these days i really seem to enjoy to quote from books. here’s one i have talked about before: the priority of love: christian charity and social justice, by timothy p. jackson. let me give you some quotes.
jackson puts the christian virtue of charity in close context of agape. according to the stanford dictionary of philosophy, “‘agape‘ has come, primarily through the christian tradition, to mean the sort of love god has for us persons, as well as our love for god and, by extension, of our love for each other”a kind of brotherly love.” says jackson, in his often woolly and overly academic yet nevertheless deeply touching way:
agape is beyond all economies of exchange, all questions of desert or contract
one does not determine love to be the universal human good the way one might discover a dime in one’s pocket. love makes itslef the good by enriching whomever it touches
the love awakened in us by god’s own love has priority in relation to other basic values … it is their necessary source and end
he quotes liberation theologist juan segundo
to love means to lose our autonomy and to become dependent on another … all love is a gamble … it is an act of faith launched into the air, without any precise name or clear content. it is a belief that love is worthwhile …
there is a sublime excessiveness to charity manifest in words as diverse as jesus’ sermon on the mount, lincoln’s second inaugural address, and etty hillesum’s letters from the concentration camp
jackson maintains that their charity (and by extension he points to all christian charity, i would assume) is indiscriminate, indomitable egalitarian, “made perfect in weakness” (2 corinthians 12:9) and almost paradoxically expansive. he also suggests that
because of its chronological priority (loving care is the first thing we must receive as infants), its axiologocal priority (without care individuals do not mature into responsible persons), its lexical priority (without care we have no substantive access to other human goods) and its priority of itself (care’s agenda is to make others caring), agapic love is rightly deemed the first virtue in all contexts.
and of course jackson cites the famous, beautiful words of saint paul in first corinthians 13:4-8
love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. it does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. it bears all things, believes all things, endures all things. love never ends.
if the jesus religion (or any religion, for that matter), please don’t throw out these words with the biblical bath water. while they are written from the point of view of a theologian deeply rooted in christianity, i think they still have something to offer to anyone who thinks about and wants to contribute to good relationships among people, or/and with the divine.
and, what can i say, it’s a fitting post for christmas day 🙂