Friday, July 17, 2009

7 Loves and 7 Hates

For a number of reasons, I've been thinking of what are the vital basics of Life. Here's my short list of the truths I love and the falsehoods I hate.

Love:

Yeshua, the Jewish Son of Man who was and is the Image of the Invisible God who gave humankind the Sermon on the Mount, the Parable of the Prodigal Son, and other practical life-changing words. His eternal love for every single human being is so true that he rejected violence, suffered and died for all of us instead.

God in whom we live and move and have our being, the Ultimate Reality beyond our understanding.

The ideals essential within God's eternal nature: love, mercy, justice, truth, goodness, purity...

All groups who reach out in love and help to the neediest of humans such as World Vision, Compassion International, Habitat for Humanity, Open Doors, Pilgrims of Ilbillin.

The wonder of the visible cosmos and that God gave us the mental ability to search out and seek to understand.

The creativity God has given us so we, in God's image, might be finite creators in the sciences and the arts.

The many individuals of deep faith and limitless love, who though flawed and sometimes sinful, have inspired us to reach deeper into trusting God and seek to change the world by his love. Spiritual leaders like Origen, John Cassian, St. Francis, Erasmus, Menno Simons, Michael Sattler, Sebastian Castellio, Jakob Harmenszoon, George Fox, Margaret Fell, John Wesley, John Woolman, Elizabeth Fry, Levi Coffin, Lucretia Mott, Charles Finney, Martin Luther King Jr., Brother Andrew, Mother Teresa, Henri Nouwen...

Hate:

All forms of theological determinism, especially Reformed Christianity with its despairing news that most humans are pre-ordained to eternal torment (except for the pre-chosen few), are born sinful, have no choice to do good and are incapable of responding to God. And for its past and present intolerance, support for persecution, execution, war, inequality, superstition, etc.

All forms of injustice, violence and war, especially the killing of civilians, the justification of collateral damage and torture.

Nationalism and ethnocentrism where persons of faith get caught in group egotism thinking their nation, group, and kin are more important than distant others.

Inequality including various types of subtle racism and prejudice that still live within us like unseen cancer.

Poverty and the misuse of wealth where some political and religious leaders spend 11,000 dollars on one night hotel accommodations or 400-dollar haircuts while millions live on the edge of hunger.

Superstition and opposition to science in which people of faith believe miracle claims without hard empirical evidence, reject scientific factual theories such as evolution, and trust in unfactual doctrines such as the "inerrancy" of the Bible or the Koran.

Popular media which twists and panders to humans' worst failings and proclivities from revenge to lust and also wastes millions on the violent and the gaudy and the superficial.

All praise to the One in whom we live,

Daniel Wilcox

5 comments:

Katya5 said...

I've read your post with great interest, Daniel. I am with you on "hate" lines - except "hate" may be too strong a word, for me it always means that I am ready to do something about the thing I hate, to stop it in its tracks, so to speak. For me, when it comes to media catering - I despise it and ignore its advice; when I think of people who squander millions - I remember the line from my favorite book,"They need something to sell when the money runs out, and it always runs out. And then all they are left with is their lovely manners." (Midnight in the garden of Good and Evil)
It seems I am getting away from the subject. What I really wanted to talk about was the "Loves." Love is a very personal feeling. How can a person love someone they have never seen or known? I know that Jesus (Jeshua) existed, that he was a great man, and that he died for his beliefs. So did Joan of Arc (I loved Mark Twain's book about her). So did Jordano Bruno. I respect each one of them, but I can't say I love them. I have never met them... I know this is where we differ - I say I have to see something to believe it, and you probably say believing is seeing. I believe, but I cannot say I love. I love my family. Jeshua, just like Joan of Arc, is someone I do not know personally. What's more, I think that people who say they know Jesus know their perception of Jesus based on what they have been told or read, not the real person.
Anyway, excuse the banter. Thank you for the post.

Hystery said...

Dear Daniel,

My list would be very similar to yours (although mine would be far less focused).

As for Love, I have realized that I am greatly influenced by Madeleine L'Engle who wrote that love is not an emotion. In the same way, I clearly differentiate the emotion of happiness from the state of Joy which is far transcendent and independent of happiness. Love, unlike affection, is a state of awareness of the deepest worth and connection of another body and soul to yourself and to God. It is, for me, the heart of Christ's commandment. If you know that all are God's, are in fact emanations of God, then you know that all are worthy of love. The pleasantness or unpleasantness of the individual is irrelevant to their worthiness of love. I felt this this week when contemplating a member of my family by marriage for whom I have absolutely no affection. I would not say I "love" him as I do my "loved ones" but that I must profess love for the essence of him, the God-inspired nature of him, that existed in him before life's circumstances made him such an unpleasant person, and which will be all that is left of him when death erases his unpleasant personality.

On a different note, my mother would not allow us to use the word "hate." She said it was far too powerful a word and too absolute. My sister and I would get around this by saying that we disliked things "with the white hot intensity of ten thousand suns."

Daniel Wilcox said...

Hi Katya5,

Thanks for sharing and raising deep reflection:
"Love is a very personal feeling.

I would agree that love is very personal and the deepest feeling, but would say also equally that love is an existential choice (I Corinthians 13--Love is patient, love is kind...love never fails).

>>How can a person love someone >>they have never seen or known?

1# I think individuals often do love (in both feeling and choice) a person they have never seen. Of the 20 types of love, deep "admiration of the hero" isn't comparable to married love, for such love is only abstract and one-sided, but it does display some of the traits of love (if it doesn't become obsessional).

#2 In the case of Jesus, keep in mind, as a follower of him, I think he is a "present reality," that he didn't cease to exist when his heart and brain waves stopped and his body was pulled down from the cross. My love for him goes deeper than "hero admiration" and has not been only one-sided.

After I chose to accept Christ as my rescuer and sought to follow him, I experienced a few times a relationship (ecstatic, mystical encounters)deeper and stronger than any relationship I've ever had, even with my wife!

My mystical encounters were so deep, I "knew that knew that I knew!" They transformed my life and dramatically changed me.

Now, of course, I realize Nontheists will chock up my experiences as delusion.

And you said:
>>I say I have to see something to >>believe it, and you probably say >>believing is seeing.

No, I don't think "believing is seeing," though I have heard the phrase and I know some people believe that, but not me.

>>I think that people who say they >>know Jesus know their perception >>of Jesus based what they have >>been told or read, not the real >>person.

When I step back and intellectually evaluate my relationship with the cruicifed Jewish prophet, I can say that I have little evidence that my mystical experiences actually are with the historical figure himself, the 33 year old Jewish stone mason. Yet my life has been transformed by his teachings. And I have experienced "personal" feelings of love toward him and from him. Whether my relationship is an illusionary perception or a real encounter is open to question.

The only hard evidence are those teachings bound up in codexes from 2,000 years ago. But, of course, there is no objective way of knowing whether those ancient manuscripts accurately reflect what Yeshua taught, or for that matter whether he even lived.

My relationship with Jesus is an "I-Thou" encounter (to quote the famous Jewish philosopher Martin Buber)through the printed word, ritual, one-sided prayer, and rare ecstatic/mystical encounters.

My relationship with Jesus is existential in nature, not objectively verifiable by science. Of course, science can't even verify love relationships between two present individuals, but only observe outward physical behavior.

My life has been transformed by Jesus. I have become more ethical by knowing him, so even if my experiences are not based in reality, my love of Jesus has made objective good results in other people's lives that science can observe. For instance, my Jesus-inspired decision (when I was drafted) to not kill Vietnamese but to work instead in a mental institution and help emotionally disturbed children...
My and my wife's support of a few impoverished individuals in Indonesia, Thailand, Palestine over more than 30 years has made a difference for them.

Thanks for making me step back and think:-)

Hope you and Joe are having a very good summer.

In the Light,
Daniel

Daniel Wilcox said...

Hi Hystery,

Just got your note:-) I very much agree with your explanation of the essence of love and how we are to live love to all others.

I like L'Engle's work, but would partially disagree with her. I do think real love is emotional, but it is emotion based in decision, not instinctive or having to do necessarily with "like." Martin Luther King made an excellent point on this. When he told people to love KKK indivuduals, he said that he didn't mean that they should feel warm toward the racists like they did toward friends, but that they should choose to seek their ultimate good. And then emotion might come later; these racists might actually become their friends.

More to say but I have to leave..my wife is calling;-)

Thanks for that last like about the 10 thousand suns, dear poet:-)

In the Light,
Daniel

Hystery said...

Daniel, your writing brings me back to myself. When reading about your personal relationship to Jesus, I found that I feel similarly. It was your line that you don't think you have little evidence that you have a relationship with the historical Palestinian carpenter, but that you have a deep mystical and real relationship with Christ, you freed my perceptions from my usual fussiness. My relationship with this energy/person who we call "the Christ" and who is personified in the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth has been personally redemptive and life altering as well. I find that he is always with me. I understand this relationship far more along the lines of the romantic language of mysticism.