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The Four Loves (Harcourt)

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Articol de Valentin Teodorescu

5) Charity (agape)

5.1 The insufficiency of the natural loves

As we saw until now, natural loves are not self-sufficient. Something else – which Lewis consider to be the whole Christian life in one particular relation – must „come to help of the mere feeling if the feeling is to be kept sweet”.

He considers that the natural loves are similar to a garden. A garden „will not fence and weed itself, nor prune its own trees, nor roll and cut its own lawns”. It will remain a garden, as distinct from a wilderness, only if someone does these things to it. When God planted the garden of our nature and caused the flowering, fruiting loves to grow there, He set our wills to „dress” them. Compared with the loves, our will is dry and cold. And until God’s grace comes down, like the rain and the sunshine, we shall use this tool (the will) to little purpose. But its laborious- and largely negative – services are indispensable.

Until now we saw that the loves prove that they are unworthy to take the place of God, by the fact that they cannot even remain themselves and do what they promise without God’s help: Affection can be distorted „when it becomes a need-love that demands affection in turn, as a right, and thus producing hatred”; Or when, in „living for others”, makes their lives unbearable. Friendship can be distorted when the shared interest is evil; or produces arrogance and isolation when the group becomes an „inner ring”. Eros is like Love Himself, in a reflected form; and therefore more liable than the other loves to corruption, to becoming a sort of religion; the god Eros dies or becomes a demon unless he obeys God.[1]

The conclusion is that, even for their own sake, the loves must submit to God if they are to remain the things they want to be: Affection needs a real disinterested charity for the other if it wants to avoid becoming obsessive. Friendship needs to have charity also as a guarantee that the shared interest will not become egoist and evil, and that it will not produce arrogance and isolation, hurting and neglecting the others. Eros needs charity if he wants to keep his promises, especially when the selfishness appear, or when one or both partners become, at least in some respects, unattractive or unworthy of love. (mai mult…)

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The Four Loves (Harcourt)

Titlul original: The Four Loves
Autor: C.S. Lewis
Localitate: New York
Editura: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Anul apariţiei: 1991
Nr. de pagini: 156
ISBN: 9780151329168

Articol de Valentin Teodorescu

Introduction

C.S.Lewis starts The Four Loves confessing that when he first tried to write this book, he had a wrong image (or rather a very simplistic image) of the subject.

It seems that the-view he had then is common among Christians; before I read his book I had the same image too: the idea that the only true love is the love that gives, because the love of God is a Giving love (a Gift-love by definition). For that reason – in that perspective – we really love just in so far as our love resembles that Love which is God. In that respect, when we tell to our beloved: „I need you, I cannot live without you”, we do not really love him (or her). The real love is that love which says: I do not need you, I can live without you; in fact, exactly because I can live without you, and I am a complete person, perfectly fulfilled in my relationship with God, I can enter in a love relations hip. The goal in that relationship will be not to find my fulfillment, not to receive something (I am already fulfilled by God), but to give, to make the other happy.

This image is not bad (in fact the final arguments of C.S.Lewis are very close to these ideas), but it is not perfectly good because it is not complete. The reality of love is more complex – says Lewis. It is difficult, in his opinion to affirm that the Need-Love is not a real love, firstly because our love for God is – more than everything – a Need-Love. We come to God utterly aware that our whole being is one vast need, crying out for Him when we need forgiveness or support in our tribulations, or many other things.[1]  On the other side, even in our daily situations, it is difficult, for example, to affirm that a child’s love for his mother, which is more than anything else a Need-love, is not a real love.

Thus, understanding the complexity of the situation, Lewis begins to analyze more deeply five kinds of loves: Loves for Sub-Human, Affection, Friendship, Eros and Charity (Agape). In this essay, my interest will be especially focused on the last two kinds of love, Eros and Charity. But I will present also shortly the first three kinds of love, in the measure in which to understand them is absolutely necessary for a better comprehension of the last two loves.

As we will see, Charity (Agape) still remains the most important love; but the other four loves will be also accepted as true loves. In that way God’s Creation (in the area of affections) will be honored and redeemed.

1) Loves for the Sub-Human (mai mult…)

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