Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What is the Opposite of Love?

I recently finished Annie Dillard's, The Writing Life. She smooths out the lines between practical life and metaphor, between things and their meanings. I've read a good portion of Tinker Creek and Firm, but I need to read her more.

When we open ourselves up to others, whether present in person or present in print, we risk confrontation. Dillard caught me carelessly unguarded when she finished her chapter with an unexpected flare of words.

The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.

I have a penetrating fear, deep down, that if I share some of my deeper passions and ideas, the things I have mistakenly tied up with my identity, things brewing in me for my next book project, that they will be taken or exploited. I have a fear that what is bubbling out of me will be stolen. It isn't irrational, because I've seen it before--in my life, in others'.

The love that Jesus poured out flowed all the way to the cross. His love allowed exploitation. He reached for people to give them sight, knowledge, the Way to the Father.

My fear keeps that love from flowing.

A friend at church raise a question the other day, "What is the opposite of love?" he asked. I don't think 'hate.' Hate is too passionate to be the opposite; the question required a less obvious answer.

"What do you think?" I responded.

"Fear," he said.

Then another friend, a retired public school teacher, said something to me as I left the church house. "If you want to get someone done, don't expect to take credit for it."

Do you think God whispers through community? You betcha. Drop your guard and he'll stare your fear in the face.


adam said...

I know exactly what you mean...I taste the ash more now than ever...

Lainie Petersen said...

Wow, Dale...thanks for sharing this because I had recently been thinking about the very same thing (i.e. if I share my ideas, people will "steal" them and I won't get the credit).

God has been working with me on my fear, showing me how it is has hurt and damaged not only myself, but others around me.

Thank you.

Dale Fincher said...

Adam, what's to be done?

Dale Fincher said...


After getting to know you through your blog, your comment means more. Thanks for this. It's nice to know I'm not alone!

Keep writing. Your words are love to your readers.

Philip said...

I love Annie Dillard. I've learned a lot from her writing. I always come away from her books in thought and reflection. I need to pick up the book you talked about though; I haven't read it.

I think one of the greatest and most subtle virtues is vulnerability. This virtue is swallowed up and in the heart of many other virtues that we acknowledge like kindness and love. To me, love and kindness cannot work without vulnerability. Jesus was very vulnerable too, and that is the strength of his call.

Dale Fincher said...

Philip... yeah, isn't she great. I can't wait to meet her some day.

Good point about vulnerability.

Anonymous said...

How does fear vs. love work with God? Should we fear God? Is it fear that motivates you or love?