Quotable: Boethius on love as the principle of harmony

“That the universe carries out its changing process in concord and with stable faith, that the conflicting seeds of things are held by everlasting law, that Phoebus in his golden chariot brings in the shining day, that the night, led by Hesperus, is ruled by Phoebe, that the greedy sea holds back his waves within lawful bounds, for they are not permitted to push back the unsettled earth–all this harmonious order of things is achieved by love which rules the earth and the seas, and commands the heavens.

“But if love should slack reins, all that is now joined in mutual love would wage continual war, and strive to tear apart the world which is now sustained in friendly concord by beautiful motion.

“Love binds together people joined by a sacred bond; love binds sacred marriages by chaste affections; love makes the laws which join true friends. O how happy the human race would be, if that love which rules the heavens ruled also your souls!”

Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy, 41 (Book II, Poem 8).

Love in Marriage in the 1300’s

“Meanwhile he was promoted as a courtier. In 1367 he was attending on the King himself and was referred to as Dilectus Valenttus noster . . . our dearly beloved Valet. It was towards that year that Chaucer married. His bride was Philippa de Roet, a lady in attendance on the Queen, and sister to Catherine Swynford, third wife of John Gaunt.

Chaucer wrote no poems to her, so far as is known. It was not in fashion to write poems to one’s wife. It could even be debated whether love could ever have a place in marriage; the typical situation in which a ‘courtly lover’ found himself was to be plunged in a secret, and illicit, and even adulterous passion for some seemingly unattainable and pedestalized lady. Before his mistress a lover was prostrate, wounded to death by her beauty, killed by her disdain, obliged to an illimitable constancy, marked out for her dangerous service. A smile from her was in theory a gracious reward for twenty years of painful adoration. All Chaucer’s heroes regard love when it comes upon them as the most beautiful of absolute disasters, an agony as much desired as bemoaned, ever to be pursued, never to be betrayed.”

This was not in theory the attitude of a husband to his wife. It was for a husband to command, for a wife to obey.

“Introduction,” by Neville Coghill, in The Canterbury Tales, by Chaucer

I must say, this short paragraph explains a good bit about what is going on in Sir Gawain and with Dante and Beatrice.

Reagan, A Letter to his Son

(Source: Reagan: A Life In Letters; Image: Ronald Reagan, via.)

Ronald Reagan sent the following to his son June 1971, days before his son, Michael, was married:

Michael Reagan
Manhattan Beach, California
June 1971

Dear Mike:

Enclosed is the item I mentioned (with which goes a torn up IOU). I could stop here but I won’t.

You’ve heard all the jokes that have been rousted around by all the “unhappy marrieds” and cynics. Now, in case no one has suggested it, there is another viewpoint. You have entered into the most meaningful relationship there is in all human life. It can be whatever you decide to make it.

Some men feel their masculinity can only be proven if they play out in their own life all the locker-room stories, smugly confident that what a wife doesn’t know won’t hurt her. The truth is, somehow, way down inside, without her ever finding lipstick on the collar or catching a man in the flimsy excuse of where he was till three A.M., a wife does know, and with that knowing, some of the magic of this relationship disappears. There are more men griping about marriage who kicked the whole thing away themselves than there can ever be wives deserving of blame. There is an old law of physics that you can only get out of a thing as much as you put in it. The man who puts into the marriage only half of what he owns will get that out. Sure, there will be moments when you will see someone or think back to an earlier time and you will be challenged to see if you can still make the grade, but let me tell you how really great is the challenge of proving your masculinity and charm with one woman for the rest of your life. Any man can find a twerp here and there who will go along with cheating, and it doesn’t take all that much manhood. It does take quite a man to remain attractive and to be loved by a woman who has heard him snore, seen him unshaven, tended him while he was sick and washed his dirty underwear. Do that and keep her still feeling a warm glow and you will know some very beautiful music. If you truly love a girl, you shouldn’t ever want her to feel, when she sees you greet a secretary or a girl you both know, that humiliation of wondering if she was someone who caused you to be late coming home, nor should you want any other woman to be able to meet your wife and know she was smiling behind her eyes as she looked at her, the woman you love, remembering this was the woman you rejected even momentarily for her favors.

Mike, you know better than many what an unhappy home is and what it can do to others. Now you have a chance to make it come out the way it should. There is no greater happiness for a man than approaching a door at the end of a day knowing someone on the other side of that door is waiting for the sound of his footsteps.

Love,

Dad

P.S. You’ll never get in trouble if you say “I love you” at least once a day.

Diotima’s Account of the Birth of Love

Fascinating account of the birth of ερως. I wonder if there is a reason Christian love was always spoken of in terms of αγαπη.

“‘From what father and mother sprung?’ I asked. [203b] “‘That is rather a long story,’ she replied; ‘but still, I will tell it you. When Aphrodite was born, the gods made a great feast, and among the company was Resource the son of Cunning. And when they had banqueted there came Poverty abegging, as well she might in an hour of good cheer, and hung about the door. Now Resource, grown tipsy with nectar—for wine as yet there was none—went into the garden of Zeus, and there, overcome with heaviness, slept. Then Poverty, being of herself so resourceless, devised the scheme of having a child by Resource, [203c] and lying down by his side she conceived Love. Hence it is that Love from the beginning has been attendant and minister to Aphrodite, since he was begotten on the day of her birth, and is, moreover, by nature a lover bent on beauty since Aphrodite is beautiful. Now, as the son of Resource and Poverty, Love is in a peculiar case. First, he is ever poor, and far from tender or beautiful as most suppose him: [203d] rather is he hard and parched, shoeless and homeless; on the bare ground always he lies with no bedding, and takes his rest on doorsteps and waysides in the open air; true to his mother’s nature, he ever dwells with want. But he takes after his father in scheming for all that is beautiful and good; for he is brave, strenuous and high-strung, a famous hunter, always weaving some stratagem; desirous and competent of wisdom, throughout life ensuing the truth; a master of jugglery, witchcraft, [203e] and artful speech. By birth neither immortal nor mortal, in the selfsame day he is flourishing and alive at the hour when he is abounding in resource; at another he is dying, and then reviving again by force of his father’s nature: yet the resources that he gets will ever be ebbing away; so that Love is at no time either resourceless or wealthy, and furthermore, he stands midway betwixt wisdom and ignorance. The position is this: no gods ensue wisdom or desire to be made wise; [204a] such they are already; nor does anyone else that is wise ensue it. Neither do the ignorant ensue wisdom, nor desire to be made wise: in this very point is ignorance distressing, when a person who is not comely or worthy or intelligent is satisfied with himself. The man who does not feel himself defective has no desire for that whereof he feels no defect.’

Plat. Sym. 203

North Korea border crosser Robert Park

This in light of today’s news: North Korea confirms it has detained an American

Quote:

“Park: My demand is that I do not want to be released. I don’t want President Obama to come and pay to get me out. But I want the North Korean people to be free. Until the concentration camps are liberated, I do not want to come out. If I have to die with them, I will. I am Christian and it says in the Bible that we must love the lost. We must love the poor and the needy. We must love them more than ourselves.

(For) these innocent men, women and children, as Christians, we need to take the cross for them. The cross means that we sacrifice our lives for the redemption of others.

I am going in for the sake of the lives of the North Korean people. And if he (Kim Jong-il) kills me, in a sense, I realize this is better. Then the governments of the world will become more prone to say something, and more embarrassed and more forced to make a statement.

This is serious and it is a crime that America is committing against the North Korean people by not speaking out against this. President Obama just won the Nobel Peace Prize and I love President Obama and the American government, but they are committing a serious crime.

Through the media and through sacrifice, we are looking for the global leaders to be forced to give an account. There is no excuse.

We also want the church to repent. The South Korean church needs to repent. There has been so much playing around and honestly, there is no time to play games. The priority of every single person in South Korea must be to end this holocaust of lives.

I was going to go next month but what happened was that here in Korea there has been certain things that have endangered my going next month. That is why I am going right now. Because certain people have found out and are trying to prevent me from going.

Initially Christmas Day was what they were thinking of. It is the coldest time. It is the most difficult time for me to go physically and also on Christmas Day it is such a symbolic day. Worldwide is the most renowned day. It is the happiest day for most of the world but for North Korea, it is like hell.

I have to share their suffering. That is why I am asking every person who cares about North Korea, let us arise and let us demonstrate. Let us see mass demonstrations. This is not a personal agenda.

I think I may not live much longer. My personal desire is to be married and to have a future. I am laying that all down because of Jesus Christ and because God loves these people, he does not want them to die.”

Read the whole interview

When Love Goes to Sleep

When our loves goes to sleep, we grow cold and unfeeling toward people. We love material possessions and person comforts more than people. We love our work more than people. We become bitter toward people because our feelings have been hurt. We become weary in serving, selfish, ungrateful people and become content to show love only to those who are agreeable to us. We become lazy and complacent about love. We neglect our duty to love the unlovely and the disagreeable. Like the priest and Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan, we become apathetic to the suffering of others.

So when you sense your love falling to sleep, take corrective action immediately. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to awaken the spirit of love. Turn to the Scriptures and let them revive your sleepy soul. Pray for a fresh awakening of gratitude for the free grace of God and for the costly sacrifice of Christ at Calvary’s cross. Pray earnestly that the Lord would fill you anew with the first fruit of the Spirit which is love (Gal. 5:22; Eph 5:18). Repent of any sin that dulls your love for God or his people. Stop thinking about yourself so much. Follow the great examples of those who have modeled the life of love God desires. Remind yourself of your first Christian duty to love God and neighbor. Start doing outward acts of love for others and pray that soon the desire and joy of loving others will follow.

Alexander Strauch, Love or Die, pg. 62-63

Pray for Love

The secret of the early Christians, the early Protestants, Puritans, and Methodists was that they were taught about the love of Christ, and they became filled with a knowledge of it. Once a man has the love of Christ in his heart you need not train him to witness; he will do it. He will know the power, the constraint, the motive; everything is already there. It is a plain lie to suggest that people who regard this knowledge of the love of Christ as the supreme thing are useless, unhealthy mystics. The servants of God who have most adorned the life and the history of the Christian Church have always been men who have realized that this is the most important thing of all, and they have spent hours in prayer seeking His face and enjoying His love. The man who knows the love of Christ in his heart can do more in one hour than the busy type of man can do in a century. God forbid that we should ever make of activity an end in itself. Let us realize that the motive must come first, and that the motive must ever be the love of Christ.

D. Martyn Lloyd Jones, The Unsearchable Riches of Christ, 253: cited in Love or Die by Alexander Strauch, pg. 35

I bow my knees before the Father…that…he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, … that you…may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth (of Christ’s love), and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. (Eph. 3:14-19)