Judged by Jesus

As Jacques Derrida said of himself, I “rightly pass for an atheist.”1 So I don’t expect ever to experience the event that traditional Christianity calls the Last Judgment. Nonetheless, because I find Jesus to be the archetype of what we rightly call divine love, love that leads us to justice, peace, and mercy, the question of how Jesus would judge my life is an important one.

Jesus answers that question in the 25th chapter of Matthew, where he speaks of judgment by “the Son of Man.” The phrase son of man has various uses in the scriptures; here, it is a title referring to Jesus himself as king and judge.2 Imagine this scene, Jesus says: at the end of the world as we know it, the Son of Man is seated on “the throne of his glory,” and arrayed before him are all the peoples of the world. Somehow, he divides them into two groups: we’ll call them the blessed and the cursed. The blessed, who stand at his right hand, he invites into God’s Kingdom. The cursed he sends to “the fire prepared for the Adversary and his messengers.”

Jesus’ One Criterion

Why are some blessed and some cursed? Is it, as Calvin taught, because the Father-God had predestined some to salvation and some to damnation? Is it because some believed correctly and others did not? Neither: Jesus has a very different, we might even say unchristian, criterion of judgment. He explains it first to the blessed ones.

Then shall the [Son of Man] say to those on his right hand, “Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the reign that has been prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I did hunger, and you gave me to eat; I did thirst, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you received me; I was naked, and you covered me; I was infirm, and you looked after me; I was in prison, and you came to me.”3

And when he condemns the cursed to their punishment, Jesus tells them that they are being consigned to the fire because they did not do those same things.

That’s it: either you addressed the basic human needs of the Son of Man, the Offspring of Humanity, or you did not. You get no credit for believing the Bible, having Jesus as your lord and savior,4 belonging to the right religious community, holding high ideals, having spiritual or mystical experiences, etc. None at all. Jesus’ teaching is starkly other-oriented, dismissive of our narcissism, “spiritually incorrect” in being dualistic, judgmental, and conditional. One criterion determines whether we are worth being saved for God or being thrown on the burning trash heap called Gehenna: did we or did we not help the oppressed? In the end, he says, nothing else matters.

Persons, Not Beliefs

And there’s even more in the story to spark our wonder. The people of the world, being literal-minded, don’t understand the theopoetic connotation of the “Son of Man” title, so, in what is for me the most powerful and profound statement in all of scripture, Jesus spells it out for them.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungering, and we nourished you? Or thirsting, and we gave you to drink? And when did we see you a stranger, and we received you? Or naked, and we covered you? And when did we see you infirm, or in prison, and we went to you?” And he, answering, shall say to them, “Truly, inasmuch as you did for one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did for me.”

We’re quite familiar with that saying now, but when the Son of Man tells the blessed that in helping the oppressed they were helping him, the blessed are learning something new. They had not helped the oppressed because they’d believed that Christ was present in others, that “there is that of God in everyone”; clearly, they hadn’t known that at the time. They must have acted because their hearts were open to the other: when they encountered a desperate person, they felt the plight of that person and, like the “good Samaritan,”5 responded generously despite the cost to themselves. And therefore they were righteous; therefore they were blessed; therefore they were worthy of God.

Neither Faith Nor Works

Despite having the plain words of Jesus in front of them, Christians have for centuries argued “faith versus works”: am I saved simply by believing in a propitiatory sacrifice by Jesus, am I saved by doing good works, or must I exhibit both behaviors? Although his demand that we care for the poor may appear to argue for salvation by works, Jesus approves neither side in that debate, and for good reason: “What must I do to be saved?” is the wrong question, because it’s about saving me, and

Whosoever would be seeking to save his soul [psychē] shall be destroying her, and whosoever would be seeking to destroy his soul shall be nurturing her.6

In other words, the spiritual life is not about me: it’s about getting me out of the way and saving the other, the one who addresses me in her dire need, the Lazarus who lies bleeding at my gate. My life is worthwhile, says Jesus, if my solicitude is for the suffering other — if, like Jesus, I am willing to give of, even to sacrifice, myself in order that she may experience justice, peace, and mercy. It is then that I am living the divine life of love, sharing in the nature of “the event harbored in the name of God.”7 By trusting in and being faithful to that love, “that God may be all in all,” I may be saved from the living death of self-centeredness, but such salvation is a by-product: sought for its own sake, it escapes me. “In Christ Jesus, [what matters] is faith being enacted through love.”8

A Passion for the Impossible?

That’s a powerful invitation and challenge, perhaps especially for a nontheist who is not prodded by the demands nor coddled by the comforts of religion: to live in authentic and responsive relationship, to allow myself to be moved by the plight of the other, to yield again and again to empathetic and even sacrificial love. But can it be done? Is the suffering of beings not infinite? To care for the other, as Jesus demanded, as solicitously and generously as I care for myself, as if the world were about to end: is such a life not impossible?

That brings me back to Derrida, who knew the impossibility and the necessity of giving beyond calculation of cost or return. According to John D. Caputo, “‘God’ for [Derrida] is given not in theological analysis but in religious experience, in a certain passion for the impossible.”9 Perhaps Derrida, like Jesus but in his very different way, may rightly pass for passionate, but I find myself drawn out slowly and somberly by and into the pain and struggle of the world; quietly and sorrowfully inspired by, if not (yet?) aflame with, desire for justice, peace, and mercy. My “God” is given not so much in passion as in patient, halting work in the power of the impossible future, hidden like leaven in the present, which Jesus called the Kingdom of God. My faith is given not in insistence that the impossible not be the impossible, as if hope were not a house divided, but in a praxis that raises small moments of the Kingdom out of the kairos,10 the present pregnant with im/possibility, in response to real persons’ real need.


NOTES for “Judged by Jesus”

[1] Jacques Derrida, “Circumfession,” in Geoffrey Bennington and Jacques Derrida, Jacques Derrida, pp. 154-55: “My religion about which nobody knows anything, any more than does my mother who asked other people a while ago, not daring to talk to me about it, if I still believed in God … but she must have known that the constancy of God in my life is called by other names, so that I quite rightly pass for an atheist, the omnipresence to me of what I call God in my absolved absolutely private language being neither that of an eyewitness nor that of a voice doing anything than talking to me without saying anything, nor a transcendent law nor an immanent schechina, that feminine figure of a Yahweh who remains so strange and so familiar to me ….”

[2] The eschatological (appearing at the end of the world) Son of Man is seen in books such as Daniel (a canonical scripture) and 1 Enoch (not generally canonical, but quoted in the canonical Letter of Jude and thought to have been influential in the primitive Christian milieu). Scholars debate whether Jesus identified himself with that apocalyptic figure, but the church has identified the two from early on. As noted, it is clear that the Son of Man represents Jesus in the judgment parable: see also Mt. 7:2-23, quoted below in note 4. And in any case, the story is Jesus’: it reflects his values.

[3] Mt. 25:34, based on Young’s Literal Translation. Note Young’s rendering of basileian as “reign” rather than “kingdom”; it could be that Jesus here refers not to the blessed ones simply entering a place of reward (say, a static Heaven for disembodied souls), but to their reigning with and in Christ over “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1). That could be seen as consistent with passages, favored by George Fox and others, such as Mt. 19:28 (“And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”), 1Cor. 6:2a (“Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?”) and Eph. 2:6 (“And [God] hath raised [us] up together [with Christ], and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus”). Perhaps the Quaker business process, in which the group reaches decisions by becoming one mind and heart, exemplifies how such group rule by the saints might work.

[4] “[B]y their fruits you shall recognize them. Not every one saying to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ shall be entering into the Kingdom of the heavens, but [only] the ones doing the will of my father in the heavens. Many shall be saying to me in that day, ‘Lord! Lord! Have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, done many powerful deeds in your name?’ And then I shall be avowing to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from me, outlaws.'” (Mt. 7:20-23)

[5] See Lk. 10:29-37. The Samaritan, whose beliefs also were considered incorrect (which presumably is why Jesus uses him as an example), saved a wounded man after orthodox believers had passed him by.

[6] Lk. 17:33, my translation following the Concordant Greek Text Sublinear. (In the Greek, the word I have translated as “soul” is psuchen, or psychen, which is an accusative — objective — case form of psuchē or psychē. I have used the more familiar nominative form psychē in the text for clarity.) Parallel sayings, each a little different, are at Mt. 10:39, Lk. 9:24, and Jn. 12:25.

[7] John D. Caputo, The Weakness of God: a Theology of the Event. The phrase appears many times in the book. See for example page 294, where it is followed by this: “When I desire God or love or democracy, democracy or love or God are not what I desire, because what is desired is an unconditional event, the event or the advent of the tout autre that is astir in these names, which means the unconditional promise of the event contained in these names.” In my sentence, Caputo’s phrase is preceded by a reference to 2 Peter 1:4b: “… that by these [promises] you may be sharers of the divine nature, having escaped the destruction that is in the world because of craving.”

[8] “For God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God in them”: 1 Jn. 4:16. “That God may be all in all”: 1 Cor. 15:28. “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails, but faith working through love”: Gal. 5:6.

[9] John D. Caputo, The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida, pp. 288-289.

[10] See the post Kairos: a Meditation on a Poem by Mary Oliver, which offers a number of definitions, including this: “Kairos, which is thematically related to krisis, is extraordinary time, a time of judgment and decision, the present moment as profound opportunity.”

22 thoughts on “Judged by Jesus

  1. Thanks. I haven’t read the book; thanks for bringing it to my attention. I see that you have made reference to it in a paper that looks very interesting: I plan to read that tonight or tomorrow, and then I’ll look into the book.

  2. Pingback: George Amoss Jr: Judged by Jesus - Quaker Ranter

  3. A Friend recently posted a comment on the discussion group at http://www.nontheistfriends.org about the new European philosophers such as Alain Badiou and Slavoj Zizek and their deconstructivist take on Christianity. She recommended these websites:

    http://katharinesarahmoody.tumblr.com/

    http://peterrollins.net/

    I’m reminded of agnostic Quaker Henry J. Cadbury who spent much of his professional life seeking Jesus the man, as has contemporary nontheist Friend David Boulton.

    Many thanks and best wishes,
    Os

    • Thanks, Os. You’ll find a number of references to both Badiou and Žižek in posts here. Agamben, Vattimo, and Nancy have some interesting things to say, too. And there’s Simon Critchley, whose The Faith of the Faithless I enjoyed recently. Paul figures large for Badiou and others — more so, I think, than Jesus.

      It may be more accurate to say, however, that I am interested in Jesus the archetype much more than in Jesus the (historical) man, a figure who, if he existed, cannot be reliably reconstructed.

  4. Thank you for this post. I’m a Christian, and I’ve found it not too difficult to extrapolate imaginatively and have some idea what it might be like to be, say, Muslim or Jewish, but ‘nontheist’ has always felt harder for me to imagine. (Not “bad”, just foreign to me.) But what you write about being slowly and somberly drawn out into the pain and struggle of the world, and about patient, halting work, is deeply familiar to me. That’s what seems to be happening to me here on the Catholic Worker farm.

    And I’m glad to see someone else who’s looked translated that verse as being about trying to save one’s soul instead of/as well as trying to save one’s life.

    I am thinking of what you wrote about the power of the future. I am certain of God’s presence now, though sometimes I feel it much more distinctly than others; the future…I don’t know anything about that. I don’t dare build my faith on that. For me, now is enough; not always all I want, but all I need.

    • Joanna, thanks for your thoughtful comments. “The impossible future” is one way in which I think of Jesus’ dream of the Kingdom of God, present in a hidden and partial way now, but always also not yet. As I don’t expect to experience the judgment as an external event, so I don’t expect that the Kingdom will ever come “in power” in an outward, world-wide way. But in the present I sometimes experience traces, even irruptions, of (as Caputo might say) the events harbored in those names. I experience within myself judgment and gentle Kingdom-power that help bring something of that impossible future to life in the present. My faith (trust) is in that experience, as is my modest hope, which dares to hope, as it were, one day at a time.

      Jesus’ Kingdom is like leaven in the present, acting from within. So the present is all that I have, too, yet it’s not all, because it contains living traces of the impossible future, the dreamed world of justice, mercy, and peace.

  5. I’m a struggling theist, and I suppose that I always will be. I’ve had fleeting intimations of the presence of the Kingdom of God, signals of transcendence, as sociologist Peter Berger calls them, but because I’m uncertain of the rightness of any choices I make, including the choice to make certain faith affirmations, I grapple with uncertainty at the center of my spiritual experience. What makes me continue to say that I’m a theist is that I have a hard time imagining human beings, including myself, having any meaningful projects without having hope for the future, a future which I believe is very much open but where God nonetheless, in all God’ mystery, abides, making all our present partial efforts meaningful and charged with potential, whether for good or ill. A basic human project is having children. How would it be possible for parents to have and raise children in a way conducive to human flourishing if they had no hope for their children’s future? At the level of faith, how can we have hope for the Kingdom if there is no hope that it will eventually become manifest and endure? How can we have a meaningful ethic to guide our conduct without a transcendent measure or goal? An impossible future dreamed world of justice, mercy and peace leaves me feeling alien and gnostic and manichean and disgusted with the terms of creation and thinking that maybe the Marquis de Sade was onto something when he wanted to invert all the taken for granted pieties and desecrate the world and then throw it back into the face of its nonexistent creator. Why be Justine, when Juliette has all the fun? Just asking.

    • Robert, are you suggesting that God is necessary because you need to feel hope for a wholly good future? Prescinding from discussion of a felt need as an argument for the existence of a god, I’ll simply note that I don’t feel such a need. As I mentioned in replying to Joanna, my hope is for today, sufficient to which is the evil thereof; that is, my hope is that I will responsively attend to need, moving with the spirit of love here and now, perhaps planting seeds for a better future for some bit of humanity but perhaps not — I can neither predict nor require results. But love, which, as Thomas Merton reminded us, is kept only by being given away, is its own reward. It is also its own measure and goal. To love freely is to know that experientially.

      If I were to insist that my wishes be met, if only by promises, before I were to act in a loving way, then I would not be loving: I would be bargaining, not giving freely. And if I were to conform my actions to a moral code, whether I claim it to be divine or not, I would not be loving freely: the life-giving spirit of love blows where it will, but the letter kills. “Why be [a moral person] when [an immoral person] has all the fun?” It’s not about fun: life and death — mine and others’ — are profound events (in themselves; they don’t need a deity to inject meaning into them). They may inspire disgust; they may awaken love and compassion. When love has been awakened, we find that loving is its own truth, its own justification, and, again, its own reward.

      Given the nature of my relationship with the world, I have no desire to desecrate and no need for a device, such as a theistic belief, to restrain my acting in accord with my heart. Nor do I feel sufficiently separated, or as it were authorized, to complain about the “terms of creation” — a concept which, to the extent that it implies agency, may indicate that one’s thinking is enclosed in the box of theism. To “throw [the world] back into the face of its nonexistent creator” would be, it seems to me, a form of childish acting out — and an absurd one, given that nonexistent beings don’t exist. (And again, such thinking continues to be confined in theistic assumptions, even as it denies God.) It looks like hurting other people because the world doesn’t conform to one’s desires: a tantrum.

      Our tradition opens for us the possibility of life as loving relationship. One’s existence looks very different from the perspective of that relationship, which does not necessarily include nor exclude a god. But a perspective is a view from a specific place; this happens to be where life has brought me. Along the way, life has taken me to places that seem similar to where you are now, so I am not without empathy for your feeling. But it is very different from mine.

    • I’ve spent a fair amount of time being angry with God, most strongly when working with abused kids. So far as I can tell, from my experience and stories in the Bible and the lives of saints, God seems to be able to deal with this… I remember the bitterness of that anger. But for me that anger didn’t tend to lead into the wish to desecrate, though–perhaps because I was dealing with people whom others had already attempted to desecrate, and I didn’t want to make any more of that kind of brokenness.

      I’ve also had a strong sense of God with us even in the harm we suffer and the harm we do…of God suffering with us and continuing to make some response of love, integrity, meaning-making, possible.

      I don’t know that I would say that I believe in God because God gives meaning and I need that assurance; the second half of that statement is true, but I think I ‘believe in’ God because the encounter with God is the most real experience I have had. But from that encounter I seem, to have come with a certainty of meaning that doesn’t depend on the future–that trusts that the present matters. I still do have hopes for the future, but no certainties there,and that isn’t where I need them.

      When people said things like that to me in my angry-with-God times, i think it mostly just annoyed me. Don’t mean to do that to you.

  6. That a need is felt does not preclude the possibility that what would satisfy it is real rather than illusory. Certainly belief in God is an anthropological projection, but that does not mean it doesn’t correspond to something beyond wish fulfillment. It is possible for it to be both. I base my own affirmations on what I’ve experienced. But I’m also aware that the evil I experience in the world is in my own heart. God for me is the guarantor that the evil in my own heart (which is exceedingly devious), as well as the evil in the world, shall not have the final say. This I call the Kingdom of God.

    • Thanks, Joanna and Robert, for the continued dialogue.

      Joanna, I remember well the feeling of anger with God. When belief in God disappeared, I found, so did the anger: no agent, no anger; the world simply is what it is. (If a branch falls from a tree and hurts my shoulder, I am in pain; if a man intentionally hits me with a branch and hurts my shoulder, I am in pain and rage.) Not that I’m proselytizing against theism (or for, say, something like process theology, which stresses what Caputo might call the kenotic “weakness” of God) or wish to generalize my experience to others, but it is true that in my experience the anger was a distraction from my praxis of the love that I believed was the nature of God. After grieving for my lost god, I discovered a new kind of freedom.

      About a felt need corresponding to the existence of something that would meet the need: I agree as to the possibility, Robert, although in the case of a god I would estimate the odds as being quite low. We differ there, but, as I implied above, that’s not a discussion I want to pursue under this post — nor is the question of personal experience as evidence, although perhaps I’ll post something on that topic at some point.

      As we’ve seen, Robert, we differ also in that I need or want no guarantees. I’m not concerned with what will have the final say, as you put it; that’s just not relevant to me. My commitment to the good is not dependent on outcomes: the good is good here and now, whether it wins or loses in the short or long run (if such categories even make sense in this context), and that’s what stirs me to commitment and action. What I do, I do because I care about the person/situation encountering me today. Joanna, you and I seem to speak from the same spirit there.

      We know that someday each thing we cherish will break down, yet we stay with it for as long as possible, because that’s what we humans, at our best, do: we survive together as best we can, although we know that we all must eventually fail, and we take care of what we love, even as it/she/he breaks into nonexistence in our arms. That love which cares for the other in her need and will not abandon her is what the symbol “God” means to me. And the praxis of that love is expressed in the symbol “Kingdom of God.”

      It seems, Robert, that we disagree there, too. Maybe we can all agree, though, that such praxis, what we might call love in action, is the essential expression of our spiritual life here and now.

      By the way, the heart of what I’m getting at in these comments is articulated in the post here called “Miracle and Sense,” particularly in the quotations from Jean-Luc Nancy.

  7. Yes, I think we do agree on the praxis, however different our ways of explaining it. And I think the praxis matters more than the explanations.

    I can see how ceasing to believe in God would remove the drain of anger at God. I’m glad you’ve found that way forward into a deeper practice. For me, as God was not so much an object of belief as a partner in relationship, someone I kept experiencing and having to deal with, the process was more like the process of anger and disappointment leading into greater maturity and deepening of relationship that I went through with various loved and admired adults during my teens (though it took me longer to get there with God.) In both cases I realized that a large part of my anger stemmed from a very childish and self-centred tendency to see the other as the one who would provide what I wanted and who would set things right in a way that lessened my own responsibility for setting-right.

    I know many people describe anger as being always something which blocks love. I know that, when it is used to feed hate or despair, or hoarded up in grudges, it can be very destructive. I’ve also sometimes experienced it as an energy which can be useful in bursting through my complacencies and forcing me to grow. For you has anger always been a negative?

    • Anger is, I think, an evolved defense, appropriate and useful at times; I don’t experience it always as a negative. But anger at God I experienced as an interference; a distraction from engagement with life; a discoloring of my experience of, and a souring of my feeling toward, the world.

      I, too, felt that I was in an intense personal relationship with God. But for me, God was not analogous to an adult human, and anger at God was quite different from anger at human beings. Human beings are fallible, weak, subject to all sorts of formative and distorting forces; God, by definition, is none of those things. On the contrary, God is defined as omnipotent and perfect in every respect — and lovingly providential. Yet we and all other beings live in a world of Darwinian competition and unimaginable suffering. So while my anger at humans is likely to arise from an overestimation of their capabilities, a misunderstanding of their nature, that’s not the case with my anger at God, which arose precisely because of his nature.

      We may do what we can to alleviate suffering, but, however we conceive our responsibility, we are not able to change the brutal nature of the world. Unless we can believe that God will “fix” all this in the end, and unless we can be satisfied with that belief as a rationalization, convincing ourselves that God’s ultimate triumph somehow justifies his failure until now (he must have a plan; he must be constrained by the parameters of creation, etc.), then we are likely to be subject to the distraction and debilitation of disappointment and anger over the mismatch between God and his creation. For a number of reasons, including careful and even hopeful examination of scriptural eschatology, I found myself unable to live in such a rationalization. But when belief in God fell away, I was freed to accept the world for what it is and to respond to it without intermediary — that is, in direct relationship rather than through and for a god. And in direct relationship I find that what is raised in me is more likely to be compassion than anger, and that anger, when raised, is related to a contingent being and therefore tempered by compassion. I think that’s because I no longer believe and feel that the world should be other than it is, that it displeases or hurts its creator and is therefore evil, and that life has meaning only insofar as we can hope for a day when all that hurts living beings is “put right” by a God who has so far, for billions of years, declined to do so.

  8. I don’t think much of the rationalization you’ve described above either. But I don’t see the world as it is now as fundamentally brutal. Pain happens in it, and death happens in it; I don’t protest either of those things. The beauty, intricacy, integrity and lack of waste in the natural world delight me. In the human world there is cause enough for delight and for distress. I think perhaps that is because of God’s self-limitation that sets us free. I don’t know for sure. I can’t explain God, which doesn’t surprise me, given the relative smallness of my mind; but the relationship endures. And for me it isn’t something that separates me from direct relation to other creatures, but the opposite–God is the Thou that meets me in every Thou I meet. And sometimes that awareness actually pulls me out of detached using of other people and into real relationship. Often I forget to be aware.

  9. George,
    If you don’t believe the world should be other than it is, why do you strive to change it? I mean, change it by bringing to bear that praxis that will not abandon the loved one in her need, who otherwise would be abandoned? Does such praxis mean that you are unconcerned with what you don’t love? Is the praxis only an expression of your feeling, without intention of making the world other than it is? And if it is only a matter of expressing your attitude of love, without intent of changing the world, without teleology, then isn’t it actually quite selfish?
    Aside from my questions, which are serious questions that I hope you will answer, it strikes me that your assertion that love is its own reward is quite similar to Plato/Socrates assertion that the good is its own reward regardless of other outcomes for the one who knowingly chooses to do good. In my understanding, such an assertion is what is normally called philosophical idealism, although what you assert seems also suggestive of that other Western philosophical/literary category, tragedy.

    • Robert, there’s a profound difference, perhaps not easily seen but certainly crucial, between a life ordered by belief/doctrine and a life ordered to relationship. Your (tendentious) questions are evidently asked from the perspective of the former. I don’t know if one can understand the latter until one has given oneself over to it — which, by the way, does not necessarily entail abandoning theistic belief, as Joanna has demonstrated for us. Joanna has also demonstrated relationship-based dialogue, seeking to know and be known. You and I, however, appear to be talking at cross-purposes.

  10. George, I’m not sure how one orders one’s life to relationship without having come to an underlying belief in the value of relationship. If praxis involves the discipline of loving even what is difficult to love, then it must contain elements of self-denial. How do I continue to love that one whom has seemingly become unloveable and about whom my feelings may have changed? What is the discipline that leads me through the dry places where things become exceedingly difficult? How can such practice be rooted in anythings but a perception of the others enduring and transcendent value despite my own change in affection and/or their change in relation to me? How on earth do you divorce praxis from belief?
    If I am tendentious in my questions, it is because I wrestle with uncertainty, as I said earlier. Does that make me beyond the reach of a praxis of love and dialogue? If so, then how does one love one’s enemies? For me dialogue involves the risk of change for either party or it is not true dialogue. Are we dialoguing?

    • Your questions are interesting, Robert, but I perceive that I can’t answer them for you; I think it likely that only you, perhaps through intense struggle, can answer them adequately. By now, I have said what I can say here, and I don’t think that repetition is helpful. And as we Friends have learned repeatedly, one can do harm if one outruns the guide. So I leave you with your queries, and I wish you well. Thanks for the conversation.

  11. George – I am not really commenting on the thread above but on the whole blog. I was very excited to find it, and hope to read more of your articles.

    However I wanted to let you know right now that I am using one on Christmas – that begins with the Ferlinghetti poem “Christ climbed down from his bare tree” – in the (UK) Banbury and Evesham Area Meeting Newsletter. I hope this is ok with you – I will attribute and I see that the article is licensed under creative commons. I am commenting here as this seems to be the most recent posting, and I can’t find any other messaging system here. Being ignorant of blogs, I don’t know if you would be notified of comments on a much earlier posting?

    I would describe myself as a post-theist, which satisfies me, but is just puzzling to most others, so, like a lot of the theist/non-theist debate, rather unhelpful. However I have found your blog, from what I have already read, extremely helpful and may help me make myself clearer to friends. Thank you for that. It is the first blog I have subscribed to.

    I am also on the steering group for the Experiment with Light in the UK. My role there is co-editor of the Experiment with Light Newsletter/journal. I wonder if you would like to be put on the circulation list for the newsletter? You can view previous issues on our recently re-vamped website: http://www.experiment-with-light.org.uk

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