I am having an open class on “C.S. Lewis, Gender, and The Four Loves” tonight (you are welcome to join, but must sign up here). In returning to the text, I was reminded by a student of a cartoon infographic by an artist that captures the “To love at all is to be vulnerable” moment in the Agape lecture of The Four Loves:
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 keeping it intact, you must give it to no one and nothing, not even an animal. You must carefully wrap it round with hobbies and little luxuries and routine and avoidances of entanglement, and then lock it up in the casket or coffin of your own selfishness. And this means that in the long run, the alternative to tragedy, or at least to the threat of tragedy, is damnation, for in that casket – safe, still, and unventilated in the darkness – it will go bad; not broken, but finally unbreakable, impenetrable, resistant to all good and joy….
This passage is pretty similar in the book and the original lecture series. It’s intriguing to me that Lewis exchanges “resistant to all good and joy” for the word “irredeemable.” It is a profound theological difference–and perhaps the key question in Lewis’ book, The Great Divorce.
The artist here, Gavin Aung Than, chooses to follow the text for the most part, making a bit of a shift in order and word choice here and there. It is better than the vast majority of the quote posters about C.S. Lewis on social media–misquotes that have inspired William O’Flaherty‘s The Misquotable C.S. Lewis. I also wish the story wasn’t about boy-girl relationships with the stereotypical brute-male/hurt-girl/saviour-boy story. Lewis is here trying to talk about any love, whether for partner, friend, and family–or even country, hobby, pet, or God. But I suppose it is a story that is common enough to highlight the basic idea: Love is Risk. I think this is profoundly true.The original file here, and here is a version of Lewis’ lecture on “Agape” with some illustration by C.S. Lewis Doodle.