Summary: Like my glasses, Love focuses in different ways, varying in both intensity and style.
Love In Focus
NOTE: When preached, I only got through half of this in 30 minutes, so I am doing part two (with some expansions) this week.
1. Affectionate Writing Can Reduce Cholesterol
According to new research, writing down affectionate thoughts about close friends and family can reduce your cholesterol levels. Floyd et al. (2007) randomly assigned participants to one of two groups: one experimental and one control. The experimental group wrote with affection about one person in their lives for 20 minutes on three occasions over a five-week period. The control group wrote mundane descriptions of their activities over the week, jobs they had done and places they had lived.
The results from two separate studies demonstrated that after only 25 days, the experimental group who had written affectionate notes, showed a significant reduction in cholesterol. These reductions were seen independently from the effects of general health factors like age, drinking, smoking and so on. Mean cholesterol levels reduced from 170 mg/dL to 159 mg/dL (figures are from the second study which was methodologically more secure). [source: www.spring.org.uk/2007/03/affectionate-writing-can-reduce.php]
2. Recent studies in psychology suggest that the pursuit of self-interest may not be the
clearest path to the greater good or personal happiness, as so widely assumed. When
researchers study what makes us happy, they find that it is not personal wealth, the
strength of the stock market, inflation, or interest rates that cause the ebb and flow in our
personal well-being. What makes us happy, what matters in the end, is the quality of our
romantic and family bonds, our connection to our friends, and doing things for others.
3. But romantic love is just one strand of the broad set of feelings, choices, commitments and attachments we call love.
4. People do all sorts of gymnastics with the word "agape" and confidently assert that the Greek word Agape refers only to sacrificial, deep love whereas the Greek word Phileo refers to a lesser love -- but agape can mean anything from niceness or liking all the way to deep love, just like our English word. You can prove this to yourself if you have a good concordance. And sometimes the intensity of Phileo can be stronger than agape in certain contexts. So stick with English. The Greek isn’t going to help you much.
5. Perhaps a general definition of love might be Thomas Jay Ord’s:
"to love is to act intentionally, in sympathetic response to others (including God), to promote overall well-being." [source: Wikipedia]
6. This week, I got a new set of glasses. They are bifocals without a line -- for all practical purposes, trifocals. I have to move my eyes or head up or down or left or right because the peripheral vision is blurry.
7. So it is when we talk about love: there are so many angles, so many different types of love, so many relational and emotional complexities to it all.