Surely one of the most original and fantastic masterpieces ever painted is Hieronymus Bosch's preternatural and phantasmagoric triptych "The Garden of Delights" or "The Garden of Earthly Delights". Yet the title is undeniably sardonic, ironic, saturnine, since if these are earthly delights one would shrink from his depiction of earthly horrors. One of the panels is even thought to be a depiction of hell. One writer says the painting's purpose is " . . . to depict man's life on earth as an unending repitition of the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, whereby we are all doomed to be the prisoners of our appetites." (H.W. Janson, History of Art, 1969, p. 299) Another writer says: "Bosch seems to show erotic temptation and sensual gratification as a universal disaster . . . ." (Helen Gardner, Art Through the Ages, 5th edition, p. 525) Does not Bosch's surreal vision reveal the truth about the material delights mankind seems to indulge and revel in?
Many years ago a friend, Lewis Meyer, an erstwhile bibulous bibliophile, wrote a book titled Off the Sauce about his struggles with that all-too-prevalent demonic attraction. To employ an admittedly dodecaphonic segue, the title of his book seems to have relevance even to those many of us who are not in our cups. Would not we all benefit greatly from getting off the insidious sauce called sensual and sensuous attractions and delights? Does not the tippling of these potent distillations of mortal mind engender those fearful pink elephants of sin, disease, and death?
Obviously none of us wants to experience the crushing tread of pink pachyderms, but how fervently do we really want to get off the sauce? Fear and doubt usually have major supporting roles in this drama--fear of the supposed reality of the terrifying hallucinations of false belief and perhaps the shame of doubting that our heavenly Father-Mother God will, scout's honor, make good on His promises. Have you ever had the thought flitter across your mind that if you could just get another little earnest of His healing omnipotence and omnipresence up-front you'd really knuckle down and do better work? Do we not want to snatch a reassuring glimpse of the lagniappe on its way to us right now to allay our nagging doubts and fears, when what's necessary is to turn from the belief of fleshly existence and accept the divine gift of Truth that has been available all along?
The material, human experience is not all Brussels sprouts, tripe, bills, and taxes. Ah yes, how many of us retain a perhaps guilty fondness, a sweet tooth, for many of the enticing offerings on materiality's resplendent desert tray? The devil would like us to sin in haste and repent at lethargic and sated leisure. In the cynical Weill/Brecht opera Die Dreigroschenoper, The Threepenny Opera, Macheath sings "Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral." Or "First comes the grub, then come the morals." That's a cynic's song with its cynic's exploitation of human proclivities. Mortal mind has us believe the grub is haute cuisine, and many of us can't seem to resist or get enough. The promised morals unfortunately go unheard and unheeded during the usual post-prandial snooze. The time has come, came long ago in fact, for us to uncover and awaken from the illusions of mortal mind, and Christ Jesus and Mary Baker Eddy have lovingly shown us the Way to getting off the sauce and permanently on the path to complete salvation. "Without this process of weaning, 'Canst thou by searching find out God?'" (S&H 322: 30-31)