This is the first of (probably) 6 magazine articles on CEL’s new “messages” which will be the focus of Storm of Hope 2013. You are welcome to modify for your own parish rags.
Are you old enough to remember those “Love Is… “ comic strips created by New Zealand cartoonist Kim Casali in the late 1960s? Probably the most famous one was, “Love Is…being able to say you are sorry”. In this month of Saint Valentine let’s think about what love is.
Whether from television, advertising or journalism, we are constantly soaking up the messages the world wants us to hear. Our attitudes, expectations, ambitions and imaginations are formed by them, whether we are aware of it or not.
These messages – urging us to look after ‘number one’ through consumption, self-defence and profit – affect what we say, how we live, what we desire and what is possible through us. They can cloud our vision and our hope for a better world, tame our passion for change, and neutralise our creativity.
In families, communities and churches, we can dilute and disarm the philosophy of the world by challenging it and telling a counter-cultural story with different values, hopes and ways of doing things.
Christians believe that God is love and that we are called to love others as ourselves. Jesus himself brought a message: he offers a ‘new normal’ in the way we live, and by the Cross he showed what love is capable of.
According to the culture in which we are embedded, love is giving the latest iPhone or expensive air-freighted flowers, or flying someone off somewhere exotic, the strength of our love being directly proportional to the amount of money we spend. But if we take a look at the effect these gifts may have on our unique gift of the earth, do we really want to love one person in a way that hurts the earth, as well as this very person’s future? We don’t have to “buy” our society’s view of how best to express our love. How loving an action is it really to buy your daughter a car on her 17th birthday, or your family that far-flung holiday?
We can choose to give simpler, earth-caring presents that demonstrate a wider, longer-lasting love. I truly appreciate receiving gifts of things I would need to buy anyway – it is no extra burden on the earth, and while I (most probably) drink, eat or wash with it, I can fondly remember the person who gave it to me.
And of course, for our Valentines, there are customary ways of demonstrating affection that are completely carbon-free.