The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Passionate Wanting (Desiring Union With God)


#21

To learn more about Holy Eros here’s a good book on the subject called “Holy Eros: Pathways to a Passionate God”

Evelyn Eaton Whitehead is a developmental psychologist (Ph.D., University of Chicago) whose work focuses on spiritual development in adult life. James D. Whitehead is a theologian (Ph.D., Harvard University) who studies the interplay of religion and culture. In their shared career spanning forty-five years and fifteen books, the Whiteheads continue to explore the vital themes emerging in contemporary Christian spirituality.

A few quotes from the book:

Eros is most often associated with sexual arousal, but essayist Noelle Oxenhandler recognizes it’s presence in the midst of parenting. She describes the overwhelming delight of caring for her baby daughter. “I remember how palpably I experienced her too-muchness. It was a shudder in my body, an energy I had to soften, reign in, lest I squeeze her too hard, startle her with too exuberant a kiss.” She adds, “It is this feeling I want to call the eros of parenthood: an upswelling of tenderness, often with a tinge of amazement” ~~ Holy Eros, Pathways to a Passionate God, page 16 by Whitehead

From the chapter “Eros of Compassion”

Jesus told the story of a wayward son who returned to the father he had sorely wronged. The son’s homecoming took a surprising turn when his father did not respond in anger or withhold his welcome until after he had received an apology. He seemed uninterested in pointing out the error of his son’s ways or in ensuring that he had learned his lesson. Instead, the father rushed out to meet his son, overjoyed at his return. Sensing the boy’s humiliation and despair, his father treated him as an honored guest and planned a great celebration. Jesus tells us this is what God is like. God receives us not as judge but Abba, an extravagantly loving parent who wants our care for one another to show the same abundant concern. The lives of the godly will be marked not so much by the conspicuous good deeds of the righteous as by the humble compassion of those who to the world’s needs. Compassion is an experience of eros. Ordinarily we think of compassion as commiseration, as feeling the suffering of another person, but compassion has a more expansive meaning.


#22

Alvin Plantinga recognizes this in Warranted Christian Belief. Eros can be found in sex but isn’t limited to sex. It’s a passionate longing. A desire for closeness and intimacy with God without sex.

It is a longing filled with desire and yearning…It is erotic, and one of the closest analogues would be with sexual eros. There is a powerful desire for union with God, the oneness Christ refers to in John 17. Another perhaps equally close analogue would be love between parent and small child; and this kind of love too is often employed in scripture as a figure for love of God - both God’s love for us and our love for Him. Here too there is longing, yearning, desire for closeness ~~ Alvin Plantinga

There’s nothing abnormal about being in love with ones little child. You can be in love and not have a sexual desire.


#23

The pathways to Holy Eros as I have described it here are:

1). Eros of hope

2). Eros of suffering

3). Eros of anger

4). Eros of compassion


#24

Perhaps prayer also plays a part. I found this Q and A today, in my mailbox. It’s from the Calvinist site Got Questions:

Let me quote the first paragraph, which is very interesting:

Countless stories could be cited of diseases cured, exams passed, repentance and forgiveness granted, relationships restored, hungry children fed, bills paid and lives and souls saved through the efficacy of prayer. So, yes, there is plenty of evidence that God answers prayer. Most of the evidence is anecdotal and personal, however, and that bothers many who think of “evidence” only as that which is observable, measureable, and reproducible.


#25

Prayer does play a part. Very smart Zombie


#26

Another good book is called "The Power of Divine Eros. Here’s a review:

Most spiritual teachings take the position that desire, wanting, and passion are opposed to the spiritual path. The concern is that engaging in desire will take you more into the world, into the mundane, into the physical, and into egoic life. And for most people, that is exactly what happens. We naturally tend to experience wanting in a self-centered way. In their book The Power of Divine Eros, Johnson and Almaas explore how to be passionate and to feel a strong wanting without that desire being in conflict with selfless love. They also show how relationships with others are an important part of the human journey — an opportunity to express oneself authentically and be present with someone else. Through understanding the energy of eros, each of us can learn to be fully real and alive in all our interactions.

What is meant by ‘divine eros’? According to the book, “Divine eros refers to a particular quality, a particular energy, a particular way of experiencing the nature of our consciousness. At the same time, it is a way of experiencing, feeling, and knowing our consciousness that becomes significant for being open to the depth of our nature. (…) So if we want to be ourselves completely—to know our nature at its depth and be fully in the world—this requires being alive and being in touch with that energy. And that brings the erotic into love. In other words, to be able to experience divine eros, we need the purity of love, the ground of lovingness and goodness, the experience of the presence of love, plus this scintillating, erupting, explosive quality that has an energy to it. Such energetic dynamic love can be very, very fine—like very gentle bubbles or a gentle vibration—or it can be explosive. This love has an erotic quality to it, and we can feel it draw us toward the divine, toward the truth, toward our inner nature. We can have the experience of desiring to penetrate the mystery, to know the spirit. A deep understanding of reality can follow from such a realization of desire. We can see that dualism arises when we are separated from our nature, for it is then that we experience the desire to fill ourselves. We believe there is something external that we need to have, and we deeply believe that we don’t have that something. However, with the energy of desire, when we feel it as the blissful wanting of another—but with a sense a sufficiency, not from lack—we don’t feel the same kind of otherness we do when we have a dualistic perspective. We feel that the other is arising from same ground as we are. There is a sharing of a blissful communion, and that communion is a recognition that both of you are one reality.”

Through guided exercises, the authors invite you to connect to the pure energy behind their desire. When we allow ourselves to fully experience our wanting, and we trust that the wanting itself has the intelligence to reveal the pure energy of desire that underlies it, we get a taste of what it’s like to feel love and desire as a unified force. Being in the world in a way that does not separate us from spirit, while also feeling the pleasure of our energy, our erotic nature, our aliveness and love, makes life complete. We want to experience our humanness, but we don’t want to divide ourselves to do it. We want to know more about both the spiritual and the worldly reality and how the two interrelate, because they are naturally a part of what it means to be human.

In the words of Johnson and Almaas: “Any spiritual work involves the element of love, whether explicitly or implicitly. What we want to explore is how the energy and quality of love explicitly open the door to reality and to our deeper nature. The portal is there for every human being to open; each of us can be fully real and alive in all our interactions. And the erotic, as it is felt and experienced in the body, is a part of that openness, whether it becomes sexual or not. For many reasons, eros has become separated from the pure and the holy, and as a result, it is usually relegated to the domain of the gross and unrefined. But eros is the energy of the divine. As such, it is always divine and pure.”

Here’s the link to the book:


#27

We can refer to all the books we want that profess to portray “the divine eros.” However, the word is NEVER applied to God’s love in either the Old or New Testament.

Indeed, the Greek word “ερος” (eros) is not found at all either in the Greek of the New Testament or in the Greek Septuagint of the Old Testament. So why not limit the use of the word to its actual meaning, namely “sexual desire.”


#28

Sorry, I have not been following this thread, Don can you explain to me What is going on ? (I want to hear your version) :wink: