“.. the most revolutionary movement in human history: a movement grounded in the unconditional love of God for the world.”
What Jesus began .. - Bishop Michael Curry speaking at the royal wedding
This commentary was going to be about shareholder rights, but when I heard Bishop Curry’s address on Saturday there was no contest, particularly on reading again the ‘Imagine’ section from the transcript text, helpfully uploaded onto the Archbishop of Canterbury’s website on Saturday afternoon.
Michael Curry spoke of love advocating that, just as humanity had driven its development with the power of fire, so it should now do so with unconditional love: a powerful parallel indeed. But the key thing about unconditional love is that needs to flow like water – to go viral, and its benefit, unlike fire, will rise exponentially as it spreads uncontrollably.
As readers will know, there are two quotes to which I often return: one by William Gladstone in 1879, the other by Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana, Durres and All Albania at the General Synod just a few years ago.
The first speaks of the ‘mutual love’ which floods the universe, and all our world, and is not restricted by any borders. It’s this love of which Bishop Michael Curry was speaking at the royal wedding on Saturday.
The second uses the analogy of the river Jordan to illustrate how it must flow like water – if we try to bottle it up it won’t work. Michael Curry used fire to demonstrate the potential of its power but, unlike fire, unconditional love must become viral to deliver its potential.
After summarising its key characteristics, he went on in his ‘Imagine’ section to list a series of ‘big ticket’ areas where enormous change can be achieved. Here’s the text from this part of his address, and after each section a summary in italics of how this commentary sees the opportunity, and links to earlier opinion pieces:
“Love is not selfish and self-centred. Love can be sacrificial, and in so doing, becomes redemptive. And that way of unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive love changes lives, and it can change this world.
“If you don’t believe me, just stop and imagine. Think and imagine a world where love is the way ..
- Imagine our homes and families where love is the way: where stable relationships enable children to grow full of confidence and hope for the future – where belonging is second nature. [16th April – Yearning for a sense of belonging]
- Imagine our neighborhoods and communities where love is the way: where politicians, administrators and those who serve the public sector focus on those most in need, putting themselves in the position of the people they serve. [14th May – Power and Paternalism]
- Imagine our governments and nations where love is the way: where we resolve international strains without putting up barriers to trade and migration. [5th March – Calling Time for EU Action, 23rd April – Common Wealth, Common Good]
- Imagine business and commerce where love is the way: where we walk alongside our customers, staff and shareholders, listening to and empowering people so that all can contribute and benefit from progress without taking unfair competitive advantage. [27th November ’17 – Impact of technology on Productivity & Wealth, 30th April – The Retailing Revolution]
- When love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again, and poverty will become history: bringing hope, opportunity and resources to the most disadvantaged, particularly the young who can themselves change the world. [26th September ’17 – Giving the many the opportunity to create wealth, 4th December ’17 – Taking action to achieve social mobility, 26th March – Investing in the next generation – are we?, 8th May – Child Trust Funds: the opportunity]
- When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary: where we work together to reverse the corrosive effects of climate change and pollution by staying in conversation with those with whom we disagree. [3rd April – Climate Change]
- When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields, down by the riverside, to study war no more: where we work on developing trust between peoples and nations, recognising that most of all it is fear that spawns violence. [11th September ’17 – What have they done to the rain?]
Our challenge is to turn Michael Curry’s challenges into pragmatic solutions like these based on that core of unconditional love – and to realise that the best way to make them come about is for that love to go viral, spread by all of us.
However his address was a refreshing return to the heart of the Christian faith that I had not anticipated when I wrote last week: “What the secular world sees is club-like tradition of music and ceremony, which will be further emphasised in next weekend’s royal wedding, rather than supporting the weakest and most disadvantaged.”
I am delighted to have been proved wrong.