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Thursday, October 24, 2013

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

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)
  • Philia = Friendship (friendship love)
  • Eros = Eros (erotic or sexual love)
  • Agape = Charity (divine love)

This post summarizes the chapter on Friendship with lively illustrations. It includes a link to my illustrated summary of the chapter on Affection. Posts on the 2 other loves and then all the chapters laced into one post follow.




Friendship

Few Modern Counterparts
C.S. Lewis begins, "When either Affection or Eros is one's theme, one finds a prepared audience. The importance and beauty of both have been stressed and almost exaggerated again and again.... Very few modern people think Friendship a love of comparable value or even a love at all. I cannot remember that any poem since In Memoriam, or any novel, has celebrated it. ["'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all" is the most famous line from Tennyson's memorial to his college friend.] Tristan and Isolde, Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, have innumberable counterparts in modern literature: David and Jonathan...have not. To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all the loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it. We admit of course that besides a wife and family a man needs a few 'friends.' But the very tone of the admission, and the sort of acquaintanceships which those who make it would describe as 'friendships,' show clearly that what they are talking about...is something quite marginal; not a main course in life's banquet; a diversion; something that fills up the chinks of one's time. How has this come about?

"The first and most obvious answer is that few value it because few experience it.... Friendship is...least natural of loves; the least instinctive, organic, biological...and necessary.... Without Eros none of us would have been begotten and without Affection none of us would have been reared; but we can live and breed without Friendship.... The pack or herd—the community—may even dislike and distrust it. Its leaders very often do.... This...quality in Friendship goes far to explain why it was exalted in ancient and medieval times and has come to be made light of in our own. The deepest and most permanent thought of those ages was ascetic and world-renouncing. Nature and emotion and the body were feared as dangers to our souls.... Inevitably that sort of love was most prized which seemed most independent...of mere nature.... But then came Romanticism and...the 'return to nature' and the exaltation of Sentiment...which, though often criticised, has lasted ever since. Finally, the exaltation of instinct....


"Other causes have contributed. To those...who see human life merely as a development and complication of animal life, all forms of behaviour which cannot produce certificates of an animal origin...are suspect.... That outlook which values the collective above the individual necessarily disparages Friendship: it is a relation between men at their highest level of individuality.... Some forms of democratic sentiment are naturally hostile to it....

"It has actually become necessary in our time to rebut the theory that every firm and serious friendship is really homosexual.... In some ways nothing is less like a Friendship than a love-affair. Lovers are always talking to one another about their love; Friends hardly ever about their Friendship. Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest. Above all, Eros (while it lasts) is necessarily between two only. But two, far from being the necessary number for Friendship, is not even the best. And the reason for this is important.... 

"True friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can...say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, 'Here comes one who will augment our loves.'... In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious 'nearness by resemblance' to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the [experience] each has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest.... The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have....

"On a broad historical view it is...not the demonstrative gestures of Friendship among our ancestors [kisses, tears, and embraces regardless of gender] but the absence of such gestures in our own society that calls for some special explanation. We, not they, are out of step. I have said that...both the individual and the community can survive without [Friendship]. But there is something else, often confused with Friendship, which the community does need; something which is the matrix of Friendship. In the early communities the co-operation of the males as hunters or fighters was no less necessary than the begetting and rearing of children. A tribe where there was no taste for the one would die no less surely than a tribe where there was no taste for the other.... We men [got] together and [did] things. We had to. And to like doing what must be done is a characteristic that has survival value. We not only had to do the things, we had to talk about them. We had to plan the hunt and the battle. When they were over we had to...draw conclusions for future use. We liked this even better. We ridiculed or punished the cowards and bunglers, we praised the star-performers. We revelled in technicalities (...'I had a lighter arrowhead; that's what did it'...). In fact, we talked shop...all bound together by shared skill, shared dangers and hardships, esoteric jokes—away from the women and children.... They certainly often had rituals from which men were excluded....

Details on Tolkien and Lewis's Friendship!
"This pleasure in co-operation, in talking shop, in the mutual respect and understanding of men who daily see one another tested is... something...we all understand.... I prefer to call it Companionship—or Clubbableness. This Companionship is, however, only the matrix of Friendship. It is often called Friendship, and many people when they speak of their 'friends' mean only their companions. But it is not Friendship in the sense I give to the word. By saying this I do not at all intend to disparage the merely Clubbable relation. We do not disparage silver by distinguishing it from gold. Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, 'What? You too? I thought I was the only one.'... Do you see the same truth?Or at least, 'Do you care about the same truth?' The man who agrees with us that some question, little regarded by others, is of great importance can be our Friend. He need not agree with us about the answer....


Common Interest Needed
"People who simply 'want friends' can never make any. The very condition of having Friends is that we should want something else besides Friends. Where the truthful answer to the question Do you see the truth? would be 'I see nothing and I don't care about the truth; I only want a Friend,' no Friendship can arise—though Affection of course may. There would be nothing for the Friendship to be about; and Friendship must be about something.... Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow-travelers.


"When...two people who... discover...they are on the same secret road are of different sexes, the friendship which arises between them [may] very easily pass...into erotic love. Indeed, unless they are physically repulsive to each other or unless one or both already loves elsewhere, it is almost certain to do so sooner or later. And conversely, erotic love may lead to Friendship between the lovers. But this, so far from obliterating the distinction between the two loves, puts it into clearer light. If one who was first, in the deep and full sense, your Friend, is then gradually or suddenly revealed as also your lover you will certainly not want to share the Beloved's erotic love...but you will have no jealousy at all about sharing the Friendship. Nothing so enriches...as the discovery that the Beloved can deeply, truly and spontaneously enter into Friendship with the Friends you already had: to feel that not only are we two united by erotic love but we three or four or five are all travelers on the same quest, have all a common vision....

"It could be argued that Friendships are of practical value to the Community. Every civilised religion began in a small group of friends. Mathematics effectively began when a few Greek friends got together to talk about numbers and lines and angles.... Communism...Methodism, the movement against slavery, the Reformation, the Renaissance, might perhaps be said...to have begun in the same way.... But nearly every reader would probably think some of these movements good for society and some bad. The whole list, if accepted, would tend to show, at best, that Friendship is both a possible benefactor and a possible danger to the community....

"Others...would say that Friendship is extremely useful...to the individual. They could produce plenty of authority: 'bare is back without brother behind it' and 'there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.' But [that is] using friend to mean 'ally.' In ordinary usage friend means, or should mean, more than that. A Friend will, to be sure, prove himself to be also an ally when alliance becomes necessary; will lend or give when we are in need...because you would be a false friend if you would not.... The role of benefactor, [however], always remains accidental, even a little alien, to that of Friendship.... We are sorry that any gift or loan...should have been necessary—and now, for heaven's sake, let us forget all about it and go back to the things we really want to do or talk of together.... 'Don't mention it'...expresses what we really feel. The mark of perfect Friendship is not that help will be given when the pinch comes (of course it will) but that, having been given, it makes no difference at all....

"Friendship, unlike Eros, is uninquisitive. You became a man's Friend without knowing or caring whether he is married or single or how he earns his living. What have all these 'unconcerning things, matters of fact' to do with the real question, Do you see the same truth?... In a circle of true Friends...no one cares...about anyone else's family, profession, class, income, race, or previous history. Of course you will get to know about most of these in the end. But casually. They will come out bit by bit, to furnish an illustration or an analogy...never for their own sake. That is the kingliness of Friendship. We meet like sovereign princes of independent states, abroad, on neutral ground, freed from our contexts....

"Hence (if you will not misunderstand me) the exquisite arbitrariness and irresponsibility of this love. I have no duty to be anyone's Friend and no man in the world has a duty to be mine. No claims, no shadow of necessity. Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival....

"The common quest or vision which unites Friends does not absorb them in such a way that they remain ignorant or oblivious of one another. On the contrary it is the very medium in which their mutual love and knowledge exist. One knows nobody so well as one's 'fellow.' Every step of the common journey tests his metal; and the tests are tests we fully understand because we are undergoing them ourselves. Hence, as he rings true time after time, our reliance, our respect and our admiration blossom into an Appreciative love of a singularly robust and well-informed kind. If, at the outset," we payed more attention "to him and less to the thing our Friendship is 'about,' we should not have come to know or love him so well. You will not" come to know "the warrior, the poet, the philosopher or the Christian by staring in his eyes as if he were your [mate]: better fight beside him, read with him, argue with him, pray with him.

"In a perfect Friendship this Appreciative love is, I think, often so great and so firmly based that each member of the circle feels, in his secret heart, humbled before all the rest. Sometimes he wonders what he is doing there among his betters. He is [blessed] beyond desert to be in such company. Especially when the whole group is together, each bringing out all that is best, wisest, or funniest in all the others. Those are the golden sessions...an Affection mellowed by the years enfolds us. Life—natural life—has no better gift to give. Who could have deserved it?...

"In most societies at most periods Friendships will be between men and men or between women and women ... for they will seldom have had with each other the companionship in common activities which is the matrix of Friendship.... It is this lack, rather than anything in their natures, which excludes Friendship; for where they can be companions they can also become Friends. Hence in a profession (like my own) where men and women work side by side, or in the mission field, or among authors and artists, such Friendship is common. To be sure, what is offered as Friendship on one side may be mistaken for Eros on the other, with painful and embarrassing results. Or what begins as Friendship in both may become also Eros.... Sensible women...if they wanted, would certainly be able to qualify themselves for the world of discussion and ideas [as opposed to mainly narrative forms of communication].... If they are not qualified, [they] never try to enter it or to destroy it. They have other fish to fry. At a mixed party they gravitate to one end of the room and talk women's talk to one another. They don't want us, for this sort of purpose, any more than we want them. It is only the riff-raff of each sex that wants to be incessantly hanging on the other. Live and let live. They laugh at us a good deal. That is just as it should be.... No one ever really appreciated the other sex...without at times feeling them to be funny. For both sexes are. Humanity is tragi-comical....

"Friendship...love, free from instinct, free from all duties but those which love has freely assumed, almost wholly free from jealousy, and free from...the need to be needed, is eminently spiritual. It is the sort of love one can imagine between angels.... Let us beware.... There is spiritual evil as well as spiritual good. There are unholy, as well as holy, angels.... Three significant facts remain to be taken into account.
  1. The distrust Authorities tend to have of close Friendships among their subjects. It may be unjustified; or there may be some basis for it.
  2. The attitude of the majority towards all circles of close Friends. Every name they give such a circle is more or less derogatory: a set, a gang, or a mutual admiration society. Of course this is the voice of Envy. But Envy always brings the truest charge, or the charge nearest to the truth...it hurts more. The charge, therefore, will have to be considered.
  3. Friendship is very rarely the image under which Scripture represents the love between God and Men. It is not entirely neglected; but far more often, seeking a symbol for the highest love of all, Scripture ignores this seemingly almost angelic relation and plunges into the depth of what is most natural and instinctive. Affection is taken as the image when God is represented as our Father; Eros, when Christ is represented as the Bridegroom of the Church.

"Let us begin with the suspicions of those in Authority.... Alone among unsympathetic companions, I hold certain views and standards timidly, half ashamed to avow them and half doubtful if they can after all be right. Put me back among my Friends and in half an hour—in ten minutes—these same views and standards become once more indisputable.  The opinion of this little circle, while I am in it, outweighs that of a thousand outsiders. It is therefore easy to see why Authority frowns on Friendship. Every real Friendship is a sort of secession, even a rebellion. It may be a rebellion...of good men against the badness of society or of bad men against its goodness.... Men who have real Friends are less easy to manage or 'get at'; harder for good Authorities to correct or for bad Authorities to corrupt.... The element of secession, of indifference or deafness (at least on some matters) to the voices of the outer world, is common to all Friendships.... As I know I should be an Outsider to a circle of golfers, mathematicians, or motorists, so I claim the equal right of regarding them as Outsiders to mine. People who bore one another should meet seldom; people who interest one another, often. The danger is that this partial indifference or deafness to outside opinion, justified and necessary though it is, may lead to a wholesale indifference or deafness....

"But that is not all. The partial and defensible deafness was based on some kind of superiority—even if it were only a superior knowledge about stamps. The sense of superiority will then get itself attached to the total deafness. The group will disdain as well as ignore those outside it.... I have said that in a good Friendship each member often feels humility towards the rest. He sees that they are splendid and counts himself lucky to be among them. But unfortunately the they and them are also, from another point of view we and us. Thus the transition from individual humility to corporate pride is very easy.... I think we have all recognized some such tendency in...circles to which we are the Outsiders. I was once at some kind of conference where two clergymen, obviously close friends, began talking about 'uncreated energies' other than God. I asked how there could be any uncreated things except God if the Creed was right in calling Him 'the maker of all things visible and invisible.' Their reply was to glance at one another and laugh. I had no objection to their laughter, but I wanted an answer in words as well. It was not at all a sneering or unpleasant laugh. It expressed very much what Americans would express by saying 'Isn't he cute?'...

"We can detect the pride of Friendshipwhether Olympian [tranquil and tolerant, making Outsiders feel like children], Titanic [militant and embittered against Outsiders], or merely vulgar [meant to make people feel like Outsiders]—in many circles of Friends. It would be rash to assume that our own is safe from its danger; for of course it is in our own that we should be slowest to recognize it.... Friendship must exclude. From the innocent and necessary act of excluding to the spirit of exclusiveness is an easy step; and thence to the degrading pleasure of exclusiveness.... The mass of the people, who are never quite right, are never quite wrong. They are hopelessly mistaken in their belief that every knot of friends came into existence for the sake of...conceit and superiority.... But they would seem to be right in diagnosing pride as the danger to which Friendships are naturally liable. Just because this is the most spiritual of loves the danger which besets it is spiritual too....

Safe Symbols
"Perhaps we may now hazard a guess why Scripture uses Friendship so rarely as an image of the highest love. It is already, in actual fact, too spiritual to be a good symbol of Spiritual things. The highest does not stand without the lowest. God can safely represent Himself to us as Father and Husband because only a lunatic would think that He is physically our sire or that His marriage with the Church is other than mystical. But if Friendship were used for this purpose we might mistake the symbol for the thing symbolised....


"Friendship, then, like the other natural loves, is unable to save itself.... Because it is spiritual and therefore faces a subtler enemy, it must...invoke the divine protection if it hopes to remain sweet. For consider how narrow its true path is. It must not become...'a mutual admiration society'; yet if it is not full of mutual admiration, of Appreciative love, it is not Friendship at all.... It must be for us in our Friendships as it was for Christiana and her party in The Pilgrim's Progress: 'They...could not see that glory each one on herself which they could see in each other. Now therefore they began to esteem each other better than themselves. For you are fairer than I am, said one; and you are more comely than I am, said another.' There is...only one way...we can taste this illustrious experience with safety. And Bunyan has indicated it in the same passage. It was in the House of the Interpreter, after they had been bathed, sealed and freshly clothed in 'White Raiment' that the women saw one another in this light. If we remember the bathing, sealing and robing, we shall be safe....

"In Friendship...we think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years' difference in the date of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another, posting to different regiments, the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meetingany of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of the Ceremonies has been at work. Christ...can truly say to every group of Christian friends, 'You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.' The Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others.... At this feast it is He who has chosen the guests. It is He, we may dare to hope, who sometimes does, and always should, preside. Let us not reckon without our Host. Not that we must always partake of it solemnly.... It is one of the difficult and delightful subtleties of life that we must deeply acknowledge certain things to be serious and yet retain the power and will to treat them often as lightly as a game."
Worth Reading Yourself!

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