by Peter Halldorf
Silentium writings 2021.
Cover & graphic design: Tomas Einarsson
Difficult love takes its starting point from the question: "How do you know if you are driven by fear, by hope for reward or by love?" The answer is sought in the spirituality of self-forgetful love that in early monastic environments came to shape a way of life where non-judgment is the virtue that includes all others.
With the French theologian Olivier Clément and his book Sources as a guiding light, Peter Halldorf discerns the features of the faith and spirituality of the Eastern Church that created a Christianity that is not about a way of behaving, but that changes people through a "transfigured ethics". Here, the basis of morality is not a set of rules, but the church as a community in love of free people. "The way in which love and freedom correspond to each other came to be one of my most affecting existential experiences in the encounter with Eastern and Oriental Christianity many years ago," writes Peter Halldorf.
The difficult love is a personal book where the author takes us to meetings with people and environments that challenged him "to give up a position that proved increasingly untenable", as he puts it in the preface. We get to know some of the Orthodox theologians who during the 20th century updated the legacy of the early church in a theological vision whose sum is as simple as it is dizzying: "We humans are so intertwined with each other - as with the rest of creation - that we cease to exist unless we embrace each other in love.”
In the final part of the book, the Christian tradition's talk of "eternal damnation" is touched upon in the light of the Byzantine Passover cow called the plague of Hades . An icon that reflects "hope where there is no hope".