|"Victorian Lady in a Rose Hat" by Sue Halstenberg|
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Monday, September 21, 2020
Okay, this has exactly zero to do with today's recap but first things first: Blogger has changed EVERYTHING and in my very mature, grown-up, totally zen, go-with-the-flow-man opinion: it's stupid and I hate it. We all know I'm not a tech-savvy individual in the first place and CHANGE IS HARD, y'all. If there's anyone out there reading this who can do anything about it, make the option to revert to legacy Blogger interface permanent, prettypleasewithacherryontop! (And before you tell me to go leave "official" feedback for Google: done.)Surprised by Joy. Even though in regards to length this is a somewhat brief treatise on the topic of love, it was dense and took me several days to read and absorb, much like The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D.A. Carson did a couple of years ago.
So let's break it down a little bit. Lewis introduces The Four Loves by talking about his intention to contrast what he calls "Need-love" (such as a child's need for his mother) with "Gift-love" (God's love for humanity) and disparaging "Need-love" in comparison. But in exploring this idea further, he quickly came to the realization that these basic categorizations of love are much more complex than they may at first seem.
He goes on in his second chapter to develop the idea that in our love for the sub-human (i.e. love of nature or love of country), we find an additional categorization of love: Appreciative love. Throughout the rest of the book, Lewis shows how each of these three categories of love (Need-love, Gift-love, and Appreciative love) work themselves out within the four different types of love humans experience: Affection, Friendship, Eros, and Charity.
He devotes one chapter to each of these four types of love and that's the book. In each chapter, he defines the love and gives positive examples; then he goes on to show how that love can be perverted if it's made out to be the absolute sovereign of a human life and gives negative examples.
For instance, when two people discover a special common interest like stamp-collecting, a friendship may arise. These two can find fulfillment and enjoyment in their mutual friendship, but when they elevate this bond to the highest place, they are prone to become snobbish or exclusive thus distorting the love of friendship and corrupting it to something base.
The only love that isn't susceptible to this kind of perversion is Charity or the divine love of God. Affection, Friendship, and Eros are what Lewis considers natural loves which must be contained by Charity in order to retain their integrity. He starts off his chapter on Charity like this:
William Morris wrote a poem called "Love Is Enough" and someone is said to have reviewed it briefly in the words "It isn't." Such has been the burden of this book. The natural loves are not self-sufficient. Something else, at first vaguely described as "decency and common sense," but later revealed as goodness, and finally as the whole Christian life in one particular relation, must come to the help of the mere feeling if the feeling is to be kept sweet. To say this is not to belittle the natural loves but to indicate where their real glory lies. (emphasis mine)
While I found The Four Loves very interesting and ultimately helpful, it took my full and undivided concentration to read. It's certainly not a book to be read quickly or casually, and it's one that will definitely be improved upon with rereading. As has become par for the course with Lewis, I was floored by his brilliant analogies and ability to follow a thought to its logical and rational end in a concise and intelligent manner. What a writer.
I'm thinking I may need to follow The Four Loves up with Till We Have Faces in 2021 which is Lewis' fictional treatment of the same subject, but I'm also very interested in reading Present Concerns and his space trilogy so who knows where I'll end up. Any advice?