Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Love is The Basis of Everything


On Friday don't miss my reminiscence of the Kennedy Assassination: I was a child in Dallas at the time and Have known many people who were there that day and saw it. One of them had real experience that might back the argument for gunman at the grassy knoll.  The real point of the piece is a tribute to Kennedy and to mark the momentous anniversary and mourning.

I don't feel very loving right now, but I don't have to feel any way to talk about love, because love is not merely a feeling. A lot of people think that love is just the special way of feeling about a person, or the warm fuzzy that comes from being with a certain person. Love is much more than just a special way of feeling. It is also a value, a commitment, a sense of orientation toward others, a philosophy, a way of being in the world (an existential engagement).

There are degrees of love and kinds of love. The Greeks called sexual and romantic love Eros From which we get our word "erotic." The kind of love friends feel they called Phileo or "brotherly love" (as in "Philadelphia"). The highest form of love they called Agape. That is usually the kind of love the Bible speaks of when it speaks of God's love for us. 1 John tells us "He who loves knows God for God is love."

Agape Means: the will to value the other, or the will to the good of the other; the desire for the other to have the best. It entails the idea of according the other all rights and human dignity. It is not personal, it's a commitment to all people. Agape is sometimes translated Charity (as in kJ trains 1 Corinthians 13 "if I speak with the tongue of men and of angles and have not charity") but this is more condescending and patronizing than the actual meaning of the term. Charity can be paternalistic in the negative sense, controlling, colonizing, derogatory. Agape is a totally positive thing; one must actually seek the good of the other whatever that may be, even against one's own interest.

Now I will start saying "crazy stuff," these are things that I have theorized about and I guess they make up the radical edge of my own philosophy because they have been scoffed at plenty of times on these boards. But I don't care I'm saying it anyway.

Basis of everything: connection with Being

When I say love is the basis of everything, I mean it really is. I believe that when the Bible says "God is love" it means it literally. In other words, we should put an "itself" there. God is "love itself,": the thing that love is actually the essence of what God is. Now you may ask how can God be both being itself and love itself? Because these two are inextricably bound up together.

Love is giving, the idea of seeking the good of the other, according the other full human dignity equal to one's own, these are ideas that entail give over, supplying the other with something. It's a positivity in the sense that it supplies an actual thing to someone. Being also shares these qualifies. Being is giving in the sense that it bettors itself upon the beings and they have their existence. It is positive in the sense that it is something and not taking something away, it's not a void as nothingness is, but moves in the direction of filling a void; nothingness becomes being, the existence of things.

So love and being are really the same impulse and they both unite in the spirit of God. God is the basis of all being, of all reality. God's character is love; that is God seeks the good of the other and bestows upon us the ultimate human dignity of being a child of God.

Motivating force behind creation

Love is the basic motivating force behind creation. God's motive urge to create was not out of a need due to looniness, but out of a desire to create as an artist, and desire is fueled by love. Art is love, artists love art, as revolutionaries love. Revolutionaries are in love and their revolutions are often expressions of love, what He Guava called "a strange kind of love, not to see more shiny factories but for people." So God creates as a need to bestow love, which entails the bestowing of being.

Now let's not have a bunch of lectures about "perfection" based upon not knowing what perfection is. Let's not have a buck of Aristotle thrown in as though it were the Bible. There is no base line for comparison from which one can really make the judgment that need is imperfection; especially the sort of need one feels to be creative or to bestow love; that is a different sort of need than the need for food or shelter.

Basis of morality

Love is the basis of morality. Love is the background of the moral universe, as Joseph Fletcher said. Austin said it too. That means all moral decisions are made with ultimate reference to God's love which is the driving force behind morality. Many people think Christian morality is about stopping impurity. These people regard sex as the greatest offense and think that basically sin = sex. But nothing is further from the truth. Sin is not sex, sin is an unloosing nature, or a selfish desire to act in an unloosing manner.

Love requires selfless giving over OT the other for the good of the other. That means all moral actions must ultimately evaluated with reference to their motivational properties. That's why Jesus spoke as he did in the sermon on the mount: if you hate you are a murderer. Because the motivation itself is the true essence of the sin, the rejecting of love and acceptance of self as the orbit creates the motive that eventually leads to the act. He is not saying that the act sin OT sinful of course, but that the sin begins with the motive not just with the act. In that sense morality is somewhat teleological, although I normally eschew teleological ethics. I am not saying that the morality of a given act is based upon outcome, but that the end toward which moral motions are given is the goal of doing love.


Kristen said...

This is really good. I think love could be described as that which moves out from the self positively towards the other-- and thus the nature of God as love is to create and to seek the good of the Creation. And of course, to want the Creation to move out of itself back towards God-- to become loving itself. What it means for humans to be made in God's image is that they share this creative impulse. All of the arts and humanities, and many of the sciences, are the impulse of humanity out of itself back towards the Creation, each other, or God-- which is the essence of love.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

we seen to think alike. Did you like my Kennedy deal?

runamonk said...

I agree that Kristen said about us being made in God's image and we are to move ourselves to God.

I think I may be becoming more traditional. I think everyone should be able to create art as they see fit but I now also think there should be cultural reference or standard to stabilize the extremes of some art. And within this tradional sphere there should be apprentices just as any craft. This may be elitist to some degree but I think in general art should point to something higher, such as God, or beauty or awe or the sublime.

This goes for other things too, if there's trancdent truth and God that we should be striving for the higher and excellence. Not that I am an artist or these things but I would like to be in a culture such as this and I think God is needed for this and I am not seeing this in our materialistic culture.

I am just now starting to wonder, if it is the case we are sinners who can make the choice to turn away from God, than even our art (craftsmanship, excellence for anything) could reflect that as well.

runamonk said...

The last two paragraphs of this article point to what I mean and have been thinking about (I know nothing of this website except this article).

Kristen said...

Metacrock-- yes, I enjoyed your Kennedy piece very much!

Runamon-- I think art that is merely self-expression can become self-indulgent. When I speak of art as part of the movement of humanity outward from itself, that means there is an outward referent, an attempt not to just self-express, but to communicate something to someone else. This is a reflection of the love nature of God.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

I agree Kristen. I see art as an expression of the imago dei.

runamonk said...

Hi, thank you for the comment.

Maybe I am being dense. I think art is generally about communicating something to someone else. The intent of my post was to share the idea that turning away from being inspired by God in craftsmanship (which inludes art) would decrease aethsetics.

Just writing this I realized I seem to be talking about relativism in art versus objectivity (although, using that word may not be the best.). I think it's possible that God could be a standard for aesthetic beauty in art (or craftsmenship).

I just found a quote on a blog attributed to C.S. Lewis, "Every sin is the distortion of an energy breathed into us..." (I think it was Lewis that says that evil is distorted good, as well).

If this is true than art can reflect a distorted image? And the other issue I am now considering is relativism versus a standard. Even if humans don't do well in saying what the parameters of that standard definitely are, we may just kind of "know" if it is higher or speaks something truthful or meaningful.

I know nothing of Plato, but maybe that may be slightly similar to his true forms. Probably not, but just a thought.

I'll just say it, I think some art is BS and even mean. I think there are some forms of art which are better than other forms (not exactly speaking of talent, but it could include that). Similar to what the link was saying about random art that speaks to use in random forms rather than art with purpose and meaning. (but this would probably, not be reaching out beyond humanity, like you were saying.)

I have considered recently that maybe turning away from God could even reduce culture, civilization and just quality in general of many things.

Sorry if this is going of on a tangent and off topic. Personally, I do think it relates to God's love for us.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

Well Runamunk we have to look at art as artists or art historians not as Christian apologists. Art is not apologetics.

Art is not communication, rather, it employs communicating but it's more than that. An artist can be communicating only with herself. There's difference in communication and expression.

We must not think that art is BS we must to appreciate it as art. It's our duty as Christians becuase it is an expression of the image of God in which we were created.

Art is it's own thing, it has to be understood in terms of itself not anything else.

when all is said and done I have an argument for the existence of God based upon art and the sublime.

Tim 4til7 Wood said...

Joe, agreed with Kirsten. This is very good. It might be something to include in a best of Metacrock. The portion about filling the void reminds me of how, in Physics, there is no true void. It's really a sea of sub-atomic particles appearing and disappearing, the zero-point field. One general way this is put is that nature abhors a vacuum. That is accurate in a physics way AND there's definitely something of awe and beauty in this: that creation itself is creating. At this level, the universe itself is engaged in the greatest act of performance art: a flash mob that never realized it was supposed to stop.