Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Theistic Answer to Chaos

My response to how we are to love in chaos is that we must love ever deeper. That the answer to the inevitability of despair is more love. That the answer to uncertainty is love. And I call my answer theistic not because one must necessarily believe in God, but because I consider this response to be foundational block to a higher theism that is rooted in love of God first and treats belief as a secondary concern.

To draw out my response, I offer this scenario:

A man loves a sick woman. The woman is fragile; she may live, she may die, she may live well, she may live broken. The man loves her, but he can protect himself from despair by starving his love for her. He can take rational, tactical steps to kill his love by choosing to meditate on certain thoughts, directing his attention on certain areas, and placing himself in certain situations. Likewise he can feed his love and grow ever nearer to her, to the point that her death might leave him a broken man.

If he constrains his focus in this way he will either starve his love and become a living-dead stoic or he will feed his love and invite the world to destroy him. What would I tell this man to do?

I would tell him to love the sick woman. Love her more and more. And love his house as well, the house he can share with her and that will remind him of her if she should die. And love their friends and family who will stand near him but be able to do nothing to console him internally. Love his job, which will become a heavy burden if he has to perform it while grieving. Love the world which is so arranged that his misery is a certainty. And love God to such a degree that he will continue to love if she lives and love if she dies.

This scenario, captures what I mean by adding more and more love. If using the word "God" makes this difficult, I invite you to instead use the word "Other." Make the choice to feed your love of that which is outside of you, that which you can not control. Love what you love and love in such a way that you will love even if love leads to despair.

One may perhaps wonder if we have rendered the word "love" meaningless. What is it to multiply love in this way?

Scream that you want her to live - deepen your commitment to her and do not let yourself pull back to protect yourself. And if she dies, own your despair and defiantly spit out, "your will be done." And then live in that way still, continue loving and knowing that with or without your permission, "his will be done" and react to that with acceptance. Return at all times to a harmony between Self and Other/Perception and Mystery/Man and God, resisting both the urge to remove one or the other.

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