Love Wins?

 

Love Wins

My body conceals a hidden vascular time bomb. The surgeons tried to defuse it in 1981 but weren’t successful. Unbeknownst to everyone, the bomb kept ticking. They finally discovered in 2011 that it was still ticking. In 2013 they tried to defuse it again. That time all they succeeded in doing was speeding up the ticking clock and in 2016 the bomb actually started to go off. Through desperate measures the surgical bomb squad turned back the clock and, though the fuse had already lit up and started burning, the surgeons managed at the very last second to prevent the bomb from going off. I live every day with the discomfort that accompanies the uncertainty of hosting a hidden time bomb.  It is not psychologically satisfying to know about such things. But in my situation, ignorance might actually be fatal. The psychological discomfort of knowing is the thing that fuels the kind of medical vigilance that may be the only thing that will keep me alive.

Here is a life lesson I’ve learned: psychological comfort can be fatal if it deafens you to the ticking time bombs in your life.

My wife forwarded me an e-mail a few days ago that she received from Kohl’s, the popular retailer. Kohl’s, like a lot of companies, is celebrating Pride Month. The image at the top of this post was included in Kohl’s promotional e-mail. “Love Wins” is a popular message right now. It has layers of intended meaning.

The e-mail from Kohl’s contains pictures of happy gay and lesbian couples, some with children. The inclusion of the “Love Wins” message suggests a couple of things. First, I think Kohl’s intends to say that homosexual love can overcome any obstacles or objections to such relationships. Second, I think Kohl’s intends to suggest that anything short of affirming homosexual relationships represents a lack of love on the part of everyone else.

In the Kohl’s ad, the slogan “Love Wins” implies a particular understanding of what constitutes love. In essence, it implies that love always leads to psychological comfort.  Comfort is found either by loving a gay or lesbian partner or by offering comfort to gays and lesbians through affirmation. In either case, we are to understand love as the offering of psychological comfort. Conversely, within our culture, lack of affirmation is increasingly viewed as hate, precisely because psychological comfort is withheld.

Love has not always been understood in this way. There has been a kind of hollowing out of what constitutes love. Once upon a time, “love” represented a determination to act in another person’s best interest, not merely as an agent of their psychological satisfaction.

A person’s best interest and their psychological satisfaction can be two very different things. I know this from hard personal experience.

Carl Trueman has written an amazing book entitled The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self.  The subtitle of his book is suggestive of the implications of the modern self he describes: Expressive Individualism and the Road to Sexual Revolution. In his book, Trueman chronicles the intellectual history behind our modern determination to understand our inner lives and appetites as defining of our identity. He documents the flow of ideas that has lead to the widespread belief that questioning the merits of a person’s sexual proclivities is essentially the same thing has calling into question their personhood, or even their humanity.

Whether or not “love wins” depends entirely, I suspect, on how we understand love.  If all we mean by “love” is a value-free affirmation of one another’s appetites, then “love” winning is a simple matter of offering unquestioning applause to each other – everyone earns a trophy just by showing up.

But if love means acting in another person’s best interest, it requires more of us than easy-breezy affirmation. We must acquire an understanding of what constitutes the good, and encourage one another to pursue it. (The Christian apostle Paul’s words, “love rejoices in the truth”, seem prescient in this regard.) In such a situation, love may only win if we actually withhold affirmation, provoking the psychological discomfort that is often a precursor to change.

I get no psychological comfort from the knowledge that I have a ticking time bomb inside my own body. But my doctor would in no way be loving if he were to gloss over this pesky bit of knowledge, offering only affirmations regarding my well-being in its place.

I strongly suspect that love only wins if someone is willing to, without flinching, face up to the hard things

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  1. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge
    Marjorie Reynolds
    @MarjorieReynolds

    That Carl Trueman book is amazing. I’ve been recommending it to anyone that will listen to me.

    • #1
  2. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Keith Lowery: My body conceals a hidden vascular time bomb. The surgeons tried to defuse it in 1981 but weren’t successful. Unbeknownst to everyone, the bomb kept ticking. They finally discovered in 2011 that it was still ticking. In 2013 they tried to defuse it again. That time all they succeeded in doing was speeding up the ticking clock and in 2016 the bomb actually started to go off. Through desperate measures the surgical bomb squad turned back the clock and, though the fuse had already lit up and started burning, the surgeons managed at the very last second to prevent the bomb from going off. I live every day with the discomfort that accompanies the uncertainty of hosting a hidden time bomb.  It is not psychologically satisfying to know about such things. But in my situation, ignorance might actually be fatal. The psychological discomfort of knowing is the thing that fuels the kind of medical vigilance that may be the only thing which will keep me alive.

    Everyone is born with a ticking time bomb.  It’s called age.  Best to acknowledge it and learn to live with it.  I’m almost 70; death is a lot closer than it was when I was 20.  Death is just a part of life.

    • #2
  3. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    In 1992, after surgery to correct a congenital heart condition (a myocardial bridge) left me with irreparable heart damage, I was told that my life (statistical) life expectancy was 5 to 7 years. I was 54 at the time and, in the succeeding 29 years, I have learned to just keep going without worrying about all the “what-ifs.” My constant question has been, from the first episode, “What am I meant to learn from this?” My Christian faith helps to keep me focused upon those around me instead of my own problems.

    On another note, the fact that I have stopped watching the “evening news” has probably contributed immeasurably to my longevity. 

    • #3
  4. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    In 1992, after surgery to correct a congenital heart condition (a myocardial bridge) left me with irreparable heart damage, I was told that my life (statistical) life expectancy was 5 to 7 years. I was 54 at the time and, in the succeeding 29 years, I have learned to just keep going without worrying about all the “what-ifs.” My constant question has been, from the first episode, “What am I meant to learn from this?” My Christian faith helps to keep me focused upon those around me instead of my own problems.

    On another note, the fact that I have stopped watching the “evening news” has probably contributed immeasurably to my longevity.

    I carry a Medical Device Identification card that documents the model number and serial number of my (now almost four year-old) porcine valve. The need for such a thing, presumably just in case there is a recall on that product, causes me great stress every day of my life…

    No, not really. Having been through that radical invasion of my primary torque box (and it’s aftermath), I can relate to the “just keep going without worrying about all the ‘what-ifs’” mentality you bring. Seems a dreadful waste of time and energy to do otherwise.

    • #4
  5. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    Keith Lowery: In either case, we are to understand love as the offering of psychological comfort. Conversely, within our culture, lack of affirmation is increasingly viewed as hate, precisely because psychological comfort is withheld.

    It is the triumph of the ‘dark’ feminine. Which I mean excessive female perspective, as excessive male perspective can also be dark.

    I saw a commercial that further clarified this general phenomenon for me. It depicted a young woman, early-mid twenties of vague minority background, driving to a job interview. Her friends drive alongside  in two cars and cheer her on. They ascend the corkscrew ramp of a parking garage and later unfold a banner from the building several stories up that read “You got this!”

    Outside on the street in front of the office building, about to enter, she sees it, experiencing inspiration and confidence.

    Why did I recoil at this commercial? 

    Because it didn’t make sense to me. I would be embarrassed. I would be distracted and feel strange, invaded and harassed. I don’t want my friends doing this.  I would feel more pressure, not less.

    How does this help the young lady land the job? Is her confidence level so low she needs over-the-top affirmations from her friends? Are they going to do this every time she will face  a difficult day at this job? If it’s a ‘good’ job, then it will come with challenges, no? 
    But of course this is a fantasy. It would be nice to have such friends, but then again, no. That’s not what friends are for – unless you are a basket case. An emotional basket case. In which case, you wouldn’t have friends.

    Bottom line if this is the kind of thing that will ‘help’ you, you aren’t ready for the real world or any real job.

    But this is the fantasy that women – weak women – have. Strong women don’t want or need this. But weak, conflicted, insecure women are everywhere and they bully and run in packs. 

    Back to the OP. Pride is another form of bullying. And Kohl’s got bullied. They got infiltrated and then co-opted. And now they are bullying us.

    What follows Pride month? Envy month? Greed month?

     

     

    • #5
  6. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Franco (View Comment):

    Back to the OP. Pride is another form of bullying. And Kohl’s got bullied. They got infiltrated and then co-opted. And now they are bullying us.

    With emails. The monsters!!

    What follows Pride month? Envy month? Greed month?

    Humility month.  I would benefit from focusing on being humble.

    • #6
  7. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Franco (View Comment):

    Keith Lowery: In either case, we are to understand love as the offering of psychological comfort. Conversely, within our culture, lack of affirmation is increasingly viewed as hate, precisely because psychological comfort is withheld.

    It is the triumph of the ‘dark’ feminine. Which I mean excessive female perspective, as excessive male perspective can also be dark.

    I saw a commercial that further clarified this general phenomenon for me. It depicted a young woman, early-mid twenties of vague minority background, driving to a job interview. Her friends drive alongside in two cars and cheer her on. They ascend the corkscrew ramp of a parking garage and later unfold a banner from the building several stories up that read “You got this!”

    Outside on the street in front of the office building, about to enter, she sees it, experiencing inspiration and confidence.

    Why did I recoil at this commercial?

    Because it didn’t make sense to me. I would be embarrassed. I would be distracted and feel strange, invaded and harassed. I don’t want my friends doing this. I would feel more pressure, not less.

    How does this help the young lady land the job? Is her confidence level so low she needs over-the-top affirmations from her friends? Are they going to do this every time she will face a difficult day at this job? If it’s a ‘good’ job, then it will come with challenges, no?
    But of course this is a fantasy. It would be nice to have such friends, but then again, no. That’s not what friends are for – unless you are a basket case. An emotional basket case. In which case, you wouldn’t have friends.

    Bottom line if this is the kind of thing that will ‘help’ you, you aren’t ready for the real world or any real job.

    But this is the fantasy that women – weak women – have. Strong women don’t want or need this. But weak, conflicted, insecure women are everywhere and they bully and run in packs.

    Back to the OP. Pride is another form of bullying. And Kohl’s got bullied. They got infiltrated and then co-opted. And now they are bullying us.

    What follows Pride month? Envy month? Greed month?

    You have them out of order.  According to wikipedia (PBUW) the order is pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony and sloth.  I think technically wrath comes next.  Why does sloth always come  in last?

    • #7
  8. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Franco (View Comment):

    Back to the OP. Pride is another form of bullying. And Kohl’s got bullied. They got infiltrated and then co-opted. And now they are bullying us.

    With emails. The monsters!!

    What follows Pride month? Envy month? Greed month?

    Humility month. I would benefit from focusing on being humble.

    The email is the package. the bomb is inside.

    It’s the thought. You don’t know that we are talking about content, not packaging here?

    They are indoctrinating and propagandizing.

    That’s the point. To pretend otherwise is anti-rational.

    As to humility month, I think we need to swap things to be humble about! First we have to define the limits of the unknown to gauge full humility. What to be humble about. everything or certain things, or characteristics.

     Many of us are humble about convenient unexamined things.

    It’s a circle.

    Too humble? Closer to pride.

     

    • #8
  9. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Franco (View Comment):

    The email is the package. the bomb is inside.

    It’s the thought. You don’t know that we are talking about content, not packaging here?

    They are indoctrinating and propagandizing.

    That’s the point. To pretend otherwise is anti-rational.

    Honestly, they’re probably catering to what they believe are the majority of their customers’ views.  I doubt a company would join in celebrating anything unpopular – at the end of the day they need to move products, everything flows from that.  It’s basically a motherhood statement.

    As to humility month, I think we need to swap things to be humble about! First we have to define the limits of the unknown to gauge full humility. What to be humble about. everything or certain things, or characteristics.

     Many of us are humble about convenient unexamined things.

    It’s a circle.

    Too humble? Closer to pride.

    There’s a jar – every time we humble-brag we have to put five dollars in? 

    (Though competing humilities – examined and difficult vs unexamined and convenient – may also subvert the spirit of the exercise, and may deserve a jar of its own.)

    • #9
  10. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Flicker (View Comment):

    You have them out of order. According to wikipedia (PBUW) the order is pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony and sloth. I think technically wrath comes next. Why does sloth always come in last?

    • #10
  11. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Franco (View Comment):

    Back to the OP. Pride is another form of bullying. And Kohl’s got bullied. They got infiltrated and then co-opted. And now they are bullying us.

    With emails. The monsters!!

    What follows Pride month? Envy month? Greed month?

    Humility month. I would benefit from focusing on being humble.

    I would be better at humility month than you. I am so frickin humble. 

    • #11
  12. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    We need a counter campaign of a proper couple smiling and holding a baby, with the words “Love Makes Life.”  Then watch them howl!

    • #12
  13. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb
    @EustaceCScrubb

    Thanks, just ordered the Trueman book.

    • #13
  14. Eleanor Member
    Eleanor
    @Eleanor

    author: I get no psychological comfort from the knowledge that I have a ticking time bomb inside my own body. But my doctor would in no way be loving if he were to gloss over this pesky bit of knowledge, offering only affirmations regarding my well-being in its place.

    I strongly suspect that love only wins if someone is willing to, without flinching, face up to the hard things.

     

    Thank you for this comment. I am sorry for your time bombs. I think our family has gotten on better during these crazy times because of the love behind knowing about the time bombs.

    • #14
  15. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Eleanor (View Comment):

    author: I get no psychological comfort from the knowledge that I have a ticking time bomb inside my own body. But my doctor would in no way be loving if he were to gloss over this pesky bit of knowledge, offering only affirmations regarding my well-being in its place.

    I strongly suspect that love only wins if someone is willing to, without flinching, face up to the hard things.

     

    Thank you for this comment. I am sorry for your time bombs. I think our family has gotten on better during these crazy times because of the love behind knowing about the time bombs.

     “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”

    Death is the most effective Communist because he is the right equalizer. In a voodoo myth, death argues that he is more popular than the Harvest god. The Harvest god laughs at him but when they visit people’s houses. They all let death in but some don’t let in the Harvest god. The Harvest god asks how can this be, death says, you come for some but others you leave behind. I come to everyone equally. 

    • #15
  16. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    Eleanor (View Comment):

    author: I get no psychological comfort from the knowledge that I have a ticking time bomb inside my own body. But my doctor would in no way be loving if he were to gloss over this pesky bit of knowledge, offering only affirmations regarding my well-being in its place.

    I strongly suspect that love only wins if someone is willing to, without flinching, face up to the hard things.

     

    Thank you for this comment. I am sorry for your time bombs. I think our family has gotten on better during these crazy times because of the love behind knowing about the time bombs.

    “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels ofheaven,but My Father only.”

    Death is the most effective Communist because he is the right equalizer. In a voodoo myth, death argues that he is more popular than the Harvest god. The Harvest god laughs at him but when they visit people’s houses. They all let death in but some don’t let in the Harvest god. The Harvest god asks how can this be, death says, you come for some but others you leave behind. I come to everyone equally.

    You shouldn’t anthropomorphise death. He gets angry when you do that. 

    • #16
  17. James Salerno Coolidge
    James Salerno
    @JamesSalerno

    So who gets to decide that June is Pride Month? The government? The CEO of Hallmark? A shadowy intelligentsia? A crazy old wizard on a hilltop somewhere? A 12 sided die?

    Arbitrary theme-months and holidays always seemed bizarre to me.

    • #17
  18. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    James Salerno (View Comment):

    So who gets to decide that June is Pride Month? The government? The CEO of Hallmark? A shadowy intelligentsia? A crazy old wizard on a hilltop somewhere? A 12 sided die?

    Arbitrary theme-months and holidays always seemed bizarre to me.

    Get your bids in soon, slots are filling up fast!

    • #18
  19. Rick Banyan Member
    Rick Banyan
    @RickBanyan

    @Flicker, you ask, “Why does sloth always come  in last?” Easy–Sloth got up late, had a leisurely cup of coffee, took a few minutes deciding whether or not to take a shower, figured a bird bath was good enough, washed up, put on his cleanest dirty clothes, and hit the road. (I know a surprising amount about sloth.)

    • #19
  20. Steven Galanis Coolidge
    Steven Galanis
    @Steven Galanis

    James Salerno (View Comment):

    So who gets to decide that June is Pride Month? The government? The CEO of Hallmark? A shadowy intelligentsia? A crazy old wizard on a hilltop somewhere? A 12 sided die?

    Arbitrary theme-months and holidays always seemed bizarre to me.

    Daylight Savings seems kind of bizarre to me.

    • #20
  21. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    James Salerno (View Comment):

    So who gets to decide that June is Pride Month? The government? The CEO of Hallmark? A shadowy intelligentsia? A crazy old wizard on a hilltop somewhere? A 12 sided die?

    Arbitrary theme-months and holidays always seemed bizarre to me.

    I’m going with the 12 sided die.

    • #21
  22. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    James Salerno (View Comment):

    So who gets to decide that June is Pride Month? The government? The CEO of Hallmark? A shadowy intelligentsia? A crazy old wizard on a hilltop somewhere? A 12 sided die?

    Arbitrary theme-months and holidays always seemed bizarre to me.

    I’m going with the 12 sided die.

    Or how South Park portrayed the bailout decision method?:

    https://youtu.be/dvYvQeNeq3A

    • #22
  23. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    I want a wealth-creation celebration month. 

    • #23
  24. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    I want a wealth-creation celebration month.

    The flag and rubber bracelet color would be green, obvy. (Although, would that cause everyone to confuse it with Envy Month?)

    • #24
  25. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    What if upon deep reflection, I come to understand that my truest self is all about alcohol, gambling, and strippers?  Will I be praised for having the courage to come out and be the genuine me when I throw off the false persona that society’s moral tyrants want to impose on me?  Maybe if I had piles of Ukrainian cheddar for tipping heavily while occupying Hunter Biden’s old table at Archibald’s (only a block from my office as I contemplate this important question) the dancers and bartender would love me but what about the rest of you?  Which stripe on the pride flag is for me?

    • #25
  26. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    What if upon deep reflection, I come to understand that my truest self is all about alcohol, gambling, and strippers? Will I be praised for having the courage to come out and be the genuine me when I throw off the false persona that society’s moral tyrants want to impose on me? Maybe if I had piles of Ukrainian cheddar for tipping heavily while occupying Hunter Biden’s old table at Archibald’s (only a block from my office as I contemplate this important question) the dancers and bartender would love me but what about the rest of you? Which stripe on the pride flag is for me?

    We are naturally terrible vicious creatures. 

    • #26
  27. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    What if upon deep reflection, I come to understand that my truest self is all about alcohol, gambling, and strippers? Will I be praised for having the courage to come out and be the genuine me when I throw off the false persona that society’s moral tyrants want to impose on me?

    I would praise you for your honesty. 

    • #27