February 23, 2008

Thought for 02.23.08

Faith holds fast to what is past, hope looks for what is to come; love exists in the present, and only in the present can love exist. This is why love is eternal, for it is always now, always coming into being, always giving itself away, always dying to itself.

Tobias Haller BSG

9 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

Dear, Tobias, when I first read your thought for the day, I liked it. But as I pondered it further, it seems to me that faith is not only about holding "fast to what is past". What about "Christ is risen!"? Jesus is alive today, no?

Tobias Haller said...

You are correct, dear Mimi. I should have phrased this differently. All three actually live in the present, it is just that faith lives in looking to that past Easter, hope looks to the resurrection to come, but love only lives moment by moment and day by day. I will correct the wording to reflect this, by deleting that first "only" -- which may make your comment seem strange, as well as this response. So here's the original: "Faith holds fast to what is past, hope looks for what is to come; [only] love exists in the present, and only in the present can love exist. This is why love is eternal, for it is always now, always coming into being, always giving itself away, always dying to itself."

Grandmère Mimi said...

Tobias, you may delete my comments and yours and no one will ever know that your "Thought For The Day" was not perfect from the beginning.

I do especially like the love part.

Erika Baker said...

I keep coming back to this and it keeps churning inside me.
Love in the now only?
What about the remembered love of someone who died? It's still as real and still has the same impact as the love received in the now.
Can we really limit love like that?

Tobias Haller said...

Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Erika. I suppose I'd have to say that the "remembered" love isn't the same as the "active" love -- and it's love as action I'm talking about here, more than of love as an emotion. My starting point for this is the whole Pauline distinction between these three virtues in 1 Corinthians -- all three "abide" -- and as emotions have a present reality; but I'm informed by the witness of John as to the present locus of love: those who do not love their sisters and brothers, whom they see, cannot claim to love God whom they have not seen. So what I'm trying to get at is that sense of the old hymn text: New every morning is the love -- love is born anew each day.

Erika Baker said...

Tobias,
I can see what you're getting at.
I'm still not sure....
My mother died before I became a mother. Yet much of my parenting has been and still is influenced by what I remember of her loving parenting. It's remembered, yes. But each memory is something completely and startlingly new.

And because I am experiencing and "implementing" it in the here and now, it has a very real quality about it. Almost as new and transforming as her actual love in my life was.

It also grows, as my understanding of parenting grows. It is now quite different from purely remembered love.

A very poor analogy would be the transforming power of Jesus in the here and now, through stories and memories written down centuries ago.

Tobias Haller said...

Erika,
I really misunderstood you before. What you describe is, I would say, very much love lived in the present -- a living love. It is much more than a memory. In a way, it is like the anamenesis of Christ in the Eucharist, which is more than a simple memorial -- it is "total recall" in the sense of being called into the present once again.

This comes to a large extent from my process-theological roots, which may be showing at this point. There is a sense in which nothing "exists" except in the present, that is, in the [literal] recollection of one's past while aimed towards some future towards which God guides and woos us -- poised between faith and hope in the present love.

Thanks again for your very helpful thoughts on this...

John Bassett said...

Forgive me for not sticking with the thread - I do like the thought a lot - but I would love to hear what all you learned folk make of the latest survey from the Pew Foundation about religious shifts.

On one level, it strikes me that the fact that the Roman Catholic Church has suffered the greatest losses of membership (masked by the growth from immigrants) ought to finally put to rest the idea that Dean Kelly first floated that Conservative churches grow because they make theological and personal demands. Only lunatics can pretend the the RCC is now (or really ever has been) liberal, so its losses certainly prove that just being wildly right-wing in your theology is not going to bring people in.

But once I was done with my higher critical smugness, I struck me more that this reveals an extraordinary hunger out there and a willingness to consider alternatives. It seems that we Episcopalians despite all our current travails could really be touching a lot of lives if we could overcome our insularity and fear of being seen to proselytize. But how do we go about it most effectively so that we're promoting God and not mindless church growth?

Ideas?

Tobias Haller said...

John,
This is off topic, but I do promise to post a thought or two in response to the Pew study in the next few days. I did observe exactly as you did the high "loss" rate for people "born into" the RCC. However, I'm loath to attribute causality, lest I fall into one of the notorious fallacies (post hoc ergo propter hoc) that has been leveled against TEC in recent years.

More to come, and thanks for raising the issue, even in a comment...