Ask Thugfang: Vocations
His Right Dishonourable Loathsomeness, Master Thugfang, is a demon of great infamy among academic circles. He is a frequent columnist for “Tempter’s Times”, an assistant editor for “Wickedness Weekly” and current chair of Tempter’s Training College’s Department of Defense Against the White Arts, after the sudden disappearance of the most recent head under mysterious circumstances. Now, His Right Dishonourable Loathsomeness takes your questions. Having problems with a particularly troublesome patient? Meddlesome enemy agents stymieing you at every turn? Don’t wait, write immediately to “Ask Thugfang” C/O “Underworld Magazine.”
“Dear Master Thugfang, my patient is currently discerning a vocation to the priesthood, and I fear he is tipping the wrong way. What do I do? Sincerely, Fearful in Seattle.”
My Dear Fearful,
No need for pseudonyms here, I have enough friends in the offices of the Lowerarchy to find out your number if I want to. That you are a miserable blunderer, in very great danger of the usual punishments for incompetence and carelessness, I already know. Even the fact that you use the phrase “discerning a vocation” shows you have gathered most of your information about this from your patient. I suppose you never took my lectures on Vocational Uncertainty? Or perhaps you were one of those disgusting, arrogant insects who always simpered and smirked in the back, thinking you knew better than I. Now where are you? In imminent danger of letting a soul slip into a very dangerous and poisonous position, and of course, of being appropriately re-educated.
Never fear, though, all is not lost. The very tone of your question tells me that what you really need is a new point of view on the matter of “vocations” (so called). You need the principle of “vocational uncertainty,” a humble contribution of yours truly to the vast science on the subject. Put simply, it states that we do not know whether or not any particular human has or does not have a vocation, or if he does what it might be. We know there have been cases of Him calling individual humans. The singularly unfortunate and otherwise inexplicable case of our dear old boy Saul is one such example. But by and large we simply have no evidence to suggest that The Enemy “calls” the average human. If you take what He says at face value then it follows that He does, but we know better than to listen to anything He says, don’t we? Another important point is that the humans don’t know either. The patient doesn’t know. If he did he wouldn’t be “discerning” he would be struggling to accept or running away. The patient’s priest doesn’t know, his parents don’t know, no matter what kind of “advice” they give him.
On the whole it doesn’t matter to us at all. Of course if we could find out for certain what The Enemy’s game was, we would certainly try to discourage that vocation, but we can’t so it makes no sense worrying about it. Maybe your patient is being called, maybe he isn’t. You will be the last to know.
Now that I have shown that you really know nothing, it’s obvious from your question that you regard his becoming a priest as the most undesirable outcome. Such a shallow view of things is sure to get you re-educated sooner or later. Never let the facts dominate your view of reality. Let what you want be the way you see things and with practice you can get others to see it that way also.
In reality, neither outcome is good or bad for us. Let me impress upon you the spiritual maxim you should have learned as a lowly parasite: humans are raw material. Their thoughts, their feelings, their choices, their very bodies and souls, all of these are nothing more than raw material. We can get a priest to damn himself just as easily as anyone else, and they are tastier when they get here. Really, the disturbing thing is not that he is leaning towards becoming a priest, but that he is leaning in any direction at all. Do we want him to be a priest? Do we want him to be a lay person? To us, it truly doesn’t matter. We want him to be nothing. If I could I would make sure that every one of those obscene half-breed vermin lived their entire lives as nothing, doing nothing, desiring nothing, choosing nothing. I would see all of them waste every talent, opportunity and dream fleeing endless fears, living a bland, soulless existence and finding out when all is said and done, that nothing meaningful was said, nothing worthwhile was done, and all their choices were made by us, as we shall continue to make their choices for all eternity. I would like to see all of them torn with vocational scruples, bouncing back and forth in endless, self-defeating uncertainty between what they truly want, and what their dear Aunt Tilly has so helpfully half-convinced them The Enemy wants them to do.
If he could be made to engage in a spectacular act of willful defiance that would be one thing, but since we don’t know what we are making him defy, and since the more spectacular it is, the riskier it is to us, we just want to delay. Never let him see that no choice is really a choice, but we are the ones making it. Dawdle. Muddle. Confuse. Obfuscate. Guilt, fear, hope, desire, all of these are in our favor so long as none of them lead to what we fear most; i.e. a free, whole hearted, open commitment. The Enemy wants the patient to do one of two things: either to embrace every natural desire of his heart, all those deep longings for “goodness” and “truth” and “beauty” (pardon my French, but this is no job for the squeamish!) that The Enemy has placed there. If he does this, following those images with thankfulness and the knowledge that they are images, he is really choosing The Enemy behind those images, and that suits The Enemy just fine. Or, on the other hand, he could reject all of those images and choose to search for The Enemy Himself, face to face as it were (I know, the idea fills us with disgust, but some of these humans have tried it and they are unbelievably damaging to us.) I say again, the Enemy wants the human to do one of these two things. Which one, we don’t know. It doesn’t matter. We want him to do neither. Whether he is a priest or a publican is of no concern to us, so long as he is not happy or holy as either. Whether it matters to The Enemy, we can’t say for sure, but I suspect it is not His ultimate concern.
In summary, the road he takes in the end is of less interest to us than the choice, or rather the lack of choice. Keep him stalling as long as possible. When he does make it, see that he does not make it fully or freely, if you can. A choice made through fear is far better for us in the long run than a choice made from honest desire. And finally, once he does make his choice, (or drifts into it, if you do your job right,) you can use it to maintain that same spiritual stranglehold on him. Keep nagging at him with guilt, regrets, what-ifs and doubts. Encourage him to hang around with pious friends (our kind of pious, not real piety) who will say things like, “You know, I always thought you should have been a priest.” Or “Hey, at least you never have to deal with a nagging wife or whiny kids.” The ignorance of that statement is a veritable feast.
This should be enough to get you started. If you can’t manage to make it work even with this excellent advice, well, we shall just replace you with someone who can.