Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Power of Luv

Mother Love interviews Steve Hays at the Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca, New York on his new book, The Loverly Lovesomeness of Love.

ML: Steve, I read in the London Times Review of your new book that you used to be a Calvinist.

SH: I'm ashamed to say that's true.

ML: What exactly is a Calvinist?

SH: A Calvinist is a Christian who thinks that God knew what he was doing before he did it.

ML: You mean to tell me that there are so-called Christians who still believe that?

SH: Yes, in certain pockets of flyover country.

Of course, most Christians think that God was making things up as he went along -- kind of like a cosmic Barney Fife.

ML: So when did you change your mind?

SH: I was in a used bookstore, looking for a copy of Hoeksema's The Curse-Reward of the Wicked Well-Doer for my grandson's fifth birthday when I stumbled across a dusty edition of Leo Buscaglia's The Fall of Freddie the Leaf.

ML: What happened next?

SH: Well, out of sheer curiosity, I began to read, and I couldn't put the book down. I read it from cover to cover, right there in the book store.

ML: Then what?

SH: It was an epiphany. The scales fell from my eyes. I walked out of that store a new man.

ML: What do you mean?

SH: Well, back when I was a Calvinist, the world was like a B&W TV set. All sour and dour.

But now, for the first time in my life, I began to notice the daisies and butterflies.

ML: So you now believe in the power of love?

SH: Yes, that's right.

ML: What springs to mind when you hear the word "love"?

SH: I think of Bambi and Barry Manilow and The Sound of Music. I think of kittens and puppies and bunny-rabbits.

ML: As a Calvinist, did you believe in hell?

SH: Oh, yes! I thought that only Christians were going to heaven.

ML: But you don't believe that any more, do you? You're an ecumenist.

SH: I now know that God is all and all is God.

ML: What about cannibals?

SH: There's a lot of bigotry direct at cannibals. Almost as bad as the hate-speech about headhunters. But we need to cut through the prejudicial stereotypes and learn to distinguish between loving and unloving cannibalism.

ML: How do you define loving cannibalism?

SH: Using a general anesthetic before you stick the fork in. I suppose a local anesthetic would do for a snack.

ML: But what if the victim resents being eaten alive?

SH: That's such an unloving reaction. That's the sort of selfish attitude which feeds the cycle of violence. And that's why the Dalai Lama and I have been drafting a new interfaith statement entitled Evangelicals and Cannibals Together.

ML: What did you tell the Dalai Lama when you first met him?

SH: Well, Hello Dalai!

ML: How many people have signed your interfaith statement?

SH: Thus far, Jim Wallis, James Sire, John Neuhaus, Richard Mouw, Timothy George, and Harvey Cox.

ML: We've talked about cannibals. What about suicide bombers?

SH: That's such an unloving label. In my new book I call them "euthanasia bombers."

ML: So you think everyone worships the same God?

SH: Yes, indeed. God wears many masks, but she's the same person underneath.

ML: If she wears a mask, how do you know what lies behind the mask?

SH: That's an unloving question. I only agreed to this interview on condition that I be asked loving questions.


  1. Steve, I'm becoming hip to this. If I may ask one question. 'Wuv' is much more potent and powerful a force that 'Luv,' any reason you went with the latter?

  2. Paul,

    You know, it's not very "wuving" to differ with Steve on the force of "Luv."

    Try being more wuving.

  3. Josh,

    I don't think it's 'wuving' or 'luving' to go with 'luv' over against 'wuv.' Please try to be more sensitive of my feewings. Not very wuving or luving of you.

  4. Steve,

    You used to be a Calvinist, and now you've seen the light.

    Was it because of the things you found yourself doing in this laundry list of items from the I-Monk's post, "You might be a Calvinist if...":