DeNanda “Chaps” Panda here…A couple weeks ago (How time flies when you’re having fun!) the following exchange took place in the comments on ST’s “Tantric Metta Awakening” post (yes, again…).
I offer it as a user’s guide to what I hope will be a mutually-enjoyable recurring feature here at ST’s place…This venue isn’t meant for exhaustive theological exploration, but for conversation that enriches all involved (and gives yours truly’s chaplain chops a bit of a workout.)
Going forward, or on this post if the mood strikes you, please add queries large and small – and observations of any length – to the comments here, or post with a “Stump the Chaps” title or tag. For instance, here’s the initial installment:
DeNP: Maybe a Sunday feature: “Let’s stump the Chaps”. How about it?…I’m in.
ST: Stump question #1. Eliminating one’s nation’s enemies with extreme prejudice = no greater love?
DeNP: Ah, Numbers 25:1-15 meets John 13:15…Interesting…(You know how to pick them, ST.) Leaving aside ‘just-war’ theory, for the present – because an erstwhile encounter with that one went on for almost a week – and nearly gave me a case of carpal tunnel syndrome, let’s come at this from another angle, perhaps applying the TST [“The Simon Tao”] principle: That love of God can mingle with self -love when determining a course of action: They needn’t be mutually-exclusive in order to achieve an outcome pleasing to God. Phineas [Num. 25:6-13] is rewarded for the killing of the apostate Zumri and his Moabite companion, which brings an end to the deadly plague merited by Israel’s idolatrous worship at Baal-Peor – a reprise of the incident of the Golden Calf in Exodus 32. (Why do we always want to “go back to Egypt”?)
Interestingly, the earlier episode in Exodus was ended by God’s action in healing – the instructions regarding the bronze serpent – while the later one, in Numbers, was ended when Phineas, motivated by zeal took individual action against an individual offender that God deemed sufficient to have made reparation for the offense against the Holy One – and was rewarded for his overwhelming love for God, and concern for the integrity of God’s covenant with Israel.
The mingling of self-love and love for God as one makes interpersonal decisions – especially in conflict circumstances – requires both a willingness to take life (as Phineas did) in order to preserve it, and an openness to offering one’s own life in protection and service. A fine line, like the well-honed edge of a warrior’s sword. Crossing that line ‘without prejudice’ has the potential to move one from small–r redeemer to renegade, perhaps…A dilemma without a “once-and-for-all” solution that one must grapple with whenever it presents itself. (Mostly, because the tussle strengthens, and because we’re different every day, says the TST principle.) Until next time, Chaps is on the move, over and out…Vaya con Dios! Peace out!
Try it, you might just like it, too.