Your donations enable us to create and share theologically progressive resources that nurture our faith journeys and are used in church communities around the world. If everyone reading this right now gives just $10 we would be able to continue offering these for free.

Meeting the Holy Spirit: A Review of “The Desire for Mutual Recognition”

All good Christians know there are three aspects to the traditional belief in a Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The one part of the Trinity I have paid little attention to is the Holy Spirit. Peter Gabel’s new book, The Desire for Mutual Recognition, makes that impossible. Although meeting the Holy Spirit is not the central focus of Gabel’s book, this manifestation of the Triune God jumps out at you with important implications for political theology.

In developing his theory of social transformation and healing, Gabel acknowledges his debt to Martin Buber three or four times. Buber taught in his famous book I and Thou that one finds God in relationships where we open our hearts to another and it is returned. The love of God is encountered in the between, the social space that is shared by two mutually responsive individuals.

This dynamic is turbocharged through participation in a social movement centered around bringing peace and justice to the world. In such movements when thousands of people relate to each other as Thous, Divine love is magnified and is encountered as a loving impulse that spreads throughout the community. A spirit of love, the sense of the essential goodness of life, erotic and compassionate energy descend upon the participants within the movement. Christians know this transforming and healing energy as the Holy Spirit.

Gabel speaks from an intimate knowledge of this process. He has been there. Participation in the social movements of the sixties changed his life. Because of these experiences his goal in life has been to build a new world around this loving impulse. By ending our sense of separation and fear, we can learn to see and think about the world differently. Movement toward peace, economic and social justice, environmental health all follow from the creation of loving individuals living within a socially connected community. If you are looking to meet the Holy Spirit, participate in a social movement. In doing so, you will be joining with God to make the world a better place.

A note about Peter Gabel: Peter is the Editor-At-Large of Tikkun Magazine, and a leader of the Network of Spiritual Progressives. The Desire for Mutual Recognition has been nominated as Best Non-Fiction Book of the Year by Routledge Press.

Review & Commentary