Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield

Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield
Newcomerstown, Ohio, USA
December 28
Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield
Retired Protestant Pastor and Theologian, credentialed in the United Church of Christ; licensed by the Moravian Church . Education: BA, MA, M.Div, Thd. Public Service: NY State Office of Executive Development, Management Intern; Federal Exec. Branch: Executive Office of the President, Budget Examiner, Bureau of the Budget; Interior, Director of Energy and Minerals, Bureau of Land Management; Non Profit: Ford Foundation, Deputy Director, Energy Policy Project; Congressional: Director, Office of Special Projects; Director, Division of Energy and Materials, General Accounting Office. Private industry: Vice President, Grow Group, Inc.; Chief Executive Officer, US Paint; Owner, the Energy Center, St. Louis. Christian service: Pastor, First Congregational UCC, Ottawa, Illinois; Pastor, St. Paul's UCC, Port Washington, Ohio; Pastor, Moravian Church, Gnadenhutten, Ohio. Interim Pastor, the Baltic Parish UCC, Baltic, Ohio; starting 08 2014: Interim Pastor, St. John UCC, Strasburg, OH


Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield's Links

JUNE 25, 2009 1:22PM

Without Love We are Nothing

Rate: 65 Flag
Agape Love
Koine Greek Word Agape: Sacrificing Love

This post is not a particularly "religious" post.  When I mention religion it is to tell you where I come from and the path I took that gets me to the conclusion to which I come.  You may come from a far different place and by a far different path.  But I firmly believe that we can all end up at the same place, and that if we do OS will be much the better for it.

There has been an intentional and consistent theme to several of my recent reflections: the absolute importance of love.  I am a Christian. As a Christian it is absolutely necessary to understand that God loves us, all of us, Christian or no.  And for the Judeo-Christian religions the instruction to reflect our reciprocity to God's love is clear: we are to love God with all our heart, mind and soul.  I skipped a bit of that thought.  We are also to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus, of course, challenged us further.  Jesus says we are even to love our enemies.  Here and in the rest of this post the kind of love we are talking about is agape: love that puts the well being of the other first; a spiritual love; Christians say it is the kind of love exhibited by Jesus.

But the challenge of loving our enemies is, unfortunately, almost never at issue in most of our lives.  I almost never, except in counseling environments, get asked just what exactly loving our enemies means, or how that could be implemented.  Most of us, apparently, are having too hard of a time just loving our neighbors, including our neighbors on OS, to even wonder about how to love our enemies.

I get PMs fairly regularly asking basically about our relationship here on OS:  “Why can’t we love one another more?”  Most of those PM questions are not stated exactly that way, but stripped down to their true meaning, that is the underlying question.  Now, granted, those questions are often asked in frustration about someone who has been snippy in a comment, or about some of the very angry people here who can not restrain themselves long enough to leave a civilized comment on some post.

People often come to me to learn the name of a universally applicable salve that I can prescribe and they can rub on  and then wake up the next day just chock full of love for whoever it was that was so unlovable, or did something so unloving yesterday.

When I first started counseling people the fact that I had no universal solution scared me to death.  I was forever thinking that I might be some kind of a fraud if I could not answer such a simple question.  Now I don't feel that way.  I have learned that simple questions do not automatically mean that there are simple answers, anymore than that universal truths are universally applicable to every individual or every situation. They are not.  I take comfort in that fact, but I realize that doesn't make your relationship problems go away.

Sometimes after I understand a bit of the story, at least from one side, I can assure the good soul who has written to me that the unloving experiences or the past month or so of her/his life is likely just an aberration because the one they are worrying about is normally not that way.  Chalk it up to a bad hair day.  I opine that most of the time we do love one another, but sometimes we just have a hard time showing it.  Perhaps S/he just had the misfortune of running into people at a bad moment, or in a bad situation, or catching them at the wrong time.

But sometimes when I do that, as the days pass I have a little time to reflect on the point, and to pray about it; and the more I reflect and pray on answers like that, even if they turn out to be true, the less satisfied I am with my answers.  

Which brings me back to Open Salon.  I really don't think that the increasingly hostile and unloving atmosphere on OS can be chalked up to a bad hair day, or even several bad hair months. The fact is that when I am completely honest with myself I have to admit that I have noticed far too many signs of the lack of demonstrating anything approaching agape love among ourselves.

Now, to anticipate your next thought, it is true that we are not all Christians and there is nothing that demands that everybody has to show agape love to everybody else. That is both obvious and true.  But a love that puts the wellbeing of another ahead of our own selfishness surely cannot be something we would credit only to Christians, would we?  I hope not.  

For example, those of no religion at all often have very high moral standards that include some variation of that kind of love as the hoped for moral goal that we should all reach in our interaction with one another.  I can't think of a single atheist friend of mine on OS who would say that he or she did not try in their own way to show such care towards others.
So, we aren't dealing with just a Christian thing here.

Let's ask ourselves if we can begin to approach this sometimes hard to get our hands around problem we face in OS not by showing what treating each other with love would necessarily look like (we'll get to that in a bit) but to identify some of the signs that not loving each other look like.  What are some of the signs of a failure to demonstrate love among ourselves?  Here are just a few of the ones that I jotted down; you can add your own.

 --- too often being abrupt and dismissive.  And its opposite: assuming that someone who might simply be pre-occupied was being abrupt and dismissive – rude – to you.

 --- indulging in far more gossip than we, any of us, should engage in, and surely more than we need. Maybe here via PMs, or via email or even on right here in our own posts.  And its opposite: accusing others of promoting gossip about us or one of our friends with no evidence that such was the case.

 --- questioning the motives of others, rather than taking one another’s statements at face value, and giving people the benefit of the doubt.
 --- suspicion that there must be an ulterior motive behind seemingly innocent statements or gestures.  Or even assuming that someone who posts about something that is truly bothering them is doing it for fame or publicity or to gain sympathy, rather than believing that they would not have posted about all that pain if they did not feel it.

 --- an unwillingness to see as unintentional foul ups in a post or failure to post at all, absences from OS, failure to read, failure to comment, failure to rate, failure to praise, poorly worded comments that can be taken two ways, and honest mistakes.  Yet the fact is that foul ups happen, sometimes people are forget, and people make mistakes, lots of them; and most of them are unintentional. And, believe it or not, some people have more important things than to be on OS for hours every day.

 --- an unwillingness to assume good will on the part of someone who disagrees with us; a failure to realize that the person has his or her own convictions and need not always agree that everything we think is right.  A corollary of that is to assume that when someone disagrees with an idea of ours that they are attacking us personally, when, in fact, they are challenging our position on an issue.

 --- finally, an unwillingness to listen and really try to understand what someone else is saying, rather than trying to figure out what we are going to say next.  In other words, failure to communicate because we haven’t really figured out what the other person is saying because we are too busy trying to make some brilliant point in our comment.
Now, who is guilty of that?  Well, me, for one.  I am guilty of quite a bit of that from time to time; not all of it all the time, but definitely some of it some of the time.  I’m not proud to say that.  But it is true.  If it weren’t true I wouldn’t have the nerve to bring it up.  Sinners all – that’s what the Good Book says.  All includes me.  

How about you?  Are you guilty of any of that, or of any of a hundred other unloving thoughts or gestures toward others here that I could have listed?  Or are you above all that?  Or do you find it irrelevant in "an internet environment"?

Before you even attempt to answer any of those questions, let me warn you that I am going to introduce some Christianity right here. But let me also say that what you read from here on is applicable to anyone who claims to be part of humankind.

Let’s look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.  Let’s let Paul inform our hearts and minds before we get any further here, lest we decide that this stuff is all small potatoes, that it really doesn’t matter that much, and that all of this agape love stuff isn’t quite all that important anyway, so what’s the big deal?

Paul’s first letter to the Church at Corinth is addressed to a divided church.  The challenge for Paul was to differentiate between what the Corinthian Christians might have thought love was and what Christian love actually is. He was trying to convince a local church that he founded and loved very much just what made the love he called "Christian Love" special?  He wanted them to understand that there was a kind of love that was different than sexual,  sentimental or romantic love.  This was a "self sacrificial" love.  But what is sacrificial love, anyway?  Paul tells us that self-sacrificing love is a love that “seeks not its own.”

Chapter 13 of his letter we call First Corinthians is his great answer to those questions.  But there is a problem with Chapter 13, or at least with referring to Chapter 13 in Christian circles, and that is that Christians all know it and love it.  It is by far the favorite text chosen for reading at weddings.  And that is the problem.  Christians literally associate it with weddings. It is even known as the "Wedding Chapter."  And implicit in that is the illogical conclusion that it should never be read or used at any other time!  

Of course, it was never intended to be associated with weddings.  Paul had no such thing in mind.  For Paul it was the ultimate truth about who God is, about who Jesus is.  It was Paul’s own epiphany, his “Aha! I’ve got it!” in terms of understanding what God was trying to do on this earth: to establish love: love for the Father, love for the Son, and love among all of us.  Ultimately, Paul knew, nothing else matters.  Only love.  Love.  Above all else: love.

So, to some extent those of you who are not Christians have an advantage when you read what Paul has to say since you may have no preconceived notions that this chapter is "properly" used only at weddings, wrong though that notion of many Christians may be.  And here is the bottom line for all of us: Without love we are nothing.

Paul says, “If I speak in human tongues or even the speech of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”

Preachers ought to pay attention to that one.  No matter how well I used to preach, and I was recognized as a good preacher; no matter how clever I was, no matter how well I know the Bible and no matter how well I can write about it, if I do so without love, I have done nothing more than make a lot of noise.  

Those are strong words.  Paul, a beautiful writer, says that all the pretty words are nothing but noise without love.

Agape love is not sex; it is not sentimentality; it is not romance.  It is not a stupefied unwillingness to see the world as it really is.  Rather, it is the recognition that, because the world is often corrupt and evil, nothing at all will do except love.  You don’t fight evil with evil, you fight evil with love.  And, if you are going to succeed it had better be a tough love.  

Paul says, “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge… but do not have love, I am nothing.”

Well, so much for all of this education that I have accumulated over the years.  It is worthless without love.  All this insight into the Bible, all this “insider” information that I have picked up,  isn’t worth anything on its own.  Nothing.

I want to rebel at that.  A lot of time, money and hard work went into the gathering of all this stuff in my head.  How about you?  What about all you have learned, the wisdom you have gained, the skills you have perfected?  Don’t they stand for anything?  Well, without love, they don’t!

Christians sometimes get the idea that we have all the answers, sort of a closed club.  We feel sorry for those on the outside who aren’t “with it.” But let us not forget that Jesus didn’t come to proclaim a new philosophy of life, he didn’t come to teach us how to “be all we can be” for its own sake.  He came living and dying in a new way.  He came to show us the perfect embodiment of love: to show us what love really means and how to love that way.  That is why Christians have faith in him.  Christians say that faith is the answer.  And it can be for many.

But what about that stuff Paul says about faith?  You know: “And if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” 

That’s going a bit far, isn’t it?  Isn’t faith, after all, what saves us Christians?  How can it be “nothing?”  Well, without love, it is nothing.  Paul doesn’t say it outright, but I will:  Faith without love, my friends, isn’t faith.  Period.  So if you are a Christian and are proud that you are saved, which is a sin in itself, then, watch out; because if you can’t demonstrate love to others, you had better question whether you have faith at all.  Harsh?  Yes.  But true.

There are Christians who know just about everything there seems to be to know about Jesus, except that he is love.  These people wear their faith on their sleeves, like some badge of honor.  Yes, they know everything about him -- except that he is love. 

If they knew that then they wouldn’t use their knowledge to bludgeon everybody else over the head with it.  They wouldn’t feel so self-righteous because they think that they sin less than we do; they wouldn’t spend so much time testing fellow Christians about the details of our faith, or our belief in propositions they think are essential, but are really details in disguise, separating us in their minds from the "true believers" like themselves.  They wouldn’t be such Pharisees.  Not if they truly loved like Jesus loves.

I could go on further with the importance of love.  But I won’t.  You get the picture.  The bottom line is that without love, we are nothing.  Nothing at all.

But the question remains, “What is love?” And the smart-alecky answer is, “If you have to ask you will never get it.”  Fortunately, Paul didn’t give us that answer.  He spells out the characteristics of self-giving love in detail.  These, says Paul, are the characteristics of agape love:

4  Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant
5  or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
6  it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.
7  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8  Love never ends.

That’s it.  First Corinthians 13:4-7.  Read it.  Study it.  Ponder it.  And if you pray, then pray about it.  And then, and only then, compare this definition of agape love with how you demonstrate your love to others.

I can’t tell you how any of you will compare.  I’ve done it.  I come out fine on some, OK on others, and I fail on some.  Six months ago I probably would have come out the same way, succeeding on some, doing OK on others, and failing on some, but not necessarily succeeding or failing on the same points.

You see, we all change.  If we take up this challenge today and then we try to do something about our weak spots over the next several months and take the challenge again, the results won’t be the same.  We change.  Hopefully, we grow.  And, I pray that we grow in demonstrating our love to one another.

My belief is that the Open Salon center still holds.  I still believe that most of us can and do try to offer agape love to one another on OS.  I still believe that this is a community filled with far better people than I ever imagined could be gathered in one place on the internet. In 15 years of internet involvement, from the days of bbs and Tandy 1000 computers and 2800 bps modems this is the best place I have had the privilege to be part of.  And I thank God that he has chosen to place me here among you.  It is a blessing.

And, yet, I also believe that we can do a far better job of demonstrating our love for one another than we have over the last few months.

So let’s do it.  Together.  Let any one who looks in on this community, who asks "Is this the right place for me to display my writing or artistic skills?" drop in and say, "Wow!  Those folks on OS really care for and about one another! I would like to be part of an internet community like that!"

May we, by our thoughts, our feelings, and our actions demonstrate that kind of agape love toward one another.




1978 page views @ 2010 03 31 


Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Well said, Monte - very true, very timely. Well worth some time in meditation.
I do understand your thoughts on this. I still struggle with it. But I do enjoy the diversity here; I admire my friends. rAted!
I very much agree with you about love and patience and tolerance and all the rest of it, even without the god stuff. Thanks for the timely and gentle reminder, Monte.
I was just thinking of making my posts about humorous things we all experience as opposed to those of politics and the hatred we seem to have in common in both political parties. There is enough pain and criticism to go around....maybe what we need is a good laugh on one another and some levity for sure.

God bless you my friend, we may not agree on much but here we have found common ground.
A lovely post, Monte. I always return to the Golden rule, which, as noted in one of my earlier blogs, is espoused almost to the word in every major religion. It's a pretty simple message, never difficult to understand intellectually; yet sometimes not so easy to implement in our day to day experience; and surely speaks of the agape love we all might share.
this is a wonderful post. i can only hope that i am half as thoughtful as you are, when describing the invisible forces that bend us without a touch.
When I started reading this post, Monte, there was a 0 rating and no comments. When I reach the end, nodding my head and sitting back, I click on the "Post Comment" button and suddenly the ratings are 10.

I haven't read the bible, I admit. In fact, as a Jew I cannot say I've read the five books either. My religious instruction is decidedly thin. But still, I agree with your premise. We tend to be self-centric in our outlook, not sure but maybe it is something internal that helped preserve our species. I know, though, that a famous man named John once said something very similar and I agreed with him as well:

Nothing you can make that can't be made.
No one you can save that can't be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time.
It's easy.

All you need is love.
All you need is love.
All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need.

Thumbed. And Monte, in case I didn't say it before - I do love you, guy.
I´ll do my best. I promise; you can count on me. I´m very happy to see you back, Monte. I don´t come to your blog very often (lack of time, sorry!), but I always read your comments on other blogs with attention and delight. Your words are always kind and wise. Thank you.
Excellent and wonderfully worded post. Very timely message.I do admit at times I have been guilty of somethings. I believe we are all guilty of something or another that you have mentioned. Love and respect for one another here on OS and in life should be the way of life. There is nothing in life worth doing, saying, having, or living if not in the name of love. For without love there is nothing.
I have always loved that verse and I have it written down, I take it out and read it every now and then. I never could figure out why they only used it at wedding, I always thought it should be used in everyday life.
Thank you for this wonderful post.
i have no problem with the declaration: "I am love." Nor is it the truth found in each and every person's attempt to live their life "in love," or "searching for love." It doesn't matter to me either that a person is christian, buddhist, muslim or a devout believer in the great bannana in the sky who watches over us. it is the preaching that I distrust because more often than not its result is hypocrisy, and I've seen enough of that. In peace,
While reading through this excellent post, Monte, the phrase, "walk in another man's moccasins" kept running through my mind. If each of us can stop and take a moment to put ourselves there, many disagreements and misunderstandings may be averted. But to do that requires that we love each other, even just a little bit.

There have been instances when I have received very harsh private messages and (I like to think of them as) unthinking comments on posts. Most times my response is little or nothing at all, for to do so would seem to fan the flame. I agree that folks should think before they put things into words and press the "send" button.

Thanks for your thoughtfulness and your love for all of us.
This is a wonderful, wonderful post, and it really hits home with me. I'm a newbie to OS, so I don't know how comments or messages now compare with the tone or attitude of those in the past. But I can say this:
1. What attracted me to OS was the quality of the writing, the diversity of voices, and the apparent atmosphere of mutual support.
2. I have been quite put off over the past couple of weeks by the strident or dismissive tone of some commenters (not on my blog--I don't get many comments, but those people who do tend to be quite supportive). I understand disagreeing substantively with something a blogger posts, or which a commenter comments. I don't really understand being bitchy, self-righteous, or holier-than-thou about it.
3. On a seemingly unrelated but I think connected note: I haven't read all the details of the apparently new ad program or even thought about it. But I hope that people do not leave OS over it. I understand how people might be put off by it, but I view OS as a privilege, not a right, and if we Salon needs some income for us to enjoy that privilege, well, maybe that's not too outrageous. I looked around at several different blog sites to find one that I felt was a special community. That is what OS means to me. People leaving it would diminish it. That would be a shame. (If you leave, the terrorists win. :))
Enough for now. My main point: Thank you very much, Monte, for a very important and helpful post!
Hi Monte, I knew you and I would meet eventually, I just didn't know it would take so long. I'm sorry for my procrastination, but this is definitely the right post, to make your acquaintance. I do believe you're talking about humanity, Monte. That is often what is missing in the posts and comments. What is humanity, but love for our fellow man, that we put ahead of ourselves? It's been nice meeting you, Monte
Rated for love
I like what you said.

I may be an ostrich (although I don't think so) but I just haven't seen that much snarkiness or noticed so much of what you talk about. Maybe I avoid those posts. I know I make sure my comments are decent and rational or I don't comment at all. I'm no saint but I think most of the time this place works. I have my problems with what is chosen as cover pieces sometimes and am always stunned when mine is one of them, but as far as individuals go, there seem to be many more great and interesting and talented writers here than jerks and assholes. At least that is the way it seems to me.
Monte, those of us on OS are so blessed to have you here. Thank you.
Just a brief note of thanks for all the wonderful comments so far. I am about to make a favorite soup for dinner tonight and unfortunately it takes a bit of effort so I won't be back making individual comments until later today.

I am warmed by the positive reception to this post so far, and by the number of people who have read, commented and even rated. It shows that there is genuine interest in this topic.

I was a bit aghast when I noticed that I published this precisely when OS turned on the ads! And the outcry, both pro and con, about it may well drown out this one. I surely hope not because I think that this rises even above Air France and Expedia ads that I can't help noticing right above this writing box as I type this.

But, if this gets lost in the conflagration of posts about the ads please bear with me if I post it again next week. I think it is that important. Ads or not, those of us who choose to stay on OS need to seriously consider the basic necessity of agape love toward one another on this site.


Usually when we walk a mile in the other person's shoes it gives us perspective. Sometimes we just end up a mile away with somebody else's shoes.
Either way, thanks for the reminder.It needs to be said in these times.
A meaningful, heartfelt, wise post for all of us. Thank you, Monte.
"Agape"--- "selfless love"---probably originated in the common meals or "love feasts" of the early christians, yes? Not the actual love, but the idea of it...it isin contrast to Platonic /Aristotelian love, the desire of the imperfect for perfection... the desire of the lower to rise, you could say.Christian love is freely given...but what is its nature?

The paradigm is the Christ: God becoming man...it is an opposite of the greek concept: it is love from a perfect Source, a Perfect Love, God

making whole, reuniting his creation, his children...a kind of love of the higher for the lower...

well chosen metaphor: you seek us to go within, find that perfect love which is so free and....ethereal...to harness it here, on OS...to bring OS together...it is the best place on the Computer, mostly because its beating, bleeding, leading center is your ragged old heart,

old buddy....Here's our pal Bill Blake's take on..well, the damn Apocalypse, what else? (He was an extreme thinker, a fellow....ha..bipolar, ia m told by those in the know):

"divided all
in families we see our shadows born,,,
thence we know that Man subsists by
Brotherhood & Universal Love.
We flal on one another's necks more closely we embrace...
not for ourselves but for the Eternal Family we live.
Man liveth not by Self alone
but in his brother's face
Each shall behold
the Eternal Father
& love & joy abound"

"four zoas", ix 636-42
Jim. well said.
Well said my good friend and true.
Rated for all the hard and heart felt work that will never see the light of day of this cover.
Greg Pick of the Day
Yes,yes, yes Monte...agape love...
""How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world." -William Shakespeare / Merchant of Venice, Act 5, Scene I
You are in good human and spiritual company.
Amen. And enjoy your soup.
We don't agree in a personal way on religion, that out of the way I find you to be a sincere and thoughtful person. I do read your posts here and even with our differences I find youe thoughts to be helpful in understanding the ways of the world. Pax
Well said, Monte. I especially appreciate how you highlight and interpret I Corinthians 13. That's powerful stuff.

I must say, however, that after reading this thoughtful and meaningful post, having a hotels.com add thrown in my face was rather disconcerting and a huge distraction. Oh well...
Love is what differentiates us from the other living species on this planet. It is given at birth and is ours to use, both in loving ourselves and in giving love to others. It is mutually beneficial and is limitless in it's possibilities. Love is life giving, the perfect RX to healing and is universal. It is miraculous in it's potential and is the necessary component in achieving health, in mind, body and spirit. It is within our grasp to choose to love, to show love and to nurture love in all of our interactions with others. It manifests what it conceives in it's purest form, without prejudice or expectation of something material in return. It engenders more love and inspires others to engage in any form of communication without fear of rejection or judgement. Love simply allows.

Love has urged you, dear Monte, to write this love-filled post to a community of writers, thinkers, creators, lovers. It's message allows all who read this to become better lovers, listeners, friends, mentors and to build a community we can all fit into, expand and grow in, together. It is a place for freedom of thought for all who choose to contribute here. It is our good fortune to be in a place like this where we can develop better skills as writers, communicators and human beings. There is a wealth of diversity here, all for the taking and for the embracing of our differences and gifts to one another.

I sense far more love here than anything else. For that, I am so grateful and fortunate to be a part of this wheel of acceptance of who I am.

Thank you for your time and willingness to send out such a wonderful message of love and it's infinite possibilities.
I sometimes feel starved for the kind of values-based thinking and acting that you suggest.

I find the closest way to God is through meditation. It is the most important thing in my life.
I adore you, Monte. We are all so lucky to have you here with us, the Calm when things get Chaotic.
I am so glad you came back. Your words are always soothing, and those you quote as well.

I suppose the golden rule and my mother's personal favorite line; "If you can't say something nice, don't bother," have been guideposts for me.

It is so much easier to be nice and show some love. I suppose just like it takes many more muscles to frown than smile.

Well stated, Monte! As you say, there are no innocents here. I try my best to not throw any stones around here or anywhere else, but I'd be lying if I said that I'm not judgmental at times or just plan ticked when someone may say something that is hurtful to a friend.
In fact, I doubt that there is anything on your short list that I haven't done here at one time or another.
I can tell you with complete honesty that after being a member of OS (for several months now) has made me a better person. Being a part of this community makes me WANT to be a better person.
I can't go as far as saying that I truly love everyone here. I simply can't say that, but I can say that I've met some people here that have been incredible models for how to conduct a life.
You Monte, fit into that group very well. Thanks for the great piece of heartfelt writing.
m, i like kathy's quote, she is sometimes starved for this kind of "values-based thinking"...starvation diets make you lean & mean & lookin fer trouble, like so many of our fellow brothers and sisters,

whose behavior necessitates harsh laws that protect us from our own worst instincts, and constrain us in the application of God's free & easy ways...

law was overcome 2000 yrs ago, but it dies an unpeaceful death. is it like an opportunistic virus, changning genetic codes as the circumstances demand,or is it more like cancer proliferating

endlessly into the eternal night, where in bushels we hide our light?

the lamb of God has rent the veil of Mystery...

schoolmasters of souls great oppressor of change arise
that the eternal worlds may see thy face
in peace & joy...fearing thy frown
and loving thy smile O Urizen (yr reason)
Prince of light.....

shed yr dragon form or be cast into
the Indefinite forever...

The community on OS is One, as we are all One. It is a microcosm, and it sits amidst societies of
microcosms, evermultiplying, changing form...

the chance is here for a fucking love in, i think...Jim
Finally have some quiet time to respond to these wonderful comments

Thanks OSW, always good to see you here on my blog.

Mr. M: We all struggle with doing the right thing. Me too.

AskKW: one certainly doesn't have to be religious to agree on the basics of civil personal interaction. Glad that we do agree on that.

Hi, Ted. Maybe the additional use of humor would be a help. We all need to lighten up on some of the things we seem to boil over. We don't have to agree on politics or even on every social issue to still be friends. We have, indeed, found common ground, and I am very glad for that.

Thanks, Bruce. I knew that this post would resonate with you because you have expressed, as have I, very similar thoughts for a long time now. The Golden Rule never is outdated.

bstrangely, I love your phrase, "the invisible forces that bend us without a touch." It really has great meaning to me.

Thanks, HL. A good "Amen" well meant speaks volumes.

Bill S: love right back at you! You are among those whose positive footprint on OS I always have appreciated.

Karin: I have missed seeing you so often on OS lately. Your honest comment about how hurtful insensitivity can be is a wake up call to all of us. I am glad this post gave you an opportunity to open up with your usual insightful observations. You, lady, are golden in my eyes.

Marcela: nobody can ever ask anyone to do more than try to do their best. Thank you for that.

Thank you, fireeyes. I thought that you would like this post because so many of yours revolve around being loved and being treated without love by others. Thanks for your comments.

JK: you are always welcome. I know and appreciate that you will read my posts. I did not read Cindy's experience with Reddit but will go to it sometime this evening. We DO have a great bunch of people on OS. If we did not neither of us would stay.

Hey, Ben. Good to see you. I think we have found common ground here as well.

COS: you bring up something important: that uncivil and sometimes purely hateful things can be said in PMs. I have been the recipient of some. Walk in another's moccasins makes a great deal of sense.

AtHomePilgrim: thanks for reading and taking the time to write your very thoughtful comments. Words of wisdom can come from newbies, and there are some old timers here who could gain by listening to them. I too am worried about the possible impact, adverse, on OS of the new ad policy. I hope that we can keep some very good people who have indicated great displeasure with it. I will wait and hope that we will hold together.

Hi, Miko. another Amen! Love to get them!

junk1: I am glad that we met here as well. This post goes a long way toward understanding where I come from and what I think is important about interpersonal relationships.

Thanks for your comments, Lisa SW. I hope that you understand that I agree that there are far more really good hearted people here than those who are trying to cause a fuss just because they can. But my point is not only directed at those we all know who are out to cause trouble, but also at those of us who believe that we are really good people trying to do our best. My plea is that we will take a hard look at ourselves and be more conscious of actually being who we think we are.

Wow, Steve. I'm getting a lot of those Amen agreements. Thanks for yours.

Thanks, VG. I feel the same about you.

I am going to take a bit of a break from these replies and will come back a bit later and catch up on the rest.

I am most appreciative of all of your comments.

Monte- I really have never understood the use of this passage at weddings. I always thought it cheapened the message of the text and was actually a bit irresponsible of pastors to use it as such. At least unless they used it as a method for pointing out that it takes more than eros, or phileo to maintain a bond for a life time. But I think it should always carry the disclaimer that it was not originally intended as marital advice but as advice on maintaining community. If I remember correctly this first "Blog" to the Corinthians was because they were having trouble getting along. JAckyl51 thought maybe he should have some more say because he was good at prophecy while ShakindaBlue, who happened to be good at it thought the interpreting of tongues was more a sign of God's approval. The admonition to love was directed at the strife and infighting of a generally well intentioned community that was newly formed and struggling to develop sustainable practices and identity. Unless I am confusing Corinth with Ephesus and everything I just said is for shit, this might just be the most appropriate use of this passage since it hit the ears of its original addressees.
No offense to Kinda Blue but the play on words was too tempting to pass up.
Yes Monte....Reverend....my friend. Civility....containing kindness, with intelligence....We all are in a postion to practice these things.

It is funny, in the art community, there can be misinterpretation and over analysis of almost anything.....and at times, I was afraid I might have said something offensive to someone on OS. But I am continually heartened that my colleagues continually see things in a positive light, and that makes me do the same. I am a better person for my friends here, and especially for those like you.
I'm back and will see if I can catch up a bit more.

AKA, thanks for the comment. We all, myself included, need reminding. It is easy to lose focus on the important positive ways that we can interact that make all the difference.

Thank you, Lea. Always nice when you read my posts, especially this one.

Hi, Jim, we really can never perfect our ability to show love, because we are mere fallible humans. But it is our duty to our own humanity to try to remember what it feels like both when we are loved and when we are not. And then we must try to love others so that they do not have to endure that feeling of being unloved, and perhaps even think that they are unlovable. It starts with simple respect, courtesy, and civility.

Thanks, Greg. Always know that you will be there for me. And ditto.

Hello, Mothership. Glad that you got something out of the post and thanks for the Shakespeare.

Faith, "And enjoy your soup." Actually, it turned out to be very good. Went well with some fresh Jewish Rye bread. Nice combo. Thanks for reading this post.

bobbot, as long as we agree enough to read each other with respect and can share a sense of peace and brotherhood that is more than enough.

Procopius, it is always good to see you here on my blog. I find the entire ad thing a real distraction and basically don't like it, but think I will have to go along with it to be able to at least have a modicum of control over the content of the side and bottom ads.

Kathy, I am not going to try to paraphrase this wonderful comment of yours. I simply urge others to take the time to read what you wrote. And, once again, it is interesting how close our ideas are to one another in the areas that really count in the end.

Kathy K: Thanks for stopping by and for commenting. I mostly do values based posts so I hope that you will spend more time here on this blog. I am glad that your spiritual life is rich, and meditation is so often more talked about than actually done. But there is no better way to feel close to God and to know the peace of that.

Thank you Lisa K, You know how I feel about you and I will always admire the shape of the life you are making for you and your family. You may not really think about it much but you are a role model to me and others about how life can be lived well in the midst of troubles and joys.

Buffy, thank you so much. I remember when you first came on here and we got to know one another. I am very glad that happened and that we can share things here on OS now as good friends. BTW, My mother told me exactly the same thing!

Michael, I have no question about your character and know that you work at being a good member of this community and that you care greatly for your neighbors here and in that other world out there. Thanks for your comments.

Hello again, Jim. You write something that is very important for all of us to remember, along the lines that "No man is an island," "The community on OS is One, as we are all One. It is a microcosm, and it sits amidst societies of microcosms, ever multiplying, changing form." There is no question about the truth of that. The issue is will we work together that as OS changes we retain the best of the love for one another that we have known, all the while growing and reaching out to others.

Tijo: you are NOT confusing Corinthians with Ephesians. Your thought is right on target. Paul's goal way to call the people of the church in Corinth to Koinonia, community, fellowship, brotherhood. And that call can only yield fruit if the people called into community are able to express agape love toward one another.

Gary, it is a pleasure and an honor to call you my good friend. I have never seen an unkind word that you have ever written on OS. I have not, of course, seen every word that you have written, but it seems to me that you are one of those who model by their personal living the sense of the need for as you say "civility....containing kindness, with intelligence" that is the essence of caring for the thoughts and feelings of others. I too am a better person because of my association with my friends here. And you are a friend that I hope to have for a long, long time.

Thanks, everybody.

Waaay down at the bottom here I just have to, absolutely have to comment, partly because I've been away for over a week and have missed a lot, and then I get back to the computer, Teilhard's "brain" cloathing the earth, and I find this, which may be not only your most brilliant post but probably also your most important one. It is a clarion call to simple sensibility even among those of us who will not accept, let alone claim, any sort of faith, even as character trait. Without love we are nothing and I would go further and borrow from an old song (as I so often do) and add without love we have nothing, which may be even worse than not being, since we cannot not be. To be and be empty, to have nothing, simply because we failed to grasp the agape concept, that universal love that includes all being, that has to be hell. And this is no hell here. The center holds and no good thing ever dies. Thank you Monte, for making my re-entry so inarticulate and wonder-filled. This is a keeper, as are you, my friend. Thank you.
Monte, it's ashame that the far Right Republicans have butchered and made a mockery out of the concept called, Christianity. The term "Christian" because of the far Right, has much negativity associated with it. After reading some of your posts and getting to know you through these posts, I can tell that you are a real Christian...that is a follower of Christ in every way. You are refreshing. Thank you for the love and joy you add to OpenSalon!
Monte, here I am crying again. What you say is so profound, so simple, so true. I especially love this from Paul: 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends.

Sometimes it seems very hard to incorporate agape into our everyday lives. The temptation is strong to give into arrogance, bickering, envy, etc. but as you say, if we don't live with intention to change, then we do not change.
Beautiful post, Monte. I've heard Paul's lines about love a million times, so many times that they've become rote in my head & have lost all of their meaning, kind of like a hippie poster on the wall -- yeah, yeah. Thanks for making them real again -- and for applying them to OS. For so many of us this is a safe place to express ourselves, & while a dialogue is a good thing, angry accusatory put-d0wns are not. It's always cool to hear a voice of reason amidst an angry crowd.
Mouth agape, staring at the sky. Rated.
.... I'm a late comer as ever (different time zones etc). Thank you for this wonderful post and the reminder of this universal truth ....
Thanks Monte. "Love that puts the well being of the other first" is not an easy love, but it is the most fulfilling.
Lately the love is coming to me. I can't quite believe it. I am so incapable of accepting it. I can throw it out there, with full heartedness, but it is sometimes as if

into a void. I avoid. Avoidance is the sin here. Omission. I cannot reach out as you can. i was never taught. i may never learn to speak the way you do...

ach, so what? i shall perservere. i shall devote myself to this improbable vehicle of apocalypse. seee what it brings. bring it on....
OS willbe a testament...to the reality of the lovingkindess you exemplify...it shall be swallowed up someday,and disappear, like the Sun shall, and the earth, and all of us, and our species, and perhaps our universe too

but hey: make hay while the sun shines, eh?
love & respect, James E
Beautiful post. What can I add (especially arriving so late here and after all the other great comments?)? Just that i agree and admire your work and words as always.
Wonderful, Monte. Sometimes, some of the 'arguing' can lead to a greater depth of friendship...to get through it, forgive, know each other better. But, some of it is just ugly. Thank you...xox
Hello, again, everybody. I got a good sleep after seeing a wonderful movie (Netflix watch now on computer) last night that meant I got to bed well after 4 am) but it was really was worth watching. Don't know how I missed it the first time around but I did. It is called "The Other Sister" and Juliette Lewis is magnificent in it as are all the other actors. If you haven't seen it I suggest it to you. Bring your feelings to it and some tissues. You will need them.

No one is late to these posts. My posts often are long and the reading of them requires a chunk of time to think about them that we don't always have immediately, so the reads on my posts usually go on for a long time after they are originally published. And I will ALWAYS come back and reply to comments, as long, that is, that OS sends notices to me in my email. I try hard not to miss a single comment.

Hello, AJ, I knew you would get here when you could. Hope the new house and gardens are going well now. I think of how happy you must be to have finally found what you wanted. I love the corollary idea that without love we HAVE nothing. It is profoundly true, in spite of this world's insistence that "things" can substitute. More. Bigger and better. But they never can. Your kind words about this post are much appreciated. Whether or not it is my best work, it certainly is something that I strongly believe needed to be said now at this time of growth, change and uncertainty in the life of OS. I just pray that we will all heed the message. But I do believe that the center holds here, and perhaps no more than a few hundred of us will hold it, but that will be enough.

patricia k, yes, the ultra conservative right, the fundamentalists and some overly zealous evangelicals have unfortunately branded a particular type of Christianity as the only Christianity that there is. That is far, far, from the truth. To be a Christian is both easier and harder than the vision they hold for the faith. Theirs is a vision that bears almost no resemblance to what I believe Christ calls us to be. Little by little at least more people here on OS are coming to see that there is a kind of Christianity that honors and respects all people, that tries to love all people and that works constantly to break down barriers, not build them.

emma, your words bring tears to my eyes, good tears. And you know why. Living day to day with agape as the key intention is one of the hardest things we will ever do. But it is ultimately the most rewarding and the thing that we, all of humanity, are most in need of doing. The truth that I have found is that we can do it. We can change. We can reach out more in love. And we can be more open to receiving it, which is also important. So often, as AJ implies, we close ourselves up and do not allow others to love us.

Thanks, suzie. Sometimes the most favorite passages of the Bible can be the least understood because we become so familiar with them that we no longer hear what they are really saying to us. We become mechanical in our response to them. The Lord's Prayer can be that way if we do not actually ponder what we are saying about it when we say it, and what it is speaking to us. OS needs to hear 13 Corinthians with ears open to the truth of its timeless possibilities.

aim: that is a beautiful comment.

Fiona: as I said above, you are never truly late. I am just delighted that you made it to the post, time zones not withstanding, and that you found things in it that resonate with you.

Susanne: Good to see words on paper from you again. '"Love that puts the well being of the other first" is not an easy love, but it is the most fulfilling.' You are absolutely right. I pray that all is well with you and imagine that those beautiful gardens of yours are looking fabulous by this time of year!

Jim: AJ has pointed out the consequences of not being able to receive love. It is a lonely place to dwell. My prayer is that you open your heart more and more to receive the love that is offered to you, even as you reach out to offer it to others. Too often we think that we are not worthy of receiving love, but that is never the case. We can, if we work at it, make OS a testament to the flow of love, freely, among friends who care for both this place and the people in it.

dcv: just knowing that you came here and got something out of it is more than good enough for me.

Robin: you make an important point. Just because we may argue or get off on the wrong foot with someone does not at all necessarily mean that there is no possibility of reconciliation, and even friendship. There are a number of people here on OS that I thought would never be friends with me. We simply got off to horrible starts right from the beginning. But I and they kept working at mending the relationship and we are now friends. In two cases we have become confidants with each other. But, yes, sorry to say that there are some who are just ugly for the sake of being ugly and I have yet to be able to penetrate that anger and hatred. I do try but at times it rises to impossibility with me.

Thanks everyone. I will check back in a few hours.

Peace to you Monte
And to you JRD. Glad you came by and read this post.

Some folks on here are almost like life long friends, who I have never met and maybe never will. I know it might sound screwy but it is true.

Like it or not, Monte.. you are one of the friends forever.
Thanks, Ric. I feel the same way about the friends I have found here on OS. Exactly. And it would take more than a war or two to break up our friendship. It is rock solid.

Zumalicious, thank you for reading and commenting. You are most welcome. I look forward to a growing friendship with you.

What a couple of days it's been! There are ads on our blogs without prior notice, some of my favourite writers leaving forever - and here is this perfectly-modulated, perfectly-timed admonition to us all to love each other, to foster community. Thank you, Monte, for once more cutting through the chaos, for a remarkable, serendipitous post.
Thanks, psychomama, I do hope that the big blow up over the ads did not distract from the number of people this has reached. Looking at the numbers so far it seems to have had some impact and I may repost it next week to catch the people who might have been all caught up in worries about the ads. Kind remarks from you are much appreciated.

Incandescent: Always good to hear from you as well. I am glad that the piece spoke to you.


You said it all. I completely agree with you. This should be on the cover!

Rated and I am going to send a PM to Kerry right now.
I try to practice much of what you write about without knowing if it be Christian or not. Love can't be saved or spent, only given freely.
So nice to find such a refreshing post such as this.
Thanl you.:)
I agree Monte - I was completely taken by the kindness and support - and love - shown here on OS, and will stay and try to add what I can to the goodness here. Thanks for lighting the way.
Thank you, Zumi. I appreciate that you like this post. My posts do not make EPs or Covers any more. I think it is partly because I am tagged by TPTB that I am a 'religious' writer, which is a stereotype, but after I wrote my first religious reflection last fall I have had no more admin recognition. Before that I got Covers and EPs. I could be wrong but that is a strong coincidence to me.

Hi, Jim, yes, I think that we can practice agape love and it matters not what religion we are, of if we have no religion. Love is meant to be given away. Its supply is endless.

Peter: always nice to see you on my blog. And I really appreciated your PM last night. I would have completely forgotten about it.

Annette, yes, I too will stay and do what I can to make this a better community. For all our faults I do know that the vast majority of those on OS I truly care about are trying their best to show love to one another. The center here, which I will always believe is composed of members, not the owners, will hold. We just have to work at it.
Wonderful! Thanks so much for this.
Thank you, Nada, glad you got some good out of it.

"It's worth reading, it could make your day, your year, or your life. No born again holy roller bullshit, this is a straight to the heart message that resonates across cultures and religions from a man who is a true scholar of human spirituality, unafraid to admit his own shortcomings and bravely offers hope to all of us who hope to do better, be a finer person, truly love our neighbor and practice the Golden Rule."

That's what I wrote when I submitted it to Digg and well, I put it in world news because I thought it belonged there.
yes, Monte, love is all that and love is patient means to me letting people be angry when they are so, and letting them get back to you, love is being united with that God part of our selves.
Our religion says it is within us. This post was long yet most of what you say is commonsense. and timely as Owl says.
Thank you so much, blonde, for recommending this post to Digg. Your comment is very flattering - I am a bit embarrassed - and I only hope that anyone who reads this post will find it even partly as worthwhile as you did. It is so very kind of you to say what you did.

Rolling, thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, the post is long as are most of my posts. I believe you agree with the conclusions which is really what matters. That much of what I wrote is common sense, I would agree. Unfortunately, common sense is far to uncommon these days. Let us both hope that we can exhibit some of it in our relationships with one another. I believe that we can and will.

God bless,

Kay, I am so glad you came read, commented, and that the post spoke to you in a way that will be meaningful to you as a member of OS and in your relationships with others beyond here.

I too fail many tests and I too know it almost instantly when I do. Then comes the guilt. None is perfect and we all will make mistakes and will strive to try to not make the same mistake again. Along with what I have written in this post I need very much remember that the instruction is to "love our neighbor as we love ourselves." The last half of that is hard to do. So many times we do not love ourselves and find ourselves unloving and, even perhaps think ourselves as unlovable. None of that is true. We are all capable of love and compassion, and we are all capable of being able to receive love if we just allow that to happen to us. We both know that. Thanks again for your insightful comments.

One of the benefits of coming late to a post is the opportunity to read such the wonderful and wise commentary. Monte - this is a marvelous post, and timely considering the amount of negativity flying around here currently. Thanks for your thoughtful words and loving presence here. Peace to you!
Thank you very much, Dusty. I sometimes find that the comments and replies are the most interesting thing about this or any post. Peace be with you too, dear friend.

Well I feel better even as I rethink. Thanks Monte for your guidance.
Thank you, dorelvis, much appreciated. Glad to see you here on my blog.

I feel a bit guilty not coming up with a long comment all of my own, but I have to say, Michael Rodgers (again) says what I'm thinking after reading this, and so well I can't improve on it. Thanks for writing this, Monte, I always appreciate reminders about what I can do to improve myself and the world I find myself in...and my extension, the lives of those around me, sharing the same world.
Thank you for a very timely and appropriate post.

Rated in love
Thanks for reading and commenting Sandra. No need for long comments, and Mike often breaks through to the heart of the matter. I am glad that you got something out of the post.

Jon: always good to have you drop by to read my posts. Peace and love.

Eric: Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Aren't epiphanies great things?! Me, I sometimes struggle and struggle with things and then, when I am about to give up, the light goes on! What a glorious feeling! Your epiphany will serve you well all the rest of your life. Thanks for sharing that moment here.

Ah Yes the love chapter, so poetic so true. God is love and love endures forever!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks, Anne for reading. I think you have shown a lot of agape in your life already.