History &
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By Sempad Shahnazarian

Chapter Four

very time Sempad could get away from school, he would go to the mill to see Petros. He enjoyed going there, thirty steps down under the ground, dark, cool and mysterious.

  A tiny clay lamp illuminated that underground cave, day and night, while the millstone ran around and around, pushing the flour into a wooden container set on the floor in front of it. 

  The wheels were not visible. They were below the stone floor, where they received the push of the running water through a long box of crude heavy boards.

  A constant hum filled the interior of the mill, with a haze of flour floating in the air.

  Since the place was cold and damp the year round, Petros always had a fire burning in the fireplace.

  Although he was an illiterate individual, he was a keen observer and a radical thinker with the most charming personality.

  He spoke ironically about everything in the Moush dialect and his philosophical reflections were very colorful.

  He used to tell Sempad, with pride, that the Host of the Mass was prepared out of his flour. His flour was not ordinary, but different, because every time the millstone went around and around angels danced on it, singing Heavenly melodies. The flour, thus produced, smelled more like Heaven than Earth.

  One day when they were sitting by the fireplace conversing, Petros suddenly got up, held Sempad by the hand and took him to the farthest corner of the mill. That was where the water flowed through the aqueduct. He showed him a rectangular stone on the floor.

  “Do you know what this is?” he asked.

  “A stone,” Sempad answered.

  He laughed.

  “But, what kind of a stone?

  This is a petrified Bible,” he said and looked at Sempad inquisitively. Noticing his astonishment and confusion, he continued: “Yes!  It used to be a Bible, when they covered it in this bottomless pit centuries ago.  A monk used to operate this mill then. He used to hear whispers, voices, footsteps as if people were secretly approaching the hole. He was so terrified one day, he had to report it to the head of the Monastery. In a meeting of the priests and monks it was decided to cover the pit with a huge handwritten Bible they had in the library. It should be a sure thing against the devils who were trying to come out of the underground world where they lived. They covered it hermetically with a liturgical ceremony and retired to their cells with complete assurance that the problem had been solved.
How wrong they were! The sounds kept coming. The shouts and laughter mingled with the constant hum of the millstone and the murmur of the stream produced a gruesome and a lethargic atmosphere. 

  The Monks could not operate the mill anymore. They were so terrified. This state of affairs continued through long centuries to the present time. You know the rest of the story that led me to become the miller of the Monastery.

  When the monks heard that I had become their miller, they smiled ironically, and felt sorry for me.

  Day after day I realize how wrong they were in their appraisal. I am the one who should feel sorry for them. They cannot realize what they were missing in not taking the job.

  I discovered where the sounds came from. It was from the graveyard of humanity. The spirits of our ancestors walk around laughing, conversing, shouting. They look somewhat worried at the overpopulation of the subterranean world. I have even met some of my friends there, who died years ago. They were very happy, indeed, and were getting along fine with the devils. I don’t know why people always talk about them. They are wonderful, clean, jolly and romantic.” 

  “You talk as if you have already been there.”

  “Of course I have,” said Petros. “I eat with them every night. I drink with them; I play and dance with them when I am in bed asleep. Had it not been for them I would not have been able to work here a single day. Without them, this place would be a sepulcher. We have the most wonderful festivities there every night. The other day I even came across my Hasmig who had died years ago. She looked much younger and very beautiful. The devils married us in a cathedral in the presence of our nine Vartabeds.”

  “Married you in the presence of our nine Priests?” asked Sempad.

  “Yes!  They married us then, and they marry me every night to a different woman. The other night, my wife not being there, they married me to a devil. She was the most beautiful girl I had ever met, and we had a marvelous time together. There were lakes, streams, flowers, music, thousands of people dancing, drinking, playing...it was just wonderful. There is always something going on...feasts, weddings, symphonies, theatrical works...everything...

  All of dead humanity is there, living with the devils in brotherly love. We have a very  wrong idea about them. They are very sociable and friendly. The Satanic empire is undergoing a radical change now. Their leaders think the spirits of dead humanity and those still alive should cooperate with the devils to urge God to ease the entrance requirements to Heaven!! A mutual agreement or compromise is necessary. Some of their philosophers think we are inclined more toward the divine teachings, and therefore suggest we should all unite our forces to revolt against Heaven, that desolate immensity with no population at all.

  Yes! We have a very wrong idea about the satanic world. Have we ever thought that all of the politicians, the kings and queens, the teachers and writers, the poets and priests are friends of the devils; followers of Satan.

  The subterranean world is becoming overcrowded. As things stand, it is going to get worse, because nobody can qualify to enter Heaven. All of humanity has been living on the Earth above or below ever since the Creation, and nobody has ever had a chance to go up there, to cultivate its immense expanse of land.

  Heaven and Earth must come to some kind of understanding. If God wishes to see Heaven populated, He must ease its entrance requirements.

  One day, I was having fun with a girl on the bank of the Euphrates Aradzani river, when Diavolos, a devil friend of mine, stopped a little distance from us hollering: Come on Petros! That’s enough. The meeting is about to start.  Let’s get there early so we can stand closer to the platform. I left my girl right away and joined him. We squeezed our way through the crowd and onto where the speaker, an enormous cliff stood majestically, facing an audience of hundreds of thousands of people.

  The cliff, they said, was a renowned philosopher of the satanic world, professing to be a mediator between Heaven and Earth, God and Satan.

  It was a huge granite rock, standing in the center of the Moush prairie wrinkled by time and blackened by lightning strikes. When the cliff began to speak in a deep baritone voice, eagles flew away from their nests on top of the cliff and circled over the crowd. The words came out of his mouth like shooting stars and the spirits listened to him attentively.”

  “Humanity cannot be governed any more by antiquated abstractions.”

  A flutter ran through the entire audience, and then, they were silent.

  “God and Satan are recognized as antipodes.”

  Another flutter shook the crowd but this time stronger than before and then, silence.

  “God supposedly represents all moral principles in their highest plane while Satan is being pictured as His irreconcilable enemy, black and bloodthirsty.”

  A roar of “No!” came from the thousands of the devils.

  “Human wisdom pictures God as Light and Charity, and Satan as darkness and plague.”

  An angry murmur ran through the audience with exclamations of “No! it is not true.” 

  “According to these wise men, God is Almighty and Omniscient, while Satan is an impotent and senseless criminal.”

   A roar of anger broke out among the crowd, and they shouted “No! No! No!.”

   “The devils were not the only ones who burst out in anger,” said Petros, “all of the dead humanity joined them in their protest.”

  The cliff continued, “Satan only laughs at such untrue abstractions and holds God responsible for the unhappiness and tribulations of mankind. While He requires complete submission to His will, Satan stands for free individualism, with no submission to any ruler.”

  “Bravo! Bravo!” shouted thousands of mouths.

  “The history of people has shown that, so far, Satan has had the upper hand in his revolt against God.  Leaders of humanity with masks on their faces, harangue, give tearful sermons, cry in the churches or temples, while sharpening their knives in secrecy...

  Had they been sincere, they should strive to reconcile these two natural forces by curbing some of their unnatural tendencies.

  These forces are indestructible and it is good that they are.

  A homogeneous Universe is inconceivable. Imagine the endless space as an ocean of light, pure and spotless.  What would be the beauty of it without night and day, without mountains and forests and lakes and prairies and clouds and lightning and colors and stars.
  Imagine humanity converted into an innocent and docile herd of sheep, with no will of its own, no initiative abilities, always subject to the whip of the shepherd and the barking of the dogs...no social problems, no revolting stand, no friction of thoughts and actions.

  We cannot tolerate complete domination of light nor of darkness, no sheepish humanity nor an animal jungle.”

  “Bravo! Bravo!” thundered the crowd.

  “The wise blending of these characteristics is an urgent social problem: Love and hatred; greed and moderation; avarice and contentment; sadness and happiness; lust and moderation; industriousness and laziness; mental vivacity and intellectual lethargy; all these forces which regulate and stimulate normal growth and development of the individual with an intelligent use of them.

  These negative and positive forces are indestructible. They are the pillars upon which rise the lives of individuals and nations.

  The problem is not so much to eradicate these forces, as it is to minimize their antagonism. To reconcile God and Satan, or Heaven and Earth. A compromise settlement of this eternal conflict is an urgent case.”

  Thunderous applause shook the ground.

 “Christian and non-Christian doctrines should throw to the winds some of their abstract ideas and get closer to the Earth, Satan.

  Satan should also change his inimical attitude toward God by minimizing crime and bloodshed.

  So far, God has not been able to compete successfully with Satan. Greed, lust, material wealth and power, diplomatic machinations, international masquerade parties, (conferences). All these are Satanic forces, yet unconquered.

.   The idea of Almightiness ascribed to God irritates Satan and that very rightly. One should think along the lines of minimizing the antagonism of Heaven and Earth and correcting some of their friction points in order that they could, together, reach a mutual understanding. It is the human mind that has given birth to God and Satan as irreconcilable abstract Beings. They both exist in Nature under a different appellation, Positive and Negative forces. These forces function freely in Nature and balance one another spontaneously by producing our mountains and oceans, our fields of flowers and our forests, storms and waterfalls, life and death. 

Chapter Four  - Continue >
Updated 20 June, 2000 Contents.......
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