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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Illustrated Summary of The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis—AFFECTION



To get right to it, C.S. Lewis assigns 4 English words to 4 distinct Greek words translated love in the New Testament, with parenthetical clarification:
  • Storge = Affection (family love, the sort of love that ought to be between near relations)
  • Philia = Friendship (friendship love, defined as more than mere companionship)
  • Eros = Eros (erotic or sexual love, the special love between the sexes)
  • Agape = Charity (divine love, or love in the distinctly Christian sense)

Hear Lewis Himself Read His Book!
When you read The Four Loves, however, you will find that C.S. Lewis did not get right to them since he has 6 chapters total in the book. The first chapter is an Introduction and the second is titled "Likings and Loves for the Sub-human"—a clue that the first two chapters are not user friendly. Neither chapter is included in a rare and wonderful audio recording Lewis himself did of what are literally The Four Loves. Of course, that doesn't mean the first two chapters aren't worthy, but I will not emphasize them. (This particular post summarizes them both and the chapter on Affection. Posts on the 3 other loves and then all 6 chapters laced into one post follow.)

C.S. Lewis was Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University when he retired shortly before he died in 1963. He wrote an important academic work called The Allegory of Love: A Study of Medieval Tradition in 1936 so in one sense Lewis was an expert on love for decades. By the time he wrote The Four Loves from a set of radio talks in 1958 (which were criticized in America at the time for their frankness about sex), he was all the more an expert on love because he married a wonderful woman named Joy in 1956, lost her to cancer in 1960, yet they enjoyed a truly glorious marriage in those four years. We are privileged that C.S. Lewis wrote down what he learned about love while he still had time.

Introduction

"'God is love,' says St. John. When I first tried to write this book I thought ... I should be able to say that human loves deserved to be called loves at all just in so far as they resembled the Love which is God. The first distinction I made was ... between ... Gift-love and Need-love.... Divine Love is Gift-love. The Father gives all He is and has to the Son. The Son gives Himself back to the Father, and gives Himself to the world.... What, on the other hand, can be less like anything we believe of God's life than Need-love?... I was looking forward to writing some fairly easy panegyrics on the first sort of love and disparagements of the second.... The reality is more complicated than I supposed....

"Every Christian would agree that a man's spiritual health is exactly proportional to his love for God. But man's love for God ... must always be very largely, and must often be entirely, a Need love.... Our whole being by its very nature is one of vast need: incomplete, preparatory, empty yet cluttered, crying out for Him who can untie things that are now knotted together and tie up things that are still dangling loose.... Man approaches God most nearly when he is in one sense least like God. For what can be more unlike than fullness and need, sovereignty and humility, righteousness and penitence, limitless power and a cry for help?...


"We must distinguish two things which might both possibly be called 'nearness to God.' One is likeness to God." The other is "what we may call nearness of approach.... They do not necessarily coincide.... Let us suppose that we are doing a mountain walk to the village which is our home. At mid-day we come to the top of a cliff where we are ... near it because it is just below us. We could drop a stone into it. But ... we can't get down. We must go a long way round ... further from the village ... but ... in terms of progress we shall be far nearer our baths and teas.... What is near [God] by likeness is never, by that fact alone, going to be any nearer.... The likeness is given to us—and can be received with or without thanks, can be used or abused—the approach, however initiated and supported by Grace, is something we must do....

"As a better writer has said [Thomas à Kempis in The Imitation of Christ], our imitation of God in this life ... must be an imitation of God incarnate: our model is the Jesus, not only of Calvary, but of the workshop, the roads, the crowds, the clamorous demands and surly oppositions, the lack of all peace and privacy, the interruptions ... the Divine life operating under human conditions....

"'God is love' has long been balanced in my mind against the remark ... that 'Love ceases to be a demon only when he ceases to be a god'.... If we ignore it, the truth that God is love may slyly come to mean for us the converse, that love is God.... We must join neither the idolators nor the debunkers of human love.... A plant must have roots below as well as sunlight above and roots must be grubby.... The human loves can be glorious images of divine love ... but also no more ... which in once instance may help, and in another may hinder, proximity of approach."


Likings and Loves for Objects

"Most of my generation were reproved as children for saying that we 'loved' strawberries.... Nearly all speakers, however pedantic or however pious, talk every day about 'loving' a food, a game, or a pursuit.... To 'like' anything means to take some sort of pleasure in it.... Pleasures can be divided into two classes ... Need-pleasures and Pleasures of Appreciation.... Need-pleasure is the state in which Appreciative pleasures end up when they go bad (by addiction).... The most innocent and necessary of Need-pleasures [such as eating and drinking] ... 'die on us' with extraordinary abruptness.... The smell of frying food is very different before and after breakfast.... Pleasures of Appreciation ... make us feel that something has not merely gratified our senses but claimed our appreciation by right....

"How the Need-pleasures foreshadow our Need-loves is obvious enough.... The Need-love, like the Need-pleasure, will not last longer than the need. This does not, fortunately, mean that all affections which begin in Need-love are transitory.... Moral principles (conjugal fidelity, filial piety, gratitude, and the like) may preserve the relationship for a lifetime. But where Need-love is left unaided we can hardly expect it not to 'die on us'.... Our need-love for God is in a different position because our need of Him can never end ... but our awareness of it can, and then the Need-love dies too.... Appreciative pleasure ... is the starting point for our whole experience of beauty.... Need-love cries to God from our poverty; Gift-love longs to serve ... God; Appreciative love says: 'We give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory'....

"Two forms of love for what is not personal demand special treatment." These are the love of nature and the love of country. "The only imperative that nature utters is, 'Look. Listen. Attend'.... Nature cannot satisfy the desires she arouses nor answer theological questions nor sanctify us. Our real journey to God involves constantly turning our backs on her; passing from the dawn-lit fields into some poky little church.... Nature 'dies' on those who try to live for a love of nature....

"I turn now to the love of one's country.... This love becomes a demon when it becomes a god. Some begin to suspect that it is never anything but a demon. But then they have to reject half the high poetry and half the heroic action [the human] race has achieved. We cannot keep even Christ's lament over Jerusalem. He too exhibits love for His country....
 

Affection

"I begin with the humblest ... of loves, the love ... which ... seems to differ least from that of the animals.... I do not on that account give it a lower value. Nothing in Man is either worse or better for being shared with the beasts. When we blame a man for being 'a mere animal,' we mean not that he displays animal characteristics (we all do) but that he displays these ... on occasions where the specifically human was demanded..... The Greeks called this love storge (two syllables and the g is 'hard). I shall here call it simply Affection. My Greek Lexicon defines storge as 'affection, especially of parents to offspring'; but also of offspring to parents.... The image we must start with is that of a mother nursing a baby ... a cat with a basketful of ... kittens; all in a squeaking nuzzling heap together; purrings, lickings, baby-talk, milk, warmth, the smell of young life....


Only in the Presence of the Familiar
"But even in animal life, and still more in our own, Affection extends far beyond the relation of mother and young. This warm comfortableness, this satisfaction in being together, takes in all sorts.... Almost anyone can become an object of Affection: the ugly, the stupid, even the exasperating.... It ignores the barriers of age, sex, class, and education.... It ignores even the barriers of species. We see it not only between dog and man but, more surprisingly, between dog and cat.... But Affection has its own criteria. Its objects have to be familiar. We can sometimes point to the very day and hour when we fell in love or began a new friendship. I doubt if we ever catch Affection beginning. To become aware of it is to become aware that it has already been going on for some time.... The dog barks at strangers who have never done it any harm and wags its tail for old acquaintances even if they never did it a good turn....

"People can be proud of being 'in love,' or of friendship. Affection is modest—even furtive and shame-faced. Once when I had remarked on the affection quite often found between cat and dog, my friend replied, 'Yes. But I bet no dog would ever confess it to the other dogs.'... It usually needs absence or bereavement to set us praising those to whom only Affection binds us. We take them for granted: and this taking for granted, which is an outrage in erotic love, is here right and proper up to a point. It fits the comfortable, quiet nature of the feeling.... It lives with humble ... private things: soft slippers, old clothes, old jokes, the thump of a sleepy dog's tail on the kitchen floor....

"I am talking of Affection as it is when it exists apart from the other loves ... but ... Affection ... can enter into the other loves and ... become the medium in which from day to day they operate. They would not perhaps wear very well without it. To make a friend is not the same as to become affectionate. But when your friend has become an old friend, all those things about him which had originally nothing to do with the friendship become familiar and dear with familiarity.... There is indeed a peculiar charm, both in friendship and in Eros, about those moments when Appreciative love lies ... curled up asleep, and the mere ease and ordinariness of the relationship ... wraps us round....


"Affection ... is not primarily an Appreciative love. It is not discriminating.... The ... glory of Affection is that it can unite those who most emphatically, even comically ... if they had not found themselves ... in the same households or community, would have had nothing to do with each other. If Affection grows out of this—of course it often does not—their eyes begin to open. Growing fond of 'old so-and-so,' at first simply because he happens to be there, I ... begin to see that there is 'something in him' after all.... We are learning to appreciate goodness or intelligence in themselves, not merely goodness or intelligence flavored and served to suit our own palate.... Truly wide taste in humanity will ... find something to appreciate in the cross-section of humanity whom one has to meet every day. In my experience it is Affection that creates this taste, teaching us first to notice, then to endure, then to smile at, then to enjoy, and finally to appreciate, the people who 'happen to be there' ... odder than you could have believed and worth far more than we guessed.

King Lear Demands Affection
"And now we are drawing near the point of danger....  Symptomatic of this, perhaps, is the odiousness of nearly all ... tunes and ... poems in which popular art expresses Affection. They are odious because of their falsity. They represent as a ready-made recipe for bliss (and even for goodness) what is in fact only an opportunity. There is no hint that we shall have to do anything: only let Affection pour over us like a warm shower ... and all, it is implied, will be well. Affection ... includes both Need-love and Gift love. I begin with the Need—our craving for the Affection of others.... At the beginning of King Lear the hero is shown as a very unlovable old man devoured with a ravenous appetite for Affection.... We all know that we must do something, if not to merit, at least to attract, erotic love or friendship. But Affection is often assumed to be provided, ready made, by nature.... We have a right to expect it. If the others do not give it, they are 'unnatural.'... 


A Sealed Fountain
"What we have is not 'a right to expect' but a 'reasonable expectation' of being loved by our intimates if we, and they, are more or less ordinary people. But we may not be. We may be intolerable.... The very same conditions of intimacy that make Affection possible also ... make possible ... distaste.... Old is a term of wearied loathing as well as of endearment: 'at his old tricks' ... 'the same old thing.'... If people are already unlovable, a continual demand on their part ... to be loved ... [seals] up the very fountain for which they are thirsty. And of course such people always desire the same proof of our love: we are to join their side, to hear and share their grievance against someone else.... All the while they remain unaware of the real road. 'If you would be loved, be lovable.'...

"The really surprising thing is not that these insatiable demands ... are sometimes made in vain, but that they are so often met. Sometimes one sees a woman's girlhood, youth ... up to the verge of old age all spent in tending, obeying, caressing, and perhaps supporting, a maternal vampire who can never be caressed and obeyed enough. The sacrifice—but there are two opinions about that—may be beautiful; the old woman who exacts it is not.

"The 'built-in' or unmerited character of Affection ... invites a hideous misinterpretation. So does its ease and informality. We hear a great deal about the rudeness of the rising generation ... but in fact I have been far more [horrified] by the bad manners of parents to children than by those of children to parents. Who has not been the embarrassed guest at family meals where the father or mother treated their grown-up offspring with an incivility which, offered to any other young people, would simply have terminated the acquaintance? Dogmatic assertions on matters which the children understand and their elders don't, ruthless interruptions, flat contradictions, ridicule of things the young take seriously, ... insulting references to their friendsall provide an easy answer to the question, Why are they always out?... If you asked any of these insufferable people ... why they behaved that way at home, they would reply, '... One comes home to relax.... If a man can't be himself in his own house, where can he?... We're a happy family. We can say anything to one another here. No one minds. We all understand.'...

"It is so nearly true yet so fatally wrong. Affection is an affair of old clothes, and ease ... but old clothes are one thing; to wear the same shirt till it stank would be another....  There is a distinction between public and domestic courtesy. The root principle of both is the same: 'that no one give any kind of preference to himself.'... Affection at its best practices a courtesy that is ... more subtle, sensitive, and deep that the public kind.... Affection ... can say whatever Affection at its best wishes to say, regardless of the rules that govern public courtesy, for [it] wishes neither to wound nor to humiliate nor to domineer.... You may tease and hoax and banter. You can say 'Shut up. I want to read.' You can do anything in the right tone and at the right moment.... The better the Affection the more unerringly it knows which these are (every love has its art of love).... To be free and easy when you are presented to some ... stranger is bad manners; to practice formal and ceremonial courtesies at home ('public faces in private places')" is also bad.

"We have not yet touched on jealousy.... Change is a threat to Affection. A brother and sister, or two brothers [the latter being C.S. Lewis's experience] ... grow ... sharing everything. They have read the same comics, climbed the same trees, been pirates or spacemen together.... Then ... one of them ... discovers poetry or science or serious music or perhaps undergoes a religious conversion. His life is flooded with the new interest. The other cannot share it; he is left behind.... Affection is the most instinctive, in that sense the most animal, of the loves; its jealousy is proportionately fierce. It snarls and bares its teeth like a dog whose food has been snatched away.... Something or someone has snatched away from the child I am picturing his lifelong food, his second self. His world is in ruins. But it is not only children who react thus. Few things ... are more nearly fiendish than the rancor with which a whole unbelieving family will turn on the one member of it who has become a Christian.... It is the reaction to a desertion ... he who was one of Us has become one of Them.... Sometimes a curious double jealousy is felt.... 'Supposing—it can't be, it musn't be ... there was something in ... Christianity? How if the deserter has really entered a new world that the rest of us never suspected? But, if so, how unfair! Why him?...  A [mere boy] being shown things that are hidden from their elders?' And since that is clearly incredible and unendurable, jealousy returns to the hypothesis 'All nonsense.'...

"All these perversions of Affection are mainly connected with Affection as a Need-love. But Affection as a Gift-love has its perversions too.... The proper aim of giving is to put the recipient in a state where he no longer needs our gift. We feed children in order that they may soon be able to feed themselves.... Thus a heavy task is laid upon this Gift-love. It must work towards its own abdication.... A much higher lovea love that desires the good of the object ... must step in and help.... Where it does not, the ravenous need to be needed will gratify itself either by keeping its objects needy or by inventing for them imaginary needs.... My own profession—that of a university teacher—is in this way dangerous. If we are any good we must always be working towards the moment ... our pupils are fit to become our critics and rivals.... This terrible need to be needed often finds its outlet in pampering an animal....

"I hope I am not being misunderstood.... Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our natural lives.... Selfish or neurotic people can twist anything, even love, into some sort of misery or exploitation.... But I believe that everyone who is honest with himself will admit that he has felt these temptations. Their occurrence is not a disease; or if it is, the name of that disease is Being a Fallen Man. In ordinary people the yielding to them—and who does not sometimes yield?—is not disease, but sin. Spiritual directing will here help us more than medical treatment. Medicine labors to restore 'natural' structure or 'normal' function. But greed, egoism, self-deception, and self-pity are not unnatural or abnormal.... For who ... would describe as natural or normal the man from whom these failings were wholly absent?... We have seen only one such Man. And He was not at all like the psychologist's picture of the integrated, balanced, adjusted, happily married, employed, popular citizen. You can't really be very well adjusted to your world if it says you 'have a devil' and ends by nailing you up naked to a stake of wood.

"Affection produces happiness ifand only ifthere is common sense [reason] and give and take [justice] and 'decency'.... This means goodness, patience, self-denial, humility, and the continual intervention of a far higher sort of love than Affection, in itself, can ever be. That is the whole point. If we try to live by Affection alone, Affection will 'go bad on us.' How bad, I believe we seldom recognize.... [All forms of love] carry in them the seeds of hatred. If Affection is made the absolute sovereign of a human life the seeds will germinate. Love, having become a god, becomes a demon."

 Friendship


Romantic Love
Illustrated Summary of The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis—EROS





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