Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

2/13/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

One of the books that made the biggest impression on me in my 20s was C.S. Lewis's Four Loves.

Even on a first reading, however, there was one theme in the Four Loves that troubled me: his distinction between love motivated by the self's need and love freely given by the self toward others and God.  What bothered me was Lewis's failure to underscore how need and gift are inextricably connected in the human person. In short, no person need apologize for their love arising out of their need.  Human persons are born in need and remain in need their entire lives. The need for friendship, the need for Divine love, is integral to our nature. In fact, each arises out of the most fundamental of all loves, our natural eros, the desire that drives our journey, our search towards human fulfillment. 

Highlights

By Deal W. Hudson

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/13/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: CS Lewsi, Books, culture, audiobooks, novels, short story, fiction, nonfiction, biography, autobiography, love, eros, agape, philia, storage, Deal W Hudson


WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - One of the books that made the biggest impression on me in my 20s was C.S. Lewis's Four Loves. Based upon radio shows broadcast by Lewis on the BBC, the four loves treated in his book are eros (desire), storge (maternal love), philia (friendship), and agape (Divine love). Looking at all of Lewis's work, the Four Loves illuminates in straight-forward but flowing language, some basic distinctions between all the kinds of love we call love. 

Such distinctions can make the common struggles of life both easier to understand and to bear.  I would put Aristotle's distinctions between the three types of friendship in his Nicomachean Ethics alongside Lewis's treatment of love as ideas that should be taught to everyone, not just those required to take an introductory philosophy or religion class.  Just as not all love is the same, not all love as friendship is the same. Aristotle drills more deeply than Lewis on the topic of philia. 

Even on a first reading, however, there was one theme in the Four Loves that troubled me: his distinction between love motivated by the self's need and love freely given by the self toward others and God.  What bothered me was Lewis's failure to underscore how need and gift are inextricably connected in the human person. In short, no person need apologize for their love arising out of their need.  Human persons are born in need and remain in need their entire lives. The need for friendship, the need for Divine love, is integral to our nature. In fact, each arises out of the most fundamental of all loves, our natural eros, the desire that drives our journey, our search towards human fulfillment. 

Many Catholic admirers of C.S. Lewis are surprised to find out he never left the Church of England. Books have been devoted to the question of why Lewis never became a Catholic.  One writer explains it as a simple matter of Lewis's place of birth, Belfast in Northern Ireland.  But I have never found a trace of anti-Catholic attitudes in any of Lewis's writing. Indeed, the bulk of his scholarly works were on Catholic texts from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, hardly the literature for someone with a grudge toward the Church of Rome. 

Not only does Lewis bifurcate need-love and gift-love, he virtually equates needs with self-centeredness, throwing a shadow over any act of love that may fulfill, or seek to fulfill, a human.  It is at moments like that Lewis's Protestantism is manifest; that deep suspicion that human nature has sullied our natural desire for God, making eros itself the most likely vehicle of the need-love that Lewis wants us to purge. 

Don't call this an attack on C.S. Lewis, along with Bishop Fulton Sheen, the greatest Christian apologist of the mid-twentieth century.  Might I point out that perhaps his most famous book, Mere Christianity, would not have been so titled by a Catholic writer. Catholic Christianity is the opposite of a "mere" view of teaching and tradition; if anything a Catholic version of Mere Christianity would be entitled, The Everything of Christianity.

What does the Catholic faith say about the fundamental human needs that inhabit eros as it searches the earth and sky for answers to the human condition and ultimate fulfillment? I've never seen this explained better than in the final chapters of Etienne Gilson's magisterial The Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas. Gilson traces the same issue of human eros dogged by the burden of falseness.

Following Aquinas to his supernatural account of God's agape, he explains that the self-love, the self-concern at the heart of eros, is redeemed when by faith we learn to love ourselves, to desire that our needs be met with the grace of God's own agape. Thus, eros is lifted up from its fallenness, not by excoriating it with the demands of a gift it cannot make, but by placing the human person in the presence of Him whose love can infuse our own, turning our desire towards what is truly good, and the source of final happiness.

© Deal W. Hudson, Ph.D

-----
Deal W. Hudson is president of the Morley Institute of Church and Culture, Senior Editor and Movie Critic at Catholic Online, and former publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine.This column and subsequent contributions are an excerpt from a forthcoming book. Dr. Hudson's new radio show, Church and Culture, will begin broadcasting in February on the Ave Maria Radio Network.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More U.S.

5 things to look forward to during Pope Francis' visit to the United States Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis is set to visit Washington D.C, New York and Philadelphia, USA this coming September 22-27, 2015 for the World Meeting of Families. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Listed below are 5 things to look forward to during his visit:1. Focus on family ... continue reading


Some conservative Catholics view Pope Francis' positions on some 'liberal' issues with increasing alarm Watch

Image of Among conservative Catholics in the United States, Pope Francis' favorable ratings fell from 72 percent last year to 45 percent in July. His favorable rating among all Catholics dropped from 89 percent to 71 percent.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis currently enjoys a very high approval rating among catholic in the United States. A Pew Research Poll reported an 86 percent approval rating. However, there are misgivings among more conservative Catholics that the Pope is straying into economic ... continue reading


Hurricane Katrina: Ten Years Later Watch

Image of Hurricane Katrina tore communities apart.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Hurricane Katrina left nearly 2,000 people dead and thousands more were homeless and wounded. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused America's most expensive natural disaster, with a repair bill of $150 billion. Entire roads were washed ... continue reading


PASTORPOCALYPSE - At least 400 church leaders to RESIGN Sunday after Ashley Madison accounts revealed Watch

Image of At least 400 pastors are expected to resign this Sunday.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

This Sunday could be a distressing day for millions of churchgoers across the country. As many as 400 pastors, some of them leading megachurch congregations, may resign following the Ashley Madison leak. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Hypocrisy can be found in ... continue reading


Christian man beaten to death by Muslim refugees in Maine Watch

Image of Freddy Akoa, the victim of a savage beating by three men.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An assumed Christian man was found dead in his apartment with a bloody Bible near his head. The murder is believed to have been committed by three Muslim refugees who attended a party at the dead man's home in Portland, Maine. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


St Augustine on a Personal Relationship with Jesus Watch

Image of St Augustine

By Deacon Keith Fournier

But we too can encounter Christ in reading Sacred Scripture, in prayer, in the liturgical life of the Church. We can touch Christ's Heart and feel him touching ours. Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with the Risen One do we ... continue reading


'We're going to get through this together': WDBJ stands together the day after the tragic live-shooting of reporter and cameraman Watch

Image of Colleagues hug during the moment of silence for their fallen team members.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

WDBJ-TV station grieves the loss of Alison Parker and Adam Ward the morning after their on-air murders.  Los Angeles, California (Catholic Online) - Thursday morning was emotional, as WDBJ-TV anchor Kim McBroom joined hands with anchor Steve Grand, who came in ... continue reading


Colorado movie theater assassin James Holmes will never step outside of a prison - ever Watch

Image of Obsessed with killing people since he was a teenager, James Holmes said he studied neuroscience in part to fix his own

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

On July 20, 2012, James Eagan Holmes, now 27, walked into an Aurora, Colorado movie theater during a late-night showing of "The Dark Knight Rises." He opened fire, killing 12 people and wounded 70. Holmes will never step outside a prison ever again - he was sentenced ... continue reading


Bizarre, twisted story trails behind Virginia TV reporter killer Vester Flanagan Watch

Image of Failed TV news anchor Vester Flanagan was notorious for his

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Stories have come forward regarding 41-year-old former TV news reporter Vester Flanagan, accused in the on-air shooting deaths of 24-year-old WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and 27-year-old camera operator Adam Ward. Flanagan, who committed suicide after the ... continue reading


Vatican did not consent to sponsor Palestinian flag initiative at United Nations Watch

Image of Only member states' flags are currently eligible to fly at U.N. headquarters.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It seems that certain parties leapt to conclusions too readily... The Vatican has requested that the Palestinian U.N. mission to remove all references to the Holy See from a draft resolution. The Palestinians have put forth a formal request to the U.N. General Assembly ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 96:1, 3, 4-5, 11-12, 13
1 Sing a new song to Yahweh! Sing to Yahweh, all the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:16-30
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 31st, 2015 Image

St. Raymond Nonnatus
August 31: Raymond was born at Portella, Catalonia, Spain. He was delivered ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter