Sunday’s Sermon: LOVE

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Let’s begin with a brief quote from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

This article examines the nature of love and some of the ethical and political ramifications. For the philosopher, the question “what is love?” generates a host of issues: love is an abstract noun which means for some it is a word unattached to anything real or sensible, that is all; for others, it is a means by which our being—our self and its world—are irrevocably affected once we are ‘touched by love’; some have sought to analyze it, others have preferred to leave it in the realm of the ineffable.

Yet it is undeniable that love plays an enormous and unavoidable role in our several cultures; we find it discussed in song, film, and novels—humorously or seriously; it is a constant theme of maturing life and a vibrant theme for youth. Philosophically, the nature of love has, since the time of the Ancient Greeks, been a mainstay in philosophy, producing theories that range from the materialistic conception of love as purely a physical phenomenon—an animalistic or genetic urge that dictates our behavior—to theories of love as an intensely spiritual affair that in its highest permits us to touch divinity. Historically, in the Western tradition, Plato’s Symposium presents the initiating text, for it provides us with an enormously influential and attractive notion that love is characterized by a series of elevations, in which animalistic desire or base lust is superseded by a more intellectual conception of love which also is surpassed by what may be construed by a theological vision of love that transcends sensual attraction and mutuality. Since then there have been detractors and supporters of Platonic love as well as a host of alternative theories—including that of Plato’s student, Aristotle and his more secular theory of true love reflecting what he described as ‘two bodies and one soul.’

And then please go here and read a recent post and comments on topic.

And finally and most importantly please add your own comments! Tell us your love story.


9 thoughts on “Sunday’s Sermon: LOVE

    (My entire last issue was dedicated to this blasted topic, by the way! You still haven’t received them yet huh? I’ll have to mail them from here)
    But instead of trying to condense it into a blog comment, I’ll share this anonymous quote that I have come to really believe..experientially:

    “True love is when you put someone on a pedestal, and they fall – but you are there to catch them.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Where to start? is the right question. And it is because in English we have the word “love” to cover many situations: I love spaghetti and meatballs, my dog, my girl friend, and my siblings, my parents and my god. Oh, and my morning coffee.


  3. It is how we use the word that matters, I suppose. English is limited; try these:

    The Greek language distinguishes at least four different ways as to how the word love is used. Ancient Greek has four distinct words for love: agápe, éros, philía, and storgē. However, as with other languages, it has been historically difficult to separate the meanings of these words when used outside of their respective contexts. Nonetheless, the senses in which these words were generally used are as follows:

    Agápe (ἀγάπη agápē ) [1] means “love: esp. charity; the love of God for man and of man for God.”[2] Agape is used in ancient texts to denote feelings for one’s children and the feelings for a spouse, and it was also used to refer to a love feast.[3] Agape is used by Christians to express the unconditional love of God for his children.[4] This type of love was further explained by Thomas Aquinas as “to will the good of another.”[5]
    Éros (ἔρως érōs) means “love, mostly of the sexual passion.”[6] The Modern Greek word “erotas” means “intimate love.” Plato refined his own definition: Although eros is initially felt for a person, with contemplation it becomes an appreciation of the beauty within that person, or even becomes appreciation of beauty itself. Plato does not talk of physical attraction as a necessary part of love, hence the use of the word platonic to mean, “without physical attraction.” In the Symposium, the most famous ancient work on the subject, Plato has Socrates argue that eros helps the soul recall knowledge of beauty, and contributes to an understanding of spiritual truth, the ideal “Form” of youthful beauty that leads us humans to feel erotic desire – thus suggesting that even that sensually based love aspires to the non-corporeal, spiritual plane of existence; that is, finding its truth, just like finding any truth, leads to transcendence.[7] Lovers and philosophers are all inspired to seek truth through the means of eros.
    Philia (φιλία philía) means “affectionate regard, friendship,” usually “between equals.”[8] It is a dispassionate virtuous love, a concept developed by Aristotle.[9] In his best-known work on ethics, Nicomachean Ethics, philia is expressed variously as loyalty to friends (specifically, “brotherly love”), family, and community, and requires virtue, equality, and familiarity. Furthermore, in the same text philos denotes a general type of love, used for love between family, between friends, a desire or enjoyment of an activity, as well as between lovers.
    Storge (στοργή storgē) means “love, affection” and “especially of parents and children”[10] It’s the common or natural empathy, like that felt by parents for offspring.[11] Rarely used in ancient works, and then almost exclusively as a descriptor of relationships within the family. It is also known to express mere acceptance or putting up with situations, as in “loving” the tyrant. This is also used when referencing the love for ones country or a favorite sports team.


  4. This is from Mandy Len Catron’s TED lecture “A better way to talk about love”:

    “Most of us will probably fall in love a few times over the course of our lives, and in the English language, this metaphor, falling, is really the main way that we talk about that experience. I don’t know about you, but when I conceptualize this metaphor, what I picture is straight out of a cartoon — like there’s a man, he’s walking down the sidewalk, without realizing it, he crosses over an open manhole, and he just plummets into the sewer below. And I picture it this way because falling is not jumping. Falling is accidental, it’s uncontrollable. It’s something that happens to us without our consent. And this — this is the main way we talk about starting a new relationship.

    I am a writer and I’m also an English teacher, which means I think about words for a living. You could say that I get paid to argue that the language we use matters, and I would like to argue that many of the metaphors we use to talk about love — maybe even most of them — are a problem”.

    … “And then our culture uses language to shape and reinforce these ideas about love. In this case, we’re talking about metaphors about pain and addiction and madness. It’s kind of an interesting feedback loop. Love is powerful and at times painful, and we express this in our words and stories, but then our words and stories prime us to expect love to be powerful and painful.

    What’s interesting to me is that all of this happens in a culture that values lifelong monogamy. It seems like we want it both ways: we want love to feel like madness, and we want it to last an entire lifetime. That sounds terrible.

    To reconcile this, we need to either change our culture or change our expectations. So, imagine if we were all less passive in love. If we were more assertive, more open-minded, more generous and instead of falling in love, we stepped into love. I know that this is asking a lot, but I’m not actually the first person to suggest this. In their book, “Metaphors We Live By,” linguists Mark Johnson and George Lakoff suggest a really interesting solution to this dilemma, which is to change our metaphors. They argue that metaphors really do shape the way we experience the world, and that they can even act as a guide for future actions, like self-fulfilling prophecies”.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Metaphors We Live By” is a must read for anyone interested in the power of language.You can read a section of the book here.

    Mandy Len Catron’s TED talk is here and worth 15 minutes of your time.

    Thanks for your comment, Laura!


  6. Examples from Metaphors We Live By:

    I could feel the electricity between us. There were sparks.
    I was magnetically drawn to her. They are uncontrollably
    attracted to each other. They gravitated to each other immediately. His whole
    life revolves around her. The atmosphere around them is always charged.
    There is incredible energy in their relationship. They lost their momentum.

    This is a sick relationship. They have a strong, healthy marriage.
    The marriage is dead—it can’t be revived.
    Their marriage is on the mend.
    We’re getting back on our feet.
    Their relationship is in really good shape.
    They’ve got a listless marriage. Their marriage is
    on its last legs. It’s a tired affair.

    1’m crazy about her. She drives me out of my mind.
    He constantly raves about her. He’s gone mad over her.

    She cast her spell over me. The magic is gone. I was spellbound.
    She had me hypnotized.
    He has me in a trance. I was entranced by him.
    I’m charmed by her. She is bewitching.

    He is known for his many rapid conquests.
    She fought for him, but his mistress won out.
    He fled from her advances.
    She pursued him relentlessly.
    He is slowly gaining ground with her. He
    won her hand in marriage. He
    overpowered her. She is besieged by suitors. He has to
    fend them off.
    He enlisted the aid of her friends. He
    made an ally of her mother. Theirs is
    a misalliance if I’ve ever seen one.


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