Habits and Love

Three thinkers, centuries (or millennia) apart:

What one sees depends upon how one sees; all observation is not just a receiving, a discovering, but also a bringing forth, and insofar as it is that, how the observer himself is constituted is indeed decisive.

Søren Kierkegaard, “Love Will Hide a Multitude of Sins” in Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses

You are what you love, but you might not love what you think.

James K.A. Smith, You Are What You Love

My interior life is a foreign country.

Augustine, Confessions

The orientation of our desires is often determined by the cultural stories in which we are caught. The question is, what are those stories? Are we formed by the gospel? Are we formed by American nationalism, by capitalism, by racism, by the media? The answer, really, is “yes.” All of them

If Kierkegaard is right — if how the observer (our “self”) is constituted is decisive for what we see when we observe our surroundings or the people  that we are close to, then our formation is paramount. If I’m formed to be a consumer, then what I see around me will look like obstacles or pathways to my obtaining the things that I want to possess. If, however, I’m formed to be a disciple, then the people and the situations around me are opportunities for displaying self-sacrificial love.

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