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Fill the World With Love

Fill the World With Love

Hello, everyone.

This Thursday, 2/14/13, is Valentine’s Day. I really don’t know the story behind Valentine’s day, and that is just fine because I don’t want to talk about the day. Instead, I wish to address the subject of the day, and that is love.

What is love? It is one of those abstract nouns that defy definition. Poets have attempted to write definitions of love, and preachers have attempted – unsuccessfully, in my opinion – to portray “Jesus Christ” as love personified. In his masterful classic Elmer Gantry, Sinclair Lewis portrays the title preacher as being filled to overflowing with love – carnal “love,” that is. Everywhere he goes, Gantry proclaims, “What is love? It is the morning and evening star,” and so on.

A definition of love is not the purpose of this diary. Instead, I want to focus on the portrayal of love in our lives.

This morning (2/10/13) the “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir had “Love” as the program theme, in honor of Valentine’s Day. Lloyd Newell gave a wonderful meditation based on the love that George and Martha Washington shared as man and wife. The meditation was based on Rosemarie Zagarri’s book, Martha Washington: A Life, which can be found at this URL:

http://www.marthawashington.us/exhibits/show/martha-washington—a-life/the-war-for-independence/front

The first song that the choir performed was “Fill the World With Love,” which was written by Leslie Bricusse for the 1969 remake of Good-bye, Mr. Chips, which was based on the novella by James Hilton. Here are the lyrics of the song:


In the morning of my life I shall look to the sunrise.
At a moment in my life when the world is new.
And the blessing I shall ask is that God will grant me,
To be brave and strong and true,
And to fill the world with love my whole life through.

(Chorus)
And to fill the world with love
And to fill the world with love
And to fill the world with love my whole life through

In the noontime of my life I shall look to the sunshine,
At a moment in my life when the sky is blue.
And the blessing I shall ask shall remain unchanging.
To be brave and strong and true,
And to fill the world with love my whole life through

(Chorus)

In the evening of my life I shall look to the sunset,
At a moment in my life when the night is due.
And the question I shall ask only I can answer.
Was I brave and strong and true?
Did I fill the world with love my whole life through?

(Chorus)

When the film came out, movie critics were virtually unanimous in their praise of the story and the stars, Peter O’Toole and Petula Clark, but were virtually unanimous in their damnation and condemnation of Mr. Bricusse’s songs for the movie. One critic said that the songs were extremely forgettable. Another said that the songs had no coherent link to the book (or script) but instead were folded in as a cook folds beaten eggwhites into a recipe. Yet at least this one has survived to hold a solid spot in the repertoire of the Mormon choir.

This noble idea of filling the world with love and love’s place in the world has been around for decades, if not centuries. One could even say millennia because the teachings of The Buddha were built on the idea of love. The concept that “love makes the world go round” has been the subject of too many songs to even attempt to count, although a song with that title, written by Bob Merrill, was the key song in the 1961 Broadway musical Carnival. A few years later, in 1965, Hal David and Burt Bacharach wrote a song titled “What the World Needs Now Is Love Sweet Love,” which enjoyed some popularity and which was also used in certain Mainline religious circles. In the 1940s, a lady named Alma Bazel Androzzo wrote a song, “If I Can Help Somebody,” which carries the idea of displaying love towards our fellow men by helping those in need. So the idea of filling the world with love is far from a new concept, seeing that its seeds lie in the teaching of The Buddha.

Not to be outdone, the Evangelical community talks long and often about their “Jesus” being the personification of love. But is he really? Here are some verses, taken from the New King James Version.

Matt 10:34-38

34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.  NKJV

Luke 12:49

“I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! NKJV

Luke 14:26

“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. NKJV

WOW! Some kind of love there – NOT!!

Incidentally, the word “hate” in the verse from Luke 14 actually IS “hate” and NOT “love less.” The original Greek is miseo, from which we get the words “misanthrope,” a hater of mankind, and “misogynuy,” the hatred of women. Anyway, Greek is an extremely precise language, so if the idea of “loving less” were intended, that would have been reflected in the original Greek text.

The Evangelical church and its Catholic brother would say, “NO!! It is a misreading or a mistranslation.” But one cannot – and should not – argue with the Greek language. In addition, there are people who actually apply this interpretation to their philosophy of life. A spokesman for a group known as The Catholic League is described as follows:

As a man, he is a poison. In the media, through press releases, even through tweets, he exists to hurl bile at all those that challenge the church, or seek to reform it, or dare to condemn it, and at some point he decided that the entire world was but a subsidiary of the church, and that the code of the church would govern all, or at least his own extraordinarily narrow view of it would, and damn the rest of the Catholics, the people who sit in the pews on Sundays, and damn the objectors, and damn everybody else besides.”

That attitude sounds too much like the attitude of Jesus Christ as expressed above for me to feel very comfortable about it.

If you want to check out the article where the quote came from, here is the URL:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/10/1185467/-Euthanizing-gay-dogs-for-Jesus

Another thing that turns the Evangelical crank is the idea that animals have souls and are capable of feeling human emotion. They claim that “the Bible doesn’t say anywhere that animals have souls, and therefore they don’t.” Well, the Bible doesn’t say anything about jet aircraft, the Apollo moon landings, or the atomic bomb, but those things have existed and still do exist. Anyway, who hasn’t had a cat rub against his legs or curl up in his lap? Who hasn’t had a dog lay down at his feet or had a dog express great joy at seeing his master? And who hasn’t experienced the love expressed in a dog’s sloppy kisses? And who has not seen the bonding between the males and females of some species – the equivalent to human marriage? Do not try to convince me that animals do not have souls or are incapable of experiencing emotion. Sure, the animal emotions may not be the same as ours, but I would be willing to bet that they are pretty darned close.

So you Evangelicals who want to follow the example of your Jesus and put the kibosh on human feelings in general and love in particular, you go right ahead and do it. But I hope that you don’t mind if the rest of us celebrate this Valentine’s Day by celebrating this crazy, wonderful thing called love. After all, it is love that makes this poor weary world go round, and also makes our drab, tired lives worth living.

As Popeye said in one of his cartoons, you can catch more flies with sweetness than you can with sour puss. You Evangelicals and your Jesus would do well to try to learn this fact.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody.

Bill

 

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February 11, 2013 - Posted by | Miscellaneous, Music, Religion | ,

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