To any malevolent spirit that cares to listen,
I think I’ve come up with a decent way to declaw one of our most stubborn opponents. There are pockets of young, traditionally-minded Christian intellectuals who aren’t buying our normal modern debauchery routine.
Our goal as demons is the same here as anywhere else – to get them to self-destruct and make them useless. Our methods also remain the same – whipping up distraction, frustration, and self-absorption. These pockets of Christians resist many of our methods because they cling so strongly to old, old ideas. Old ideas make them feel safe. We need to adjust our approach to this. They forget that we are old too – just as old as every human idea. Chucking modern individualism at them can only go so far. Instead, I’m here to propose using their old ideas against them. The one I want to sell today for this purpose is the intellectual attraction to dirt, dynasty and independence – the concept loosely called agrarianism. Hear me out.
First, I think we can wield agrarianism to crush gratitude. You know well that nothing is as prohibitive to our cause as gratitude. It is the soul of joy, it is the impetus of love, it is the flower of a well-nourished heart. Agrarianism longs for a time long past. It stands in opposition to what it deems the quagmire of modern industry. Of course, they’re right that industrialism has proven a useful tool to us.
Modern industry, though, has given them medicine, transportation, heat, art, information and comfort. Many of them would be dead without it. The church is given an extra potency by it. It allows for global dissemination of their precious gospel. It makes relief from pain a much more common mercy. It makes staying alive easier so that more time can be spent on friends and family. Dream of an era without industry and you dream of an era without all that.
Let’s use agrarianism to get Christians to forget the particular blessings of the modern circumstance. Set a pattern in them. Make them unhappy with anything but grass, and the greenest grass at that. If they can get used to downplaying the things they have, we can keep them unsatisfied and frustrated their whole lives. Smother the spark of thankfulness and we will win.
Second, I think we can wield agrarianism to make the Church less catholic. We should use localism to blind them to their obligation to the Church universal. Get them to think that personal talents shouldn’t be used anywhere other than where they were born. Make them shrink from the idea that their spiritual gifts should be carted with them to an entirely different culture. Tack them to their physical area and to their physical possessions.
Few things would be worse for us than a bunch of educated, ambitious, caring souls getting sent out to the battlegrounds of the world. Their fields in America are already fairly saturated with workers, so hopefully they won’t be able to do us as much harm. Our goal is to keep them here and focused entirely on themselves. We’ve specially crafted the culture here to drain them, paralyze them, and dry up their souls. Whisper things like, “God would never call me somewhere that isn’t my place.” Maybe try, “Paul’s travels were an exception, not the rule.” If the church becomes completely global, we lose.
Finally, I think we could use agrarianism to make Christians less selfless. Agrarianism is one of those ideas that claims to offer satisfaction. Work the land and cultivate the earth, it says, and you will be personally satisfied.
This can open into our classic tool: idolatry. Twist their appreciation for the created world into a sales pitch for individual happiness. So far, few things have been more effective against young Christians than getting them to work for their own satisfaction. Keep alive the idea that happiness is the goal. Keep them entirely focused on themselves. The most dangerous souls to our cause are the ones that completely forget their own satisfaction in the drive to help others.
With this structure, we’ll get them to start valuing the earth over other human souls. We want the sort of mindset that makes a man prefer weeding his garden to conversing with the new awkward kid at church. We want them to spend time being farmers of crops instead of farmers of men. All hobbies, as you know, have the potential to distract from selfless service. This one is special, though. It’s dressed as virtue. Get them to love dirt more than people by making it seem virtuous to do so.
This tactic pairs nicely with a distorted localism. Get them to think the only people they have a duty towards are the people physically next to them, then introduce an exclusionary devotion to the earth. Spin this right, and they might stop liking other people altogether and become grumpy. If at all possible, make them grumpy. Nothing is more stifling to thankfulness and selfless love than grumpiness. Make it seem cool and old-fashioned and virtuous to be grumpy. Tell them stories about great grumpy people. Give them grumpy role models, preferably dead ones.
Of course, all of these things could be intellectually guarded against. These folks aren’t dumb. They could extract the strengths of something like agrarianism while guarding against its weaknesses – the tendency to discount modern blessings, the aversion to moving to where the need is, the valuing of land and satisfaction over souls and sacrifice. To ensure this doesn’t happen, focus on making them fall in love with it enough to identify with it. Let it color their personal dreams and desires. Let an attack on the farm feel like an attack on them.
If nothing else works, and we can’t make them grumpier or less content or more useless, then at least try to turn them into hypocrites. Encourage them to loudly praise agrarian ideals but keep them addicted enough to modernity to never act on them. Keep them feverishly desperate to avoid tedious toil while inspiring them to write heartfelt poetry pining for it. Any time we can split thought and action, we make progress. Honestly your best bet might just be to use agrarianism as a wedge between what they say is worth doing and what they actually do. A little bit of hypocrisy can go a long way.
In any case, be careful with all this. The last thing you want is to get them to legitimately love the earth and their communities as gifts from their creator. Imagine the trouble I’d get in if this backfires. Do well, demon. Be sneaky, be persistent, and never let them remember that you exist.