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.

Will religious beliefs be acknowledged when Boy Scouts starts allowing gay leaders, volunteers? Watch

Image of Jennifer Tyrrell of Bridgeport, Ohio, a Cub Scout den leader who was kicked out in 2012 for being openly gay, embraces her son Cruz Burns.

By Kevin J. Jones, CNA/EWTN News

The Boy Scouts of America is moving to change its leadership standards in order to allow openly homosexual adult leaders and volunteers. While the organization promises that individual church-affiliated councils can choose their own leaders, at least one critic ... continue reading


THE THIRD VIDEO: The latest and most shocking footage of Planned Parenthood's abortion practices (WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO) Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

First there was a video revealing Planned Parenthood Federation of America's Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola casually discussing selling aborted baby organs over lunch, and admitting to using partial-birth abortions to get her hands on intact ... continue reading


Planned Parenthood HACKED, private employee information revealed Watch

Image of

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Planned Parenthood's website was hacked by a group of hackers who managed to gain access into Planned Parenthood and acquire the site's databases, including the names and email addresses of employees. These details were released by the hackers to the public. MUNTINLUPA ... continue reading


Threatening note promising revenge attacks found on U.S. military serviceman's car Watch

Image of The anonymous note comes just a week after the tragic shooting at military locations in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Under the windshield wiper of a car, owned by an unidentified serviceman, was a note warning the military of a revenge under investigation. Authorities believe the car was targeted because of the license plate identified the owner is a part of the military service. ... continue reading


Missouri Sheriff's 'inspiring' phrase on police patrol cars enrages atheists Watch

Image of Stone County police cars now have

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Missouri sheriff made the decision to adorn all of his station's police patrol cars with the words, "In God We Trust." It has quickly sparked up a major debate and inevitably, atheist activists are quite frustrated about it. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES -The Missouri ... continue reading


Humility not Haughtiness: Dana Milbank is Absolutely Wrong about Rick Santorum Watch

Image of Pictured: Rick and Karen Santorum at campaign launch

By Keith A Fournier

Dana Milbank was wrong in insinuating that Rick Santorum's use of the third person in referring to his campaign was akin to a - royal we. To the contrary, it reveals the heart of a humble man who deeply cares about others. Humility is such a rare quality these days ... continue reading


Does Planned Parenthood Contribute Anything of Value to Society?

Image of Margaret Sanger

By Matt C. Abbott

Granted, the Church's infallible teaching on the intrinsic immorality of contraception is derided by the libertine left, and too few Catholics assent to it. (At least some of the blame for this sad reality falls on weak and dissident clergy, but that's a subject ... continue reading


Obama to Abortionists: Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you. Watch

Image of President Obama at Planned Parenthood conference

By Ken Blackwell

In two startling videos, we have seen Planned Parenthood leaders engaged in a ghoulish traffic in the organs of unborn children whom they have killed. My colleague at Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, discussed this horror on his recent radio show in an ... continue reading


Mystery man found decomposing inside his car identified by fiancee as an undercover agent

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A man was found dead and decomposing inside his car, parked in a neighborhood in Southern California last Friday. Apparently, he had already been dead for two weeks when he was discovered. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - CBS Sacramento Local reported that ... continue reading


Disgusting, horrific stories of abuse: 68-year-old man drugged, sexually abused and performed surgical procedures on a young girl for six years Watch

Image of Girl [not pictured] experiences traumatizing abuse for six years. [Photo by: Alamy]

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A 68-year-old man has drugged a young girl, sexually assaulted her with sharp objects and sucked fat from her stomach to inject into her breasts over a devastating span of six years. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - According to the police, Louis Romano ... 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, Exodus 33:7-11; 34:5-9, 28
7 Moses used to take the Tent and pitch it outside ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 103:6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13
6 Yahweh acts with uprightness, with justice to all ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:35-43
35 This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet: ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 28th, 2015 Image

St. Innocent I
July 28: Innocent was born at Albano, Italy. He became Pope, succeeding ... 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