Making Love

Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life In Strange Gods, her new book on the idols present in every day life, Elizabeth Scalia has this to say about the words “peace” and “love” and growing up in the ’60’s:

During that time, the word love—a deep word communicating all kinds of messages about permanence, commitment, self-abnegation, and sacrifice—began to be used to describe situations and encounters that were shallow, short-lived, casual, and self-serving. Simultaneously, the word peace, an equally deep word that, especially when partnered with love, gets to the heart of contentment, serenity, gratitude, and joy, was hauled into the shallows, where it came to mean mostly an “absence of war” and nonjudgemental permissiveness….

…in truth, peace and love, either conceptually or spoken, if applied at critical moments, can do the work of God and the angels. Overused, misapplied, or simply bandied about, they become as meaningless as scrap paper; and when we render words meaningless—especially powerful words like peace and love—our understanding of them becomes warped. Then, as when a teenager flings his stuff thoughtlessly and lazily about the house—disorder follows.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Love isn’t something easy, something you just fall into. And words are not just noises meant to invoke a warm cluster of feelings. They have meanings. Love is something you have to make—something you have to build, every day. If you are not willing to sacrifice your time and effort for someone, you don’t love them. If you don’t feel pain when they hurt, you don’t love them. If you simply feel a strong desire to have sex with them, you don’t love them. When you have casual sex with someone, you are not making love. (But I digress; this is a post about words, not about marriage.)

Words have meaning. Humpty Dumpty was a liar.

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