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First Things presents our 2021—2022 reading group, which will discuss the nature of love and its various forms as they appear in classical works throughout the centuries. Among the topics discussed will be love’s role in life, differences between pagan and Christian understandings of love, and the harmony or opposition between desiring love (eros) and charity (agape). The reading group will meet monthly on a Thursday starting September 16, 2021, and ending May 19, 2022. The Group will be divided into a morning and evening session, and each session will complete the same readings.  

The Thursday morning session will meet from 8 a.m.–9:30 a.m. at our offices at 9 East 40th Street on the tenth floor. The Thursday evening session will occur from 7:30 p.m.–9 p.m. via Zoom. The morning session will be led by David Gallagher, former professor of philosophy at the Catholic University of America. The evening session will be led by R. R. Reno, editor of First Things

The fee for the nine-session sequence of seminars is $500. For more information, email bconnor@firstthings.comBooks will be provided. A light breakfast will be provided for the morning session. 

The dates for each reading group are: 

September 16, October 14, November 18, December 16, January 13 (2022), February 17, March 17, April 21, and May 19. 

Readings

September: Plato, Symposium (eros)

October: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Bks. 8-9 on friendship (philia)

November: Augustine, Selections from On Christian DoctrineConfessionsCity of God (usus vs. fruitio)

December: Thomas Aquinas (1), Selections from Summa theologiae (amor)

January: Thomas Aquinas (2), Selections from Summa theologiae (caritas)

February: Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther (Romantic love)

March: Josef Pieper, About Love, Chapters 2, 5, 7, 8 (eros and agape)

April: C. S. Lewis (1), The Four Loves, Chapters 1-3 (likings, affection, friendship)

May: C. S. Lewis (2), The Four Loves, Chapters 4-5 (eros, charity)

Books

Plato, Symposium, trans. Nehamas and Woodruff

Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther

Josef Pieper, Faith, Hope, Love

C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves 

All other readings will be supplied as PDFs.