Archives For Friendship

 

Moving Toward the Other

A Feature Review of

Befriend:
Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear
Scott Sauls

Paperback, Tyndale 2016
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Reviewed by Ashley Hales

 

After America’s recent election, we’ve discovered (again) how divided we are. It is not simply that one-half of the nation disagrees with the other, but that each half is afraid of the other, as noted by ABC News. In a climate of fear, Scott Sauls’ Befriend is a timely book. Its subtitle, “create belonging in an age of judgment, isolation, and fear,” speaks to a human desire for community that transcends divisions based on race, class, socio-economics, politics, and sexual orientation. It plots a way forward for the church.

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The Redemption of Desire

 
A Feature Review of

Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian
Wesley Hill

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2015.
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Reviewed by Tim Otto.

 

*** This review first appeared in our print edition (Summer 2015)
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Wesley Hill’s spectacular new book, Spiritual Friendship, explores one way gay Christians—especially those who embrace the traditional teaching of the church—are a gift to the church. As friendship has been eclipsed in western culture by romantic love, perhaps in God’s surprising and beautiful design, queer Christians might perhaps be the ones who help the church revive Christ’s commandment: that Christians love their friends sacrificially.  Spiritual Friendship displays Hill’s considerable intellect, pulls from an astonishing variety of sources, and inspires with its beautiful prose.

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I and Thou and Thou

A Review of

My Friendship with Martin Buber
Maurice Friedman

Hardback: Syracuse UP, 2013
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Review by Michial Farmer

 

All Americans who love the work of the great German-Jewish theologian and philosopher Martin Buber owe an immense debt of gratitude to Maurice Friedman, whose 1956 analysis of Buber’s work, Martin Buber: The Life of Dialogue, was the first book of its sort. Friedman was the first translator of many of Buber’s best-loved essays, including most of those published in 1952’s The Eclipse of God; these essays were read and loved by many of the most important theologians of mid-century America, including Paul Tillich, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

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A Review of

834549: Friendship at the Margins: Discovering Mutuality in Service and Mission Friendship at the Margins:
Discovering Mutuality in Service and Mission

Christopher L. Heuertz and Christine D. Pohl
Paperback: IVP Books, 2010.

Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

For many years now, I have been reflecting on the significance of Jesus’ calling his disciples “friends” (John 15).  John McKnight’s book The Careless Society (and his work on Asset-Based Community Development) and Paul Wadell’s excellent book Becoming Friends, among others, have served as guides in thinking about this Gospel passage and the significance of friendship. The new book, Friendship at the Margins, by Chris Heuertz and Christine Pohl – the latest volume in the wonderful “Resources for Reconciliation” Series from Intervarsity Press and the Center for Reconciliation at Duke University – is another superb volume that parallels the above books on friendship and likewise engages the importance of friendship for Christian discipleship, and particularly the aspect of mutuality.   Friendship at the Margins is based largely on Heuertz’s experiences as international co-director (with his wife Phileena) of Word Made Flesh in some of the poorest and most oppressive areas of the world.  Pohl, a noted theologian and author of one of the finest books on Christian hospitality, offers some brief theological reflections as well as a few stories from her own experiences working with marginalized people.

The book is framed nicely by its first chapter in which the authors emphasize that our primary vocation is one of relationship – to God and to others, particularly the marginalized.  Not surprisingly the authors focus on the Gospel passage mentioned above in which Jesus calls his disciples friends.  They make the pointed observation:

Learning to see the so-called other as a friend increases our sensitivity to the reductionism, commodification and manipulation that plague some versions of mission and ministry.  Human beings who are not Christians are far more than potential converts.  In our concern for reaching out with the gospel, we can unwittingly reduce the person to less than the whole being that God formed.  When we shrink our interest in people to the possibilities of where their souls may spend eternity, it is easy to miss how God might already be working in and through a particular person [30-31].

The stories told throughout the book reinforce this central theme of the mutuality of friendship.  The book’s most striking story perhaps is not one that unfolds in a third world slum, but rather that of Chris’ friendship with the manager of a grant-making foundation.  There is much for us to learn here from Chris’ insistence on friendship and not becoming a pawn of this well-resourced manager.  At one point, he explains to this new friend: “In the same way that we tried to resist the reduction of our friends on the street to targets or potential converts, we wanted to resist reducing our wealthy friends and acquaintances to potential donors.”  As this story develops, we see the struggle through trust was eventually forged.  There is much for us to consider here about the nature of relationships that involve the exchange of money.

Not only is Friendship at the Margins a delightful and challenging meditation on the nature of friendship as followers of Christ, but it also serves as a fine introduction not only to Word Made Flesh’s work, but also to their new and refreshing philosophy of ministry, which refuses at every turn to reduce and commodify relationships.

 

Last week, we ran an excerpt of
LIVING GENTLY IN A VIOLENT WORLD

by Stanley Hauerwas and Jean Vanier.

This week, we bring you the newest volume in the same
Resources for Reconciliation Series:

FRIENDSHIP AT THE MARGINS:
DISCOVERING MUTUALITY IN SERVICE AND MISSION
.
Chris Heuertz and Christine Pohl.
Paperback: IVP Books, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]