20 December 2008

Thoughts on friendship

Friendship is one of those things that we tend to take for granted. When we do think about it, we may be tempted to follow the greeting card companies and sentimentalize it, which effectively cheapens it. Nevertheless, friendship is something we are created for. Indeed we could hardly live without it. Friends are not an add-on to life; they are central to what it means to live as fully human creatures, communing with our fellow image-bearers of God.

Over the coming weeks I will be posting a series on friendship, possibly as a precursor to writing something more lengthy and in depth on the subject. At present I envision an outline of my thoughts running something along these lines:

  • The stages of friendship, including: childhood, youth and adulthood. Each successive stage may represent a deepening of friendship, though this is not necessarily the case. In a highly mobile society, such as exists in North America and much of the western world, the nurturing of friendships is not necessarily for life.

  • Forms of friendship, according to the pluriformity of society, including: marital, collegial, mentor/protégé, familial and political/civic. Friendship in each of these settings appropriately takes different forms.

  • Levels of friendship. The typical North American claims to have numerous friends — far more than any ordinary person could reasonably be expected to cultivate in a limited lifespan within a geographically circumscribed homeland. This raises the issue of degrees of friendship. Some of our friends are simply closer to us than others. There is nothing amiss in this, given our created limitations.

  • Friendship with God. Is friendship with God possible? If so, is our friendship with him different in kind or in degree from our human friendships? I hope to address these questions in this last section.

  • As I proceed to write, it is possible that I will alter this outline, perhaps adding categories or addressing different issues than I have here. If any of my readers thinks of a topic I should explore, I am certainly open to suggestions. My next posting on this topic will come shortly after the beginning of the new year.

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