Friendship, Difference, and the Common Good


Connecting to the themes of religious commonalities and differences, religious community and socialization, and the politics of religion, this paper draws on texts from within the Christian tradition and literature to argue that friendship, especially interreligious friendship, can be a kind of formation for an “ecstatic” politics and the common good. I offer particular attention to the notion of ekstasis at work in specific spiritual and literary texts. The term’s roots are in the Greek ἔκστασις, meaning to put out of place. I consider the possibilities for displacing the self and remapping identity that are present in friendship. I argue for a notion of friendship as an ongoing encounter with difference that both reveals the limits of the self, where the self meets the other as the other, and expands the self, offering attention, mapping differences, and displacing the borders and boundaries of the self. In the end, I suggest the notion of “ecstatic” friendship, an expression of the human person, acting on something that could be called the law of ekstasis – driving beyond the self toward an other, facing difference, participating in displacing the self and remapping identity – that may inspire a kind of “ecstatic” politics. An “ecstatic” politics, in this sense, necessarily moves away from tyranny and toward the common good.


Margaret Gower
Assistant Professor, Religious Studies and Theology, Saint Mary's College, Indiana, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Religious Commonalities and Differences


Friendship, Interreligious Friendship, Common Good, Religious Identity, Religious Diversity, Interfaith

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