The Samaritan’s own response- his sense of continuing, meaningful story- came from his sense of the superabundance that governed life (the infinite Love behind all). He saw suffering as the unique opportunity to offer creative love. He refused to submit to resentment and pointlessness in the face of suffering. So he helped the other to regain freedom to continue their story.
Breech offers some interesting comment on the human story re the Samaritan. He sees that suffering, death, and destruction are not ultimate in life, and notes that contemporary story-telling often ends with destruction.
The Samaritan saw beyond the inevitable suffering of life, to life’s creative possibilities. He recognized that suffering was unavoidable but it was not ultimate. It presented opportunity for creative love to intervene and open up new possibilities; to affirm there was a creative power that governed life.
Suffering is not an ending but a commencement, says Breech- the opening of opportunity for superabundant love. The Samaritan operates out of the sense of superabundance to assist another to continue the freedom to live out their story.
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said ‘eye for eye’, and ‘tooth for tooth’ (i.e. traditional justice as retaliation, payback, punishment). But I tell you… Love your enemies. Do not retaliate against your offender, or get even, or engage tit for tat vengeance.”
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. But I tell you: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who persecute you or mistreat you, that you may be the children of God (or “be like God”, because this is what God does)… God does not engage eye for eye justice, but loves God’s enemies, without conditions.”
Jesus based his unconditional ethic on a stunning new unconditional theology. He linked behavior to belief.
What does it mean to love unconditionally? Jesus said, “If someone wants your shirt, give him your coat also. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him for two miles.” This was the point Mandela made when he said, “Let us surprise them- our enemies- with our unconditional generosity”. Jesus continued, “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
Jesus stated further that God did not discriminate between good and bad people, but loved all the same, with unlimited and authentically universal generosity. God’s love was not tribal love. “God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and God sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
“If you love only those who love you (tribal, discriminating, excluding love), what credit is that to you? If you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even primitives do that? If you lend only to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even primitives lend to primitives, expecting to be repaid in full.
Some immediately start to qualify and undermine the scandal of unconditional as stated by Jesus. Qualifying lessens the impact of this hard saying, and thereby weakens its liberating power and potential of the ethic and the theology. Both are tightly related
That “stunning new theology” countered the long history of “threat theology’, which continues into the present in angry Gaia, angry planet, karma and similar Ultimate Harm mythology. The theology of the sage shows how conditional religion; continues to re-enforce ‘threat theology’ in Western consciousness. It is critical to get the unconditional core theme clear.
Bob Brinsmead responds
In Michael Crichton’s novel, ‘The State of Fear’, there is a Professor Hoffman who unloads with a rant against the fears that grip our modern society:
“How astonishing the culture of Western society really is? Industrialized nations provide their citizens with unprecedented safety, health, and comfort. Average life spans increased fifty percent in the last century. Yet modern people live in abject fear. They are afraid of strangers, disease, crime, and the environment. They are afraid of the homes they live in, the food they eat, the technology that surrounds them. They are in a particular panic over things they can’t even see – germs, chemicals, additives, pollutants. They are timid, nervous, fretful, and depressed. And even more amazingly, they are convinced that the environment of the entire planet is being destroyed around them.
It is remarkable! Like the belief in witchcraft; it’s an extraordinary delusion – a global fantasy worthy of the Middle Age. Everything is going to hell, and we must all live in it.
Wendell – More on freedom… “Humankind gained freedom because of industrialization, not because of its absence…As long as muscle power was the source of power, slavery was inevitable. The steam engine harnessed fire and provided a new and abundant source of energy, thereby sounding the death knell of universal slavery… the industrial revolution made it possible to gradually reduce the amount of work they needed to do just in order to survive… industrialization has reduced suffering from injury and disease, and has tripled the normal expected lifespan from 25 years to 75 years… Modern industrialized life has permitted us to gain these necessities much more easily and safely.” Human slavery ended with industrialization. And even politically freed slaves would still be slaves, without industrialization.
In his closing sections on the human relationship to nature Foss notes the pagan view of nature (good and bad spirits behind all elements of nature), the Christian view (original paradise and fall), and the similar environmentalist view. Summing the environmentalist view- prior to agriculture humanity lived in harmony with nature, then we used technology to escape natural bounds and have since treated nature with contempt, creating enmity between ourselves and nature, ruining nature. This is fall and decline mythology, and so ‘natural justice’ is coming in the form of environmental calamity or punishing apocalypse. There you have the most primitive mythology re-emerged in modern “secular” form. But, he adds, there will be no vengeance from unfeeling nature.
He makes some good comment that we are just another natural part of nature doing just as birds and bees do, making nests and hives to protect ourselves from nature. Our cities are just a new wrinkle on the nest and hive-building of other species.
Industrialization is the foundational freedom (from constant preoccupation with the struggle to survive) on which all the other freedoms are based, all other rights. Democracy emerged alongside industrialization.
The bigger background issue noted by Lomborg and Simon, among others, why the orientation to doom and gloom? Why the orientation to apocalyptic? What is this? And how this leads to confirmation bias science. Look at the ideological and mythological issues behind this.
Violence and oppression is associated with belief that the sacred sphere is something that takes precedence over people. Environmentalism utterly fails to see that the human being is the locus of the sacred in a unique way. The religious idea of a First Great Commandment that is above or takes precedence over humanity has been a source of religious violence in Judaism, Christianity, Islam – and now in the Environment Movement.