Saturday, February 22, 2014

C.S. Lewis and Plato / Love and Marriage... and the end of the books

This will be the last post with a quote from C.S. Lewis "The Four Loves".  We have also come nearly to the end of Plato's Republic.

--The Republic seems a bit of a marathon, but there are only 20 pages left, now.  It seems to me to be saying--on one level--that justice in affairs of the soul and the State are to be preferred to injustice.  You would think this might be obvious, but with human beings we have a rampant "justification" of "injustice", or immorality.  And indeed, what what be new about that.

There is injustice, and then we defend it; we try and make it look good.  It is the way of the world, no doubt about it.  And we have seen it in our own souls and the those of our companions.  This self-defense is our natural habitat.

Onto this mess, the Republic tries to impose some order, some education, some restraints, some good thinking and reasoning.

Fine.  One could debate the specifics of this.

What strikes me as odd, is the view of women, and this is how it has been for me all along. One thing about the Bible is that, though many would not find it always women-affirming in the way they would like, it still understands them.  It is a real book about real people with families and tribes that needed to stick together in harsh environments.  There needed to be survival and there needed to be love of God and man.

Above the love of philosophy.  We have here no nice little city state, but desert, enemies within and without, a continual testing of the moral fiber, and a frequent failing. All the foibles are related in very human fashion.  We recognize ourselves and the situations.  We do not have people sitting in market places discussing the most recent ideas.  We have the polar opposite.  We have the nitty-gritty.

And this is how Genesis grips us at the very beginning with its profundity, with the fall, with the curse, with the punishments and the starting over. It is not written by a mere man, by a Plato or a Socrates, or even a Moses.  It grips us in our deepest meanings and resonates.  This is what makes it the sacred scripture.  It is alive.  It is true.

Plato does not seem to get women.  Or maybe it is Socrates talking.  Whoever.  Both of them.  In the relationship to women, we really do have a test of a man.  There many be many tests of a man, but here we have one.  In wanting to eschew domestic entanglements, or on the other hand disorder, they seem to have no clue as to how to deal with women.

There is the talk of the "higher", the just vs. the injust, which does not seem to include anything related to domesticity or faithfulness or plain kindness.

Which brings me back to the last thing I wanted to mention from C.S. Lewis.  In regard to the last two posts, one on Christ's command to "hate" your family when needed, and one the Pagan attitude of being someone rather than letting God, we have Lewis stressing a side point:  this "hatred" something to be avoided.  We make every effort to try and circumvent it.  It happens at times where it has to happen, but never by design.-- It occurred to me afterward that this was an important point.

One page 150 Lewis has just discussed that this commanded "hatred" comes more easily to some than others.  Some will be practically torn to shreds over it.  It is very unnatural to them because of compliant natures.  But ideally it should not come to such divisions.

"How this could come about we may see on a far lower level when the Cavalier poet, going to the wars, says to his mistress:  I could not love thee, dear, so much Loved I not honour more.  There are women to whom the plea would be meaningless.  Honour would be just one of those silly things that Men talk about;  a verbal excuse for, therefore an aggravation of, the offence against 'love's law' which the poet is about to commit.  Lovelace can use it with confidence because his lady is a Cavalier lady who already admits, as he does, the claims of Honour.  He does not need to 'hate' her, to set his face against her, because he and she acknowledge the same law.  They have agreed and understood each other on this matter long before.  the task of converting her to a belief in Honour is not now--now, when the decision is upon them--to be undertaken.  It is this prior agreement which is so necessary when a far greater claim than that of Honour is at stake.  It is too late, when the crisis comes, to begin telling a wife or husband or mother or friend, that yourlove all along had a secret reservation--'under God' or 'so far as  higher Love permits'.  They ought to have been warned;  not, to be sure, explicitly, but by the implication of a thousand talks, by the principle revealed in a hundred decisions upon small matters.  Indeed, a real disagreement on this issue should make itself felt early enough to prevent a marriage or a Friendship from existing at all. The best love of either sort is not blind.  Oliver Elton, speaking of Carlyle and Mill, said that they differed about justice, and that such a difference was naturally fatal 'to any friendship worthy of the name'."   (pp. 151, 152)

Ok, I don't get all the references, but we are seeing here that the commitment to a higher "love", or the allegiance to Christ as Lord, needs to be stated at the outset, not kept hidden to sprung on people until it is too late to deal with emotional or erotic attachments that have developed.  In any case, you want to live in such way, even in mundane matters that this allegiance is apparent and palpable in a variety of matters. -- Indeed, this would seem fair, and "just".

So much about that.


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