Basic Moral Courage: The Religious Assertion, Love as the Highest Virtue, Post Four

  In the application of love, one would be wise to avoid this error; the continued administration of force in areas where you are failing. Few would deny the failure of the modern American church to apply the Moral Assertion, i.e., love as the highest virtue, in a winsome way. In fact, the church, setting aside meaningful religion, seems to have only the most tenuous hold on its own morality.

   The hypocrite is never attractive.

   The end of the mundane path for the church is visible in American culture. Church-like groups, able to apply secular type marketing/promotion principles are effective in reaching large crowds. The end result of their work is the pitiful segregation of Christianity into a sub-culture, an undersong of American society.

   Penetration into the culture outside the church-like sub-culture is virtually non-existent. It is not much sought after in fact, for the exertion required to reach a non-paying account is expensive and rigorous.

   I contend the population outside the church gave up on the church at about the same time the church gave up on religion. That is, at about the same time the church decided to cede its moral force and become a Book Religion, the culture outside the church gradually began an outward shift.

   The church must have religion. Religion must reconnect man with man and Man with God. The concept of God invokes a certain dubiety with Man just now. Religion is not helping. Religion, as expressed by the church, covers man up with words, but not so much with certainty, or even feeling. Nietzche knew what we named (that to which we gave words) was that  which we could not hold in our hearts.

   Why did God love David? David is the most charismatic character of the Old Testament. People could not wait to follow him. David was also a wreck. His family tried to kill him. His prophets decried him. David's sins were as large as his accomplishments. In fact, David is remembered more for his (corrected) failures than for his accomplishments.

   God loves David. He lets David live a long, mostly happy life. People line up to follow David. Saul, Jonathan, his own brothers, his own merry band. God loves David. He corrects David. When David demands more life, God sets stop signs around David and makes David recognize his own moral limits. David wins the kingdom. The kingdom is named for David. David never gets to own the kingdom in peace because of his own moral limitations.

   Love is at once the lifting and the setting of one's moral limitations. The Religious Assertion sets love as more than the Freudian "over-valuation of the object (of love)." For the morally courageous religious person, love is the subject and object of faith, one and the same, as the Christian holds the Christ and the Father to be one and the same in quality and quantity.

   I do not wish to make love dualistic. I do wish to state that love, for the lover, is self-fulfilling and self-sacrificing. To illustrate, since I cannot prove, for proof is explanation and I can only hope to describe what I mean, I turn to the deepest expression of romantic love in the Hebrew Bible, the story of Jacob and Rachel.

   Jacob is a complete stinker. Rachel, or the pursuit of Rachel, makes Jacob a better man. Jacob becomes the kind of man who can wrestle with God because of Rachel. He becomes the kind of man his more manly brother can accept happily because of Rachel.

   Rachel, like all good women, replaces the rib Adam lost to Eve. At the least, she compensates man for the loss.

  

  

  

  

  

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