According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Love Beyond Existence

by Peter Rollins
February 14, 2012

This is a repost of my Valentines message from last year (sorry, currently traveling so can’t write something new)…

Love is so humble that it seems impossible to ever really catch anything but the briefest glimpse of her. She is like a tiny field mouse dwelling in the dark. Should we hear her scratching in the corner and shine a light she will, quick as a flash, scurry away so that we catch sight of only the tip of her tail. Indeed love is so bashful that we often forget about her entirely. For love, to change analogies, is like light. When we are sitting with friends we do not think about the light that surrounds us but only of the friends that the light enables us to see. Likewise love illuminates others and so our attention is focused on what she illuminates rather than with the illumination itself.

Love, in a very precise way, enables us to see. For in daily life we perceive others in much the same way as a cow gazes at cars. We walk past thousands of people without really seeing anyone. I was reminded of this recently when a friend of mine told me of something that happened when she took a train from Connecticut to New York. As the conductor, a large and imposing man, approached she realised that she had left her purse at the house. When he got to her seat and asked for her ticket she, with much embarrassment, explained the situation and braced herself for the worst. But the conductor just sat down in the seat opposite and said, “Don’t worry about it”. Then, for the remainder of the journey they talked. They shared photos of their family, they exchanged jokes and they spoke of the ones who meant most to them. When the conductor finally got up to continue his rounds my friend began to apologise again, but the conductor stopped her mid sentence and smiled, “please don’t pay it any thought, you know its just really nice to be seen by someone.”

This might initially seem like a strange thing to say as the conductor was being seen by thousands of people every day. But only in instrumental terms, only as the extension of a function he performed. In this brief conversation with my friend he felt that he had actually been seen as a unique individual and that was a gift to him.

This is what love does. It does not make itself visible but rather makes others visible to us. Love does not exist but calls others into existence: for to exist means to stand forth from the background, to be brought into the foreground. Love does not stand forth but brings others forth. When we love our beloved is brought out of the vast, undulating sea of others. Just as the Torah speaks of God calling forth beings from the formless ferment of being so love calls our beloved from the endless ocean of undifferentiated objects.

In this way love is not proud and arrogant. She does not say, “I am sublime, I am beautiful, I am glorious”. Love humbly points to another and whispers, “they are sublime, they are beautiful, they are glorious.” She does not tell us that they are perfect despite their weakness and frailty, but that they are perfect in the very midst of their weakness and frailty.

Love does not want our hymns of praise or prayers of adoration. She does not want our sacrifices or seek our time. One cannot and should not even try to love love. For love always points away from herself. To honour love is to be in love, to swim in the world illuminated by her.

That which love illuminates means everything to us: a reality that can be exquisitely pleasurable or devastatingly painful. As such we will always experience the one we love as the most sublime existence in the universe. This experience however hides within itself a deep truth, a truth that we would do well to forget as soon as we learn of it (for it works best in darkness). Namely, that the most sublime presence in the universe is not our beloved but the love that exposes them as our beloved. The love that stands beyond existence, raising our beloved to the level of existence.*

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

*After reading Peter's column go back and re-read it again from God's viewpoint about how He would think about us... That because of God's love we now stand out expressly as God's only beloved in the midst of our weakness... And because we are loved of God it enables us to better see ourselves in Him and those around us that consider themselves unloved, or haven't recognized their value and worth.

Real love, true love is active love built upon a Savior's love expressed for us from the very Godhead itself. Love is because God is. Without God there is no love. Without love there is no God. We know God is there because His Love is there. We feel it. We know it. We bear it. We give it. We are immersed within it, carried upon it, lost without it, re-purposed and driven because of it. Love is. And because it is we are. Thanks be to God for His great Love. It is a mystery we do not understand but yet must give back to Him through sharing it, being it, trusting it, to those around us, including allowing it within ourselves. We are loved. We are fully, completely, eternally part of God's all-consuming Love. Be at peace then and allow God in no more refusing this quiet, selfless selflessness. Be loved. And Be love.

- R.E. Slater
February 18, 2012

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