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Friendship and the Moral Life

Friendship and the Moral Life

Paul J. Wadell, C.P.

“Wadell is a moral theologian with the eye of an artist, and I am convinced anyone reading this book will realize Wadell has set a new paradigm for how moral theology should be conceived . . . [this volume] is an attempt to do moral theology in a constructive manner that can enliven all our lives by helping us discover the telos that gives our lives more coherence. —Stanley Hauerwas, from the Foreword

Friendship and the Moral Life is not simply a theoretical argument about how moral theology might be done if it took friendship more seriously. Rather, the book exhibits how without friendship, our lives are morally not worth living. The book begins with a consideration of why a new model of the moral life is needed. Wadell then examines the ethics of Aristotle, who viewed the moral life as based on a specific understanding of the purpose of being human, with friendship being an important factor in enabling people to acquire virtues necessary for achieving this purpose. Through the thought of Augustine, Aelred of Reivaulx, and Karl Barth, the question is raised whether friendship is at odds with Christian love or whether their relation depends on one’s narrative account of friendship. Thomas Aquinas’ understanding of charity as friendship with God is examined to clarify this relationship.

By locating friendship within the story of God’s redemption through Christ, Wadell helps us see why friendship properly understood is integral to the Christian life and not at odds with it. Such a friendship draws us to love all others who seek God and teaches us not to restrict our concern to a special few in preferential love. The book closes by investigating how friendship as a model for the moral life might work in everyday life.

ISBN: 978-0-268-00974-8
208 pages
Publication Year: 1989

Paul J. Wadell, C.P., is professor of religious studies at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin.

“This book offers both a substantive discussion of friendship in the Christian life and an approach to method in Christian ethics. A clear and helpful addition to the literature on friendship and deserves attention.” — Religious Studies Review

“Recommended to the general reader. [Wadell] takes as a model for the moral life the common and universal experience of friendship and introduces his project in an engaging, personal, and anecdotal style.” — America

“In the central inspiration of his book, in his conviction that friendship is central to the naturally and supernaturally moral life, Wadell is simply right.” —_Review of Politics_

“. . . Warm and engaging . . . useful to those interested in virtue theory and the philosophy of love.” — Ethics

“Wadell has made a convincing case for the necessity of rediscovering Aristotelian and Christian moral principles, particularly those concerning friendship. He demonstrates, with the seasoning of deep personal insight, that seeing friendship with God as the end of the moral life, and friendship with others as indispensable to achieving that goal, is crucial for achieving a full understanding of the moral life.” — Review of Metaphysics

“Wadell writes with a fascinating style and a sensitive interaction with family and community. His book catches the Bible’s expectations of a chosen people, sustained by an unconditional loyalty and strong ties of blood, in order to love God with one’s whole heart.” — The Bible Today

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Friendship and the Moral Life

Paul J. Wadell, C.P.

 Friendship and the Moral Life
Paper Edition

“Wadell is a moral theologian with the eye of an artist, and I am convinced anyone reading this book will realize Wadell has set a new paradigm for how moral theology should be conceived . . . [this volume] is an attempt to do moral theology in a constructive manner that can enliven all our lives by helping us discover the telos that gives our lives more coherence. —Stanley Hauerwas, from the Foreword

Friendship and the Moral Life is not simply a theoretical argument about how moral theology might be done if it took friendship more seriously. Rather, the book exhibits how without friendship, our lives are morally not worth living. The book begins with a consideration of why a new model of the moral life is needed. Wadell then examines the ethics of Aristotle, who viewed the moral life as based on a specific understanding of the purpose of being human, with friendship being an important factor in enabling people to acquire virtues necessary for achieving this purpose. Through the thought of Augustine, Aelred of Reivaulx, and Karl Barth, the question is raised whether friendship is at odds with Christian love or whether their relation depends on one’s narrative account of friendship. Thomas Aquinas’ understanding of charity as friendship with God is examined to clarify this relationship.

By locating friendship within the story of God’s redemption through Christ, Wadell helps us see why friendship properly understood is integral to the Christian life and not at odds with it. Such a friendship draws us to love all others who seek God and teaches us not to restrict our concern to a special few in preferential love. The book closes by investigating how friendship as a model for the moral life might work in everyday life.

ISBN: 978-0-268-00974-8

208 pages

“This book offers both a substantive discussion of friendship in the Christian life and an approach to method in Christian ethics. A clear and helpful addition to the literature on friendship and deserves attention.” — Religious Studies Review

“Recommended to the general reader. [Wadell] takes as a model for the moral life the common and universal experience of friendship and introduces his project in an engaging, personal, and anecdotal style.” — America

“In the central inspiration of his book, in his conviction that friendship is central to the naturally and supernaturally moral life, Wadell is simply right.” —_Review of Politics_

“. . . Warm and engaging . . . useful to those interested in virtue theory and the philosophy of love.” — Ethics

“Wadell has made a convincing case for the necessity of rediscovering Aristotelian and Christian moral principles, particularly those concerning friendship. He demonstrates, with the seasoning of deep personal insight, that seeing friendship with God as the end of the moral life, and friendship with others as indispensable to achieving that goal, is crucial for achieving a full understanding of the moral life.” — Review of Metaphysics

“Wadell writes with a fascinating style and a sensitive interaction with family and community. His book catches the Bible’s expectations of a chosen people, sustained by an unconditional loyalty and strong ties of blood, in order to love God with one’s whole heart.” — The Bible Today