“A believer, after all, is someone in love; of all those in love, the most in love.”1
I identify with that quote.
But I struggle with those who find it impossible to identify with those who fail to believe as they do, or do not believe.
Non-believers often fall into the category of jilted lovers. They would like to believe that life has meaning but something happened that moved them to think that the world is characterized by pitiless indifference.
Because of experiences they have had, they have come to believe that the categories of good and evil, even the categories of beautiful and ugly, are without objective reality.
A believer on the contrary feels that there is someone in whom we live and move and have our being.
One might question whether this sense of "someone" is a consequence of a sense of attachment. To which a believer will respond, “I sense the attachment goes both ways.”
If the attachment goes both ways, Michelangelo’s painting of the creation of Adam tells the truth; so does the opening scene of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Finally, a monotheist dares believe, as lovers do, that truth and beauty are made to kiss each other, passionately.
In the course of describing the Sickness unto Death, Kierkegaard defined sin as despair. A failure to love leads to sorrow and despair. Love on the contrary finds strength in vulnerability. Love believes all things and hopes all things. Faith and love cohere.
Which is why we have a charge to keep:
|You shall love the Lord your God||וְאָהַבְתָּ אֵת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ|
with all your heart,
all your soul,
|and all your strength.·||וּבְכָל־מְאֹדֶךָ|
In the same extended discourse:
You shall love the stranger
[the resident alien, the Gastarbeiter].
This sense of attachment to the Other, who speaks out of burning bushes, to the other who shows up on our doorstep uninvited, what is its origin? What if we are made that way?2
|In the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.||בְּצֵל כְּנָפֶיךָ אֲרַנֵּן|
My soul cleaves to you;
|דָּבְקָה נַפְשִׁי אַחֲרֶיךָ|
your right hand holds me fast.
|בִּי תָּמְכָה יְמִינֶךָ|
1 “En Troende er dog vel en Forelsket; ja, den af alle Forelskede meest Forelskede.“
2 The thesis of Robert N. McCauley, Why Religion is Natural and Science is Not, New York: Oxford Univ Pr., paperback ed., 2013.