Of Philosophy, God and Iced Cream

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.
Conclusion
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.

Discovering Divine Mercy in Our Postmodern Addictive Society

We don’t generally doubt what we are seeing when we look at a solid object, but we often doubt or dismiss the traditional beliefs of earlier times.  Our intellectual history has brought us into an age when everything is in doubt, including God; especially God.
I do not propose to deny the right of atheists to not believe in God or the notion of God.  I rather wish to protect it, because I believe that freedom of choice is an inalienable right.
How did the culture change from one of faith to one of doubt?  Certain philosophers introduced the world to Modernism, which is based in skepticism and anti-realism, meaning we can no longer trust in any certainties.
It began in the seventeenth century with Descartes, the “I think, therefore I am” French  philosopher and mathematician.  Modernism can lead to resignation.  After doubting everything you can think of, which people used to take for granted, you are left with the scalding sense that life is hollow and quite absurd, completely.
In the nineteenth century, when Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche announced “God is dead,” explaining the universe without God became exceedingly more difficult.  It threw the stable world of accepted truths into a general panic, prompting many to search for meaning without God.  I wonder if this erosion of the general certainty that God is real deprived future generations of a spiritually sustaining truth, which we need now more that ever before.
Welcome to Postmodernism, which is a continuation of Modernism.  In Postmodernism, you actually can find yourself doubting you’re perceiving something real when all of your senses insist you are, but you simply can’t trust your senses anymore.  However, there’s nothing wrong with being skeptical in general and withholding your belief until you have some evidence.
In the twentieth century, in 1942, another French philosopher, scholar and literary romantic, Albert Camus, penned his famous philosophical essay, The Myth of Sisyphus.  In that essay he described the Absurd Man, representing modern man, who seeks a meaning to a God-less human existence.  The Absurd Man is painfully aware of absolute futility because life is worse than a cosmic joke, in that his life has no apparent purpose.
So it became quite a challenge for people at that time to rise in the morning with those depressing assumptions hanging over them.  However, Modernism didn’t shake up America too badly.  Over here we were still able to whistle a happy tune, as Europe grew more grumpy and dour.  That was due, in part, to writers on spiritual subjects, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and William James.
Message in a Bottle
So where did that leave the questioning, postmodern person, as we rolled anxiously through the twentieth century?  It led to the writing of dozens of popular books, like A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and films like Dr. Strangelove, treatments of existence very grounded in a postmodern worldview.  When they came out, they spoke to me, because they fit the world I lived in.  To this day I still admire both the novel and the film.
In the 1980’s Sting and The Police called out an S.O.S. with the release of “Message in a Bottle.”  Who didn’t relate to that lament of private desperation and societal alienation?  Therefore, inviting God back to fill the enormous vacuity Nietzsche announced to the world was and is still certainly worth our consideration.  Others may hold a different view, and I respect that.  I have atheist friends and our differing views do not disturb our friendships because we choose not to allow them to.
What the World Needs Now: Divine Mercy
At birth we come into an exceedingly unbalanced, violent and unpredictable world, where we have an exploitative global media waiting for us, media which feed upon a steady, dizzying and unending chain of crimes and catastrophes, to which we tend to become numb and reach out for the supposed curatives for our malaise, solicited and pandered by the grinning hosts of our Addictive Society.
I’m not much for the Big Bang Theory, I will admit.  And I must 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 unsettling notion that we all arose out of some primordial soup.  Well, nobody, including me, was there to verify what actually happened.  Today, because of what I have experienced in my life, I believe that God is love.
Consider another explanation for our existence:  God’s Unfathomable Mercy and Love.  That particular origin theory may conflict with postmodern doubt, or it may not.  Each person is free to decide.
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, Who claims to be the source of life and all that is, whom billions believe to contain all that is good, pure and holy, create humans, animals, nature, the earth and other worlds among untold galaxies and quasars, unless He loved them?  After all, He receives absolutely nothing for his efforts except the joy that every giver receives–the joy of expressing of their love.
I know many people in our day avoid thinking about God, because God reminds them of organized religion.  The grateful founders of Alcoholics Anonymous faced the same problem, which they solved with the freedom to choose your own higher power, and that might be God, or might not.  It’s up to the individual.  And then again, like me, you might be led to find the real God, the God Who made heaven and earth, Who is the source of Divine Mercy.
Becoming Addicted to Mercy
The essays I write in this blog called Addicted to Mercy in large part come out of my work with addicts and their families.  Addiction is a progressive, life-threatening and incurable illness, which without treatment is fatal.  One of its’ key symptoms is for the sufferer to continue doing what brings misfortune on themselves and others.   Addiction may adhere somehow to our inborn self-will, giving it further power to destroy lives.
All addictions were disarmed and profoundly out-gunned by what became known as “The Spiritual Solution.”  In 1934 Mr. Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith were guided to that Solution, for them and all addicts after them.  They were inspired to create Alcoholics Anonymous, which grew out of the revelation that God loves alcoholics.  My Dad, an alcoholic, got into recovery and later so did I.  My life has never been the same.  But why bring up in this context something called Divine Mercy?
I discovered the reality of Divine Mercy through the diary of a humble, Polish nun, Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska, who lived around the same time that Bill and Bob did.  That diary, Divine Mercy in my Soul, is the story of God’s free gift to the human race, His Divine Mercy.  She tells about it graphically, powerfully and personally–it’s worth reading, I guarantee.  She’s known as the Secretary of Divine Mercy, because although she wrote the diary she is not the author of this “ocean of mercy.”
You will find that her supernatural experiences equal the most wonderful and amazing narratives in literature.  Divine Mercy is persistently reaching out to restore hope to broken hearts and scarred souls, which may have been damaged by organized religion in the first place.  Divine Mercy is not essentially about religion.   It’s about the enormity of love from above that’s waiting humbly and patiently to be received by anyone at all, no matter how “bad” the world thinks they are.
So in closing I want my reader to know that God’s Mercy is there for you when you need it, as you walk onward, hopefully not alone.  Thanks for stopping by this blog and take care.