Love is God

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To paraphrase a famous quote from that famous work of philosophy, Pogo, We have seen God, and he is us.

I have looked back over the last few days of my experiment in blogging, and over all I think it rates a B-. I wasn’t selective enough is determining which items could be considered of “real interest” and, therefore, had too much opportunity to indulge in my great blogging weakness, the rant. I’ll try to keep that under control. However, I do discern a pattern.

I’d like to refer to a facinating post done by Mr. Anthony Esolen, over at Mere Comments. I think I may be studying this brief note for the next few days, at least. The post concerns an article about an Italian philosopher, Romano Amerio that was sent to Mr. Esolen by a Touchstone reader.

Amerio held that the misery we experienced though so much of the twentieth century stems from a “misconception of the essences of the divine nature.” Esolen goes on to write:

But modern man, instead of identifying God with love, has rather identified love as his god: he has, in art and literature, in economic life, in statecraft, and in the banal wranglings that pass for politics, assumed as an irrefragable fact that his desires are centrally important for no other reason than that they are his. No one may summon those desires to the bar of rational judgment; at best we can adjudicate between one person’s desires and another’s, and come to a mutually agreeable compromise; at worst, we lapse into war. In such a world even religion devolves into self-help, or saccharine consolation, a superstition rigged up to satisfy a bruised ego. We do not long for God, but reduce God to what we long for. We revise the words of the writer to the Hebrews, and say that it is a lovely and delightful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. “For God is love,” we say, for our own purposes misconstruing that word “love”.

If we do not have a clear idea of who God is, we do not understand what the truly good is, and thus we go off in all directions searching for whatever seems to satisfy us at the moment. This is not a prescription for peace and prosperity.

I think we see an example of what Mr. Esolen is describing, that is religion devolving into a program of “self-help or saccharine consolation” in Cardinal Mahoney’s efforts to allow illegal immigrants free rein to enter this country and find the support of the Church. I think that the idea implicit in programs like this is that breaking the law should have no consequences, in fact be rewarded. Programs of this type also deny that those who wish to immigrate to a country have a duty and a readiness to become good citizens of the country they are entering. In Los Angeles, they can come and are immediately made objects of charity. They can make no contribution to their new country, in fact, must become wards of that country. It is not only uncharitable, it is degrading.

All of this ties in with a paragraph written by Fr. Boylen in his book, This Tremendous Lover that I quoted earlier in the week.

To foster the development of that union with God in the lives of the faithful is the purpose of this book. Our aim is devotional rather than didactic. We believe that the proper foundation of devotion is dogma, and that the best way to lead Catholics to live their Catholic life in its fullness is to try to make clear to them what a Catholic really is, and what the plans and the principles underlying Christianity are. Believing that most of the evils of the day arise from the neglect of metaphysics in the world of thought and from the neglect of the interior life in the practice of religion, we try to show how the interior life is the logical sequence of the nature of the Christian, who, as someone has said, is composed of "a body, a soul, and the Holy Ghost."
“Believing that most of the evils of the day arise from the neglect of metaphysics in the world of thought and from the neglect of the interior life in the practice of religion, we try to show how the interior life is the logical sequence of the nature of the Christian, who, as someone has said, is composed of ‘a body, a soul, and the Holy Ghost.’” True devotion arises out of a clear understanding of “what the plans and principles underlying Christianity” are. To quote a Presbyterian pastor I once knew, “If you don’t know what you believe, how do you know you believe it?”

In all of this, as Esolen says, we say “God is love” but have no idea of what that really means. We don't come close to understanding the true meaning of love, it is perverted into a degrading form of lust, nor do we have more than the slightest idea of who God is. In the jumble, we become gods, the focus is on ourselves and our immediate desires, rather than on the eternal, the one true Good. It is a horrible confusion.


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This page contains a single entry by Ron Moffat published on March 3, 2006 9:50 AM.

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