Love is like Ghosts. Few have seen it, but everybody talks | Short Thoughts

Introducing Short Thoughts

Often I’ll have a short thought, more half of a thought really. I will begin to write it down and then the thought will wander off into the long grass and I’ll decide to finish working it out later. Now I have a few dozen half-finished blog posts in my folder and this site sits dormant.

So, I’ve decided to exchange fantastic for frequent and to hit publish on shorter thoughts that are not polished or even properly thought through. Enjoy!, but don’t hold me to it, I’m just thinking out loud.

“Yes I know that love is like Ghosts. Few have seen it, but everybody talks” – Lord Huron

Love is such a central concept (and hopefully reality) in Christian life and thinking. But often, what we have accepted as love needs to be challenged, re-thought through and reconsidered. We as Christians can be in danger in having neat (even scriptural) definitions which leave us with porcleain-doll-concepts rather than robust, three-dimensional, lived out experiences of love.

All of us know that love is complicated, joyous, costly, overwhelming and messy in real life. That is why I try and make a practice of listening to other perspectives on central concepts within Christianity, thinkers I anticipate disagreeing with but who can act as an acid to any of the overly porcelain aspects of my thoughts.

A person who has been an excellent ‘acid’ for my thinking has been Pete Rollins. Pete Rollins1 is an author and philosopher who is well versed in Christian theology but often challenges and confronts christianity with thinking that emerges from psycho-analytic theory. Recently I heard him paraphrase one of the fathers of psychoanalysis, Lacan2;

“Love is giving what you do not have to someone who doesn’t want it”

This quote takes a little unpacking, but I think it gives a fresh angle into a type of resilient love that is rarer and rarer.

“Love is giving what you do not have..”

Rollins makes the point that when we attempting to attract people (he uses the example of social dating app “tinder”) we are showing them the excess of our lives, we have travelled, we are qualified, we are funny. But much of what gets given in the reality of love is your lack. What you are not, what you cannot be or choose not to be. As someone else I heard recently said, “we love the whole person, their assets and liabilities”.

“… to someone who doesn’t want it”

Who of us wants another’s lack? But, at some level we are aware, Love in this way reaches a new height even as it reaches what some might see as a depth. It does so because we are not commodifying the other into something that increases our sense of social net worth, the other is someone who costs you. In that way, you no longer need the person, and you can be free to truly love them for who they are, not just what they bring you. This may seem most applicable to marriages and other romantic relationships but this can equally be true for our friendships and even the person at the check out in the supermarket. We are called not just to be nice but to love our neighbour and who is my neighbour? Whoever is in front of me.

Certainly, this is not all that love is, not by a long shot, but sometimes it is helpful for us to see from all angles, especially from below.

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