There is this coca cola ad, an amazing ad one I love. It’s the one about a guy and his friend and one of them is on a train on a really hot day, the kind when the heat comes off the sun in waves. And it’s obvious he is on his way to work and stressed when his pal calls him as he(the pal) partakes of an ice-cold coke. He puts the phone to his soda so his friend can hear the clinking of the ice against the glass, the fizzing of the soda and most dramatically the sounds that accompany that first amazing gulp”aaah” Then the long satisfied sigh and the well deserved “i hate you.”
that ad is the reason I buy coke. I think it’s a beautiful advert. And every time I tell people this they react with mild shock, how can you be influenced by an advert they all ask. Well it’s because of this book I read a long time ago, a book about existentialism a philosophy that begs people to act the way they expect the rest of the world to act. And if everyone in the world bought products because of good ads there would be better ads. I want to live in a world with better ads so I drink coke.
In putting forth this argument of acting as you would have everyone act the existentialists came up with this concept of the “anguish of Abraham.” basically they ask as to act as Abraham did. A voice in his head asked him to kill his son and he was going to do it, he was resolved to stick a knife into the body of a child of his, his son someone he loved above almost all others and he was willing to do it. He must have been in deep anguish, tormented and tortured and he had to ask himself all kinds of hard questions before he resolved to act.
And before I read of this concept I hadn’t paid much thought to what a supreme act of faith it was that drove Abraham, the kind of faith that is now thought of as insanity. And he must have thought he was insane. He must have allowed himself pause to consider this possibility. if he did not then he must have been truly insane. The bible glosses over this chapter, but that has never been an introspective book, a book that seeks to cover 6,000 years of human history in nearly a fourth of the pages cannot afford to focus in on internal debates, it can’t help but show us only the broad scope.
But that night when Abraham heard a voice in his head tell him to kill his son.
Sure it was a voice that had not yet led him wrong but it was also a voice that no-one else heard. And he must have wondered if he could trust this voice, or even trust himself anymore, he must have been racked with doubt and insecurity of the kind that I can’t even begin to imagine. Asking himself a really hard question, If your faith asks you to give up everything else or in the alternative give it up what way can you turn?. He had to ask himself if his faith in that voice, the voice that had promised him a son and kept him waiting for so long that he and his wife had finally taken matters into their own hands. It can’t be easy for a wife to allow her husband to go into the arms of another, maybe prettier, definitely younger woman, it can’t be easy for her to give up hope of a genetic imprint on what the voice had said would be the most numerous and powerful peoples on earth. And it can’t be easy for a man who truly loves his wife to do this, because at the end of all the justifications and rationalizations the only emotion left was betrayal. And this shows he had doubted the voice previously.
I used to think that one can’t truly have faith without having a crisis of faith and perhaps this was Abraham’s crisis and he passed through with two sons and now he had to kill one of them.
And he must have doubted, he must have questioned and queried and quivered. It must have been a sleepless night and as they walked toward that mountain, a 3 day journey into the heart of his soul’s darkness and his faith’s demands what could he possibly have talked to Isaac about? This seems like the kind of journey where one is prepared for life, told a couple of humorous stories, some wise words and pearls of wisdom. Finally share a bottle of alcohol together but this could not have happened. And even if they did it must have been with a heavy sense of foreboding and horrible hypocrisy. How could a father have prepared his son for a life that he knew he(the father) would soon end. And the crippling doubts must have revisited him. The anger at a God who wold ask him for this just somewhere below his skin, a subconscious fury that he could not give word or thought to because perharps that anger would be the emotion that finally finished him off. He may even have prayed to be relieved of the faith that held him in it’s grip. And yet he soldiered on. Foe 3 days and nights with his son beside him fearing these were the last 3 days of his life.
And the moment came the moment of the sacrifice. And his son asks him
“where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
a completely innocent question. But one that must have broken Abraham’s heart into a thousand little pieces. I can imagine him closing his eyes for a moment and confronting all those questions and doubts again, confronting God himself in the vast abyss of a moment, of an eternity. And all he could see was the black of his decision but a decision made. And every syllable of the reply must have caused him a thousand deaths. There was a happy ending but the journey there was harrowing.
Here’s this joke I read once am not sure where. It goes Abraham buys his son Isaac a laptop for his birthday however Isaac is not pleased with the purchase, the specs are not up to scratch especially as concerns the memory and he tells his father abut this. Abraham promptly replies
“the lord will provide the RAM.”
anyway I began this with a coke advert. Yesterday I saw this sprite ad, an advert where for what must be a ridiculous amount of money the rapper drake ascribes one of the best verses he ever wrote to the fact that he drank a sprite. And as soon as it was in him he spits “last name ever first name greatest”It’s an amazing ad.
The anguish of coca-cola is that now I intend to drink sprite.