I’ve been thinking about love a lot lately. In part, that’s because we’ve been planning Big Words: LOVE, an interfaith perspective on the relationship between love and religion, which is Tuesday.
However, I’ve been in conversations around campus and elsewhere about love. More specifically, we’ve been talking about issues like relationships, sexuality, gender roles and virtue, and about how perceptions of these are changing with cultural trends. Since religion and culture are inseparable, religion and love will inevitably influence one another.
This all actually has very little to do with Big Words: LOVE.
Our office talked about this Big Words as if we were planning a “date night.” First and foremost, since it falls during the week leading to Valentine’s Day, we wanted a reason to eat chocolate together.
We also planned some meaningful activities, such as a way to express our feelings of kindness and gratitude toward others by creating cards for them. And we will have a reading of an original poem called “Radical LOVE: Growing Wings Together,” written and spoken by Dr. Rajni Shankar-Brown, Jessie Ball duPont Chair of Social Justice Education.
But we mainly wanted to offer the Stetson community a chance to experience the loving side of the sacred—a side that is poetic, that is warm, that is joyful and even romantic.
That might seem strange to some people. When it comes to romance, religion can be viewed as moralistic at best and repressive at worst. However, love is a necessary ingredient in everything human. It is essential to cooperation, to community, to charity, and to survival of the species. Yes, social institutions like religion try to guide us in healthy directions. However, all religions, in one way or another, celebrate the reality that love for the Divine can only be experienced if we love one another.
We hope you will join us for Big Words: LOVE this Tuesday, February 12, in the CUB garage at 6:30 p.m. There will be chocolate treats and Publix subs. Cultural credit is available.