The Arcada Gardenia (formally, "AmST-OShaughnessy-004") is an Amalgamated Scriptural Text (AmST) compiled by Megan O'Shaugnessy during her tenure (7997 - 8002) at the Center for Restorative Theology. It is celebrated for its elegant simplicity, though some critics have questioned its veracity.
The Arcada Gardenia was developed from the remains of assorted texts discovered in the area of the former Montreal, Quebec. Only fragments and loose pages - largely of unknown origin - were recovered from the region, leading to the critique that the text is not reflective of previous scriptures, but rather of a gestalt, at best, which some scholars believe O'Shaughnessy took many liberties in crafting (see Controversy, below.)
The original printing of Arcada Gardenia reads a scant eight pages, significantly shorter than the average AmST.
The text presents an Origin Mythology, not of Man, Earth or the Universe, but solely of Society. The opening lines read: "In the Valley of the Creator, his children lived in abundance. All was given to them, and nothing was for want." The ontology and nature of the "Creator" is not discussed. The text continues to describe the daily life of the "children," as they eat of the fruits of the gardens, drink of the wine provided for them by the Creator, make love and otherwise entertain themselves, and raise the children borne of such unions. The text strongly implies a fully communal "family" structure, without concern for paternity.
After this first section ("The Status") the meat of the story begins. In section two ("The Warnings"), dark clouds gather around the valley, alerting and confusing the denizens. Once the tumultuous rains begin, the people seek cover, and demand of Aaron - the youngest of the "children" to have attained the rank of manhood - to seek out the Creator and discover the reason for the rains.
Aaron summons his bravery and travels to the mountains surrounding the valley, where none from the gardens had dared tread before. Aaron calls out to the Creator, but hears no word, and makes the dangerous climb to the top of the barren and foreboding peak. Atop the summit, Aaron once again calls out. ("I can reach no closer to you, Montsignor!")
Part three ("The Respite") begins, appropriately, with the cessation of the storm, as Aaron returns to the gardens of the valley with word from the Creator that he is displeased with the decadence of their lifestyle, and has offered a contract. The Creator will continue to provide for the Valley, but only if the denizens abide by his set of laws. The laws (twelve in all) focus exclusively on negative and prohibited behavior, and are as follows:
The denizens proclaim Aaron to be their new leader, but are at a loss as to how to properly enforce the new laws. After much discussion, Aaron determines that he must go back to the mountaintop, but cannot do so immediately, given his weakened state from the previous climb. A Wise Man named Habbur volunteers to go in his stead, which Aaron agrees to. Habbur sets off.
Habbur returns at the beginning of Part Four (The Construction). He informs Aaron and the people that the Creator has ordered him to build a circular structure to serve as the seat of government in the Valley, where Aaron shall sit on his throne. This structure was to be built upon twelve pillars, with each pillar inscribed with one of the laws of the Valley. Finally, Habbur was to act as the Judge for the denizens, determining who had broken these laws and what the appropriate appeasement to the Creator would be.
After the creation of the "Arcada," two thrones are built, one for Aaron and one for Habbur. Though the denizens revere Aaron as a leader, with the Creator holding up his end of the arrangement, almost all of the actual governance falls to Habbur, who quickly institutes harsh penalties against whomever he determines to be in violation of the twelve "principae." Those Habbur finds to be guilty of transgression are hammered through the chest to the corresponding pillar of their crime as a public display. While Aaron attempts to use his position to encourage people to build homes and communal structures, his people live in fear of Habbur.
In Part Five ("The Dispute") Aaron holds secret meetings with well-regarded denizens, in order to find a way to replace Habbur with a less severe Judge. After determining that all of the denizens are too fearful of Habbur to plot against him, Aaron once again climbs the mountain and calls out once more. ("I beg you, Montsignor, where folly leads sense must surely follow?")
Aaron descends the mount to recount the Creator's words, but is immediately apprehended by Habbur, who quickly convicts him of Rebellion, Deceit, Corruption and Arrogance before the assembled crowd. In order to appease the Creator, Habbur hammers Aaron through the chest onto the "Rebellion" column, stretching his hands and feet out to the adjoining pillars of "deceit" and "corruption" to hammer through those as well. Aaron attempts to scream out the Creator's message, but his voice is lost over the crowd, and Habbur cuts out his tongue, nailing it to the "Arrogance" pillar.
This final nail destroys the structural integrity of the Arcada, bringing it crashing to the ground. Without means of punishment, the denizens slaughter Habbur, and the land quickly grows barren.
The Arcada Gardenia is widely interpreted as a treatise about proper governance and the necessity not only of laws, but of the wisdom to enforce them. Some have viewed it cynically, as proof that humanity cannot be fit to carry out God's commands, while others have viewed it more hopefully, that God exists beyond the execution of his commands by mortal beings.
An interesting note is that the Creator is never seen nor heard from in the text directly, but only via the tellings of Aaron and Habbur. While Aaron is certainly seen by most to be the hero of the story, and Habbur the villain, the text itself leaves this much murkier. If one or both of the two is "faking" their meeting on the mountaintop, we are given no dispositive evidence for it. Additionally, the gardens only cease to provide after the denizens murder Habbur without punishment, though this occurs immediately after Aaron's execution, so definitive interpretation is likely impossible.
O'Shaughnessy's publication resulted in a media frenzy, and much popular support. The Arcada Gardenia has since been quoted and referenced uncountably in popular culture and most notably in meetings of the Cameral Body, usually in arguments in favor of legal positivism, but also occasionally in favor of executive sovereignty.
While popular and, by some definitions, accepted among the public, AmST-OShaughnessy-004 has remained under-fire from critics within the field since its publication. Skeptics claim that the language of the source material (mostly archaic French) allowed for broad interpretations, that there was little if any effort to confirm uniformity of the sources, and that O'Shaughnessy relied heavily on the oral traditions of the hermetic tribes around the region - a charge which O'Shaughnessy vigorously denies. For instance, the well-known aphorism, "where folly leads, sense must surely follow," has been much disputed. The archaic French is most strictly translated as "where bad judgement leads, good judgment must surely come after," leading many to believe that the accurate translation is closer to, "where sin leads, divine judgment follows," though scholars sympathetic to the general character of Aaron raise concerns that their hero would ask for such a general damnation of his people, instead of asking for wisdom to lead them, as in the more liberal interpretation.
While O'Shaughnessy's supervisors have fiercely supported the text, that has only fueled the fire of the most common complaint of parmanism. With the text as popular in publication as ever, however, and O'Shaughnessy now a recluse, the question may indeed be moot.