Society is confused on a lot of things, but the one thing it gets right is our need for friends. The adage that “no man’s an island” rings true, not only in life but also in literature, television, and film. Frodo couldn’t have made it to Mount Doom without Sam. Without Watson, we wouldn’t know anything about Sherlock Holmes’ crime-solving skills. Tough issues like growing up, growing apart, and even life-threatening cancer is seen through the eyes of the friends in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
Even Jesus had friends on earth… his disciples, among them “his rock,” Peter. David’s friendship with Jonathan was so bonding that he said it was the strongest emotion he ever felt on earth, beyond even his eros (sexual) love for his wife. Because of this, and because we live in a sex-saturated culture, many try to turn friendship into something it’s not, to take brotherly (or sisterly) love and turn it into eros. A deep, mutual affection without sexual attachments is utterly unbelievable to modern audiences, who fail to understand and see love on any other level than sexual attraction.
Male characters suffer most from this affliction. If two men are friends, they must have romantic feelings for one another, in spite of their obvious interest in women. That misses the point, not only of the profoundness of human relationships, but also of friendship itself. Attraction doesn’t have to be sexual, it can exist on a deeper plane of existence than that. It can merge in a “meeting of minds,” or more accurately, as Anne Shirley puts it, “kindred spirits,” two distinct and different individuals who feel an inexplicable pull toward one another, a strengthening of focus that keeps them friends to the end of their lives.
I met my best friend in a mutual appreciation of Sam and Frodo’s bond, as someone who felt as I did, that many of the fans missed the point of their bond and mistook it for something Tolkien never intended it to be. How funny that our mutual defense of these characters’ brotherly love would lead us to our own friendship! She’s as different from me as night and day (she’s the day, all sunshine and joy, and I’m the night, all melancholy and drama) but like so many of the fictional friends in these pages, we challenge each other, strengthen one another, occasionally argue on unimportant topics, even don’t speak to each other for months at a time, yet always, as truly kindred spirits, we return to one another. Why? Because we’re that most mysterious of all God’s many gifts to us… true friends. ♥