12 December 2006

Valuing the Other

The following statement on the Preaching Peace website resonated so much that I just have to share it:
Mimetic spirituality operates out of fear. Fear of divine retribution. It does not care about the concrete consequences expressed in relation to ‘others,’ except as they attract or repel this retribution. In short, it is self-centered and its predominant approach to God is that of ‘do ut des’ (I give in order to get). John implicitly tells the crowds that their expectations that run high for deliverance include deliverance ultimately from negative mimesis and its social effects. Then as now self-worth equaled net worth. The ‘crowds’ were exhorted, in short, to value the other. Mother Teresa is an excellent contemporary example of someone who understood this aspect of the prophetic message.
If the above seems like jargon to you, let me attempt my own translation and paraphrase. Christianity is not a religion whose primary goal is for "me to stay out of hell"; it is not a religion based on the fear that "God is going to get me and you if we don't toe the line". The goal of Christianity - like Judaism - is to love God and to love others - all others, whoever they may be.

Focussing on "staying out of hell" makes a person self-centred and it can also make him or her self-righteous. Focussing on the good of other people - because we rejoice in God's valuing of us as human beings - can have far-reaching, positive social effects. Social justice and tolerance is something the world sorely needs at the moment.

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