This weekend’s homily at Mass focused on the qualities of Love re: the Great Commandment and how the English language is wholly inadequate to express the idea of Divine Love, a.k.a. the greek word Agape. Fr. Lee made a valiant attempt to explain it, but he was limited by language as well. I was confirmed in my doubt that words could ever do the subject justice.
Reading my email after almost a week offline doing family stuff, I was pleased to see an email from my Metanexus list by the director of none other than The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love. He was talking about the need for a new scientific discipline to study altruism and divine love and he brought up this dude’s book which is like the groundbreaking left-brained attempt to analyze Love.
Pitirim Sorokin’s 1954 book Ways of Power and Love is apparently a classic, but it’s new to me. In it he expresses a conceptual rubric for Divine Love around which we can organize our thinking and studies of Love.
Sorokin says that unlmited, divine, unselfish love has these five qualities:
intensivity — It is deep and passionate and not tepid.
extensivity — It extends to every human being and not just to one’s friends and loved ones.
duration — It lasts forever and does not wane
purity — It is free from egoistic calculations of personal benefit and manipulation
adequacy — It is effective. Love that subjectively meets the other four but fails to do some objective good is not true Love.
The adequacy part really spoke to me. If there is an area I fail most in, it is in adequacy.
Adequacy in Love takes a certain amount of self-care, of building up one’s abilities and gifts so they can be shared. You have to take care of your own basics to free yourself up to be present to others. I know a number of people whose lives are so “busy,” who spend 99.8% of their time running around and taking care of details of their own personal world, that they don’t have the time and energy to expand their vision and reach beyond themselves and the small groups with which they self-identify. Some people are always in a crisis, comsumed by this or that deadline or obligation, usually self-created or created from procrastination borne of inattention to the details of life, that they have no time for adequate love. Sometimes I am those people.
Adequacy in Love means that to be a good Lover, you have to have your shit togther, essentially. And it seems that I can go weeks with my shit not together, so I am worried about this or that uncared-for detail or looming deadline. For example, I am driving around in danger of getting a ticket for my expired registration sticker. The mental energy worrying about that could be better spent. Why don’t I just take care of it, you ask? Good question.
It’s a form of paralysis. Looking at an overwhelming backlog of such uncared-for details stops me like a deer in headlights, and I’d rather just watch TV or update my blog than dive in and get started. It just seems so daunting. But that daunting paralysis makes me an ineffective lover. I lack sufficient attention to my own self-care and therefore am not much good to anybody. At least not as good as I could be.
So, I’ve taken this round about way to tell you that I’m taking a Blog Sabbatical to see if I can get some of my shit together. My Birthday is July 6th. I’m giving myself “Shit Together” for my birthday. So I’ll see you in a little over a month.
I’ll miss updating. I really have enjoyed the habit of writing (almost) daily that my blog has givien me. And I’ll miss you all. But I have to drop a couple of things for a while.
It’s like that monkey trap with the nuts in a jar and the monkey will grab a fistful and then won’t let go of any of his nuts when he finds he can’t get his hand out of the jar. Well I’m the monkey. And I need to quit holding my nuts.