Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A Quick Riff on the Subject of Love

You all know by this time that I'm not "religious" in the traditional go-to-church-every-Sunday, Bible-study-every-day sort of way. I don't think it makes me a bad person...just one who doesn't think most traditional, organized religions offer very much I can believe in.

But there are some things religions offer that can't be improved on very much. The other day, I noted that there are 50 separate "titles," containing thousands of individual laws, in the U.S. Code. The Bible needs only ten commandments. God must be a really good editor.

And the Bible does, in fact, contain some wonderful passages. If you leave out the most bloodthirsty parts of Deuteronomy and Leviticus (which the vast majority of true Christians do), you find gems like Chapter 13 of Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians:

"1: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

"2: And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.


"3: If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.


"4: Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful;


"5: it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;


"6: it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.


"7: Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.


"8: Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.


"9: For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect;


"10: but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.


"11: When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.


"12: For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.


"13: So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."


As words to live by go, these aren't bad. And they're certainly not what you hear thundered in Friday "prayer" sessions by radical Muslim leaders with turbans wound tightly enough to cut off the blood flow to the brain. "Death to (insert your preferred infidel here)!" just doesn't have quite the same ring as So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

9 comments:

The Mistress of the Dark said...

Amen...

Amanda said...

Thankfully, each Thursday night and Friday lunch time, when their 30-45 minutes of preaching is blasted to the neighborhood, it has been peaceful. I've also attended a preaching during a house warming and it was actually a very funny, down to earth one about being neighborly.
I know Indonesia is home to many radicals but its also good to know that there are "mild" preachers around too. Especially where I live!

John said...

Good stuff, Bilbo. Of course you had exceptional source material.

Jesus narrowed the commands of the Jewish Law even further...down to two. Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus was asked which is the greatest law. Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Both of these also begin with love.

John <><

Anonymous said...

I would say today's blog was inspired, in the absolute and literal sense of term. Now if that could just happen to a few of those imams of whom you speak...

My theory, which is worth exactly what you paid for it, is the following:

All that you despise in organized religion can be traced to its human origins, and all that you love in religion can be traced directly to God.

Eminence Grise

Leslie David said...

You don't hear those words adhered to by the so-called moral "Christians" either.

Mike said...

John, great words as usual ..... wait a minute. Who's blog am I on here? ....... HEY!!!!!

Wv: benceses - When Ben stops.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Well said...more need to say it.

Melissa B. said...

I love teaching the Bible as a literary text. Almost every good piece of literature has Biblical allusions...it's always so lovely to go right to the source.

SusieQ said...

Beautiful words to live by.