Wednesday, September 22, 2010


The last couple of months I have been reading "The Four Loves" by C.S. Lewis for my devotions, and since there is often a severe lack of engagement as I read, I tried to highlight passages that I felt expressed something important. My intent now is to copy some of them over so I can expand on them a little bit. There are quite a few, so I will try to spread them out over a few posts. This process is mostly for my benefit, but hopefully some of the quotes strike you as interesting. I covered my feelings on C.S. Lewis's writing style (and the first of my highlighted quotes) in a previous post, so feel free to go back and check that out.
love ceases to be a demon only when he ceases to be a god
This is actually a quote from the author M. Denis de Rougemont that Lewis uses to put his treatment of the concept of love within the book into context. This line makes little sense initially, but there is actually a lot of truth to it, though not necessarily a truth we want to believe. I spend as much time thinking about "love" as a concept as anyone else, often to the point of placing it on a pedestal above my relationship with God. It is easy to view love as the highest honor. Romance and brotherhood and friendship seem to be infallible ideals, concepts that cannot be wrong and must be protected at all costs. The human loves are good, but not purely so, and it is important to realize that at some times they stand in the way of more important things. Lewis reiterates this fact when he says:
The human loves can be glorious images of Divine love. No less than that: but also no more
Lewis breaks up the human loves into four categories (hence the title of the book): affection, friendship, eros, and charity, but he also categorizes different types of love as need-loves, gift-loves, and appreciative love, which he describes as follows:
Need-love cries to God from our poverty; Gift-love longs to serve or even to suffer for, God; Appreciative love says: "We give thanks to thee for thy great glory." Need-love says of a woman "I cannot live without her"; Gift-love longs to give her happiness, comfort, protection--if possible, wealth; Appreciative love gazes and holds its breath and is silent, rejoices that such a wonder should exist even if not for him, will not be wholly dejected by losing her, would rather have it so than never have seen her at all.
I find it interesting how each part of those types of love is good, and provides pleasure, in its own way.

One final passage, which actually does not talk about love at all, but expresses something I have always known to be true without being able to put into words:
If you take nature as a teacher she will teach you exactly the lessons you had already decided to learn;
The temptation to look at a beautiful sunset or landscape or flower and search for some specific insight is a fruitless exercise. Lewis expands on this idea saying:
Say your prayers in a garden early, ignoring steadfastly the dew, the birds and the flowers, and you will come away overwhelmed by its freshness and joy; go there in order to be overwhelmed and, after a certain age, nine times out of ten nothing will happen to you.
I spend too much time urgently looking for meaning and inspiration, causing me to miss all of the meaning and inspiration that constantly surround me.

That is all I have for now. There are another dozen or so passages I have highlighted, so I will get to those as I have time. Questions, comments, concerns? Feel free to leave me a note.

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