On this All Saints Day, Rozann Carter reviews Heather King’s new book, "Shirt of Flame: A Year with St. Thérèse of Lisieux," a poignant and practical commentary on the deeply authentic reflection of Christ that is present within the spirituality of this great saint and Doctor of the Church.
There is a certain hypocrisy built into our human nature with regard to the “saccharine.”
What is Saccharin? It is an artificial sweetener with an ever-increasing likeness in taste to “real” sugar; it is meant to provide the experience of sweetness without the work of a proper appreciation and the implied discipline of moderation. Saccharin makes sweetness free, consequence-less, and available on a whim, but it’s suspiciously incomplete.
Saccharin simply isn’t natural; it imitates an ideal experience and then slowly replaces it, promising and delivering the addictive “shortcut.” Even as we sprinkle multiple packets of sweet-n-low into our coffee, we rail against the artificial, the disingenuous, the hypocritical, the idol. We seek authenticity and raw-ness and claim to be repulsed by unnatural additives that mask what-is-meant-to-be. Yet, we secretly hold on to our addictive guarantee because it forces no pesky, un-called-for challenge. The immediacy of our desires, especially in our current age, lends itself to a sweet-n-low culture-- in our music, our art, our architecture, our religion, our often vapid and cursory self-expressions, our writing… Saccharine-ness in lifestyle keeps us lukewarm, our desires seemingly fulfilled, the negative side-effects seemingly avoided.
Then, once in a great while, we taste it again, the originality and sweetness of a story that has been told over and over again but ever-new, one that reflects of the timelessness of truth and rejects this laughable imitation that can only convey such a pitifully small portion...