Well, I missed last week, so once again playing catch up with the readalong. 🙂 Here are the last two parts – and thanks again to Cleo for hosting this!
Week 3: Friendship
In this chapter, Lewis talks about what he considers to be the “least natural” of the loves: Friendship. It is less “organic” than the other loves, because, unlike Affection which nurtures or Eros which propagates, Friendship is, in a sense, superfluous in that it is not necessary to our survival. In fact, it can be viewed with distrust by authorities or groups of humans, because it means at least two people have withdrawn from the group and are connected by something which distinguishes them from the rest.
This was the most interesting chapter of the book. I don’t have a wide circle of friends, but I appreciate each one I have (online and offline), and I think Lewis pinpoints why it is so hard to find good friends. The problem frequently lies with us. So often we are looking for someone to give us Affection or at least attention – someone to commiserate with us or praise us. But real friendship is centered on a common goal. As he puts it, lovers look each other in the face, but friends stand side-by-side, looking in the same direction.
…Friendship must be about something, even if it were only an enthusiasm for dominoes or white mice. Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow-travellers.
My favorite song about friendship, specifically the friendship of close siblings, is “Firebird” by Owl City.
Week 4: Eros & Charity
In chapter 5, Lewis breaks the subject matter of “being in love” into two parts, “Eros” and “Venus,” the latter referring to sexuality and the former referring to the psychological-emotional connection, or what I would call romantic love. Lewis focuses on Eros, though does refer to Venus as well and how Christian couples should approach it. I have to admit I didn’t really take anything new from this chapter, as these are topics I’ve read extensively about elsewhere. That said, I thought it was an insightful chapter nonetheless.
A lot of (great) songs about Eros are depressing, so here’s an upbeat one – “Tear in My Heart” by Twenty One Pilots:
Chapter 6, “Charity,” contains the famous quote: “To love at all is to be vulnerable.” I also love the passage early in the chapter which compares love to a garden.
…our “decency and common sense” show grey and deathlike beside the geniality of love. And when the garden is in its full glory the gardener’s contributions to that glory will still have been in a sense paltry compared with those of nature. Without life springing from the earth, without rain, light and heat descending from the sky, he could do nothing.
Lewis argues, too, that love need not be an “either/or” choice between our fellow mankind versus God. Rather, we should not be afraid to love others deeply, so long as we love God most.
Charity, from Lewis’s perspective, encompasses three loves: Gift-love, Need-love, and Appreciative-love. In Gift-love, the acts of charity we perform as Christians are gifts back to God (Lewis references Matthew 25). In Need-love, we receive love from our loved ones even if we are not always worthy – Charity here means forgiveness. Finally:
He can awake in man, towards Himself, a supernatural Appreciative love. This is of all gifts the most to be desired . . . With this all things are possible.
I will always be grateful to the people who showed me charity, however great or small, and whether they realized it or not. Some of them honestly changed my life. A song which really sums that up is “An Act of Kindness” by Bastille: