Desperately Seeking Community

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Disclaimer: This piece is written in the style of a senior demon, Screwtape, to his nephew a junior demon, Wormwood. This is based on C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, which is well worth a read. 

My dear Wormwood,

You requested some tips on one of my areas of expertise, loneliness.  Lack of companionship, social pain.

I work my way through a society that is apparently well interlinked and connected, yet achieve so much so easily. Around the world there are apparently six degrees of separation — made evident by checking out who is a friend of a friend on Facebook — yet people don’t know their own neighbours or feel any sense of belonging to the community around them.

They are lonely. They don’t connect with others or evangelize; they don’t hear about the enemy or they turn to what we tell them through the media. Through this we can leave them feeling like they are trying to fill that gap without ever filling it, and we can reach everywhere.

Take, for example, young people leaving home. It could be a good social and community time. People could sit around talking about the world until late at night, praying together, discussing life and developing their beliefs. However, we have a way in. Young people have become addicted to social media, if they aren’t on it they are thinking about it and living life for the ‘status update’.

I can be there in a group of young people going out for dinner. They can spend the whole time sitting on their phones or taking ‘selfies’, without meaningful connection. Back in their homes, everyone goes into their rooms and spends time on their own computers and social media, barely seeing those they live with.

This even works, according to plan, with children in families. We can get families to put dinner out and each family member takes their food away to their individual areas to their own media. Thereby, spending the evening in isolation. Media needs to not be a tool, but something people can’t live without.

Modern motherhood itself seems to be lived in isolation. As one of the followers of the enemy says…

We live in isolation. From time immemorial mothers have raised their children in close-knit communities, surrounded by their own mothers and aunts and cousins and nieces and lifelong friends. In traditional human villages, women would gather to wash and cook together, their kids running around freely with friends and relatives… Mothers were never meant to be the sole people in charge of their children’s wellbeing all day, every day. It is utterly unnatural to go for 12 hours without having a face-to-face conversation with another adult.

In isolation we can get mothers to resent their time with their children, to turn away from motherhood because of the seemingly hard road without support. We can scare them off a road to sanctity. This was so much harder to achieve in the past when people did it together in community, sharing in the work, joys and sufferings together.

In society we have worked for increases in divorce, solo parent families, a general decrease in marriage and the family that all leads to loneliness. Everyone experiences it at some point. But we need to leave them feeling an empty loneliness, leave them watching media full of people who look  like they have connection, to feel they are missing out and not filling that gap with the enemy.

And the effects of loneliness? According to some human ‘experts’ it leads to an increase in health risks, suicide and depression. People start to devalue life around them — their own lives and those of the elderly (and young) through euthanasia and future life through abortion.

We need to leave them desperately seeking community.

They need to remain oblivious to the remedies our enemy has provided them with, namely those detestable practices of prayer and the Eucharist. Living in the ‘reality’ not in the ‘digital’. They need to stay away from that dangerous pope of theirs, Francis and his messages such as “It is not enough to be passersby on the digital highways, simply “connected”; connections need to grow into true encounters. We cannot live apart, closed in on ourselves. We need to love and to be loved. We need tenderness.”

What a load of garbage! Also the still infectious John Paul II, who tried to convince them that “God did not create man for life in isolation, but for the formation of social unity, so also ‘it has pleased God to make men holy and save them not merely as individuals, without bond or link between them, but by making them into a single people, a people which acknowledges Him in truth and serves Him in holiness.’ So from the beginning of salvation history He has chosen men not just as individuals but as members of a certain community.”

And they definitely should not watch videos like:

They need to not get involved in parish groups and communities, and invest in social capital such as community organisations or volunteer groups. Never encourage them to genuinely reach out to others, to get out of their bubble and have actual encounters with people.

Do all this, and we shall win many souls for our father below.

Your affectionate uncle,


Chelsea Houghton

Chelsea Houghton

Chelsea Houghton is editor of Restless Press, as well as a columnist for Catholic Stand, Ignitum Today and NZ Catholic. a 27 year old mother who lives in Christchurch, New Zealand with her husband and four children under the age of five. She has a Media and Communications degree from the University of Canterbury and in the past has worked for the Journey of the Cross and Icon for World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, for the Christchurch Catholic Youth Team and running the Theology of the Body for Teens programme and training to various groups.

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2 thoughts on “Desperately Seeking Community”

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    Please, our mothers were much more isolated than mothers today. They didn’t have social media to blog on, tweet/facebook, many didn’t have 2nd cars so they could drive to all sorts of mommy groups, and they did not sit around complaining to their friends about how alone they were. Stop pretending you’re martyrs.

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