From atonement to faithful lives
I fasted on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). This year my thoughts are with Muhammad Abu Khamash, a policeman living in Deir al-Balah in Gaza, who today, and every day for the rest of his life, will wake up again to the incomprehensible fact that his pregnant wife Inas and baby daughter Bayan are dead – blown to pieces by an Israeli missile in the middle of the night while they were asleep. Muhammad Abu Khamash himself was somehow blown clear by the explosion but suffered serious injuries and was in a coma for four days. Only after he regained consciousness did he learn of his loss.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) claimed they were aiming at a Hamas target nearby, but neighbours say no such target existed. In the period from Operation Cast Lead in 2009 up until 30 June this year, twelve Israeli children were killed by Palestinians, and 740 Palestinian children were killed by Israeli security forces (figures from B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories). This figure does not include those Palestinians who died after the Israeli authorities delayed their access to medical treatment, or any children who have been killed since the end of May. There is much to atone for.
I, too, find the idea of ‘polyamory’, among happily married couples, distinctly odd (3 and 24 August). Despite the terminology, ‘polyamory’ does not seem, to me, to be primarily about love (in the sense of great affection), but about that widespread but coarse dysphemism ‘having sex’ (coition).
Similarly, in the couplings ‘erotic love’, ‘carnal love’, ‘physical love’, ‘sexual love’ and even ‘genital love’ – the common term ‘love’ conveys nothing whatever. Further, P for ‘Polyamory’ has yet to figure in the top ten among LGBTQQIAAP (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Allies, Asexual and Pansexual)!
Indeed, the commonest euphemism of all, ‘making love’, is highly misleading, particularly among teenagers. (Its ‘archaic’ – yet still more fitting – sense was ‘courting’.) However enjoyable, coition rarely – if ever – engenders love. Thus, apart from the first in his quartet, I am hardly enamoured of C S Lewis’s The Four Loves – ‘Affection’, ‘Friendship’, ‘Eros’ and ‘Charity’.
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