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How Jesus Loved by David Chamberlain, PhD. Chamberlain Publications, (1969, 1971).
While David Chamberlain was known for his passionate writings about baby sentience supported by volumes of research and scientific citations, he could be equally known for his ministry and love of humanity. His commitment to the latter is reflected in his little book, How Jesus Loved, a short volume meant to be a study guide for loving. Originally paired with his manual on marriage enrichment, he describes how to use this short volume in religious and relationship education classes. However, this small gem of a book is a good read for anyone interested in Christian love and its applications. Furthermore, the pre and perinatal psychology professional aware of Chamberlain’s writings and leadership can see the imprint of his ministry in his work at APPPAH, and in his selection of a blueprint for love in Jesus’ behaviors.
Chamberlain simply breaks down “how to love” in three categories: Tending, Self-Giving, and Truth-Seeking. At the start of the book, he states he uses Jesus’ ministry and actions because, “Life, as Jesus sees it, depends on love. Only love connects us with God” (p. vii). Chamberlain’s foundation of love is really a focus on behaviors related to self, other, and truth. The first category, Tending, he describes as focused attention that is an ideal way to treat people. This attention, he says, leads to effectiveness in all relationships. The second category is Self-Giving, or a way to express yourself that is assertive, creative, and self-disclosing without pretense of self-modesty. The final category is Truth-Seeking, or ways to see and deal with the truth. The art of love, as Chamberlain sees it, is to combine all three of these creatively; love is “earnest Tending, forceful Self-Giving, constant Truth-Seeking”(p. xix). He goes on to say: “we are equipped to love because we are equipped to pay attention, express who we are, and comprehend new ideas” (p. xx). He summarizes loving behaviors in chart on page xxii.
He has created acronyms to help readers remember his teachings: Alert To Care for Tending, Asserting Yourself for Self-Giving, and What Is True, for Truth-Seeking. Each category also holds a series of short chapters of stories and selections from the Bible illustrating the points that Chamberlain makes. The stories are illuminating and simple; Chamberlain’s discourse is gentle and direct.
In the last chapter of the book, Postscript: Can We Learn to Love, Chamberlain asks if we truly can learn these basic ways that Jesus lived. There is tremendous confusion about love in America and most especially among Christians. He lays out the criteria for successful love education as: A positive and comprehensive theory, behavioral definition, experiential method, and training strategies. Chamberlain simply says that what Jesus taught, and what is perhaps the best definition of love is that “it encompasses the whole self (heart, mind, soul, and strength) in all its relationships: to strangers, neighbors, enemies, and God” (p. 77). It is not lust, affection, euphori, or just kindness.
The biggest message from the book is the way one behaves is the best benchmark for love, as that is what Jesus consistently did; Jesus’ own model is what he expected people who believed in him to follow. These loving habits need to be identified, taught, and embodied. This “felt sense” of love is the best training strategy. Chamberlain identified the small group as the best structure to teach, in this way small lectures can be given and exercises developed so that students get a holistic experience, on the “exercises not only the learner’s intellect but also his body, his senses, emotions, imagination, and memory of past experience” (p. 79). Thus, Chamberlain advocates for a curriculum that is “learner-centered,” not “teacher or content-centered.”
For Chamberlain, teaching strategy was just as important as content. In other words, how teachers behave when offering the course, How Jesus Loved, is just as important as the lessons he lays out. “Good modeling is also required for good learning of loving behavior” (p. 80). For effective course design, Chamberlain suggests intensive programs that last a week or weekend, or on-going weekly classes. These lessons can also be incorporated into ongoing other special interest classes connected to relationships.
The last few pages of this slim book lay out some interesting points on love and religion. Chamberlain makes the argument in the book that love education is needed now, and effective courses and educational strategies are vital. He makes this point emphatically at the end of the book, saying, “Expertize in love may well be the world’s largest under-developed resource” (p. 82). Even though this book was written over 50 years ago, its lessons and suggestions are still needed today. It is also evident that as a person, Chamberlain applied what he wrote to his own life as he ministered to people in his churches, his therapeutic practice, and in APPPAH.