by Lennox V. Farrell
A dramatized trial of Columbus.
Pronounced "Warahoun"; the name of a Carib people who lived in the Eastern Caribbean and whose name, likely because of their resistance to the Europeans has become a by-word in places like Trinidad & Tobago for someone who is a hooligan: uncouth and uncivilized. The name is chosen here for the same reason that the Haitian patriots - people like Dessalines who overthrew the slave system - did when they renamed this French colony, Santo Domingo, giving it back its aboriginal name, Haiti.
There are some other words, the understanding of whose pronunciation is necessary. Two of these are Xibalbans and Xmucane, pronounced Schebalbans, and Schemucane, respectively.
The production is an investigation of Christopher Columbus and therefore of the world of ideas, attitudes and cultures he represented and brought.
i. Adeodatus introduces the trial; charges of: theft, slavery and killings;
ii. Augustine introduces idea of predestination and concerns about it;
iii. Blood Woman brings pre-Creation Maya story;
iv. Cuotemoc brings Creation story;
v. Cuotemoc brings story of destruction - generally;
vi. Augustine speaks for just War: "only good heathen is a dead heathen".
vii. Anacoana brings story of destruction - specifically regarding women;
viii. Fr Montesino brings testimony of Good Samaritan violated by one helped;
i. Universal woman refocuses themes;
ii. Marie Angelique speaks of slavery, especially effects on women;
iii. Adeodatus is affected by her testimony and death;
iv. Augustine supports slavery, and speaks of women - progress is defined ..;
v. Adeodatus seeks answers about the nature of evil, and abandons his father;
vi. Poet summarizes arguments so far and introduces the Haitian anti-slavery fighter, Boukman;
vii. Boukman brings a question, an answer, a curse, a blessing and a prophecy;
viii. Universal woman speaks to Africa and Europe;
ix. Augustine "realizes" that predestination is based on skin colour, and that he, being Black…
A young man dressed as an accolyte addresses the audience]
ADEODATUS: Ladies and Gentlemen, I must repeat, that in this trial it is you, the audience who are judge and jury of the ideas presented.
As you are aware, witnesses have come - have been requested from across time and space. They would have lived before, during, and even after the time of the man being investigated. His name is, is ... [Adeodatus thumbs through his notes] is Columbus - excuse me: Christopher Columbus; an historical figure; a bringer of attitudes - supremacist attitudes some claim - a bringer of institutions, like Christendom and its vehicle, the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
Some detractors describe said church as being the world's first transnational corporation - a description that is possibly malicious in intent.
If I may introduce myself. I am Adeodatus, assistant to, and son of Augustine, Bishop of Hippo; in Africa. You call him St Augustine, and claim him as one of the founders of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. St. Augustine is testifying on behalf of the Christian Admiral, Cristobal Colon, Cristoforo Colombo, or as he will be called during this investigation: Christopher Columbus -
[He pauses, making up his mind about...]May I, Ladies and Gentlemen ask ...? [Pauses, still uncertain...]
What in your opinion is the nature of, er … evil? Is it like a muscle which, if exercised, kills the opposing muscle that is the good, and if this opposite good is exercised, then will the evil decline?
[The silence of the audience is disconcerting, but his obvious concern, desperation even, emboldens him] In other words, is Evil a cause of sin? Or is it the consequences of sin? Who made it?!
- Oh, here he comes, now. St. Augustine… Father ...
[He turns to greet an older man, also dressed in the robes of a priest - the robes of a Bishop. This older man enters from down the middle of the aisle with an air that is curious, urbane, professorial. He addresses Adeodatus directly.]
AUGUSTINE: It is not the first time in history that barbaric wretches, armed only with superior weapons and basic needs have overpowered a sophisticated city.
[Augustine hands Adeodatus a sheaf of documents. Adeodatus indicates to Augustine the presence of the audience-jurors and begins to silently pore over the papers...Augustine, meanwhile, turns to face them directly.]
I'm just back from Rome - or what is left of that Venerable city.
AUGUSTINE : By the Visigoths! And their ring-leader, that barbarbarian, Alaric! Not one stone ...
ADEODATUS: Destroyed, Father?!
[Augustine pauses briefly.]
AUGUSTINE: Yes, Rome. Destroyed! While there, a young woman asked me a question.
ADEODATUS: About predestination, Father?
AUGUSTINE : "Bishop," she asked, "can a child that has been eaten - cannibalized!..."
As I said before, matters are quite grave. In fact, if any of you have to travel, for God's sake do not do so alone. And protect your children - even from neighbours they are not safe. People are desperate, famished. They hunger, truly, for the spiritual, but if I may say so, they hunger also for the cereal!
"Bishop", the young woman said to me, "can a child that has been eaten still be - predestined?"
This young mother - I think she was a mother, or at least had until recently been a mother - she is not the only one with questions!
I too have questions!
Yes, I, Augustine have questions.
I can imagine the astonishment of some. "Augustine has questions about predestination", they would ask? "Why, rich and poor, pagans and others, seek out Augustine!" They come to me for advice, for answers. To me, writer of a thousand papers on a thousand topics.
Do you know what they calI me? What they call Augustine?!
ADEODATUS: Sapientia et Eloquentia ... Wise and Eloquent Father, the trial ...
AUGUSTINE: ... Adeodatus. Why would God, knowing even before His creation that man would sin, still create him? Why?! The truth is axiomatic; self-evident. Man is born in sin. Man is shaped in iniquity. Yet having prior knowledge of this, God still created man.
And using what criteria, on what grounds does God decide who will be saved and who lost. You know the Scriptures:
"Jacob I have chosen and, and ..." Adeodatus!
AUGUSTINE: "Jacob I have chosen and. And?! ..."
ADEODATUS: "... and Esau I have despised."
AUGUSTINE: "Many are called but ...".
ADEODATUS: "... but a few are chosen!"
AUGUSTINE: Only a few Adeodatus! Only a few! And how does God predestine this few who will be chosen? This much we know, that to this few He sends His Irresistible Grace. They are chosen, not because they are good, but ...
ADEODATUS: ... are good because they are chosen!
AUGUSTINE: Predestined, Adeodatus! But why they? On what grounds? Only God knows for sure, and He is not telling, it appears. But it is difficult, so difficult, not knowing!
Oh God! Oh Holy Father ...
[Adeodatus puts his arm around his father. Augustine is quieted. He looks toward heaven.]
... Thy will be done. If we, mere humans could fathom Your thoughts then You would not be God. And we would not be. Blessed be the name of God, Most High!
[Augustine turns in judgement towards individuals in the audience]Brethren, I admonish you, and you - and you with the painted face and the powdered nose - that you walk worthy. Walk in the straight and narrow way. Fight the good fight. Beware! Beware the wiles of the Devil!
You recall how he tempted Adam? He used Eve!
She is not evil - it is her mind. It is frail. The Evil One, like Priable is able to use her with his formidable member, writhing belly to belly with her. Like two snakes in lust!
Holy Mother ...!
ADEODATUS : Holy Father, our testimony about the Admiral ...
AUGUSTINE: "Bishop", the young woman said to me, "can a child that is eaten still be predestined"?
Only God knows for sure. Blessed be the name of God!
Thank you Adeodatus for your patience.
ADEODATUS: Father, the accusations against the Admiral are serious. He is accused of "THEFT; SLAVERY & MURDERS".
AUGUSTINE: I had asked that the latter accusation be changed from "MURDERS, to KILLINGS". Between the two, there is a difference in legality and in morality. Please see to it.
ADEODATUS: Yes, Father.
AUGUSTINE: I am Augustine of Africa, and should be flattered that you wish my opinion on a quincentennary, historical matter? The trial of a Christian navigator ...
ADEODATUS: ... Christopher Columbus!
AUGUSTINE: This trial, as you have been forwarned does not find favour with us.
As your magnificent Jazz musicians would say,
"It is not copacetic"!
Now, where to begin?
ADEODATUS: [Reads from the deposition of papers.]
The destruction of Rome by Alaric Visigoth in my year, 410 AD, is as good a place as any to begin a discourse on Christopher Columbus. It is not the first time in history that a barbaric people, armed with basic needs, superior weapons and lower morality overpowered a more sophisticated people...
AUGUSTINE: I already said that.
ADEODATUS: Pardon me, Father ... but I'm afraid that I am to repeat things you have already said. I am to read on your behalf, but when you begin to speak ...
AUGUSTINE: I go on, and on, and on ... Yes. But are there not issues still unresolved from our time, the 4th Century? Concerns about predestination?! Maybe citizens of this, your 20th century are wiser and have better questions. Adeodatus, they have so many books, books, books, books, books, books ... pamphlets, documents, papers and so many, many books!
ADEODATUS: The laying waste of Rome, this venerable ...
AUGUSTINE : Is it possible to have so many many books, books?! ...
ADEODATUS: Father? ... The laying waste of Rome, this venerable city, this locus of civilization and stability by the barbarians was a time, let me tell you of great uncertainty, of distress such as never was...
AUGUSTINE : I would even say conditions were Apocalyptic, almost!
ADEODATUS : Multitudes abandoned thair faith, and their morals...
AUGUSTINE: And I am speaking of pillars of the church who prior to this visitation had been in the habit of proclaiming their determination to experience martyrdom for the sake of Christ.
ADEODATUS: And I am speaking of pillars of the church who prior to this visitation had been in the habit of proclaiming ...
AUGUSTUS: I just said that.
ADEODATUS: Yes, Father - it is written - here! ... had been in the habit of proclaiming their determination to experience martyrdom for the sake of Christ. For the benefit of true believers I explained that these events were another of the many instances in which God intervened in history. Thus was written, The City Of God ...
AUGUSTINE: In Civitas Dei.
ADEODATUS : ... that has become a classic of the church. It was good propaganda against the false accusations of the pagans. They preach that the destruction of Rome occurred only because the ancient pagan gods and idols which, according to them, had protected the city for a thousand years, had been cast down, brake into pieces to make room for the images of the One Triune God. I Augustine, known as the Hammer of the Donatists ...
AUGUSTINE: They got it good and proper, you know! Those Donatists, hard-line nationalists who tried to break-up the church in Africa. They spoke deliberately in a Punic tongue; a patois.
ADEODATUS: They opposed Latin, the Lingua Franca of the transnational church ...
AUGUSTINE: I still think of them as frogs sitting in a pond. They could hear the thunder. They could feel the raindrops. What they, with their narrow minds could not perceive was that the thunder they heard, the rains they felt were the voice and spirit of the Universal Church - coexistent with Christ. These pagans ...
ADEODATUS: These Donatists and these Arians ...
AUGUSTINE : The Arians were the ones who claimed that Christ was-one-similar-to, not one-identical-with the Father ...
ADEODATUS: Caused much sorrow, much grief and had to be destroyed - or they would destroy the church - the body of Christ on Earth. Despite the humiliations and destruction, I still opposed torturings and killings of these heathen. It is only later ...
AUGUSTINE : On this issue of killing, you remember that I did not always endorse killing of the heretics. In fact, I believe, and have said that the Church advances more by dying for Christ than by killing for Him.
I have oftimes also counselled the civic authorities - God's instrument to keep a lawless people lawful - to lean to clemency whenever possible; to be lenient rather than severe.
However, I now accept the need for, and the wisdom of what I originally called Bonus Bellum...
ADEODATUS: The Just War ...
AUGUSTINE: A vision, a revelation that unfolded before me, enveloping me like an epiphany after I had witnessed the injury done to the Church by the heathen.
The principles of Bonus Bellum first struck me as it were with the brilliance of a thousand points of light. Struck me as St Paul was struck on the road to Damascus before he knew, how as Saul and instrument of Satan, he had been persecuting the followers of Christ, and Corpus Christi.
But once I had seen the blinding light, I became blind to the darkness, and alight to the light. And it is with the Grace of God, His Angelicus and His saints that I hold fast this position. Under His Grace, here I stand, I can do no other!
ADEODATUS: Excuse me Father - the time allotted for our first presentation is at hand ...
AUGUSTINE: I could not help but comment on some of the wonders that I now see. Wondrous changes. It is astonishing that it is now civilization that is all encompassing. In our time it was Nature that filled the earth, and man. Now, your civilization is set to domesticate the stars, and if possible take a mortgage on Heaven, itself! And so many, many books, books, books, books ... None among my peers ...
ADEODATUS: You call them the ancients ...
AUGUSTINE: Not Ambrose my teacher, not Chrysostom ...
ADEODATUS : He with the golden tongue for preaching the Gospel ...
AUGUSTINE: None would believe this!
None would have thought either that Latin: the cement, cord and glue of civilization and of Christendom could have declined so much!
ADEODATUS: [To the audience] My Father's testimony will continue after you have heard witnesses for the heathens who speak about the so-called beginning of what they call life...
[As they exit via the entrance they had used, Augustine in a defiant voice].
AUGUSTINE: In the Beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. And the Earth was without Form, and Void. And Darkness covered the face of the Deep. And God said, "Let there be Light". And there was Light - In the Beginning! In the Beginning!! ...