Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis—Additional Gems from His Audio Recordings

I heard the audio recordings first and then read the book. When reading the book, I found myself missing favorite colorful expressions and helpful explanations C.S. Lewis gave in his mellifluous baritone, so I listened to the recordings again to learn if I remembered correctly. Thanks more to Lewis's memorable turn of phrase than to my memory, what I missed is thereand then some! I don't know why Lewis didn't include those gems from the 1958 recordings in the book that  came out in 1960, but several reasonable explanations came to mind when thinking about the matter:
  1. In those days it was not a simple matter to transfer audio recordings into an accurate transcript a writer could adapt into book form. Even today, speech-recognition technology is still in its early stages. C.S. Lewis brought handwritten notes with him into the recording studio, and that is probably what he used when writing the book rather than word-for-word transcripts someone would have had to painstakingly type from the radio broadcasts.
  2. It wasn't always easy to get a copy of the audio recordings themselves because studio tapes were  routinely copied over for other recordings since they were not inexpensive.  That was true as late as the early 1990s, as I observed when working for Grace to You, a radio and publications ministry. Our recording engineer used to have mass mailings of tape reels to hundreds of radio stations that would return those reels. A major improvement was when GTY was able to mail disposable cassettes that did not need to be returned. Now, of course, new broadcasts are up and downloaded via the Internet. A complicating factor in C.S. Lewis's time was he lived in England while the Episcopalian ministry arranging The Four Loves broadcasts was in America. People were not as accessible to one another as they are in our times.
  3. Even if C.S. Lewis  had the latest technological advantages of both audio recordings and accurate word-for-word transcripts, he was long accustomed to producing handwritten manuscripts. More important, he was busy caring for his beloved wife, Joy, in the final stage of her cancer at their Oxford home as a hospice setting. She passed away in 1960, the year The Four Loves was published. Lewis himself was in ill health at that time and followed her three years later.
Given those facts and that C.S. Lewis was a faithful Christian and gifted educator, I believe he would be pleased for anyone to benefit from gems in The Four Loves recordings that didn't make it into the book. Lewis's recorded Love Gems are here presented as I best can mine them so they may sparkle brightly in print, where they can be held up to the light and examined carefully for their brilliance. I illustrated them with lovely photos of many gems mentioned in the Bible. At the end of this post is a link to my illustrated summary of The Four Loves book, to which I added the Gems (so indicated), as appropriate. More important are links to The Four Loves book and audio recordings so you can order and mine them for yourself, if you like.


Diamond Gem
"In Greek they have four words for love: storge (two syllables; the g is hard with a long e) means affection, the sort of love that ought to be between near relations; philia means friendship; eros is, of course, the love between the sexes; and agape (three syllables; short a, hard g, long e) is love in the Christian senseGod's love for man and the Christian's love for the brethren. I want to talk about all four and I'll begin with storge or affection." This is exactly how the radio broadcast begins: right out of the gate and straight to the point, a contrast to the two-chapter roundabout in the book. In fairness, however, the roundabout covers attractive or at least interesting ground if you have the time for it, but be aware it's somewhat easy to lose your way there.

Ruby Gem
"The feeling of storge is so nearly organic, so gradual, so unemphatic, that you could no more pride yourself on it than on getting sleepy towards bedtime. It lives with humble, undressed private things: the thump of a drowsy dog's tail on the kitchen floor...a toy left on the lawn. It's the most comfortable and least ecstatic of loves. It is to our emotions what soft slippers and an easy, almost worn-out chair and old clothes are to our bodies. Wraps you around like a blanket, almost like sleep."

Sapphire Gem
"Every good marriage, even every courtship, makes for its eros, so to speak, a nest of storge, like the nest of rice you build for your helping of curry." This is a memorable illustration of adding something mellow to balance the spice in life (but it's likely to make you hungry). If you've ever beheld the wonder of newborn baby birds in their nest, you'll never forget it and this illustration instantly brings that cozy vision to mind.

Emerald Gem
"The resemblance between agape and storge is astonishing. Storge 'is not puffed up, it suffers long and is kind' [1 Corinthians 13:4]. It loves the unloveable. It also loves goodness, which is the essentially loveable. We might be tempted to identify the two, to say that what I've been calling storge is not a special and wholly natural kind of love, but Love itself or goodness, the rightful Sovereign of the world. Such identification seems implicit in much nineteenth-century fiction: in Trollope, in Thackery, even at times in George Eliot. The conflict between good and evil is represented simply as a conflict between the domestic affections and, say, ambition or snobbery or gambling or whatnot. And when the hero is claimed or reclaimed by the domestic affections, we're apparently meant to feel that he's saved. Of course, no Christian could accept this idolatry of the domestic affections. Those authors write as if they'd never heard—never felt the need of denying—the text about hating wife and mother and one's life also for Christ's sake. We've been better taught...but that's not the side of the thing I want to emphasize at the moment. These authors also take insufficient notice of some facts about storge which are discernible without Christian instruction. They're a matter of common observation and bitter experience.... This natural love carries within her seeds of natural hatred."

Topaz Gem
"If you speak of philia with any seriousness, you are now quite likely to be suspected of  homosexuality.... It doesn't at all prove that those who bring the charge are homosexuals themselves, nor would I moralize upon them if they were. How a man can feel anything but bewildered pity for the genuinely homosexual I've never been able to understand. What it does prove is that they've either never known friendship or never known eros. For I appeal to everyone who's known both to bear me witness that in some ways nothing is so unlike a friendship as a love affair." In all his writings C.S. Lewis was consistently faithful to the Scriptures in both describing homosexuality as a sin and treating homosexuals with compassion. It is just as important today to get both right.
Jasper Gem

"A life without it [same-sex camaraderie] would be crippled. And for my part I have the deepest suspicions of those wretched people who find no pleasure in the society of their own sex. Heaven protect me from a man who needs only women and a woman who needs only men!" This is strong medicine but if taken in the right spirit, it will promote friendship and avoid condescension toward either sex.

Amethyst Gem
"The friend is most clearly distinguishable from the companion in that after any tract of time or any change of residence or occupation, the old unity will be intact. Everything will be taken up again as if we had been parted for only a few hours. We've no need to fall back on reminiscences, though we may do so for the pleasure of it, but we're not reduced to them. Whereas the attempted revival of mere companionship has no other coin. The difference between mere companionship and friendship depends on the nature of the shared activity."

Tiger's Eye Gem
"We may feel the death of a great friend less than someone or something which we loved with very moderate storge, even an animal. The one may fill our eyes with tears, the other not. But the object loved with storge may after that momentary, and not wholly painful, tenderness make hardly any difference to our life. The death of a friend may impoverish us every year or every month until we die. We are like a man who has lost a limb. The stump may not ache or not much, but no more tennis, no more mountain walks. Write it all off."

Rose Quartz Gem
"Friends give us moral supportor immoral support....There's a moral ambivalence inherent in friendship. It can be a school of individual humility easily there comes a corporate pride. I may be unworthy but we, the set, are magnificent.... Friendship is a resistance movement. It can resist God as well as society." This sage observation is an application of 1 Corinthians 15:33, "Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals" and Proverbs 22:24, "Make no friendship with an angry man...lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul."

Sexual Love

Carnelian Gem
"I want to turn to a very difficult and even dangerous theme: the kind of love I call Eros, by which I don't mean sexual experience in general but that special variety of it we call 'being in love.' That the state of being in love is a specifically, although not universally, human variation of sexual experience I don't propose to dispute. We must notice at once, however, that this statement is part of our reconstructed history of the universe, not necessarily a description of what all people feel to be happening when they fall in love. It may be what some feel: a man may first feel sexual desire for a woman and then afterwords go on to fall in love with her. I suspect this is rather rare; it's what schoolboys imagine that falling in love will be like. I believe more often what goes on in consciousness is the reverse: what comes first is a delighted preoccupation with the Beloved in her totality." The insight into schoolboys, which Lewis knew by experience, and the  observation about reconstructed history are unique to the radio broadcast. The latter he would cite as an example of "chronological snobbery," a term he used to describe the incorrect notion that whatever is the common thought of the age should automatically be acceptable, or politically correct, as we say today.

Jacinth Gem
"Eros, though the king of pleasures, always (at his height) has the air of regarding pleasure as a by-product. Hence in his realm the miraculous combination of great desire with great ease in abstaining. And anyway, whose pleasure? The distinction between giving and receiving is here obliterated." That miraculous combination is fresh insight not found in the book.

Zircon Gem
"It is all part of the game; a game of catch-as-catch can, and the escapes and tumbles and head-on collisions are to be treated as a romp. Only if we so treat them shall we fall soft, and lose with good temper, and win (when we do win) lightheartedly." This sentence carries on the delightful metaphor of childhood games ending at their best.

Beryl Gem
"Natural things are dangerous when they begin to seem too divine. We must understand and distinguish. This is especially true of an attitude which Venus, at her gravest, calls forth in most but not all pairs of lovers." This broadcast gem reflects the wisdom of Hebrews 5:14: "Solid food is for the mature, that is, those who because of practice have their senses trained to discern both good and evil."

Onyx Gem
"Love makes vows without being asked; 'I will be true' are the first words he ever utters. Now, appetites don't speak with that voice. The man who is moved to over eat or over drink doesn't at all necessarily resolve on lifelong gluttony or drunkenness. If anything he is far more likely to assure himself that this is the very last time he will indulge in either. He reaches out his hand for the decanter in order to fortify with one more glass his resolution to become a teetotaler!" Eros is like the amorous man with a new woman each time you see him, but firm in his belief that "this time it's the real thing" or like the intellectual faddist who thinks he has finally found the truth. "Both trust the passion, at a very early phase of it, to do for them what no passion can do. A passion can only move us, only supply incentive and energy. It is merely the dive that gets us into the water. Once in, swimmingnot diving'sthe thing. The faddist's delight in the discovery of what he thinks is truth is to be admired, not mocked. The trouble is, he expects the possession and use of truth to be exactly like the discovery. If after his dive he used his muscles and swam, his history would be quite different. The amorist similarly expects being in love to be exactly like falling in love. When the delicious falling is over, when the dive's got him into the water, he doesn't know how to go on. He has enjoyed the incentive of the passion; he never discovers what it is an incentive to so he presently climbs out and tries a dive in a different pond. For love by itself will not keep us in love, or not for very long. Falling in love is something that happens to us; being in lovestill more, remaining permanently in loveis something we do. No passion is self-preservative. The promise Eros makes can be kept but it isn't Eros that can keep it."

Sardius Gem
"In clearer language, you need a firm will to justice. You need a will already pretty well trained and disciplined; in the long run you need the grace of God. And in this Eros is like all the natural loves: they have not within themselves resources to secure their own permanence or to keep themselves from internal corruptions, nor to be innocent in dealing with those outside the circle of love." Thus Lewis prepares anyone who has ever felt like an outsider to appreciate the unique benefits of divine love.

Divine Love

Carbuncle Gem
The  broadcast on the last of the four loves begins, "All through these talks I've been touching very lightly on a theme which anyone who was treating on the natural loves from a Christian point of view would have emphasized far more strongly a few centuries ago. If the Victorians needed the reminder that love is not enough, the older theologians were always saying very loudly and sternly that (natural) love is likely to be a great deal too much. The danger of loving our fellow-creatures too little was less present to their minds than that of loving them idolatrously. In every wife, mother, child and friend they saw a possible rival to God. And so of course does Our Lord. There was therefore in my mind no question of simple dissent from the older doctrine; there has been a different method. I have taken a roundabout way. In my critique of the loves, I have stressed their rivalry to God less than their failure without God to be completely or remain securely the sorts of love they profess to be. And this, I hope, might make it easier for us to believe and not merely to acknowledge verbally that they are, after all, second things because to let us down while legitimately attracting us is the very characteristic of a second thing which has been treated as a first thing." The best teachers understand their audience and seek to promote sincerity of heart.

Chalcedony Gem
"There is a quite different and highly respected way of trying to divert us from inordinate love of the creature which I find myself compelled to reject, though I do so with trembling. In words that can still bring tears to a man's eyes St. Augustine describes the desolation in which he was plunged by the death of his great friend Nebridius. He then goes on to draw what he thinks the moral: 'This is what comes,' he says, 'of giving your heart to anything but God. All creatures are temporary. It's the very nature of the universe that all individuals should pass away and make room for others. You can't have a temporal universe on any other terms, just as you can't have a spoken sentence until after each word, after filling the air for a moment, passes away and gives place to the next. To give one's heart to a created being is therefore to court disaster. If love is to mean in the long run happiness, not misery, it must mean love for the only Beloved that does not pass away.' Of course this is excellent sense.... There's perhaps no man in the world to whom such canny maxims make a stronger appeal than they do to me. As a boy, though I liked chocolate better, I always bought toffee: it lasted longer. I'm almost incurably cautious, no gambler, a safety-first-man. Gilt-edged securities for me no matter how low the rate of interest.... That God offers us security, not gilt-edged but solid gold, I well believe but not security from sorrow. His love too may break the heart. 'A broken and a contrite heart' [Psalms 34:18 and 51:17] awaits most surely those who follow that road most faithfully." "Tears to a man's eyes" in the broadcast is more emotionally powerful than the neuter reference in the book, as are the additional statements reflecting Augustine's heart and mind. C.S. Lewis has sometimes been accused of being sexist but I think that charge unjust. The two italicized instances here of gender-specific nouns changed in the book demonstrate what I have observed to be his consistent courtesy, almost to a fault, in regarding the feelings of women. I'm glad Lewis said what he did about chocolate and toffee because it helps those of us who don't tend to be particularly cautious to realize how safety-prone we all can tend to be at times, craving long-term pleasure when the shorter pleasure may be best.

Chrysoprase Gem
In turning down our nearest and dearest when they come between us and our obedience to God, "it's very hard to be sure when the occasion has arisen. Some of us are too ready to think that it has, others are not ready enough, and all of us are likely to be mistaken about which sort of people we are. Sometimes a wise friend knows, more rarely he will tell us, most rarely of all we may endure to be told what we are. The extent to which a man can discern and then perform this duty will depend on the extent to which his whole life is already been transformed by the Spirit of God. If it has, then the natural love will already have been placed under, and in some degree converted into agape." How hard it can be to be honest with ourselves but insight like this helps!

Jade Gem
"What then is agape or love itself? We know 'God is love' and again 'Not that we loved God but that He loved us' [from St. John in 1 John 4:8, 10]. We must not begin with the soul's desire for God...but with God's love for the creatures. Love itself, God's love, is utterly disassociated from need. It is manifested first in creation and then in redemption. The doctrine that God was under no necessity to create is not a bit of useless and abstract scholasticism. It is essential, for it reveals the nature of agape: that which in itself is complete, self-sufficient, eternally blessed, which has no wants to satisfy, creates what it doesn't need, creates because it desires to give, and gives seeing in the very moment of creation the necessity for the crucifixion. Insofar as we've become capable of that sort of love, agape is entering our lives. That element of our natural loves which consists of our need for the Beloved is not Love itself. The desire to be loved is not Love itself. The delight in being loved is not Love itself. Now don't misunderstand: this element is not a sin or impurity in our love which we must try to expel. The need for the Beloved is no more a sin than the need for one's breakfast. To be loved is the soul's food, as bread and meat and vegetables are the body's. A loss of appetite for either would show something wrong. Both are innocent but both are merely natural.... The invitation to turn all natural loves into agape is never lacking. And this to a Christian explains  why disappointment and frictions must and should await us in them all." 

Crystal Gem
"Such I conceive as the world of agape: a world of unbounded giving and unashamed receiving, where all blessed creatures need and know that they need nothing but God and are therefore set free to love one another disinterestedly. And so your love shall be like His, born neither of my need nor your deserving but of plain bounty. I think those are drawing near to heaven who in this life find that they need men less and love men more and delight more in being loved without being needed. For where agape is, there in  some degree is heaven. In these talks I've spoken most about the power of agape to transform and preserve our natural loves, but I hope I'm leaving no one under the impression that that is agape's function: that she is the means and the well-being of the natural loves is the end. Of course, it's the other way round. Their ultimate value lies in their power to prepare us for agape and to provide, as it were, embodiments of agape when God gives it.... Some will first know it in their relations with enemies, beggars, or criminals before they learn it in their private and natural loves.... Sometimes bereavement may be necessary; nearly always there will be frets and rubs, yet somehow or another this conversion of our natural loves into agape is necessary if those natural loves are to enter the heavenly life."

Emerald and Diamond Gems
"All this time I've taken the love of God to mean solely God's love for man. St. John led me into it; I still think it's the safe and sober approach, but is there no more than this? Isn't the First Commandment to love God? Yes...there is indeed a way of loving God which is easy to none but possible to all: 'Inasmuch as ye did it to the least of these, My brethren, ye did it to Me' [Matthew 25:40]. We can see the face of Christ in every man and act accordingly. And there is also the love expressed solely in obedience. There is love for the humanity of our Lord, for the Holy Child or the Sufferer. There is also the unsatisfied love thirst or longing for God. But of what is beyond all these, what is neither love of God in man, nor in obedience, nor love of the man in God, nor love longingof fruition in this life and foretaste of Beatitude [Beatific vision of God]—I'm not the man to speak. Even if I heard rumors or made guesses, I couldn't put them into this form; I'd need myths and symbols [which, in a sense, he already used in The Last Battle, the last Narnia chronicle, when describing Aslan's Country or Heaven]. All that can be said here is that even on those high levels, though something goes from man to God, yet allincluding this somethingcomes from God to man. If he rises, he does so lifted on a wave of the incoming tide of God's love for him."

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  1. THanks for this Alacin! I hope it is okay that I have shared it here or there.

  2. You're welcome and I'm delighted to have you do so, fellow pilgrim!