creation, damned, death, democracy, demons, Dialogues With the Devil, ennui, envy, equality, eternal life, evil, flesh, free will, freedom, God, goodness, grace, happiness, Heaven, hell, innocence, liberty, lies, life, Lucifer, lust, mankind, Michael the Archangel, perversion, piety, pleasure, repentance, seduction, sin, soul, spirit, Taylor Caldwell, temptation, Terra, Truth, uniformity, variety, virtue
For details on the burger and the trip to the hospital that it caused one customer: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/patron-has-heart-attack-at-restaurant-named-heart-attack-grill/
[Caldwell, Taylor. Dialogues With The Devil. New York: Doubleday & Co., 1967. pp 23-28.] Please see Taylor Caldwell’s Dialogues With The Devil (1967) #1 of 22 for an introduction to this serialization.
GREETINGS to my brother, Michael, who is very tender and brave but, alas, most naive:
. . . If my entry into heaven must be accompanied by the souls of men, then I prefer my hells. At least there I torment my insulters and the insulters of Our Father, and that is an exuberant delight, one, I fear, you will never know.
Delight! Most assuredly! It is a joy which I cannot explain in words you would understand. Sufficient it is to say that I play with those souls as they played with their victims, and with the same mercilessness, only a thousand times enhanced. When they beseech me for pity I listen with ecstasy to their cries. Beasts, animals! To think that they, too, possess immortal life! They grovel before me and clutch my garments and I spurn them with my foot. Sometimes I admit a few of their wisest to my dark tabernacle and converse with them for the pleasure of listening to their stupidity, their arrant foolishness. Often I summon the great among them and urge them to speak of their fame on Terra, and it is an enormous amusement. They say to me, “I did not believe in you, nor in God, yet you manifestly are,” and they marvel. I conjure their lies before them and I say, “There was I, in that apparition, when you planned this — or that — and you heard my voice and took rapture in it. Why did you hearken to me, beast of beasts?” They answer, falling before my face, “I believed in nothing but myself and my own grandeur and my own will.” But they believed in me.
They repent. But it is too late. They came to me, not through august sins which at least possess a measure of grandeur and imagination, but through sins so mean and contemptible that they are below the comprehension of the lowest of creatures on Terra. The serpent in the forest is not as poisonous as man, the rabid bat is not as mad and loathsome, the toothed shark is not so foul a scavenger, For none of these can lie. That is the prerogative of man only. Man always takes on the aspect of the serpent, the bat and the shark, and their habits. He is more dreadful than these, for he lacks their innocence and he knows what he does and he does it with enthusiasm and passion, It is through his lies that man comes to me, his lies of the flesh and the spirit, for untruth is a perversion and man is a pervert. He is the incarnation of the lie which is myself, and all the evil that he does is his corruption of truth.
. . .
My demons look upon the bountiful harvests of the souls of men who swarm through my fiery portals each hour, and they look with revulsion, for never, even among demons, was ever a spirit so malicious, so embued with hatred for his fellows, as the spirit of man. In his life on Terra he prates of love and esteems it with his tongue as the greatest of virtues. Yet never was a creature so loveless in his heart even when announcing love to the heavens. He crowds before the altars he has raised to God, and the lie nestles in his flesh, and the repudiation and disbelief, and even when he cries “Hosannah!” he chuckles in secret at his own perfidy. He loves that perfidy. He believes it gives him intellectual stature. He looks upon the crucified Lord and it needs no whisper from me to make him speak in his spirit and deny. He has many arguments, and they amuse him.
Not all men, you would say. Michael, Michael! That miserable little stream which flows to heaven is hardly a trickle compared with the great river that pours down to me!
You have not seen their appalled faces when they encounter me, who greet them thus: “Welcome to your spiritual home, you who have denied all things!” Still, it is very strange. Though they did not believe in Our Father, they truly believed in me, though they did not know it. You serve only that in which you believe, with knowledge or without knowledge. They would have been amazed to encounter you, Michael, and would have marveled. But they do not marvel at me. They recognize me at once. They have seen my face countless times, and they know all my lineaments. Nor is hell unfamiliar to them. They created a mirage of it on Terra, and they know every alley, every darksome passage, every icy lake, every mountain of fire, every gloomy shadow, every city of death, every pool of corruption. For while I established my hells, it was man who lifted up the walls and established the noisome places and lit the fires and froze the waters. It is, therefore, no mystery that he recognizes every path and sits down in his chosen spot to weep and repent. He built the house in which he dwells. At least, that is a species of freedom, for man did not build heaven. For in participation there is liberty, and complete liberty reigns in hell. Have I not said it through the ages! You have called my creatures slaves but slaves do not build to their design, and men build the designs of the infernos. It is by God’s Grace when man reaches heaven, and not by his merits, and so perhaps not even his will. But men will to dwell with me, and where there is will there is freedom. Has not Our Father declared that, Himself? He is the Paradox of paradoxes.
There are no contradictions in hell. There are no wonders, for everything in hell is familiar to the souls of men. There is the complete security which men have always craved on Terra, but which Our Father lovingly denies them, for God is the Creator of infinite and opposing variety, delicious contrast, innocent comicalities, awesome inequalities, enchanting absurdities, paradoxes, fearsome challenges, exciting uncertainties. This, I admit, stimulates color and splendor and merriment and marvelings and stern beauties and liveliness and trembling anticipations. But in hell there is nothing to anticipate; there is no variety, there is no insecurity. There are pain and boredom, and boredom is the most monstrous of punishments. Beside it, pain is a relief, so, despite the rumors of the ignorant on Terra, there is little pain in my hells except for futile regret. There is no future, yet there is time. Endless time, and endless sameness.
The pious in Terra speak only of the agonies of hell, and they exist for they are pleasure. Have they seen my glorious cities, bewitching, extravagant? They are filled with the delights of Terra, but immeasurably enhanced. Millions, newly arrived, look upon them with eagerness and smiles, and rush to inhabit them. The lavish city in which I live is a city that lived in the hot imaginations of men, filled with every satisfaction of their vile hearts, every concupiscent lust of their flesh, every dream of their envious hearts. There are glittering houses heaped with gleaming treasures, and ballrooms and arenas and theaters and stadia, and shops to make any merchant weep with greed, and towering castles of every perversion and streets of magnitude filled with music, and tables everywhere crowded with saucy viands and bottomless vessels of wine, and demons to be slavish lackeys. There are vistas of heroic mountains like alabaster, and sparkling forests vibrating with song and valleys lush as velvet and rivers like gilt. Here souls of the damned are free to come and go, to sport, to converse, to play, to partake of all my captivations. They are free to argue their childish controversies, to engage in the pursuits that enthralled them on Terra, to discuss strange things with the inhabitants of worlds of which they never dreamed, to invent new theories and excited hypotheses, to “seduce” beautiful female demons. There is not an alluring vice that is denied them, not a passion which is not immediately gratified. Ah, I tell you, Michael, they often mistake hell for heaven at first!
But pleasure never changes in hell, never diminishes, can never aspire to greater diversions such as exalted meditation and reflection; never knows an end. Nothing is withheld; there is no struggle; there are no heart-burnings, no room for ambition and achievement. All is equal; all is accessible to every soul. There is no applause, for no soul exceeds another in stature. No face is different from any other face, nothing is unique or creative or deserving of acclaim. No soul is worthy, for all are worthless. Each is clad in the robes of doom — unchanging uniformity. Where one soul cannot excel another in any fashion ennui results and a mysterious terror, for God created all souls to strive and excel and thus be free and develop priceless individuality. But, it is my democracy.
At last, in despair and desperate boredom, my doomed pray for the less attractive portions of my sovereignty, where there is pain, and weeping and gnashing of teeth. Grief, at the final hour, becomes more desirable than pleasure, for it has endless ramifications. At the last I can engage these damned in my service — the seduction of souls yet living on Terra. At least there is some excitement in this! Envy and hatred and resentment are enlisted in my employ, for who of the damned can rejoice to see a soul escape him? What rejoicings there are in hell when more of the corrupted fall into the pit! If the Heavenly Hosts are joyous when a soul is saved, how much more are the damned joyous when a soul falls! Do not ask me why. Did I create man? His perverted mind often makes me recoil with disgust. You would say I perverted him. No, I only tempt.
With what glee my damned introduce the newly doomed to my hells! They look upon their dismayed faces and hug themselves with rapture. They peer for tears, and drink them avidly. They take the newly doomed by the hand and shout with happiness at the recoiling when horrors are confronted. This is the only satisfaction in hell, and it is a satisfaction most deeply encouraged.
Eventually, they all crave death and extinction. I am more compassionate than Our Father. I would often give them true death. But Our Father cursed them with eternal life, and so who is, in truth, the most merciless? God cannot withdraw from His own Law, therefore He cannot rescue my damned. When He gave immortality to man, did He know to what He had condemned him? Alas, alas, there are times when I would grant them death. Is your question then not answered? I am no Paradox, as is Our Father. Had I created man — God forbid! I should not have given him the free will to be damned if he desired. I should have made him obedient and docile, a gay little creature who could not know the difference between good and evil and therefore could have had no life but one brief day in the sun. I should have made him truly mortal, like a mayfly who takes pleasure in the noon and at sunset folds his wings and drifts into dust.
You once told me that hell is hell because no love can dwell there, and love is impossible. That is true. But love is passive and hatred is active, and man is always active like an insect which can never be still. Therefore, Michael, I shall win at last, for man is invariably enthusiastic and zealous, and languishes only when there is nothing to hate.
Your brother, Lucifer