Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Logic of Love

From St. John of the Cross, in Dark Night of the Soul, which has nothing whatsoever to do with Batman:

It is a characteristic of the power and vehemence of love that all things seem possible to it, and it believes all men to be of the same mind as itself. For it thinks that there is naught wherein one may be employed, or which one may seek, save that which it seeks itself and that which it loves; and it believes that there is naught else to be desired, and naught wherein it may be employed, save that one thing, which is pursued by all.


Such is the logic of love, I guess, that it colors our perception of the world. What we love becomes the standard by which we measure everything we love less. That's why my dear mother didn't think (or at least didn't acknowledge) that I was a hopeless nerd as a child; if in fact I was a nerd, then the whole world ought aspire to the same nerdiness.

John of the Cross here refers to Mary Magdalene as a model of "the inebriating power and the boldness of love"--not words that traditionally evoke a cool, rational mind. And yet he suggests that Mary, in humiliating herself before a crowd by washing Jesus' feet with her tears and drying them with her hair, in frantically combing a cemetery for some sense of where Jesus may have been taken, comes closer than all of us to a true sense of how the universe is ordered. Love is totalizing, tyrannical even--a rebuke to the detachment that logic aspires to. It's under the logic of love that God's giving his only son to a world that was predisposed to killing God would make sense.

Of course, when love is so totalizing, it becomes all the more important that we know what we're loving and that we are sure it merits our love. It's one thing to think your kid merits the emulation of all other kids everywhere; it's quite another to think that of your music collection. There's an ethical quality to both our love and our logic. More often than not, however, we give love a pass and give logic our devotion. We often judge love by the extent to which we can call it logical. Instead maybe we should judge logic by the extent to which we can call it loving.

4 comments:

Judi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
inkless said...

"Merits our love" -- I've often wondered if/how that applies to people.

Combining that "inebriating power" of love with Godly wisdom -- knowing when to "shake the dust off your feet," as it were, has got to be one of the most difficult things for a Christian.

I'm just glad God doesn't base his love on our merit.

Robert J. Moeller said...

Hey, I randomly found your blog today and I'm glad that I did. Very interesting stuff. I'm a conservative blogger and seminary student in Chicago (rjmoeller.com). Keep up the good work!

cas said...

Beautiful post, Dave. Thanks : )