My Dear Mogslopper,

It sounds like your patient is well in hand at the moment. Let me offer provisional congratulations, therefore, as well as additional instruction concerning the Church. A mere fifty human years ago, there were only two hundred or so denominations of the Church, most of which operated inside your patient's country and the other English-speaking nations. Through long labors, we have improved that quantity substantially to the robust number of nearly one and a half thousand today spread throughout the entire Earth. And we have accomplished this great feat with nearly a zero-sum gain in the actual number of Churchmen. How were we able to manage such a degree of dissolution in under a century? The process (which we continue unabated to this day) is quite sublime; I shall explain it to you. You may have heard the term "relevance" bandied about recently by your patient and his fellows. It is, no doubt a popular term in most social arenas these days--politics, the television media, education, advertising--everyone wants to be "relevant"; it is as egregious a fault to lack "relevance" today as it was to lack personal integrity or a competent grasp of written communication a mere generation ago. But this use of relevance is somewhat different than its common usage used to be. Herein lies our genius. "Relevance" has now come to mean something closely akin to Fashion; and I need not remind you how instrumental Fashion is to our current stratagems. Our recently reinvented relevance is a triple-pronged trident on which we may skewer the human vermin. First, it is discontinuous in its content: each moment that follows does not necessarily need to be thematically tied with the one before. In fact, studies have show that humans fed a constant diet of discontinuous events--say frequent airplane trips from one geographic region to another vastly different one in under a single day--simply become bored with life played out as a contiguous whole. Under our definition of relevance humor, an unfortunate passion of the Enemy's gifted to men, can now only be appreciated as discontinuity of person, place, and language: "An American, a Spaniard, and a Pollack walk into a bar…" and other jokes of that ilk are indicative of this discontinuity. But I am getting off topic. Second, relevance as we use it, begs instant gratification. If one is to be "relevant" today, one must deliver the goods, as they say. A sermon must be immediately applicable to the life of the congregant. A book must be witty and powerfully written from the very first line. A schoolteacher must deliver a compelling reason why her lessons will apply to the present lives of the students. Third, our new relevance demands a non-analytical approach. If you have to "think about it" for more than a few moments, it is not "relevant." In this way, sound bites have become a primary linguistic tool. Single-sentence quotes are scrawled over the walls of college students' dormitory rooms; few of those students have ever read the actual works of the quotes' authors. Images on television or in the cinema are often blurry and rapidly changed. There is barely enough time to comprehend what one is watching before the image is faded away. You see, Mogslopper, if we keep them in this state of perpetual thirst for the immediately "relevant," they will be disinclined to come before a God that asks them to persevere. Longsuffering is an archaic and, if I may say so, tactless virtue; or at least that is how the humans now see it, steeped as the term is in mythological pictures of a bloodthirsty, vengeful, condemning God. Of course they have that image quite wrong, but it is a nightmare they cannot quite shake and so they maintain a stalwart dualism with this angry god on one hand and a doting god on the other. As a happy bi-product of their thirst for the relevant combined with this dualistic mindset, the vast majority of humans will either flee our Enemy entirely, assuming He is irrelevant, able to only punish and dominate, or they will flee toward an all too relevant, justice-free, undemanding, commitment-less, "safe" version of Him. With some delicate tempting, they will not realize their error until we meet them face-to-face. The outbreak of denominations, sects, factions, clubs, and the like inside of the Church, is a direct result of our philosophy of relevance. But do not misunderstand me, a small group of Enemy-followers are always dangerous whether they identify themselves with a denomination of the Church or not. I simply mean to indicate that factions exist by and large because of historical and stylistic distractions introduced to various churches by their tempters, acted on by the patients, and eventually codified by exclusionary words and actions on the part of a few key individuals--often the individuals who have become influential because of their special relevance to a segment of the congregation. Yes, of course they have the injunction of that meddling St. Paul: "…One of you says 'I follow Paul'; another 'I follow Apollos'; another 'I follow Cephas'; still another 'I follow Christ.' Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you?" and so on and so forth. However, Mogslopper, they don't seriously believe that St. Paul meant that for them, in their day and age! They assume that by emphasizing certain distinctive features of their "faith" as they say--though they really mean certain phrases and gestures and locations and songs and décor and dress that feel comfortable and familiar to them--they are being relevant. And they never realize that relevant also means fleeting, insubstantial, distracting. Lest I overstate my case, I should point out that infrequently true relevance moves a stale, traditional-until-death church closer to the Enemy's purposes; we want nothing to do with that sort of relevance. Hopefully, you will find your patient already steeped in decades of instant gratification and further temptation toward belonging to the most culturally relevant group will take him further and further on the path toward self-interest, distraction, anti-analyticalism, and a lack of integration. A man like that would be quite useful in driving a wedge straight through any body of Enemy-followers you were short-sighted enough to let him join. Affectionately, Your Uncle


Blogger e said...

Uh.... who is this? And how did you get on this blog? And why are you writing like that?

7/16/2004 9:39 AM  
Blogger John McCollum said...

Uh, are there tridents with prongs that number something other than 'three?'

Just wondering.

7/16/2004 1:14 PM  
Blogger e said...

what is your email address? we must discuss....

7/20/2004 8:17 AM  
Blogger brad said...

Wow, that is an incredble post! E, you didn't write that??

7/22/2004 12:24 PM  

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