December 8-11, 2004
vol 15, no. 193

Bad Company Ruins Good Morals

Part One
    We always hear how bad things spiral out of control even though they may have started out so innocently. But the problem is that if we let down our guard on the little things, the big things won't seem so bad. Big mistake. Once we begin to rationalize that bad can be okay, we've already boxed ourselves in and that only leads to the deep end. Getting back to square one is important in recognizing the danger one could so easily get into physically, mentally and especially spiritually.

        "It shouldn't be hard to see that the further one allows oneself to be taken in by such bad company, the more difficult it becomes to disentangle themselves, and also the more difficult it becomes to find in themselves the extreme humility it takes to describe how they were taken advantage of. Often we wonder about the mystery of iniquity, why it is that so many villains can be so utterly loyal to Satan and evil, even when it would seem that all compensation available to them would favor their repentance, but in all these mere strategies, one can see the answer. "

    I have a confession to make; I was once a thief. It all happened when I was about 16 or so. A certain "friend" I had at the time (I will call him "KG," for those are his initials) invited me to yet another one of his crazy capers, and this one (unlike so many others) seemed like one I could bring myself to do as I had lost much face with him in recent months owing to my refusal of so many of his other suggestions.

    There was this house across the street from where I lived where no one was living at the time. It had a "For Sale" sign in front and the previous owners had already moved out. "So," KG suggested to me and a couple other friends, "why not sneak inside that house where we can party and have fun and not be seen?" Surely, if caught, and we were determined not to be, we could not be accused of burglary since there was nothing inside there; the previous owners had already taken all their furniture and belongings with them. And it wouldn't be "breaking" and entering since I knew how to get into a house without doing any damage whatsoever. I had learned that skill quite well, having been one of the "latchkey" kids, and since I lacked the key itself, I even learned how to enter my own house without any key and without doing any damage nor indeed leaving any trace of how I got in. Surely I could apply the same skill here.

    It all seemed harmless enough, so why not go along? So one fine afternoon, we went up to the house. I began lifting the screen up out of its frame to pull it out. As it took a little time, KG decided to "help" me a little bit at trying to work it loose. But his "help" was rather clumsy and suddenly an aluminum part of the screen broke in two. The screen then promptly came out without any further damage, but damage was already done. Much as I felt like backing out of the whole thing right then, KG made it clear what a waste it would be to have accidentally done such a thing, and then not to use it by proceeding. Anyway, the damage was already done and backing out now wouldn't undo it, so I agreed to proceed with the entry knowing that if I had backed out then everyone else (there were about 5 of us) would also have to back out. Soon after, I had lifted the glass part of the window, slid it over and removed it without any further damage and we entered.

    Much of the next part was pretty much as I had expected. We told each other all the rude jokes we couldn't tell at home, drank beer, horsed around and in general had a grand old time of it, sort of like joyriding, but with a stolen house instead of a stolen car. In the course of it all, KG and one other began messing with the telephone. At that time telephones were built in as part of the house, bought and sold with the rest of the house, and exclusively maintained by the telephone company. But they had opened the little plastic box where it connects to the wall and were messing with the wires in some fashion that I neither knew nor understood. I vaguely recall wishing they would just leave it alone but in all the other joking and what not (also spilling some beer which I also was not happy about) I really had not paid much attention to what they were doing with the telephone. After a couple hours or so we left. I closed the window behind us and reinserted the screen as best as I could in its damaged condition (but it still showed), and thought that was to be the end of it.

    That was not the end of course. The next day, KG was at my door with the telephone saying that his mom said she was going to search his room, so to hide it he brought it over to me for safekeeping. He said he would be back for it after a couple days or so when the search was over. I hid it under some bedding for the dog, a totally safe place where it should never have been found. Yet, before KG could ever come back for it, it was found somehow, and I confessed all to my parents. It was then that it was explained to me that receiving stolen property is as much considered theft as actually taking it, something that I, in my youthful naivete, had not been aware of. I had no intention of taking it in the first place, was not aware at the time when he did, and was only doing him a favor. I even intended to try to find some way to persuade him to give it back somehow, whenever he would come back for it. Yet despite all the best of intentions I received the stolen telephone and in doing so therefore became a thief. The court hearing was mercifully short; the judge merely reiterated what my parents had already explained. Since that had been my only scrape with the law as a minor, the court agreed to seal my record when I turned 18.

    You may notice that I have titled this essay "Bad Company Ruins Good Morals." Obviously, KG, and to a lesser extent the others I was also with at the time, were bad company with whom I would have been wise not to associate. I wonder how often people seem to think that bad company only cause others near them to be bad by some vague sort of osmosis or something, as if the bare presence of them in and of itself were enough to somehow make good people inexplicably go bad. As if the spread of evil were a mere accident, or something that if only I were just "stronger" in some sense it might then somehow "just not happen." But of course all the "strength" in the world, or out of it, would not have done a speck of good here. What good it is to be able to lift twenty-ton chess pieces if you still don't know how to move them so as to win the game? This essay is about what would have worked, how such a fall could have been avoided.

    Michael Aquino, one time compatriot of Anton LaVey and subsequent founder of the Satanic Temple of Set in San Francisco once wrote, "There are no Satanic missionaries." With whatever respect (if any) is due, I flatly disagree. True, the conventional, open, above-board, cards-on-the-table, frank and honest approach which is essential for God's missionaries is one that is not open to Satan's missionaries, but one cannot construe that to mean that Satan has no missionaries. It is just that they have to use a far more subtle and sneaky approach.

    Some people might even find it hard to believe that Satan has any missionaries, even of the subtle and sneaky variety. After all, evil requires good to depend upon. What use is it to rob a bank and get away with a lot of money unless there exists a good, solid, stable, and orderly society somewhere in which that money means something? Or again, what parasite can live long if it kills its host? But like the tapeworm that devotes much effort to propagating its own kind, evil has the same interest in propagating itself. It wishes for associates from whom to build its own little kingdom, sort of like Casa Nostra, the Mafia, or again such mobsters like Al Capone.

    And who are Satan's missionaries? Those who really are bad company. It is not enough for them to be troublemakers themselves; they want to make a troublemaker out of you as well. In the short story "Satan Sends Flowers" by Henry Kuttner, the character Fenwick, who is in the process of selling his soul to the Devil, asks him why he wants it so bad. The Devil responds, "In your fall, and in the fall of every soul, I forget my own for a moment." Saint Peter (1 Peter 5:8) wrote that the Devil is like a lion, going about seeking whom he may devour. So the Devil wants souls. How does he get them? What are his exact strategies? That is what this essay is all about.

    Some could wonder if in the following I am giving a course in the seducing of souls. Well, the bad guys already know these strategies; the rest of us are only to be forewarned against them. Furthermore, I do not claim that the titles by which I describe these strategies are how the bad guys call them, if indeed they have verbally articulated them at all. Rather, on a nonverbal level they see the example of their fellow bad guys and simply do the same.

    The initial seducing strategies come in a triad of triads, but of course there are further strategies beyond these. The first of the three triads are the long term goals and efforts directed at general corruption of morals, and these themselves are probably discussed in a good many sermons regarding such things as the "choice of friends" and so forth. I will reiterate them here because there are many who have not been privileged to hear such sermons; these sermons are almost never given in these dark days. These consist of

    1) Suggestions,
    2) Persistence, and
    3) Loss of Respect for those who will not play along.

The second triad, far more rarely mentioned (if ever anywhere at all) consists of

    1) the Tainted Invitation,
    2) the False Guarantee, and
    3) the Accidental Overstep.

Finally, since evil is never content with a single sin but seeks to build a pattern of sin, three additional things are used to cement a soul's attachment to evil,

    1) the Sinful Compensation,
    2) the Severance from Goodness, and
    3) the Making of an Addiction.
Beyond these there lies at least
    1) the Test of Betrayal,
    2) the Burning of Bridges,
    3) the Holding of Information about one,
    4) Promotions within the Echelon of Evil,
    5) Building one's own Kingdom of Evil,
    6) the Enlistment of Innocent Others, and doubtless many more beyond even these.
    7) Gradualism

    I will review the story of my misadventure, applying these specific strategies to understanding exactly what was really going on. I would beg the reader to recall any similar occasion in their own life, where they hung about with the wrong people and ended up in trouble, to please try to remember all the details of how things had went for them and to see if the same elements were operative on their getting into trouble as well.

    The first line of the Satanic offense is the Suggestion. The one wanting to ensnare another in evil is always making all sorts of crazy suggestions. Sooner or later, it is only a matter of time before one is found which fits the bill for the particular soul in question. How many ideas were floated past me by KG which I immediately shot down, "No, somebody could get hurt," "No, it would be too easy to get caught," "No, we would need a something-or-rather to do that one, and we don't have one of those," "No, I really would not even see the point of doing that," and so forth. But in time, some suggestion is bound to pass muster, which leads us to the second element.

    Persistence. Like looking for something which must exist but one knows not where, if only one keeps on looking one will eventually find. Also, there is nothing more powerful than sheer persistence. Continued long enough it will wear anybody down, perhaps even to the point that even Suggestions already given before and rejected might now be accepted. With Persistence, one probes areas of weakness, places where the excuse for rejecting a suggestion are unconvincing and might provide room for the response to be different if only certain further conditions are met. So, for example, if breaking into a house as an idea gets shot down because one would not want to even look like a burglar, what about an empty house where there is nothing to steal? What if we can get in and out without doing any damage or leaving any trace? What harm could that possibly do? And if ever my patience begins to wear out and I begin to think I don't want to hear anymore such Suggestions, this is where the third strategy comes in.

    Loss of Respect to those who will not play along. "You don't want to hang around with me? What a baby!" and then everyone else sneers and snickers. "You're no fun!" they say as you find them all drifting away from you. No matter how contemptible they are, you can't help but feel that you must be even far more contemptible if even their respect is not gained. And often these may include relatively innocent others whom you do respect. It is often amazing the way the satanic missionary can so easily engage the support of so many others, many of whom are those you go to school or work with, are related to, live nearby, work for or have working for you, or otherwise must interact with. Of the first nine categories I have listed above, this is the only one most people have ever even heard of, coming under the generic name of "peer pressure." But with all we know about peer pressure and our focus to avoid its influence in our lives, let us not neglect the other eight facets of the anatomy of the initial ruination of morals, but also let us truly understand and appreciate the nefarious evil of peer pressure.

    The next triad would have to be called the detail strategies. These same three steps get used over and over again, and the poor hapless soul led into trouble by means of them never even sees what hit him, leaving him open to be exploited by these means again. The first of these detailed strategies is the Tainted Invitation. Using Persistence and continuous experimentation with various Suggestions (and sustained by the Loss of Respect angle), eventually the exact acceptable Tainted Invitation can then be prepared and extended. And what is a Tainted Invitation? It is an invitation to do something that you are convinced is really harmless and yet still entails some sort of at least nominal infraction or risk of accidental but unwanted consequences. Entering an empty house, but without doing any harm or damage and without leaving any traces of our presence is nevertheless still against the law, technically "Breaking and Entering," even were nothing actually "broken" at all. The Tainted Invitation is therefore an invitation to do something that seems like it should be perfectly OK, and (one would think) would be perfectly OK if only the people who make the rules could be a little less arbitrary and meaningless about it. "Yea, there might be some stuffy old rule about this, but really since we mean and do no harm in it, how can it really be any worse than using the wrong fork?"

    And yet, with the Tainted Invitation our consent is thereby obtained. Funny thing about giving consent is, having agreed to any part of the package you actually get the whole thing and not just the palatable parts. This truly is related to the fact that he who breaks one single law actually has broken all laws. Yet somehow you really thought you could just settle for the "harmless" parts. And how were you fooled in this? The second of the detailed strategies, namely the False Guarantee. Even more than the Tainted Invitation, the False Guarantee is the bread and butter of the Satanic Missionary. By using the False Guarantee, he persuades you that the evil can be totally contained and restricted to whatever small amount you have given consent to. It is a False Guarantee not only in the practical sense that things "somehow" just may not actually happen to work out that way, but actually as part of the plan. The one making the False Guarantee not only has no intention of bothering to make good on that guarantee; he actually intends to violate it. I was promised that "no harm would be done and no trace of our having been there would remain after we were gone." That was a flat-out lie. The damaged window screen, the spilled beer, and the stolen telephone were all part of the plan since before it was even broached to me. Indeed, this planned violation of the False Guarantee is what comes under the next heading.

    The Accidental Overstep. "Oops! The metal part of the screen broke." "Oops! The beer got spilled all over the carpet when the half-filled can was thrown by one guy at the other guy." This of course is not really an accident, but with great care and alacrity the poor hapless soul is led to believe that it was. This is the most sensitive and delicate part of the whole process. It has to be enough of a failure of the guarantee to register at all, but it also must be kept sufficiently small so as to avoid scaring the victim into waking up to what is going on and abandoning the whole process right then and there. For the Satanic Missionary, this is the one point where the rubber really meets the road. At all costs, the victim must be persuaded to continue in the caper. Perhaps he may be assured that "This was only an accident; nothing else will happen" (another False Guarantee). Also, the "In for a penny, in for a pound" principle might be used, and finally it can always be pointed out that backing out will not undo the damage anyway, so why waste having done it by having it all be for nothing? Finally, a little more peer pressure (Loss of Respect) can be applied at this point to seal the deal.

    One can see these detailed strategies being used again with the telephone. "Oops, we 'accidentally' made off with the telephone." (another Accidental Overstep) Then again, "Here, please hide it for me; you are just helping a friend; you didn't take it." (Tainted Invitation, again) "Hide it well and I will be back for it soon and the whole thing will be off your hands." (False Guarantee). It would not surprise me to discover that KG was also the one arranging for its discovery while in my keeping (Accidental Overstep - again!). After all, Satan is "the Accuser" who, having led a soul into sin, loves to boast about his accomplishment.

    Leading a law-abiding kid into his first and only scrape with the Law is obviously nowhere near enough to satiate the Devil. Without my complete coming clean and repentance and further refusal to have anything to do with KG, yet another three strategies would have been in store for me, indeed, to some extent they were already attempted. The Sinful Compensation came here in the modest form of the fact that once we were inside we did manage to have a very fun time of it. If not for the Accidental Oversteps, which at the time I honestly had no idea they had been deliberately committed, I could have very much enjoyed the whole event. This is the first step in binding a person to evil, when they can find something they enjoy in committing a sin, and with time, about committing a sin. Such an evil choice is further protected by the next step, the Severance from Goodness. This step might consist of little more than a "preaching" of despair. On the one hand KG would tell me how unfair it was that society was so hard on me for simply having a good time and doing a friend a favor, as if they are unreasonable, and on the other he would then talk as if it was all too late, that there is now nothing I can do to return to their good graces, so I might as well throw in with him and his like-minded cronies. Or I could be maneuvered into actions that make it only all the more difficult for normal society to accept me, thus providing some of this severance from the opposite end. Of course, a far stronger bonding to evil would be accomplished by getting the hapless soul to burn his bridges, but that must generally be a much later step, and, as I did repent and utterly came clean, I never arrived there.

    The last of these steps is the Making of an Addiction. The easiest way to do this is with drugs, hence the substantial illegal drug industry. But there are other ways of achieving this goal, sometimes even in advance of doing any of the other steps. An addiction is about making it so that there is someone or something you absolutely have to have. With drugs it is the drug pusher, which KG also was, and to this day he maintains one of the most "pro-druggie" websites I have ever seen. This would have been his ticket to absolute control over me had I continued with him. An addiction is a vice, a deeply grounded bad habit, and impossible to break without extraordinary Grace and a heroic struggle. And by allowing themselves to be put in such a position, they have so distanced themselves from the very sources of Grace that the repentance of any of them is truly a miracle.

    And preventing such miracles, as much as possible, is where the later strategies come in. In the Test of Betrayal, the one led into evil is "left holding the bag," so to speak, for example after a robbery being the only one caught. The Gang does not help him but leaves him to his own devices to see if he will be loyal to the Gang, and usually "takes the rap" for some particular crime. The Burning of Bridges merely finalized the break started in the Severance from Goodness by some decisive act, and the Holding of Information about one means that they come to know enough about you to ruin you should it be found out.

    Scientology makes tremendous distance from this, as they use their "E-meter" to discover the most embarrassing things about a person, which are all then kept on file and can find their way to public knowledge should the person leave that group (which is why almost no one ever does). But criminal gangs also know of all the crimes you committed with them and "got away with," at least so far. The Promotion up the Echelon of Evil only occurs after one's having proved their loyalty (perhaps more than once) in the Test of Betrayal, as one moves up the ranks, from mere drug user to pusher to high-stakes mega-dealer, and so forth, and this provides yet another Sinful Compensation. One gets invested in building their own little Kingdom of Evil, and further advances their position through using these skills, together with others, such as that of the Enlistment of Innocent Others . With Gradualism, one starts the hapless soul off with tobacco, marijuana, or petty shoplifting, and only later moves them on to crack, heroin, or armed robbery.

    From all of this, it is easy to see why troublemakers often remain so, even though they know it is wrong and want to escape. And you can't even use a "Kingdom of Evil" for any good (as some might enter such criminal groups with such a goal) since the whole of your power merely comes from evil, and will not allow good. Try to do something "good" with such power and you will be eliminated long before any good comes of it.

    As one can see, it all starts with those first nine steps, and I truly believe that if you look in your own life (almost no matter who you are who might be reading this), you will see these very strategies being used by those who would get you into trouble. Having recognized the strategies, one can now know that all Tainted Invitations must be refused, False Guarantees never trusted, and Accidental Oversteps, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, cue to make a hasty exit as things have already long since gone too far, though you didn't realize it.

    In my case, given what a small town I lived in and that KG already had everyone else in his pocket, at least as Enlisted Innocent Others, if not outright members of his Kingdom, that meant having no friends, and indeed so it was for the rest of my teenage years. But that was the price of having no more scrapes with the Law and one I would gladly pay again if I had to do it all over again.

    It shouldn't be hard to see that the further one allows oneself to be taken in by such bad company, the more difficult it becomes to disentangle themselves, and also the more difficult it becomes to find in themselves the extreme humility it takes to describe how they were taken advantage of. Often we wonder about the mystery of iniquity, why it is that so many villains can be so utterly loyal to Satan and evil, even when it would seem that all compensation available to them would favor their repentance, but in all these mere strategies, one can see the answer.

Griff L. Ruby

Griff's book is available from Books for $26.95 or can be read on-line at We at The Daily Catholic strongly urge you to share it with all you can for that could be the gentle shove that moves your friends back to where the True Faith resides forever, rooted in the Truths and Traditions of Holy Mother Church as Christ intended and promised.

    Griff Ruby's STRAIGHT STUFF
    December 8-11, 2004
    Volume 15, no. 193