Thursday, November 11, 2010

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue. I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

What is love?



"For those wondering what Francis Schaeffer might say about postmodernity and contemporary disputes over language, philosophy, and interpretation, this collection of essays by a third generation staff member of the Swiss L'Abri may provide the answer. Greg Laughery's book runs the gamut of contemporary hermeneutics, using Paul Ricoeur as his sparring partner in each of its five chapters. Here is no despising of the intellect, but a probing reflection on the nature of Christian thought and biblical interpretation. Schaeffer can rest easy: the community at L'Abri continues to ask the right preliminary questions."

Kevin Vanhoozer, Blanchard Professor of Theology, Wheaton College.



The patron saints of reductionism and polarization in contemporary Christian thought frequently dominate disputes over language, philosophy, theology, interpretation, and their interaction. Living Reflections moves in a different direction. It establishes a space for dialogue, mediates one-sided extremes, and offers a hermeneutic of relation and distinction, which depicts a new vision for engaging with these contested issues. Challenging and insightful, it invokes a perceptive wisdom going beyond modernist and postmodernist perspectives, affirming the tension-filled and organic character of Christian truth.


Living Spiritual Rhythms For Today


Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

God is love (e.g. 1. John 4,8)!

For some ones this might be a helping thought to see God loving mankind. Others might be even more confused as God seems to be not loving.

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

...seems to be not loving to them.

Greg said...

Thanks. Yes, indeed God is love, but we are still left with having to work out a little more what that might mean.

As you say so well, there may be some confusion about this.

Sisyphos said...

delight in the existence of the other. Is love more than aesthetics and pity?

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

Sisyphos, what do you mean by aesthetics? Does your object of love need to be aesthetic? Some may love things that are not aesthetic at all...

Greg said...

Thanks. Yes, delight in the existence of the other might be some form of love. I wonder what happens when the other is not to be delighted in? Or, is delight to passive?

Love, I think, should be more than pity. And aesthetics, maybe not less, but more.

Greg said...

Good point.

Sisyphos said...


Well, I read an essay once in which the author split love into two categories: benevolence and aesthetics.
He argued that what we usually might call love actually is explainable by those two motivations.
We either admire beauty of someone or feel that we need to help or protect.

When I think of aesthetics I mean everything what one might admire: soul, body or mind.

It might be reductionistic but at least those motivations are part of our relationships. Hence I wanted to think what makes love more than those two categories.

Greg said...

Good comment. I wonder if the two categories you mention from the essay could be configured as an appreciation of someone or something beautiful and an empathy or sympathetic disposition. True, these are parts of the way we relate, but there are lots of ways we do this and don't call it love.

What makes love more than these categories is an excellent question.

Angela said...

What is love?

Something that is very hard to do.

God's love is unconditional, everlasting, generous, lavish, unlimited...Whoever we are, we can tap
into his generosity of love for us.

I think with God's love pouring into ours we
can love with the same energy, but it's
a constant running for more of his endless

Love is something we're all looking for. Perhaps
it's acceptance for who we are, but also a tough
challenging for us to be all we are intended to be.
In this way God's love is (and maybe ours should
be too) benevolent, aesthetic, and redeeming.
He accepts and has pity, appreciates our qualities,
and challenges growth. This leads to commitment.
Seeing it through.

Greg said...

Thanks. These are good thoughts on a tough subject. Funny how love is often talked about as if its meaning was clearly understood. Seems like there is always more to be said, but your take is helpful in incorporating a number of theological and human characteristics that are crucial.

Sisyphos said...


Love is a turning to the other being motivated by pity and aesthetics. But this turning is signifed as love when it is some form of commitment.
What is commitment?
Maybe an attitude of presence in the other's life or memory of him/her.

Greg said...

Love, it seems to me, is more than what you say it is. Love is at least a set of feelings, actions, desires, and duties. It also entails commitment, which includes, but is not limited to doing things "because of" and "in spite of."

Then there is being loved.

Domocks said...

Hmm. I just finished a paper explaining the necessary coexistence of love and wisdom, and it was indeed difficult to define both of those terms. Although love is an idea or temperament that holds a certain universality and timeless quality, it is still hard to pin it down to a steadfast definition...I wonder if it is possible to talk about what love is while leaving room for it to transcend beyond definition. I also wonder if it is possible to talk about love as beyond a slew of other attributes/virtues as Paul does in 1 Cor. 13. I agree that "true" or "real" love would necessarily ignite the manifestation of those virtues, but what is it exactly that does the igniting?

Maybe it would be advantageous to talk about love as a disposition, orientation, or mode of being. It could be an orientation towards the other (and the Other?), meaning a will to understand, delight, care for, and sacrifice for the other, as well as a hope for the reciprocation. Of course, it is in these manifestations where love becomes difficult, as it does require a certain knowledge about the other. This is where it seems to me that wisdom cannot be separated from love--in order for love to be love, it seems to me, we must possess the discernment to know how to enact love (unless love has solely to do with motivation and not outcome)...or, better yet, love could be on a trajectory towards knowledge--the more you love someone, the more you know them and vice-versa. if this is the case, love starts with a will and has the capacity to grow to more and more true or right or perfect manifestations.

Greg said...

Thanks for the well thought out comment and welcome to Living Spirituality. Your paper sounds interesting.

I agree about the problematic of definitions concerning love and wisdom and perhaps descriptions, with something of definition will have to do.

Knowing and being known are bound to have a certain reciprocity with love and justice. And justice (also needs unpacking) should help us to be more informed about the uncapturable nature of love. Seems like we can start with the not less than and move out from there, while at the same time never coming to the end.