Monday, February 10, 2014

C.S.Lewis/ The Four Loves / Charity 1

"William Morris wrote a poem called Love is Enough and someone is said to have reviewed it briefly in the words  'It isn't'.  Such has been the burden of this book.  The natural loves are not self-sufficient.  Something else, at first vaguely described as 'decency and common sense', but later revealed as goodness, and finally as the whole Christian life in one particular relation, must come to the help of the mere feeling if the feeling is to be kept sweet.

To say this is not to belittle the natural loves but to indicate where their real glory lies.  It is no disparagement to a garden to say that it will not fence and weed itself, nor prune its own fruit trees, nor roll and cut its own lawns.  A garden is a good thing but that is not the sort of goodness it has.  It will remain a garden, as distinct from a wilderness, only if someone does all these things to it.  Its real glory is of quite a different kind.  the very fact that it needs constant weeding and pruning bears witness to that glory.  It teems with life.  It glows with colour and smells like heaven and puts forward at every hour of a summer day beauties which man could never have created and could not even, on his own resources, have imagined...

... to liberate that spendour, to let it become fully what it is trying to be, to have tall trees instead of scrubby tangles, and sweet apples instead of crabs, is part of our purpose.

But only part.  for now we must face a topic that I have long postponed.  Hitherto hardly anything has been said in this book about our natural loves as rivals to the love of God.  Now the question can no longer be avoided.  There were two reasons for my delay.

One--already hinted--is that this question is not the place at which most of us need begin.  it is seldom, at the outset, 'addressed to our condition'.  For most of us the true rivalry lies between the self and the human Other, not yet between the human Other and God.  It is dangerous to press upon a man the duty of getting beyond earthly love when his real difficulty lies in getting so far.  And it is no doubt easy enough to love the fellow-creature less and to imagine that this is happening because we are learning to love god more, when the real reason may be quite different.  We may be only 'mistaking the decays of nature for the increase of Grace'.  Many people do not find it really difficult to hate their wives or mothers.  M. Mauriac, in a fine scene, pictures the other disciples stunned and bewildered by this strange command, but not Judas.  He laps it up easily. "  (p. 141-144)

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