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  • Writer's pictureLindsay Brooks

Beauty, Love...and Politics

Chefchaouen, Morocco (photo by Jamiella Brooks ©2017)
Chefchaouen, Morocco (photo by Jamiella Brooks ©2017)

If I say, "The relationship between a theology of beauty and a theology of love should be obvious to all," I doubt I will get many detractors.

If I say, "The relationship between a theology of beauty and a political theology should be obvious to all," I tend to get blank stares or objections.

What do we think love /is/, such that it has nothing to do with justice? Love is the Law, and fulfills the Law. I think the matter is that one can be brought to see the beauty of the individual person, and be inspired to love them. This is common in our experience of family members, romance, and friends. But a 'polis', an 'ethnos', a group of people is hard to understand as beautiful, and perhaps more difficult to know how to love.

Let me submit to you that the whole cannot be less than the sum of its parts. If the individual is beautiful because she images God, the city does no less. Just as we await the perfection of the individual persons, who are ours by birth or confession, and love them now while on the way to our destiny together, those as yet broken, and dying; so let us await the New Jerusalem, the Holy City, but love Los Angeles, or Memphis, or Iowa City. Let us carry each other in the civil realm in a way consistent with our calling in the family realm, and in the Church.

When Jesus was put the question, "Who is my neighbor?" He didn't point to a whole bunch of folk to define the limits of neighbor, but instead told a parable, the point of which was to point out that your neighbor is whomever you are a neighbor to. That certainly has a sort of "bloom where you're planted" quality. The Samaritan was a fair distance from home, 40-60 donkey-riding miles depending on where they were on the Jericho road, but still managed to be a neighbor to a man who had every reason not to even like him due to religious strife.

Looking at Jesus parable, the love had nothing to do with feelings, but only with deeds. Don't get me wrong, I think feelings should line up with our deeds. If they don't line up, though, I think the expectation is that we are to do the good work anyway, and trust God with our emotional sanctification. If you are doing that, you are truly loving someone, even with a lack of emotional fervency.

Let us show ourselves to be children of our Father in heaven who makes the sun to shine, and the rain to fall on both the righteous and the unrighteous. Beautify the life of the poor and afflicted without partiality. And every city is poor and afflicted.

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