“God is love,” I heard more than once on a fairly intelligent discussion of religion in people’s lives on NPR.
The claim, echoed by several guests on the show, was made by one speaker, in particular, to distinguish the God of the New Testament from the God of the Old Testament who, when you get right down to it, even most contemporary Christians (under their breath) apologize for as a kind of Divine Drunk Uncle.
So they gladly accept the Jesus of the New Testament as an antidote to the Drunk Uncle who used to firebomb cities, and then pop open a cold one while his followers raped and enslaved women captives and killed all the men and young males after major battles. (I won’t even go into the flooding of the known world thing. That’s a psychopathy I’ll let Christian theologians dance on the head of a pin over.)
But let’s get back to the “God is love” thing. Why is it that one of the greatest attributes and gifts of humans for humans—love—is so often attributed to a Divine Being? And why is it that we appropriate (talk about cultural appropriation!) some of the greatest attributes that humans developed and have practiced since time immemorial—love, charity, trust, kindness, sacrifice, etc.—to a Divine Drunk Uncle that the three monotheistic religions have been fighting over now for hundreds, if not thousands, of years?
This is metaphysical appropriation of the worst kind. C’mon, people! We can do better than this! As Robert Frost (who knew a thing or two about love and loss) once wrote: “Earth is the right place for love. / I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.”