The famous saying 'God is love', it is generally assumed, means that God is like our immediate emotional indulgence, not that the meaning of love ought to have something of the 'otherness' and terror of God.- Charles Williams
As for the "Thought for the Day," I admit to being somewhat baffled (though that bafflement may be attributed to any number of causes, not the least of which is my fogged thinking in recent weeks). Would you, please, be willing to expound a bit on what Williams is saying; your comments based upon your background in theology may help resolve my bafflement.
What I take from this, R. T., is that the usual interpretations of "God is love" tend to sentimentalize God, whereas what we should take from the formula is that genuine love, like God, is a mystery, often terrifying, precisely because it is altogether different from our other emotions, indeed, is not an emotion at all, but a ground for action, perhaps the only firm ground.
Thank you for the crisp, cogent explication. I think, though, I need to spend some time reading Charles Williams' works (which are new to me); I have, by the way, discovered the website of The Charles Williams Society (http://www.charleswilliamssociety.org.uk/index.html)which will be my starting point. As always, I thank you for opening up an exciting new vista for me.
At the risk of commenting too frequently on a single posting, I would like to offer another observation about the Charles Williams quote and your explication. I remain fascinated by the ways in which authors of the New Testament and subsequent commentators (including theologians) have either added to or amended something that may remain lost in unrecorded history--Jesus Christ's actual words and his actual spiritual lessons; for example, reading Paul, epistles, acts, and Gospels can lead one reader to strangely incompatible interpretations. To say it a slightly different way, the true meaning of "God is love"--in terms of its Judeo-Christian roots (during the lifetime of Christ rather than all that followed during and after the early years of the Church)--seems to have changed over the centuries, influenced largely by every man's imperfect abilities to "decode" the absolute, ineffable mysteries of the Divine and the Incarnation.
I was thinking much the same thing just this morning after listening toe Gospel at Mass. Faith is a living process. We have to bring to the scriptures and the practices at least as much imagination as we bring to poems. There is nothing hard and fast about the effect on each individual.
Not claiming to be a Williams scholar or expert, but as someone who has read and re-read Williams for decades, as in many ways the deepest of the Inklings, I agree with Frank's interpretation. That is precisely what Williams was referring to.it's also what Rilke meant when he said, "Beauty is but the beginning of terror. / Every angel is terrifying."And mystics such as Teresa of Avila have also said very similar things.