23 August 2010

The Encounter

Acts 9: 1-20

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time/22nd August 2010

This was the turning point in Paul’s life.  One might say Paul’s conversion was the turning point in the history of Christianity too. Without his titanic shift in perspective, followers of Jesus might still be only a movement within Judaism.  Now, I know that not everyone loves Paul.  Generally, either you love him or you don’t. Granted, Paul’s writings can be difficult to read and he has a terrible habit of writing, long, run on sentences.  But I love Paul.   If not for Paul most of as Gentiles, assuming most of us here are Gentiles, would not be part of the church.  After Jesus, Paul is the most pivotal figure in the New Testament, primarily because he was compelled to proclaim God’s good news about Jesus, the gospel, to the Gentiles, to the nations, to the world.  I want to focus upon his experience and the change of perspective that occurred in his life.

            In our postmodern, post-Christian, secular age we assume that miracles, visions, religious experiences like Paul’s, like those portrayed in scripture are mythical.  What happened to Paul only happened back then, not now.  Claiming to be wise, we assume that God doesn’t work that way any more. Perhaps.  Maybe God hasn’t changed.  Maybe we have.

            In our age many have lost their capacity to see the world and their lives sacramentally or mystically, we have lost our openness to the God-reality who impinges upon us and surrounds us all the time.  Because many do not expect to meet God along the road, many fail to find God and are disappointed.  With expectations lowered, many carry on saying they believe in God, but not really expecting to experience or encounter God.  Many still use God-language, become religious (or spiritual), follow its rituals, but turn inward and rely more upon themselves than God.  Many stand for the creed, but still live as if everything (including salvation) were based upon their efforts and actions and decisions.  Many say they trust in God, but often ‘God’ is just a cipher, an empty symbol, a synonym for the self.  Because many do not expect to encounter God faith is reduced to empty, hollow moralisms whereby people think to be Christian means only following the rules, cultivating a certain ethical behavior,  learning right from wrong, being “nice,” learning to behave like good little boys and girls. This is one of the reasons, I believe, the church is in so much trouble these days and irrelevant for many. 

            I believe there is something wrong with the church today – and with Christianity, for that matter.  There is something missing.  What’s missing is the energy, the vitality, the passion associated with an experience of God’s power – God’s redemptive power – the kind of experience Paul had that gave him a radically new perspective of God, himself, and the world around him.

            Several years ago the American playwright, Arthur Miller (1915-2005) wrote in an essay that it is exceedingly difficult to write great tragedy these days where there are neither gods nor heroes and life has been domesticated.  We live, he suggested, in a Willy Loman America, as in Willy Loman, the character from his play, “Death of a Salesman.”[1] This was written before September 11, 2001, since then we have seen thousands carrying out heroic deeds, but our lives still seem domesticated, maybe even more so since 9-11.  Our lives still seem tame, controlled, and passionless.  The same is true for the church. David Buttrick, professor at Vanderbilt Divinity School, asks, “When church is reduced to church management and the soul is scaled down to psychological promptings, who can speak of resurrection or spot surprising signs of redemptive power among us?  No burned martyrs light our skies; ministers burn out instead.  No Christians are persecuted; they merely perish from boredom.”[2]  We prefer Jesus-lite, that is, religion without the inconvenience (or the cross).  But “where there is no cross, how can resurrection have meaning?”[3]   We want decaffeinated Christianity without the kick; we don’t want anything to disturb our sleep.  But we need to wake up! 

            Sometimes I wonder if Paul would even recognize the church if he were around today.  For him the gospel was powerful and real, full of caffeine with extra shots of espresso.  And sometimes I wonder what Jesus must think about his church, which is so broken, so petty, shortsighted, cruel, and divisive, “stumbling along,” as Buttrick says, “at the brink of apostasy and selling out Jesus for a good deal less than thirty pieces of silver any day.”[4]  Writer Anne Lamott imagines that it’s enough to make Jesus drink gin from the cat dish![5]  (That’s quite an image; I love that!)

No, there aren’t many that can claim such a wild experience as Paul.  But it happens and is happening.  Why not be thrown from a horse in blinding light, but such experiences can occur.  Despite our resistance the Risen Christ still encounters people today in overt or subtle ways; the Risen Christ still meets people along the road and changes them. This can still happen.  In fact, the Risen Christ wants to meet us along the road, wants to open up our eyes, wants us to see, wants to awaken life within us and make something beautiful of our lives. 

However, w we cannot underestimate the immense resistance to this encounter.  Look at Paul – locked into the confining perspective of his worldview, determined to be a roadblock to the people of the Way (the name given to the early followers of Jesus), hell-bent on the destruction of God’s people, willfully bucking against the new thing God was doing in the world.  Surrounded by a blast of light, Paul is convicted by these words, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”  But he doesn’t even recognize his victim. We might not experience the Risen Christ in exactly this same way, but the dynamics and the patterns of the resistance are very familiar to us.  Paul was locked into one perspective – his own.  He thought he knew all there was to know about his God, his world, and himself.  He thought he knew how God acted in the past and would definitely act in the future.  He thought he knew about this Jesus the criminal and his band of heretics.  He thought he knew the truth, had all the facts, understood what was going on. Until one day it was all shattered in the encounter with the Resurrected One and was given a new perspective, a new outlook, a new view of himself, of the world, and more importantly, a new understanding of the radical grace of Yahweh.  He discovered that truth is stranger and more wonderful than fiction, he realized that the facts are not enough, the facts are not what they seem, and that he completely misunderstood what was before his very eyes.  The text says, “Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; ….” He was blind to what was going on in front of him. He needed new eyes to see reality in a new way.

This might be a helpful illustration.  It was Albert Einstein (1879-1955) who once said, “There’s nothing more practical than a good theory.”[6]  In order to see reality you have to get your theory right, because your theory will shape the way you view the world.  We often assume that facts build reality, that if we have enough of the facts then we’ll be able to determine what is true or not true.  We live in a Joe Friday world, as in detective Joe Friday from the television series, “Dragnet,” Joe Friday would say, “Just give me the facts, Ma’am, just the facts.”  Facts are not enough.  We’ve actually inherited this view from the Enlightenment’s obsession with facts, raw data.  Actually, as contemporary philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre points out, “Straightforward facts” do not exist.  They were “like telescopes and wigs for gentlemen . . . a seventeenth century invention.”[7]  Facts tell us very little about reality; the facts need to be interpreted and this requires a theory, an interpretive framework, perspective.[8]  In fact, Einstein taught us that facts are malleable in their meaning; facts can mean one thing then another depending upon one’s perspective, one’s theory.  Good theories actually help us understand the facts better, provide insight.  When Einstein was a child he imagined what the world might look like sitting on the tip of a rocket travelling at the speed of light.  That experience later became the basis for his Theory of General Relativity (1915).  As a result, this new perspective offered a better understanding of reality, of the physical world, and thus we gave up the Newtonian worldview.  Your theory, perspective will shape the way you view the facts.  This is why there’s nothing more practical than a good theory.  Good theory will lead you to the truth and the facts will fit better.  Bad theory will lead you to untruth where the facts don’t easily fit.  We saw this play out several years ago when former vice president Dick Cheney kept asking the C.I.A., “Why doesn’t your intelligence support what we know is out there?”[9]   But it’s the theory, the perspective that determines what you see.

Sometimes we are so caught up in our tiny worlds, trapped in what Swiss theologian Emil Brunner (1889-1966) called “I-castles,” our inner fortresses built up to keep everyone out (including God), imprisoned in our self-security that we are unable to extricate ourselves, let down the drawbridge, cross the moat and live in freedom beyond the castle keep.[10]  In those moments we need someone else to come and break down the defenses and pull us out of ourselves – we cannot do this on our own, no one can.  We need someone who gives us courage to reach beyond sight, to step out with carefree abandon into life itself.

            That’s what Jesus offers us – a titanic shift in perspective, a new outlook, a new lens through which we look out upon the world with new energy to live unconstrained.  When we encounter Jesus – or he encounters us –  everything changes and we are never quite the same again.  The heart of the Christian experience is about transformation.  Our eyes are open and we begin to see things to which before we were blind.  That’s why it’s a shattering experience – graceful shattering.  It’s shattering, but it’s always full of grace because it is offered in love.  It removes falsehood and allows us to move deeper into the truth.  Old ways are cast aside; new life is given.  You can’t go back to the old way.  You can’t continue believing in the old way.   Your values change.  Your perspectives change.  You might even say you’re feeling “born again” (John 3:3).  Jesus wants to breaks open our walls of isolation, pierces the armor of the ego, and frees us to turn around, to change, to repent (metanoia, which means to change our minds, our thinking).   In Jesus Christ we are given a glimpse of God’s perspective and from that vantage point everything changes.

            All this is offered whenever we encounter the Risen Christ or Christ encounters us.  I’m being intentional in the use of this word “encounter.”  It’s a relational term.  The folks in the Thursday Morning Bible Study are probably tired of me saying this, but Christianity is relational; indeed, the universe is relational.  Everything hinges on the power of relationship. What Paul experienced in that moment was shattering and graceful, but it was shattering and graceful because he encountered the presence of the Risen Christ, a personal presence to whom he related, conversed.  This is important because Jesus is not just an idea and what the Lord requires from his followers is more than just belief and behavior.  Some feel it’s enough to simply believe in Jesus.  But Jesus wants more than your belief in him, he wants more than your ideas about him, and he wants people to realize his significance is greater than his teachings. His teachings have authority because of the person who stands behind them.  He wants more than your ethical behavior; he wants your life, that you come alive as a person in him, to discover what it means to be human.  God sent the Son, flesh and blood, divine and truly human, a person to meet us as person along the road of our lives.  Jesus is a person whom we encounter, a presence who is personal, God with a face, not a thing, who speaks to us, connects with us face-to-face, whose language convicts even as it redeems.  In the conversation an exchange takes place and in that exchange, that relationship, that interaction, we are transformed – person to person. 

            It’s our ongoing relationship with God that matters most to God, not just belief and behavior.  When we walk with him, our lives are changed and we take on his traits, his love, his grace, his mercy, and his joy.  In this divine-human encounter we become more human, which is the whole point of the gospel! As the early church father, Irenaeus (c.115-190) said, “The glory of God is the human person fully alive.”[11]  The more we come fully alive, the more we glorify God.

No, there aren’t many that can claim such a wild experience like Paul.  But it happens and is happening.  Despite our resistance, the Risen Christ still encounters people today in overt or subtle ways; the Risen Christ still meets us along the road and changes us and grants new perspectives. I believe that the Risen Christ wants to tear open our false reality, crack it wide open in grace so that God’s light might shine through.  God’s light “in whose light,” as the Psalmist says, “we see light” (Psalm 36:9) –  in whose light we see more light and can see the truth and be led into more truth.    The Risen Christ wants to meet us along the road, wants to open up our eyes, wants to awaken life within us and make something of our lives, lives that glorify God!

[1] A. Miller, “Tragedy and the Common man,” in Tragedy:  Vision and Form, ed. R. W. Corrigan (San Francisco:  Chandler, 1965), cited in David Buttrick, The Mystery and the Passion:  A Homiletic Reading of the Gospel Traditions (Minneapolis:  Fortress Press, 1992), p. 25.
[2] Buttrick, p. 25.
[3] Buttrick, p. 25.
[4] Buttrick’s accurate critique, p. 26.
[6] This quote is attributed to Einstein, but also to the physicist James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879), who had profound impact upon Einstein’s work, as well as social psychologist, Kurt Lewin (1890-1947)
[8] Trevor Hart writes:  “Facts, then, are not the pre-theoretical, value-free, pure units of given ‘public’ experience that popular mythology would have us believe. . . .  Real facts are already theory-laden, quarried from the mass of our experience via a complex process of interpretation, in reliance upon tools to which we entrust ourselves and through the exercise of skills upon the performance of which the success of our quest for knowledge depends.”  Faith Thinking:  The Dynamics of Christian Theology (London:  SPCK, 1995), p. 56.
[9] Bryan Burrough, Evgenia Peretz, David Rose, and David Wise, “The Path to War,” Vanity Fair (May 2004), p. 232.
[10] Cf. the quotation from the worship bulletin:  "Man stays concealed in his secure hiding place, secreted behind the walls of his I-castle; and nothing can really entice him out until one meets him who overcomes all the mistrust and anxiety about his very existence which drives him into self-security and there imprisons him.  Man remains imprisoned within himself until the one meets him who can free him, who can break down his system of defenses, so that he can surrender himself, and in this surrender of self receive what he needs to enable him to abandon his securities; that is to say, until that one comes who gives man the life for which he was created." Emil Brunner,  The Divine-Human Encounter (London:  SCM Press, 1944), p. 51.     
[11] Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses or Against Heresies (c. 180).

20 August 2010

Who is Your Neighbor?

Luke 10: 27-37

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time/ 15th August 2010

I have a strong connection with this parable.  I associate this text with a junior high school presbytery youth retreat.  Newark Presbytery hosted the event at Central Presbyterian Church in Montclair, New Jersey.  Ten years later, I returned there as a seminarian assistant while I studied at Princeton.  We acted out the parable of the Good Samaritan.  And I was chosen to be the guy who was mugged and robbed.  It wasn’t fun. But in that experience I was given the chance to at least imagine what it might feel like to be the victim, to be cast aside and left for dead.  What would it feel like to open myself up to my neighbor, to allow myself to be cared for by my neighbor?  Who is my neighbor?

            Our familiarity with this story might lead us to assume that we know what Jesus is talking about.  The idea of a “Good Samaritan” has made its way into the secular vernacular.  We read this text and think that Jesus simply telling us how to live, teaching a lesson about the kind of lives we’re supposed to live, about how we’re expected to treat one another, especially the stranger, that person in need we come across.  We might think it’s a nice story designed to make us nice people.  But this story is more than an object lesson.

            Parables are not simply morality tales, providing guidelines for ethical behavior. That’s not what parables do.  Parables are related to the Hebrew tradition of teaching through proverbs, riddles, and wise sayings.  But as a form, they are utterly unique to the New Testament.  Jesus is the first teacher to employ them and do so in remarkable ways.  Parables are not simply illustrations or examples to help us understand complex theological ideas.  They are short narrative fictions that always refer to some external symbol.  And that external symbol is the Kingdom or Realm of God.  This is the lens through which we must hear Jesus’ words. 

            The parables are always intentionally shocking.  They are designed to wake us up and turn us inside out.  We return to them again and again in order for us to penetrate the mysteries of God, so that the truths they contain might enfold us, encourage us, and penetrate our lives.  Parables pack a powerful punch right to the gut of our complacency and dullness regarding the Kingdom of God.  That’s what this parable does.  And it packs a powerful punch – especially to the lawyer, the rabbinic scholar who tried to test Jesus by asking, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

            This rabbinic scholar, this student of the Jewish Law, is not interested in this question in order to know what he might do to get into heaven.  Indeed, that’s how you might have heard this text, Jesus telling us if you want to get to heaven, then this is how you must behave.  It’s not that simple.  The lawyer is worried about the state of his soul.  He wants to be assured that he is inheriting the fullness of life that comes with God’s covenant with the Hebrew people. For the lawyer, the way to the life of God is by following the Law (Torah) in every excruciating detail.  He is obsessed with “getting it right,” obsessed with perfection, a cold, ethical exactitude, and he’s afraid of getting it wrong.  There’s a lot of anxiety around this.  We know that around this time there was a saying about the study of Torah that “the study of the Law is of higher rank than practicing it.”  This guy knows the Law and his responses to Jesus are correct.  But you can be technically observant, know all the answers, but be very far the intent of the law. 

Jesus throws the question back at him, “You’re the expert, why are you asking me?”  And, again, the lawyer’s response is scripturally correct.  He pulls from Deuteronomy, he quotes the correct scripture.  God has a claim over every aspect of our lives – heart, soul, strength, and mind.  We are called to love God with the depth of who we are, with our innermost being, to love God with energy, strength, inner resolve and intellect.  We are to withhold nothing back from God.  The lawyer knows the answer.  It’s in his head.  He knows the Law.  He knows the facts – yet, he is lost and far from the Kingdom of God as far as Jesus is concerned.  It’s not enough to simply know these things – we have to do them.  Really do them.

            But who is my neighbor?  Ah, that’s the tricky part.  Society during Jesus’ time was made up of strictly ordered boundaries – and you did not cross them.  The lines were strictly drawn.  You defined yourself against the person or group on the other side of the line.  That line meant you were not like them.  To remove the line would mean there was nothing separating you from them, thus producing a crisis of identity.  Society was hierarchical and patriarchal.  There were Jews and then Gentiles – and Samaritans were in a class all by themselves. They were foreigners who were not expected to show sympathy to anyone.  It was your religious duty as a Jew to maintain these boundaries all the time, because boundaries allowed groups to assert power over the other.  Your “neighbor,” generally viewed, didn’t mean everyone, because there are limits.  Your respect and care only extended to your particular group, you didn’t reach out to “those” people.  Because many Jews at this time were anxious about whether they were keeping every aspect of the Law and because they were trying to maintain the strict boundaries of their society, they were also wondering: What is the absolute limit required for me, what is the minimum I can get away with in order to fulfill the Law and no more? There was a reluctance to do anything more than the minimum.

            The road from Jerusalem down to Jericho descends 3,300 feet over seventeen miles.  It was a very dangerous place, full of bandits.  This man, unidentified, is beaten, stripped, and left for dead.  He has no identity, except need.  The priest was expected to help – but he passed on the other side of the road.  The Levite was the lay associate of the priest.  Maybe he passed on the other side and looked away because if this man was dead, the priest and Levite were obligated to bury him.  And burying him would have made them ritually unclean for a time.  It’s easier to avert one’s eyes and just keep going.

            Then Jesus knocks the lawyer in the gut.  The next person who comes along is a Samaritan – and it is the Samaritan who does what the Law requires, indeed he does more than the minimum.  He exceeds the Law and ignores the societal boundaries.  Just imaging how shocking it would have been for this lawyer to hear this story.  Jesus was being intentionally offensive toward this rabbinic scholar in order to wake up. 
From a Jewish perspective, Samaritans were not good people.  Only a non-Jew could see a Samaritan as good.  They were pseudo-Jews, subhuman.  They were a ritually unclean people, descendants of mixed marriages with people of Assyria (2 Kings 17: 6, 24).  This account would have been earth-shattering, mind-blowing for the lawyer. It would have meant the complete collapse of his moral universe, the collapse of his reality.  It would have been offensive, shocking.  He probably went away with a massive headache, dizzy, stunned, and in a daze.  By depicting the hero as a Samaritan, Jesus was demolishing all the exclusionary boundary expectations of his time that dehumanized people – and he calls us to do the same.  Social positions, categories – race, religion, region, gender – are not what define a person.  In a world where there were strict lines of insiders and outsiders, the Jesus movement came along and dissolved all these boundaries.  It’s really quite extraordinary.   So that after these categories are stripped away, what’s left is the individual, a person like you and me in need.  The neighbor, we discover, as Kierkegaard (1813-1855) reminded us, is the one who is standing before or beside you, no matter who he or she might be.  The neighbor is everyone – and he or she has a claim on you.  Breaking down the barriers that divide, you reach across and you show mercy so that the one seen is thereby acknowledged as worthy of love and respect.  This isn’t easy.

You might have seen the new television show on ABC called What Would You Do?[1]  It’s a study in human nature.  People are thrown into ethical dilemmas and forced to make decisions which are being filmed and analyzed.  The actors perform scenarios intentionally designed to trigger a reaction.  On one episode teenagers vandalize a car in a park as people just walk by and, for the most part, ignore them.  Other scenarios have included the hurting of homeless and multiple episodes dealing with all forms of racism.  Last Friday’s episode took place in a delicatessen in Linden, New Jersey, with an actor behind the counter refusing to serve two Hispanic men (also actors) who don’t speak English.  The employee tells them he won’t serve them. They don’t speak English which means they’re probably illegal aliens and therefore taking away jobs from American citizens.  Customers come in throughout the day, the actors repeat this scene, and the cameras watch their reaction.  Most ignore the exchange, others step in and defend the customers, others are so mad by what they’re witnessing that they vouch never to return there again.  Some took risks, reached out and came to the aid of the two laborers.  It’s not easy.  We, of course, have to be savvy about when and how we respond to people in need. But what guides such acts of mercy?  Why are we called to live with mercy?

            Why?  Not because if you live this way – behave this way, simply nice and civil – you get to go to heaven.  Not because this is what God expects from us and therefore we have to do it, as if it were our duty.  This is about more than ethical duty.  If we hear this parable as only a command, as a law to be followed then we’re not hearing it.  It’s more than a command.  It would be cruel for Jesus to set this up as an ethical ideal knowing full well that no one can fulfill it and then judge us for failing.  The gospel is good news precisely because it does not offer us ethical legalism, does not offer us one more list of do’s and don’ts, it does not offer us yet one more empty strategy to improve our lives in quick, easy steps that we can master in a few weeks.

            This parable packs a punch because it allows us to fathom the divine mystery and tells us something about God. Because as Jesus showed, it is really God who reaches out across the great divide that separates us from God and shows mercy.  Ultimately, this parable is not a moral lesson for us as much as it is a profound disclosure into the very depths of God’s being, of God’s nature.  Jesus says, This is God.  Through this parable Jesus seems to be saying, You’re far from God because your imaginations need to be re-ignited.  You have to be open to the unimaginable.  If you want to take part in the life of God, then you must rethink how you envision God.  If you want to take part in eternity, then you have to give up the ways you have thought about God.  If you want to realize the promises of being a child of God (which is eternal life), then give up childish ways of looking at God, then think of God in this way. 

            God is like that Samaritan who reaches out for the victim and cares for the one left for dead along the side of the road.  For Jesus to use this image, this metaphor would have been offensive, scandalous – which is the point.  God is scandalous.  As Jesus said, “Blessed is the one who takes no offense, who is not scandalized by me” (Luke 7:23).  God is like a Samaritan who will not walk on the other side of the road to avoid us.  This is who God is – Yahweh, like the Samaritan, is not limited by destructive boundaries, nor does Yahweh act with a calculating heart, doing the required minimum, but is rich in mercy and free to show mercy.  That’s who God is.  God is rich in mercy.

            When we know that God is merciful – that’s when we know how to be merciful.  It cannot be taught, it has to be experienced, received.  Loving our neighbor must not be divorced from the wider mercy of God.  Our love for our neighbor is an expression of the love God has for us already.  Those who show mercy (and receive mercy) are living in the Kingdom.  We don’t worry about rewards.  We don’t get the Kingdom if we’re merciful.  We get to live in the Kingdom, when we know God is merciful. 

            When mercy is shown, we discover that the Kingdom is nowhere other than here.  It’s the quality of life we receive when we know God’s mercy and with hearts that are generous and good, we reach out toward the other.  The invisible suddenly become visible to us.  We take notice.  We see our neighbor, not from a distance but up close.[2]  We at times stop along the highways of our lives and notice people – really see people, hold them with high regard, not as an it, but as a thou, as Kierkegaard said, and struggle for what’s best for them, reaching out to them, our neighbors.[3]  Or, as Jewish theologian Martin Buber (1878-1965) put it so well, we can either relate to people from an I-It relationship, or an I-Thou relationship.[4] We are called to see the other as Thou, not as an It, but as personal, as You.  We see our neighbors as thou  the barrista at Starbucks who can’t quite get our drink right; the person at the register at Safeway who is having a bad day; the person who challenges your patience; the people we meet in need; the homeless; all the people we meet who are usually invisible to us, such as the immigrant worker (who is, for the most part, invisible to us, yet doing the jobs we would rather not do); the person who triggers all kinds of anxiety in us.  They are all thou-s – to be treated with respect, with honor.  And we treat them as such, not because we have to; but because we want to.  This makes all the difference in the world. This is the difference, of whether we are near or far from the Kingdom.

Image: Christ as Good Samaritan from the Syrian Codex Rossanensis (mid-sixth century AD).

[2] “At a distance every man recognizes his neighbor, and yet it is impossible to see him at a distance.  If you do not see him so close that you unconditionally before God see him in every man, you do not see him at all.”  Søren Kierkegaard , Works of Love:  Some Christian Reflections in the Form of Discourses, trans. Howard and Edna Hong; preface by R. Gregor Smith (New York:  Harper Torchbook, 1964[(1847]), 73ff.

[3] “It is characteristic of childhood to say:  Me want – me – me.  It is characteristic of youth to say, ‘I – and I – I.’ \ The mark of maturity and the dedication of the eternal is to will to understand that this I has no significance if it does not become the you, the thou, to whom the eternal incessantly speaks and says:  You shall, you shall, you shall.”  Kierkegaard, Works of Love.

[4]See Buber’s classic text on this idea, I and Thou [Ich-Du], first published in Germany in 1923, influenced by the Kierkegaardian premise of existence as encounter.