Shuck and Jive

Friday, September 14, 2007

What's Love Got to Do with God?

Heather at Holy Vignettes is playing the theology game. Thanks, Heather! Her latest question is:

What does it mean to say that God is loving?

I will go with Paul Tillich on this one.

Love is that Reality which reconciles that which has been divided.

To me that covers pretty much everything. Now, if I could only really believe and live it!


  1. "What does it mean to say that God is loving?"

    When I read that, when I say that to myself or out loud, I don't hear that as a definition of what God is. I hear it as a directive on how we humans can act upon the part of God that is within us. In other words, to show what we have of God, we must be loving.

    Of course, I struggle to live that, like every other non-dillusional person does (meaning only those who are dillusional would not admit to struggling with that!)

    That is not to say that I advocate the position of the late Leo Buscalia, who practiced indiscriminate love of everyone. I say practiced, because even he could not get that right.

    So we must be loving, but to what? To whom? And how? Do we love the people who bring suffering to others, and thereby risk giving them a pass on responsibility for their behavior? Do we focus our love on their victims, and thereby suggest that we love them only because they have suffered, and that those who do not suffer what we define as abuse are not worthy of love? Do we love everyone the same, and thus possibly dilute the strength of that love to the point that it is meaningless?

    I like Tillich. Maybe he was right. "Love is that Reality which reconciles that which has been divided." Hmmm. There's a lot there. Is that the same as the Lake Wobegon-esque "Let's just not talk about it and enjoy our Christmas dinner without a fight" kind of reconciliation, or does it mean "I just want to make you happy", or something equally unhealthy? God! I hope not!

    God = Loving = Reconciliation. Peace. (Let's just have a good time.) Unity. (United we stand. You're either with us or with the terrorists.) No. That's not it.

    Love is the Reality, he said, that reconciles. So, love is not the attempt to reach the goal, according to Tillich's statement. Love is the goal achieved. How do we do that? I guess we have to separate Love from Love-ing. Love is the achievement. Loving is the striving for that achievement. I think I can live with that.

  2. Very thoughtful, thanks!

    Good points about what Love is not (Wobegone etc.)

    Love seems to me the goal, the process, and to be somewhat mystical (the force, energy, Reality, miracle) that moves toward love.

    Tillich also connected justice and power with this love as correctives to keeping the peace at the expense of others.