God as Policeman or Lover

Sebastian Moore, OSB

Sebastian Moore, OSB

In the eyes of Views from the Edge, the  late Dom Sebastian Moore, O.S.B. (12.17.1917 – 02.21-2014) of Downside Abbey, England, is one of our time’s more interesting thinkers.

Steeped in the psychology of Carl Jung, the spiritual discipline of the Benedictine Order, the theology of Bernard Lonergan, S.J., and the mimetic theory of Rene Girard, his eyes were penetrating, his vision both deep and far-reaching. During a long life os spiritual searching, he wrote in his book The Inner Loneliness:

[O]nce you see the self as naturally self-centered, you deny that the self wants God above all things, and you degrade God from being the fulfiller, the lover, into being the policeman. Paul’s conversion, through the stunning vision of Jesus he had on the road to Damascus, was from God the policeman to God the lover.

[The Inner Loneliness, Crossroads Press, 1982, p.49]

We met briefly in 1971 at a meeting of campus ministers in Milwaukee. He was chaplain at Marquette University at the same time I served as campus minister at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Gathered at the Episcopal Campus Ministry Center at UW-Milwaukee, I wondered who this strange monk was who seemed to observe everyone very closely without saying more than a word or two. I’m not sure I even knew his name. I just knew he was unusual.

Twenty-six years later, during a period of personal and professional turmoil, a therapist mentioned the name Sebastian Moore. I purchased The Crucified Jesus Is No Stranger and saw his picture on the jacket. His perspective left me in awe and anchors me still. I’ve been knocked off my horse on the way to way to Damascus. Every real conversion is the turning from God the policeman to God the Lover.

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