My Dear Mogslopper,

Please tell Mr. 'Nosher that his title is somewhat suspect. Junior Tempters do not have undersecretaries; I have undersecretaries. If, Mogslopper, you have employed or otherwise enslaved a minor demon in your service, you are in violation of Article 45456568623.3452b in The Infernal Code, and I am required to report you. An aside: if you have indeed captured another supernatural denizen against its will, you are conducting yourself admirably and will be promptly promoted down the scale. I acknowledge the paradox. The only explanation I can offer is that justice is inferior to Competition as a rule. But let us review the question Mr. 'Nosher brought up with his nonsensical grammatical style in the last post: the topic of avarice. The particular sin I believe your patient in the middle of America would call "greed." Like most other aspects of our Assignment, tempting a human toward the acquisition of goods is in the course of his nature--and anything strictly natural is to be discouraged for it was originally put there by the Enemy. Material items, even riches, are not in their essence Evil. Neither are they Good. They are merely a part of the human environment like trees or oxygen. There is a method by which their Creator outlined the vermin use their materials. For instance, the items are not to be fashioned into representations of spirits and worshipped. The Hebrews called this "fashioning a Graven Image" and it is forbidden by the Enemy in the most stringent language. Hence, any time you can move a man into a position of worship utilizing a Graven Image (for example a golden calf or a small green paper bill), you have struck a major victory for our Father Below. Recently, within the last five centuries or so and in the northern latitudes, the Method prescribed for us Tempters is one of oblique distraction: instead of letting the ignoramuses fear and worship us in the form of an Idol, we are to make them into Materialists. They should not even consider our work as a sign of our presence in their world. They are to believe that they exist on a Silent Planet because it is a Silent Universe. Fortunately, all of their science is directed at proving this. And they never guess that it is the structure of their listening and interpretation that is suspect. Once they come to disbelieve in us, or see us only as dancing Goons in red tights from children's tales, our work at making them full of avarice is half-done. Let me explain. Our version of Competition has become Law for them (that every devil can agree on!). They no more think the Universe is Cooperative than they believe Eve's Apple was a real Apple. Instead, we have crafted a vision--promoted by a certain Reverend Malthus, one of my most cooperative patients I might add, and a troubled idiot of a man, Charles Darwin, one of Corkhoff's patients if memory serves--that Progress is only available to those that succeed at outstripping their neighbors. It used to be called Becoming Modern or Civilized. Now they refer to it as "developing" or "industrializing" or "the American Dream;" they all refer to the same belief that there is too little to go around and the one that ends up with the most is somehow the greatest. As they also believe in a Silent Universe--where material is all that there Is--and a closed System--where the Enemy's Miracles (a misnomer, I might add) or our "Interventions" cannot possibly happen--accumulation is the only sure bet at safety, security, popularity, and inner peace. (I know you are snickering at this last point, but that is really their belief!) If you play your puppet right, he will seldom ask why he thinks a faster computer or newer automobile or larger house or more fashionable wardrobe is necessary. It Just Is. Even in the mind of a Moral man, the question will not be Why Accumulate At All? It will instead be How Much Is It Worth? Is it worth your human taking on a second employment, reducing some other expenditure, giving less to his fellow man? You really must encourage him to take the latter option, by the way. Your patient should be giving as little as possible to anyone else--caring for his own needs before anyone else's. Do not let him question what he means by needs. You see, Mogslopper, safety, security, popularity, and inner peace are truly what these buggers are after. They have what an envoy of our Enemy called a Hole in their spirits. As creatures, they are partially His and always feel somewhat drawn toward His desires for them. If we can convince them that stuffing their emptiness with Material things, the only things they believe exist in their Silent Universe, will satisfy their vague loneliness, they will gladly stuff and stuff and stuff. If nothing else, they believe they can mitigate the pain of that Hole. At best, they ignore the feeling and the ineffectiveness of that particular coping method and instead turn on the television to the evening news, where their senses will be curiously deadened even further. Mr. 'Nosher's point that these Materials are temporary is half-right. They indeed cannot last forever. However, you are better not to draw too much attention to their temporal nature, lest your patient dwell on his non-temporal nature. Even things that are quite flash-in-the-pan can give them unadulterated joy, a sight I detest to see in even the most depraved patients. As in most situations, you should drive him to mistreat this thing the Enemy has provided for his debased enjoyment. If he enjoys fine wine, have him collect the wine, never drinking it but always comparing it to the wine collections of others. This way he will not actually use the material object to bring himself pleasure but to keep the potential for pleasure always out in front of him, always aching for fulfillment but never fulfilled. Does he prize a fashionable piece of clothing in order to assure him standing with his peers? Allow him to buy the clothing but look at the man more muscularly built than himself and wonder why he cannot ever look that confident in the same clothing. (If you guessed that confidence is something unobtainable by purchasing fabric, you are insightful. See that he does not question this.) Does he enjoy the feeling of exhilaration at driving a motorcycle? Instead, have him get in with an exclusive motorcycle set that makes him feel not quite secure in his riding skills when around them, far too sure of his skill when away from them. He will be miserable even in the midst of his joy at accumulating and experiencing. Your man wants acceptance and peace. We want the hollowed out wail of unfulfillment. The Enemy wants your patient whole in his voluntary dependence (a terribly free act); we want to swallow him whole and slippery like a raw oyster. Remember, Material was created by the Enemy. If you can either make him accumulate too much or fear and loathe the crass Material uniformly, you've hooked your patient well. We want him a savory Gnostic--unable to believe in a Spirit who became Flesh and dwelt among them; even less able to balance his need for Material with his obligation to his fellow human. For the Cause, Your Dear Uncle


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