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The Four Loves

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The Four Loves summarizes four kinds of human love--affection, friendship, erotic love, and the love of God. Masterful without being magisterial, this book's wise, gentle, candid reflections on the virtues and dangers of love draw on sources from Jane Austen to St. Augustine. The chapter on charity (love of God) may be the best thing Lewis ever wrote about Christianity. Co The Four Loves summarizes four kinds of human love--affection, friendship, erotic love, and the love of God. Masterful without being magisterial, this book's wise, gentle, candid reflections on the virtues and dangers of love draw on sources from Jane Austen to St. Augustine. The chapter on charity (love of God) may be the best thing Lewis ever wrote about Christianity. Consider his reflection on Augustine's teaching that one must love only God, because only God is eternal, and all earthly love will someday pass away: Who could conceivably begin to love God on such a prudential ground--because the security (so to speak) is better? Who could even include it among the grounds for loving? Would you choose a wife or a Friend--if it comes to that, would you choose a dog--in this spirit? One must be outside the world of love, of all loves, before one thus calculates. His description of Christianity here is no less forceful and opinionated than in Mere Christianity or The Problem of Pain, but it is far less anxious about its reader's response--and therefore more persuasive than any of his apologetics. When he begins to describe the nature of faith, Lewis writes: "Take it as one man's reverie, almost one man's myth. If anything in it is useful to you, use it; if anything is not, never give it a second thought." --Michael Joseph Gross


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The Four Loves summarizes four kinds of human love--affection, friendship, erotic love, and the love of God. Masterful without being magisterial, this book's wise, gentle, candid reflections on the virtues and dangers of love draw on sources from Jane Austen to St. Augustine. The chapter on charity (love of God) may be the best thing Lewis ever wrote about Christianity. Co The Four Loves summarizes four kinds of human love--affection, friendship, erotic love, and the love of God. Masterful without being magisterial, this book's wise, gentle, candid reflections on the virtues and dangers of love draw on sources from Jane Austen to St. Augustine. The chapter on charity (love of God) may be the best thing Lewis ever wrote about Christianity. Consider his reflection on Augustine's teaching that one must love only God, because only God is eternal, and all earthly love will someday pass away: Who could conceivably begin to love God on such a prudential ground--because the security (so to speak) is better? Who could even include it among the grounds for loving? Would you choose a wife or a Friend--if it comes to that, would you choose a dog--in this spirit? One must be outside the world of love, of all loves, before one thus calculates. His description of Christianity here is no less forceful and opinionated than in Mere Christianity or The Problem of Pain, but it is far less anxious about its reader's response--and therefore more persuasive than any of his apologetics. When he begins to describe the nature of faith, Lewis writes: "Take it as one man's reverie, almost one man's myth. If anything in it is useful to you, use it; if anything is not, never give it a second thought." --Michael Joseph Gross

30 review for The Four Loves

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis The Four Loves is a book by C. S. Lewis which explores the nature of love from a Christian and philosophical perspective through thought experiments. The book was based on a set of radio talks from 1958. Taking his start from St. John's words "God is Love", Lewis initially thought to contrast "Need-love" (such as the love of a child for its mother) and "Gift-love" (epitomized by God's love for humanity), to the disparagement of the former. However he swiftly happened on The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis The Four Loves is a book by C. S. Lewis which explores the nature of love from a Christian and philosophical perspective through thought experiments. The book was based on a set of radio talks from 1958. Taking his start from St. John's words "God is Love", Lewis initially thought to contrast "Need-love" (such as the love of a child for its mother) and "Gift-love" (epitomized by God's love for humanity), to the disparagement of the former. However he swiftly happened on the insight that the natures of even these basic categorizations of love are more complicated than they at first seemed: a child's need for parental comfort is a necessity, not a selfish indulgence, while conversely parental Gift-love in excessive form can be a perversion of its own. ‎The four loves, ‎C.S. Lewis‬, ‎San Diago‬: ‎A Harvest Book‬, ‎1991 = 1370‬. 141p, ‎ISBN: 0156329301‬ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: 1999 میلادی عنوان: چهار عشق؛ نویسنده: سی.اس. لوئیس؛ موضوع: عشق (دین)، مسیحیت؛ سده 20 م ا. شربیانی

  2. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    Read this in college when most of it went over my head...then life happens. After a life full of joy and tragedy and senseless loss at times...this work sits in my nightstand drawer so I can be renewed, reawakened and reminded of higher purposes when the world is too much with me.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    Overall a fascinating read, though a bit more "high-brow" than my usual fare. Having a background in the classics, as in OLD classics, would help to make more of it understandable. And sometimes I got a little lost in his logic. However, the points of view on the different types of love were very useful to me, in reflecting on my own life and relationships. If I were to sum up the effect on me in one word, it would be "clarifying." I am an incurable romantic; nevertheless through the years I hav Overall a fascinating read, though a bit more "high-brow" than my usual fare. Having a background in the classics, as in OLD classics, would help to make more of it understandable. And sometimes I got a little lost in his logic. However, the points of view on the different types of love were very useful to me, in reflecting on my own life and relationships. If I were to sum up the effect on me in one word, it would be "clarifying." I am an incurable romantic; nevertheless through the years I have adopted more and more a non-romantic view of marriage relationships. One of my wife's and my favorite sayings is, "Nacimos para amarnos." Loosely translated it means we were made for each other. Part of me believes it was our destiny to meet and become life partners, that we were uniquely suited to each other. But another part of me believes our relationship succeeded not because we each found that one and only person that we could be happy with, but rather because of God's Love and His influence in our lives, our commitment to Him and each other, and our willingness to change and sacrifice along the way. The fact that my wife is an absolute angel is, of course, also a factor! We are still very much "in love" but it's not anything like the "cupid" phenomenon that first drew us together. So I have often mused on "being in love" and how that relates to present and future happiness in married life. In many cases, it seems, people put too much emphasis on the romantic side of prospective relationships, and in others not enough. C.S. Lewis provides an excellent perspective on this issue, and the idea of balancing different considerations, in his Eros discussion.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Charity

    With clarity C.S. Lewis outlines the four loves as he understands them. As I read I recognized the roles these loves play, and have played, in my life and in the lives of those I know. People and possible motives for their actions became apparent to me. It is a book that captures reflections to share with the reader and allow them to create more of the same. Below is an excerpt that I wished to share. "There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart With clarity C.S. Lewis outlines the four loves as he understands them. As I read I recognized the roles these loves play, and have played, in my life and in the lives of those I know. People and possible motives for their actions became apparent to me. It is a book that captures reflections to share with the reader and allow them to create more of the same. Below is an excerpt that I wished to share. "There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeembale... We shall draw nearer to God, not be trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armour. If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it."

  5. 5 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    Lewis explores love 24 March 2013 This is one of those books that every time I read it (this is the third time I think) I learn something new, so I guess I am going to have to put this book up in the realms of literature. The interesting thing about this book is that when Lewis wrote it he had not been in a relationship (he remained single until he met Joy Davidman, which is actually the subject of a book, a movie, and even a play) so he is not actually writing from experience. However, we should Lewis explores love 24 March 2013 This is one of those books that every time I read it (this is the third time I think) I learn something new, so I guess I am going to have to put this book up in the realms of literature. The interesting thing about this book is that when Lewis wrote it he had not been in a relationship (he remained single until he met Joy Davidman, which is actually the subject of a book, a movie, and even a play) so he is not actually writing from experience. However, we should note that Eros plays only one part of this particular book and, as Lewis demonstrates, love is much, much more than erotic love. The title of the book comes from the idea that in Greek there are four different words for love and Lewis puts them down as: affection, friendship, erotic love, and charitable love. Like the Symposium (which no doubt he was familiar with) he also rates them in the order of importance, with Charity being the highest form of love. The idea of charity is doing things for people with no expectation of anything in return simply out of the goodness of your heart. In fact, doing such things for strangers and for people who can never actually give anything back is the essence of this type of love. Lewis explores each of these forms of love, though he adds a fifth, which he does not necessarily consider to be love, but rather a fondness of something - in this he outlines the love of one's country (patriotism) and the love of nature. Throughout the book though (with the exception of Charity) he is also exploring the dangers that with these forms of love give rise (okay, he does not actually do that with friendship, and indicates that any of the dangers that arise from affection and eros go beyond what that form of love really is). He makes mention of the dark gods numerous times, and since he was a Christian when he was writing this, he is no doubt referring to demonic forces. Obviously with a love of nature he considers the idea of worshipping nature as a god one aspect of this, and with patriotism, the extremes of which give rise to another form. However, remember that when this book was being written (and he had also fought in the trenches of World War I) World War II was in full swing. It is interesting what he says about friendship (or as another person puts it, brotherly love) in that it is something that people do not recognise as a form of love in our modern society. In fact people stay away from it for fear of it giving rise to accusations of homosexuality (which was still illegal in his days). However, as is true to Lewis, he does not shy away from discussing this aspect of friendship, and I note from what he has written, in those days homosexuals were seen as being more effeminate than not. Of course he completely debunks that idea by referring to the fact that homosexual love did exist between warriors in the ancient world, and to refer to them, as he says, as 'pansies', is shows a complete mis-understanding the nature of it (though I suspect that this idea, as it is still today, is a means of denigrating those who live a homosexual lifestyle). Another interesting thing that he points out is how certain people fear the friendship love, especially people like religious leaders and corporate bosses. The idea is that with friendship love there is not only a lack of control over the relationship, but also the fear of a conspiracy. Fortunately in most of the churches that I have been involved with there has not been any attempt to destroy friendships, but I have heard of churches where fake friendships are formed to maintain control over people. Obviously this is more so in the corporate world where friendships can be viewed as a threat to somebody's authority. In fact some bosses will encourage in fighting amongst the employees so that their position may remain secure. Anyway, I could probably write a lot more on this book, but since this is my last day in Hong Kong before I head off to Europe, and that I have laundry to get done as well as packages to post back to Australia (I ended up buying just a little to much while I was here) I must sign off now.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Terrington

    The other works of C.S. Lewis that I have been reading recently, tackle more of the concept of Christianity. Lewis, arguing in those works concepts that I agree with. Namely that Christians aren't any more moral than any other people, nor are they any more spiritual (after all there can be spiritual good and spiritual evil), but that Christianity is more about returning the natural to the supernatural. However, here in this work of non-fiction, he chooses to discuss the topic of love. Love is one The other works of C.S. Lewis that I have been reading recently, tackle more of the concept of Christianity. Lewis, arguing in those works concepts that I agree with. Namely that Christians aren't any more moral than any other people, nor are they any more spiritual (after all there can be spiritual good and spiritual evil), but that Christianity is more about returning the natural to the supernatural. However, here in this work of non-fiction, he chooses to discuss the topic of love. Love is one of those ideas that everyone believes they understand. It is one of the most talked about topics in the world after all. Lewis here attempts to show his readers that they know less about love, and that love is harder to discuss, than you would think. He attempts to divide love into two initial categories: Give-Love and Need-Love. Need-Love, Lewis claims, should not be seen as purely selfish, after all, humans are created with certain needs that are required to be lovingly met. He does make the point however, that an imbalance of this Need-Love is detrimental. He continues on to discuss four particular types of love which connect to these two categories: storge, philia, eros and agape. Or in more modern terms: affection, friendship, romance and charity. Affection (storge) is family love, the humble love. It is the love that you feel for people that you are close to, without it being erotic in nature. It is here that Lewis first explores and notes that like with any love if you turn it into a god it becomes a devil. Or, in other words, if you idolise aspects of this love, you turn it into something that curses you. If I constantly 'give' to others because of my affection, to the point where I am 'giving' them things that they do not need I am smothering them. It is this aspect of affection that Lewis criticises as 'Need-Love'. Not to mention that affection is the type of love which many people take for granted, when, like any love it never is. Friendship (philia) is the love between brothers or sisters. It, as Lewis, explores it, is the love which we turn into the idea of 'equality' today and though writing decades ago, he even tackles this idea. Friendship's goal is not to turn love into something that serves us - to make others bow to our values and so on - but is about finding the common ground between friends (and it is this issue I have with 'equality' - that it trues to bend others to one side's values and ideals rather than finding the common ground). The danger of friendship however, is that it can lead one to create separate 'friendship' groups which ignore the point of friendship as love. Romantic love (eros) is the sense of being in love. Lewis separates this from purely being about sex by stating that he considers sex to be the 'Venus' of erotic love. This is interesting, because we have turned the word 'erotic' into one which is laden with purely sexual undertones. As Lewis points out however, lusty desire - which is not love - is desire which can be satisfied by any person who are sexually attracted to. Eros on the other hand is the desire for ONE individual. It is quite clear to see how eros as a love has been distorted by modern society I believe, yet Lewis also notes that eros can be dangerous in that it can be abused in a fixative sense - that one can fixate themselves upon one person 'mindlessly'. Finally we come to Charity, which is referenced in the Bible as agape (though not by Lewis himself) - the greatest form of love. This is spiritual love, the kind of love that God has towards us, and therefore is love in the sacrificial sense. It is love without demanding anything in return, giving without receiving, and is therefore the highest goal of all other loves. Together they are meant to work together towards, and with, charity in an individual's life. Though Lewis writes his book with a Christian worldview and with Christian audiences mainly in mind, this is one of the more applicable of all Lewis' books to a broad audience. Within it, Lewis reveals the notion that love is not the single concept that we have turned it into. And therefore, such arguments and excuses as 'but I love them' can be turned on their head in the face of this realisation. As said before, Lewis reveals that the aim of Christianity is to turn humanity towards becoming not naturally more moral (after all greed, gluttony and other vices are part of the natural order) but supernaturally perfect. To that end, this book serves to address how Christians should live with love and further what the aim of love should be.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Werner

    Though Lewis is a favorite writer of mine, this is the first time that I've read this particular short volume, presenting his theological, moral, psychological and philosophical reflections on the human experience of the four kinds of "love" referred to (by different Greek words) in the New Testament. One reviewer spoke of this as an "apologetic," and indeed Lewis wrote many apologetic works, designed to make a rational case for Christianity for unbelieving readers. However, this isn't one of th Though Lewis is a favorite writer of mine, this is the first time that I've read this particular short volume, presenting his theological, moral, psychological and philosophical reflections on the human experience of the four kinds of "love" referred to (by different Greek words) in the New Testament. One reviewer spoke of this as an "apologetic," and indeed Lewis wrote many apologetic works, designed to make a rational case for Christianity for unbelieving readers. However, this isn't one of them. Here he's presupposing that the Bible and the Christian gospel are true, and writing to offer readers who share that view his insights into how, in the light of that truth, we should think about love in its various manifestations. Non-Christian readers would probably not be interested in that approach to the subject (although, since all truth is God's truth, he draws his thoughts from a lifetime --this was published three years before he died-- of observation of human beings, not simply from Scripture and theology). It's also not a book that's designed to be a "practical" manual, laying down all sorts of rules for day-to-day conduct. Rather, it's concerned with helping people to think about the subject rightly, in the consciousness that "ideas have consequences" for behavior. The vocabulary and thought, as always in Lewis' writing, is aimed at the ordinary intelligent layman; it avoids jargon, and while it's profound, it's never pedantic. The six-chapter structure of the book is simple and logical. First, he introduces the subject of love in general in Chapter 1, moving beyond the facile labeling of "gift-love" as invariably positive and "need-love" as invariably inferior and negative, and expounding the idea that "God is love" (and not the converse). Chapter 2, by way of prolegomena, treats our "Likings and Loves for the Sub-human," including love of nature, and patriotism; these aren't the types of love for personal beings spoken of in Scripture, but have a certain "continuity" with them. Finally, he devotes a chapter to each of the "loves" addressed in Scripture: the natural affection of family and close association; freely-conferred friendship; Eros, or romantic love; and "charity" (Latin, caritas; Greek, agape), the kind of unconditional, self-giving love God has for us and desires us to have for Him and for each other. Simply recounting the chapter schema, however, doesn't reflect the variety and depth of insight here, and summarizing it in the limited space of a review wouldn't do it justice. This is a meaty, pithy book to sink your intellectual and spiritual teeth into, and designed to make you think. Even when you disagree with him (and I do on one or two minor points), here as elsewhere, Lewis is always intellectually stimulating, and leads you to insights you wouldn't have come to without the interaction. But what he proffers, he does so with a profound humility that commands my respect and admiration as much as his wisdom. His was a first-rate mind; and it's always a privilege to read his work.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Chak

    I talk about how much I dislike Lewis and yet read two of his books in the space of a few days. Hypocritical much? If you enjoy Lewis' continual didacticism, this is the book for you. I found it hard to get through (though I persevered) due to sexist anachronisms (women, as homemakers, cannot understand a man's world or thoughts) and statements with which I vehemently disagree presented as facts (don't get me started). Admittedly, I don't read philosophy or dogma well, and this is both. However, I talk about how much I dislike Lewis and yet read two of his books in the space of a few days. Hypocritical much? If you enjoy Lewis' continual didacticism, this is the book for you. I found it hard to get through (though I persevered) due to sexist anachronisms (women, as homemakers, cannot understand a man's world or thoughts) and statements with which I vehemently disagree presented as facts (don't get me started). Admittedly, I don't read philosophy or dogma well, and this is both. However, it is to Lewis' credit -- though I'm not sure how -- that I finished the book at all and actually started critically thinking about how much love I was putting into important relationships in my life and how I could do a better job of it. The combination of a having a very high fever and reading The Great Divorce (which I had read the day before) was a one-two punch against which I had no defense. Lewis got through!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Best Rodgers

    So I always love reading anything by C.S. Lewis. He is my go-to author! This book is basically Lewis just talking about his insights and his perspectives on love. It's almost like I am out with him drinking coffee at the cafe and he's just sharing his thoughts on love and friendship. There was a lot of contradictions i.e. sex without love can be a good thing...friendship can be a bad thing. And I was like, "Okay...explain." And Lewis *does* explain and offers terrific ideals and values on love, So I always love reading anything by C.S. Lewis. He is my go-to author! This book is basically Lewis just talking about his insights and his perspectives on love. It's almost like I am out with him drinking coffee at the cafe and he's just sharing his thoughts on love and friendship. There was a lot of contradictions i.e. sex without love can be a good thing...friendship can be a bad thing. And I was like, "Okay...explain." And Lewis *does* explain and offers terrific ideals and values on love, friendship, Affection, Charity and the like. For anyone who loves hearing Lewis "talk", this is a great book to read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    The fantasy novels of CS Lewis can barely touch the fanciful nature of love, but in The Four Loves, his work on the subject feels so in tune with the complexity of its forms that it seems as if it MUST be written by some learned/aged Don Juan reflecting back on the lusts and loves of his past, so much so that you forget all about Lewis, the pasty white English professor and his faerie books. The Four Loves made a strong impression on me in my youth. Perhaps I didn't, and maybe still don't, take The fantasy novels of CS Lewis can barely touch the fanciful nature of love, but in The Four Loves, his work on the subject feels so in tune with the complexity of its forms that it seems as if it MUST be written by some learned/aged Don Juan reflecting back on the lusts and loves of his past, so much so that you forget all about Lewis, the pasty white English professor and his faerie books. The Four Loves made a strong impression on me in my youth. Perhaps I didn't, and maybe still don't, take his every word on love as the end-all truth, the absolute definition, the incontrovertible conclusion, but his ideas struck me as sound and intriguing in the very least. It's been quite some time since I last read this. I think it's due for a reread, as I'm curious to see how my perception has change.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ginger

    Whenever I read any book by Lewis I always ask myself why I read anything else until I've read everything he has ever written. He puts everything in such a way that is so complex yet so simple. Only a true genius can write something that you feel exactly the same way yourself, but could never have the eloquence to state it like Lewis can. Highly recommend The Four Loves to anyone who has ever loved anything. I live with a beautiful example of these loves in my own home in my husband, and I kept l Whenever I read any book by Lewis I always ask myself why I read anything else until I've read everything he has ever written. He puts everything in such a way that is so complex yet so simple. Only a true genius can write something that you feel exactly the same way yourself, but could never have the eloquence to state it like Lewis can. Highly recommend The Four Loves to anyone who has ever loved anything. I live with a beautiful example of these loves in my own home in my husband, and I kept looking up from my reading the whole time and asking him questions about affection, friendship, Eros, and charity. This would be wonderful for any young teenagers who are just coming into dating or adulthood and wonderful for a discussion group of all ages. There's so much to think about and talk through about how these loves look practically in daily life.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    This book was something I looked forward to reading and then I was totally bored and disgusted with it. What frustrated me the most is how he would take an opinion or outright incorrect statement such as Pagans worship trees (way way way out of context and incorrect) and then use that false statement to support his arguments. That is basic logic 101 class and made most of his arguments invalid. I wanted to like what he was saying but couldnt because he was just down right incorrect in so much.

  13. 5 out of 5

    BAM The Bibliomaniac

    I'm listening to this book so I'm not sure how everything is spelled. This first type of love reminds me of the basic level of care at the bottom of the psychological pyramids that is so often neglected and often leads to such dysfunctional young adults and crime. If an infant doesn't feel secure and isn't nurtured, then he will not grow up feeling compassion for humanity. As for philia I totally agree with his philosophy. I have "friends" and I have friends. I have a group of five sorority siste I'm listening to this book so I'm not sure how everything is spelled. This first type of love reminds me of the basic level of care at the bottom of the psychological pyramids that is so often neglected and often leads to such dysfunctional young adults and crime. If an infant doesn't feel secure and isn't nurtured, then he will not grow up feeling compassion for humanity. As for philia I totally agree with his philosophy. I have "friends" and I have friends. I have a group of five sorority sisters that I have known for over twenty years that I talk to every.single.day. No lie. I talk to them more than I do to my daughter, which I'm not sure what that says about my relationships. I also have a few friends that although I don't talk to them often I know they would be there for me if I needed them. Then there is Matt, my favorite. I dont know what I'd do without him, even if he does live thousands of miles away from me. I think the important fact to take away from his discussion of Eros is that it is like a garden. It needs care. It cannot take care of itself. Constant tendering is required for it to thrive. Lastly is the belief in love as a Christian. It's easy to say "god loves me", but does my behavior merit that? And can I say my behavior is the reflection?

  14. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Wilson

    Outstanding. Also read in September of 1983. And then in 2016 I listened to the audio recording of Lewis himself reading an earlier form of the book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Graychin

    I’ve decided to re-read some of the old C.S. Lewis titles that inhabited my parents’ bookcases. Most of them I read first when I was a teenager and glad to page through most anything near at hand. At some point in my early twenties I decided that Lewis was too something-or-other for me. I could never quite figure out what it was about him that irked. Was he too reasonable and intellectual? Not reasonable or intellectual enough? I don’t know. Reading him again in my mid-forties is a different expe I’ve decided to re-read some of the old C.S. Lewis titles that inhabited my parents’ bookcases. Most of them I read first when I was a teenager and glad to page through most anything near at hand. At some point in my early twenties I decided that Lewis was too something-or-other for me. I could never quite figure out what it was about him that irked. Was he too reasonable and intellectual? Not reasonable or intellectual enough? I don’t know. Reading him again in my mid-forties is a different experience. I find him more engaging, more conversational. He is such an excellent writer, and a fine, clear thinker. He has a gift for sanity (which somehow feels more rare than it used to). He may still be too reasonable and intellectual for me; or not reasonable and intellectual enough. I don’t know. And there are a few bits here in The Four Loves that haven’t, perhaps, aged perfectly well by some standards. But there’s no one like Lewis today (a public thinker and writer with broad appeal who is also a serious Christian? Shocking.) Lewis is also incredibly quotable: Of course language is not an infallible guide, but it contains, with all its defects, a good deal of stored insight and experience. If you begin by flouting it, it has a way of avenging itself later on. [O]ur whole being by its very nature is one vast need: incomplete, preparatory… The human mind is generally far more eager to praise and dispraise than to describe and define. Nature does not teach. A true philosophy may sometimes validate an experience of nature; an experience of nature cannot validate a philosophy. Nature will not verify any theological or metaphysical proposition (or not in the manner we are now considering); she will help to show what it means. [T]he proper aim of giving is to put the recipient in a state where he no longer needs our gift. We all appear as dunces when feigning an interest in things we care nothing about. People who bore one another should meet seldom; people who interest one another, often. The mass of the people, who are never quite right, are never quite wrong. It is a bad thing not to be able to take a joke. Worse, not to take a divine joke; made, I grant you, at our expense, but also (who doubts it) for our endless benefit? …The fact that we have bodies is the oldest joke there is. Eros (like death, figure drawing, and the study of medicine) may at moments cause us to take it with total seriousness. The error consists in concluding that Eros should always do so and permanently abolish the joke. When natural things look divine, the demonic is just round the corner. If I am sure of anything I am sure that His teaching was never meant to confirm my congenital preference for safe investments and limited liabilities. …Christ did not teach and suffer that we might become…more careful of our own happiness. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell. The good man is sorry for the sins which have increased his Need. He is not entirely sorry for the fresh Need they have produced. When we see the face of God we shall know that we have always known it. He has been a party to, has made, sustained and moved moment by moment within, all our earthly experiences of innocent love. All that was true love in them was, even on earth, far more His than ours, and ours only because His. All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kells Next Read

    Actual Ratings: 3.75 Stars

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ron

    Re-reading Four Loves several years after my first reading I find a depth that I missed before. This last major work touching on Christianity by Lewis is less polemic and more analytic. Going beyond the division of loves into gift-loves and need-loves, Lewis delves into how any affection can raise us bring us closer to divine source of love or move us farther away. Not light reading, but worth it. More profound and challenging with each reading. New review: “Perhaps … all experience merely defines … Re-reading Four Loves several years after my first reading I find a depth that I missed before. This last major work touching on Christianity by Lewis is less polemic and more analytic. Going beyond the division of loves into gift-loves and need-loves, Lewis delves into how any affection can raise us bring us closer to divine source of love or move us farther away. Not light reading, but worth it. More profound and challenging with each reading. New review: “Perhaps … all experience merely defines … the shape of that gap where our love of God ought to be.” As was often the case, C. S. Lewis’ take on love was thoughtful and out-of-step with the thinking of his day. Even more so our day. Five readings of this text have not demised the depth of thought and challenge found in these pages. This famous investigation of the four types of love exemplified by the Greek words storge, philos, eros, and charios begins with a preliminary discussion of gift-love versus need love. Lewis, like the scholar he was, defines terms and sets the stage for his greater argument. In the following 141 pages Lewis takes the reader on a relatively painless though deep investigation of just what love is and how we express it. Until the last chapter he most of his examples arise from everyday life and his citations from literature and psychology. He assures that his reader is with him all the way. Finally as he expounds on charity Lewis of necessity moves into the supernatural. His references come more often from scripture. And that is of necessity as his definition of charity begins and ends with a gift-love of God. “Thou hast made us for thyself,” he quotes Augustine of Hippo “and our heart has no rest until it comes to Thee.” A love which not only transforms us but transforms how we love. “In my love for wife or friend the only eternal element is the transforming presence of Love Himself.” “All that was true love … was, even on earth, far more His than ours, and even ours only because His.”

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    At his best Lewis can be very good (Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity), but at other times he can be a bit frustrating. He has an excellent mind overstuffed with knowledge of many fine things, he’s often insightful, and he’s able to write engagingly and accessibly while fleshing out a carefully conceived and detailed plan. But when he’s not at his best there can be too much wordplay and other cleverness combined with an over-certain pedagogy, or at least that’s how it comes off for me. It’s p At his best Lewis can be very good (Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity), but at other times he can be a bit frustrating. He has an excellent mind overstuffed with knowledge of many fine things, he’s often insightful, and he’s able to write engagingly and accessibly while fleshing out a carefully conceived and detailed plan. But when he’s not at his best there can be too much wordplay and other cleverness combined with an over-certain pedagogy, or at least that’s how it comes off for me. It’s particularly frustrating when there are a lot of good ideas and connections that you know could be deepened with more reflection and care. While clearing out the underbrush. You might say someone with his gifts has kind of an obligation to use them carefully and well for the greater good. Of course you might not say that, but let’s assume you might. At times this book feels like it was tossed off by an unusually gifted journalist. It’s a good book, but you get the sense that it could have been much better. At least I get that sense. And the material is important - it merits the best effort. Lewis wrote about the psychic and spiritual drain that Screwtape caused him, getting into the skin of a senior demon for the duration of its writing, and how he could never do that again to write a sequel despite many requests. I’m grateful that he put himself through that, and maybe he didn’t really have an obligation to sweat more to make this book better. But I do wish he had.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marcie

    I hadn't read any CS Lewis in years, and I remember not being especially impressed the first time I read this book; it didn't seem to have a cohesive thesis. However, I ran across a used copy at a flea market in NYC (irresistible) and couldn't put it down on the airplane home. I can see why I thought Lewis was tangential, and I assume I overlooked the genius because at the time I was too naive of love (& it's pitfalls) to understand his meditations. No doubt the book will be even more meanin I hadn't read any CS Lewis in years, and I remember not being especially impressed the first time I read this book; it didn't seem to have a cohesive thesis. However, I ran across a used copy at a flea market in NYC (irresistible) and couldn't put it down on the airplane home. I can see why I thought Lewis was tangential, and I assume I overlooked the genius because at the time I was too naive of love (& it's pitfalls) to understand his meditations. No doubt the book will be even more meaningful when I pick it up in another 10 years. This rereading also reminds me why Lewis has been one of my favorite authors. He is humble, honest, approachable, down-to-earth, without allowing his readers to escape the task & glory of becoming something more -- the definition of grace. He reads people so accurately, really picks out the hidden motivations behind the things we call love & urges us on to something better. Not to mention, Lewis was a professor of Medieval & Renaissance Literature at Oxford, so this work is rich in references to other writings on love. Just as a warning -- I do highly recommend this book, but Lewis isn't perfect, and there's an annoying bit of 1950s style sexism in the chapter about Friendship Love. Also, he addresses this book to Christians, but I think it would be interesting for those of any faith (or lack thereof).

  20. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    The Four Loves is based on the four Greek words for love: agápe, éros, philía, and storgē. Lewis defines each of these types of love and how they affect our lives. It was a short, lovely read. It was at times a little highbrow, but remember that it was written in the 40's by a Cambridge professor. Still Lewis has a wonderful way with words, and some of the reflections and quotes were quiet resonant. Such as this one: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung The Four Loves is based on the four Greek words for love: agápe, éros, philía, and storgē. Lewis defines each of these types of love and how they affect our lives. It was a short, lovely read. It was at times a little highbrow, but remember that it was written in the 40's by a Cambridge professor. Still Lewis has a wonderful way with words, and some of the reflections and quotes were quiet resonant. Such as this one: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” I wish parts of it had flowed a little smoother, however I did enjoy it. There were also tiny bits of snark that keep it from being too stuffy. The segment on friendship was my favorite.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Julie Davis

    This is not the exact same material as his book that bears the same title. Rather it is from a series of radio broadcasts prior to the publication of the book. That said, I am enjoying hearing Lewis's own voice. I keep thinking of J.R.R. Tolkien's supposed basing of the Ents and their way of talking on his friend C.S. Lewis ... and it kind of works. Also the material is great and is a wonderful precis (probably) of the book which I know contains more material. And which I will be reading in the f This is not the exact same material as his book that bears the same title. Rather it is from a series of radio broadcasts prior to the publication of the book. That said, I am enjoying hearing Lewis's own voice. I keep thinking of J.R.R. Tolkien's supposed basing of the Ents and their way of talking on his friend C.S. Lewis ... and it kind of works. Also the material is great and is a wonderful precis (probably) of the book which I know contains more material. And which I will be reading in the future. This is great stuff, especially the section about friendship.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Steven Wedgeworth

    One of his best. Read it with De Rougemont. Read it before you try to get a girlfriend. Then make your girlfriend read it. Then make your parents and her parents read it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    John

    Where most books on love give food for thought, THE FOUR LOVES offers a king's banquet. There is more wisdom in one page of this book than in the entirety of Erich Fromm's THE ART OF LOVING. Love is a messy subject, so it's only natural that Lewis' analysis be a bit messy as well. And though he's incredibly methodical in shaping his ideas and presenting them with art and diplomacy, Lewis writes with such warmth and accessibility that we view him as the sagely uncle we all dearly wish we had.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah Choat

    Lewis begins by drawing a distinction between "gift-love" and "need-love," defining the first as the type of love which motivates a man to work and plan for his family's future well-being although he will not live to see its fulfillment, and the second as that which sends a frightened child running to his mother. There follows a scholarly yet warmly conversational discussion of the four loves known to man: affection, friendship, eros, and charity. In conclusion, the author says, "We must try to Lewis begins by drawing a distinction between "gift-love" and "need-love," defining the first as the type of love which motivates a man to work and plan for his family's future well-being although he will not live to see its fulfillment, and the second as that which sends a frightened child running to his mother. There follows a scholarly yet warmly conversational discussion of the four loves known to man: affection, friendship, eros, and charity. In conclusion, the author says, "We must try to relate the human activities called "loves" to that Love which is God." He explains that the Creator implants in us both gift-loves, which are natural images of Himself, and need-loves, which are correlatives. "But in addition to these natural loves God can bestow a far better gift…He communicates to men a share of His own divine gift-love: Love Himself working in a man." Comments C. S. Lewis' candid reflections help the reader define and sort out the types of love common to human experience, and to determine their right and proper places and functions in relation to one another and to the over-arching love of God which is the wellspring of all human loves. Recommendations I would suggest that this book be read incrementally, with time for digestion and reflection between chapters, and special attention given to the final pages in which all the concepts are tied together.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Hicks

    I used to think this book was really amazing. Now, although I can still enjoy it, after my own experiences of deep friendship and affection, I find myself disagreeing with some of the details of Lewis's ideas. For example, Lewis seems to think that true friendship is almost impossible between a man and a woman. Try telling that to my male best friend! (although, to give him credit, maybe such a friendship was less likely in his time than in ours) Also, he seems doubtful as to whether women can ev I used to think this book was really amazing. Now, although I can still enjoy it, after my own experiences of deep friendship and affection, I find myself disagreeing with some of the details of Lewis's ideas. For example, Lewis seems to think that true friendship is almost impossible between a man and a woman. Try telling that to my male best friend! (although, to give him credit, maybe such a friendship was less likely in his time than in ours) Also, he seems doubtful as to whether women can even have true friendship with anyone, even with other women. Umm, yeah, I don't really agree with that one. He also seems to fail to truly respect or appreciate the genuine love between a parent and child. He focuses instead on an idea of a mother having an emotional neediness that causes her to destroy her family's happiness.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Matt Witten

    It’s always amazing to me how Lewis starts at what seems to be a “40k foot”, philosophical view, and somehow quickly and succinctly brings it to an impactful, eye level point. Great read for thoughts on relationships, altruism, friendships, and marriage, and how they relate to the ultimate love of God.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    Really, I’d give it 3.5 stars. I loved the chapters on friendship and charity, but found the chapters on erotic love and agape love dense and a bit boring. Adore Lewis’ writings, but this one isn’t a favorite. Would still recommend though!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kate Austin

    This book was much deeper and a thicker read to digest than I was expecting. I am normally not one to need digestion time for a book and yet this book has required it of me. This is also a book that will require rereadings to fully engage all of the ides presented. It’s depth comes from the amount of implications and depth in the topic itself: kinds of love.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Clarifying, enlightening, inspiring. Truth. Just so much truth, and goodness, and beauty.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bekah

    I liked the wisdom and insight offered in this book. I thought that Lewis did a great job dedicating so much thought into each type of love and showing how God can be present or misused in each form of love. I did find it to be a bit hard to follow and abstract, but overall a good read.

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