Learnning to love-different kinds of love

dr gary davis, clueless, christianity, christian, love, meaning, agape, eros,

What are the different kinds of love? The ancient Greeks had at least six words (categories) for love—

EROS, or sexual passion. Not always a safe form of love at that; often considered dangerous loss of control.

PHILIA, or deep friendship. Denoting deep comradery, loyalty, and sacrifice for the other.

LUDUS, or playful love. As between children or young lovers. Or cheerful banter in a local pub.

AGAPE, or love for everyone. Selfless love, extended to all people and even distant strangers.

PRAGMA, or longstanding love. The deep-understanding that develops between married couples. It conveys the compromises we make over time to make a relationship work. Patience. Forgiveness.

PHILAUTIA, or love of self. Describes a love that can be an unhealthy self-obsessed narcissism, OR, a love wherein you are secure in yourself, enabling you to have a greater capacity to love others.

[ http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/the-ancient-greeks-6-words-for-love-and-why-knowing-them-can-change-your-life ]

As with much of Western Philosophy, compound concepts are grouped under a single word. Thus, the above may be helpful for your understanding, but if we simply recall the numerous relationships we have, it should be obvious that love takes on many shapes. In each love shape the feelings are different, the expressions are different. So also are the degrees of commitment.

Love cannot be discussed solely in a conceptual realm. We need to drag it down to earth, to more human surroundings. When we start talking about love at this level, it forces us to become eminently practical. It is not erroneous to say that to understand love one must first love. So if we are to have any meaningful discussion on love, it truly helps to be in love— with a spouse, a partner, a child, a friend, even a dog. Hopefully, the “other” is reciprocating in some manner which feeds your soul.

So if you want to get into this discussion, ponder the different people you love. How is each love different? How would you describe each feeling? Each different expression? If they all feel the same then something is wrong. If you are expressing your love for your wife the same as you express your love for your car, believe me, something is terribly wrong.

NEXT DISCUSSION: Why does love even exist?!?

Let’s make love an action verb,

Gary

Learning to Love-Introduction

There’s really nothing quite like being in love, is there? Being loved, and loving, builds us in ways that nothing else can.

     We live in a culture where love has been lifted up to the highest pinnacle of experience…, and then we complicate it with sex, romance, and shattered relationships. We’ve lost something— a depth of love and any ability to love another selflessly. It’s always about me. Genuine love should be about the other.

     We need to learn to love again— with a rich love, a deep love. I’m not talking simply about romantic love…, but a love that is empowering— for our wives, husbands, our parents, our children, neighbors, and our workmates.

     Love cannot be merely a word or a feeling: it must be an attitude toward living, an underlying approach to everyone around us. Only then will we begin to grasp the wild stability found in selfless love.

     So if you’ve been hurt by love, or simply forgotten how to love, I invite you to join me over the next 6-7 weeks in this discussion about love. Invite your friends into the discussion too. Great fun lies ahead.

~ Dr. Gary Davis

[ALL OF THE STARS, Ed Sheeran—  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkqVm5aiC28 ]

Some of the facets of love we will be discussing are—

  • Learning Love. What are the different kinds of love? Why does love even exist? To what extent does loving and being loved affect our lives? And what are the effects of NOT being loved, or NOT loving other people.
  • Love Games.  What are they? Why do we play them? What do they do to our relationships?
  • Your Personality and Love. Your individual personality has a lot to do with your interactions with other people. It influences how and who you love too.
  • Love Hurts. Surprise! Giving love that expects nothing in return can lead to deep wounds. How do I recover from them? Giving love expecting something in return is even more dangerous. How are we to recover from love’s life discouragements? Learning to love again is one of the most difficult challenges we will ever face.
  • Trust. Loving anyone involves a measure of trust that lets go of personal protection and says My life is in your hands. How do we learn to “trust?” What are the ingredients of trust?

More issues will probably arise as we move through our discussion. There’s no right or wrong here; only open, honest options for us to knock around.

 Let’s make love an action verb,

Gary

Why Jesus became human

 nativity, Jesus, love, lightThis is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. ~ Matthew 1:18-24

This historical description of the events surrounding Jesus’ birth have been recorded in the Christian Bible for anyone to read. But the WHY of Christmas is a much more panoramic story. It starts with the beginning of time itself. Time, along with this fantastic universe were brought into being for us. That’s right—us. And the Lord God Creator said it was good.

In the early days of our livelihood, life was idyllic, if not busy. God had set our ancestors with the task of naming the animals; a.k.a.- imbuing them with their core characteristics. Busy, busy. Then there was that first garden to plant, till, and harvest. More busy. Forget about clothes. Who had the time anyway!

We did, however, find the time to cross the one line God had drawn in the sand—Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The rest is history.

Why did Jesus become human? To become one of us. To suffer the punishment we deserved for crossing the line with God. And in so doing we can be reinstated in a relationship with our Creator.

Why is it this way? I don’t know. Make something up. Most people don’t even believe this much. So we’ve turned the celebration of Jesus’ birth into a cultural economic bonanza for marketing and consumerism. Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas celebrations. I love giving gifts. [Ok, I love receiving them too.]

So I will celebrate in the Christmas spirit right alongside the rest of our culture! But I will also celebrate a more quiet one (or maybe not so quiet), remembering the great gift that God the Creator gave us, Jesus Christ: the way back to Him.

Merry Christmas!
  Gary  &  Starr

Black and Blue…. and White

Black, white, violence, community, love, futureDallas PD, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church Charleston, SC, Newtown CT, Orlando, San Bernadino, Oregon Community College, Boston Marathon, Kalamazoo, Washington Naval Yard, Virginia Tech.

These are the some of the communities who have found their place in American history through the tragic taking of innocent lives. These were men whose spirits were fueled with anger and resentment toward the police, the military, white people, black people, and innocent children. Their crimes were crimes of racism and resentment, of control and feeling out of control, of having no voice in the greater arena of our great American culture. Maybe we’re not so great after all.

These murders and assassinations are representative of deeper divides between black & white, between police brutality and criminal license. On a deeper lever, they belie a sickness and fear within the souls of men to dominate, to be right, and to win. This is not a healthy platform on which to build a civil society. It is a platform that lays the foundations for civil war, permanent racial tension, and mutual destruction.

Is this the country we want to leave to our children?!? Of course not! But unless we act, all of us, and act now, our children will be facing the same issues 50 years from now.

Allow me to offer a course of action4now.

  1. The violence must STOP, on all sides of our conflicts. I grew up in a racially torn Baltimore, MD. I made a friend who was black in the midst of a gang war. We had to feign a personal feud to cover up our friendship. That should not have been; but it was. What if we ALL learned friendship again? Friends…, with those who are different from us? It can be done.
  2. It is easily observable that America is not “one nation under God. We are a matrix of peoples—Muslims, Christians, atheists, agnostics, Jews, scientists, philosophers and some people who are too busy earning a living to even think about their “position” on things. We are a patch-work quilt at best. It is well past the time we should know about our differences and come to allow for, if not respect, other people’s viewpoints, other people’s plights. One size does not fit all.
  3. A system, not of Social Security, but of Social Assistance should be set up. Not one where $$$ is blindly doled out, but one where people come to work together, side by side, for the common good. [See- Habitat for Humanity.] Who knows, maybe even those “row-houses” of my youth can be made to shine again.
  4. As a nation, we need to return to God. [Again, atheists & agnostics honorably excused.] But for the rest of us, it is time we took the dictates of our faith, no matter the faith, more to heart. Let’s not merely be Christians, but genuine Christians, giving to the poor; let’s not be simply Jews, but the Jews of the Book, honoring our history and caring for our fellow human beings; and let’s be worthy Muslims, obeying and honoring the teaching of Allah, and of Muhammad ﷺ, His Prophet, not killing, which is a sin, but cherishing life, bringing about great changes for all mankind.

These suggestions may go unnoticed, be seen as invalid, or simply ignored. Nonetheless, my belief is that they are not as naïve and uncritically fanciful as they might appear. One of my mentors was the business consultant Peter Drucker. One of his more famous sayings was— The best way to predict the future is to create it. It’s time we all got down to some serious, creative work.

And did I mention the difficulty and necessity of forgiveness? Do I have to?

Honor God; honor people…, make a difference,

Gary

Cotton Candy Christians

cotton candy, christians, muslims, real, faith, genuineAbu Bakr al Baghdadi, the recognized leader of the new Islamic Caliphate-without-borders, accused those Muslims who do not support ISIS’ interpretation of the Qu’ran, as being “cotton-candy-Muslims.” His disgust with the mediocre state of Islam today drew him to support, sponsor, and now lead the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

His vehement declaration about Muslims drew me to ponder whether or not evangelical Christians in the West could be accused of being cotton-candy-Christians? How could normal people spot a cotton-candy-Christian? Some thoughts—

1.      Uses religious phrases to sound Christian and fit in.

2.      Cannot communicate in normal speech patterns to normal people.

3.      Freezes up when a “non-Christian” asks them about their faith. Gets all tight. Falls back on some pre-scribed formula.

4.      Remembers wrongs. Does not forgive, but pretends to.

5.      Knows little to nothing about what’s going on in the world but judges it nonetheless.

6.      Great at quoting Scripture, even when inappropriate.

7.      Is afraid of everything and everyone outside their Christian Bubble.

So then I wondered, How could a normal person spot a genuine Christian? Hummm, let’s see… .

1.      Their inconceivable capacity to forgive others.

2.      Enjoys the company of normal people.

3.      Celebrates life!

4.      Does not judge anyone. Anyone. Leaves that to God.

5.      Is gracious to a fault, sacrificing their own livelihood for that of others.

6.      Weaves their faith into conversations without intent; rather, with aplomb.

7.      Gives God room to work. Doesn’t strive to “close the deal.

There are probably many more observations of a cotton-candy Christian and a genuine Christian that could be added to this appraisal. Please send your thoughts on this to me. But, for now, I will leave you with this—

Which list more closely describes your faith?

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

I love Charlie Sheen

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My love for Charlie Sheen

Sometimes I think our whole world has gone crazy. Throughout my life I have loved so many people—both men and women. I dated at least 26 women before I married my wife. Since then I’ve loved at least that many more. And the men? Really? I’ve lost count. My wife, Starr, is absolutely OK with all of it. Of course, none of my relationships involved sex. But I still loved intently.

Charlie has loved so many women it’s out of control. He’s been out of control, in control, then out again, then in again, so many times. It’s unimaginable.

Yet he’s the one who gets condemned and told, “You got what you deserved.” “You reap what you sow.”

Here is a man who has just been told he has the HIV virus and the first thing that comes to people’s minds is he deserves it. Incredible!

Let me ask you, do you want to get what you deserve? I certainly don’t. A lot of my Christian friends ask me if I’m looking forward to heaven. I tell them that I’ll be damn lucky (Calvinisticly speaking) to squeak in by a side door. I deserve to have my ass fried in hell for all eternity. But God has never played fair with me…, or you, or Charlie.

Cut the guy a little slack! He doesn’t deserve this.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Formidable Force

Malala Yousafzai, Formidable, Force, Courage, Brave, love, Forgiveness                 “Love is a Force more Formidable than any other. It is invisible— it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could.”

~ Barbara De Angelis

Formidable Force.

What do you think of when your mind searches within for a symbol of Formidable Force? My first thoughts were of a Roman Phalanx, the Mongols, the USS Nimitz, and even the U.S. Congress— all formidable forces to be reckoned with. Each held/holds power in their own way— mostly military. But there are other more formidable forces in our scope of existence to which we must always give heed. Gravity comes to mind, first. Here are some others—

1.      Nature— There’s nothing like a change in the weather change your plans. Rain kills picnics: floods destroy: hurricanes (rain with wind) kill people. Then there is our place in the Universe— do we know what role we are to play in the grand scheme of things?

2.      Multi-Media Communications— It started meekly with the telegraph, then the telephone, then radio & TV; now, it’s out-of-control. The myriad forms of communication and entertainment available would have been deemed demonic a century ago. They weren’t, of course; but do they border on mind-control now? “Binge Watching” of TV shows has taken over more than one generation. Will we be known as the watching generation? A formidable force indeed!

3.      The Wielding of Power— Those in authority use it; by the grace of God, may they use it properly. Power always seems to usurp power. I remember a saying of former Secretary of State George Schultz— “Never give authority to someone who cannot live without it.”   Point taken.

4.      Revenge— For some people, and nations, it is the driving force behind their existence. They will not be placated.

5.      Love— Love seeks to give, to for-give. It offers the arms of embrace and friendship. Forgiveness and reparation. It may be buffeted, but it can rarely be destroyed.

6.      A corollary of Love is Forgiveness. Forgiveness is an aspect of Love, enacted upon to correct a wrong done. But if we refuse to forgive are we not also denying ourselves love? It is impossible to love without forgiving:  it is equally impossible to receive love when your heart is full of anger.

Thus does our discussion come down to these 3 questions—

1.      Are you a formidable force in this world? If so…

2.      What kind of formidable force are you?

3.      How do you face the formidable forces in your world, in your life?

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

 

A Severe Mercy

 
A Severe Mercy
 (Harper & Row, 1977) chronicles the autobiographical-journey of Sheldon Vanauken and his wife Jean “Davy” Davis from their first meeting at Wabash College through their 17 years of marriage, much of which they kept secret from their parents. In Severe Mercy, “Van” describes his love for Davy as quite pagan; that is, they made a commitment to share everything with one another, to the exclusion of having children, since childbirth was something they could not share together.

They constructed what they described as the “Shining Barrier” that would protect their love and devotion from all external influences. But that Barrier was “invaded” (Van’s word) by Christ when they became involved with a small group of Christians at Oxford University. Davy was the first to “cross the room” to shift her primary alliance and become a committed Christian. Van crossed over later, albeit somewhat begrudgingly.

Then tragedy struck. Davy contracted a virus in the summer of 1954 that quickly took her life on January 17, 1955. She was 40 years old.

A Severe Mercy describes the agonizing struggle Van experienced after the death of his deepest love, partner, and wife. Through correspondence with Oxford Don C.S. Lewis, Van came to grips with this terrible loss, and learned that genuine Christian faith does not guarantee life-long happiness; rather, it offers the resident presence of the true God throughout all life’s twists & turns.

Throughout our own journeys it is true that all of us will find ourselves in places we never expected. We can prepare for some of them: but others will hit us like a bolt out of hell. Life will seem a flowing stream of pain, recovery, and rebirth. Some of us can pass through this progression better than others. Some of us never quite enter the recovery stage. Rather, we languish and fade in our own anguish.

We may believe, like Van and Davy, that we can erect a “Shining Barrier” of love, or isolation, or stoicism, and insulate ourselves from others, from the outside world, from being hurt. If you’ve been on this earth any length of time you know that does not work. But what does work? What can keep us from being hurt? What can protect us.

The simple answer is—nothing. The hurt, the betrayal, the pain, will all come. But the nurturing of personal identity and integrity, establishing a deep faith in God and growing deep friendships, goes a long way toward providing both genuine safety and security in those times of uncertainty. Remember, “… I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

For what it’s worth,

Gary

nah nah, nah nah nah

This children’s taunt, is a wonderful reminder that some of us have to be better than somebody else. AND that we have to remind them of it. So there! I’m-better-than-you-are! [Tongue out, thumbs in ears, fingers wiggling.]

At a recent meeting of our Board of Directors one of its members quipped- If you’re not Dutch, you’re not much. Yes, he was of Dutch decent. He was making a point—namely, that it always seems necessary to put someone else down so we can lift up ourselves, our sexual orientation, or our nationality, or pedigree, or race, or team, or whatever. Then we taunt those who are “not like us.” Brilliant!

In our current setting we term this treatment Bullying. It is a problem our school systems and professional sports teams face on a daily basis; of course, it rises up in the home as “sibling rivalry.” Through all attempts to level the playing field, our life-long desire for supremacy infests the spirit of too many of us. On a global scale that usually means other people die. At least in the NFL people aren’t killed. Yet.

Might I suggest we cease taunting each other, putting each other down, and, individually, corporately, even in the global arena, and start encouraging each other in practical, functional ways. Remember the words of Jesus as he started his ministry—

Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be known as sons of God.   (Matthew 5:9)

Not a bad descriptor for anyone, Christian or otherwise.

And please put your tongue back in your mouth before someone pounds your jaw and you bite it off.

For what it’s worth,

Gary

Serenity

Even the word feels good as it rolls off your tongue— s e r e n i t y. Like a magic word that calls forth a Genie from a bottle, the word beckons us to come apart to a peaceful place, to find solace, to rest, to be waited upon by a flood of servants! Or merely to be able to close our eyes on a warmed beach under a palm tree, or in a chaise lounge at a mountain retreat.
The serenity I need I find in front of a warm fireplace at the conficated Lakehouse of Alan & Diane Galbraith, deep within the Fall/Winter woods of northern New Hampshire. It is there that I contemplate the deeper questions of life— like…, why my navel is an inny, or how did I ever wind up with such a wonderful wife as Starr, or why couldn’t we have our own children (Josh & Beth are adopted; from this planet, we think), or why God has honored us with His blessings and the privilege of serving others? This emPulse comes to you from my laptop, in front of that roaring fireplace, as I write in deep contemplation and peace.
It seems that every now and again I push myself so hard that I border on collapse. Such was October, and September, and the prior Summer en toto. I didn’t notice it so much as did Starr. Saturday eve, as we climbed into bed, she put her foot down, “That’s it. You’re about to give way to the pressures of caring for people. You’e LEAVING! Go to the Lakehouse and get some rest!” Thus, I are here! Granted, it’s only three days…, but that’s enough for me, I think.
If you haven’t gotten the point of this emPulse yet, let me make it perfectly clear. Any of us can get caught up in the business of life, and work, and family, and other people, so unsuspectingly, that we forget to take care of ourselves— our bodies, our emotions, our spirits, our souls. We start to come apart because we have forgotten to come apart to take care of ourselves. Fortunately, I have a wife who knows when I’ve had enough…, even though I am clueless to the actuality. Don’t lose yourself to the importance of life. Remember to view yourself as expendable. Don’t lose yourself to the importance of life. You will be missed when you get away; but you will come back a renewed man, a refreshed woman.
A little serenity goes a long way to clear the mind and restore the soul.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
– John 14:27 Christian Bible

Dr. Gary Davis