Thursday, February 27, 2014

"The Measure of Love": the roles of emotion, complementarity, service, just giving back (completing the moral trilogy)

Rev. Deborah Cochran filled out the trilogy of sermons Sunday (February 23, 2014) with “The Measure of Love” and indeed she did pick the remaining “Beatitudes Paradox” passage, Matthew 5:38-48 as a text, as I had mentioned on a posting on Feb. 18.
But she pinned these passages to the topic of “Love” rather than “Morality”.   And she also said that “Love” wasn’t about “emotion” as people usually experience it, but about the proper implementation of its opposite, Power. 

Now all of this certainly rings an intellectual bell.  After all “Love and Power” corresponded to the feminine and masculine personality polarities of psychological mating in the philosophy of Paul Rosenfels, as I have often written about. 
It is often said that “Love is something you do, not something you feel”.  Don Eastman used to preach that at MCC Dallas back in the 1980s. 
Even so, it has to own a connection to emotion.  I am constantly impressed by the way many people try to get my attention with emotional appeals or overly personalized communications.   As I noted, I am seen as aloof.  I don’t like to be recruited or solicited (particularly with manipulative and “emotive” appeals, sometimes demanding joining the direct experience of others – fasting is an example), and I don’t like to chase people down to buy thins for me.  I recall that debate in the Minnesota Libertarian Party back in 1998 about “winning arguments” instead of “winning converts”. 

Faith, for many people, seems to be infused with emotion.  As practiced in the church in which I was reared (FBC) it was not real evident.  As far back as the late 1940s, Richmond-raised Dr. Pruden would preach progressively about the need for racial equality and civil rights, and yet it was always in a somewhat analytical fashion.  When I was out on my own as an adult, I was surprised by the amount of emotion people brought to faith, especially when I lived in Dallas.  Along with that came proselytizing, or perhaps salesmanship. 
At one time, we were used to interacting with one another much more personally.  Typical ideas of salesmanship in business depended on that, and in recent years that has broken down. My own father made a great and stable living as a “salesman” for decades.  And some people get taken back when I don’t want to continue that sort of life strategy.
A few films make this point.  “Blood Brother” shows the intimacy with which volunteer Rocky Braat works with kids (born to HIV-infected mothers) in Africa (Movies blog, Feb. 16).  The short film “Mission in Belize” made by youth of a local church showed the hands-on and closeup “intimacy” with kids abroad (Drama blog Nov. 4, 2012).  With my upbringing and life strategy (an adaptation to not being able to “compete” in a normal way) such intimacy seems alien.  But it is a way of life for many people, and often necessary.  And it does comport with openness to relationships that need complementarity, as well as to higher levels of social interdependence and social capital. 
President Obama announced his “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative today.  It may be more tied to race than it needs to be, but it’s interesting to contemplate the ideas of service, giving back for those who start out farther behind in line and make more sacrifices, and then real involvement and emotion.
I did grow up with the idea of emotion in music.   I took that to be real “feeling”.  It’s odd how that excluded real people if they were too far below perfect.  That idea is in my “DADT III” book, which was officially published today (see entry in my Books blog).

"Love" -- perhaps the ability to "see people as people" (as my father once said) seems to replace "The Law" at some level.  It's necessary in order for any of us to overcome involuntary vulnerability.  It's necessary to have an audience that can benefit from the innovations one has made or the cultural or artistic output one has authored individually.  It seems essential as a step for permanent, long-lived intimate relationships allowing co-dependency.  That is not necessarily restricted just to traditional marriage.   

Love -- and connectedness -- seems necessary to overcome he apparent moral contradictions or at least paradoxes in the law. 
Wikipedia attribution link for Yin-Yang picture. 

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