One afternoon last week my son came home from school with a message and a request: “Pa, tomorrow our topic will be about different kinds of love. Can you give me some information so I can at least have a head start?”
So I shared with him what I know. I did not expound further for I didn’t know much about this topic either. I just remember that I learned this in high school when I attended a one-week vacation youth camp organized by our church. That was about 25 years ago.
Storge is the love between people who are connected by blood. Others call it family love. Have you heard the saying, “Blood is thicker than water.”? Well, that saying puts emphasis on the Storge kind of love.
Philia is the love between friends. The famous story of David and Jonathan in the Bible is, I think, a good example of Philia love.
Eros is about romantic love. This is why Eros love is always connected with sex.
Platonic Love is considered as non-sexual love. I seldom hear this kind of love used to describe love between two people of the same-sex. Platonic Love is often used to describe strong love between a man and a woman who do not have any kind of sexual relationship.
Agape is the kind of selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional love. This is the highest kind of love, the kind of love God shows to human beings.
Unexpectedly, after quickly enumerating and differentiating these kinds of love, my son threw me a serious follow-up question, “How about puppy love?” Yes, he was serious about the question. So I knew instantly that his seriousness put me in an awkward dilemma. How would I explain the concept of puppy love?
So I threw back a quick answer. “Puppy love is for puppies; they are not for people. That’s why it’s called puppy love. 🙂
This morning as I was visiting friendly blogs, I was greeted by a post titled “Puppy Love” by spilledcookies. Suddenly I remembered my conversation with my son last week, and my quick answer to his unexpected question.
spilledcookies‘ opening sentence says, “There’s no better example of unconditional love than a dog.” She’s right. We can learn a lot about the actions of love by simply observing dogs when they express their puppy love. They are indeed loyal, sacrificing, full of hope, and truly loving. Dogs are even forgiving to their human masters.
Thanks spilledcookies for the reminder!
I remember, last March I posted this…
A fifteen-year-old boy asked me a straightforward theological question that is difficult to answer, “I’ve been looking for God. Where is He…?”
His phrase, “I’ve been looking for…” reminded me of an experience:
When I misplaced my favorite sign pen, I searched for it in my bedroom and in my office. I searched in my tables, drawers, the pockets of my pants and polo. I searched in places where I think I can find my sign pen, but I never searched the ceiling, nor my toolbox, nor the toilet. Why? Because I knew I would never find my sign pen there. I would have to look for my pen in the right places.
When I’m looking for something important, I don’t look in the wrong places. So when somebody tells me that he’s looking for something, my first instinct is to think whether that person is looking at the right places. Otherwise, I would feel that he won’t find what he’s looking for.
God, however, is not like my sign pen that when misplaced, cannot be found in the wrong places. Yet, like everything else, when we start looking for Him, our own perspective plays a very powerful and definitive role. Somehow, He allows himself to be subjected to our assumptions.
In academic research, we start with basic assumptions. In search of an invisible God, we do the same. Aren’t our attitudes serve as our assumptions when we are looking for God? They are the lenses we put in our eyes. Can’t we recall all the happy moments, all the blessings, and joy and then ask ourselves whether God has nothing to do with those favors?
Or do we look through our pains and hurts, through calamities, wars, famines, and other human suffering, and then tauntingly declare that God is nowhere to find? Where are we looking at? What lens are we using?
The Power of Perspective
If I want to see something far, I would use a telescope. If I want to see objects so tiny that naked eyes can’t see, I would use a microscope.
I remember the first time I bought a pair of polarized sunglasses. The sales lady asked me to look at an image without wearing any glasses. She asked me what I saw. I said, “I see trees beside the sea, and then skies above.” Then she had me put the polarized sunglasses and look again at the same image she showed me earlier. I was amazed, suddenly I saw the dolphins. From that experience I learned that there are images that we can see through polarized glasses that we can’t with ordinary glasses.
Our basic paradigm is our lens. We see things through it. Yet its powerful enough to see the not easily seen images. The state of our heart in the moment of our search for God, whether we are happy, bitter, afraid, troubled, or angry, our predominant attitude at play when we are looking for God are powerful—very powerful.
Lenses are powerful enough to deceive us. When I was young, I always laugh at my grandmother when she was looking for her reading glasses and couldn’t find it, only to realize after few minutes of search that the reading glasses were on her eyes—she’s wearing it. She couldn’t see it. But she saw everything through it.
I didn’t give the boy an all-knowing wise answer; I don’t have one. Instead I asked him more questions, “Are you looking for God? Where?” What do you expect to find? What lens are you using in looking for Him, the lens of pain, bitterness, anger, resentment…or the lens of happiness, contentment, peace, and blessings? If in case you found Him, are you ready to face Him?
For someone who is so interested in logical inferences, I was a little bit skeptical. For many years I believed that arguments are the best tool for convincing people. Set the right premises, and express clearly the conclusion, and that’s it, if you are good enough, your arguments will be irrefutable. People will be convinced.
I was wrong.
Gradually I have observed and learned that verbal argument actually sometimes is the last part in the process of changing minds. After we have observed enough actions, our mind becomes open to the arguments behind that action. If in case, arguments come first, we tend to wait for compelling actions before we are convinced. Then again, after we have carefully observed the action, the arguments just naturally follows.
If a person wants me to believe that he’s trustworthy, no amount of argument will convince me; I need to observe his actions.
If in case a person shows me trustworthiness in her action, even without explaining, I will be convinced that I can trust her.
My tranquility was once again disturbed by a friend. One day she called me to help her out in her assignment. Being a close friend, I quickly answered yes. But when I started reading the seven different dicta of seven ancient philosophers, I also started to panic. I love the subject, yes…Philosophy for me contains the most exciting but also the most exhausting things to ponder about. How can I simply establish rational reaction to these philosophers’ words of wisdom without given enough time to ponder deeply? My ungenerous friend did not give me the luxury of time: she wanted me to deliver my quick reaction in two days. So I attempted.
Of those ‘Words of Wisdom” from different philosophers, one struck me like no other: According to Socrates,
My quick reaction was to disagree, of course. I began my argument with the assumption that knowing is separate from acting. Meaning, our knowledge can be used for both good and bad. It is the choice of the person who possesses the knowledge where he’s going to use it.
Let’s look at the obvious. Many people who know too much use their knowledge in wickedness. Therefore, Socrates was wrong. Or was he?
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See you on the next pages. 🙂
I thought I would be ready to be back on blogging after the holy week. Unfortunately, I am not. I will still be busy. Be back on April 16. See you later! 🙂