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Literature

Questions about The Four Loves

On Friday the book club met for our final meeting in our year of reading C.S. Lewis. We were discussing The Four Loves.

We started by remembering how Lewis defined “Need-love” and “Gift-love” at the beginning of the book and then moved on through the chapters. These are the questions we looked at:

  1. What do you think about Need-love? When is it selfish?
  2. Is it dangerous when instead of “God is love” we say “love is God”?
  3. What do you think about Lewis’s view of loving Nature, that it provides “a language of images” to help us understand God and things like glory or fear?
  4. Was C.S. Lewis woke? (with reference to his views about love of one’s country, and how we should make a “full confession of Christendom’s specific contribution to the sum of human cruelty and treachery”).
  5. What do you think about Lewis’s view that we can use affection as a weapon (eg a mother staying up late when her child goes out so the child can’t really enjoy themselves). What examples do you have of affection being “weaponised”?
  6. Do you relate to Lewis’s idea that affection is about familiarity and we can feel it for people even when we have nothing in common?
  7. Is there a difference between male and female friendship?
  8. Can friendships lead to ‘in-groups’? What are the dangers of that?
  9. Talking about how people take sex very seriously, Lewis says “we have reached the stage at which nothing is more needed than a roar of old-fashioned laughter”. Do you agree?
  10.  Do you agree that Eros must die or become a demon unless he obeys God?
  11. Lewis writes “to love at all is to be vulnerable”. Do you agree?
  12. In the end the whole book points to Lewis’s overarching idea that only God can help us to love others properly, and that we need to love Him first of all. He says “Perhaps, for many of us, all experience merely defines, so to speak, the shape of that gap where our love of God ought to be”. What do you think the overall message of the book is?

As always, we had found the book thought-provoking and refreshing. We liked the examples Lewis described of how love can go wrong, and we agreed that he was pointing to God’s love as the only way to make our flawed human loves better.

In my next blog I’ll review the year and sum up what it has meant for the members of the book club and me.

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