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Category Archives: love

… here’s an idea, if valentine’s day is really about love why not shower our love gifts and affections on those who don’t seem to love us, the ugly, the nasty, those who disagree with us and who even may plot to hurt us, even kill us?
… it’s easy to love those we love and who love us in return but that’s not love, it’s self-centered pleasure, even hedonism.
… can we just try to imagine what the world could be like if all the haters were lovers instead and all the takers were givers?

 

Maybe “God” has been constructed in human likeness because it is the only way we can relate to the mystery of an all powerful presence or intelligence in a way that comforts us in our own understanding?  And maybe our natural ability to think about our thinking provokes us to choose to believe that God does the same?

Maybe “God” is okay with this as it is the best way to convey a system of messages to a world that has seemingly lost contact with itself and the balance of meaning in the cosmos?

And now this God is called love.  It says that God even IS love.

But what is love?  Maybe we have defined love our own way – in a way that makes us feel safe and cared for. In a way that reflects the way we think about ourselves and the way we would like to be comforted by in the midst of a very harsh and tempestuous environment like our universe clearly seems to be.

Perhaps a first step might be to relook at the concept of love.

In terms of God and love is it wise to introduce romance into the equation?

Is it appropriate to introduce emotional feelings into the equation?

And if so, in what proportions?

The question must be equally asked of logic and intellect, also of various forms of linear culture.

It says that God loves and cares for us yet it also says that God cares for and clothes the lilies of the field.

So how are the lilies clothed? Does God come down at night and with his own hands wrap them each individually in their petals or does this mean that the lilies are a natural product of the created order and they resonate with the nature and fulness of meaning of life and the universe around them?

Do the lilies need to feel emotion or a cognitive sense of nurture or belonging, even a special or significant place and purpose in the greater scheme of things? Or is their resonance with the love of God displayed in the way they prosper naturally and proliferate and contribute naturally to the ecology of the planet?

And if this seemingly impersonal link be so, does it mean that God loves them any less?

Maybe for lilies God is a huge, omniscient, all powerful Lily in the Heavens? … and would the lilies be incorrect in believing this? … or would God love them no more and even burn them in eternal hell fire because they approached him in such a lowly manner and described the creator as such a being, placing him in their own lowly context?

Would the lilies be guilty of re-creating God in their own image?

And would it be sinful for us even to think of these things?

… or would God love us all just the same?

So there’s this totally cool guy who looks like a million bucks and a sexy girl who also looks like a million bucks and they are doing stuff while we watch.  We are getting all excited and it makes us feel these sensations that are really like, totally sensational!  I mean so sensational it’s totally unreal. It’s like we’re there but we’re not there, but we are there.  And we are feeling every sensation   And we are watching it all right in front of our eyes.  It’s all happening … us, them,  … and we are happening.  We’re sitting there silently, each in our own world, mouths hanging wide open … it’s totally crazy… it’s like it’s totally dark all around us and there’s lots of us there …  but it’s like we are all alone with our own thoughts and feelings, … and all we can do is watch and feel … each and every feeling, … everything they feel we feel … , everything they do and say is like we are there, inside of them, right next to them, doing it, saying it, feeling it.  It’s like we ARE them. … I mean, this kind of thing doesn’t happen in real life does it?  … and it’s all just perfect.

And then they look into each others eye’s ….  there are violins swirling somewhere behind us, no – next to … , no all around us … and then the credits roll down, the lights fade in slowly and we jostle out up the isles and into the blinding light of the foyer and it’s real again.

“A bag of popcorn?”

“Yeah, great! Thanks!”

 

“What did you think of the movie?”

“Loved it!” – “totally loved it”

 

“And their clothes? What did you think of what they were wearing?”

“Loved it, – I totally loved it”

 

We’re in the car now and on the way home and right in front of us as we edge out of the cinema parking area is a bottle green stubby pin-striped hatchback.  On the left hand rear side of the car just above the tail light is a sticker with the slogan,

 

“I LOVE JESUS”

 

maybe there is a whole truth …..
I have always been impacted by how Jesus had the audacity to reduce all those reams of Mosaic legislation, the Talmudic addendum’s, historical writings, as well as all the scrolls of prophetic revelations penned over the various ages to a double-barreled uber-mono-theme, – “love God with everything and your neighbour as yourself”
I’m just too complicated … simply not simple enough ….

for me it just seems to get deeper as it simplifies
perhaps all the subclause and small-print we add is superfluous and even deceptively distractive of the truth?
perhaps it’s all a vain flag we desperately want to hoist for ourselves, of ourselves… a tribute to ourselves?

we the people!

…lest we get forgotten

lest we appear inconsequential?

do I hear “Babel”?

I think that our first footslip is when we interpret things from our own perspective  … – even though it’s all we have

– it’s not all God is,  and isn’t it fairly reasonable that God dwells in dimensions beyond all our combined linear angles?
maybe it just gets deeper as it simplifies

and maybe even simple is far too complicated

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This, according to Jesus, is the first and greatest commandment.   He continued however, by saying that the second greatest command is like it: to love your neighbour as yourself. But then he never stopped there either.  He went on to virtually draw a line in the sands of doctrine by declaring that all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

So, to love God is the greatest command we can respond to.  But equal to this is to love your neighbour.  So, you cannot love your neighbour and not love God.  Nor can you love God and not love your neighbour.  But you can only love your neighbour as you love yourself.  So if you don’t or cannot love your neighbour you clearly don’t love yourself.  The extent to which you love yourself is the extent to which you will love your neighbour.  You also love your neighbour to the extent to which you love God, as the commands are the same.  Therefore the extent to which you love yourself is the extent to which you love God.  And if you really want to love God you will love yourself… and if you love yourself, you will love God.

So, here I sit, exhausted from trying always to be right I have rather opted towards just trying to be honest.” – me

The goal of life is surely not to be right. Considering all the evidence before me I have concluded for myself that this is clearly unattainable. After having disqualified ourselves so effectively as a species perhaps we should settle for a far less inflated target or rather perhaps one far more attainable and realistic?

The description used in the subtitle for my blog was originally birthed out of significant personal brokenness and not much intentional wisdom.  However, over time I have come to see how meaningful and appropriate it has become for me.

Pretty boy David Lee Roth (ex-front man for the rock band “Van Halen”) is reputed to have said, “It’s not whether you win or lose, … it’s how good you looked.” I find this hilarious but suggest that it could easily be hi-jacked for perhaps slightly more noble ends.  So, why not we re-landscape his hedonistic philosophy to – “It’s not whether you are right or wrong, … it’s how much honesty you can access.”

Although it might sound like it, this is not at all an easy task in the complex social order we have concocted over the millennia. We are so constantly bombarded with data of all types and from every angle that as a species we seem to suffer from a chronic identity crisis.  Most of us don’t know what we ourselves think or believe anymore.  We seem to be tossed around and swept by winds of pop fads and the deceptive whiles of the media and political spin doctors we have elevated to god status in our lives. What we do believe seems to be what we are told to believe through the seductive bombardment of media and cultural groupings.

On a more alarming front however, a thought that has come to me is that maybe we cannot but be honest. Perhaps it is the case that even when we are being intentionally devious or unethical, possibly displaying very little moral character or integrity we are displaying what we actually are?  Maybe honesty leaks out of us whether we know it or not?  We may think that we are being successful in our deviousness but could it be that in so doing we are clearly telegraphing our real condition?  One can polish an apple but the proof is in the eating and we cannot worm out of that one.  One does not need to have the medical reasons for food poisoning to register its presence in our bodies. Even if we are in denial sickness will reveal it’s symptoms and clearly we are manifesting symptoms of note in our world today.

So maybe all we can do is engage with life and do the best we can to deal with what comes out.

Social appropriateness doesn’t help. My view is that the most socially appropriate amongst us are the most scary – possibly even closer to ‘insane’ than the worst asylum inmate. Yet everything in our society seems to press us to conform.

Maybe the real solution is worthship – extending real worth to others, ourselves, and our surroundings, actively engaging and examining our actions and responses to the world with honesty and respect.

Nothing happens in isolation.  As big or as little as it may be it has a context and a history. To engage with this honestly is possibly our only hope.

So, in as much honesty as I can muster I’m still at it … in pursuit of the beautiful question…..

_________________________

As a metaphor the relationship between light and darkness is an interesting excursion (as is the relationship between love and hate, good and bad, sin and righteousness, life and death, and so on …)

Where do these polarities originate from? Which came first?  Was one the bedrock for the other?  Did love spring to life as an antidote to hatred and death?

Or was it the other way around?

… and if they somehow all came on the scene at the same time who made them? .. and why?   … and if someone or something did make them what kind of a something or person could it be that would do such a thing?

Many believe in a loving, embracing, receptive God who created all that there is.  I am one of them.  However, if we are correct how did evil come to be in the stew pot?  Did our loving, kind, benevolent God also create evil, hatred, sin and death?   … doesn’t make sense does it?  … but did this happen?

If we are not correct and these polarities are some impersonal force, which is the stronger?  Which of them will prevail? … or will they eventually simply destroy each other, … along with all of us?

Does what we regard as being good, bad, darkness, light, love, hate, sin, righteousness, life or death, and so on really reflect accurately on these concepts?  To what extent are these things, these polarities, independent forces?  … perhaps even culturally defined constructs?  To what extent might they be abstract concepts we have ourselves created and adopted in order to try make sense of the world that seems to rage inside of us all?   … and around us all?  And if so, are they just impersonal conceptual constructs of our collective imagination or are they personified? … or are they both?  Are they spiritual beings much like the ancient Greek mythological deities, or simply impersonal natural forces much like gravity, electricity or magnetism?

If impersonal then maybe these things are just like instruments we have made that can be used one way or another, objects that are impersonal with neither intent nor conscience – perhaps like a knife, a finely crafted blade with an ornate handle, precisely designed and manufactured with great care and skill.  Hand made and handed down from generation to generation.  A product of excellence and proud tradition. Indeed, in the eyes of some a work of art, beautiful, desirous and in the eyes of others an instrument of horror and death. With a knife we can cut foliage and trees down and build shelter to protect our loved ones, caring for them through bitter and harsh weather conditions.  We can defend them and ourselves from predators or go hunting and use it to fill the pot so that many can eat and prosper.

… Yet with that same knife we can also cut down another human being, ending life, consequently devastating hundreds, even thousands of intimate family members and friends and possibly plunging generations into mortal tribal conflict.

Amongst those who have a declared belief in a loving God I have many times heard people wrestling over the origins of evil. Interestingly enough though, from my own, albeit limited experience I have seldom heard a lot of debate over the origins of good or God. Why would this be?  Could it be that we have an assumed bias towards good, love, righteousness, life, etc.?  Perhaps I am an incurable sceptic and a cynic to boot, but a cursory look around would appear to contradict this conclusively.  Do we believe in the nature of good because we have to or need to?  Is our bias towards good equally a culturally defined construct of convenience?  … perhaps rooted in insecurity and self-preservation?

Can we ask ourselves this question? …  are we able to ask if our own present theology is similarly constructed?   … and if it is difficult or perhaps impossible to do so,  – what are we afraid of?  Why do we not feel at liberty to ask the same questions of a good God that we ask of the presence of evil?  Are we fearful that the good of our good God is not good enough to accept our honesty?

The ancient Hebrew scriptures say that “the secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever.” (Dt 29:29).  … and maybe it is dangerous ground I walk on but I cannot keep quiet.  I must ask these questions.  So perhaps it might be wise for you to keep an eye on me and if I suddenly … well,  that might just be a lesson you can learn from. …

But as for me, I am a prisoner of hope.  I have been touched.  Maybe I haven’t? …  but nevertheless, somehow, from somewhere, something says, “come on in, the water is fine.”

Shall we swim?

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Many times I have sat with people who are bruised with themselves and others. They have anguished over life and all its frailty, their sufferings, the sufferings of others as well as their part in all of this.
Sometimes I have been asked, “What do you think? … You can’t fall out of grace can you? Isn’t grace what catches you when you fall?”
“…. and what about a believer who’s heart is hardened by sins deceitfulness and is maybe filled with anger and walks away from God?”. “Can it be that somewhere, somehow, grace dissipates ?”
This is mostly a very controversial issue and it is sure to raise a storm but I am going to post an answer I gave to these kinds of questions which may or may not help some. You see, I too have wrestled with these self same issues more often than I can recall to count. I am an expert, not in my theology or my success in the matter, I am merely an “existential expert” – one who has walked this road many times – alone, and with others over the decades. … and if you disagree… that too is ok… as long as we all keep learning.

 

….there is strong implication in the biblical text that the ‘faith’ we live by is not really ours but God’s.

Galatians says, “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. …..”
A learned and great theologian as well as a scholar of classical Hebrew and Greek told me once that the original text here is not very accurately interpreted in the bible. It should read, “The life I now live in the body, I live by the faith OF the Son of God.”
It’s God’s faith that sustains us not ours. We just use the little faith we have to respond to his call to ‘come’ towards him – he does the rest and then he sustains the contract by his integrity … the contract is in no way sustained by our ability to understand the smallprint. That would reduce the act of grace immediately to a lower order legislated process of works.

The Gospel of John says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH; NO ONE WILL SNATCH THEM OUT OF MY HAND. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (CAPS mine)
For me that sort of sums it up more succinctly – it’s God’s strength and not ours that is the operative dynamic in this.
This is grace as I believe the bible tries to portray it. Mostly the church has not seen this clearly at all and instead has had to develop a legislated code of conduct in order to prop up their sense of religious pride and sustainable collateral power to ratify their existence. A tragic state of affairs if you ask me.
My view is that we can fall out of our perceived notion of grace which is usually linked to socio-religious doctrinal formatting endorsed by cultural and social pressure…. even the concept of ‘sin’ is socially negotiated to a large extent.

However, the radical argument could be that those who have been ‘impregnated’ by God’s ‘seed’ cannot produce thorns or briers. Genesis, Jesus & then Paul all go on about the concept of a seed producing after its own kind… etc. Paul even charges us to “examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith” – note: we are to examine “ourselves” – others, leaders, the church, whoever, are not the jury, WE are, for ourselves, ….  as the Spirit witnesses with our spirit that we are sons of God. All the institutionalized control does is to reduce the righteous holiness of the Living God to a commodity, a measurable, negotiable, trade-able, malleable currency much like a bathplug or a toothbrush.
Our passion can grow cold
Our love can grow cold
Our focus can wane
Our attention can be diverted
… but even these are mostly socially determined values.
Look at most if not all of the greats in the bible… most were psycho-social basket cases. Defective in and at various aspects (sometimes key aspects) of their character… Moses was a murderer, Abraham and Jacob misrepresented the truth. David was an adulterer as well as a murderer, Samson, Gideon, Paul, Thomas, etc. etc. yet God had other ideas and used these frail, often faithless, cowardly, even sinful individuals significantly. It is clear to me that God’s view or ethics, morality, sin, righteousness, virtue, social appropriateness, etc is far removed from ours…. Read Ezekiel 43: 6-12 for a snapshot from God’s perspective on our values vs His. (but wear a crash helmet when you do – it can get quite bumpy) 🙂

Look at the life of John the Baptist (read Matt 11 where John is disillusioned, doubting, confused, humbled, devastated, crushed, imprisoned and in this extremely low point of despair he sends his followers to ask Jesus if he is the one or if they must look elsewhere (the very Messiah he personally heralded as the ONE, the anointed Christ of God) – a very clear picture of failure, unbelief, loss of faith, disillusionment, etc, etc. – a very, very broken man!
Jesus responds to them and in an indirect, careful way rebukes John by reminding him of his destiny and then turns to the masses who most probably heard this potentially damning exchange….. and said to them,
“What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: “‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

John was a great man. He was an offender of the religious elite. He tended to offend almost everyone he spoke to. Yet he eventually became one who himself became offended by the circumstances that overtook him. In simple terms the circumstances never turned out the way he had thought they would. He was beaten and possibly even hopeless. Perhaps he had doubted profoundly whilst chained to the cold walls in the cell that was eventually to be his execution chamber. Perhaps he had said things to God, about God, about himself, his calling, about everything, that he had now deeply regretted, but could not recall?

… but just read again the accolade that Jesus gave him. Soak up the honour if only just for a moment. Absorb the aroma of pride in the mouth of the one whose words really count. Try to get into the mind of Jesus as he dealt with this wonderful forerunner of his. What might have been Jesus’ feelings? Were his words perhaps clumsily spoken as he choked back the tears? Did his heart swell with admiration at the picture of a broken, defeated, beaten man, now desperate and lost, who had nevertheless done a worthy task well? Perhaps to the watching eyes of the multitude John was a failure who started strong but did not end the same. A loud mouth which was now shut up and stilled? But was this what Jesus thought?

So go in peace.
Don’t let their poison drip into your ears.
Ask the Lord himself to speak to you – he will, trust me on this. Don’t go ‘via’ – go direct. I have cried out many a time in deep, anguished despair and doubt and I have yet to be disappointed. It might not necessarily at first be the words you would want to hear, but afterwards they will be the words you are glad you did.

The answer may not come in articulate words (it very seldom does so for me – I have yet to recall hearing an audible voice of God), but it will come. Prepare yourself to be free to hear in strange ways, think of the process of osmosis, plants do great with this and we are a planting of the Lord, are we not?

Listen to the words of friends, perhaps more so those of enemies, for they often speak more truthfully to us than our friends. But whatever you do, don’t stop listening nor asking questions.

Go in peace.

Dogs are amazing creatures. I am not anywhere near being an expert on them but I am a keen observer of life of all forms and I have watched over many decades and many relationships with my own and other’s faithful canine pets. There have been extended periods when we have had as many as 5 dogs at one time and I cannot honestly recall any time in the 24 years since we first started having kids that we have ever not had at least 1 dog in our lives.

Dogs are faithful almost to a fault. They will show and receive love and affection easily. They will protect you even at the risk of their own safety, often even their own lives if necessary. Dogs learn very quickly and adapt to and adopt even the very exact character traits of their owners. From prejudices, preferences, patterns, to types of people, they almost become like us fully. I would say that dogs reflect almost directly their owners in a number of very interesting and often humorous ways.

Contrary to popular opinion they do not demand pampering nor indeed need to be pampered. This is more a need that originates from us. They just observe, learn, and copy. They don’t demand to sleep inside and especially not in their owner’s beds or on expensive lounge couches. Given a chance they will surely take it. By nature they are opportunists. They don’t demand topside steaks 3 times a day. Simple, good, balanced nutrition and constant access to clean and fresh water suits them totally fine. In fact, even this is not really absolutely essential as they are extremely resilient creatures who even if cast out on their own will track down sustenance for them selves. They are great adaptors and can and will accommodate almost anything that is set before them. In fact they will thrive way better than any of us could were we to be treated in a similar way. If from youth they are fed the very best and most expensive stuff they will develop what can perhaps be regarded as a spoiled and pampered temperament but usually if dogs do this they have probably been overly pampered by some needy human and simply have learned to enjoy the pattern and are intelligent enough to explore and exploit it to the full. They are simple creatures and will be very accommodating if they are respected and loved.

However, if they are treated harshly or neglected they will at some point react and then they can be very decisive in their response. Unlike humans, they do not seem to hold grudges and after lashing out will revert almost immediately to a faithful support once again …. unless the deed is repeated against them and then ….

You see, dogs are dogs. They are wild at heart and this nature cannot be domesticated or fully tamed. We believe that we are totally superior to them and that we can train them fully . . . … but I don’t agree. They are fairly rare but there are many examples where things have got out of hand and usually the dog gets the blame but if deeper, honest investigation is entered into they are almost always provoked in some way.

Let me try to explain myself a bit more on this point I made on dogs being wild; by wild I don’t mean crazy, insane, dangerously and unpredictably violent, brutal or destructive. By wild I mean honest, unaffected by human political and social values around them. They are dogs and they are honest with this state of being and comfortable in it too. They are true to their given estate and mostly uncomplicated in all this means. I don’t think that they even think about it at all. They are what they are and that’s that.

But, everything has its limits and dogs are no different. If a line is crossed there is a natural, honest (you can call it wild if you want to) reaction that is with dogs, not clouded by emotion or even remorse during and after the event. If dogs are seriously threatened, brutally treated or abused they will attack. When they attack they are honest and incisive. Unlike humans it is very seldom vindictive or evil, but it is passionate and decisive, full, and if necessary, final, even sometimes fatal. If they are threatened they will growl and warn, but if the warning is unheeded they will snap. If the snap does not achieve the desired rectification of the perceived problem they will strike and often they will strike quickly and hard.

Dogs have their own instincts and they slot very naturally and effortlessly into them without losing one sleepless second regardless of the consequences, good or bad. It might sound obvious but dogs are not human. They are not bothered or even desirous of our intelligence or our alleged higher order of consciousness. They are, unlike us, mostly happy where they are. Yes, they will take an inch if it is offered or available to them but that is simply the nature of the jungle they see everything as.

What might this have to do with true religion? I suggest – everything.

If we treat people, our planet, even ourselves like we treat dogs we cannot expect anything different than what I have described above. If we show contempt and continue to abuse our environment, human or other it’s no use complaining if life starts snarling, growling and snapping at us. If we refuse to hear or feel these kind, gracious, tender warnings we cannot object if we get suddenly attacked as if it was without provocation. It’s no good crying if the attack comes from our peers or from strangers or from nature itself. Let’s face it, the attack might even be passionate and decisive, final or even fatal.

There is no reason in blaming God or even Satan or any other religious or supernatural personification we might desire to conjure up. God made all things and he was happy with it all, very happy in fact. He was happy with its natural ability to regenerate, self-regulate, and to harmonise and be amazingly fruitful and for each seed sown to reproduce after its own kind.

So when something comes at you you can be fairly confident that it came from you somehow, somewhere, sometime.

If we love, honour and respect our “dogs” they will stay by our side and be faithful and wonderful companions as long as it takes for our natural lives to be full. They will honour us in return. We will live in peace and harmony. We will live harmonious, joyful and abundant lives all our days. And the real, luscious fruits will be tasted and relished by our children’s children’s children’s children’s children.

This is true religion.

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I have been thinking and speaking of love of late. It’s a difficult one especially in light of recent research findings.

The human reference points with regards to what love is are very limited especially if love is divine in its origin.

It has been stated that God is love. There is lots of agreement on this idea from all different religious views. This suggests that love and God are possibly synonymous, even one and the same thing.

However, the only reference we have experientially is from our own human point of view. We can only approach love from our experiential level of understanding yet it is believed to be of Godly origin (unless of course love is merely a figment of our imaginations – electro-chemical neuronal firing sensations interpreted as stimulus? which we in turn have agreed to represent what we have come to call “love” …. then possibly it really doesn’t matter either way).

I know that most of us will say that God’s view of love is clearly revealed in the scriptural texts we cherish for ourselves as God’s inerrant truth to us, but the interpretation of these texts are as diverse and intimately personal as the number of people who read them. And there are many texts. After all, we can only process input based on our personal experiences … and culture is made up of patterns handed down from one to another, from generation to generation … and patterns form other patterns …. and then ….. the bible itself tells us not to be conformed to these patterns, but rather to be transformed by the renewing of our minds …. a difficult one to get around, at least it is so for me.

Sadly, we tend to gather people around us who agree with our own conclusions of “truth” rather than pressing in to those who posit a challenging or “fresh” view of what we believe might be out there …. or “in” here.

Maybe ‘churches’ are not really representations of God at all really? Sadly I would say rather that possibly they are more like social groupings aligned to some semblance of agreed upon values filled with people seeking others who agree with them. Maybe this is a bit harsh? Maybe not.

I’m not so sure that we seek the truth. I tend to feel that we seek people and things which endorse and support our view of truth. Logically speaking how else can we explain so many people claiming to believe the same thing, or at least faith in the same creator (can there only be one creator?), yet expressing it in so many multitudes of different ways, and in so many different yet similar little clusters, each with their own significant name and each with their own history, dominant sacred texts, ‘constitutions’, statements of faith and values, architecture, styles of singing, speaking, praying, acting, dress code, etc? Logically, how else can we explain the way so many shift between these social clusters simply because they are seemingly ‘offended’ in some way by a perceived contravention of one or more of these seemingly agreed upon values? If the agreed upon value was really a belief in God and God’s love surely everything else would be clearly inconsequential? Not so? For one, we would embrace each other as we all believe God embraces us – unconditionally and regardless of differing orientation. Yet this is clearly not the case. We even seem to compete with those who think exactly like we do – if that were indeed possible?

Love is very culturally specific in its definition as well as in it’s practical outworking. In historical texts we see strong suggestions revealed of very different types of love – love practiced by God and even love practiced by humans. Some great heroes of the faith had many wives, some treated their wives in strange or shall we say – unusual ways, at least with reference to our present modern interpretation and understanding of love. Some never had wives at all. It’s all very relative.

Some psychologists have suggested that we extend love as we would like to receive it. In other words we have worked out a pattern inside our thinking that has established what love is for us. We extend this type of love as we wish it to be extended in return to us. What do we want God to love us like? How would this shape our picture of God? How would God like to be loved?

Even in the Judaic/Christian biblical texts the height of relational love is captured in the story of marriage. God is spoken of as referring to his ‘bride’ and many scripts point to this as a metaphor for the love between himself and his people. The relationship is filled with concepts like faithfulness, intimacy, devotion, sharing, surrender, mutual pleasuring, reproduction, ecstasy, etc. etc.

Most would possibly agree that marriage is the highest representation of devoted relationship and that the sexual act could be an acceptable representation of the height of loves physical and practical intimacy in that relationship. An ideal sexual encounter might be accompanied by intimate mutual selfless service exchanged by the lovers. In this there is a giving over, a surrender and an accompanying ‘out-of-body’ experience (orgasm).

Now before we allow our cultural patterns and paradigms to offend our quest for understanding let’s try look at what this might mean. For a start the definition of orgasm is interesting; orgasm – 1. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Physiology) the most intense point during sexual excitement, characterized by extremely pleasurable sensations and in the male accompanied by ejaculation of semen 2. Rare intense or violent excitement [from New Latin orgasmus, from Greek orgasmos, from organ to mature, swell] orgasmic , orgastic adj Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

Perhaps love is a resonance with the totality of what is really out there and finding a state of rest in the balance of it all? Perhaps love is a sensation of deep and intense pleasure and belonging, a ‘oneness’ with the creation. A ‘swelling’, an enlarging of size and capacity as a sense of ‘completion’ that settles in?

Our cultural, social and political surroundings make this a very interesting sojourn do they not?

WE make this a very interesting sojourn.