Thursday, September 21, 2006

Agapic Love

Have you ever thought about how to define love? We can give a description of it -- love is patient, kind etc. That is what love is like. But what is love? We typically say it's not a a feeling, it's an action or a virtue perhaps. There seem to be different kinds of love -- erotic, friend-love, parental-love, marital-love, divine-love. Some seem to just "happen" to you, like infatuation or the feeling you have for your baby. Some seem to require a great deal of will and work, as in marriage.

So can we talk about mature, agapic love as a state or in terms of actions? Do I say that Smith is "loving" the same way I say that Smith is "humble?" Or can it only exist in our actions? You can't be loving, you can only do loving things. If you do enough loving things consistently over time, I suppose we might say you are a loving person. But then is love just your tendency to do nice things for others? Or is love simply your actions themselves?

Consider Jesus in Gethsemane. What is love in this case? Jesus' feelings toward God or toward humanity? Or is love simply Jesus' choice to go to the cross? Can we say, "There, that's love!" And by that, we mean that event -- the choosing to submit to the Father's will.

I think if agapic love simply is an event that humans can bring about by their choices, then it requires freewill. This is what my paper is about.

These are just some rambling thoughts. I'd love any comments you guys & gals might have. My rough draft is due next Wed. (9/27).
Tuesday, September 12, 2006

When Dribbling, Keep Head Up

I painfully recall the words of my jr. high soccer coach. "Chris, if I have to prop up your chin with a stick, you're going to keep your head up when you dribble." My bad habit of fixating on the ball while I dribbled was driving him nuts. Apparently, he was all stressed out about "passing" or something. Eventually I realized that it's hard to play with a team when you can't see your teammates. The only people I was even aware of were those who intruded my shrunken peripheral vision, and they were enemies.

I think my life in general has become that way the last few years. In fact, I think this is the normal human inclination. I'm so focused on myself, that I can't see the beautiful people around me. Those who need love, and those who offer it. I've simply grown embittered about my own gaping needs.

Thank God for St. Francis. This prayer of his has become my daily meditation. Like a stick propped under the chin, it is helping me look up.

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred . . . let me sow love
Where there is injury . . . pardon
Where there is doubt . . . faith
Where there is despair . . . hope
Where there is darkness . . . light
Where there is sadness . . . joy

O, Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled . . . as to console
To be understood . . . as to understand,
To be loved . . . as to love
For it is in giving . . . that we receive,
It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned,
It is in dying . . . that we are born to eternal life.
Sunday, September 10, 2006

Love and Freedom

I'm pondering an idea for a paper concerning the possibility of mature, agape-type love without freedom of the will. If at any given moment of choice, we only have one option, what does that mean for love?

How would you feel if your significant other had to love you? Either because of God's control or because of genes and chemistry? Would this be akin to a love potion scenario? No matter how it seems to the potion-drinker, we all know that she was helpless, and if this is the case, then I do not consider myself loved. The question will always linger about unanswered -- how would she have chosen if she had not taken the potion?

I think that the essential feature of agape-love is the movement of the will. It is not a feeling, it is not something that just happens to you. It is something you choose.