The Perils of Love (Open Forum) – Gospel in Life

The Perils of Love (Open Forum)

Tim Keller |  March 6, 2005

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  • Sexuality
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Open Forums are specifically designed for skeptics or those wrestling with the claims of Christianity. Each Open Forum included a brief concert by guest artists followed by a talk and open mic Q&A with Timothy Keller. This audio recording includes the talk only.

1. What was nineteenth-century Bohemianism?

Bohemianism started in Paris in the 1830s as a movement by artists who were trying to balance their creative work with the expectations of society. It was all about rejecting the usual rules and norms and promoting personal freedom, creativity, and independence. The Bohemians valued intellectual growth, love, and art, and saw marriage as something that limited passion and love.

2. What is Puccini saying about Bohemianism?

In Puccini’s opera, the idea of total personal freedom that Bohemians believed in, is shown to cause problems when it comes to love and relationships. The characters struggle to keep their individuality while also being in love and committed to someone, showing the problems that come with avoiding exclusive relationships, like losing emotional and artistic freedom. The opera praises Bohemianism but also shows the benefits of traditional values, hinting that not committing to someone to avoid heartbreak might actually lead to a heart that can’t be broken.

3. What difference does that make to us?

Puccini’s opera, like the story of the prodigal son, both praises and criticizes Bohemianism, showing the problems with total personal freedom and strict moral rules. But Christianity offers a solution by showing that God is with us in our struggles, and this is driven by love. Understanding Jesus as the ultimate lover of our souls lets us have human relationships freely and without worry, suggesting that both Bohemians and traditional people have some things right and some things wrong.



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