Flipping through this weeks Sunday Times Magazine I came across an article about Dan Brown, he of Da Vinci Code fame. I didn’t read the article in any great depth because my eyes were drawn to a photograph of a ‘monkish’ figure holding a placard on which was written:
‘If you can’t respect God you can’t respect anybody.’
I think that our placard holder was trying to make the point that Brown’s attitude towards God was disrespectful, cynical etc but to be honest I didn’t bother inquire any further as I felt that, at the macro level his slogan is in fact entirely true (even if he doesn’t respect Dan Brown!)
As I reflected further I began to think about love rather than respect, after all we are, as Raymond Tomkinson’s book reminds us, ‘Called to Love.’ The call to love is our primary calling and as such is our biggest challenge. It is a calling enshrined in our Lord’s summing up of the law where we are called to ‘love the Lord your God with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself,’ (Luke 10, 27). Our love, mandated by God,has a trinitarian quality it is to be experienced spiritually (soulfully), practiced physically and, reflected upon cognitively. It is a form of love that is to be directed outwards towards God and neighbor, for as Benedict reminds us, it is in the neighbor that we potentially meet, serve and love Christ.
Modern secular society is strong on diversity and inclusiveness; we even have forms complete with boxes to tick auditing, verifying and proving our not very radical commitment to diversity and inclusion. This approach allows us to integrate only through the process of active differentiation. This is absurd, it is totally nuts!
Following the modern secular approach also limits our response to the ‘other in our midst,’ Love is pushed aside, instead respect and tolerance become our highest (secular) calling. One further thought; respect and tolerance are the preserve of the powerful. The exercise of respect and tolerance imply the ability to exclude, impose sanctions and, withhold benefits. Let me clear, as an individual (your neighbor) I don’t crave tolerance and respect, for my real need, is your love.
The first part of the commandment that ‘you shall love the Lord your God with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind,’ is crucial because it is through love of God that we really learn about diversity for we are called on to love ‘the mystery of the Trinity,’ a diverse, wholly other and yet unified God comprising Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A God whose entire rationale, both internally within the Godhead and externally towards humanity, is love. Not respect, not tolerance, but Love.
Do you prize love above all else?