Sunday, April 7, 2013

Screwtape on Video Games Text

My dear Wormwood,

Your last letter was pitifully disdainful of my suggestion that you use video games to manage your patient. Your remarks were, appropriately, couched in niceties, but your rejection of my advice clearly demonstrates your ignorance of the power this recent development holds.

I was disdainful once, too, when I saw the initial results of manipulating video games, back when that was an innovative idea tried only by experimental tempters. The results were only a small smattering of pale, frail creatures that wasted away their health and complexion bouncing a digital ball back and forth, hardly the great sinners we had hoped for. But that is, as I mentioned in my speech at the Tempter’s Training College, the current tactic; we do not seek a few great sinners utterly bucking the influence of the Enemy, but instead gorge ourselves on the myriads of souls that pass quietly into our Father’s house without ever realizing they were coming here. Video games have become one of our favorite ways of numbing minds as they pass into our Father’s house, and are increasingly effective in crippling the blasted Church.

Do not think that I am saying all video games are effective tools all the time. That is not at all the case. Remember what I taught you years ago: nothing in the earthly world is evil of itself, but rather we must first take it and twist it about somehow to make it effective.  The question is how we can use your patient’s enjoyment of playing the games to unravel his spirituality, since, due to your earlier failures, he is already a disciple of the Enemy, and a frequent church-goer at that. But we have discussed your failures often enough.
There is one very easy way to turn video games to our advantage: use them to fill his mind with our kind of thoughts, things that our Father would be glad to have him enjoy. Enjoyment of itself is a wretched thing; watching those pathetic bipeds enjoy the simple pleasures of life is agonizing, but if instead we can cackle as they enjoy what the Enemy hates, that is a great thing. Thanks to our efforts in the industry, there are a great variety of games that can answer to any prurient interest. In fact, we can even use a game about racing to insight lust by providing the image of a bikini–clad woman to wave the flag, or grow their greed in a game about finding lost treasures. Simply making them play the right kinds of games, that celebrate vice and normalize sin, can make your efforts in all other areas of tempting much simpler.

If, however, as a regular church-goer, and apparently having parents that also belong to the enemy, it may be very difficult to get him to play that sort of game, at least until he leaves his church and home for college. In that instance, take advantage of the rising feelings of independence and, often, the decreasing sense of responsibility, and fill his time with games that will quietly make him hate going to church, hate communing with friends that dislike his games, and will eventually disappear into a digital lie, calmly drifting towards our Father’s house.

This brings us to the next easiest way to make him ineffective. If you cannot make him enjoy the right kind of games, make him enjoy them far too much. The humans themselves, thanks to some of our best tempters, are doing our work for us in making the games addictive. Start him off with a little bit of gaming, if he has not played much in his life. This will be painful for you as he enjoys one of the simple pleasures our Enemy’s creation affords him, but soon enough he will want to play more. Encourage that. Convince him that he can in fact serve our Enemy by playing, which is true in some small capacity. But that is of course what we specialize in, taking those true things of the Enemy and making them work for our Father with just a taste of falsity.  Our Enemy wants his servants to be about the business of what He calls “his Kingdom,” edifying and exhorting one another, what he calls, “redeeming the time.” But if instead we can keep him earning points in any game, minesweeper, Minecraft, there is no difference, or scoring kills on his friends and enemies alike, Call of Duty or the League of Legends both do good work on this, instead of building the kingdom of the Enemy or undoing our best efforts, then we have truly capitalized on this medium. Just the other day one of the game companies proudly published the fact that every day the gaming masses spend three thousand eight hundred years playing their game, and another company celebrated that every day their manifold users spend a thousand years building and mining digital blocks. Remember, it is not that these things are immaterial that makes them a waste for humanity; it is that there is so much more they could be doing. Just imagine if all those thousand years were spent in study of that hated book the Enemy gave them, or if they spent that time teaching one another what they have learned from the Enemy, then we would be hard pressed indeed.
In summary, if you can make him enjoy our kind of games, this is most excellent. But if, for whatever reason, you cannot grasp him there, instead make him enjoy the games far too much. Then he will distract himself from spiritual service, and all your efforts will be that much easier.

But finally, and this is a rarer tactic, if neither of those two can happen, there is still one more trick to try. If he cannot be made to enjoy games that exalt vice, and if you cannot undo his attention to virtue by playing, you must instead make him enjoy the games not at all. It is the enjoyment of them, the delighting in creative and exploring capacities, that we hate so much, and that the enemy so loves. In today’s world, as he grows older it gets better every day, he will not long be able to resist playing the games. So when he gathers with friends to fellowship with them around a shared experience and challenge, do not let him leave the gathering feeling edified, and do not let him think his time well-spent. Instead, when it is over, practice imitating his conscience and befuddle him with guilt. Make him feel that all that time of fun and community and all those other vile things he could have got out of it were nothing at all, and make him focus on the hour or two that he spent in digital recreation. Here you might even wish to bring into his mind that statistic I told you about earlier; make him feel that plain fun has no part in his life, and that he should spend all his time, every moment of it, hard at work or study. He might even try your suggestion, which is delightful to watch. He will work harder than any other human for a day, a week, but then he will return to that past time he enjoyed. You must suck all enjoyment from it the moment he is finished. Then wrack him with guilt again. Soon he will neither desire to study nor to play, and if by reason of salvation he cannot be thus dragged to our Father’s house we may still relish his despair on earth. And that is tasty thing.

Now do make sure you read my advice carefully, and apply it well. Then you will by no means be ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Father below.

Your Affectionate Uncle,

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