Monday, October 03, 2005

Catholic Analysis Emphasizes Agape

But as I read it and hear it, Lewis would view such serious questioning of our natural loves as essential. A deformed storge or affection can easily become a wild possessiveness that destroys the object of affection. A deformed philia can become an excuse to exclude others in complacent pridefulness. And a deformed eros can lead to the mere use of others as objects in order to re-experience the evanescent thrill of infatuation regardless of the human cost involved. In the end, it is agape, the divine love that is incarnated in the Cross that saves them all and gives them their rightful place in the sun.

As Christians, we have a tremendous advantage. Whenever we are in doubt in particular circumstances as to how we ought to love, we can look at a crucifix (an advantage of being Catholic or Eastern Orthodox!). No long explanations are needed. The claims of mere selfishness melt in the face of the crucifix. The message is clearer than any multi-hour sermon or seminar could communicate. Yes, let us celebrate our natural loves; but to really have them in all their glory they must, in a sense, die and rise up again as agape. That is the paradox of Christianity that, strangely enough, lets grace build and elevate nature so that nature can be most truly itself. The result is the abundant life promised by Christ. And, it is clear, as you listen to Lewis, that as a Christian he indeed lived life abundantly and fully. He did not miss out on anything the world has to offer.

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