Sunday, October 30, 2011

What is love?

What is love?
This commentary on The Theology of Harry Potter continues.

This is a very simplified discussion of a complex subject, love. In class we studied the first Encyclical letter by Pope Benedict XVI where he spoke of love, the love God lavishes upon us and which we in turn must share with others. I was most impressed with the emphasis Pope Benedict put on receiving love being as important as giving love.

In the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI, he describes what love is.
“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (1 John 4:16). This is the heart of the Christian faith. In the same verse, Saint John offers a summary of the Christian life: “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.”

There are two parts to love, Eros and Agape.

Eros is the Greek word for love and is that passionate, romantic love people have when they are physically attracted to another. If eros is not disciplined it becomes self absorbing,  self gratification. Agape brings eros to perfection.
Examples from Harry Potter: Ron and Lavender. Ron hardly knows Lavender. He is physically attracted to her. Also, when Ron drinks the love potion, he “loves” everybody. The Dursleys love for their son Dudley is an example of eros. They do not give him what he needs, only what he wants for their own gratification.  This is a selfish love and diminishes the dignity of Dudley. Pope Benedict says, “Ascending, possessive or covetous love would be eros and typical of non Christian culture.”

Agape, also Greek , has been translated into English as love. It is the love God has for mankind and the love we have for him. It is also the deep love man has for man. But for us to be whole we need both eros and agape.  Pope Benedict says, “It is neither the spirit alone nor the body alone that loves; it is man, the person, a unified creature composed of body and soul who loves. Only when both dimensions are truly united does man attain his full stature.” Agape is self giving. As a student said in class, “Agape love uplifts the dignity of others. When you love something, you place value on it.” Descending or oblative love –agape–would be typically Christian.

“Man cannot live by oblative descending love alone. He cannot always give; he must also receive. Anyone who wishes to give love must also receive love as a gift. Certainly, as the Lord tells us, one can become a source from which rivers of living water flow (cf. Jn7:37-38).  Yet to become such a source, one must constantly  drink anew form the original source, which is Jesus Christ, from whose pierced heart flows the love of God. (cf. Jn 19:34)

Example of Agape in Harry Potter: Dobby was fatally wounded by Bellatrix Lestrange's knife as he successfully apparated Harry and Griphook to safety in the Shell Cottage. He gave his life to save Harry and his friends. Also, Harry dug a grave for Dobby and gave him a “proper” burial without magic. According to Dr. Catherine Howard’s book, A Theology of Hogwarts: The Journey of the Soul in Harry Potter, Harry’s descent into Dobby’s grave and rising from it with his decision to follow through on Dumbledore’s master plan is the “real Easter,” the resurrection at King’s Cross and his sacrifice in the Forbidden Forest. In theological language, digging Dobby’s grave marks Harry illumination and the final transformation of his soul.

No comments:

Post a Comment