My discussion of love will draw mostly from the domains of kinship and religion. But to restrict the relevance of' the concept to these two domains would be a mistake, as I hope to demonstrate. Love is a context for happiness-and vice versa, of course. Many of the things I will say about the former will throw light on aspects of the latter that are hidden because of the nature of the medium used to express in dialogue and behavior the reality of happiness. The philosophy of happiness is nowhere as developed as the theology of' love. Conversely, what might be called the sociology of happiness is much richer than that of love. And yet the two notions are closely interrelated. I would even argue that here there is but one master symbol appearing under different names in different contexts. I will refer to that symbol as love, too, for lack of a better word and in order to avoid jargon.
One of the areas in which David M. Schneider's American Kinship breaks ground is in his treatment of love as an integral part of the American kinship system. Though in his disputes with the componential analysts of kinship terms, Schneider has not emphasized the fact, it is probably their failure-a failure imposed upon them by their theoretical and methodological approaches-- deal with love that makes their analyses incomplete. Kinship, for Americans, is not simply a matter of classifying relatives. It is also a matter of relating these people. Componential analysts, and many sociologists of' the family assume this relationship. Natives don't.
The interplay of blood, law, and sex constitutes the distinct domain of kinship. Kinship as a domain is an extremely rigid thing. "Blood" is whatever geneticists say it is. "Sex" is simple enough. "Law," which ties people to people in the system, may even become "whatever psychologists say it is."
But, interestingly enough, as the scientific hardness of the distinctive features of kinship has increased-who would challenge genetics?-the natives have argued that, after all, families are not built to conform to the definition but rather to transcend it. As Schneider says, "the relative is a person." As a person, the speaker may or may riot like any one of his relatives, may or may not wish to relate to him in an actual manner. In this manner, brothers, sisters, Uncles, or aunts can be dropped, and the ex-husband of a divorced aunt may be retained by someone as an "Uncle" (though that person's brother may chose riot to do so). Indeed, totally unrelated friends may become identified as relatives Finally institutions such its schools or- communes can come to be considered families. Schneider mentions the puzzling case of a student who insisted that her roommate was her sister. This is puzzling only until one notices the similar way certain churches have of insisting that they are families, or- the way certain teachers insist that their classes are families. Some will not even say that their group is "like a family," but that it is a family, because family is a feeling, a way of relating, and does not have to correspond to any set of distinctive features
In this manner the informants lead the observer away from kinship to more general principles that can be applied to kinship as much as to any other domain but do not constitute the essence of kinship. When informants say that a church or a classroom is a family, they are saying that the mode of relating among the people is fundamentally the same in all these environments.
I have introduced this exploration with a discussion of Schneider's contribution because it is central to the development of my decision to complete my analysis of American culture by dealing with love. Whatever may be one's objections to Schneider's analysis, nevertheless lie has demonstrated that one cannot interpret American kinship without considering love as an integral part of the system. And, in the same way, one cannot deal with social structure--American ideas about society without also dealing with that which ties the pieces together, which I have been referring to as love. That love is not a respectable, traditional sociological category is irrelevant. That societies are not created by their members and that they persist very well without active concern about their survival by their members is not the point, however valid these strictures are. My informants were worried about relationship, and in their search for an understanding of matters that so concerned them, they created a system of interpretation that, like any other attempt at intelligibility, created something that is quite independent from reality and thus somewhat arbitrary. And it is precisely because it is arbitrary that we, as social scientists, cannot assume that we know what our informants are saying.
The relationship between blood and sex at the level of distinctive features is evident: without sex there would be no children and no relatives by blood. Furthermore, there cannot be sex except between two partners drawn front different bloodlines. Indeed, the prohibition of' incest in American kinship might be understood structurally its deriving from the need to build relationships-in-law, (communities) where there are none. "Marrying III Would be a denial of the creation myth of all groups, which emphasizes that integration is valid only after separation. Through the sexual act, law is established. Having sex makes law.
Sex is what ties blood and law. In a sense this is a transformation into the scientific realm of the structure of individualism and community mediated by love ("love makes community") that I have identified at the level of feeling, actions, and definitions that transcend the scientific realm. Sex and love are thus in the same position, which is probably why they are so difficult to distinguish, not only for the observer but also for the participants themselves.
Those who are the most puzzled by the ambiguities of love and sex are, for obvious reasons, adolescents. It is from statements made by high school students in their senior year that I will illustrate my argument. For the first time, adolescents are considered ready to make the choices on which American society is based: choices of friends, of' mates. And yet often these cultural definitions have not yet come to be considered as natural as they are for adults. Adolescents are closer to apprehending the arbitrariness of' the adult culture. As they grew up, each new experience was interpreted by the adults, who told them, with authority "This is how it is"-even when obviously it was not so. Puberty may the last of these "new" experiences that all people have to go through. And here again adolescents must learn the appropriate responses, They have no choice but to learn, and most know it so well that one would not find more informed informants on the subject of sexual values than adolescents. To most of them, sex is an immediate issue and often an overwhelming one. The statements I will analyze were recorded on "natural" occasions--most of them during a twelfth-grade sociology class-and other situations where I overheard rather than inquired.
The sociology class was set up in seminar style, with a panel of three students who were supposed to lead a discussion among the students of the class with minimal interference on the part of the teacher. Participation by the students was probably just about as good as anybody could expect: two or three students dominated the debate, half a dozen intervened from time to time, and the other half of the class just sat there, too shy or too bored. Yet the point is not so much whether every student agreed in detail with what was being said but that the positions taken openly were popular.
The subject discussed that day was premarital sex: whether it is right or permissible for a boy and a girl to have sexual intercourse before marriage or whether one should remain a virgin until marriage. The discussion was opened by a highly negative exposition of the "double standard" by the three students in charge of the topic. ("People used to think that it was all right for a boy to have 'experiences' before he got married, but that it was completely forbidden for girls.") Nobody would defend this position. The first comments were along the following lines: "It is not logical. Where did the boy find the girl? Was any reason given why 'It should be so? What happened to the girls with whom the boys had made it? I just do not see how anybody could defend this, I it is completely immoral. It should be permitted or forbidden to everybody without segregation." The girls were much more vocal in their opposition than the boys and, in fact, prevented one or two boys from voicing a general explanation. By contrast, Sue Elliott told me that three years before, on the same subject, several had argued in favor of girls remaining virgin until marriage because, they said: "We do not want somebody to come up to us and say about our wife, 'Wow, isn't she good!"
The discussion shifted to the questions: "Why not? What is wrong with it? If we really love somebody, why not go all the way? When one is really in love, it does not matter, or it should not matter, what one or the other does or has done, physical or material things should not be considered. There is no reason why one should expect the partner to be a virgin at marriage if he or she is a good person. You do not even have to tell." (There were disagreements on this.) Such statements went on and on, and the only person who dared object openly had to take the almost untenable position that neither boy nor girl should have intercourse before marriage. He was almost hooted out of the room, and he had to retreat behind a "I do not know why, this is just how I feel." Nobody had the courage to say: "Because my church-or God forbids it."
All this makes clear, I think, that what could be called the spiritual basis of love is something that transcends any specific acts or behavior. In one of the sessions of the sociology class following the one I just described, a film was shown that argued strongly in favor of virginity before marriage (though the argument was clearer and stronger for girls than for boys). This movie had been made in the late 1950s or early 1960s and depicted four college students, two boys and two girls, and their sentimental adventures.
Artistically, the movie was a terrible failure, and its message simplistic: one girl "gave everything" to her boyfriend, and he left her to marry a girl "back home whom he had not even touched." At the end, she was depicted sobbing broken-heartedly as she dropped out of school and left for the big city. ("I could not face my folks now.") The other girl refused herself to her boyfriend, who angrily abandoned her for a while but eventually came back to her and married her because he realized there were not many girls like that one.
At one level, it appears that this film depicts intercourse as intrinsically evil and life-destroying when it occurs outside of marriage. This is how it seems when the plot is summarized, but the makers of the film made important distinctions. When the second girl refused to give herself, she explained that if she did, her boyfriend "would not respect her anymore," and even if they got married, "it could not work" because "he would not have confidence in me." The same type of reasoning was used to account for the failure of the other girl; even though she did love her boyfriend, he did not marry her because if she had done it with him, there was a good chance she would do it with others.
What all this makes clear is that even though sexual intercourse is made to be a primary symbol of love, it is only as a symbol of moral worth that it is powerful; it is not intrinsically powerful. And furthermore, love itself is defined in the movie in very much the same way as in the sociology class: love is not only a romantic feeling of happiness but also a matter of respect and trust. It is not a matter of prescription. This corresponds, of course, to the more general rule that in matters of "relationships" no prescription can be made. In their structure, the definitions given by the class and those given in the movie were the same, and it was the attempt of the film to make a specific act a touchstone of moral worth that was artificial.
Specific acts are meaningless. To me, this is fundamental even to the "old morality." Isn't there a clear structural relationship between the disjunction of sex and love that is typical of the so-called new morality and the old Calvinist idea that good works are no proof of salvation?
I discussed briefly in the last chapter why one could not speak of Sue and John's "choosing" each other. This is central to an understanding of love. Love is the domain par excellence of subjectivity, the unconscious, the nonscientific: it cannot, it must not, be possible to explain "why" so-and-so fell in love with so-and-so. A favored comment is one that stresses the illogical character of the choices, the fact that the protagonists had little influence on themselves and that they started loving the other without realizing what was happening to them "until it was too late." This glorification of irrationality in marriage, this refusal of any rules, conscious or unconscious, is the same as the common perception of what holds together those small communities that are the backbone of the social structure of Appleton.
Yet irrationality in the formation of any community is not consciously expressed or used as the most basic distinctive feature of the decision of a few friends to come together. In fact, I talked of the pretense to universality of the group itself and its choices, with its implication that anybody in his right senses would join the group if he knew about it, that joining it is a normal act. Yet this is an abstract universality that applies only to situations or people who have not been directly experienced, which are known only through theoretical deduction. On the contrary, it is structurally necessary for each community to distinguish itself from all other communities with which it comes in direct contact. Thus, the supposed universality of the appeal of a particular community, which is taken as explaining why a few people did come together, and which at a certain level does explain to these people why they made that choice, is structurally equivalent to the transcendent irrationality on which the love between a man and a woman is supposed to be based. For the irrationality of love exists only, in the minds of my informants, with regard to the socially defined categories es of mechanical rationality. It is not because one plus one equals two that John and Sue fell in love; it is against reasoning of this type that they would protest.
Conversely, they would agree th at there are probably transcendent factors that brought them together. Furthermore, their moral acceptance of each other's habits and peculiarities implies the elevation of idiosyncratic choices to a universal level: "Everybody who would know John as I do would know that he is a good person"--and almost "would love him." The only real difference between conjugal love and community happiness is thus simply that the former refuses the logical extension "would love him if they knew him," which the latter makes, though with just as little result; in other words, in the same way that John and Sue do not expect anybody other than themselves to fall in love with th them, members of a community do not actually expect the world to join them.
Love, then, is greater than what happens between boy and girl, for the way they are seen as coming together is the way society is seen as being formed. Boy and girl marry because they are in love. People live with people in communities because they love each other. If this last statement seems absurd, the first one must be seen as absurd, too. And if the first one seems somewhat more credible than the second, it is because, traditionally, what makes people come together into communities has been named only in the context of marriage. Even there the word is so powerful that it is very rarely used. One can say freely: "Wow, I loved that show," but John had to be completely drunk to go beyond: "You know, I really like Sue. We are really made for each other." I do not think I have ever heard Sue say of John: "I love him," and her parents always balked when I implied that love has its own rules, which do not yield to reason. Happiness is what is generally talked about in an in-love situation. If the word is so powerful that people hesitate to use it in the context of' marriage, it is understandable that they would not use it in the context of. community, where the evidence that the whole thing is artificial and arbitrary, anyway, is so much more glaring. So informants use paraphrases: they speak of the need for 11 establishing relationship," "maintaining communication," or "developing trust." In other words, whatever the words they use, they are searching for personal involvement, and if they don't find it, in frightened anger they may say: "America, love it or leave it!"
In the preceding pages I have been led oftentimes to the borders of transcendental domains that would seem to fit best in a discussion of religion as an all-encompassing and self-contained domain. However, I have decided to steer away from the temptation to treat religious thought in such a way in this book.
Not only does love possess many traits of a transcendental and sacred nature in its usage in contexts traditionally considered to be profane, but it is also one of the central themes of religion in Appleton, particularly Protestantism. The concept is most widely used in churches with an evangelical bent. In these, it reappears in so many different contexts-sermons, songs, prayers, pamphlets, and so on-that one might be tempted to refuse to assign any meaning to it. It might appear to be just an empty word repeated over and over again through habit rather than conviction. But the amount of meaning that an individual person may put into a cultural concept is of only peripheral interest. It is sufficient that the concept exists and that it is inescapable.
Love possesses this type of inescapable reality in American thought. Even those people who do not get involved as much as they are supposed to in the substantive reality that the word expresses know very well how to use it and in what context. The feeling of meaningless repetition and uniformity that one may get is thus but an indication of the unity of the structure. Indeed, whatever pastor uses "love" in one of his sermons as the definition of the relationship between God and man or between man and man, the sermon will remain the same. Love is not simply the rallying point of Jesus freaks or Pentecostal revivalism, it is also the staple subject of sermons in the Presbyterian and Methodist churches of Appleton. And, furthermore, in all of these churches the complex of definitions that explain the concept vary only minimally, relative to the central theme that I am going to expound.
I found this theme presented most concisely in a letter to the editor of Decision, the monthly magazine of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. The emphasis in the letter is mine. It goes like this:
Dear Billy Graham,
My name is Mark Patton and I am ten years old. I have donated a dollar and I would like some stikers. Last night I have just come to one of your crusades. It was the best show I have ever been to. Before this my sister and I would fight everyday. Now that I and her have given our lives to God, we are laughing together, playing together, having fun together, doing everything together. I thank you for your crusades and everybody else that helped. I am a much happier person now.
Love, Mark Patton'
Fun, happiness, love-they are all here. I will leave aside the interesting fact that this letter was written by a ten-year-old. Even if the ideas expressed by this letter are not really the ideas held by this little boy, they are certainly a direct reflection of the ideas his parents (probably) and the Billy Graham literature (certainly) want to convey. Similarly, even though the Billy Graham Crusade is often regarded as the height of religious hypocrisy, faddism, and exploitation, it is interesting to note that such movements are popular in America, and that their message is framed in precisely this way.
The point of the letter is an account of how the "giving of lives to God" replaces disharmony and chaos by harmony and togetherness in Interpersonal relationships. A pastor expounding on this example would say that the writer's recognition that God loved him personally permitted him to come to love his neighbor-to live with him peacefully and to do things together with him.
In another issue of the magazine the same point was made pictorially with a series of three photographs taken during the invocation at the end of a Billy Graham service. In the first we are shown a kindly, smiling woman approaching a frightened girl, III the second the woman is speaking seriously to the girl and has her hand on the girl's shoulder, and the third shows them embracing. The caption underneath the picture says: "What starts out In the counseling area as a formal dialogue (1), becomes more intimate as the counselor and the inquirer talk about the Lord (2), ends in a love feast (3) .112 Love, in religious theory as in social theory, destroys the isolation of the human being and is a bridge between men. It is also the bridge between God and man. A universalistic religion such as Christianity, once it has dropped the necessity of a mediator between God and man, has to conclude that God is open equally and in the same fashion to all men, whatever their place in the social structure or their modes of life before conversion. There are no privileged channels; each man is responsible for his self.
This individualism has a reverse side. Heaven is yours only if you want it, if you make a positive commitment to God. ("God is helpless to save those who reject Christ.") God loves everybody personally, yet a person can reap the rewards of this love only through a personal commitment to God. Love, in religion as in marriage, is a two-way tie that demands commitment from both sides. If one side reneges on the contract, the other cannot do anything about the rupture. The Spanish Inquisition could believe that someone who confessed his doctrinal errors through torture was saved, whether the person made a real personal commitment or not. This is as much anathema to an American Baptist in the field of religious doctrine as the idea that a marriage between a man and a woman is not necessarily based on a personal commitment would be to any native American, religiously bent or not.
It could be argued that the opposition between traditional Catholic and modern Protestant thought on love is not so great, that the latter view is already present in the former's theology. For someone like Denis de Rougemont, for example, the significant opposition is between Christianity and the "pagan religions," by which he meant mostly Manichaeism. In his great book Love in the Western World, he traced the last struggles inside Western thought between Manichaean tendencies traceable in such things as the Albigensian heresy, the poetry of the troubadours, or the myth of Tristam and Isolde, and the dominant Christian doctrine as expressed in the definitions of love and marriage. He summarized this doctrine in the following way:
[in Christianity] the symbol of Love is no longer the infinite passion of' a soul in quest of light, but the marriage of Christ and the Church. And in this way human love itself' has been transformed. Whereas, according to the doctrine of mystical paganism, human love was sublimated so thoroughly as to be made into a god even while it was dedicated to death, Christianity has restored human love to its proper place, and in this status has hallowed it by means of marriage [author's italics] .3
Rougemont then goes on to show how the notion of love as passion survived for a long time in literature and drama, in tragedies such as Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet or Racine's Phèdre, or in Wagner's operas. In these, as in the original myth of Tristam and Isolde, love is a direct threat to the society of the stricken lovers, who are taken by a force wholly exterior to themselves (symbolized by the magic philter in Tristam and Isolde) that carries them along paths they have not chosen and on which they would refuse to travel if they were in their right minds. Love, in these works of art, is madness and death, and associated with the powers of darkness.
Rougemont thus makes clear that when it is opposed to nonChristian philosophies, Western culture is a unit. Love, in Catholic as in Protestant thought, is associated with life and the very foundation of society. Yet in Rougemont's very summation of his argument can be recognized a view of the nature of God's love closer to what I consider to be a Catholic view than a "Protestant" one. He says that "the symbol of love is the marriage of Christ with the Church " in my terms of God with society. This view is "individualistic" insofar as it considers society to be one, and God unique. This is very clearly in opposition to Indian thought as interpreted by Louis Dumont, or even classical Indo-European thought as interpreted by Georges Dum~zil. As Dumont says, Indian gods have no substance, they exist only as relations; similarly, though conversely, the Christian God is all substance and no relation.
While all this may appear a little abstract and removed from the everyday world of people not involved in theological discussion, there is a definite interplay between definitions of love and socioreligious ideas reflected in cultural performances. In India, for example, reform movements have used the symbol of love as a lever against the caste system .4 From the point of view of that system it is thus obviously a threat and must be presented as evil. Similarly, love remained on the side of the forces of death in Western literature as long as the general emphasis of the social structure was on hierarchically organized groups where individuals had to bend to the higher good of their family, state, nation, or of the Church.
It is only relatively late in the mainstream of Western literature that the theme of love as a positive force appears. The first serious use of this new theme can be found in the works of Jane Austen. The lovers still have to bridge a substantive gap. They generally belong to different social classes. But they do not die, they triumph. The happy ending of a modern love story is not a degradation of the myth of Tristam and Isolde, as Rougemont says. It is, in fact, quite as necessary as the deaths of the tragic lovers in earlier times.
In India, as in classical and modern Europe, love was, if not an individualistic notion, at least a personal one. The close relationship of love with sex was always present, and sex remains purely a personal thing between two human beings whatever the cultural modalities. Particularly in cultures that effectively denied the reality of the human being as a unique person, it is necessary to recognize-properly inside religious and mythical thought-the irreducible biological and psychological uniqueness of men and women, which is what love did. Love then had to be repressed by being associated with the evil aspects of human life; the persons, finally very few, who insisted on putting their freedom first had to be ostracized or killed.
Conversely, a wholly individualistic society such as America could put only a positive value on love, and thus reward those people, who now had to be many, who based their lives on this psychological principle. In the same way that an Indian youth had to be coerced into accepting a hierarchical society by being shown the dangers of individualism, an American youth had to be coerced into accepting an individualistic society by positively stressing love and also, of course, by negatively stressing hierarchy.
These last remarks explain why myths about love have shifted from a dominant place in the higher spheres of literature and philosophy to a minor place, from an area of limited popular appeal to one of extreme popular appeal. Conversely, the critical slot that these myths occupied in classical literature is now occupied to a large extent by different types of critical texts, particularly those that can be classified under the general label of existentialism and that deal with the problems raised, and not fully answered, by the necessity of individualism in a world that is not fully individualized, however much the definitions and organizations of the different domains of social life may reinforce this cultural choice.
This rather long and yet very rapid digression into comparative mythology and literature is intended to offer a background against which to contrast more effectively what I am saying about love in Am erica. The notion is so very close to the center of' our preoccupations as natives of an individualistic society, and we are so ready to see in it something of universal meaning in time and space, that I felt I had to stress the variations that texts about love present cross-culturally and diachronically. The place of love has changed. Similarly, there have been shifts in what could be referred to as love.
The text I have chosen to illustrate one of these shifts is the translation of a key passage of the New Testament on which is grounded much of Western religious thought on love: Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter 13. The last verse reads, in the original Greek:
Νυνι δε μενει πιστισ, ελπις, αγαπη, τα τρια ταυτα, μειζων δε τουτων η αγαπη.
The Latin translation (Vulgate) reads:
None autem moment fides, goes, carries, tria haec; major autem horum est carries.
The Protestant King James (seventeenth-century) translation reads:
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three, but the greatest of these is charity.
The Catholic Douai (sixteenth-century) version reads:
And now there remain faith, hope and charity, these three: but the greatest of these I's charity.
The Protestant New English Bible (1960-70) reads:
In a word there are three things that last forever: faith, hope and love; but the greatest of them is love.
The Catholic New American Bible (1970) reads:
There are in the end three things that last: faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love.
The shift in the translation of the word αγαπη from charity to love is recent and well in keeping with modern tendencies. The latter translation was, of course, the one that was chosen by the composer of the folk song of the 1960s. "There Are But Three Things That Last-Faith, Hope, and Love."
Yet as late as 1948, L. Perot and A. Clamer, French Catholic commentators on this passage who had chosen to translate αγαπη by charity, stressed what they considered to be an important difference between love and charity:
The word "love" has a very general sense which the Greeks would translate by ερος, the love of egoist desire, of possessions, sensual and passionate, or φιλια, disinterested and benevolent love which applies mainly to relationships of friendship .... If St. Paul did not use this last term, which represented for his contemporaries the highest forms of affection, it was because it was still inadequate to express a predilection the new basis for which changed its origin, its content and its goal. In fact, it is God who is the center of Christian love. Charity is the gift of the Holy Spirit par excellence ... and it permits us to answer the love which God feels for us. The Greek φιλια, preference grounded in nature and created by chance encounters, is addressed to a small circle of persons, but friendship "in Christ". . . has an unlimited extension and duration. While the Greek only sees a man in his neighbor, the Christian discovers God in him [my translation].'
What Perot and Clamer are trying to maintain is the Greek distinction between ερος and φιλια . To them, it is the latter that would express in Greek what I have called in these pages "love"--a sentiment appropriate for the relationship between equals, between friends in a community. They emphasize that Christians do not love in this manner. Karl Rahner and Herbert Vogrimler, two more modern Catholic theologians, still enter both "love" and "charity" as different concepts in their Theological Dictionary. They give a larger role to love than to charity, but they insist that "charity is a fundamentally distinctive mode of love"' and, indeed, primordial, since "man's love for God depends on God's prodigal, condescending agape selflessly given to His lowly creatures"'; that is, His charity. The emphasis on the condescension of God to His lowly creatures shows that Banner and Vorgrimler have not moved very far: God and man remain fundamentally unequal. It is not so surprising in this context that charity should also mean, in common parlance, alms giving from the rich to the poor, from the superior
to the inferior, where there cannot be any return. Since Mauss, we have known to what extent a gift lowers the recipient and enhances the prestige of the giver. Nonreciprocal services imply a hierarchical relationship in which the giver occupies the dominant position. This is indeed the position of God, and particularly Christ, vis-a-vis man in traditional Catholic thinking, and the concept corresponds closely to social structural realities prevalent when these arguments were first made.
The modern translation, whether it is accurate or not, is intended to stress something else that corresponds to new social structural realities: love implies equality, reciprocity, and individualism. Christ, in modern American Protestant thought, did not die for mankind, he is not supposed to have atoned for the original sin in a transcendent gift that men cannot return. He died for YOU personally. This was his gift to you, and his sacrifice will atone for the sins you have committed in your present life and it will be useful to you only if, in exchange for Christ's gift of his life, you 11 give your own life" to him in return. Original sin then becomes nothing more than a symbol of man's sinfulness; it is not something that stains a newborn baby in a literal sense and has to be eradicated as soon as possible through baptism. It is no longer necessary to baptize infants in modern Protestantism, for baptism has a new meaning. It is no longer the sacrament that transforms a person into a Christian. It is at most the symbol of integration into a community. What transforms a person into a true and full Christian is the experience of salvation, a personal, voluntary experience based on an equal exchange in which both Christ and the saved person give their lives to each other.
When my 'Informants talked about love, they were freed from all infrastructural determinisms. If the preceding discussion appears abstract and somewhat irrelevant to everyday life, it I's probably because we do not live in a world free from such determinisms. In love there are no barriers except those generated by the concept itself. In happiness-that is, the realization of love in interpersonal relationships -there is brought to the forefront the fact that to love is to love a particular person with all his or her idiosyncrasies, idiosyncrasies possibly unbearable for the subject who finds himself obliged to adopt a nonloving, segregative posture. If, as I pointed out, informants talked more about unhappiness than about happiness, it is probably because of the difficulties that prevent love from being actualized 'In everyday life.
Love, I might say, is a dream in relation to the reality of happiness and fun. I would rather say that love is a myth, the expression in ritual speech of a structure whose expression in behavior is happiness. What differentiates love from happiness, in other words, is the medium that the participants use to articulate what must be recognized as essentially the same culturally determined theme. For the performances in which love and happiness are dramatized, however different they may be in their superficial character, say the same thing within the greater dialogue that cultures hold with each other. These performances are part of the same system of transformation and exhibit a fundamental unity that cannot escape a foreign observer. Thus talk about love is not idle chatter, for the very fact that it is furthest removed from the realities of life makes it a privileged area in which to look for properly cultural structures.