Through The Despised Ones‘ network, I found out that a prominent writer/blogger Ken Silva has been suffering from intense pain owing to an unforeseen disease in his spinal cord. I personally had not heard his name before, but I believe I had heard of his antics, so I looked through his posts. Though his present suffering is immense, I could not help but read his older posts with a sense of disgust and disdain. They were truly awful. In the article I read, he just couldn’t help but call Catholics “apostate” as often as possible, counting it mere accident that any Catholic were truly Christian.
According to a private conversation with a fellow blogger, he turned down an offer to join in a cooperative effort to help the poor simply because my fellow blogger supported Rob Bell. I don’t particularly care for Rob Bell, myself (nor do I hate him), but disagreement over that sort of a thing should not stand in the way of doing what is right. Yet Ken Silva seems intent on making people who disagree with him into his enemies. Fine; let him. He is an autonomous individual capable of making his own decisions, even to his ruin. My question is how to love a person like that.
I have hinted at and/or outright stated previously that I have been through two trying periods in my life characterized by hatred directed toward me on the part of fundamentalist Christians, and I find myself really quite unable to figure out what it means to love them in spite of what they’ve done. They hurt me in serious ways. “Love” sounds like a good concept with no practical application to reality. The fact is that I really want to punch some of those people square in the face. I kind of would like to do the same to Silva, because he perpetuates the hatred that has hurt me and so many others — friends, loved ones, and strangers alike.
That’s the really challenging thing about Christianity. Paul loved his guard in prison by not escaping from prison when afforded the chance, which would betray the guard to his death. Jesus loved the people whom he came to save sufficiently to not exercise his own will against them even as they put him to death. That is the challenge of the cross: when infinite power comes up against its enemies, what does it do? Jesus chose to love them instead of crushing them like ants.
If I had to hazard a guess as to what it means to love your enemies, I would say this: loving your enemies means surrendering your power to destroy them and hoping for their gain — true gain, which in the case of Ken Silva means healing of both body and soul. That is what I pray for him, and I hope that it comes to pass. I think I can honestly say the same about those who have hurt me: I really want their true healing. That would be a lot better than their annihilation.
But still, I remain vexed as to how to pray for such people. The temptation is for my prayer to run something like this: “Please heal this poor, deluded sinner, and let him think like me.” I can’t think of anything more patronizing, and I would be ashamed to pray like that. Again, I am only throwing out conjecture, but I suppose our prayers must be honest about our frustration: “God, everything that I am and that I have experienced tells me I should hate this person, but I’m really trying not to. Heal this person in body and mind.”
That’s about the best I can offer. Anyone who has other thoughts, please chime in, because I don’t know what to think, here.