Two Perspectives On Love

Author Ayn Rand

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This first perspective is from Ayn Rand.

Ayn Rand is what you would call an Objectivist. That is, that reason and logic is the only true way through which we can acquire knowledge–implicitly rejecting religion and faith. She arrives at this through the subjectivity of human experience, that reality exists outside of human consciousness and our perceptions of the world can be defined only through inductive and deductive reasoning. Of course, that statement cannot be proved through reason or logic, but that is beyond the scope of this blog. Moreover, a myriad of other things cannot be proved through empirical evidence–love is the first that comes to mind.

Objectivism means that the human pursuit in life (a human assignment, mind you) is aggrandizement of the self. Therefore, her perspective on love are somewhat different from what we are used to, to the point where it is almost Stoic. She says:

“Love should be treated like a business deal, but every business deal has its own terms and its own currency. And in love, the currency is virtue. You love people not for what you do for them or what they do for you. You love them for the values, the virtues, which they have achieved in their own character.” -Ayn Rand.

The second perspective is from Don Miller.  

I know I’ve been speaking about Don Miller a lot recently, and I know that I am quick to say state my disagreements with him as well. Yet, to his own protests, I would define him as an Emergent. Hence, I do dislike some aspects of his work, but most aspects of his work is quite wonderful. He provides a wonderful foil to what Rand has said above, defining love purely by what it can do for you. After all, what is the point of loving someone if they don’t love you back?

In her book, “An Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology”, Rand argues that love is measurable–it is only Romanticism that muddies the waters. A man may not marry a person because it would affect their class or other people’s perception of him–“still another man may risk his life to save the woman he loves, because all his other values would lose meaning without her.” (33-34) She uses this to define varying amount of self-sacrifice to create a hierachy of love. Yet, what is love if it is not all love?

Don Miller provides the antithesis to Rand, and proposes a selfless love–one that would love if there was going to be no return, nothing good inside the person you love. Loving purely because it is our inherent nature as humans to love.

“Mr Spencer asked us about an area in which he felt metaphors cause trouble. He asked us to consider relationships. What metaphors do we use when we think of relationships? We value people, I shouted out. Yes, he said, and wrote it on his little white board. We invest in people, another person added. And soon enough we had listen an entire white board of economic metaphors. Relationships could be bankrupt, we said. People are priceless, we said. All economic metaphor. I was taken aback.

The problem of Christian culture is we think of love as a commodity. We use it like money…if somebody is doing something for us, offering us something, be it gifts, time, popularity, or what have you, we feel they have value, we feel they are worth something to us, and, perhaps, we feel they are priceless.” – Miller, Don. Blue Like Jazz. pg 218.

What is Love? Is your Love really love, if it isn’t love to the end?

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Remembering the Anointed One

Since it’s getting to Christmas almost, I thought I should start writing some Christmas themed posts.

“But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.” Mark 14:6 (English Standard Version)

Christmas is the remembrance of the birth of Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem. The name, Christmas, being derived from the Christ, a name of Jesus meaning “the anointed one”.

In the Old Testament, anointing was important for many leaders of Israel. David was found by Samuel and immediately anointed, Solomon was anointed by the priest Zadok in his inauguration before whole nation of Israel. “The specific practice of anointing by pouring oil on the head was used as asymbolic act for officially, designating and setting apart a person for a certain, public,leadership function in the community.” (source) All throughout the Old Testament, there were only three groups of people that were anointed: priests, prophets and kings. The Old Testament dictates that anointing someone involves pouring oil over the head of the one concerned, perhaps not unintentionally similar to the act of cleansing. The aim of anointing giving to the one anointed power, strength, or majesty.

In Christmas, we are remembering someone who was anointed by God, his holy oil poured on his head. But mankind only put a crown of thorns on his head, and killed him on a cross. Only once was Jesus anointed on earth, by a poor woman in the Gospel of Mark. Jesus was eating at the house of a leper, his name was Simon. The unnamed woman opened an alabaster flask pouring it over her head. She was no Levite, her anointing meant nothing, at his feet and she wiped them with her tears.

She was one who had sinned all her life, but she came with a great gift, and put it on his feet. To put the bottle of alabaster in context, a denarii was the pay for a day’s wages to a Roman soldier and the bottle was worth 300 denariis. The disciples naturally were vicious towards her, asking why she didn’t sell the bottle and give the money to the poor. But Jesus defends her, that he would not be with them always, but the poor shall be.

“She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. “And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Mark 14:8-9 (English Standard Version)

This event occurs close to the end of his life, he knew that the end was coming where Judas betray him and hand him over to the authorities. Everything he said was a reference to his coming death, he states that she will be told in memory of him. His humility and shame in dying on the cross, is mirrored clearly her through the undying devotion, and total sacrifice of her heart to Jesus.

And through this birth of Jesus Christ, no longer was anointing for only those who were of the tribe of Levi, or kings of Israel even only those prophets which preached God’s Word. But now, even to the poorest of women and the tax collectors, they could be anointed and even that be received as children of God. Jesus was born so we could be anointed, and be cleansed and restored to our original state. “And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us” (2 Corinthians 1v.21)

*note some other gospels give a different account especially john which gives the woman the name, Mary, who is presumably sister of Lazarus. there is a bit of debate among scholars whether the accounts are related and if the two stories refer to the same event.