Love is patient, kind, other-oriented, humble, forgiving, temperate, truth loving, beauty dwelling, protecting, trusting, hopeful, persevering, effective & as laudable as they are, even greater than faith & hope! Empirical, aesthetical, moral, practical, semiotic, descriptive, evaluative, normative & interpretive approaches to reality inescapably participate in love because, more than another philosophical category, love is reality's primal ground, order, origin, being, cause, support & destiny. Glossary: Empirical & descriptive methods measure reality, seeking truth & aspire to answer the question: What is that?| Aesthetical & evaluative methods seek beauty & hope to answer the question: What's that to us?| Moral, practical & normative methods seek goodness & try answer the question: What's the best way to acquire or avoid that?| Semiotic & interpretive methods seek ultimacy & attempt to answer the question: How might we tie it all together? (think re-ligate or religious) The Good News or Gospel tells us that God is love. Because love is not another category among categories, neither it nor the Gospel are set over against the world but are present to and for the world. The Gospel does not then compete with our historical, social, cultural, economic & political dimensions because the eternal participates with the temporal order as the Spirit (mostly) gently coaxes (and occasionally more coercively cajoles) reality by orienting our histories, empowering our societies, sanctifying our cultures, healing our economies & saving our politics, although we variously cooperate or frustrate such promptings to different degrees from person to person, peoples to peoples, time to time & place to place.
The secular, then, need not be considered as necessarily over against the sacred in a world where most peoples subscribe to some conception of Spirit (certainly with varying degrees of ) but might reasonably be reconceived as a pneumatological (Spirit-driven) consensus where our collective imaginations have indeed oriented our histories eschatologically (with an aim toward ultimate concerns), empowered our societies ecclesiologically (to the extent that church is neither restricted to a place nor confined to a day of the week), sanctified our cultures theologically (to the extent that we view "God as with us"), healed our economies sacramentally (because such graces are not constrained by church walls or clerical dispensations) and saving our politics soteriologically (because authentic freedom is not defined as the license to do what we want but the liberty to do what we must).
Love's aims, the Spirits designs & ways & means, are ordered toward unitive goals, which foster fellowship, solidarity & compassion, which are distinct from our normative goals, which facilitate merely what is moral and practical, as mercy exceeds the demands of justice, for example, as any desire for growth in intimacy in our personal relationships with God & others will transcend our concerns for what is right or wrong, good or evil, helpful or useless, in our more functional relationships. Nevertheless, love's aims are suited to our moral ends even as they surpass them. Love always takes its place now & here and is never 1
restricted to here & there as the Spirit permeates and improves the temporal order via our cooperation and despite our frustrations. Because love, as God, is a mystery, as a vague conception it can actually be very simple, such as in my paraphrase of St Paul's hymn to love in I Corinthians 13 in my first sentence. As a mystery, it is utterly incomprehensible, but this does not mean that it is not supremely intelligible, the unfathomable depths of which we can swim in for eternity, discovering ever new meanings!
This Good News, then, is less so INformative and more so PERformative in significance and while its theoretical conceptual aspect maybe incredibly simple in the abstract, its practical application in the concrete circumstances of our daily lives can be extremely problematical to us as radically finite & inescapably fallible beings. That is why we humans, who are made in God's image and likeness, also enjoy a depth dimension, which requires fidelity in relationship if we are to discover ever new and ever more compelling reasons to come together.
This rather self-evident problematical aspect to love's practical application presents in the plurality of approaches we take to reality with our plurality of religious denominations, political affiliations, cultural expressions, social affiliations, economic hypotheses and philosophical perspectives.
The utter simplicity of our conceptions of love render it recognizable when we see it in action even as it defies our more rational analyses! There are, by some accounts, 7 major questions that we can probe in our quests to better compare & contrast our religious differences so that we can better understand others & deepen our own self-understandings: 1) theological: What is God? 2) Christological: Who is Jesus? 3) pneumatological: Who is the Spirit? 4) anthropological: Who/what is wo/man? 5) soteriological: What's wrong & how can we fix it? 6) ecclesiological: How do we experience community? 7) eschatological: Where are we headed? What does all of this lead to "in the end"?