Web only: Bishop Curry on 'The Power of Love'
In a return to Raleigh, where he served at bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina from 2000 to 2015, Bishop Michael Curry talked about the wedding, how we treat one another and the book, "The Power of Love."
the power of love. Uh, for many people we were taught. All you need is love. This is not the Beatles. Quite that yours is talking about the power of an absolute love of neighbor love of self love of God. Is that fair? That's fair. You gotta tell me more about that. You know, part of the dilemma with the word love is we only have one in English. We only have that word. Love. Um, the Greek language, at least the New Testament. Greek has three philia, Eros and agape, which give different nuances to the word love. They're all related, but different nuances. Um, eras, romantic love. So if you're talking about the love between a couple that's eras a romantic love, um, Philia, we get Philadelphia City of Brotherly Love. That's fraternal love. And so you're talking about a love for a friend that's you could actually name it. Filia. But a gap, um, is is considered. It's almost detached. Love. Not that it doesn't care. It's actually cares deeply enough not to be in meshed in my selfish desires. Ah, Gap is the kind of love that seeks the good and the welfare of others. it za love of first responder going in a burning building to save people he or she doesn't even know. It is the love that that actually is selfless. Um, that's the love. That and a gap is what Jesus most frequently uses in the New Testament. That kind of love, which is related to the other to that way of love, is a complete game changer in terms of my personal relationships, in terms of our interpersonal relationships are social or political, our cultural, our global. It is a complete game changer because it is a love that actually seeks the good and the welfare and the well being of others. And then the self gets blessed to, but not first. It seeks the good of others. There's power in that because I've got to tell you, David, I was interviewed on TMZ soon after the royal wedding and they asked me a question. That was a question on the lips of young people who have asked me the question since they said, Does this love? We want to believe this, but does this way of love really have the power to affect the change that you're suggesting it can, and they forced me to think about it. And it occurs to me it has the power to change things for the good. In fact, it's the only power that has ever changed anything for the good. There's there's been no human good that has been done intentionally that hasn't been motivated by someone who was really trying to help someone else. Um, there's been no change for the good. Motivated by selfishness, selfishness is ultimately self destructive. It actually defeats itself. But selflessness actually helps the self to be discovered. And does some good think about think about a teacher or a parent or culture somebody in your life or in my life who actually made a difference? They made a difference in our lives, not primarily because they were looking to get something out of it themselves. They saw something in a little David, or they saw something in a little Michael, and that teacher worked a little extra to try to get this kid to become all that that that kid could be. That's what Love looks like. Now translate that into all sorts of human relationships, whether they're romantic or fraternal or or just human. relationships translate that into political arrangements and into our political discussions and debates. Translate that into the corporate world. The truth is, this way of love has more power in it than any kind of selfishness ever could. And for those of us who have known you for years, you have been preaching and teaching this A Z. Long as I can remember, it may be shaped a little differently now and nuance differently because you're shaped differently now and nuanced. You're right now, yeah, but you have. This has been Michael Curries Core message from the beginning. Has it not? That really is true, David. It really is true, because it's the core. It is the core of the gospel message of Jesus of Nazareth. It's the heart and soul. Remember how people used to have a football game? John 3 16? Well, you know, that's pretty close. God so loved the world that he didn't keep himself to himself. God so loved the world that he gave of himself, gave his only begotten son. Uh, that's what love does. That is the heart and the soul of the Christian gospel. That's what Jesus was about from beginning to end. It's occurred to me taking me a while to really figure this out. If you look at the four Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, you'll notice something. Jesus is teachings about love Cluster around Holy Week and as he's on his way to the cross, which is an indication that as he's thinking about his own self sacrifice, he's seeing that as not self abuse or self a basement, but as a radical act of love, seeking the good of others, not his own good. And in the long run, when you do that, you actually get blessed. Jesus, actually, once said, he who saves it wants to save his life, will lose it. But whoever would give up his life for the sake of the gospel and for the sake of of the good news that person will find it. What does it profit somebody to gain the whole world and lose your soul? No. This way of love. We're actually talking about the most dynamic force in all of creation, partially because the source of this love is not us. It's God. A couple of things in the book Curious. Listening to you now thinking how in the world. Did you limit this to less than 100 pages? Editors. I know that. Yeah. You know, editors. Yeah, but like I said, those of us who have heard your message for years understood this. But we go back to the royal wedding, and I know you've You've been asked about this ad infinitum. But the world did sit. We just heard someone say to you today, the world saw that message. Were you prepared? How do you prepare for a billion people? Tow watch and then respond. And I know you, Bishop. It wasn't responding to Michael Curry, but Michael Curry was the messenger chosen that day. I'm There were my words a tectonic plate shift that day in Windsor because of your message. Does it? Is it still resonating out there in the deep waters? You know, part of, um even at at this wedding as large as it waas, um you know, I mean, they're two billion people somehow side. I can't even imagine what two billion looks like. E get. That's beyond me. But I was able to imagine two people and like every wedding I've ever done, a za parish priest there is a bishop, just a pastor. I've always talked to the couple and through them, to their family, friends and whoever else. And in this case, it was family and quite a family and quite a group of friends on quite a wonderful group of folks who are around and then people all over the world. But I couldn't start there. I had to start here on Guy was really talking to them. Um, and which was what the text did because the the text from The Song of Solomon or the song of Songs, um, the text was about two people who were in love and and that that that book in the Bible, people don't really often. No, it's even there. This book in the Bible is a is a Siris of love poems, um, of of, of two people who are in love with each other, and they kind of recite these poet this poems back to each other about how much they love each other and why they love each other. And it's not to toward the end. Chapter eight, that you can almost see the woman is like she kind of stops and she says, this love we have for each other. This is incredible. And then she is like she scratches her head and says, But wait a minute, way didn't make this. How did this happen? Where did this love come from? And it's at that point that the text begins. These two human beings begin to realize that the source of this love is greater than either one of them or the two of them together. And that's when the text begins to point in the direction of God as the source of that love, which I suspect is the reason the rabbis included it in Hebrew scriptures and the reason the church has included it in the in the Christian Scriptures now that that text ultimately points to the source of this love, which is the most powerful source in all of creation because it is the source of creation God. There's another great example in this book about this manifestation of love, and it came in general convention this past summer. Yeah, out at the prison where mothers had been separated from their Children near the United States Mexican border. You wanted to go there. You wanted this show. You were hoping. I presume that women could see looking out those windows? Uh, not only Episcopalians, but people. Humanity had come to say, This is wrong and you were loved. And we care for you. Eso that message. Um, that took on a different feel. Yeah, well, it was, you know, when Jesus was asked, You know what's the greatest commandment in all of the law of Moses? Hey, Drew from Deuteronomy and Leviticus. Um, you should love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And he says this is the first in the great commandment. But then he says, drawing now from Leviticus. Um and the second is like unto it is just like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. And then he adds on these to hang all the law, everything, everything, all the long the profits. When Jesus said, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There's no asterisk in Leviticus or no asterisk. In Matthew 22 where Jesus is quoted that says your neighbor is only your friend. Your neighbor is only somebody who looks like you. Your neighbor is only your same religion. Your neighbor is only your same political party. Your neighbor is your own sense. You're saying group that in fact, your neighbor is your sister, your brother, your sibling. It is the human community. Like it or not, we are. Neighbors were brothers. Sisters were siblings in God's family, not ours. And when Jesus says, love your neighbor as yourself, um, he see it's it's a command. It's not even an option. It's actually a command in John's gospel, he says. A new commandment. I give you that you love one another commandment to love each other. Now, if we define neighbor that way, um, then women who are immigrating to this country, many of whom are refugees, many of whom are seeking asylum in this country from violence, um, trying to protect their Children from violence. That's what most of those women are are seeking. Um, and they were were in that, um, containment facility, a detention center. They had been separated from their Children. E can't even conceive of that. I mean, t need to get away from where you have lived so badly that you would run the risk of that happening so that your Children might have a chance of a better life in this great and wonderful country. Um, and so we took I don't know how many was 12 busloads of Episcopalians from the convention went and, um, as a way of bearing witness, um, and hopefully to send a message to the women who were inside. Um, that that you're not alone. You're not for gotten. Um, we love you. God loves you. We didn't know at the time if they could hear us because they're concrete walls on barbed wire on DWI had agreements with the local law enforcement. So we were there properly and lawfully, But we could only go so far, we couldn't get up. But so close. Um, well, some went as far as they could go while we were having the kind of service. And they had signs that said, We love you And they were shouting, We loved you. They were able to see inside the windows and they could see the women inside waving towels. And they were responding in Spanish. Thank you. We love you. We love you. For just that moment, love broke through the walls of Jericho and they came tumbling down. And in the long run, the walls of Jericho will always come tumbling down from the force and the power of love. What about the walls of Jericho that we built in our own lives? I've heard you preach before of saying love yourself so you can love your neighbor. We keep our walls up a time, maybe more so than any wall that we see in the distance. So how do you encourage someone to break through that? Well, you know, I mean, that's what self awareness really does, because we're all subject that we're humans. Um, any. Any time I engage in any form of animosity, um, a kind of bigotry, a kind of dislike about the odds, are there's something coming out of me that I'm projecting onto them now. I'm not talking about when somebody's hurt you or wounded you. I'm talking about you know, when there's a prejudice that's a rising. There's something going on in me that's being projected on that other person. And so when Jesus says you shall love your neighbor as yourself, he's he's implying there's a reciprocal thing that goes on that that your neighbor is the creation of God, a child of God and so are you. And so love your neighbor. Love yourself. And when that love gets going, it's ubiquitous. It's it actually is contagious, and it infects you and infects the other towards C. S. Lewis called a good infection. It's a good infection, and it really if you think about it, Have you ever walked in a place? And you've actually known that this, that there's something good in this place where you just feel it in the room and then walked in one and said, Ain't nothing good going on here. I mean, you could feel it in the room. I mean, we almost have a sense of, you know, some of that's just our natural instincts can pick up those vibes when when there is love, when when somebody cares about you, you feel it. Even if they don't say a word, you can actually feel it. You think about it for a moment when your loved it feels so good, it does, and when you're despised, it feels rotten. There's a reason we were made by love. We were made for love. We were made to be loved, and we were made to give love because God is love and God made us, and I really believe now this is I'm stretching a little bit that when the Book of Genesis says that God created us in God's image, well, first, John says, God is love. I gotta feeling the image of God. The likeness of God that is in us is that capacity and the reality of love. Well, the book is the power of love. Is there anything else you want to say about it that I haven't asked you? Because you can cover eight questions in one answer better than anybody I've ever known? No, you know, you're good day. No, not me. Not me, Bishop, You know, it's I'll tell you, it's And I mentioned it in the preface to the book that at the time of the wedding, I wasn't aware of it in the moment. Um, it wasn't aware of it before, but I realized that when you look if you look at the wedding and look at the two of them at the couple, when they looked at each other, that that's what they weren't acting, they were deeply in love. I mean it really. And I thought about that and I said, You know something? Later I thought about it, and it occurred to me You know what? Two billion human beings all over the globe tuned in to watch two people in love. I mean, we wanted to see the famous people who get, and we wanted to see the royal family. And and I mean, gosh, it's England. It's Windsor Castle. I mean, it is. I mean, it's just wonder if it's wonderful we wanted to see, but we really wanted to see when you distill it down to its basic element. Two human beings who just wanted to show the world how much they love each other. Two billion people. I was on Capitol Hill a week later, and I had conversations with Republicans, Democrats and independents who were all excited about a royal wedding. It crossed political boundaries. It crossed our national boundaries. It crossed our differences of religion, politics and race. And I mean all of the differences that air there and that, you know. Okay, there, there for a few. But like it says in Camelot. For one brief shining moment, we looked at two people in love, and their love actually brought us together. That's the power of love. To see him touch her hand the rubbing of the thumb on her hand. That's an involuntary. Yeah. Action. E Think you're right. It was nurturing. It was respectful. It was love. We saw it. Bishop Michael Curry. Always great to see you, sir. Thank you, my friend. Thank you, brother. Thank you. Oh, this is wonderful.