“I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;” lamented King David, “very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” (2 Samuel 1:26)
Understanding the kind of friendship that existed between David and Jonathan is difficult in our culture. In large measure this is because we tend to believe that the height of love is romantic love. The notion that Jonathan’s love to David passed the love of women thus sounds at least suspect.
But the idea that romantic love is the greatest love was not part of the culture of ancient Israel. It was not part of the culture of ancient Greece—the world of Achilles and Patroklos. It was not part of the culture of Europe until… well, Dr. Tiffany Schubert can explain. At the 2019 Wyoming School of Catholic Thought, Dr. Schubert began her discussion of the poetry of friendship by describing how the exaltation of the romantic through the poetic tradition has become a detriment to us as we try to form deep, committed friendships.