IS LOVE BLIND ?
“...love is blind and lovers cannot see
The pretty follies that themselves commit;”
Is love blind? Of course it isn’t. It is only what we love and whom we love that we ever really and truly see, deeply empathise with and get to know. Love opens our eyes to qualities in the beloved that the unloving can never perceive.
Some years ago there was an article in The Age which reported on neuroscientific investigations into the nature of love that appear to indicate love to be literally blind. It talked of experiments which reveal that when a mother looks lovingly at her child, or a person in love at his beloved, parts of the brain are deactivated, indicating a literal blinding to flaws and faults in the beloved. Yawn, yawn! How blind is all literalism! How drearily dull even science can be, how far from the mark.
Not necessarily, of course. Both the telescope and the microscope reveal wonders and beauties that dazzle us. But science also, and too often, does the opposite. It demystifies and disenchants. It turns a world of wonder and beauty into mere statistics, calculations and equations. It translates romance into biological urges, mother love into a survival mechanism, birdsong into territorial aggression; it reduces poetry to prose, heart-stopping melody to vibrating molecules, virtue and ethics to dull profit and loss utilitarianism. It interprets awe and reverence as emotionalism, religion as fear of death.
Savoir and connaître.
The French have two words for “to know”: savoir and connaître. Savoir is knowledge about. Connaître is knowledge of. Science is productive of objective knowledge about. Love is productive of intimate knowledge of, connaissance. Only if we love do we truly perceive and know.
Is love blind? Of course it isn’t. It does not even blind us to flaws and failings in the beloved. Instead it opens our eyes to understand such flaws and failings for what they really are and so to allow for, excuse or discount them. Is love blind? Of course it isn’t. It opens our eyes and hearts, it doesn’t close them.
That I deeply and profoundly love the Church gives me insights into it, and knowledge of it that are denied to those who do not deeply love it. Likewise my love of wife, family and friends. I know them all more profoundly and more completely than any mere acquaintance or enemy can or does. Is love blind? Of course it isn’t.
The futility of argument
Attempting to argue people into Church or Faith is fruitless because it imparts mere savoir. It is as fruitless as attempting to argue someone into love of you. To come wholeheartedly into the loving forgiving community that is the Church, which I love so much, requires falling in love with its God. It is something that happens. Knowledge about it, savoir, is neither here nor there. It can put off as much as turn on.
All too conscious that this little article is likely to have a marginally wider audience than my weekly pew sheet articles or my sermons, I am tempted always to argue the Faith and put its case. It is a waste of time. That won’t cause anyone to fall in love. So let me once more simply declare my love and the joy of being in love and trust that it excites or invites in others a greater susceptibility to falling in love with God and faith.
I am in love
I love the Christian Faith, God, Church, and Anglicanism, and so know it intimately. Intimacy with it reveals it to me to be truly Jesus’s pearl of great price, leaven in the dough, the bubble in life’s bread. It’s a great wedding banquet, a lost coin found. It’s a light in a dark room, it’s good fish in a net, a field full of golden wheat, treasure in a field. It is response, a bubbling over with gratitude at the givenness of things.
It is the beginning of the end of selfishness, of self-preoccupation, of self-obsession, because everything worthwhile in the self is seen to be God-given. My genes, my looks, my abilities, my circumstances, my loved ones, my world, are all, all, seen as given, and given on a plate.
Any abuse of what is given, my possible perversion of what is given, any ingratitude, why, that is all forgiven. Can be made good of, hand in hand with God and goodness enfleshed in his loving forgiving community the Church.
When in my prayers I say “thank you” to God, for all his many, many, many, goodnesses to me, conventional thankyous sometimes give way to heartfelt thankyous, and then, just now and then, my whole being floods with thankfulness and gratitude, and I am overwhelmed by the almost tangible presence of God. Then I understand the pearl of great price and fully recognise that Christianity is indeed the bubble in the bread, a great wedding banquet, a lost coin found, light in a dark room, good fish in a net, treasure in a field, a field full of golden wheat....
Christianity, properly, is thankfulness, is response to God’s overwhelming goodness, bubbling over into worship and charity and acts of love, bubbling over into joy and generosity of spirit. How lovely it is to be in love.