Of Love

We like lists.

Here’s one.

Love is a song
Love is the greatest song
Love is integral
Love is alive
Love is gospel
Love is power
Love is work
Love is desire and fulfillment
Love is suffering
Love is free
Love is true to reality
Love is accurate
Love is simple
Love is individual
Love is a surprise
Love is fearless
Love is exchange of selves
Love is triumphalistic
Love is natural
Love is faithful
Love is ready
Love is all-inclusive
Love is “sexist”
Love is as strong as death

The list is from Three Philosophies of Life, by Peter Kreeft. It’s the parts, each 1-2 pages long, from the book’s chapter on Life as Love. The three chapters are

Life as Vanity
Life as Suffering
Life as Love

and correspond to the wisdom literature

Ecclesiastes
Job
Song of Songs

as well as Dante

Hell
Purgatory
Heaven

among other things. One of Kreeft’s gifts is to show how ideas connect across ages and across philosophies. One of his other gifts is to write about them succinctly, confidently, and lyrically. The book is a short and awesome read.

Here is the list, as I rewrote it in short paragraph form.

Love is a song. In fact, it’s the greatest song. It is a song in dialogue, and all of its parts work together in harmony. This makes it alive, which is good news. A living thing that is good and powerful, but that requires work. There is something we want in it, and love can provide it, but it will require work, and suffering, lots of suffering. Lots of suffering. We choose this in accord with reality, and with seeing things well and rightly.

It’s not, despite the song, complicated. Simply focus on the one individual — God, M, etc. — and be so strong and brave. You will have to be courageous. The results will be a surprise (the good kind). This is true for both parties — both of the individuals — for it is an exchange of selves — God, M, etc. They are doing the same thing you are doing.

Triumph! It’s a celebration! This is where life is, and where we should be. Love must be trusted; faith is central to love, and we cannot divide ourselves in it. Love is ready to do good and right, and so must encompass everything. Love is roles, proportion, and it outlives death.

Of course all of this supposes at least a decent and reasonable understanding of love to begin with — it’s not a feeling, for instance, as it is commanded, and you can’t command a feeling. Feelings are usually one part, both prior and later, of love. But love is not, cannot be, just feeling.

And it also asserts love as how it actually is in goodness, beauty, and truth — and so, how it should be in practice. Our results may vary. And if they do, perhaps our plan is not working. Or we’re doing it wrong.

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