My fellow believers, skeptics, agnostics, almost believers, disillusioned, humanitarian and everyone-in-between fellow travelers,
Ellen DeGeneris and George W Bush were recently seen (get this) 'enjoying' one another’s company and people were as mad as Sheol about it.
I, for one, loved it. I also found the outrage about said relationship to be revealing.
Underlying the outrage is a sinister assumption and it's this: To disagree with someone (politics, religion, morality) or disapprove of their behavior, indicates, by definition, hatred for them. The relational equation looks like this:
d/d = h
Many people have a vested interest in stoking the ‘disagreement = hatred’ assumption, as it raises lots of money and insures that we will not venture outside of our ideological tribes.
I once had a spirited conversation with a friend of mine (I'll call him Theo) regarding what I will call, for the sake of clarity, 'behavior X.' I indicated that I could not endorse behavior X because I believed it to be destructive to those who participated in it. In other words....
I was unwilling to endorse X'ism precisely because I was FOR, not against, X'ists.
That seems pretty straight forward. However, what struck me about the conversation with Theo was how inconceivable it was to him that my opposition to behavior X could be born of charity and concern, not hatred.
No, in Theo's mind, the only possible explanation for my unwillingness to affirm X'ism, could only indicate disdain for X'ers.
Theo has been taught, and accepts uncritically, the d/d = h relational equation.
While it's true that Jesus often condemned the religious establishment whose disagreement or disapproval of particular behaviors by others was, too often, born of disdain or hatred. Jesus knew that d/d=h was real and active.
While Jesus didn’t deny the d/d = h equation, he also condemned it.
He offers us a wholly different model. Legion are the instances in which Jesus corrected someone, not because he hated them, but precisely because he loved them.
In fact, Jesus insisted that d/d, (when done correctly) = l (love).
Doing d/d ‘correctly’ means doing d/d with what theologians call a 'redemptive intent' [ri] which animated (and animates to the present day) all that God does and says.
Sometimes love comforts. Sometimes love instructs. Sometimes love confronts and corrects. Love does whatever is necessary for 'the other' to flourish, which is effectively a euphemism for the Hebrew word, 'Shalom.'
In short, love is a Shalom Seeker. For my mathematically gifted friends, the relational equation would look like this:
d/d [ri] = l
d/d [ri] = l in action
When a woman is caught in adultery and brought to Jesus, the hostile and self righteous crowd wants him to approve their plan to stone her to death (um, note that the other party is conspicuously absent). Retribution? Yes. Redemption? No. d/d = h was on full display and Jesus knew it.
Sending the crowd packing, he turns to the frightened and humiliated woman and effectively says, ‘I don’t condemn you.’ In other words, I am ‘for’ and not ‘against’ you. He then concludes with, ‘Go and sin no more.’
In other words, ‘It is precisely because I am for you, that I am against what you are doing.’
d/d [ri] = l on full display
Theo doesn't believe that is possible. Neither do an increasing number of Americans.
It explains why so many were frothing at the mouth as they watched George and Ellen enjoying one’s company.
Ellen and George W undermined the d/d=h premise that is absolutely essential to keep us in our respective tribes, shouting at one another......while the devil laughs.