Theology of Love


I don’t usually post on Shabbat, but I picked up a book of Thomas Merton quotes this morning and read a passage that seems too timely to not share.  

A theology of love cannot afford to be sentimental. It cannot afford to preach edifying generalities about charity, while identifying “peace” with mere established power and legalized violence against the oppressed.  A theology of love cannot be allowed merely to serve the interests of the rich and powerful, justifying their wars, their violence and their bombs, while exhorting the poor and underprivileged to practice patience, meekness, long suffering and to solve their problems, if at all, non-violently. 

The theology of love must seek to deal realistically with the evil and injustice in the world, and not merely to compromise with them. Such a theology will have to take note of the ambiguous realities of politics, without embracing the specious myth of a “realism” that merely justifies force in the service of established power. Theology does not exist merely to appease the already too untroubled conscience of the powerful and the established. A theology of love may also conceivably turn out to be a theology of revolution.  In any case, it is a theology of resistance, a refusal of the evil that reduces a brother to homicidal desperation. 

Thomas Merton, at 8-9, Faith and Violence (Notre Dame, Ind.: Universoty of Notre Dame Press, 1968), as quoted in Seeds at 129-30, Robert Inchausti, ed., (Shambhala Pub., Boston, 2002) (italic in original). 


I do not mean -and I do not think Merton meant- to suggest there is ever a valid justification for murder.   It is, after all, prohibited by the Ten Commandments.  

I mean only to remind myself, and (G-d willing) perhaps a few others, that I must more consistently find nonviolent means to challenge “the too untroubled conscience of the powerful and the established,” because as I look at the world we all share, I see too many examples of inequity that I cannot tolerate if I wish to consider myself a person who lives a life grounded in a Theology of Love.  

…may the rest of Shabbat bring shalom to our too-fractured world… jen

2 thoughts on “Theology of Love

  1. Just excellent, Jen. Thank you for sharing these words and your thoughts on them. I agree with your interpretation of Merton’s thoughts on murder, and the importance of us as individuals making the conscience choice of choosing peace in situations. 🐞

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