism. No, Crampton, not “heathenism,” although it’s not a bad comparison, I suppose.
Hedonism is the love of pleasure. To use a phrase coined by Our Father Below, “If it feels good, do it.” This principle may seem obvious, and at a rather simplistic level it is the most basic form of temptation. However, this course is not simply a matter of teaching you the beginner’s tricks. I’m trying to get you to think things through, and this pleasure business is rather more complex than simply getting your patient to gorge himself, get drunk, and fornicate.
You need to see how the pleasure principle is woven into every aspect of popular culture. In one way or another, every form of entertainment, news item, book, or television show revolves around the human’s need for pleasure. Don’t fall into the trap of imagining that our only goal is to get them to indulge in pleasure for its own sake. We want them not simply to indulge in pleasure, but to do so on our terms. Otherwise, their very desire for pleasure may take them into the embrace of the Enemy.
I hate to admit it, but pleasure was his invention, not ours. This is one of his most unexpected, inexplicable, and despicable tricks. At the beginning we were disgusted enough that he saw fit to create a physical world. When he created two spiritual beings to inhabit it, complete with animal-like “bodies,” Our Father Below was suitably scandalized. Then, to top it all, he not only creates this disgusting physical world, and populates it with the hairless soul-apes, but he creates them in such a way that they actually take pleasure in being physical.
As hard as it is for you to understand, I must explain that the humans enjoy everything about the physical realm. They like getting wet. They swim and take baths and even enjoy standing in the rain. They smile and take pleasure at sunsets and stars and the moon. They like listening to birds sing and children’s laughter. They love the smell of fresh-baked bread and flowers and will even inhale the smell of animal manure and call it “good country air.”
There’s no way around it. The revolting hairless chimps take pleasure in just about every physical aspect of their lives. Furthermore, the Enemy is cheap enough to use their desire to draw them to himself. Do they see a beautiful sunset? He’s given them this cheap instinct to thank him for it. The religious ones even thank him for their food—is it a greasy cheeseburger? They eye it with hungry happiness and thank him for it. It’s a horrible trick of the Enemy.
Here is the most revolting part: The Enemy has given them the most intense pleasure in the most disgusting action of all—breeding. He’s even made it into this exalted thing he calls “marriage,” so that they really think that through this revolting physical action they are participating in divine love. They even call it “making love.”
The thought of this is so utterly repulsive that I can hardly bring myself to mention it. We must admit that all we can really do about it is to limit the pleasure—twist, and distort it as much as possible, and use it as a kind of false god which drives their attention away from the Enemy.
It’s best to keep them mildly sedated with pleasure. Too much candy makes them sick. As a rule, keep them from any pleasure which requires them to be disciplined or make a sacrifice. Keep their pleasures cheap and cheerful. Junk food rather than fine dining. Trashy TV instead of Shakespeare or opera. Watching sports rather than playing sports… you know the sort of thing. Their pleasures should become a dull sedative rather than an exhilarating enjoyment of life.
Another tactic is to make them feel guilty and so deny them pleasure altogether. We’ve been rather successful in using religion itself to accomplish this. Getting religious people to lead pinched, sour, hypocritical, and self-righteous lives devoid of any pleasure at all is one of the few consolations we have in the face of the Enemy’s inexplicable creation of physical pleasure. Getting them to condemn others for the pleasures they enjoy is even better.
There is more on this topic tomorrow. Get busy and read the chapter “Eat Drink and Be Merry, for Tomorrow You Die” for your homework.
Grimwort, straighten up the furniture and turn out the lights, and when you’re done report to my lair, I’ve got some errands for you. Hurry up, look sharp, toad.
There’s the bell. Be gone.
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