He Who Drinks Boiling Tea

You have heard of Charles Darwin and George Wallace, but have you heard of St. George Jackson Mivart? The following story “He Who Drinks Boiling Tea” is written as a radio theater Play for Free Thought Radio. It is a sequel to a previous radio Theater Play, “Galileo’s Dilemma”, in which Galileo and Satan resolve the great injustice done to Galileo by the Church. He Who Drinks Boiling Tea begins shortly after Galileo’s Dilemma ends. Prepare yourself for scientific history mixed with a little fantasy. Meet a surprisingly devious but empathetic Satan, a bitter Captain Robert FitzRoy of the HMS Beagle, and the sympathetic but long suffering character of George Milvart, Darwin’s greatest critic.

The scene is Dante’s Infirmary, A recovery ward of sorts, for those who must suffer daily torture for their sins. Mivart has endured the cycle of torture and brief recovery since his excommunication just six weeks prior to his death in 1900.

Dante’s Infirmary (He Who Drinks Boiling Tea)

Narrator, N – St. George Jackson Mivart’s shoulders throbbed with pain as if they had been dislocated again. It wasn’t the first time he had been hung up by his arms until shoulder ligaments and tendons painfully stretched and tore apart. In addition, the third-degree burns on his back and buttocks were the reason he now lay prone on a bed in “Dante’s Infirmary” with a clean white sheet lightly covering him. True, the torture session had gotten a little out of hand again, but Mivart knew whenever that happened he ended up in the infirmary to recuperate before being returned to his dungeon cubical. The brief infirmary stay was a Godsend, so to speak, for several reasons.

Dante’s Infirmary was the only place Mivart ever got to meet and converse with another person. Loneliness caused as much pain as scorched skin. The infirmary also provided a short reprieve from the harsh conditions of his dirty little cubical. Today, as usual the infirmary-ward was almost full, as far as his eyes could see there were cots containing sheet-covered patients. A muffled Moan emanated from under the sheets of the cot to his right. (Moan sounds) Mivart painfully inched his way to the edge of the bed and swung his feet to the floor. He was desperate to talk to anyone about anything, but especially about science. If he was lucky a patient might be a new arrival and would have news of new scientific achievements from the world above.

Except for the little black imps scurrying around doing chores, he saw no one else. The imps changed the bed linins, cleaned the floors and distributed food trays. Their tails twitched aimlessly as if they were no longer under the imp’s control. In spite of his pain, Mivart could not help but laugh whenever these unruly vestigial appendages accidentally knocked over a bedpan or tripped them up. The imps’ uncooperative tails and small stature made it difficult for them to change bed linen without climbing up on the beds and sometimes tumbling off. They made high-pitched squeaking complaints when they were frustrated but they never threatened the patients. The imps didn’t seem to care or even acknowledge Mivart’s attempts to communicate with other patients.

Mivart gingerly shuffles to the edge of the other occupied bed. He pulls back the sheet to see who it is. (shuffle sounds, sheet sounds) Mivart knocks on the bed frame.

Mivart: (Knock, knock sounds) “Hello, anyone home?”

(Groans)

FitzRoy, F: “Who in hell are you? What do you want?”

N: The face, although screwed with pain seems familiar to Mivart.

F: “Your face is familiar my friend. Who do I have the honor of addressing?”

N: The frail old man in the bed rises up on one elbow to get a better look at who is bothering him.

F: “I am, (clears his throat) I was, the Vice Admiral of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy, Robert FitzRoy. Now, please refrain from bothering me while I try to recover from my latest wounds. God damn you! Just leave me alone.” (groans)

M: “Ah, my good Vice Admiral, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance even as you recover from your wounds and unjust treatment.”

F: “There were no injustices done to me. Alas, I suffer here in Hell for good reason. I took my own life. It is just that God punish me for that terrible sin. I deserve it. Now, leave me alone.”

M: “Fascinating, absolutely fascinating. I have never talked to anyone who successfully committed suicide.” (Laughter)

M: “My friend, you well know that you will very soon recover, as you always have before. Tomorrow you will be rested and ready for the torture chambers again. We are guaranteed relief so we may feel new pain. Satan is clever, is he not? Or, is it God we should blame?”

N: FitzRoy struggles to a sitting position in spite of his pain.

F: “It appears the Evil One sent you to me so I can be further tortured by your asinine babble?”

M: “Ahh! That is very possible my friend. But, I too have been tortured as you have. I find conversation takes my mind off the pain. I am St. George Mivart, scholar, professor, scientist, and one-time colleague of Charles Darwin.”

N: That last statement gets FitzRoy’s complete attention, as if he were slapped in the face.

F: “So, you knew that scoundrel Darwin? Now I am sure you are a worthless and evil person. Darwin is the reason I took my life and why I now reside in Hell undergoing daily torture. Any friend of Darwin is my enemy. Be gone fool! Leave me to my suffering.”

N: In spite of the insults Mivart remained in a pleasant mood. FitzRoy was a fascinating character.

M: “Forgive me FitzRoy. I did not say I was Darwin’s friend. When I fully comprehended the tragic consequences of his evolution theory, I repudiated my friendship and association with the man and became his greatest critic. I am most proud of that fact.”

FitzRoy settles back into his cot and said,
F: “You may have some moral virtue after all Mivart.”

N: Mivart sits on the edge of FitzRoy’s cot and asks,

M: “How do you know the notorious Dr. Darwin?

F: “He was a young and misguided lad who brought liberal ideas aboard my ship and infected my crew. He believed in the equality of all men, even Negroes, imagine that.

M: “Imagine that.”

F: He even was critical of the bible’s acceptance of slavery. He was an immature heretic in the making.”

M: “Ahh yes, now I remember your face. Did not you and Darwin publish a book together about your adventures, The Voyage of the Beagle? I read it but do not recall any mention about his heretical beliefs on evolution.”

F: “True. At that time those sacrilegious beliefs were still incubating in his evil mind and were not published until years later, after Alfred Wallace sent Darwin his own evolutionary papers. Thereafter, Darwin published his books The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man. I must admit that I am to blame for Darwin’s theory.

M: “How so Admiral?

F: “I invited him to join me on the Beagle and I provided him the opportunity to collect those accursed specimens and fossils. My misjudgment of his moral character is the reason mankind now battles with the blasphemy of evolution.”

M: “And that is why you took your own life?

F: “Of course, I could not live with the guilt. He and Huxley drove me crazy with their continual blasphemies. They published papers, and books about evolution and they lectured about it. There was nothing I could do to stem the tide of their infectious lies and undo the harm I had allowed.”

M: “I take it, Admiral, that you are a believer in the literal truth of the bible.”

F: “Of course. If you are a critic of Darwin, you too must believe as I. Do you not?”

N: Mivart, not wanting to upset the old admiral further, declines to answer him directly.

M: “My major criticism pertained to the effect evolution was having on the morality of the nation. Evolution confuses the average man. It has a sinister effect on humanity; it undermines religion. Evolution of the animal body is something to be debated, but evolution of the soul is quite impossible and was my concern. Darwin and Huxley preached blasphemy to the world; they claimed body and brain evolved together. Damn them to hell, but I have a hunch that neither of them are here. Such is God’s justice.”

F: “A curse upon you Mivart. Don’t speak ill of the Lord. You should not have compromised with Darwin’s satanic views, not in the slightest. Genesis is the only book of any value. All the truth one needs is to be found in the good book. The Origin should be burned. I, in fact, have purchased and burned six copies.”

N: The conversation between the two men continues on into the evening. Fitzroy becomes more irrational, occasionally working himself into a rage, loudly quoting biblical passages. Mivart, a man of distinction and moderation, sympathizes with the distraught Admiral but is not about to give up the scientific facts and methodology upon which evolution is based. For the most part, he believed in scientific methodology but only when convenient. It all depended upon where science led him.

Mivart becomes aware that Fitzroy is looking at him in a peculiar way, as if doing a medical examination.

M: “What are you looking at Fitzroy?”

F: “I am a strong believer in phrenology. You have interesting cranial features.”

M: “Surely you don’t accept phrenology as a science.”

F: “Phrenology is a true science backed by evidence. The facial structure of Negroes easily identifies them as less than human, closer to chimpanzees. And the lumps and bumps on the skull are a good indication of intelligence and morality, as evidenced by the horns protruding from Satan’s own head. I am surprised a man of your scientific background does not believe in its veracity.”

M: “You can’t be serious.”

F: “I can tell by your forehead you are a skeptic as was Darwin. Prior to my choosing the young Darwin to accompany me on my voyage I noted the deficiencies of his head and face, and told him so.”

M: “Most fascinating. What did your observations tell you about the young man?”

F: “Darwin’s nose and forehead were quite primitive. His features showed low morality, sparse honesty, and minimal intelligence. I almost did not select him as my voyage companion, but time was short and the Beagle was being outfitted for a near sailing date. It was my greatest mistake and one I will never forgive myself for.”

N: By now Mivart thought his infirmary companion was totally balmy. The Evolution of the body seemed reasonable to Mivart, although much of what Darwin and Huxley preached had yet to be explained. To Mivart there was little doubt that the body was created by natural processes, but the soul was different. It could only have been created by the Good Lord. The soul was what separated man from beast. His studies had confirmed the truth of a God designed evolution. It could not be denied, but Darwin’s Godless evolution message was a blight upon humanity. This, however, was not the time to debate evolution with his emotional companion. Mivart guided the conversation onto different subjects as best he could.

The lights in the infirmary finally sputtered out telling them it was time to sleep. The two men were destined never to meet again, although Mivart would eventually plead to Satan for FitzRoy’s redemption. For Fitzroy, tomorrow would be little different from the preceding days of suffering; he would continue to harvest the bitter fruit of his irrational faith. He had chosen his fate. But, for Mivart, tomorrow would be momentous.

Chapter 2

N: Meanwhile, on the bottom floor of the Satan’s kingdom sat a little innocuous balding man with his feet propped up on a smoldering desk. He had been deep in thought all evening. In as much as there was no one to talk to he usually expressed his thoughts to the little imps that infested hell and served him. They were everywhere, always ready to listen to and obey their master. Several imps now lingered around Satan’s desk and faithfully listened to him although their understanding of his words were minimal. (imp sounds)

Satan spoke out loud to them but mostly to himself:

S: “Most of my guests do not deserve eternal damnation and the grievous torments I invent for them. Many have been tortured in real life, died hideous deaths and already suffered too long. So, why is it necessary to make them suffer endlessly? It’s true I enjoy causing pain, but it’s like beating a dead horse. Oh well, it’s not my call. I do my duties as God commands. Torturing helpless souls for thousands of years has lost its excitement and become quite boring. There must be more to my existence than torturing those who cannot fight back. Where is the challenge and the satisfaction in that?”

N: The imps dutifully listened with blank eyes and empty heads. (imp sounds)

N: The recent Galileo affair had been quite entertaining and satisfying for Satan. It was a change of pace from his boring responsibilities and an opportunity to give God a hard time. Satan had been studying the “Innocents’ File Folder” on the computer screen ever since Galileo had been deleted from his Questionable Sinner file. He had clicked the top name on the list, a St. George Jackson Mivart, and had been studying his file.

S: “Hmmm! Here is a case that any good American trial lawyer would love to get his hands on. It is clearly an example of a gross miscarriage of moral justice, carried out by ignorant clergy who cared more about retaining their personal power and the prestige of the Church than finding the truth. The Mivart case is even more embarrassing than the Galileo fiasco.” (imp sounds)

N: Satan reviews the computer files before him. (computer sounds)

S: “Mivart was a Catholic convert who had distinguished himself as a scientist and philosopher in the mid nineteenth century. For his substantial contributions to humanity and support of Catholic doctrine, Pope Pius IX conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Six weeks before Mivart’s death, in 1900, he was excommunicated from the church and condemned to the eternal fires of hell. Satan marveled at the injustice perpetrated upon the poor man. (imp sounds)

N: Satan’s Internet research is temporarily interrupted by a conversation. (imp sounds)

S: “Quiet you idiot imps! Mivart is currently having with the crazy Admiral Fitzroy in the infirmary. I want to hear. Pour me more boiling water. (pouring sounds)

N: A sly smile creeps over his chubby face as he listens. A drop of perspiration drips from his pudgy nose into his cup unnoticed as he listened.

S: “Hmm! I wonder what Fitzroy would find interesting in my face. The casual face I now wear would probably bore him, but my formal face with horns would, no doubt, get the crazy fool’s attention. What an ass.”

N: It appears that Satan is slowly hatching a plan.

S: “As for Mivart, I like the man. He struggles like most humans with the conflicts between science and religion. I may be able to convince him to repudiate his belief in God and thereby free him from this Hell he now endures. I could give him the ‘Galileo treatment.’ (imp sounds) Wouldn’t that be a wonderful embarrassment to the Lord? Mivart does not deserve my special hospitality; he is innocent of all charges against him. The church that condemned him has since accepted the very dogma that originally convicted him.”

N: Satan turns to an imp and rhetorically asks,

S: “What was it that caused Mivart to fall out of grace with the Church and why did God allow this innocent man to suffer under my dominion for over a hundred years? (imp sounds) I vaguely remembered this case but I need more details.”

N: Steam and the acrid smelling brimstone smoke, that he loves, fills the hall. Satan has to lean forward and wipe the screen in order to read the rest of Mivart’s tragic story. (sounds of creaky chair) The little man’s face turns crimson with glee as he reads on; wisps of smoke appear from his ears and nose. His eyes narrow as they dart from line to line and then gradually they widened in disbelief. Satan pushes his chair backward from his desk, raises both arms with fists clenched over his head, and screams with delight.

S: Scream! “How I love my job!” (sounds of imps screaming)

N: This was not the scream of a little man. It was a three-octave scream like only The Great Evil One could muster. It echoed around the great hall and even shook the big desk. The vibrations of the scream momentarily cleared the hall of the billowing steam and smoke, which condensed and fell as a light, opaque rain that sizzled into oblivion as it hit the scorching floor. There he sat, leaning back in his chair, feet upon the desk, hands behind his head with huge grin on his face. An imp crawled out from under Satan’s desk where it had taken cover and watched its master like a scolded dog.

N: Satan takes another sip of boiling water and mumbles, (sound of metal cup)

S: “Yes, yes, I believe this will work just fine.”

N: Satan eagerly continues his Internet research. (sounds of computer keys)

S: “Trouble-making is one of the few things that made my existence bearable. Hell, in all its terrible glory is boring and not very challenging to a fallen ark angel. And, hell was not of my making. I am its victim as well as its master.

Later that night Satan sat down again at his desk. He spoke to his computer monitoring system while he typed out the commands. (computer sounds)

S: “Cubical number 666.”

N: Immediately the screen is filled with a view of Mivart’s living space, which is the mirror image of Galileo’s now vacant cubical next door. Thick steam and smoke does not hinder Satan’s vision.

S: Mivart sleeps restlessly after yesterday’s torture session and his long conversation with Fitzroy. The expression on the sleeping man’s face is no different from what it had been for the last one hundred and three years. It is an old depressed face of a beaten man with tired eyes, resigned to an eternity of suffering. (imp sounds)

S: “You know, something in Mivart’s character impresses me. There still burns a spark of reason in him, waiting to be kindled into a rebellious flame.” (imp sounds)

S: “Now here is a good man, an excellent scientist and an intellectual who never meant to harm anyone. He must have been shocked when he heard that he had been excommunicated and had no hope of salvation in the next life.” (imp sounds)

N: Satan is well aware that good people, who do not deserve to be in hell, occupy many of his cubicles. On his bad days he sometime felt a tinge of sympathy for them.

Satan can easily read the minds of all his guests. The skill comes in handy when choosing new torments for them each day. But, Mivart’s thoughts, they were always the same.

S: He wishes for spiritual death, the total extinguishment of his soul and consciousness. He wishes for peace and eternal sleep free of pain and regret. Therefore, Mivart is the perfect candidate for deconversion. Control panel.” (computer sounds)

Chapter Three

N: Mivart awakes the next morning back in his cubical, but it now is comfortably cool. The temperature, usually one hundred degrees, is barely seventy degrees now. His smoldering straw mattress had been replaced sometime in the night with a comfortable infirmary-like cot with clean linen.

Mivart swings out of bed ready for trouble. (sounds of movement)

M: “What is going on Satan? What insidious trick do you play on me today?”

N: Mivart, dressed in a threadbare knee length shirt shivers in the coolness of his cubicle. As if having anticipated Mivart’s discomfort, an imp approaches and offers him a robe, which he gratefully accepts. (imp sounds) The imp scampers away but soon reappears with a breakfast tray. It sets the tray on the lone table in the cubicle and stands by to watch. (sounds of tray) Mivart cautiously approaches the table and examines the food. There are eggs, bacon, toasted bread with berry jam, an orange, and a tall glass of water with ice chips. It was all quite amazing to Mivart. He had not experienced such a breakfast since before his death. Breakfast in hell usually consisted of stale bread, moldy cheese infested with maggots, and putrid hot water.

N: Mivart, muttering to himself and the imp curiously watching him.

M: “I am suspicious of this kindness. Many times before I have been led to believe an improvement was in store only to have my hopes shattered by Satan, the master of mind games.”

N: Mivart cautiously sits down to sample the food. When he is convinced it was real and not another satanic trick, he eagerly consumes everything while the curious imp watches.

M: “Here, have some bread little imp.” (imp sounds)

N: Mivart tosses a crust to the imp who pounces on it like a starving cat. (Imp sounds and a little snarl)

M: “It appears Satan doesn’t treat you any better than the rest of us.”

N: Mivart, having satiated himself, scanned his little cubicle. It contains a table and chair, a bed, a chamber pot and basin. A bookcase is filled with bibles, a good sampling of all the bibles ever written. Long ago he had had enough of them and stopped reading. They contradicted themselves, and were filled with inconsistencies and the greatest atrocities ever committed upon man. Mivart speaks to the imp.

M: I am distressed that the Holy Catholic Church had strayed from God’s true word. It had been my mission while alive to reconcile science and religion. (imp sounds) Unfortunately my efforts were undermined Church teachings and dogma. Are you listening imp? (imp sounds) During my later years I became a scientific and festering thorn in the side of his Church. Yes, I had to be publicly discredited, and what better method than excommunication, almost on my death-bed. (imp sounds) The Church felt obliged to punish the dying scientist for his well-intentioned but dangerous efforts to reconcile science and the scriptures. (imp sounds)

N: Mivart watches as the imp quickly finishes the remaining scraps of his breakfast. He asks the imp…

M: “So what does your Lord have in store for me today?” (imp sounds)

N: The words were barely out of his mouth when the static of the speaker system conks out and is replaced by somber organ music. A pleasant sounding voice follows…

S: “Good Morning Professor Mivart. I trust you enjoyed an unimpaired restful sleep and your gourmet breakfast.”

M: “Who speaks?”

S: “It is I, your Master. The one who has cared for you since your death. Who else could it be, God?”

M: What do you want from me? I have not disobeyed you…have I?

S: “No, no, no, not at all my dear Mivart. Would you be so kind as to join me for a cup of tea and some biscuits…in about thirty minutes? Your imp will guide you to my desk.” (imp sounds)

N: The intercom goes silent before Mivart has a chance to reply.

While he waits, Marat freshens up at his basin. After 30 minutes of nervous waiting his cubicle door swings open (opening door sounds) and the imp, who had been sitting cross-legged on the floor watching, springs to its feet. (imp sounds) It drags Mivart out of his cubicle and down a dark hall lined with doors. Mivart notices that the plaque over the door next to his no longer has the name “G. Galilie” on it.
M: “Oh, Oh, What has happened? To my knowledge it is the first time a name had ever been removed from a cubical door.”

N: The imp leads Mivart to the elevator, the same one that transported him to the torture chambers in the past. They enter and as soon as the doors closed the elevator drops rapidly to the bottom floor. (elevator sounds) Its abrupt stop crashes its occupants to the floor. (crash sounds). As the doors open, billowing steam pours in and takes Mivart’s breath away. The imp helps Mivart to his feet (imp sounds) and then pushes him into a vast steam and smoke filled room. A narrow red carpet leads away into the swirling steam.(sound of steam)

M: “Where do you lead me imp?”

N: (imp sounds) the creature pulls Mivart along the carpet until he sees a dark shape up ahead. As they approach Mivart makes out what appears to be a desk and two chairs. Finally, when he stops in front of the desk, a little man with balding head, rosy cheeks and pudgy nose steps out from behind the desk.

S: “Welcome my dear Professor Mivart. I am Satan. Thank you for being so prompt. Please have a seat” (sound of chair)

N: Mivart does as he is told. There is a pause as Satan studies Mivart’s puzzled face.

S: “I am sure you do not recognize me from our previous meeting. Please forgive me. (laughs) That horrible appearance is standard procedure for greeting all new arrivals.”

N: Mivart is too amazed to reply. He eyes are transfixed on the benign looking little man with kindly voice and twinkling black eyes. He wonders how this harmless person can be the great evil one?

S: “Nevertheless, I am the Evil one. Trust me. Do you mind if I call you George?”

M: “Call me what you wish Satan, I care not.”

S: “ George, how about a cup of hot tea? Oh, excuse me, I’m sure you would prefer ice tea. How about cool ade” Satan motions to the imp that hurries away, soon to return with a goblet and a pitcher of ice tea. (imp sounds) It sets the goblet before Mivart and fills it. (Goblet sounds and water sounds.)

N: Mivart eagerly gulps the tea as Satan pulls his chair around the desk closer to Mivart. (sound of chair being moved) A sly smile creeps onto Satan’s face as he studies the old man before him. He is enjoying this encounter and hopes it will lead to as desirable results as did the Galileo affair.

S: “George, I have some news for you that may upset you and please you at the same time. Would you like to hear it, or would you rather not face the truth? …Truth is not always desirable, especially when it destroys comfortable faith. You, Professor Mivart, have attempted to live two lives simultaneously, like many other humans. One life was based upon reason and science and the other was based upon superstition and fear of the unknown.” (imp laughter sounds)

N: Mivart nods his head.

M: “It is true, although I had not realized it when I was alive.

S: “Most humans seem to adjust well to this dichotomy, as did you. Unfortunately your conciliatory solution to the debate between evolution and superstition came to the attention of The Church. Due to your reputation and past loyalty, the Church could not very well tolerate your authoritative voice speaking to the masses. Your words undermined the dogma of the Church. You were brave but quite stupid to contradict the Pope.”

M: “Yes, I now realize why I was persecuted. I did not think the church of Jesus would react so violently.”

S: “Your basic beliefs differed little from your contemporary Alfred R. Wallace, who now shares a small portion of credit with Darwin for the concept of evolution. By the way he also suffers as you in Hell. Unfortunately, your name has been lost in history. Only a few scientists and even fewer clergy know your name. The very Church, that condemned you to hell, does not care about you, and in fact hopes your name, like Galileo’s, will never be mentioned again. You are an embarrassment.” (imp laughter)

N: Mivart straightens his drooping shoulders and looks into the intense unblinking, black eyes of Satan.

M: “Truth blinded me to the danger that lay in my path. I had faith that Jesus was with me as I walked through the valley of the shadow of death. Had I known the church would betray me, I would have done no different.” (imps cheer)

S: “Bravo George, I admire your spunk. You defied both Darwin and Huxley, and then, the Church. While you burned your candle on both ends, your fellow scientist Charles Darwin defied the scientific community and the church. He was however, immune to the barbs and slings of the Church because he did not believe its doctrine or in its God. But you, George, you were not. Your blind faith in the Pope’s infallibility made you vulnerable. That is why you are here and have suffered in my domain since your death.”

N: Satan sips boiling tea from his cup and stuffs several biscuits into his mouth, waiting for Mivart’s reply. (Metal cup and slurping sounds)

M: “I know, I know. I deserve my punishment because I grievously undermined The Church’s authority and teaching. I accept my fate.” (sad imp sounds)

S: “How contrite you are Professor! But, why should you accept your fate? I have the distinct pleasure to inform you that the great Galileo Galilee was your neighbor and lived in the cubicle next to yours…until three days ago! At that time the Catholic Church admitted, after over a century of review, that it had made a mistake in its condemnation of him and his views. The Church presently accepts his concept of the universe as fact. Such a reversal was inevitable.” (cheering imp sounds)

M: “But it took so long. Poor Galileo, how he must have suffered at your hands in this terrible place.” (sad imp sounds)

S: “Thank you for the compliment Professor, but I was merely doing my job as instructed by our Heavenly Father. In all honesty, I can neither accept the blame or the credit, for I am but one actor in the universal plan of my master and you God. Galileo created his own Hell because he had blind faith that heaven and hell really existed, as do you.” (sad imp sounds)

N: Mivart is puzzled and pathetic; his quivering hands lower the now empty cup from his lips. Satan knows, now is the time to twist the dagger he has placed in Mivart’s heart.

S: “Did you know, my dear professor, that your beliefs, the ones that you debated with Darwin, are now very respectable, at least with those who believe in Intelligent Design? Your theory of God as the author and designer of evolution, is today, the very basis of Catholic doctrine concerning the evolution of life? The Church now echoes your own words (quote) ‘Christian thinkers are perfectly free to accept the general evolution theory’(unquote.) Do you recall writing those exact words?”

M: “Yes, I do. The Church tried to censure me… but I would have none of it.” (pathetic imp sounds)

S: “The Roman Church today cannot improve on your sentiments, spoken over one hundred and fifty years ago. You also wrote, ‘We have a true reconciliation of science and religion, in which each gains and neither loses, one being complementary to the other.’ Your words George, your words.” (happy imp sounds)

M: “I know, I know.”

S: “Congratulations Professor Mivart! Your theory finally prevailed, but alas, you did not get the credit for it. No mention of your name was made, when in the year 1996, Pope John Paul II announced to the world that there was no conflict between belief in God and biological evolution. I think that the Pope did not want to remind the world that The Church had made another blunder concerning your excommunication, especially on your very death bed. You can well understand and sympathize with The Church, can you not?”

N: “Those stinging words from Satan take their toll. Mivart is speechless and devastated. (sad imp sounds)

M: “This can’t be true? I can’t believe your words? I cannot reconcile the fact that the Holy Roman Church now believes exactly what it had excommunicated me for. It is a terrible irony and injustice!

S: “How true George, and you are correct, it is a terrible injustice. Have some more iced tea George?”. (sounds of glass being filed)

N: Tears fills Mivart’s eyes and he is soon weeping uncontrollably while Satan silently observes. During the first years of Hell, Satan regretted what he had to do, but now after thousands of years he is unmoved. This is just another suffering soul and he has little sympathy. His real interest is in embarrassing God and The Roman Church, or any religion that believes Hell is a real place. To reach that end, he will help this miserable human soul who now weeps pathetically before him.

M: (sounds of Mivart weeping)

N: Finally, when Mivart gains control of his emotions, Satan continues.

S: “If the Catholic Church gave Galileo a pardon, why should it not give you a pardon my dear Professor? You have suffered enough.” (imp cheers)

N: Confused at what he hears, Mivart looks up and across the desk into the intense black eyes of the little man, who now leans forward with a quizzical look on his face, waiting for a reply.

M; Can it be true that I actually has a chance to quit this Hell? Or, is this a cruel trick of yours, to give me one fresh breath of hope and then a second breath of burning brimstone and disappointment?

S: “I assure you professor, it is no trick. I would be delighted to release you from this Hell. Although the Church has not investigated your case as it did Galileo’s, I have my ways of making them reconsider. Shall I proceed?” (imp cheers)

N: Satan holds out his hand while Mivart’s mind races.

M: “Mmmm, should I shake the hand of the Great Evil One? Would that small gesture be seen by God as act of disloyalty? Would God believe I was in league with you to manipulate the Roman church? Would this handshake bring on the wrath of The Almighty One? ….On the other hand, what worse punishment could possibly be given to me?

N: Satan continues to hold his open hand across the desk while he follows Mivart’s reasoning. (imp cheers)

S: “If you refused this offer, then surely I have chosen poorly. You will be unworthy of my offer and effort.” (sad imp sounds)

N: To Satan’s pleasure, the old man’s trembling hand slowly reaches across the desk and into his outstretched hand. The handshake is momentous, a great achievement even for the Great Satan. Never before has a lost soul ever received such an offer, and accepted it with his free will. (loud imp cheers)

S: “I am truly moved by your courageous act of reason. It is difficult for the human soul, a product of evolution, to overcome the influence of ignorance and fear of the unknown.
You are truly a brave soul who is worthy of my interest and effort. Now, the real work must begin, and it will be a challenge, even for me.

M: “What must you do?”

S: “I will do what I can to influence the church fathers. But, there are no guarantees.”

N: Satan dismisses Mivart with a wave of his hand.

S: “I will review your case and bring it to the attention of those who have the power to help you. I can do nothing more. Leave me.”

N: With the imp leading the way, Mivart retraces his steps along the red carpet back to the elevator and to his cubical. (sounds of footsteps) The cubical is as he left it; clean, bright, temperate and well stocked with those items that will make the following days bearable. Mivart’s torture schedule is cancelled indefinitely. He has nothing to do but wait. Satan, on the other hand, was already busy creating a devious plan to help the brave man of science.

Chapter Four

N: While Mivart anxiously waits for news from Satan, he marvels at The Church’s belated acceptance of his theory concerning creation and evolution. He is puzzled about Church doctrine. He turns to the nearby imp and although knowing he will get no reply he asks,

M: “How is it that The Church has made so many gross errors concerning science? (imp sounds) How could anyone accept church doctrine as being true in the light of its many past errors?” (imp sounds) What role does God play in nature? (imp sounds)…Unlike me, imp, Darwin believed that the creation and evolution of life were natural phenomena. I concede that evolution is God’s work, but Darwin did not. Darwin, I expect, was an atheist, and immune from the wrath of The Church and fear of God. To Darwin, heaven and hell did not exist, …but unfortunately, for me, they do.”

N: (imps chirp away) Mivart continues his one sided conversation.

M: “I do not fully understand the mechanism by which variation in plants and animals develop, but it obviously happened. I always accepted it as simply another element of God’s plan. I remember Darwin’s words in his letters to me, that he did not recognize any such Godly power. Natural laws, he claimed, run their course without plan or direction from a Divine power.”

N: The very next morning, after a restful night’s sleep in his comfortable bed, Mivart finds an addition to his library of bible editions. Sitting on top of an ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament is a book entitled the “Laws of Inheritance by Gregor Mendle.” Mivart picks it up and eagerly starts reading. He can hardly bring himself to put it down. He devours it while waiting to hear from Satan.

M: “I can’t believe this. Is it true? Darwin was right.” (imps cheering)

N: The following is a Memo from Satan’s files:

S: “During the time of sleep there is a time for dreams; dreams that cannot be controlled by volition or ecclesiastical law; dreams that respond to hunger and passion; dreams that arise from the firing of neurons stimulated by causes unknown to man.

I have long been accused of being the source of disturbing and lascivious dreams; dreams powerful enough to influence human behavior, change the direction of human events and even create nighttime erections and orgasms in sleeping Popes and Cardinals. Once I became aware of this ability to reshape the human mind, an ability endowed upon me by God, himself, I have used it frequently to tempt and twist those who were susceptible, and there are many to tempt including the Pope himself. Now, as I plan my strategy, as generals plan war, dreams will be my weapon and the portal through which I will attack the infallibility of The Church, in my rescue attempt of George Mivart’s soul. Tonight, the Pope will dream.”

N: Shortly after retiring for the night, the frail Pope John Paul II began a long succession of dreams. Visions of poor souls, victims of Church blunders, visited and tormented the Holy Father in his dreams, and as it turned out they also visited every one of his most entrusted staff as well. (sounds of heavy breathing, snores and moans) The “Satan Dream Network” would have been the envy of any Internet aficionado, such was its effectiveness. It took several days for the dream virus to increase in virulence and come to a festering head.

In due time the name George Mivart predictably came up at a Vatican Counsel Meeting, and discussions followed. The Pope, in good conscience, felt an obligation to request a review on the Mivart case. He instructed that the research be kept under the strictest secrecy.

Satan was pleased; his plan seemed to be working.

N: Exactly six weeks later the inhabitants of Hell heard a deep rumble and felt a strong vibration that shook every cubicle and torture chamber. (sounds of thunder).The imps wondered what Satan was up to. (sounds of alarmed imps) George Mivart had no idea that he was the cause of this most unusual event and continued to wait patiently but fearfully for the voice of Satan over the loudspeaker in his cubicle.

Finally, on the seventh day of the seventh week, the silence in his cubicle is broken by Mozart’s jubilant “Halleluiah chorus.” And then, the gentle voice of the little man who drank boiling water is heard.

S: “Good morning Professor Mivart, I have news for you. Please be ready in half an hour for a meeting. The imp will deliver you.”

N: George Mivart paced anxiously at his cubicle door for twenty minutes, waiting for it to open. It opens exactly on time and an imp escorts him down the long hall to the elevator. (sounds of door and steps and elevator) When it arrives at its destination and the elevator doors open, (sounds of opening door) he is pushed out into the smoke and steam filled hall. In short order the imp leads him into the bowels of the great hall and to the large desk and benign looking little man. (sounds of steps)

Satan greets Mivart with a broad smile and extended hand.

S: Good morning Professor. I’m so glad you could attend this meeting.”

N: Mivart reluctantly shakes Satan’s hand again and then sits down to hear his fate. He thinks to himself,

M: “Will I suffer in Hell for eternity or will he be released to some other fate?”

S: The answer, unfortunately, is not immediately forthcoming George. Iced tea and biscuits come first. (sounds of them being pushed in his direction across the desk.)

S: “I am curious Professor, what is your definition of Hell?”

N: Mivart’s answer is a compilation of church teaching and legend drawn from both fiction and art. It is a thorough and colorful description, identical to Mirvart’s personal experience; fire, brimstone, agony, pain, torture, etc.

Satan listens patiently while sipping his boiling tea. When Mivart finishes answering the question he asks,

M: “Have I not described Hell, in all its terrible reality, to your satisfaction?”

S: “No my poor Mivart, you have not. Here is the current, and therefore the correct definition of Hell, as written in a recent issue of the Vatican Newspaper. It is the official pronouncement of the Catholic Church. Apparently the definition has changed since your days upon the earth.”

N: Satan tosses a small newspaper across the desk to Mivart who reads the article over several times and then, in astonishment, looks across the desk into the deep black eyes of the little man.

N: Satan smiles and repeats, from memory, the Pope’s actual words as written in the paper.

S: “Rather than a place, Hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God. The scriptures use symbolic language that figuratively portrays Hell as an actual place in the bowels of the earth.” (imp cheers)

M: “But, I did not freely and definitively separate myself from God! And, if Hell is no longer an actual place, how can it be that I am here with you at this moment?”

S: “An excellent observation my dear Mivart. That, my friend, is for you to figure out, as Galileo did.”

N: The two sit in silence for a while, broken only by the slurping sounds of Satan sipping from his steaming cup.

Finally Satan interrupts Mivart’s thoughts.

S: “You are wondering how successful I have been in my attempt to arrange a pardon for you.”

N: Those were Mivart’s exact thoughts. Mivart leans across the desk and clasps his hands together in anticipation, as if praying. He quickly thinks better of it, lowers them, and firmly grasps the arms of the chair in which he sits.

S: “The Pope has formed a committee to investigate your case. He is sympathetic to your cause. There are, however, more conservative voices in the Vatican, which advise him to be cautious and proceed slowly and carefully in the matter. The Pope is an old frail man, susceptible to persuasion. Consequently, and unfortunately for you, the Vatican has decided to give your case the same fair and deliberate consideration that it gave Galileo’s case. Haaaah! You may be looking at a century or two wait before the matter is resolved.”

M: “Damn the church, Damn the pope, and damn you. Where is justice?”

S: “Well said Mivart. I agree. “Fortunately, I still have a few connections in Heaven, and so I have it on reliable authority that The Almighty One has been well aware of your plight and the inaction of his church. He is also sympathetic to your cause and will, most probably, not object to your full pardon from Hell.”

N: Mivart’s spirit soars! He can hardly believe the good news. At last he might be released from the torments of Hell.

M: “But, how much longer will I have to wait?”

N: Mivart breaks down and weeps while Satan watches impassively. Satan neither smiles nor frowns. Mivart can see no hint of emotion in the chubby little face, and it worries him.

M: “Is there more news yet to come? What haven’t you told me?”

S: “As I have indicated, the Vatican council is a very deliberate body embroiled in bureaucracy and politics. There is a distinct possibility that The Church will forget your cause when this Pope dies. In addition, the church will soon be so distracted and embarrassed with the pedophile sins of its leadership and the resulting law suites that you will be forgotten. If I were you Professor, I would not get my hopes up too high.”

N: Satan seems to enjoy the anguish of the poor soul before him. He enjoys announcing the shortcomings of the Catholic Church, or any church for that matter. He enjoys stirring up trouble for his sponsor. Satan, like Mivart, has little to loose and was never one to follow heavenly protocol if he could avoid it.

Satan holds out his hand into which a waiting imp places a large serpent skin covered book, the Unabridged Catalogue of Heavens, the same one he had loaned Galileo not long ago. After a brief explanation of its contents, Satan pushes it across the desk.

S: “Study this carefully professor. If or when the day comes that you receive a pardon, you will have to decide where your miserable soul will reside, if in any place. There are many other man-made heavens out there from which you may choose. The Viking Valhalla, the American Indian Happy Hunting Grounds, the sexual heaven of Islam and Hinduism, and many thousands more both ancient and contemporary. The Catholic Heaven is not mandatory. By its initial rejection of your soul, it has given up all rights to it.”

M: “There are other heavens? I can’t believe it.”

S: “As you will discover, the religions of man offer you many choices other than the Christian Heavens. Furthermore, the index of this catalogue contains a complete alphabetical listing of all beings that have ever existed on the earth and where they are spending eternity. Look up names of scientists like yourself, or politicians, or clergy, or royalty, or even just the common man. You will find that some dwell neither in Heaven or Hell. They have made other choices. Choose wisely George.” Haaah!

N: Mivart returns to his cubicle with Satan’s heaven catalogue. Its study occupied most of George Mivart’s time until that day on July 22, 2010, when the future of his soul was determined. Satan was not surprised by Mivart’s liberated selection.

The history books of heaven and hell are unclear as to what happened to George Mivart’s soul. The last recorded mention of his name was that he had checked out the Unabridged Catalogue of Heavens from Satan’s personal library. Thereafter, his name disappears from the HHAI, Hell’s Historical Accounts Index. It is rumored in the torture chambers and cubicles of Hell, and in the cathedrals of Heaven that a secrete deal was struck between the forces of good and evil. The Church was spared the embarrassment of having committed another Galileo like blunder, and Satan had another delightful distraction from his boring existence. God, as usual was disinclined or unable to use his reputed power to interfere with Satan.

The rumor alleges that a diabolical compromise enabled a human soul to escape the clutches of Satan, for the first time in history without an official pardon from the Church. Sounds of diabolical laughter periodically resonated throughout Satan’s domain, and it is claimed that the din was even heard on earth, by human ears.

That evening Satan is at his computer. (Computer sounds) He pulls up the “Innocents’ File Folder” once again and makes the notation (Location unknown) next to the name of St. George Jackson Mivart… Satan scrolls down to reveal the next name in the file folder. He nods his head in approval and goes to work. (Computer sounds)

END

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About cgosling

I am a retired medical/scientific illustrator who has given up illustration to write about science, superstition, and secular humanism. I consider myself all of the following: atheist, agnostic, secular humanist, freethinker, skeptic, and nature lover. I have several published books but the mass of my writing is unpublished. I write children's fiction, poetry, essays, and several plays and radio theater shows, that are available as free downloads to be used on secular podcasts and meetings. They can be heard on Indy Freethought Radio. I hope some of my writings will be of interest to like minded freethinkers who I cordially invite to respond.
This entry was posted in fiction, God, Hell, religion, science and superstition. Bookmark the permalink.

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