To Love Is to Die
Why do I see death as so central to my work? In short, it is because death is what love requires. Unless we die psychologically to our ‘self’ that grasps constantly for esteem, security, and control—that self that is constituted by a sense of lack—we cannot love fully. And unless we live out of a transcendent confidence that fears not even our own physical death, we cannot love fully. Without undergoing this inner death, fear and a sense of lack will ever separate us from each other.
There’s also the fact that, as a theologian, I’m in the risky business of doing something rather dangerous. I’m in the business of analyzing the meaning of, and engaging in the practice of, speaking for God, the infinite.
Again, I see the idea of death as being central to this task. To speak for the infinite, for God—as Jesus and Christianity claim to do—is to speak for “all that is” insofar as it is. This is so because the infinite includes all. To speak for God is not to speak for oneself as finite, as a creature. As such, one must die psychologically, and be prepared to die physically to one’s finitude, to one’s creatureliness. This is what Jesus did. This is what the church must do.
Death happens to us all at some point, but to live for the infinite, for God, is to provoke it. The fearless intensity of life that results threatens the fearful dynamics of separation and self-preservation that characterize most of our world. And to this we say, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” This is the death that speaks for God, the death of the lover of all.