Containing many beautiful examples from literature and poetry, this chapter is a tribute to love—love that exalts, love that is mysterious, love that is selfless, love that “touches the ordinary so that suddenly we see that it is not ordinary after all.” Love takes the earthly beauty around us and gives it greater meaning and a heavenly splendor. It makes us hunger for the good, the true and the beautiful. This kind of love goes beyond physical desire; it does not reduce its object to animal attraction or to material accidents such as a pretty eye or a fair cheek. Not that it doesn’t appreciate the beauty, but it is on a quest for something greater than mere copulation. It desires to possess that beauty all the more and in its noblest form: companionship bound by a mutual rivalry of noble deeds and consideration of the good itself. This kind of love becomes merged with our longing to know the highest truth: to contemplate the beauty of the Creator.
“What exalts us is not the poetry, nor even the haunting melody to which it is sung, but the call of love that leads us, in imagination, into a world of desire and beauty and disappointment. It is a world as old as man; and can be put to death only by the abolition of man.”The abolition of man is exactly what mass-entertainers and mass-educators are about. Instead of ennobling poetry about selfless love of another, we get self-infatuated drivel. Love now has to do with “whatever makes me happy” not with whatever makes me see beyond myself. “It is an emotional itch, that is all.” But it’s not really love they’re talking about at all—it’s lust. Lust not only ignores the heavenly things, but also reduces even earthly things to “dunghill thoughts” and cannot imagine anything other than the urge of animal desire. The glorious mysteries of manliness and womanliness are dispelled or papered over and ignored and when that happens, “we can no longer appreciate why men and women were ever fascinated with each other in the first place. We lose the poetry and music of love.”
Modern educators reduce “manliness” and “womanliness” to the capacity to engage in sexual intercourse. The qualities traditionally associated with good men and good women (service and support, respect and submission) are merely conventional: they can and should be otherwise. “The passage from girlhood to womanhood, from being a child to being capable of bearing a child, is reduced to twaddle and giggles.” Measurements and functions are all love is, without the least connection to the being of a woman. “Manhood” is not something into which a man could lead a boy. Delicate matters of human desire and attraction are shrugged away with a laugh. The whole subject of sex has to do with controlling the hardware and keeping it clean. Not much happens when a boy and a girl fall in love except that they eventually get around to wondering when they should “go further.” Modern educators set up a pasteboard world where virtue, duty and the momentous giving of oneself wholly to another have no part. They are not interested in the mysteries of love, only in mechanics and hygienics. “What is love? No concrete answer can be given, so why bother asking?”
People with a strong sense of being embodied creatures rather than bundles of appetite provided with the machinery of a body will blanche at genetic engineering, homosexuality, the raising of children by institutions... Such a person would not drag the distinctive qualities of manliness and womanliness over the ground of the other because he would give each the greatest respect possible. He would glimpse with awe the unfathomable mystery of each, whose bodies—when they unite—produce “that one-flesh union that allows us to link one generation to the next.” Retaining a sensitivity to the mysterious and holy, he would not be so easily assimilated into the world of the masses.