To Know Love When We See Love – Part 1

January 9, 2006

Jane Jimenez

Jane Jimenez

In the winter of 1969, a California professor began an experimental class.  “I did not want it to become an encounter group.  I was an educator, not a psychotherapist.  I wanted this class to be a unique experience in learning.  I wanted it to have a definite, yet loose, framework and be of broad interest and import to the student.  I wanted it to be related to his immediate experience.  Students with whom I was relating were, more than ever, concerned with life, living, sex, growth, responsibility, death, hope, the future.  It was obvious that the only subject which encompassed, and was at the core of all these concerns and more, was love.”

Few will dispute Leo Buscaglia’s claim that love is at the core of human concerns.  Yet, his Love Class “raised a few eyebrows.”  In the Faculty Center, one professor “called love—and anyone who purported to teach it—‘irrelevant!’”  He wasn’t alone.  “Others asked mockingly and with a wild leer, if the class had a lab requirement….”

Love Class met on Tuesday evenings.  Enrollment grew quickly within a year to 100 students of all ages, experiences and sophistication.  Buscaglia taught it without salary and on top of his regular teaching load.  Students earned no credit.

Their first major lesson about love was learning how little love matters to people who study the things that matter.  “Love has really been ignored by the scientists.  It’s amazing.  My students and I did a study.  We went through books in psychology.  We went through books in sociology.  We went through books in anthropology, and we were hardpressed to find even a reference to the word love.”

Drawing from three years of teaching Love Class, Buscaglia began writing and speaking about love.  He lectured often.  When asked for the title of his presentation, he was characteristically direct.  “Love.

“Well, you know,” event planners said, “this is a professional meeting, and it may not be understood.  What will the press say?”  Tactfully and professionally, Buscaglia resolved their problem.  How about Affect as a Behavior Modifier?  Perfect.  Acceptable.  Scientific.  Everyone was happy.

Love…learning love…Buscaglia never felt comfortable reducing consideration of love to a simple definition.  Doing the next best thing, he wrote his 1972 book, LOVE.  But in the practical sense, if we are to look for and talk about love, we need something shorter than a book, something easy to think about, something we can carry with us through each day.

Searching for agreement on what love is, there’s no better place to look than to the most quoted passage read at weddings around the country.  A profession of love on the most important day for two people, it has spoken to the heart of man across the ages.


 1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.  

 4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.


 8Love never fails. [1Cor 13:1-8, NIV]

If this is love, we should be able to know it when we see it.

If this is love, and if we know what we see…what does it say about the things we DO see?


Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.  

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.


 January 23, 2006 –  To Know Love When We See Love, Part 2

September 12, 2005 –  Kiss, Kiss, I Love You

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