Yesterday I wrote on the need for male physical affection. We long for this as men. A friend directed me to this Anthony Esolen essay, which covers a lot of the same ground though with more eloquence. He even uses the same phrase “half-man” that I used. Esolen is more pessimistic than I am about the ability to overcome the tragic loss of friendship among men. I believe the gospel can, with much time and work, resurrect true manly, friendship. But I feel what Esolen’s last paragraph says,
No doubt about this: If you are a modern man, a half-man, many such ideas [about friendship and male love] and loves have already died in you. For as much as you can admire them wistfully, from a half-understanding distance, you can be neither Frodo nor Sam, nor the man who created them. You dare not follow Agassiz, alone, to the Arctic. You will not weep for Jonathan. You once were acquainted with Enkidu, but that was all. Do not even mention John the Apostle.
I look back at my fathers and realize I am a “half-man” because I do not know how to create or participate in true male friendship. One of my regular prayers is that I can do this with my sons and my brothers at church. I commend the essay to you. Here are a few other quotes that struck me.
Friendship and the signs upon which it must subsist are in a bad way. I will focus on the friendships of men, since that is what I know about; many comparable things might be said about the friendships of women. We still have the word “friendship,” and we still have something of the reality, but it is distant, dilute, bloodless. For modern American men, friendship is no longer forged in the heat of battle, or in the dust of the plains as they drive their herds across half a continent, or in the choking air of a coalmine, or even in the cigar smoke of a debating club…
It [loss of male friendship] is but more of the devastation wrought by the sexual revolution. That we fail to see it as such is no surprise: Naturally, when we think of that recrudescence of paganism, we think first of its damage to the family and to relations between men and women. We think of divorce, pornography, unwed motherhood, abortion, and suicidally falling birthrates. But the sexual revolution has also nearly killed male friendship as devoted to anything beyond drinking and watching sports; and the homosexual movement, a logically inevitable result of forty years of heterosexual promiscuity and feminist folly, bids fair to finish it off and nail the coffin shut.
What is more, those who will suffer most from this movement are precisely those whom our society, stupidly considering them little more than pests or dolts, has ignored. I mean boys…
On three great bonds of love do all cultures depend: the love between man and woman in marriage; the love between a mother and her child; and the camaraderie among men, a bond that used to be strong enough to move mountains. The first two have suffered greatly; the third has almost ceased to exist.