Is Life Hevel?

In the last Sunday of 2018, I was given the opportunity to preach at LakeRidge, which is where I work. I felt the inspiration to tackle a big topic in under 30 minutes. That topic was the meaning of life in the book of Ecclesiastes, focusing on chapter 1. You’re thinking to yourself that is crazy, and someone who is truly a novice should not be tackling such a large complex topic. You speak the truth, but I like tackling and communicating difficult things. Overall, when I listen back to my sermon; I don’t give myself a passing grade, but I still have much to learn about communicating.

I thought it best to make my sermon more dialogical, less monological. Now, a sermon is by nature a monologue. Most of my training is to get up and present my ideas, sources, etc. Thus, you can imagine that doing something like that is truly difficult, which is why I don’t think I did bad, but I didn’t do well either (if I was grading myself). Another way to think about it, I didn’t hit it out of the park, but I do think I had a good double. Also, I am my biggest critic.

As I prepared to preach this sermon and this book, I was confronted by the book’s construction and how the author(s) went about making the point. The main point of Ecclesiastes is to deconstruct all the way we find meaning and purpose apart from God. The author does this by launching a thought experiment for the reader to engage in and reflect alongside the author. So, I felt that my normal academic and rigorous way of constructing my arguments, etc. was useless because I would be forcing the text to do something in which it was not designed to do. The book is constructed as a monologue, yet also a dialogue. It is as if we are flies on the wall to this person’s conversation.

As I have been stating above, the book of Ecclesiastes is a thought experiment done in a conversation over life’s meaning. Qohelet, the one who is speaking for much of Ecclesiastes, states that life is hevel. Thus, this word hevel is what takes center stage throughout the book to find something that isn’t hevel. The book can be seen as defining the word. Throughout the book, hevel is then pictured in two distinct ways: 1) temporary and fleeting, like smoke, and 2) engima or paradox, like knowing whether someone will love you or hate you.

My brother, Joel, and his wife, Cre, offered a helpful note for me to remember to not get too heady, but to deliver content that could be manageable for a large audience. I have been known to go over the heads of everyone, and I’m trying to correct that. (Note: this is not meant to sound pretentious as it is to remember that epistemically we are all at different places, so we must communicate in a way that brings much of an audience along in the reasoning and verbalization. In other words, I’m still learning how to bring people along in a journey.)

Principles of Future Philosophy — Ludwig Feuerbach (1/5/19)

Credit: Wikipedia— Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach 

The Eminent Muse For Philosophy

Ludwig Feuerbach continues his journey from theology to philosophy through the anthropocentric lens that confronts Hegel’s methodology and the intellectual status quo. Feuerbach promulgates a new kind of embodied philosophy that stays silent toward abstraction. Yet, this argument can only be seen as fodder for producing new philosophies from future readers. 

What one finds within the argumentation and conclusions of Feuerbach is the nascent thoughts for greatly influencing some of the masters of suspicion (Freud, Marx, and Nietzsche) and Western European existentialists (Heidegger, Jaspers, Buber, Sarte). Its deconstructive angle is important for the philosopher, theologian, or public intellectual that needs to clear away assumptions in order to feel a kind of “new wind” take them into producing knowledge. Nevertheless, Feuerbach’s anthropocentric angle is at best a pill for idealism, at worst a mudding of the waters on the question of what is a human being. On the other hand, the best thing one can take from Ludwig is a sense of true grappling with the psychology of human experience and the sociological framework for human experience. 

Feuerbach attacks Hegel’s totalizing philosophy that much of academia still wrestles with, not Kant. However, Ludwig never reaches the production of principles for this future philosophy, only paradoxically proving the difficult task of casting off the chains of intellectual history and embeddedness. The audience of such literature would be most helpful for most seminary students, particularly in regards to Feuerbach’s acceptance of skepticism and adherence towards the finitude of human capacity for full knowledge. Dubious though it may sound, Feuerbach is not to be feared, nor radically embraced. Feuerbach punts on much of what could solidify or explicate his point. 

Thomas Wartenberg properly stresses Ludwig Feuerbach’s brilliance and the necessity for being read towards the end of his introduction. “In [Feuerbach’s] work, there are deep and stimulating reflections on the nature of human existence, but reflections that one feels impelled to push further, to develop in different directions. Being the stimulus to original philosophical reflection is, after all, one of the most important roles that a philosopher can play, and it is a role for which Ludwig Feuerbach is still eminently suited.”

The One About A Squirrel

Photo by Evan McDougall on Unsplash
Note: For the next year, I plan to write a short story every day. Some may be 
palatable, even enjoyable(?). Others may be horrendous. If you like them, like them or share them. If you don’t, well it is whatever. I’m doing it as a challenge someone gave me. I’m calling these my fivers. I try and write them without stopping in five minutes, little to no editing after the time limit. Each story or post will come from a different prompt I am given. These are just exercises for me to be in the process of writing.

 

I grew up in small, rural America. Some people have called my area the rust belt; others have called it the snow belt. I called it home. In the sleepy towns of NW PA, there was a small private Christian school that I attended for most of my life from Kindergarten through 11th grade. The elementary wing of French Creek Valley Christian School had these decently giant windows to allow for natural light, as well as a good distraction for most of my classmates while some teacher went on about time, times tables, writing cursive, or the rudimentary knowledge of grammar. Grammar was the time that I would space out in the day, but I didn’t do it in a way that made the teacher genuinely suspect that I wasn’t listening.

One day, I don’t know for how long, but I blatantly watched two squirrels play with each other in the most jovial and playful manner. I don’t remember what drew me in; it might have been the changing of the weather. It was May! May in Pennsylvania was my favorite time of the year, and I found these two squirrel-mates living in a manner that made me envy them. While I heard this teacher go on about adjectives, nouns, verbs, and adverbs, my mind was analyzing what I was watching. Plato made the statement that a student’s formal, lecturing education should happen later on in life while as a youth they should learn the control of self through body and mind training. Education was to turn the light of our eyes to the goodness within us, thinks Plato. Well, chubby little Phil wanted to be jovial and lounge in the sun while I played. I kept hearing my teacher sound like the parents’ from the cartoon strip Peanuts.

As the squirrels played, they seemed to drift farther and farther from me. I watched them intensely, using anything I could to get a good eye on their bonding time. It was somehow a chance to escape the confines of my education to live a child’s dream — to simply be within the world. The next thing I knew my escape was immediately interrupted by the teacher calling out my name. “Philip! What are you doing?” As I heard the teacher, my mind reinstated the necessity to be a drone. However, I was more than halfway out of my seat, leaning more than half of my body sideways to watch the squirrels. Seeking to catch my balance, I spoke the truth. I wasn’t paying attention teacher. I cared more about the squirrels than this grammar lesson.

As I recentered upon the lesson, my mind couldn’t help but go back to the squirrels. Squirrels are funny creatures! Yet, they are fascinating in a peculiar way. I learned something valuable that day that I more recently realized in my adult life. Jovial and playfulness come to us in the moments of sheer non-expectation. Those squirrels did not happen to plan it; no, instead, they found themselves raptured into it. We become overwhelmed by chance to do something many of dream about: to find joy within the most serious of times.

How dare these squirrels to interrupt teaching of grammar for some nutty fun and comradery. But TRULY, it was the opposite! How dare we intrude into the scared moment of joy, innocence, and profound connectedness with a quibbling triffle about constucted rules to communicate through a medium other than oral language.  A bit of pleasure within the fabric of life isn’t found by the removal of things. Friend, joy is located in the midst of life. Connectedness is found within doing, not planning. Playfulness cannot be prepared or forced; instead, it becomes playful from the busy. There is much to say, but squirrels, small creatures of God’s creation, taught me that at a young age. I’m still learning it.

I’m Not Sure…

Speeches are interesting. We never actually have one that is a home run, everyone is sitting there applauding and lauding you with the brilliance of your speech. Back in September, I got the chance to give the best man speech at my buddy’s wedding. For weeks, I ruminated on so many things to say about the couple, him, her, etc. I think I watched 5-8 hours of YouTube videos of best man speeches. I was disappointed and amazed by the words people use and the way people go about doing these talks. I did not want to be another statistic. Nor did I want to give one of those purely emotional speeches. I tried to carve out a statement that was unique to the kind of person I am, and I thought would be particularly meaningful to the couple, individually and together.

I think it went okay, but I’m not giving you the written speech. I study philosophy and theology. I believe words have weight. I believe words are actions and actions are words. I hope some people know that when I make a statement when I’m not trying to be humorous, I don’t make it flippantly. The words carry along with it time coupled with reason and in-depth consideration. I look for my words to be impactful, thoughtful. At least, what I have stated is the hoped-for goal. I mess up, more than I want to admit.

Anyway, as I searched for the words within me to proclaim to the people and the couple, I realized something. Most wedding addresses are the couple and the person running down memory lane. I had to find my niche. So, I would charge the couple with a hope I have for them while doing the unique observations and jokes about the couple. As someone who reads a reasonable amount, I turned to my trusted books.

Poets. Philosophers. Theologians. Scripture. Comics (not out of the ordinary for me). Movies. Short Stories. It all fell flat. Nevertheless, I think I wrote the script for this three to four minutes speech twelve to fifteen times. You laugh, but it wasn’t the same talk. I had six different addresses. None of them worked for me. YET! I came across one of my favorite books. One of the twelve books I read every year: C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves. Additionally, I turned to the dumb ox, Thomas Aquinas, and Elenore Stump, a philosopher par excellence.

The significant quote that focused my attention on crafting the speech was by Lewis. Lewis states that love and loving necessarily means a vulnerability for brokenness, pain, and conflict that can launch into deeper intimacy. Or, if we merely want safety, then we have begun to creep into a coffin that suffocates risk and being known by another.

“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket-safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.” —C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

I wrapped my mind around those first two sentences that “there is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable.” Most of the time weddings are whimsical, fancy, and a picture of pure love. Everyone mentions that marriage will be hard! Yet, we rarely hear a speech that encourages the couple to admit to not just dig into the difficulty but to be indeed present and see the other —to commune with the lover. Thus, I wanted to bring that reality of what they were doing before God, family, and friends into that moment. So, I hoped for the couple that they would find new ways to express vulnerability to and with the other because this is part and parcel of marriage or love, via Lewis.

Next, this vulnerability needs something else. I couldn’t put my finger on it. So, I randomly began to read Thomas Aquinas. Odd that I would go to a celibate monk. He has something within his Summa (Q20) that captures what I sought for the couple. However, I needed help teasing it out that is why Elenore Stump helped me. I turned to my notes for a presentation she did at Fuller’s Analytic Theology Seminars on Love. Summarized, to love someone is to desire or will the good of the beloved and union with the beloved. Thus, for love to happen, it requires shared attention where the lover perceives the beloved aright and vice versa. Or, it means that each seeks to view the other honestly. Thus, I encouraged the couple to find anew shared attention for the beloved.

So, there we go. I found the words through Lewis, Aquinas, and Stump. I encouraged vulnerability and shared attention. NOW! What is the point of this story of the condensed version of the immediate craziness of my mind? Well, I’ll do my best to make it quick.

As a Christian, I find it difficult to be vulnerable with God and have this shared attention, which I think happens through prayer. But, I could make that thought a post in of itself. I want to take to the horizontal angle, even though I readily wish to stick to the vertical (me and God or you and God).

So, I don’t think I’m the only one when I say it takes a lot to be vulnerable and be attentive to another. Loving our neighbor, whether that be wife/husband, family, friends, community, etc., is hard and takes time. It isn’t safe. It isn’t scary either! The love poured out for us in Jesus Christ calls in us to bring out a quality love over quantity to our neighbor. Only God can give the quantity and quality love that each human heart needs. We are tasked with loving our neighbor where we are at with what we are given. We are to love our neighbor with a quality that points to the love of Christ. That kind of quality is an investment in the person. We are by nature very contingent beings. Thus, an investment of time is an expression of that vulnerability. While it takes patience and a lot to gain shared attention.

The point of my speech for you is to ask yourself how do you seek to love, in particular as a Christian to mirror the love of God found in Jesus Christ being a witness. Have you asked yourself how you attempt to invest in your neighbor and indeed perceive them as God’s creature? Have you asked yourself that question? Consequently, not everyone is asked by God to be Mother Teresa, D.L. Moody, or Jim Elliot and many others. Instead, we are asked to love faithfully in the smallness of our lives because the ripples of the small faithful love ring as the Kingdom bells coming nearer. Read 2 or 3 John. Read the OT prophets, cf. Micah 6:8. You’ll see my point.

Last, my guess, if you’re like me, is that you don’t do a great job at loving your neighbor. Nevertheless, you and I cannot let that be the end of it. “I just do a pitiful job, c’est la vie.” No! God forbid! But, we need to start again wherever we are at with our neighbor. As a Christian, the good news of the Gospel is that you daily get the chance to participate in God’s love for you, for me, and for the world. I’d say that good news, and it is worth being perseverant, even when you fail.

 

I could be wrong, but, for now, it makes sense to me.
“It is our best work that God wants, not the dregs of our exhaustion. I think he must prefer quality to quantity.”
— George MacDonald

Resolutions (Part 2 of 5)

It has been a while since I wrote another piece on my New Year’s Resolutions. Previously I mentioned:

  1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my life. Additionally, I resolve to do whatever I think to be my duty, most for the good and advantage of my neighbor in general.
  2. Resolved, I begin and end my day by writing 500 words.

So, just an update on the resolutions, I believe I am accomplishing the second resolution very well. The very first resolution, however, is not one that I think is totally determinable by myself alone. It is a hope and goal for every day. I more than likely have failed, but I will continue to try and do it. All because I really do believe this is what it means to live out faith in Christ.

With that being said, let’s get this show on the road and continue with the next two resolutions.

Resolution #3:

Resolved, I will live out my days by making them the most profitable as they can be, living with all my might, and spending my time at the improvement of myself and the goals of my vocation.

I want to take a moment to explain this one because it is pretty much focused on the self. Now, we all know resolutions are very focused on self-improvement, etc. However, if you will remember, these aims are not centered around 2017 alone. Instead, these aspirations are things I will pursue over the next, God willing, 60 years of my life. So, they cannot be nearsighted, even though the list may grow. So, you cannot really think of these as temporary, think of it when Ross laminated his top 5. These things are getting laminated people!

Anyway, let’s return to the resolution. Profit is what many of us would think as the bottom line. Yet, this does not have to be the idea of profit as monetary, and I do not mean to look at it in a strict productive manner either like you would think of tasks getting done. I mean for the word to be understood as benefit or advantage. So I want to live out my days by making them the most beneficial or advantageous. You could see this as Robert Williams famous scene in Dead Poets Society near the trophy case. The latin phrase is Carpe Diem. Williams states, “Seize the day. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may…”

Some might say, it sounds like you are in a hurry. Some could even think that I have angst towards the finitude of my life, even though I fully believe in the next. Good point, so why focus on having my days be “profitable”? We all die —a sad, inevitable truth. I am not invincible, nor am I concerned with my life in the sense of making the greatest impact or changing the world. Nonetheless, I do want to make an impact. But, an extraordinary life, in my mind, is one lived to the fullest in the small moments. Thus, I will use my God-given abilities, mind, strength, and heart to its fullest as long as God continues to allow this finite creature called Phil to live. This leads into the next phrase. What is life!? How do you explain it? I suppose I should leave that for another time —the story of a single life is deeply complex and always an ongoing marching toward death? (Oof, I realize I’m probably reading to much Heidegger.)

Moving on, some might say life is apex moments as well as the nadir moments, think of a Bell and Well curve. Many probably see life in this manner because those curves become turning points and sign posts we return to as we reflect on life. Ordinarily, you hear people say it like this, “This chapter of my life is closing,” if they are turning from a low point. Or, if they are in a great place, “Life is just really good, everything is going perfectly.” Yet, for some reason, we only live in those two moments, the high and low points. However, I conceive of life in those in between moments. That is the meat of existence. So, as great as those moments are, I look forward to the climb and the descent because it is in those places where I’m truly being formed to be the person God has called me to be and the kind of follower of Christ I hope to be. Therefore, I find life to be full of small moments and steps in which I am invited to live to the best of my ability —to be responsive in this life God has given me. Furthermore, I want to be the best at what I do so I will do all I can to pursue my vocation(s).

Resolution #4:

Resolved, to know and love the nieghbor, who ultimately belongs to God and is God’s creature.

If this sounds odd to you, then you got my intention. I want the sentence to cause me to pause and consider what I am resolving to do for the rest of my life. For some reason, this resolution frightens me. I don’t think that is a bad thing, but I realize that I’m going to fail at this. Moreover, I hear the penned lines of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring rumbling through my head.

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

With this resolution, I have no real control over what I am opening myself up to because of a commitment to follow Christ. You may know that I struggle with humanity. You may have heard me say, “I really want to be a hermit — write books and essays, read, think, and pray. Live with my dog, Loki, and be in solitude.” I want this not so much because I hate people, but I get at times easily frustrated by society and everything that entails living in relationship with multiple human beings.

In spite of this, I acknowledge that all you über extroverts and deeply relationally oriented people are freaking out over what I have said. But, let me explain why I have this resolution. If I ask you to tell me the Great Commandment, rightly you say, “Love God and love neighbor as yourself.” However, these are two commandments, not one. The two commandments are the sum of the Law. Yet, nowhere does this say it is a single commandment. I’m not going to get any deeper than that, but I could. The point is that fulfilling God’s Law is twofold. First is to God and trying to fulfill that is hard enough because I am to love God with all my heart, soul (or being), and strength. I’m still stuck on trying to do what it means to love God, so how do you expect me to love my neighbor as myself. So, if you ask a question that I don’t want to answer, I’ll say: “I’m still trying to figure out this whole loving God and loving neighbor thing.” Nevertheless, I, as a believer, am called to do these two commands. Hence, my desire for becoming a hermit collapse in on itself because of this call of God in Jesus Christ to follow Him. I am called to love God and love neighbor. This sucks because I want to just focus on loving God.

So, I now have four of my ten initial resolutions. It’s taken me some time to even get this far, yet I hope to keep posting my resolutions. To let everyone know, I create possible resolutions, and then I analyze if they are even worth keeping or blogging about.

Resolutions, Edwards, and a New Year (Part 1 of 5)

Welcome to 2017. 2016 has been quite the rough year. It is that time once again to make resolutions.
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via GIPHY

If anyone knows me well, they can tell you that I do not do New Year’s resolutions. I find them quite crude, and I find them to lack any particular vision of the person you, or I, are becoming throughout life. Instead, most New Year’s resolutions isolate a person’s life to this particular year, becoming near-sighted to what is right in front of them. Thus, we make stereotypical resolutions like, “I want to be happier,” or “I want to make more money,” etc. In particular Christian circles, it is common to hear a cacophony of spiritual things, “Read my Bible every day,” or “pray more than once a day,” etc. Most resolutions become sickening to us because we live and perpetuate life as a struggle for immediate results.

Since I finished my Fall quarter at Fuller, I felt the weight of all my studies and the consequent exhaustion and the pressure I put on myself. Thus, I planned to give myself space by removing myself from prepping for the next quarter and reading books that have a dual purpose, i.e. reading books for class and most other books that might enhance the quarter. However, I failed on this determination. It appears I cannot pry myself away from books and putting my hand to paper. I fairly quickly found myself compiling a list of books that I would read during the break. It ranged from nonfiction and fiction, yet I started out with my list of books which I find vital for me to read every year. I needed to finish the last two books: C.S. Lewis’ Problem of Pain and Karl Barth’s God in Action.

After those books, I quickly ran to Jonathan Edwards. Now Edwards, for many of us, has a pretty horrendous depiction of the venerable American theologian and pastor. What I mean is his sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” yet if you get beyond this sermon, Edwards wrote a great many of things to increase the faith of believers and woo his audience to the beauty of God’s grace in Jesus Christ, truly captivating the imagination. (To understand some of Edwards preaching, I encourage you to listen to Dr. Oliver Crisp’s lecture on Edwards Preaching. It is an hour and a half long, but it is worth it. But, I am biased to Oliver Crisp.) One of these works, which is of a more personal nature, is Edwards’ Resolutions.

Jonathan Edwards wrote this list of seventy resolutions while he was completing his preparation for ministry. The purpose of this list was to guide him throughout his life, providing a trajectory for the kind of person he wanted to be. Edwards took the time to pause and reflect on the nature of his work and the lived life he wanted to have while doing ministry. This kind of resolution making process is something I applaud, and I have decided to take it up. I’m not sure if I will even arrive at seventy resolutions. But, I will at least write ten resolutions over the next two weeks. I find this kind of thing appropriate for two reasons. 1) I’m in a similar position of Edwards in that I will soon be finishing up my masters and want to have something that gives me a trajectory for life with God and my neighbor. 2) We are at the dawn of a new year, and I hope to reorient you to another way of conceiving of resolutions.

Now, Edwards’ list of seventy resolutions can appear daunting because many of us struggle to write and accomplish even one resolution for the new year. However, the thought of doing seventy, many of them being daily resolutions, seems impossible. Unlike the resolutions that are self-contained within a year for many of us, Edwards saw these resolutions as his aims for life. Furthermore, the way many people propose their resolutions are impossible to track or truly achieve. Think about it, happiness is pretty elusive. However, Edwards’ sought to make his resolutions as concrete habits and ways of living among people. Thus, the way to truly measure them is through self-examination, as well as being disciplined.

To start this shenanigan, I will write out two of my resolutions, so this more than likely will be five posts. Then, I will give some reasoning for said resolution within each post. Nevertheless, I want to turn our attention right now to Edwards’ opening remarks. Edwards notes that the only way for these resolutions to happen is God’s initiative to bless the work Edwards determines to do to accomplishing them. Instead of imitating Edwards, I rather let the eminent theologians speak for me, acknowledging I have this same plea and hope to God.

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat God by his grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake. Remember to read over these resolutions once a week. (pg. 17)

Do you notice the precise wording? Edwards does not reject his ability to attempt the resolutions; nor does Edwards neglect God’s pivotal role in Edwards life. Instead, Edwards holds both God’s sovereignty and his ability to pursue x or y. Thus, Edwards asks that his goals would be “agreeable to God’s will,” while God enables Edwards to actually accomplish these things that he wills for his life. Moreover, Edwards brings to the forefront of his mind that all areas of his life must be under control by God and himself.

Resolution #1:
“Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory and to my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my life. [Additionally, I resolve] to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of [my neighbor] in general.” (pg. 17)

If you have the Resolutions, you noticed this sounds like Edwards. Well, it, in fact, is Jonathan Edwards words, with a minor twist. This resolution captivated my mind. However, I did change up one phrase because I find it truly unattainable. I think it is pretty straightforward, but, for the sake of clarity, I will say a little more. I’m a Christian; I won’t run from that. Because of this commitment to Christ, the epitaph of my life should be one geared toward loving God with my whole being and loving my neighbor. I think for many church goers this becomes very cliche. And it really is, when it is devoid of the immense theological weight. So, I wanted this resolution stated in a different way so as to cause in myself some conflict over what that looks like.

Resolution #2: Resolved, I begin and end my day by writing 500 words.

I suppose this is why many people get a blog because they want to write more. However, I don’t mean for the exercises to be on the blog; instead, I mean with good ole paper and pen. I’m a person who likes to live, think, and reflect on words. It is the vocation I want to do for the rest of my life: to be a wordsmith. Moreover, I want to go get a Ph.D., so it is necessary for me to work well with these nasty little buggers. The hope of this resolution is that from the focused practice I can have some sensible words for this blog or my own academic papers. Additionally, you only get better at most things from concentrated practice, and I am in need of a lot of it.

Do We Understand Friendship?’

“I have no duty to be anyone’s Friend and no man in the world has a duty to be mine. No claims, no shadow of necessity. Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

 

 

“Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.”

 

“The very condition of having Friends is that we should want something else besides Friends. Where the truthful answer to the question “Do you see the same truth?” would be “I see nothing and I don’t care about the truth; I only want a Friend,” no Friendship can arise – though Affection of course may. There would be nothing for the Friendship to be about; and Friendship must be about something, even if it were only an enthusiasm for dominoes or white mice. Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow-travellers.”

 

“Eros will have naked bodies; Friendship naked personalities.” 

 

“But in Friendship, being free of all that, we think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another, posting to different regiments, the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting—any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of the Ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples ‘Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,’ can truly say to every group of Christian friends “You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others. They are no greater than the beauties of a thousand other men; by Friendship God opens our eyes to them. They are, like all beauties, derived from Him, and then, in a good Friendship, increased by Him through the Friendship itself, so that it is His instrument for creating as well as for revealing.”

 

All these quotes are from the section on Friendship in C.S. Lewis’ book called, The Four Loves. It is a superb book, one of his lesser widely read. Lewis did such a great job, and I kept trying to write something but to no avail. So, the quotes should help getting you to think about what it means to be a friend, have friends, and finding a friend. The last quote is the best, because he connects it to Jesus. BOOM!