Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mark Shea on Friendship

The Catholic writer Mark Shea looks at the nature of friendship. Shea highlights a problem DGD, Dr. Phillip Blosser, and I noted before, our society today tends to conflate Eros with friendship, to the detriment of the latter. Thus, close friendships between persons of the same sex are seen as homoerotic. Here's a sample in which Mr. Shea distinguishes between romantic love (Eros) and friendship:

Our culture’s hostility to friendship and our ugly tendency to reduce it to eros or mere animal sexual desire is even more acute and destructive when it comes to friendships between people of the same sex. It is now routine to declare that any close friendship between two persons of the same sex is “really” homoerotic. This blind insistence on casting all friendships in the mold of eros is soul-crushing, because it short-circuits the truly vital and nourishing role that true friendship plays in a healthy human life.

Precisely the joy of friendship is that friends are, if you will, not thinking about each other, nor seeing themselves reflected in the eyes of the other. Eros, properly, has the other as the object, and (as a sort of side benefit) we discover that we can be precious because we are precious to the one we love. In friendship, all this sort of thing is out of place.

Friendship is emphatically about something other than our friend. Friends come together because they share a common love for stamp collecting or Civil War re-enactment or politics or literature or God. Friends can become lovers and sometimes do. But friends, as friends, dwell in an entirely different kind of love from eros and, very often, would be appalled at the thought of their friendship ever being eros.

Update: Did you know Mr. Shea is also an actor? He plays the role of Innocent Smith in a movie version of G.K. Chesterton's book Manalive. Here's a preview:

No comments:

Post a Comment