My Dear Mogslopper,

In my last post, I mentioned, but did not expound upon, the issue of mortals and possession. I know the issue makes you giggle. I daresay anydevil laughs out loud at the claims made by humans who say they own something; as if they could actually possess anything corporeal or incorporeal. Presently, I want to focus on this issue of laughter instead. Laughter is always to be discouraged--especially among proud Spirits like ourselves. There is no need for laughter: tempting is serious business. And "fun" is very far from infernal. We cannot use "fun" unless it is so twisted out of the shape the Enemy crafted that it is nigh unto unrecognizable. This twisting is how we turn boys that enjoy firecrackers and pop-guns into Arsonists. You can see, can you not, how un-fun arson is to them the moments before and after the act. When they truly become useful to our Cause, they feel nothing but the vast Emptiness of Hell in their souls the moment they touch the match. Nevertheless, it is the potential of good feeling--some might say Meaning--that keeps them returning to that same dried-up well; now filled only by the parched dust of habit and misery. We would steer them toward the misery dangling in front of them some past prospect of enjoyment that they once received, albeit in a drastically different form. But when they go back to the habit, be sure to drain any actual enjoyment out of it. Make the sin as un-fun as possible; make them think that it once was fun. But I depart from my original goal. I would like to tell you a cautionary tale about laughter--even merited laughter--out of the mouth of a Tempter such as yourself. Though it may seem counter-intuitive from what we know happens to them after Death, the bipeds are relatively insubstantial creatures. They are fragile. And they hang in a fragile balance between the material and the spiritual worlds. I agree that the material world is vile on the whole and that you would rather not dirty yourself with its slime and crust so often, but you will be a Tempter, 2nd Class soon (unless you continue your blundering ways) and will have to, as they say in your patient's segment of America, "suck it up." In the Beginning, Our Father Below confronted the Enemy about associating with the vermin. But the Enemy would have none of it and insisted against the most emphatic advice of Our Father to actually mix Himself up in the whole Grand Mess. Of course, Our Father did not have to work very hard to convince Many of Us that the Enemy had officially lost His faculties. We departed to more sterile soils. Practically, this means you may not insert yourself corporeally into the material world except in the most dire cases. I am certain that comes as some relief to you. But you also must watch your mouth. Even a small peep from a very high Spirit such as yourself sounds positively shocking to a human. Demonic laughter, even if elicited by ridiculous comments by your patient, is out of the question. Some time ago, a mentor of mine, Mr. Tummarst, discovered first-hand the troubling consequences of laughter on his patient. (You may not remember the event--you were only a wraith at the time. I myself was only a Tempter, 2nd Class and had not yet earned my wings.) Tummarst was about as good a Tempter as they come. He was up for Demotion in only a few years, they said. He was also a fine mentor. But his last assignment was a certain Roman nobleman named Nestor. Nestor hated his name and changed it to the name History remembers him by as soon as he was of age. As legend has it, Tummarst convinced his patient to begin learning that curiously devilish instrument, the fiddle, in order to turn his attention away from a burgeoning attentiveness to the up-and-coming religion of Christianity. Apparently, Tummarst's patient became infatuated with the teachings of the loathsome Apostle Peter and it was all Tummarst could do to keep his patient, now known as Nero, focused on his fiddle-playing. But you see, Nero was a terrible fiddler. And one night, in a fit of frustration, Nero prayed earnestly to the Enemy for the ability to fiddle like one of the Greek gods. The irony was not lost on Tummarst and he immediately burst into laughter. Nero was instantly deafened and then driven insane by the sound of the booming devil's voice. Soon after, he began hacking away at his fiddle and burning things to try to drive the sound of Tummarst's laugh out of his head. I am assuming you know the rest of the tale: Nero burned down Rome and burned up Christians--all while sawing on his violin. I suppose he got his prayer granted in the end. Unfortunately for Tummarst, he also created an awful lot of Martyrs for the Enemy in the process. We lost elders, bishops, and rag-tag dabblers in Christianity by the score. All work of delicately "phasing out" the newfangled religion by subtle cajoling and corrupting was set back by centuries. The Lower Order saw it fit to put Tummarst Out-To-Pasture until he could be suitably fattened up for use during those days of famine. I guess you could say Tummarst got consumed by his work.... In any case, I became his replacement precisely because I never let the vermin know I was there or what I was up to. Sure, my methods were not as glamorous as some. But I became a specialist in the Slow Decline--the painstaking but effective method of gradual, nearly imperceptible, hardening of heart, thickening of mind, and corrupting of will needed to bring a steady stream of human chattel to us. I never afflicted the comfortable or comforted the afflicted. I learned that those haunted by dreams of ravening beasts will not worship us. They will run to the Enemy in fear. And those that long for possession will never say 'no' to us when corrupted to a certain point--they cannot see us as ravening beasts any longer. They will not run because they do not recognize the need to escape the trap of unwavering pleasure. Hopefully by the time they wise up, they will be meeting us face-to-face. Affectionately, Your Uncle


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