What connection could a love poem have to faith? Or what possible connection does an iced cream cone have to the spiritual life? Leaving my books one Sunday afternoon, I brought my wife an iced cream cone with a four-line poem I had composed just for her. Presenting the frosty cone, I read this aloud for the very first time:
You are a perfect wife
Giving me a perfect life.
This I give you which of
My love is but a clue.
She likes poetry but she loves iced cream, so I always suspected that she liked the iced cream cone more, but I got over it. Now let’s shift our gears, from poetry to philosophy.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche announced “God is dead” in the nineteenth century, which created quite a stir. Nietzsche suffered from severe desperation, I think. Probably listened to too much Wagner. He threw philosophy into a general panic, forcing thinkers to search for life’s meaning without God.
They thought they found their solution in a movement called post-modernism, writings that were a kind of ointment to treat the scalding awareness of the absurdity of life. Fortunately in 1942 the French philosopher, scholar and literary romantic, Albert Camus, published a brilliant essay titled, The Myth of Sisyphus. In that essay he described the Absurd Man, who sought meaning in a God-less universe. I read the essay with great interest.
Camus reminded me very poetically that life seemed worse than a cosmic joke, for it had no presumed author anymore. Camus concluded that the only important question was “Why not commit suicide?” due to this vacuous and tedious situation.
So it became quite a difficult challenge to rise perkily in the morning, with those depressing variables halting the spring in your steps. Philosophers didn’t shake up America as badly as they had in Europe. Over here we were still able to whistle a happy tune, as Europe grew more grumpy and dour.
No Message in the Galaxy Worth Reading
Where did this leave the human species as a whole, as we rolled anxiously into the twentieth century? It led to the Lost Generation, with Gertrude Stein and friends. And later on it led to popular fiction, like A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and films like Dr. Strangelove, which are satirical treatments of the absurdity of human existence. Songs were also written such as “Message in a Bottle” by Sting and The Police. I connected with the song’s lament of private desperation and societal alienation, because that was my own existence: it was desperation and despair in the form of a catchy Pop tune!
Life can be really traumatic inside of us, that’s no secret, for sure, when we can admit it. In this century it’s by now our ideological inheritance. At birth we’re tossed into the exceedingly unbalanced, violent and unpredictable twenty-first century, where we have global media daily pounding out a dizzying and unending chain of catastrophes, to which we tend to become numb. We are then forced to reach out for the curatives solicited and pandered by the channels of our Addictive Society. But let’s move on, lest we despair!
What the World Needs Now
As we all know, love is a very powerful because we need it, a great deal of it, especially if you believe the cosmos is a soundless, meaningless void. I’m not much for the Big Bang Theory explaining things, because I disagree with Stephen Hawking that the universe doesn’t need God. Theories about the origin of the universe abound, and at the top of that list are Creationism, Intelligent Design and Evolution, which touts the miserable notion that we all arose out of some primordial soup.
Instead, please consider “God’s Unfathomable Mercy and Love.” Okay, that notion might smack against your hard-nosed realism rather violently. Prove it to me! It’s a part of living in these spiritually impoverished times. Or maybe it’s not so hard for you to conceive of such a Being who IS love. This blog has for its’ logo the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a symbol of Christ’s love for all of us. The thorns around his heart symbolize his suffering for us and the flames bursting forth symbolize the intensity of that love, so great that it called for the ultimate sacrifice.
Consider, why should God, omnipotent and entirely self-sufficient, the living source of life itself, the totality of all that is pure and holy, create human beings, animals, nature, the earth and other worlds among untold galaxies and quasars, unless he loved them first? He got absolutely nothing for his efforts, other than the joy that every giver receives, which is the joy of expressing his love to his beloved.
So then perhaps it is vital, dear reader, that you really look for the Mercy of God, to remove the anguish from your life, as I had to. Consider that suffering, or pathos, is less painful than anguish, because our suffering eases when we accept it, if we choose to. Anguish is far worse because it’s a state of non-acceptance. Anguish festers with “deep disappointment, fruitless longing, unavailing remorse.” Pretty tough. God’s Mercy is the antidote for anguish. An antidote is “a medicine taken or given to counteract a particular poison.” Believing in nothing is slow poison leading to despair.
Discovering the one, true God, on the other hand, was and is my antidote for the dry philosophical treatises I tortured myself with for so long (Sisyphus was the exception). That is why I am yours truly, Ron Houssaye, addicted to mercy.
Thank you for stopping by.