My Dear Lupine
I read with interest your recent attempts at luring to their spiritual deaths the human collective (they call it a “church”, but that seems too noble a word for such an unimpressive bunch), you have been assigned.
And I must say on the surface it seemed impressive. Suspect theology – heresy as it is called by their more obstinate shepherds – has delivered us many a nice side of lamb at the monthly “Night of the Wolverine” celebrations. I can almost hear the dismayed bleating even now, as to their horror they realise that what we promised to them was freedom, was actually the manacles with which we bound them and delivered them up to the rotisserie.
There’s no doubt that such a tactic has worked well in the past. But let me emphasise the word “past”. Sure there are plenty of revisionists around who twist the words of the Chief Shepherd so deliciously that the odd congregation, or even denomination, falls for it.
But have you seen what happens next? Nothing! Precisely nothing. One generation – two at most – of sheep is led astray. But the fact is that heretical churches wither and die. They end up full – or rather empty – of anything worth eating. Grisly old boilers mostly, with an occasional naive yearling at best.
But such meagre fare is hardly enough for our voracious appetites. Most would-be sheep take one look through door of these dying sheep pens and leave after a week. Hardly enough time for our Wolves In White Robes to get their fangs into them. Tasty these newbies may be, but if they know the Shepherd’s voice, they don’t hang around.
Which brings me, dear Lupine, to my point. If you do not simply wish to find the sheep who are worth consuming, but indeed wish to keep them in order for them to fatten and breed in larger amounts, then you must be smarter. Smarter of course than a fox. Foxes in sheep pens are worrisome and can take the odd lamb, but wolves? We’re the real deal. We can take down rams with nary a second thought.
So, having said as much, start by being the real deal. The key take home point for today is this:
Wolves don’t entice sheep by hanging a lump of fly-blown raw meat on a hook. Wolves entice sheep with the promise of safe pasture and more green grass than they could possibly imagine.
Don’t believe me? Find that a strange tactic? Find it almost self-defeating?
Then look at the success of the past years among many larger, impressive and seemingly influential sheep pens. Wolf after wolf has had their fill of the sheep by offering them what they feel they most desperately require in these times. The cold winds of culture are blowing hard, so they will turn to any place that will offer them refuge and food. And we must be prepared to offer it to them.
Your job will be to feed the sheep. Feed them well. Feed them too well. Put them into a food coma in which you can so stuff them with theological correctness, that in the end you can do whatever you want with them. Fill them with the rich gravy of “but this must be right because it’s so orthodox”. Do that on enough occasions for them become so fat and dependent on you, that even if they wish to flee they cannot.
I want to convince you of the most perniciously delicious tactic of them all – using their own kitchen gadgets against them – in order to serve them up as a meal.
In short I have found that weaponising the word “gospel” (their favourite word for some reason and so often used as a funnel down which all sorts of meanings and ideas are poured), works a treat. It’s a classic move is it not? Find the word that so many of the well-meaning, pious, ever-eager-to-serve-the-Chief Shepherd sheep love, and use it against them. And the word “gospel” is the piece de resistance, the garnish on the medium-rare lamb roast.
Of course the trick is to do the sheep slowly. At first you will have to swallow your pride and actually preach the “gospel” (I shudder at the thought, but we must take our medicine at this initial stage). Their Chief Shepherd has said that his sheep hear and know his voice, so our initial tactic, as I said, is not lumps of meat, but meals that give off the aroma of fresh green grass.
The risk of course is that some sheep actually change and grow and become wise to our tactics. We must deal with them (but more of that in my next letter). The tactic of course is to not preach too much gospel. And by that I don’t mean preach heresy, but just make sure that you leave out a vital ingredient, one that many sheep simply assume is there because you have used all of the right words.
And of course the most vital ingredient to leave out is “grace”. Grace – that dreadfully weak idea – is the leavening ingredient for all sermons. And the danger is even a straight reading of a text about the Chief Shepherd will fill them with grace. Countless times I have seen lesser wolves think they are suckering in a flock with the story of The Good Samaritan, only to find that the sheep actually start to have compassion on their enemies! Amateur hour indeed.
You will know you have had success when your messages to the sheep are met with compliments about how “convicting” the message was, or “how that was like a kick in the guts”. Once the sheep start to feel that their primary need is to have their stomachs kicked rather than fed, you are well on your way to a rack of lamb.
It isn’t long before you will notice the difference in the sheep. They will become compliant. Begin slowly, but start to slip in a harsh howling word every now and then. Once in a while bare your fangs in a sermon, and if they don’t flinch, in fact if they lap it up as if you were one of the prophetic Shepherds from the Old Testament, so much the better. It’s seems almost impossible that sheep will hear the voice of a wolf, replete with a howl, and lap it up, but clearly they are called “sheep” for a reason.
The next stage is to use the word “gospel” to justify actions that in any other sheep pen would be looked upon as either dangerous or divisive.
For example, if you set up a “gospel community” , say of three of four sheep families, and give them the express task of being “gospel” people to their network of friends, then you can pretty much run them ragged and into the ground by using their gospel willingness against them. Chop and change the groups. Just when they are getting settled. Mix it up to keep them on their hooves. Keep them tired and confused, and unsure of what might be next “for the sake of the gospel”.
And when one of the group members or even a number of families within the group complains that they are change-weary, that’s when you pull out the “gospel” language and tell them, with eyes as large and dewy as you can make them, that we do these things “for the sake of the gospel”. If I have used that term once I have used it a thousand times. The more eager the sheep the more willing they are to submit to it.
We then call the sheep to sacrifice our own comforts (or more to the point, sacrifice their comforts) for the sake of the gospel. And they will nod and bleat wearily, and then they will obey! It’s astonishing how easy it is to do it. And once they have done it once for you they will do it again and again and again.
Many a time I have sat back in my luxury den late into the night, howling in delighted amazement at the futile sufferings they will put themselves through for the “sake of the gospel”.
Meanwhile, despite all of that earnest effort on their behalf, rarely, if ever, do I see a lost sheep return to the fold. They expend much energy and emotion for little gain. Mind you, I have an inkling that the Chief Shepherd may be on to us at this point, and is deliberately keeping our success rate low.
The ultimate weaponising of the gospel is when, in a daring move, you actually get to slaughter a sheep in front of the rest of the flock and they applaud you for it because they have become convinced that it is for the good of the gospel.
I have practically barbecued a troublesome ram in front of ten other rams and their ewes and they have said nothing. Not a word. Not a bleat! It was astonishing and beautiful at the same time.
In that particular case the ram had been bleating loudly to me – and eventually to others – about my own life not lining up with the gospel message I was proclaiming and telling everyone else to practice. He challenged me that I had no humility, was unteachable, and refused to come under the authority of any other leader or peer.
I literally used his words against him, accusing him of those same sins, doing so in the most arrogant, unteachable and unaccountable manner that I could possibly muster., And do you know what happened? That stupefied, stupid flock actually thanked me afterwards for preserving the gospel! Even as I write this, I am salivating at the memory of the taste.
So in conclusion, remember not to make things too obvious. Remember, not meat on a hook, but grass in a pasture,
Full blown error will only take you so far, and only for a generation or so, but half baked gospel, or a gospel meal with the presence of poison or lacking the seasoning of grace can last for as long as it takes you to raise up a young pup who can eventually take over from you and command the fold. And that’s when you know that a self re-generating flock is truly at your mercy for many years to come.
Enough for now. But for next time, we will discuss “fauxnerability”. A neologism indeed, but one that I think is here to stay. I will be explaining how the tears of a wolf are even more heart-wrenching and deceptive than the tears of a clown. “Fauxnerability” will convince even the most mistrusting ewe that you have a softness about you, a tenderness, that she would love to see in her own ram.
Until then Lupine, I remain yours,