EVIL: Destroying The Beloved

EVIL: Destroying The Beloved

There is a lot said these days criticizing modern cultural trends.  My brain tends to prefer looking for a way to connect the dots, and way to form a picture that I can study and muse over.

As my study of God moves one way, I notice that culture is heading in the opposite direction.

The subject of the study?  Love.

And that this is a subject of a major study of mine makes sense: in scripture love comes through as the underpinnings of God’s relationship with the universe, including us.

Most Christians, myself included, when in church and hearing words to the effect that God is love nod good-naturedly, agreeing with the idea somewhat mindlessly.  It sounds so nice.  But what is the meaning, exactly?  We know it includes feeding the poor and helping the homeless, but we’re told that that is not IT.  It’s more than that.

Everyday before noon prayers, I do a meditation that is sent to me.  A three-minute meditation.  It’s essentially a slide show, a PowerPoint presentation, that I click through.  The first slide is invariably one that leads me to take a few deep breaths and rest in the knowledge that God loves me.

And, I will admit, that this instruction always loses me.  It’s one thing to know that God loves me abstractly.  Quite another to attempt to experience it in my senses.

Ah, those Jesuits.

I know that as a child, I was aware of being able to feel God’s love.  But life goes on, we grow, we become individuals, and this kind of unquestioning bonding is put off.  Until we are married, we imagine.  Except that watching people, loving bonding seems quite often to be just imaginary.

Growing up, perhaps having God so close all the time, I couldn’t imagine bonding in that way with another person.  But I knew I was supposed to understand it – this thing called love that seemed to drive people to extremes in action, in thought, and in emotions.  The best I could do, I thought, was studying my relationship with my dog, Thor.

But as I matured, the study of God, of love, took a specific turn with the study of the other.  God being the ultimate other.  Other than us.  Human love, the concept of the beloved, reflects this two-others coming together design.  (This is where the argument that love between homosexuals is the same as love between heterosexuals: it leaves out the concept of the other.)

So the concept of the beloved is about finding the two pieces that fit together perfectly.  Physically, we can recognize this immediately.  Men fit women.  Their pieces fit together.

Emotionally, though, it’s more difficult to identify.  We get confused by the sexual attraction, by the way our lives fit together, by the shared ambitions and dreams.  All of this is great for the couple.  It just might not equal the state of being beloved.

Accomplishing this state means that both you and your partner have stepped together into the space between you and essentially cease to exist as you are when you are apart.  It’s a melting of the hardness in your heart that you’ve carried with all your life.  It’s the willing to merge and blend, without objection, without judgment, without control.

This state between humans is what God is looking for in our creation.  It’s what is meant by whom God joins together.  It’s his finest work, in a nutshell.

And it is his goal for us precisely because it is through this letting go of our boundaries that we can understand with compassion our mission in the world, to serve others.  Without objection, judgment, or control.

So as I look around at our very, very modern culture, from simple advertisements on television to the President of the United States, what I see are attempts, constant and sustained, albeit unconscious, to keep people apart.  To keep them from finding their match and settling down to grow their love.

Life has become all about sexuality, clothes, drugs, and foolishness.  It has become so pervasive that even denominations, such as The Episcopal Church, have convinced themselves that modern culture is so important a focus that it has allowed itself to keep apart from whom the church was built in the first place: Jesus Christ.  (In its last General Convention, there was no cross on the stage behind the powers-that-be, and I believe that people who have looked over the transcript of the convention found few, if any, references to Jesus, himself.)

It’s all about separation.

And those who strive to become bonded in love with God have fewer and fewer places of refuge for such work.  Without support and understanding from those around us, we can slip into doubt and acedia.  We can grow resentful, even toward God, himself.

And we can seek to replace what we feel to be loneliness with involvement with those who lead us away from our own center.

We live in a world that is clearly determined to destroy the idea of the beloved, be it a mate, or Jesus, or our community.

A world that seeks to break up the puzzles of our interconnectedness.

And I wonder which force of evil is pleased by all of this, which force perhaps even has authored it.  Put a mirror in front of our faces and whispered, aren’t you pretty? and then stood back and watched as silliness became more important in our lives than God.

It is, to my mind, the most excellent plan to refute God on Earth, and to stymie his plan for people to understand his love for them.

The worst thing of this plot to undermine the concept of the beloved?  There appears to be no way to stop it.  It seems to be spreading without check, and with people actually cheering it on.

May God have mercy on us all.

Amen.

6 Comments on EVIL: Destroying The Beloved

  1. “(This is where the argument that love between homosexuals is the same as love between heterosexuals: it leaves out the concept of the other.)”

    Why the focus on sex and love? And then why the focus on sex in the binary of homo / hetero?
    The disciple Jesus loved had sameness and difference from his master. There is a love between brothers and a love between sisters; why would this be less than love between a brother and a sister? The question of sexuality (if one must argue about it, whether for or against homosexuality) seems to me only to complicate unnecessarily God’s love for his creatures and ours for God.

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    • I don’t know if your objections have to do with differentiating between heterosexuality and homosexuality. But I will try to start at the beginning. The essay you are referencing has within it the concept of otherness, which can also be described as “lock and key.” That is, the pieces fit together in order to function. The differences between men and women are not limited to physicality, but, at least in my book, includes the difference in soul structure.

      I am confused about your reference to Jesus loving his disciple. Am I supposed to be going down the lines of the argument that Jesus was actively homosexual? It just doesn’t wash with me. Jesus was not only profoundly asexual, when he did “lean,” as it were, it was toward women: Mary at his feet when she should have been fulfilling her responsibilities, the woman rubbing oil into him at the protests of his disciples.

      It interests me, and I’m getting old so this has taken me many years, to see that the study of love does have to do with sexuality. That making love is exactly how God sees it. Making love. On Earth. Now for those of us who do not have a beloved, this finding of the otherness has to come from our relationship with God.

      I hope this responds to you in some small way.

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      • Thanks for your kind and thoughtful response. I get your “lock and key” metaphor and your viewing love in terms of heterosexual love making. Sorry I confused things by bringing in Jesus and “the disciple Jesus loved” (in the Greek gospel, ὃν ἐφίλει ὁ Ἰησοῦς, transliterated ‘hon ephilei ho Iēsous’); my intention was not to argue sexuality linked with love at all. Rather, I was only trying to show examples where “otherness” and sexual complementary through difference was irrelevant to love. The other examples of sisters loving sisters, and brothers brothers, are also just to give instances where “lock and key” sexuality really has nothing to do with love. (And a sister’s and a brother’s love for one another doesn’t depend on heterosexual – or homosexual – love. A mother’s and son’s love, and a daughter’s and father’s love, likewise, have nothing to do with sex.) When we then compare God’s love for us to any human relationships, then why just focus on one type of human love (i.e., the heterosexual love making) as the prototypical love? I’m not wanting to press a line of argument. I do very much appreciate your blog! And so I’m just asking about this small point in this particular post. Thank you again for your generous reply.

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        • I appreciate your respect for me, but I’m not the best person to ask about the structure or function of love. I am only “reporting” what I have learned from God on this matter. It’s not a matter that I have experienced for myself. I have had sexual intercourse, it’s just that I can honestly say that I’ve never made love. For me, the emphasis in the study of love is the matter of “otherness.” That is, what happens when two opposites come together in love — not lust. Thus, the matter of the key-and-lock. God, being our ultimate other, for who can be like God?, developing our loving relationship with him is possibly the most challenging thing that we can do.

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  2. I’m sure I’m not the only one who appreciates your “reporting” what you have learned from God. There are others, of course, who have learned from God different things about God differently. Didn’t Julian of Norwich, for example, report in her “Showings of Love” how Jesus appeared to her as Mother? And didn’t Anselm of Canterbury, who was otherwise bound to metaphors of natural difference in sex (even in the Trinity), didn’t Anselm record his prayers to Jesus, as mother, as his mother with breasts lovingly nursing him and nursing “us”? And for many who report seeing Jesus, aren’t they struck, they say, not with how different he is but rather actually, in his love, how very like us he became to come to us? Please understand that I’m hardly wanting to minimize much less to argue against what you have learned and are learning from God. I’m only questioning whether God limits himself and what he teaches us about himself to the metaphor of the male, as the other, in love making.

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    • We all play different roles in our lives. I love my children. I love my friends. I love my priest and fellow congregants. I love the little ladies whose hands I get to hold. I have to say that in some ways I take after my father, an engineer. My brain, in terms of mysticism, mechanically. I’ve noticed this difference in myself and other mystics very early on. So when God broke through my barriers as a young adult, I turned and faced him with the mechanics of my brain. This is just my way of saying that I tend to “understand” God in a formulaic way. I want to work out the schematic of everything. I do not get carried away by being carried away with my visions. That said, I can’t say honestly that I’ve been much of a student of romantic love. It always struck me as a form of madness. Just look at what people do with it, for Heaven’s sake. Nonetheless, I can appreciate it as distinct from say, filial love and paternal love. It’s the aspect of the key-and-lock. The fitting together of two pieces. It’s also a kind of gateway. In that it is through this kind of love that a true transcendence can be achieved. A complete stripping of oneself. A complete redefinition can take place. Not that these things don’t not take place (follow the double negative) in our other relationships. They most definitely do. But there is something unique in God’s creation of romantic love. Actually, I’m tending to dislike the term “romantic,” because that more describes one’s feeling than the phenomenon that is “other?” love.

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