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Love's Endeavour, Love's Expense Paperback – August, 1977
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'A masterpiece ... Nobody reading this book could doubt for a moment that it is the product of personal experience of a most costly and rewarding kind. On every page the book is alive with passion. We are given no theories but only truths which have been lived through and made the author's own. Vanstone gives us an analysis of human love and leads us thereby to an apprehension of God's love.' -- H.A. Williams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I have nothing to add to the other reviews except to note that "The Risk of Love" is exactly the same book as "Love's Endeavour, Love's Expense," except that "The Risk of Love" is published by Oxford University Press in hardback.
I first encountered this book in the early 80's. I lent it out repeatedly until one day it never came back. When I next needed it for myself, I finally discovered it hiding under the American title in a university library. And, now, with the help of Amazon, I have again my own copy. It doesn't read as dramatically from page one as it did then, but I'm in my 34th year of priesthood in the Episcopal church now and people, time, and the Church have taught me much. What I remembered for all these years was how VanStone's thinking gave me a way to help others deal with their hurt when they were blaming God for whatever had hurt them or those around them. VanStone had come to one way of looking at it that made sense. As does Elaine Pagels. As do others: theologians, novelists, film makers healers, and whosomevers among them.
It is extremely difficult to review this book in which one idea is chain-linked to the next. Broadly, Vanstone's reflection is that true love gives everything it has, to the point of being spent, while simultaneously allowing the object of it's love to be and become in complete freedom. And God, needless to say, is True Love.
I don't agree with everything Vanstone says; I have a hard time, for instance, of thinking of God being totally exhausted in the act of loving his creation. Nonetheless, what this book did for me was to answer the question: "Is it true that God actually cares and participates in our reality? And if the answer is yes, how does God do this without violating the free will of those God loves?" For me, the net result of reading this book has been to make both God and God's love more real and less ethereal.
The manner in which this message is brought home is, however, relentlessly intellectual. This is not a book to read for easy, uplifting inspiration, but rather for challenging intellectual inspiration.