Carl E. Olson | CWR blog
• These Valentine's Day Cuts are belated. Much like my Valentine's Day card for my ex-girlfriend. Who I've been married to for almost twenty years.
• G. K. Chesterton, the master of paradox, on Valentine's Day: "St. Valentine was a priest and denied himself the love of women; but his feast has been turned into a day for love-making." From Alarms and Discursions (1911).
• What is love? And why do we love? And what is the basis of love? I tackled those questions, in however lacking manner, in an essay, "Love and the Skeptic", published in This Rock several years ago. An excerpt:
But what is willed by loving? When we say to another: "It is good that you exist, that you are!"—what do we mean? The question is not nearly as abstract or obtuse as it might sound, for it does serious damage to the flippant claim that man is able to "make a meaning," for love is not about making something ex nihilo, but the recognition and affirmation of what already is. Or, put another way, in seeing the good of another, we choose to embrace and treasure that good.
So Pieper makes an essential distinction: "For what the lover gazing upon his beloved says and means is not: How good that you are so (so clever, useful, capable, skillful), but: It’s good that you are; how wonderful that you exist!" (On Love II). This seemingly simple point has profound ramifications, for it is an affirmation of what is. It involves the recognition that something outside of myself is objectively good and worthy of my love. Because reality is knowable and has objective meaning—not shifting, subjective "meaning"—love is possible and can be known. This, of course, raises the question: Where does the objective meaning of love ultimately originate from if not from myself? It is a question routinely ignored by skeptics, but worth asking of both those who deny God’s existence and those who reject the existence of objective truth: "If your love for your spouse or family is subjective and of a ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ sort, what meaningful, lasting value does it really have?"
The true lover, Pieper argues, intuitively understands, even if not with precise logic, that an affirmation of the beloved’s goodness "would be pointless, were not some other force akin to creation involved—and, moreover, a force not merely preceding his own love but one that is still at work and that he himself, the loving person, participates in and helps along by loving" (On Love II).
Human love, therefore, is an imitation, a reflection, of the divine love that created all that is, including each of us. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, in Deus Caritas Est, "there is a certain relationship between love and the Divine: love promises infinity, eternity—a reality far greater and totally other than our everyday existence" (5). Even Sartre, who is not known for being happy about much of anything, remarked in Being and Nothingness, "This is the basis for the joy of love . . .; we feel that our existence is justified" (3.I).
Hardly the final word, but perhaps of interest. Even to skeptics.
• Did Pope Francis say this, that, or the other thing? There's a good chance that he didn't.
• Speaking of Pope Francis and what he actually said or wrote, do read, "The Liberationist Pope", by Dr. Michel Therrien, penned for Homiletic & Pastoral Review. It is a very thoughtful and insightful analysis of the pontiff's comments about economics.
• College football player and NFL hopeful Michael Sam recently came out of the closet and announced that he is "gay":