“Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams”

“Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams,” as Dostoevsky famously phrased it.  Seems so appropriate as we approach Easter.

We live in a culture which easily slides into a neutrality bias, a “naive egalitarianism” as Kohlberg phrased it, in which all our ideas and beliefs secure equal merit.  Much of that propensity is frankly the work of religion which is too often seen as overly judgmental and harsh.  As the apostle Paul observed, we tend toward religiosity as “the law” and as such “faith has no value” which spawns a death as “the law brings wrath.”  (Romans 4:14)

Some ideas are just plain bad.  Extremes are easy – Nazism, bad idea.  Enron, bad idea. Others however are not so apparent.  Like the internal combustion engine … a mixed bag of positives and negatives.

Where we need clarity is around the simple concept in Dostoevsky’s quote as we parse through necessary weighings. Swedenborg held that “Love in action is what remains.”  Combined with”Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams” and we have something, a view of love not as soft nostalgia or as glitzy entertainment but love as a call that of course fulfills but at the same time challenges our comfort FIERCELY.  Can such a love comfort?


Imagine Christ’s perspective.  Easter.  Crucifixion.  Knowledge at the darkness and depravity in men.  And yet filled, yes with despair, but also with comfort.  ”The salvation of the human race was his only comfort, because he possessed divine, heavenly love and became divine, heavenly love itself…. Only this love aims to love everyone and finds satisfaction there.”  (Heavenly Secrets, 1865)


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