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What. The heck.

Reader comment on item: Insight into Obama's Middle East Policy?
in response to reader comment: If you love your enemies, can you sincerely love your friends?

Submitted by Bob the Chef (United States), Jan 14, 2011 at 19:38

This is perhaps the most ignorant exposition on Christ I have encountered in a long time, although something I have come to expect from armchair intellectuals.

First of all, love is not "earned". This suggests a profound misunderstanding of what love is. Towards this end, I recommend reading up on an early papal encyclical by Benedict XVI, Aquianas as well as the the Greeks, with particular attention given to Aristotle. Key words include eros and agape (philia is ultiamtely reducible to the former two). I will only add that love is not a feeling or a reward, but a motion whose aim is the good.

Second, I recommend a thorough study of the tradition and hermeneutics. Interpreting things willy-nilly doesn't constitute scholarship. Scholarship allows for speculation, but only an educated, informed and competent kind of speculation. As they say, a little bit of knowledge is a bad think. You need to understand what you're reading and have the humility to recognize how much you actually know, versus how much you've pulled out of your arse.

Third, I have no idea where Ianus's interpretation of "Love your enemies" comes from. Jesus certainly did not restrict love in the way being asserted. It's enough to cite his relationship with the Samaritans. Samaritans are not Jews in the proper sense, although they do worship Jehovah. If you want to somehow stretch the interpretation and claim that Jesus was meaning to reconcile the Samaritans with the Jews exclusively, then you're off your rocker. The Samaritans are hardly enemies of the Jews, as they are seen as the lepers, something lesser, and Jesus does direct love towards the Romans as well, those who in the Jewish mind could be construed as enemies as they were the dominating power.

Now if you want to cite Nietzsche, you'd also got to do it with a measure of competence. Nietzsche actually affirms loving your enemy. Whether he interprets Christianity properly or not, he actually praises this one principle. He denounces neighbor-love, in the way he perceived it to manifest itself (self-hatred and a feeling from oneself towards another; vanity, in short). This is arguably NOT the Christian approach at all, as loving one neighbor AS oneself presupposes a love of oneself. But in terms of loving you enemy, Nietzsche affirms it unequivocally and unambiguously. Love is a force of power. What is an enemy but a relationship, a relationship pointing towards a weakness, a weakness to be overcome? How many treat a child as an enemy? Whether Jesus would have put it in those terms or not, is debatable. Nietzsche's concept of human nature, grown out of the will to power, and his interpretation of human nature, require refinement, and his texts contain contradictions through which one has to sift to find the main motivating though or conception driving his sometimes mercurial works.

What is being described as "love of friends" above is nothing more than an inculcated vanity and a certain kind of servitude being passed off as virtue. Our modern society does it all the time. Vices and weaknesses are touted as virtues, saturating the culture with self-destructive notions, a certain tribalism generated by fear of otherness. Love is that antidote to fear (and here we don't speak of a naive love; don't throw pearls before swine? Matthew 7:6). Love of your enemy is ennobling as it represents a divine growth, a disposition and attitude which brushes from the mind irrationalities what sabotage reason. Furthermore, the word "friend" is being tossed around loosely, perhaps sloppily, at best metaphorically, leading to equivocation. Allies are not friends, as various political speeches like to claim. Friendship implies love, most certainly! And who has trouble loving friends? However, the love between enemies is of a different nature than that between enemies, and I don't see how one can diminish the other. The fault probably lies in some sniveling, resentful, entitled, vain and selfish "love" asserted above. Tit for tat. "I scratched your back, not you are OBLIGATED to scratch mind." Sounds less like friendship, much less love, and more like subjugation or some kind of political entente. Friendship isn't charity, but it's not this tit-for-tat nonsense that seems to be implied.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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