It’s very common for female profiles to suggest how men can achieve a level of success – the problem – “friends first…then”. Damn – why that – the sentiment is understandable, I guess. No one wants to be seen only as means – a body, smile, or vesicle for someone’s… pleasure.
As far back as Aristotle – not known for his opinions regarding woman – he believed that the only true or lasting form of friendship is that friendship which consists in the person’s motive being for the good of the other. So the notion that many people harbor that friendship is only as worthy as what it produces in benefits is at odds with the good – C. S. Lewis would call the former approach: Agape. He describes it as a Divine-Gift-Love, the love that is God Himself. The later is best described in terms of exchange – you get what you pay for.
All the other forms of friendship, not based in this “love” are doomed to some form of distortion. In Lewis’s view, humans cannot experience agape if they do not first accept God into their hearts, because this is the only way they can be a conduit of God’s love.
Why should this be a concern – well – I’m in the midst of putting myself “out” for inspection by women on dating sites. The intention is to secure a love relationship based on the notion of being a “worthy friend”. So is my predilection – the only way I know what I’m thinking is to write.
This subject is made more challenging for me because of the notion of overcoming “distortion” – then and only then can the friendship I offer to my love interest be worthy. I confess to the ambition to write in such a way that holds up logically consistent and honorable (a stand I deeply hold – a promise I make to myself). So, some of how this piece will be expressed logically and then again it must show aspects of a meditation, hoping to invoke the promise of God’s love.
As I have written many times – I am flawed – searching for resiliency, I understand how flawed I am. Enjoy would be a stretch – but comfortable with – comes close to expressing the weirdness and complexity of me at this moment of 65 years of living.
So what can a seeker like me mean when I write a bit in my profile about worthy friendship? First I think of what is and how I am leaning towards a stand that I probably won’t fully achieve. Like an addict – my goal is to be worthy one-day-at-a-time. This approach is at my core – I’m addicted to the attention – chase – the possibility of the next lovers’ perfection.
So my definition has to show the stains of a confession. These traces show as the sort of spots on my body as one who has faced up to the contingency of his own most central use of evidence and desires –someone sufficiently melancholy, historicist and nominalist to have abandoned the idea that my central knowledge and desires refer back to something beyond the reach of time and chance. Not even my belief in God can shelter me from void of mystery. But, even with these humbling scars – I am sure in my beliefs that look beyond the evidence. For me the work of Christ is taking place now and in this world to be seen each and every day.
The miracles I’ve bared witness are both large and small. Some may claim that my dismissal of evidence is flimsy – but my beliefs take these slights in stride. The most profound evidence I hold is in my life as an addict. I have been witness to the confrontation I take on each day. I was there in dens of low lives engaged in self destruction – following after oblivion – locked in to the sporting life of players and assorted other broken and diminished dreams.
It was so easy to forget my vows, work, and ambition simply to engage in romps. These romps convinced me to travel from hither to wherever on the prospect that the journey would be rewarded with a warm and agreeable partner able to satisfy my addiction to “happiness”.
Not too long ago, before my search for a relationship of value, I felt a conflict going on inside of me to just be still. In past days, I would act on my dark imagination – I still sense those openings to the world of the lost – a cunning smile passes by – noticing them I look straight ahead thwarting those that glance with a “smile of invitation”. My imagination takes that invitation to mean all kinds of things – images of bodies entwined in ecstasy, piles of dreams and schemes bombard me. Each time, I only smile back, and keep walking in line with worthiness is a win for me. In my younger days I lost to often to recount them all. As a salesman that was good at walking and talking – I won very often, when I tried. So now simply being still is a check mark I am proud to count
This is about the boundaries between happiness and those other things that I have conflated into a blur I traded my real happiness for that made me a smaller, weaker self. In my pursuit and oft-idealization of “falling in love” I must not forget God’s grace in granting me friends whom I can love, pray for, and, ultimately grow in righteousness and holiness together with. I must fight not to fail, to hold fast to the wonder and beauty that friendship offers.
In religious terms that smaller self represents the corruption to the perfection in history. It is eliminated in that moment when humanity and God are one. My authenticity is summed up in the view on the “end-of-our-days” depending on a particular view of the end of history.
The following stand is based in the five categories of H. Richard Niebuhr’s classic “Christ and Culture” are to some people particular to Christianity, but others from other faiths or no particular faith hopefully can gain from these descriptions.
1. For the exclusive Christian history is the story of a rising church or Christian culture and a dying pagan civilization.
2. For the cultural Christian, it is the story of the spirit’s encounter with nature.
3. For the synthesist, it is a period of preparation under law, reason, gospel, and church for an ultimate communion of the soul with God.
4. For the dualist, history is the time of struggle between faith and unbelief, a period between the giving of the promise of life and its fulfillment.
5. For the conversionist history is the story of God’s mighty deeds and of man’s responses to them. He lives somewhat less “between the times” and somewhat more in the divine “Now” than do my various brothers listed above.
Eternity to the conversionist, like me, focuses less on the action of God before time and less the life with God after time and more on the presence of God in time. Hence the conversionist is less concerned with conservation of what has been given in creation, less with preparation for what will be given in a final redemption, than with the divine possibility of a present renewal.
Even to use any view of Christ as justification in forming of dating and relationship building tactics requires precise articulation. As stated above, I consider my view most closely defined by the conversionist. Given this confession, I still have to accept being blamed by some antagonists as inducing men to rely on the Grace of God instead of summoning them to human achievement. I stand on, we are responsible, my choice arises out of my free will – in other word we choose we do not control.
Others will claim to be baffled by what seems like contempt for present existence with its great concern for existing men, because we are not frighten by the prospect of doom on all man’s works, because we are not despairing but confident.
Then there is the recurring cultural indictment of intolerance, because our speech invites the indignation in its claims of separation from the communion of mankind and in our claims to the exclusive possession of divine knowledge, and our supposed disdaining of every other form of worship except our own as impious and idolatrous. What is often meant is that all claims of religious groups but especially all consideration of the claims of Christ and God should be banished from the spheres where other “gods”, called “values” reign.
Christian exaltation of the lowly offends aristocrats and Nietzcheans in one way, champions of the proletariat and capitalist in another. The unavailability of Christ’s wisdom to the wise and prudent, its attainability by the simple and by babes, bewilder both business and the philosophical leaders of culture or excite their scorn. We are constantly taking hits from all sides and even within the values dialogue.
In general, one encounters two difficulties to understanding how rigorous to hold the authority of an epistemological source, as I hold Jesus Christ.
1. The impossibility of stating adequately by means of concepts and propositions a principle which presents itself in the form of a person: word made flesh.
2. The impossibility of saying anything about this person which is not also relative to the particular standpoint in church, history, and culture of the one undertaking to describe him.
Either one accepts relativity (material realty) or the method of Biblical positivism, pointing to the New Testament and forgoing all interpretation. I admit my tendencies towards the relative. With the ongoing tragedy of having to accept the impenetrable nature of mystery, which I have, that sounds to the positivist as though, I am siding with relativity. Then those to focus on the material see my statements as opiates used to head fake the “unlearned”.
I instead focus on the notion of worthiness – on what Christ practiced and taught: Love. His was double love, of the neighbor as well as of God, and that His ethics was two foci, “God, the Father, and the infinite value of the human soul. The double commandment, whether originally stated or merely confirmed by Jesus, by no means places God and neighbor (lover) on a level, as through complete devolution were due to each. My lover is just behind the same level of value that the self occupies, the struggle is here. The upside is to strive to move pass ‘love thy neighbor as thy self” to “love one another as I have loved you” – both struggles I contend with within the tragedy of my addiction.
The end product for Jesus’ was the Kingdom, there his “theory of ethics must come under the conception of replenishment in preparation.” Replenishment is moral renewal in prospect of the accomplishment of universal perfection, the open question still remaining is – does it happen inside or outside of time, but what is sure is its com(ing).
The truth of the space just defined is its deeply mystical, calculating and tactical. It is nearly theological as it generates images of genesis and grace: “worthy friendship”. I believe that what was said of power and strategy could ably envisioned by Howard Thurman’s meditation “Our Minor Absolutes”–the tension of processes against individuals, daring to make a difference.
It is very hard for us to be in Thy presence. There are so many minor absolutes to which we give our strength and our energies that we are embarrassed before Thee….We seek forgiveness, but again and again as we wait in the silence, we do not quite know for what. Perhaps what we really seek is an awareness of sin and failure, shortcomings. Thus we spread these out before Thee. Thy knowest. We would be better than we are, but as we wait in Thy presence we are not sure that we want to be better than we are…..If under the aegis of Thy spirit our lives were changed, we are afraid…of what might become of us. Work over us, knead us, do to us what our spirits require, not that we may be better than we are…but that we may more deeply desire to be better than we are…