angels, archangels, beauty, becoming, children, City of God, conformity, creation, damned, death, desire, Dialogues With the Devil, dignity, discontent, ennui, eternal life, evil, existence, flesh, free will, God, good news, goodness, happiness, Heaven, hell, individual, knowledge, labor, life, Lucifer, mankind, Michael the Archangel, pleasure, prayer, Son of God, soul, spirit, stasis, Taylor Caldwell, Terra
[Caldwell, Taylor. Dialogues With The Devil. New York: Doubleday & Co., 1967. pp 29-33.] Please see Taylor Caldwell’s Dialogues With The Devil (1967) #1 of 22 for an introduction to this serialization.
GREETINGS to my brother, Lucifer, who weeps at his triumphs:
. . .
You have written that you are more merciful than Our Father, for you would have denied man immortal life. You would also have denied him Heaven. You would have denied him the one thing which makes him higher than the other animals on all the other worlds besides Terra: free will. Better it is for a man even to be damned than to be without that awesome gift! At least he had his choice. That alone gives him dignity, whether in Heaven or in hell, and in spite of all your efforts, my poor brother, you cannot deprive the damned of dignity. They share your immortal existence, and for that you cannot forgive them. They have their garment of eternal life.
Even a damned soul who grieves for what he lost is more than a body which expires with the breath. . . .
I look upon the constant striving in Heaven with pleasure and affection. There is a perpetual coming and going of angels and the souls of the saved with news of new planets and universes and the wonders upon them. There is endless laughter and excitement and exchange of opinion and conjecture. Was it not the Christ who said that human ear has not heard and human eye has not seen the marvels which God has prepared for those who love Him?
Do I need to recall to you the aspect of Heaven? Eternal noon, but not an unchanging noon. No vista remains the same. No vision of the eye is static. The only constant is love between angel and man and God and angel and God and man. All else changes, and always there is anticipation and work. Work is not an affliction, as human hearts believe it is. When God “condemned” man to work He bestowed the next holiest gift after free will. Labor is prayer and achievement, and the uncertainty of the achievement. Beauty is always in the process of becoming, but is never fully attained. Joy is in the next turning, but the next turning promises greater joy. Love is never completely satisfied in Heaven, except for the surety of the Love of God. It strains forever, and happily, after greater fulfillments.
If a soul is weary after its sojourn on any of the worlds, it may rest in green shadows and peace until its weariness is spent. Then it must engage in the work of God, which is never completed. It so engages with eagerness and with a pleasure that is never satisfied. Does a soul desire to create marvelous sunsets or dawns on any world? It is given into its hands, for the greater glory of God. The soul paints the skies with the calm and stately morning or the pensive quietude of evening. It colors the flowers of the field and gives the grain its gold. If it is concerned with wonders that baffled it in life, then it pursues the answer to the wonders and it becomes luminous with satisfaction when the answer is finally perceived. But still other wonders beckon it on, and tantalize it.
Was a soul without the love of men on the worlds and did it languish for that love? It is poured into its immortal hands in Heaven and is appeased. Did it hope on the earths that it would see the faces of the lost beloved? It so sees and knows that never again can there be parting or ennui with love, itself. Did it long for children to embrace, when children were denied? Its arms are rich with children in Heaven. Was it homeless before its ascent? It can create for itself the home of its lost dreams, whether humble or a palace. Did it desire to serve God to the utmost while in flesh, yet could not fulfill that desire? The fulfilment is its own, ranging the endless universes and inspiring the sorrowful and lifting up the hearts of the sad and soothing the pain of the innocent, and bringing good news to those who dwell in darkness. It can whisper in the winds and bring knowledge in the twilights and hope in the dawns. Each soul that it helps save and bring safely to God is an occasion for triumph, and its fellows triumph with it.
All of which a man innocently dreamed in flesh is his at home, whether simple or magnificent. Best of all he grows in accomplishment. Always, there is the divine discontent, and never the security of hell. Always, angels and men must strive in Heaven. There is not one congregation, for in congregations there is conformity and the soul cannot exist in sameness. Each soul is an individual, and resembles no other, and serves as no other. It serves its own need, and God is its need, and though it attains God it never fully envelops or knows Him. There is its most splendid dissatisfaction, its happiness. For what is completely possessed is a weariness. Victory is nothing when victory is entirely attained. You have seen the misery of conquerors on all the worlds, when there was nothing else to conquer. But none conquers in heaven save God, and who knows if He fully conquers?
Above all, in Heaven, there is no exhaustion, no tiredness of spirit, no repletion. There is eternal youth, and endless speculation. You have said that love is passive. If it is, then it is not love at all, but only selfish desire or a momentary engrossment. It is peaceful, and that is true, but it is not the peace of death. It is surety, but still it is not the surety of the grave. It must eternally be sought and eternally found, with new aspects and new delights. The music of Heaven is the voices of those who have seen a new face in love and marvel that they had not seen it before.
The City of God is not like unto your city, O Lucifer, for there is no gross pleasure in it, no obscene appetites. All that was beautiful and beguiling and enchanting on the worlds is greatly magnified in heaven, and always changing, offering new enticements. It is never the same, while it is always the same. You will scornfully say again that that is a paradox, but there is infinite delight in paradoxes. Only Absolutes are rigid, and rigidity is the true death of the spirit. But one Absolute reigns in Heaven and the planets, and that is the Absolute of God’s love. All else moves with the soul and is part of it. One veil is lifted but to reveal another veil of an even more enthralling color. Pursuit of the unattainable is the climate of Heaven.
There is no end of knowledge in Heaven, no end of learning. The soul pursues new knowledge and learns forever. It does not stand like a marble image confronting changelessness. Its face is eternally lit with the fires and the colors of new universes and new aspirations and new adventures. It clamors to know. Yet, it can never know completely, and that is its reward. God is like an earthly father who constantly places new riddles before his children, and smiles as they eagerly guess its secrets and learn its answers. There are always new books to read, new wonders to excite the imagination, new vistas to explore.
When you were in Heaven you declared that this finally wearied you, for, you said, Heaven was like a ball of silk which was never fully unwound and there was no hope of the unwinding. In short, you wished to make Heaven a hell, where there is absolute fulfillment, and there is nothing more to be attained. A state of stasis is surely hell, as you have discovered to your sorrow. You wished to sleep, you said, and you rested on your great white wings of light, but you did not sleep. You wished to peer and understand that which is not understandable, even by archangels. You desired the ultimate. Alas, Lucifer, you have attained it. Your city resounds with success. Why, then, are you not content?
Today new worlds in time were born about one of my largest stars in my Galaxy. You will, without doubt, visit them and attempt to corrupt their people. I pray that you will fail, not only for the sake of God but for your own sake.
Your brother, Michael