Monday, June 4, 2012

Request For Propaganda: Crowd the Confessional

The next request for propaganda I have (RFP for those who love TLAs) is not so much an attempt to create propaganda that reflects reality but more of an attempt to shape or alter said reality.

The objective is to give a long term indirect line of attack to elements of the Catholic hierarchy who have their hearts in the right place but who are fearful of direct confrontation.  It's not my style, or my preference, but perhaps a Pope must go to war with the bishops he has, not those he might wish he had.  Where is the Hammer of the Heretics when you desperately need him?

The weapon brought into play here is the confessional---specifically, the Sacrament of Confession.  It is a powerful weapon and I know very well that Satan fears it.  I also know that it is almost entirely disused---very few Catholics make anything remotely approximating regular confession.  If they did, you would very likely find many of your orthodoxy and orthopraxis problems greatly mitigated, simply because of the dread of having to fess up to them at the next regular confession.

Here is how the weapon is brought into play.  What you need is for authors and other writers to associate confession with high-status characters.  They don't even need to follow them into the confessional---simply stating or showing that they go to get confessed regularly (to trigger the weakness of the neurotypical mind to this kind of histogram distortion propaganda, you just need to show it twice, and they'll fill in the estimate that character X confesses regularly).  Do this a lot in literature, film, and television and you'll create an expectation in the minds of ordinary Catholics that a high-status Catholic just does this.  It's not an attempt to sway the rational mind but the gut level status estimator.

My wife and I read a ton of books every year between us.  Interestingly, the only author we can think of that we read who has used confessions more than once for his characters is S.M Stirling in his Change novels.  Stirling is either agnostic or atheist for God's sake!  If he'll carry the water of life for you it shouldn't be too difficult to get others to do so as well.

There are some advantages for writers in the confessional.  You see, one of the big dogmas of present day writers is 'Show, Don't Tell'.  If you want to show the readers or audience what a character is thinking, or want to digress on some point of that character's background or history, what easier device can you think of than the confessional?  Good Lord, you can launder an authorial information dump quite easily that way.  Just do it twice (because to the gut, there's no such thing as two, only unique or ubiquitous) and use high status characters.  TV occasionally uses the trope of the confessions being sealed and intimately related to some particular crime.  There is a LOT more that can be done with the confession box.  You can also use the assignment of penance as literary glue for why the confessing character has to do something afterwards that they would not otherwise be disposed to do given what you have revealed about their personality thus far.

My gut tells me that boosting participation rates in confession will help you a lot in terms of keeping your priests in line as well.  Getting lots of confessions from more than little old ladies and hardcore traditionalists will impress on them the gravity and sickening pervasiveness of sin.  The wrecks of lives and souls will be seared into their minds and the need to cal out to God for aid and mercy will be almost undeniable. 


The World's 2nd Most Interesting Man said...

Heck you could even allude to the confessional in erotica.

I'm not sure how well penance would work as literary glue, since penances have become unbearably light these days (3 Hail Marys; 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary). Heck the most severe penance I've ever received was to pray the rosary, but as the priest was not a native English speaker, I think he meant a Hail Mary, but said "Rosary". So I prayed a whole rosary just to be safe. 'Course I never killed or raped anyone, imbezzled a million bucks. Geesh, that might get somebody like 50 Our Fathers and 100 Hail Marys.

Jehu said...

A few of the traditionalist Catholics I know have shared some of the penance they've had assigned to them. It tends to be of the 'avoiding the occasion of sin' moreso than the expiation through suffering variety, I agree. But writing more hardline penance would create cultural expectation of same, would it not?