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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What is Real and What is Not

Yesterday I was waiting for the bus and saw graffiti on the curb.  It's author, perhaps in despair or in bitterness had written, "Love is not real" in twisted black letters.
I began to think of the state of mind of this unpoet (by which I mean he had no poetry, he was a rejector,  not a maker of beauty). I speculated on his history and his intent. Was he unlucky in love, or had he been unlucky enough to confuse desire with love? Was he rejecting Eros, playful love alone, or was he rejecting the entire moral code of society and God in one single scrawl.
Pope Benedict wrote in a letter to mankind, a papal encyclical of how love can begin with the erotic love and as a couple grows more deeply into that love, raising children and becoming friends and life partners, that love can grow into a generalized love for all mankind and for God.  So if Benedict is right, and I believe him to be so, then it does not matter at what point in the continuum of love our unpoets rejection was made.
No what matters is his grasp on reality.  Or rather, his lack of grasp on reality.  As a song asked in the 60's --what is real and what is not?  Apparently, this is not a matter of universal agreement.  For some the world of wealth and power is what is real, and for others the real world is one in which a different law applies.
I have been doing a study of the Book of Exodus for the last several weeks, the latest segment of bible study conducted in the parish where I go. Reading Exodus slowly and carefully under good tutelage, a story of these two realities emerges.  In one reality the powerful hold the Hebrews in bondage, as servants, for economic gain, and will not let them go.  Moses argues for the freedom of his people and warns what God will do.  God reveals his power to both the Egyptians and the Hebrews and shows that he, and not the idols of Egypt is the only true God (i.e. the true reality).  Eventually the Hebrews are freed, with sellers regret later on the part of the Egyptians.
Fleeing, they Go into the desert to Mt Horeb (later named Sinai) where Moses had met God in a burning bush.
They have been called out and freed  both from something and for something.  When God has revealed his love of them, and in return he wants something.  He wants them to follow a law that is founded on love.  Later in the bible Jesus will sum up the entirety of the law given them at Mt. Sinai in two laws: To love God with all your heart and a second like it, to love your neighbor as yourself.  
Thus the new reality that the Hebrews have found is a reality based on love.  The entirety of this understanding of  reality proceeds from love.  God is love says Paul later.  We are taught  of the Trinity, based on the Epistles that There was the Father who loved the Son and the Son who loved him, and the love that existed between them was the Holy Spirit.
This is the heart of my revolutionary vision of society.  I want to free us from the delusion in which there is no love.  I want to free us from the bitterness and despair that we mask with the pursuit of wealth and power.  I wan us to go out of the Egypt into a desert, a pure place, where we can know love.  For you see, even if our society were perfectly just, which it is not, we would still need love.  Love is the begging and the end and the foundation of that justice.


  1. I guess a true poet could only show others what you saw in the graffiti: the type who can show others fear in a handful of dust - in this case, dust from being 40 years in the desert. God only led the Israelites to the promised land once their hearts were ready for it, unfortunately the unpoet's heart was perhaps still in the state of unreadiness.

  2. Thank you Richard for what you have said. Of course, the Hebrews were not yet ready for the promised land when they were led to Mt Horeb. They needed the moral guidance of the Decalogue to ready them for the forty years of dust. I wish I could find the author of the graffiti and sit down to talk about love for a while.