The Creative Work of Love Cherie Harder

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

“Love is creative and redemptive. Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys…. Physical force can repress, restrain, coerce, destroy, but it cannot create and organize anything permanent; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Recently, I was part of an online conference in which various experts in foreign policy, democracy building, and governance discussed the growing threat of authoritarianism in countries around the world that were, very recently, seemingly healthy democracies. One of the contributing factors was the decline of social capital and connection between citizens. The result was a citizenry more atomized, angry, and eager for autocracy. And among the complex variety of other causes and catalysts in these nations’ challenges, there also seemed to be a straightforward and sobering link between a lack of connection to and care for neighbor, and an eventual lack of freedom and flourishing. Loneliness, it seems, is not only toxic to individuals, but also to the body politic.

Fortunately, there is an even stronger antidote, which also happens to be the second great commandment of Jesus: to love one’s neighbor. Loving one’s neighbor necessarily involves willing their good and acting upon it – an inherently imaginative and creative process that plays out vocationally as well as relationally. Out of such generative thought and work we make our common life together. As artist and author Sho Baraka wrote in his new work He Saw That It Was Good, “The command to love – in all the fullness and justice of that word – is laid on all, from politician to painter. With every policy pushed, every stroke of the brush, we put forth what we believe about God and about good. With what we make, we affect the world.”

This Friday, we are excited to launch a new series of Online Conversations on “Faith, Creativity, and Civic Flourishing” that will take place over the next several months beginning with a conversation with Sho. Throughout this series, we will explore the ways in which we can be part of faithfully, lovingly, and creatively rebuilding our common life and the flourishing of our communities. We hope you will join us!

Featured Readings:
As we navigate these uncertain times together, we recommend these Readings
as both an encouragement and catalyst for reflection.