Friday, December 18, 2009

Love, Love, Love

As I traipse through my blog feeds, I make sure a take a little time for the folks with whom I disagree. From secular neoconservatives to fundamentalists to atheists, it's important to stay in touch with perspectives that challenge your own...particularly if those perspectives come from folks who are literate, intelligent, and articulate.

One that I hit a couple of times a week is Hemant Mehta's blog, Friendly Atheist. Mr. Mehta is the atheist who "sold his soul on e-Bay" a couple of years back, promising to at least attend the worship services of the faith that put in the highest bid for him. He went for a little over $500, by the way. The blog alternates between "isn't religion doofy" snark and interesting reflections on non-theistic ethics. Hemant himself seems like he would be entertaining company.

In a recent post, he put up a list one of his Christian friends had written, in which he laid out the responsibilities Jesus people have towards everyone they encounter if they expect to establish a sense of unity and gracious presence. What interested me was the response of Mr. Mehta's mostly atheistic readers to the the last question on the list:
  • Do I love all beings, and if not, am I willing?
Of the three dozen commenters who responded, some noted that this ethic seemed to result in people whose lives were filled with a radiant amount of peacefulness. A larger number, particularly those who felt compelled to directly respond to the question, replied with: "No, and I'm not willing."

Recognizing that love for all beings is really, really hard for human beings, it is nonetheless the roots-rock central ethical core of Christian faith. It has it's ground in our understanding of both the nature of God and the essence of God's expectations for us. Absent that mystical ground, though, is there a basis for loving all beings...meaning one's enemy, humanism? Not respecting their intellectual ability. Not tolerating their difference. But loving them, caring for them, and being disposed positively towards them even in the face of radical difference?

I think it's possible, but saw little evidence of it over at Friendly Atheist. What thinkest thou?