Paul Tillich and Howard Thurman: The Ethics of Love in a Hostile World
In today’s culturally and religiously diverse societies, with their intense political divisions amongst people, the idea of loving our neighbor and enemy may appear sentimental, pollyannish and impractical. The notion of self-love also seems to border on reinforcing an unhealthy individualism that distances us from one another and our sense of interconnectedness. We are challenged with how our own sense of being decent human beings can also help us to engage with others whose values and behavior makes us feel uncomfortable. What is a “good enough” love for our times?
The theologies of Howard Thurman and Paul Tillich and selected short readings on the concept of love will offer us much to reflect upon, as we consider–in a confidential setting–our own spiritual journey and living in a complex and stressful global world. We will mine what these readings have to offer regarding our own work, spiritual path, sense of self, and role as citizens.
In this discussion-focused seminar, the course facilitator will distribute brief essays on love to be read in advance of the class meeting. Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman is the only text required to be purchased for the course.
In the first session the concept of love from Tillich and Thurman will be introduced, and we will consider what cautions we may have to consider with the term “love.” The subsequent sessions will explore Thurman’s notions of fear, deception, and hate.
In the final group meeting we will discuss how to frame our own ethic of love by considering our course readings, group discussions, and individual experiences. How can they help us face the challenges and engage the opportunities to practice loving our neighbor in our daily lives?