Feeling pain, feeling alive.  

Posted by Denis Haack in , , , ,

The best social satire always reflects the truth about life. When it gets too far from reality, it’s merely comedy, perhaps funny, but the bite is gone.


That’s one reason the Colbert Report (Comedy Central) is so good. The show is meant to be entertainment, not journalism, but you learn a great deal about what’s happening in the world by laughing at Stephen Colbert’s scathingly witty take on the events of the day.


A recent front page story in The Onion made me laugh, and then pause at the deep sadness behind the satire. (You can read the story here.) It was a story on a new product called Advil Release, for “when feeling nothing is just too much.”


Wyeth Pharmaceuticals unveiled a new pain-causing line of Advil this week that will help millions of benumbed, hollow consumers to feel at least somewhat alive for up to four hours.


“Advil Release delivers a soothing burst of pain when cold and listless Americans need it most,” Wyeth CEO Bernard J. Poussot said during a press conference Monday. “Just two capsules can deliver all-day relief in the form of searing, life-affirming agony; the kind of agony Advil users trust when being a pale specter of humanity adrift in a meaningless and uncaring universe is just not an option anymore…”


Other pharmaceutical companies have also begun marketing their own brands of over-the-counter medications that will help the emotionally anesthetized feel briefly alive. The makers of NyQuil are reportedly developing a new product they describe as “the nighttime sniffling, sneezing, aching, screaming, crying, writhing, so you can possibly—for the love of God—experience some sense of normalcy medicine.”


It reminds me of a local tattoo shop, Infinity Tattoo. Their ads read, Infinity Tattoo: you’re damn right it hurts.


To feel numb and directionless, uncertain of any sense of purpose that can bring meaning to the random details of a frantic life is an expression of the Fall that brings people to the very edge of the abyss. I may not have felt it as fully as others have, but I desperately want ears sensitive to the sound of despair, and a life that allows me to offer the gift of unhurried time for listening.


The mysterious wonder of the gospel is that only Christianity claims a God who experiences utter abandonment, and the pain of being alive in a universe without God.


This entry was posted at Wednesday, November 26, 2008 and is filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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