Lent Day 31: What is Love?

Fr. Robert Barron’s Lenten Reflection talked about how compassion and forgiveness became God’s weapons as Jesus hung upon the cross. The reflection is titled “The Weapons of Love.”

I’ve written about love on this blog before. But there’s always two questions that I keep asking when it comes to people who write stories of love: Do they portray a healthy, wonderful, loving relationship accurately? And if they didn’t, why?

Take JK Rowling for example. She created relationships in her books, but recently had second thoughts about one of the relationships she created. Also, in my very biased but hopefully honest opinion, I don’t think she convinced her readers that James and Lily were truly, happily married to each other given that we are given little about them aside from stuff other characters said about James and Lily and Snape’s flashbacks, which show that James was a bully. In my opinion, I don’t think that Rowling is a romantic. She was divorced at the time she started writing Harry Potter and by the time she married again, she was world-famous and writing Book 5. It’s hard to find a normal relationship in between then, but that’s just my speculation.

On the other extreme, we have the author of the Twilight series, Stephenie Meyer. The Twilight series is entertaining, but many critics have pointed out that the relationship between Bella and Edward isn’t a healthy one. And yet, Meyer’s stories became a household name for a while, leading to the creation of Fifty Shades of Grey and other stories revolving around relationships with one partner being dominant and another partner being submissive.

It doesn’t help that television doesn’t portray relationships accurately, either. Just ask the fans of How I Met Your Mother about how they felt about the series finale. (I’m still hurting from it, by the way.) So often, in television and film, characters get caught up in the sweeping ideas on what a relationship should be like, caught up in the drama or the idea of a person or objectifying a person rather than actually loving the person for who he or she is.

Going-to-be-a-Saint-Soon Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body provides a middle ground between a detached viewpoint of romance and the overly dramatic portrayal of love we see in films and television. Click on the link to read the whole series. But if you’re like me and you don’t see yourself as someone who really understands theology, there’s a book by Christopher West that introduces Theology of the Body in ways that the everyman can understand. West’s book was actually the first book I read this year.

What do you think makes a relationship healthy and loving?

Four Loves Friday: Philia AKA Friendship

Sorry again for not updating on Tuesday. I’ve come up with an idea on what to do for this blog and I realized that the whole “True Love Tuesday” thing was seriously biased of me. I want this blog to be more than just my ramblings on fandoms. I want to show the things I love to bring out a stronger truth. With that, let’s continue the Four Loves Friday with Philia AKA friendship.

Like Affection, Friendship is often overlooked in the shadow of Eros. However, Friendship has it even worse than Affection because it seems so everyday compared to the sweet softness of Affection and the grandiose affair that is Eros. The worst thing is that people often want Friendship to turn into Eros. (Just google “JohnLock.”) Why is that?

According to CS Lewis, it’s because few people experience what friendship really is. Look beyond the pastel-colored ponies that declare “Friendship is Magic” and give this some thought: Friendship is not something that comes naturally. Eros eventually leads to the creation of future generations. Affection helps raise future generations. But friendship? It’s not a necessity. Think about the most logically created business mergers or arranged marriages. Yes, it sounds cold and detached, but at one point, society didn’t put such an emphasis on feelings.

Nowadays, we put such an emphasis on feelings that people often assume there is something more than friendship when two people are out on the town together with no other companions tagging along. If a man and a woman are seen out together, it’s assumed that they’re in a relationship. If it’s two men, they’re gay. If it’s two women, they’re lesbians. Even now, completely platonic friendships seem unnatural because of how oversexualized our culture has become. 

However, in this age where technology has become a part of our everyday lives, new ways of creating friendships have formed. The internet has become a great way to find people who share a common interest in something. The best example of this are the content creators from That Guy With The Glasses. They all have a shared interest of expressing their opinions on various media. They meet in conventions or via online hangouts and people can see, from the huge amount of crossovers, that these guys have developed a camaraderie. Some romantic relationships have come out of that, but as a whole, the TGWTG team are True Companions.

However, having a common interest might not be enough to sustain a friendship. Sometimes, that love for a shared interest might be the only thing you might have in common with a person. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the friendship can be hard to maintain when there is only a few common interests. No matter how much you love something, that one thing doesn’t necessarily define your life. I’m not saying that being in a fandom is a bad thing. It just can’t be the only thing.

True friendship comes from shared experiences. The reason why the TGWTG content creators have a strong friendship is because of the times they collaborate together, give each other feedback, and make fun of each other. Another example of friendship from shared experiences is the main cast of How I Met Your Mother. While the show has its flaws, the reason it’s been going on for 9 seasons was because of the strong friendship between Ted, Marshall, Barney, Lily, and Robin. The best example of that was when Marshall and Lily were deciding on who their son Marvin’s godparent would be and they decided on all three of their friends because Lily wanted Marvin to stay in the family no matter what happened to Lily and Marshall. The friendship between the five of them has endured Ted and Robin’s relationship, Barney and Robin’s relationship, and Ted’s neverending quest to find his soul mate. The focus on How I Met Your Mother wasn’t on the various romantic plotlines, but on the strong friendship between these five amazing characters.

Next week, I wrap up this series by going into what “Agape” means and plan out what I’ll be doing in March.