Sunday, May 03, 2015

Book #18: All About Love

The other day, a co-worker of mine said, "You ask people to define what love is and they'll all say something different." Between his comment, a tumultuous week in Baltimore and all the discussion about last Tuesday's Supreme Court hearing on same-sex marriage, I thought it would be a fine time to read this book, which I picked up a couple of months ago to help with some research.

For the past few years, I've been nibbling around the edges of a large-ish writing project, which in part explores the transformation we could experience in our world if we embraced and practiced the kind of radical love Jesus and other spiritual leaders have taught.

(No promises. My project may or may not ever come to fruition. But it might.)

I was curious what bell hooks--who is most known for her provocative writing about issues of gender, race, and class and the intersections among them--had to say on the topic. The only thing I knew going in was that she isn't a lightweight and it wouldn't be a superficial treatment.

It wasn't.

At the heart of her definition of love are the ideas of genuine connection and of nurturing spiritual growth in ourselves and in others. Among other things, she wrote about love in the context of grace, clarity, justice, honesty, commitment, values, community, mutuality and healing.

Many people--even those who say they follow Jesus--scoff at the idea, but I agree with her basic thesis: building our lives, our families, our society and our world on an ethic of love has the power to save us from alienation, division, oppression, persecution, poverty, violence, and soul-sucking materialism.

I am not naive. It will require an awful lot of us. We've got so much to learn. We've got so much to unlearn. We need critical mass. We're not even remotely close. Not even remotely. Reminders of that are everywhere. Just now, in fact, a stark one from Garland, Texas.

Still, I hope. And I work, however imperfectly, on my part.

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