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date: 21 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Friendship is understood differently across a variety of cultures, and what it means in a contemporary setting is rapidly shifting. Postmodernity offers choice and freedom in relationality, but with these opportunities comes pressure on traditional relationships, and a sense that future direction is unclear. There is a danger that friendship may lose its legacy as a socially and morally important relationship, and be viewed as a commodity to enhance one’s social status or chosen lifestyle; particularly facing the rise of ‘virtual-friendship’. Philosophers and theologians, such as Aristotle, Aelred, Aquinas and Kierkegaard have commented on friendship’s importance, and accorded it a vital place in society and in theology. So by revisiting Jesus’ statement to his disciples; ‘You are my friends’, the Church has an opportunity to reclaim friendship’s legacy, and allow the self-understanding as the ‘friends of Christ’ to transform its shape and mission.

Keywords: Aelred, Aquinas, Aristotle, friendship, hospitality, Kierkegaard, postmodernity, relationality, virtual-friendship

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