The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

Love

March 4, 2006 | 36 Comments

We cannot live without love. If we do not encounter love, if we do not experience it and make it our own, and if we do not participate intimately in it, our life is meaningless. Without love we remain incomprehensible to ourselves.

Pope John Paul II

Comments

36 Responses to “Love”

  1. sternwallow
    March 4th, 2006 @ 11:26 pm

    I guess John Paul, the poor old dear, ran out of love quite some time ago because he became completely meaningless and incomprehensible and incoherent.

  2. Valdyr
    March 5th, 2006 @ 3:13 am

    A dead virgin who took an oath of celibacy when he was alive probably isn’t going to be who I look to as a great authority on matters of love.

  3. J
    March 5th, 2006 @ 4:28 am

    Sex does not equal love.

  4. Lily
    March 5th, 2006 @ 8:04 am

    sternswallow: if you think John Paul the Great ran out of love, for even a moment, you weren’t paying attention.

  5. Chris Treborn
    March 5th, 2006 @ 4:36 pm

    As he became more and more unwell the love of the holy father only grew. I think his statement is a fine sentiment, even if you do not believe in God.

  6. Mijae
    March 5th, 2006 @ 9:33 pm

    ….so long as the love is between a man and a woman only, of course. *eyeroll*

  7. Rocketman
    March 6th, 2006 @ 1:29 pm

    I think that this thought is a profound one. But i guess it is applicable based on ones definition of love. Once again interpretation will cast its own shadow over what is said.

    If by love we can interpret it to mean good feeling for fellow men and women–the involvement and recognition of the other as valid and important than i would agree that this is central to being considered human.

    We cannot live without love–

    –We cannot live alone -with no recognition of our connectedness and aspects as a part of the human race. Humans being social animals healthiest when part of a community–I agree with this.

    If we do not encoutner love…our life is meaningless.

    Perhaps personal meaning is valid–i believe so–however–a life unshared has limited meaning. As an exampkle having and caring for your children connects you to a greater whole–the parts of you that they carry provide meainign for them and for yourself–aside from semantics I can’t really disaagree with this either.

    Without love we remain incomprehensible to ourselves.

    Once again–as social beings our understanding of ourselves can be fully understood in relations with others.

    Once again –nothing to disagree with for me there.

    I do not agree with much that the pope stood for –but this line is not a disagreeable one. Who the person is -does not actually reflect on the statement here.

  8. xeno
    March 7th, 2006 @ 11:41 am

    You people are suckers. Whether life without love
    is meaningless or not, it’s just a matter of
    opinion, not some foregone conclusion. In its
    most negative sense, love is just a form of
    codependency. Obviously, any purpose or goal people
    set out for themselves is going to give them
    a meaning, & that meaning could be anythng. IMO,
    this emphasis on “love” is a way to get people
    to get caught up in their subjectivity &
    emotionalism.

  9. Rocketman
    March 7th, 2006 @ 11:43 pm

    You mean being human. I agree. A very good idea not to have any subjectivity or emotion. Like puerile arrogance or enough ego to sit back and assume all of the fucking answers.

    Me i like emotion. Like being able and willing to tell you cram you head deeper in your cornhole you stupid fucknut.

    Flip side of the quote. Anger, hate –also human emotions–gotta know them too.

  10. xeno
    March 8th, 2006 @ 2:16 am

    It’s emotionalism that is questionable. Look at
    your own response.

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  12. SteveG
    March 8th, 2006 @ 12:12 pm

    It’s emotionalism that is questionable. Look at your own response.

    And you, I suppose are immune to such banality as emotionalism?

    I think you missed the very point that Rocketman was trying to make. An essential part of being human is the embrace of the reality of our emotionalism. He very neatly gives an example of that, and your response is a laughable implication that you are some how above such things.

    EVERYONE is caught up in their subjectivity &
    emotionalism
    , and that includes you. The only difference is whic version we pick.

  13. Viole
    March 8th, 2006 @ 2:22 pm

    You know I always hate to contradict you, Steve, but you’re wrong. The difference isn’t what ‘version’ we pick, it’s how aware we are. People who accept their emotions tend to be more self-aware, if only because they understand emotions are a part of who they are. I hesitate to go on, by my experience says that the self-denying type generally isn’t too comfortable with their humanity.

  14. SteveG
    March 8th, 2006 @ 3:47 pm

    You know I always hate to contradict you, Steve, but you’re wrong. The difference isn’t what ‘version’ we pick, it’s how aware we are. People who accept their emotions tend to be more self-aware, if only because they understand emotions are a part of who they are.

    Viole, how does one judge this supposed greater capacity for self awareness? How does one judge the greater acceptance of one’s emotions which supposedly leads to that? Or even that this is what leads to greater self awareness. You see, even the act of claiming that you can judge which/who is more self-aware, and what that entails is colored by the outlook (version) that you fundamentally accept.

    It’s a nice bit of rhetoric, but very empty I am afraid.

    I hesitate to go on, by my experience says that the self-denying type generally isn’t too comfortable with their humanity.

    I am curious, what exactly does ‘self-denying type’ mean?

  15. Viole
    March 8th, 2006 @ 10:50 pm

    No more empty than the rest of the rhetoric on this thread, Steve. It is, I admit, all a bit pointless. I will also admit, I do claim a greater understand than anyone else, or at least a majority of other people. Maybe I’m just arrogant. If there’s one thing a person gains through self-awareness, though, it is self-confidence. I would point out that the most difficult person to understand is the self. If one can manage that, one is in good shape for understanding most other people.

    So I’ll repeat what I said before; it’s all about self-awareness. It is very easy to spot a person who isn’t self-aware. They tend to be at the extremes of behavior. Suppressing emotion is certainly one such extreme.

    You can certainly figure out what I mean by self-denying if you try, especially since I’ve covered this with you before. People who deny themselves harmless pleasures. People who think sex is evil. People who try and pretend they don’t have emotions.

    That sort of thing.

  16. xeno
    March 9th, 2006 @ 1:10 am

    Self-confidence is self-deception. Banality
    is not the problem about emotionalism. With
    emotionalism, one can easily delude oneself by
    letting passion get the upper-hand. The pre-
    occupation with the self is narcissism. An
    essential part of being human is to deal with the
    material reality of living. Emotions are a part
    of that context, not some portal to something
    metaphysical & ethereal. That’s one reason why I
    object to the pope’s statement.

  17. giveusabreak
    March 9th, 2006 @ 3:15 am

    102 Catholic priests have just been accused of sexually or physically abusing 350 kids in the Irish city of Dublin alone. This adds to the thousands of children abused by priests in the US, Australia, Brazil and all those which we have yet to find out about. Little by little we discover one of the biggest mass-crimes of the 20th century, while at the same time the popes spewed out hypocritical quotes like this one.

  18. SteveG
    March 9th, 2006 @ 10:01 am

    If there’s one thing a person gains through self-awareness, though, it is self-confidence.

    Self confidence is a mask and a delusion. What are you so self confident about? Your own fundamental premise tells you that you are nothing of consequence in this universe. You will die one day and there is nothing to be done about it. You are a speck in the cosmos and your existence is pointless. True self awareness leads to humility about our limitations, not false bravado. The people I’ve known who are the most self confident are almost without fail, the LEAST self aware…

    THOROUGHLY worldly people never understand even the world; they rely altogether on a few cynical maxims which are not true. Once I remember walking with a prosperous publisher, who made a remark which I had often heard before; it is, indeed, almost a motto of the modern world. Yet I had heard it once too often, and I saw suddenly that there was nothing in it. The publisher said of somebody, “That man will get on; he believes in himself.” And I remember that as I lifted my head to listen, my eye caught an omnibus on which was written “Hanwell. [Insane Asylum] ” I said to him, “Shall I tell you where the men are who believe most in themselves? For I can tell you. I know of men who believe in themselves more colossally than Napoleon or Caesar. I know where flames the fixed star of certainty and success. I can guide you to the thrones of the Super-men. The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums.”
    He said mildly that there were a good many men after all who believed in themselves and who were not in lunatic asylums. “Yes, there are,” I retorted, “and you of all men ought to know them. That drunken poet from whom you would not take a dreary tragedy, he believed in himself. That elderly minister with an epic from whom you were hiding in a back room, he believed in himself. If you consulted your business experience instead of your ugly individualistic philosophy, you would know that believing in himself is one of the commonest signs of a rotter. Actors who can’t act believe in themselves; and debtors who won’t pay. It would be much truer to say that a man will certainly fail, because he believes in himself. Complete self-confidence is not merely a sin; complete self-confidence is a weakness. Believing utterly in one’s self is a hysterical and superstitious belief like believing in Joanna Southcote: the man who has it has `Hanwell’ written on his face as plain as it is written on that omnibus.” And to all this my friend the publisher made this very deep and effective reply, “Well, if a man is not to believe in himself, in what is he to believe?” After a long pause I replied, “I will go home and write a book in answer to that question.” This is the book that I have written in answer to it.
    (G.K. Chesterton-Orthodoxy)

    So I’ll repeat what I said before; it’s all about self-awareness.

    And I’ll stick with JPII and say that it’s all about love. About a love that is willing and able to give of ones self even to the point of sacrifice. I’ll take an unenlightened person who understands that deep truth over a supposedly self aware individual, who doesn’t understand it, any day of the week.

    It is very easy to spot a person who isn’t self-aware. They tend to be at the extremes of behavior. Suppressing emotion is certainly one such extreme.

    Isn’t utter indulgence of emotion another such extreme?

    People who deny themselves harmless pleasures.

    Ahh, but there’s the rub, no? How does one define harmless? Is it possible that what one thinks is harmless is really not? Doesn’t the drunk who doesn’t realize they have a problem claim that alcohol is a harmless pleasure?

    People who think sex is evil. People who try and pretend they don’t have emotions.

    Who are these people? I don’t personally know any of them I am afraid. If they exist, surely they are in the slimmest of minorities?

  19. Viole
    March 9th, 2006 @ 11:10 am

    Where do you pull this stuff out of, Steve? You make me want to beat my head against the wall, and that’s not just because I never liked philosophical debates.

    Self confidence is a mask and a delusion. What are you so self confident about? Your own fundamental premise tells you that you are nothing of consequence in this universe. You will die one day and there is nothing to be done about it. You are a speck in the cosmos and your existence is pointless. True self awareness leads to humility about our limitations, not false bravado. The people I’ve known who are the most self confident are almost without fail, the LEAST self aware…

    Steve, dear, it possible to be both confident of one’s abilities and humble about one’s limitations. Self-awareness is about both, regardless of the ultimate pointlessness of existence. Isn’t that obvious? I do always seem to be overestimating people.

    And I’ll stick with JPII and say that it’s all about love. About a love that is willing and able to give of ones self even to the point of sacrifice. I’ll take an unenlightened person who understands that deep truth over a supposedly self aware individual, who doesn’t understand it, any day of the week.

    Of course you will. To quote more theists than I bothered to count, ‘God is love.’ If it weren’t for that simple statement, everyone, not just the atheists, would look at John Paul and say, ‘And how would he know that?’ It’s really a simple leap of logic. God is love. God is everything. Love is everything. It’s also based on a false premise: God is. And I have yet to say that it is wrong.

    I will now. Love is many things. It is, for most people, the surest way to find happiness. Again, for most people, it is the best way to have one’s memory endure after death. I would even call it the greatest of emotions. It has the power to change people in ways that even the purest rage cannot. It is certainly everything to some people.

    However, I stepped in here to make a minor semantic point, not comment on that, and I’ve been dragged by your erroneous assumptions into a larger debate I surely did not want to get involved in.

    Oh, and you can stuff your little quote back where ever you found it. Appeals to authority are all well and good, but among the insane, even those who appear infinitely self-confident, have lost themselves inside their own minds. I, on the other hand, know precisely where I live, and send myself greeting cards on all the major holidays. The silly git never answers back, either.

    Isn’t utter indulgence of emotion another such extreme?

    Brilliant! Perhaps there is some hope for you yet!

    Ahh, but there’s the rub, no? How does one define harmless? Is it possible that what one thinks is harmless is really not? Doesn’t the drunk who doesn’t realize they have a problem claim that alcohol is a harmless pleasure?

    Unfortunately, yes, but wouldn’t you call that person lacking in self-awareness? All we can manage is harmless to the best of our abilities. Have you forgotten that we aren’t omnipotent, or did you just think this was a terrific point that destroyed my arguments entirely?

    People who think sex is evil. People who try and pretend they don’t have emotions.
    Who are these people? I don’t personally know any of them I am afraid. If they exist, surely they are in the slimmest of minorities?

    They, like those people who do not see how they affect people, are fortunately rare. They also exist. They tend to hang around churches.

  20. Chris Treborn
    March 9th, 2006 @ 3:12 pm

    whatever you think of religon, it is undeniable that the holy father is an intellectual. You don’t get to be pope if you are a fool, just like you don’tr get to be president if you are an idiot (no matter what Jon Stewart says). That means that his sayings are to be respected, even by atheists.

  21. John Ivey
    March 9th, 2006 @ 7:44 pm

    I think the basic question is, is life without love meaningless? First, one has to define love. What kind of love is John Paul speaking of? Romantic love, love for one’s brother, love of life, etc. The question seems rather vague for a definitive answer.

    So, I looked up love in my handy dictionary and as it is a pope who speaks of love, I would have to go with definition number 6. Theology. To have charity for. We can then ask the question, is life without charity meaningless? Once again, I got my dictionary and looked up charity. Again under Theology. The virtue defined as love directed first toward God but also toward oneself and one’s neighbors as objects of God’s love. Now I happen to be an atheist so I can dispense with all the God crap, but having done that it seems that the question is, if one does not love oneself and have a respect for others, is life meaningless? Meaningless, perhaps no. But empty, which may be the same thing, yes.

  22. xeno
    March 9th, 2006 @ 11:33 pm

    Affection happens naturally between people. Love
    is just an ideological wrapper around these
    affections to reduce these into commodities &
    fetishes. Self-abnegation is glorified to get
    people to believe that to go along with being
    exploited is a virtue. What is being called
    self-awareness here is merely navel gazing.
    The pope will tell you that you can’t live without
    fraternity but he’ll never challenge the system
    that alienates people from developing it.

  23. Rocketman
    March 10th, 2006 @ 8:45 am

    So then Xeno, Your word–fraternity–then has less cachet than the other word-love.

    If you are essentially speaking of the same thing then you have engaged in a semantic arguement that doesn’t address the basic point.

    Faternity/love

    Self-awareness-navel gazing

    Potayto potahto

    Tomayto tomahto

    And while I may agree that the Catholic church has a terrible history of practicng what they preach–the essential statement is not tied into that anymore than vegetarianism is key to the pogroms of a certain Austrian.

    Unconnected.

  24. SteveG
    March 10th, 2006 @ 9:26 am

    Steve, dear, it possible to be both confident of one’s abilities and humble about one’s limitations. Self-awareness is about both, regardless of the ultimate pointlessness of existence.

    Surely, but since you highlighted the one, and neglected to mention the other, how was I to know that you were talking about both. And I think I’ll be forgiven, because

    Isn’t that obvious?

    …Well, to me, yes. But I’ll suggest you take a gander around the landscape here in either the comment boxes, or the forums to see that indeed, self-confidence minus humility reigns supreme. It is the very rare individual posting here (and if you are one of those, I beg forgiveness for implying otherwise), who has the faintest idea about humility. Do you deny that this is the dominant attitude here?

    However, I stepped in here to make a minor semantic point, not comment on that, and I’ve been dragged by your erroneous assumptions into a larger debate I surely did not want to get involved in.

    It seems to me that you are being a bit disingenuous here.

    From post 13: You know I always hate to contradict you, Steve, but you’re wrong. The difference isn’t what ‘version’ we pick, it’s how aware we are. People who accept their emotions tend to be more self-aware, if only because they understand emotions are a part of who they are.

    …is not a minor semantic point. It is a flat challenge that my entire comment was mistaken and a substitution of the ‘right’ understanding. Forgive me if I didn’t just bow down and agree.;-)

    unfortunately, yes, but wouldn’t you call that person lacking in self-awareness? All we can manage is harmless to the best of our abilities. Have you forgotten that we aren’t omnipotent, or did you just think this was a terrific point that destroyed my arguments entirely?

    Well, yes, as a matter of fact. And it does. The problem is that we can’t possibly judge our own self-awareness, can we? You can claim to be ‘in touch’ with yourself, and so can I, but really neither one of us can be sure? Maybe one of us or both of us are as clueless as the alcoholic.

    If we can’t really be sure where we stand, then your point that it’s how aware we are boils right back down to ‘every one of us being caught up in their subjectivity & emotionalism’, which further boils down to exactly what I said.

    The only essential difference is the paradigm (version) we choose to make our judgments about life and about ourselves.

  25. SteveG
    March 10th, 2006 @ 9:30 am

    Rocketman,
    Good to see you again! Didn’t you have a little one due? Did your wife have the baby? How’s he/she doing?

    This isn’t really the appropriate forum for such questions, but didn’t know how else to contact you. Shoot me an email at sgalvanek@verizon.net if you feel inclined. Maybe we could even pick up that old discussion we were having right before you went on vacation.

  26. xeno
    March 10th, 2006 @ 9:52 am

    Life may be meaningless for *you* without your
    ego-driven cultural specfic magical love-concept,
    but fraternity happens quite naturally between
    all people, & doesn’t require intoxicating
    passions.

  27. SteveG
    March 10th, 2006 @ 9:59 am

    Xeno,
    Please go back and read John Ivey’s excellent post number 21. The problem is that you are misunderstanding the meaning of the word love as being used by JPII, and I believe by Rocketman as well.

    Love in the sense being spoken about is not intoxicating passion ,which probably would more appropriately be called either lust or at best infatuation.

  28. Viole
    March 10th, 2006 @ 11:48 am

    Surely, but since you highlighted the one, and neglected to mention the other, how was I to know that you were talking about both. And I think I’ll be forgiven.

    Humility, Steve. I always walk into an argument with the assumption that the other person is as smart as I am. Probably a mistake, I know. Once should always assume your opponent will be intentionally obtuse, if not outright stupid. Mind you, when I say, ‘start’, I’m including any previous comments made by the person in question, addressed to other people. Why you’re making assumptions about me based upon the people at this site, I don’t know. I can tell you that humility isn’t something that comes across well in this kind of debate.

    It seems to me that you are being a bit disingenuous here.

    You’re right. Semantic was not the right word, but I still maintain it was a minor point.

    The problem is that we can’t possibly judge our own self-awareness, can we? You can claim to be ‘in touch’ with yourself, and so can I, but really neither one of us can be sure? Maybe one of us or both of us are as clueless as the alcoholic.

    We can. If, as is wise, we assess the views of others, that does not detract from our understanding. Rather the opposite.

    If we can’t really be sure where we stand, then your point that it’s how aware we are boils right back down to ‘every one of us being caught up in their subjectivity & emotionalism’, which further boils down to exactly what I said.

    Still disagreeing, here. The word I was looking for might have been pedantic. Self-awareness isn’t about knowing everything there is to know about oneself. It’s about capabilities, preferences, and will. Stimulants and depressants interfere with understanding. Seeing our flaws is the hardest part. I happen to be a pedantic debater, with a taste for referencing our resident fascist monkey for no good reason(do you think this is an exception?). I am unfortunately impatient with stupidity, real or imagined. I’m more likely to under than overestimate myself.

    How we see the world–though indeed subjective–has a lot to do with how we see ourselves. In retrospect, you weren’t wrong, you were half-right, and so was I. I see myself as a perpetual outsider, and while in some ways it started out true, I’ve kept it that way willfully.

  29. SteveG
    March 10th, 2006 @ 12:22 pm

    Why you’re making assumptions about me based upon the people at this site, I don’t know. I can tell you that humility isn’t something that comes across well in this kind of debate.

    You are absolutely correct here and I was in the wrong. It’s always better to ask for clarification, rather than assume the worst. I apologize for being a jackass.

    I guess the problem I still see is that the act of judging seems to assumes there is some standard against which one can judge. If ones self is both the arbiter of the standard and the judge of how one stacks up against that standard, that strikes me as a smoke and mirrors trick.

    I am not here trying to force you into some kind of admission that there IS an objective standard (I know full well you reject that), but I have always honestly been perplexed by how this lack of a standard (whether relating to morality, meaning, or our current topic) is reconciled for the non-believer. I couldn’t reconcile it when I was a non-beleiver, and it was an important factor in driving me to belief.

    I am honestly interested in how you would explain this. What is it that you are judging your level of self awareness against that you can even evaluate where you fall on the scale, and what is the scale you use? It just seems so contradictory to me. Can you help me to make sense of where you are coming from?

  30. xeno
    March 10th, 2006 @ 12:33 pm

    Passion is ego-driven. It doesn’t make any
    difference what type of affection is involved
    whether it be agape or eros. & another thing,
    “love” is treated as a kind of fetish in this
    culture. Treating it as such is problematical,
    isn’t it?

  31. Rocketman
    March 10th, 2006 @ 2:47 pm

    Hey Steve,

    Still waiting–May 13 is the due date.

    I’d like to continue the discussion actually, I’ll send you an e-mail shortly.

  32. xeno
    March 11th, 2006 @ 2:14 pm

    Whether it is agape or eros, passion is
    ego.

  33. cilphex
    March 11th, 2006 @ 7:44 pm

    Never posted here before, and sorry if this is going way off topic, but in regards to the Viole/Steve debate, I have an interesting quote from Nietzsche, which I thought related due to it’s mention of one’s measure of value, and one’s awareness. Italics his.

    “If we place ourselves at the end of this tremendous process, where the tree at last brings forth fruit, where society and the morality of custom at last reveal what they have simply been the means to: then we discover that the ripest fruit is the sovereign individual, like only to himself, liberated again from morality of custom, autonomous and supramoral (for “autonomous” and “moral” are mutually exclusive), in short, the man who has his own independent, protracted will and the right to make promises–and in him a proud consciousness, quivering in every muscle, of what has at length been achieved and become flesh in him, a consciousness of his own power and freedom, a sensation of mankind come to completion. This emancipated individual, with the actual right to make promises, this master of a free will, this sovereign man–how should he not be aware of his superiority over all those who lack the right to make promises and stand as their own guarantors, of how much trust, how much fear, how much reverence he arouses–he “deserves” all three–and of how this mastery over himself also necessarily gives him mastery over circumstances, over nature, over all more short-willed and unreliable creatures? The “free” man, the possessor of a protracted and unbreakable will, also possesses his measure of value: looking out upon others from himself, he honors or he despises; and just as he is bound to honor his peers, the strong and the reliable (thos with the right to make promises)–that is, all those who promise like sovereigns, reluctantly, rarely, slowly, who are chary of trusting, whose trust is a mark of distinction, who give their word as something that can be relied on because they know themselves strong enough to maintain it in the face of accidents, even “in the face of fate”–he is bound to reserve a kick for the feeble windbags who promise without the right to do so, and a rod for the liar who breaks his word even at the moment he utters it. The proud awareness of the extraordinary privilege of responsibility, the consciousness of this rare freedom, this power over oneself and over fate, has in his case penetrated to the profoundest depths and become instinct, the dominating instinct. What will he call this dominating instinct, supposing he feels the need to give it a name? The answer is beyond doubt: this sovereign man calls it his conscience.

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