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In "By the Waters of Babylon", the Place of the Gods is a destroyed New York City many, many years in the future. John has a deep longing to go to the Place of the Gods, even though it is forbidden by the priests of his society. By the end of the story, it is apparent that the priests know the truth of this place and do not wish to share that knowledge with the Hill People. That is because the Hill People believe that those who dwell in the city beyond the Ou-Dis-On river are gods. John learns, after he travels there and has a vision regarding the "fire that falls from the sky", that the "gods" are really men who ended up destroying themselves with their greed and technology. That is one reason why the priests do not want the people to know the truth. If they knew the gods were really men, then their entire society (which is based on their belief in the gods) would collapse. In order to avoid anarchy and chaos, John also agrees not to tell the truth right away. He hopes to feed it to the people a little bit at a time in the hope that they will not repeat the patterns of the past.
new york city after it is destroyed
the forbidden place
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