Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Four Loves by C S Lewis

Rereading The Four Loves by C S Lewis reinforces my commitment to not reread the Christian books I so dearly loved twenty years ago. Once on my top ten list, if not in the top five, upon rereading it I found myself looking at it with a critical eye, appreciating more the rhetorical style and tone rather than the content. I think this was a protective response to keep me removed from the content which, for the most part, was predictable and familiar. When he argues on page 71 that the affection lost between brethren because one outgrows the other is more painful than the infidelity of a spouse, I actually stopped to see if he had already married Joy Gresham or not. He had so I can only assume that he was so confident of her fidelity that he could make such a bold statement. To suggest that any betrayal is more or less painful than another is to speak out of personal ignorance of that kind of pain. Then I reached page 93 and nearly closed the book unfinished. I only persevered because I had remembered that last section was my favorite when I had first read the text ages ago. But the terms “abnormal Eros,” “contamination,” and “pansies” echoed for me throughout the rest of the text reminding me of everything that broke my heart before. I feel like I have lost a friend as a result of rereading this book. Or, rather, I feel that I have peeked inside my friend’s closet and recognized the things I disliked most about myself and, in rejecting that judgmental and self-righteous reflection, I am having to turn away from a once dear friend. No. What I feel is that I am seeing my friend for the first time, a reflection of who I was, and recognizing that I have moved into a different place. It is a sadness, yes. But there is endless and infinite peace. Still, it all begs the question—Will I ever reread Julian of Norwich? To lose her would truly break my heart.

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