March 26, 2017

The Vilesidious Letters: On Christian Schools

screwt.jpegAs C.S. Lewis (apologies, sir) said, it is not difficult to come into this kind of correspondence, once one knows the trick. This “letter” appears to be about Christian schools. Hmmmmm….You can leave Vilesidious a comment, but I don’t think he’ll answer.

Dear Slimebeetle,

It is with mixed amusement and amazement that I read your report of 1.31, a report full of weeping and gnashing of teeth that the patient’s children have been enrolled in what the enemy refers to as a “Christian School.” Obviously, you have found a way to be absent from the most recent seminar on our overall strategy for evangelicalism, a seminar that gloriously reflects the substantial progress we have made at the important level of popular expectations.

I cannot believe you were unaware that our influence within institutions such as this Christian school has created results that are far beyond anyone’s projections. In the particular school your patient has chosen, more than 80% of the graduates have rejected the Christian faith within three years of graduation. Even with a small rate of remission- often quite temporary- we can expect magnificent harvests from within this particular segment of the enemy’s camp. Impressive, by any standard.

Evangelicals have become great believers in their various systems, institutions and programs. It is a mark of the contemporary church that its illusions of external prosperity have almost completely blinded it to its poverty of actual spiritual power. Our agents move almost at will within many evangelical institutions, and it is almost a joke at the lowest levels of hell to see what abandonments and compromises are possible in the name of such absurd concepts as “relevance.” I have to admit that occasionally I have to pinch myself to see these evangelicals tossing aside every weapon and treasure they have on such grounds as “avoiding boredom” or “church growth.”

The Christian school is based upon sound enough intentions and we always run a certain amount of risk when inquiry, truth and prayer are in play, but the astounding fact is that we have seen evangelicals over the past 200 years again and again assign to their various institutions and programs the power to affect actual, spiritual change. The more impressive an institution is, using the usual culturally controlled measurements supplied by our agents, the more confidence evangelicals place in its ability to create spiritual growth. This has made for marvelous results in prosperous cultures and, really, some breath-taking examples of irony.

No one can say these people weren’t warned. That unfortunate section of the enemy’s propaganda manual called Revelation chapters 2 and 3 contain several warnings regarding precisely this phenomenon. Someone suggested we adopt the name “The Laodecian Project,” but I’m not for that kind of strutting.

Remember the nature of the whole enterprise. Education, at every level, is an exercise in considerable amounts of conformity, yet those who are involved in it seem quite oblivious to that fact, preferring to addict themselves to large doses of narcissism and foolish optimism about human nature. In other words, educators and parents want to feel good about what they are doing, a perfect invitation for our involvement. Nothing seems to stir the middle-class, suburban evangelical quite so much as hearing his/her child recite Latin or parrot some platitude from a civics textbook two grades ahead of their age. There are almost no boundaries of realism allowed in the pursuit of feeling good about all “our children” are capable of learning. Humans can be intelligent and creative, but in their fallen condition they are more likely to be in love with themselves and completely unaware of the true nature of what the enemy calls “wisdom.”

The revered Slobweiner has made an immense contribution to this field of research by his brilliant proposal to villanize public schools in the Christian mind. While it is true that certain aspects of public school culture have come to resemble hell in a rather charming way, this has led to excesses that, at first, seemed rather pointless. But Slobweiner’s theory was that the wretched condition of public schools would provide just the right platform for the excessive hubris and narcissism we wanted in “Christian” schools. The outcome of this plan has amazed all of us, and we now have a situation where any Christian school is deemed the best place for a child, no matter what a shallow culture of conformity it allows or what actual evils- such as materialism or racism- lie festering at its very heart.

Some in the Bureau have taken to immense amounts of laughter about all of this, but I find it to be somewhat awe inspiring.

The fetish of academic excellence is easy enough to promote in this school, but I find that to be of little use for seriously infernal purposes. What has impressed me is the way in which the overall culture of these institutions can produce, when pursued with the right guidance, a kind of evangelicalism that vaporizes in the presence of the actual secular culture it is meant to conquer much like a vampire in sunlight. All that talk of “excellence” and “leadership” really is quite a lot of fizz, as these institutions produce followers, conformists and prattling repeaters of propaganda at a rate so high that we hardly know what to do with them once we have them on board.

I’ve seen some outstanding examples of vaporizing evangelicalism from the “stars” of every graduating class at the very school you’re shining about. For the sake of all that’s evil, Slimebeetle, have you forgotten that these institutions depend on caricatures, propaganda, distortions and deceptions to such an extend that once the little darlings encounter a real atheist, or a thoughtful Buddhist or someone having sex who’s not insane, they are already questioning everything they’ve ever heard? Then, if you skillfully utilize the various tools at your disposal, especially the natural interest in sexual relationships, social recognition, entertainment (which evangelicalism has already baptized as the very purpose of life), materialism and especially “normality,” you will find the reasons to continue within evangelicalism to be almost non-existent when the external props are removed. (Just keep them away from some of those troublesome campus ministries. See the files. The situation is an embarrassment.)

Old habits die hard, you say? Not in most of them. They are quite eager to reinvent themselves.You’ll be surprised that one of the habits acquired at their beloved Christian school was a kind of hostility toward the church and a fondness, again in the ironic cause of growth, to prefer the secular and the profane over the sacred and the holy in the basis that it’s more “authentic.” “Habits” like actually reading the Bible are generally flimsy in these students. Conformity has made them mostly show, and especially for parents. Christian “fellowship” wasn’t any kind of actual spiritual formation, but the usual social/sexual dance steps to keep them around the church. “Ministry” was more fun disguised as “concern” for others. It’s all quite amusing. The work done in youth and young adult ministry is a marvel, even to me.

In other words, you can actually use this brand of Christianity to turn them away from the enemy’s true Kingdom. This generation, in contrast to their “Baby Boomer” elders, shows a potentially troublesome desire for authenticity, but, if handled rightly, they can be taught to despise themselves and their religion quite easily. (Remember the Brad Pitt interview where he credited the “honest” Methodist girl with his own collapse of faith? Once the structure is tottering, they almost never rebuild it. They prefer anything that smells “new” to what they’ve just found to be flawed. As to the tendency to return to faith later, that is another letter.)

So might I make several suggestions? All in the manuals, if you would take time to consult them.

-Encourage conformity at every turn. Be sure that the family submerges themselves in everything the school offers. We want them to be certain that they’ve invested sufficiently to expect the complete return. I know of no limits to what can be accomplished with this among wealthy evangelicals in a megachurch, but don’t get ridiculous.

-See if Tittlewart has any plans for chapel services at that school. If not, we have a list of available youth ministers that are simply wonderful. Some of these characters would make good speakers at our annual Tempter’s Awards.

-Can you insert someone- perhaps a senior boy- with a proven record in sexual corruption into the mix at the school? It’s always good to have a second channel operating in contrast to the dominant rhetoric from the adults. I realize there’s always risk in that strategy, but I’m a great believer in having someone nearby to verify that the last abstinence talk was clearly unrealistic, lightning doesn’t strike and so on.

-If you can, keep some kind of notable scandal on hand. Adultery and financial impropriety make for a nice counterpoint to all the ads and brochures. Students these days have a superb sense of hypocrisy. Keep that sense tracking something.

-Of course, do whatever you can to insure that success breeds pride, and then keep that love of pride for useful bouts of doubts and self-loathing. I find the best approach is cyclical, with the final abandonment of the whole thing the result of years of back and forth.

-As much “Contemporary Christian Music” as possible please, It’s the soundtrack of apostasy, as far as I can tell. Nothing smells quite as inauthentic, juvenile, manufactured and phony. In fact, we need some down here for the more despairing and tortured areas. Is it on iTunes?

-Moving from one Christian school to another, or even to homeschooling, has the same useful potential, but requires more oversight on your part. The key is sending the finished product out into the world with what the family thinks is substance, but is, in fact, next to nothing. There’s nothing quite so much fun as watching years of assumed Christianity burning up in the first encounter with a Sam Harris book or, even better, a freshman psychology class. If they don’t plan on going into the world, but are staying home under the parent’s control, it’s an entirely different situation.

On the subject of the dangers lurking at this Christian school, I’ll respond after a thorough inventory. That 20% lost to our cause is nothing to overlook. There’s plenty of work to be done. I have the utmost confidence in you. Let’s see a better attitude. Our Father’s house below is full of graduates of Christian schools, and there is no reason you can’t contribute several hundred more.

Your affectionate uncle,

Vilesidious

P.S. I’m well aware of your tendency to blog everything at your web site. Restrain yourself, please.