Educating Alan–Absurdism

You don’t matter. The universe, the world is a thing, unthinking, uncaring, available for ill will as well as beauty. The trees don’t care how you feel. The wind blows where it will. Whether you are addicted or some span of time clean and sober–the songbirds don’t care. They have their own problems to worry about.

St-Benedict-Dashboard-Crucifix2. it means nothing. There is no meaning to life. 42 is just a number. Your life doesn’t mean anything. Get used to this. That bunch of paint splotches on a canvas lovingly framed and hung in the modern art gallery of VMFA is . . . a bunch of paint splotches on a canvas. There is no homage to early Cheval. It does not quote Camus in its use of color. Stop saying that it is resonant with Chet Baker’s vocal pieces. The artist got lucky in convincing the VMFA to accept it as a piece worth recognition. Nothing means anything. It is all meaningless. So, enough with the “I taste hints of fair trade peppercorns and artisanal cork.” Need a source? Go read Ecclesiastes again.

Most of us will die unremarkable. After our funeral we become story. Even that story fades over time as those who knew us carry on. Some years hence our epitaph becomes a quant few words written in stone now eroded and illegible from the moss making its home on our grave. Seasons pass, the stone falls, slowly losing the fight with the grasses and wild-flowers to itself be buried. Our immortal story mortal and hence forgotten.

How much do you remember of Thomas R. Marshall? Who is Champ Clark? What were the dominant headlines when these men served our country? Can’t remember? Neither can I. I had to look them up. Even these men, who were notable in their day, are whispers in the minds of our grandparents. They mattered to some in their day. Now? Not so much. The same top-10 evils they got elected to fix still stumble about the halls of government only now these evils are ever more drunk on our tax dollars. “Plus les choses changent, plus elles restent les mêmes.

This is what Wikipedia says about absurdism: “In philosophy, “the Absurd” refers to the conflict between (1) the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and (2) the human inability to find any. In this context absurd does not mean “logically impossible”, but rather “humanly impossible”.[1] The universe and the human mind do not each separately cause the Absurd, but rather, the Absurd arises by the contradictory nature of the two existing simultaneous.”

So, what’s the point? Why not just shovel out a six foot hole, eat the earthworms uncovered in the digging, and resume room temperature. If life has no meaning why bother living? Roses. Roses are a reason to live. And chicken soup. The kind of chicken soup you get from making it yourself. Oh, and chocolate.

A man alone is insignificant. We are not alone. God observed Adam living alone and quickly decided he needed a helpmate. We are made better in the natural tensions in relationships. We  matter as one element of a larger whole called community.

We seek value and meaning and fail. The wind still blows where it will. Brer rabbit still becomes dinner for the fox. Wisdom begins in death to that which keeps us from God. We must die to this world to gain life in the resurrection kingdom. Our God, our Christ, is absurd. This popular saying, “god is love”, is nuts. God is love? Ok. Meaning? Does God even exist? Can you prove he exists? If God is love and he does not exist, does love exist? Who even cares?

Ok, enough of that. I got tired of therapy because it started to feel like I was one of those stuffed animals on display in the dioramas you find in Cabela’s. I was a side-show exhibit performing for the benefit of the therapist. I can’t sustain a down-in-the mouth, nihilist rant for long before my urge to start preaching about Jesus being our hope and savior becomes overwhelming. No, you are safe. I’ll check the impulse. Click here if you want that.

I’ve always rested on hope. I have faith in hope. That’s what gets me up in the morning, keeps me going in times like these when my only income is a stipend paid to me by the Virginia Employment Commission. I lean on Christ because it is He that has taught me a way which remains the one thing I can do and stay out of jail.

Everything about being Christian is absurd. I like this quote from the web site Rogue Theologians, “In both cases, the Absurd can be understood as a determined desire to move forward in the face of futility. This, I think, is the core notion of the Absurd. It is defiance of futility and defiance of despair (even while despairing)”. The whole essay is worth a read. More from the same essay: “For Kierkegaard, the Absurd is taking the Truth as it is even when reason, logic, rationality, and all such human things resist Truth. For Kierkegaard, faith is an absurdity that makes a human being capable of being authentically him or herself before God.”

Sorry, I couldn’t resist: this is meaningful to me: that God is love and love is a verb, thus God is also a verb. God isn’t a meaningless thing found in the depths of hell. Heaven is life, God is life, so heaven and god are thrumming, thriving, doing and living the love that is their core identity. I seek to emulate Jesus to the best of my ability. This means my task is to emulate, to embody love as a verb, Jesus as a verb. It doesn’t matter whether my labor means anything. My obligation to embody love as a verb doesn’t change because I’ll die forgotten soon enough. My work is to do what He called me to do and let Him worry about the rest. Absurd? Probably. I’m still on it.

 

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