Monday, June 16, 2014

Bonhoeffer and Blake

I've been reading Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a reflection on community. Bonhoeffer's human love and spiritual love align with William Blake's selfish love and sacrificial love in "The Clod and the Pebble." 

Compare Bonhoeffer's human love and Blake's pebblish love:

Human love seeks direct contact with the other person; it loves him not as a free person but as one whom it binds to itself. It wants to gain, to capture by every means; it uses force. It desires to be irresistible, to rule.


Love seeketh only Self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another's loss of ease,
And builds a hell in heaven's despite.

Bonhoeffer's words on spiritual love are not so obviously aligned with Blake's cloddish love but the parallel is still there:

Because spiritual love does not desire but rather serves, it loves an enemy as a brother. It originates neither in the brother or in the enemy but the Word. Human love can never understand spiritual love, for spiritual love is from above, it is something completely strange, new, and incomprehensible to all earthly love.


Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a heaven in hell's despair.

Love calls us outward, beyond ourselves. Any other direction turns love into a well of gravity which will consume everything around before consuming itself. Blake and Bonhoeffer, two very different men bat at this concept, reaching the same insight, one that I'll call (the very unpopular word) truth

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