"Love is the Expansion of the Self"

Thanks to Timothy for sending me this video, a clip for an upcoming documentary about the Occupy Wall Street movement.

I expect many here will have a variety of opinions about the OWS movement. I'd like to bracket those issues (pipe dream!) and simply say that I resonated a great deal with the theology of this particular video. I think it expresses a lot of insight into the Principalities and Powers. This isn't to say capitalism and market economies are evil, just that they are as fallen and prone to the forces of dehumanization as all institutions in the Fall. Satan is ruling capitalism as surely as he is ruling the other Principalities and Powers. The key is resistance to the forces of dehumanization. To, in the words of William Stringfellow, live humanely within the fall. It's that expression of humanity, that desire to humanize modern economies, that attracts me to the video.

Besides, the phrase in the video "love is the expansion of the self" could have come right out of Unclean...

BTW, has anyone read Eisenstein's book Sacred Economies?

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24 thoughts on “"Love is the Expansion of the Self"”

  1. Wow. How simple yet so true. "Love is the felt experience of connection to another being."

    "If you love somebody then their happiness is your happiness. Their pain is your pain. Your sense of self expands to include other beings. That’s love. Love is the expansion of the self to include the other."

    Could that possibly be true?? That just wouldn't fit with the "Christian" notion of God's love for all mankind, and His abandonment of them to eternal torment in hell. But I'm just a heretic.... what do I know?

  2. It's taken 45 years of waiting to see the beginning of the manifestation of my hopes...  Signed, An Aging Hippie :)

  3. The frustrating thing, for me, is the number of people for whom it doesn't seem to do much good. I posted this video on my facebook wall, and one of my University friends responded with a lengthy screed about socialism and how capitalism is the greatest. When I expressed my confusion about the non-sequiturial nature of his remarks, he answered that he had, in fact, watched the video, and that he was more responding to Occupy Wall Street in general.

    He's a great guy and a good friend, but his behavior befuddles me. Folks like to rant against OWS by saying that it doesn't stand for anything, but when someone posts a beautiful video talking about what it DOES stand for, they ignore the message and go back to ranting their party lines. How can anything change if people don't listen? How will we heal if the loudest quarter of the nation spends all their time weaving straw men to burn while glorying in the joys of plastic America?

  4. An eloquent and poetic presentation of a religious worldview. However, it strikes me as disconnected from both modern and Biblical reality. Richard, your commentary helps it along a little bit on the Biblical end, but I don't think that's where he's coming from.

    My main criticism of OWS continues to be that there are no specific demands (and here he tries to justify it!). If I was conversing with an individual about his or her dissatisfaction with our relationship, and they were unable to specify problem or solution then what's left to discuss. We can't work together if you are just going to express amorphous dissatisfaction. Discuss. Act. Try something!

  5. I don't think generalized dissatisfaction is such a bad thing. I think generalized dissatisfaction, a maladjustment to the world, is the feeling of being a Christian. More, these feelings help with resisting idolatry, letting us know that the status quo isn't the Kingdom.

  6. Richard,

    You can find the serialized form of Eisenstein's "Sacred Economies" on his  website: http://www.realitysandwich.com/homepage_sacred_economics

    I first encountered him through this article he wrote "Occupy Wall Street: No Demand is Big Enough"http://www.realitysandwich.com/occupy_wall_street_no_demand_big_enoughBeautiful articulation of why the Occupy Movement is not just another political movement, it is beyond politics (the jockeying for power games).

  7. I've experienced the same thing with friends on Facebook.  The video expressed some of the deeper issues that go beyond the common disproportionate opinions and arguments.  Yes, the whole movement can get ugly and absurdly annoying at times, but so much of it is just a manifestation of a dissatisfaction that people either haven't fully fleshed out yet. 

    Most people I've talked to haven't been able to read between the lines and get past statements like "those bastards deserved to be pepper sprayed".   

  8. I've had one of those conversations on FB also. A friend posted a video that slammed OWS as a bunch of entitled, whining kids with worthless education and loan debt. I was the only one who replied to it with: While there are those who live the entitled life, there are also those who never afford an i-Anything, and who work consistently for a corporation without even a cost-of-living adjustment for years on end, while corporate heads vote themselves bigger annual bonuses that equal more years of wage than said worker will ever live to earn.
    He replied, "You're right Patricia. Colossians 3:23-4:1 reminds us Who we "really work for" and that we will all be held accountable. Workin' for HIM!"
    My response: "Yes, but when multi-mill execs ask 40k employees to take a pay cut to "save the company," then when the company is "saved," instead of restoring the employees, give themselves a congratulatory multii mill bonus, there's something wrong with the ethics shaping those highbrow decisions.
    According to Jesus, there's a special place in hell reserved for those who live in luxory and grandeur and ignore all call to repent and care about the little guy at their gates. Luke 16:27-31 James is quite specific that the "rich" he refers to are those who withhold fair wages from their laborers to enrich themselves. James 5:1-5 Evangelical preachers, who are often dependent on their wealthiest members to fund their organization/salaries/programs, have soft-balled these calls to repentance so as not to offend their biggest contributors."
    Crickets chirped.

  9. "Evangelical preachers, who are often dependent on their wealthiest
    members to fund their organization/salaries/programs, have soft-balled
    these calls to repentance so as not to offend their biggest

    Ooh - truth burns like a hemorrhoid sometimes :)

  10. To believe in (and strive to create) a Utopian world is a form of idolatry, since it places humanity at the center of a "solution" to our "problem".  It also willfully ignores the "maladjustment of the world". 

    That is why I stopped listening to people such as Eisenstein during the Summer of Love. 

  11. Realizing that Utopia is not possible is not the same thing as suggesting that the world could in fact be improved. I think it is fundamentally wrong for Christians to ignore this world in the hopes that things will be better beyond it. You might as well say, "Well, I guess there's no need to feed the poor, since they won't have to worry about food in heaven," for all the sense it makes.

  12. Yes, to, in the words of Peter Maurin, to help make the world a place where it is easier to be good.

  13. I did not state that "the world could (not) be improved".  I simply recognize the reality that the OWS people ignore:  the world HAS vastly improved, at least materially, over the course of my own lifetime.  Fresh air, food, water, safer working environments, better medicines and treatments, methods of communication, and the list goes on and on.  "Poverty" in the US today looks nothing like it did 100 years ago.  Thanks, in no small part, to the drive, creativity, and hard work of its people.

    So my problem is not the quest for improvement.  My issue is with those who think that life here is "unfair" or "unequal", and that they know how to "fix" this.  Life IS unfair and unequal, at the deepest and most fundamental level. I tend to tune out anyone who suggests that they know how to solve this.

  14. OWS people behaving unfairly? Seems to me you are quibbling and wanting it both ways.   

  15. The book is actually called, Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition

  16. I don't think anyone argues that the world hasn't improved immensely over the past 50 or 100 years. Nor do I think that the Occupy movement is aiming at crushing the "drive, creativity and hard work" that has gotten us to the place we are. And I think it is disingenuous to equate the Occupy movement with those sentiments.

    I understand your cynicism regarding "fixing" the inequality, as I tend to border on being deeply cynical when it comes to politics ability to do much of anything. But summarily dismissing a movement just because they "think that life is "unfair" or "unequal", and they know how to "fix"" the problem? I would argue that without groups who questioned and fought to fix inequalities, injustices and corruption we would not have seen many of the advances we enjoy today and that you mentioned (ie safer working conditions, civil rights movement, women's suffrage, cleaner environment). And so I have hope in the Occupy movement and that good will come of it, even if it's not as vast or grand as the idealist part of me hopes for.

    That and being cynical just makes me ambivalent towards the status quo.

  17. "....Nor do I think that the Occupy movement is aiming at crushing the
    "drive, creativity and hard work" that has gotten us to the place we
    are. And I think it is disingenuous to equate the Occupy movement with
    those sentiments."

    It is?  Really?  Why then are they called "occupy"?  What is it they wish to accomplish by "occupying"?  My liberty and freedom to invest the fruits of my own labor?  What right do they have to do that?  Is it not my right to invest it without someone physically blocking the door?  How then are they any different as a group from the people they are angry at?

    The truth is they are not any different, and I have seen all of this before, so I too am cynical.

  18. Unfortunately, so many people equate socialism with communism which both equal evil and capitalism as Bible endorsed good. It's sad, really. Very sad. The argument needs to be more concise about how the system isn't well regulated at all. At the same time, I have to admit what turns me off about events like this are not what they symbolize, but the fact that no alternate plan is offered. If you want to tear down a system, or begin to restructure you, you better have a plan that the masses can understand and relate to that doesn't make them feel as ignorant as they might be. No one wants to be reminded that they are sheep and that they may be powerless when "the system" gives them a (false?) sense of security which is endorsed by their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who was the greatest American who ever lived.

  19. It seems to me that a certain dude from Nazareth shared a very similar message as what this fellow is conveying in this video.

  20. Wolsey!  I see you on FB all the time.  How'd you stumble on the greatest blog out there?

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