Friends 2007: The Last Word …

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I’ll need to warm up after being absent from blogging couple of days due to some days off at Kuantan. I think walking on the beach did me some good. And I managed to do some substantial theological reading while watching TV and sleeping (all not at the same time *smile*). Had lots of good food too.

Alwyn’s does a nice wrap up post I think on our recent event Friends in Conversation which has pretty much dominated my blog for quite a while… Here’s some of Alwyn’s thoughts in his post The Last Word (where relevant italics and bold emphasis can be SEEN clearly). The post gets an affirming comment from our resident philosopher aporetic 🙂 who seems to be emerging more into the open again.

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Love your neighbour as yourself – the new commandment which helps sum up the Law. Love your enemy – the (also new) commandment which makes us perfect.

Brian McLaren’s last word at the QRoH conference was a reminder of the power of loving thy neighbour. I imagine he wanted to sum up his two days generally as a call to love all at all times, especially the unlovable or unloved-before.

If you forget everything else about the conference, if you experience sudden theological amnesia, if you lose all your books, if you’re not sure what to think anymore – don’t be unsure about peace-making, about replicating the love of Calvary in the community, about being genuinely unambiguously kind. Even to those who beg to differ.

He told a story about two previously warring African tribes engaging sharing a meal, with one tribe not minding being laughed at, another laughing because it didn’t realise the other could even talk. Reconciliation and friendship after violence, expressed in the virtue of laughter.

If people with strained relationships can sit down and share a meal, that’s an excellent first move to embody a Gospel of hope, peace and world renewal. If you can share the basics in communion/community with another near you, you can begin to love the person as yourself. If you can love your neighbour as yourself – if you can care for him/her as intensely as you would for you – then you can care for your enemy in the same way.

Because (I suppose) it soon dawns on you that loving your enemy and loving your neighbour (as yourself) are not two separate acts but one grand act seen in two angles.

This ultimately ‘betrays’ McLaren’s over-arching motive in writing, in speaking, in visiting churches and peoples all around the world. This last word, this final “don’t-leave-conference-without-it” beseeching is McLaren’s first and greatest item on the agenda : to model the so kind, so paradoxical, so sacrifical, so self-condescending love of God. Like someone commented somewhere (I think it’s Sherman), McLaren doesn’t have a theology – he is his theology.

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