Friday, August 27, 2010

Road Trip

We took a quick road trip last week to Emmett, Idaho. It's around 340 miles each way, mostly freeway through desert, with the inevitable construction along the way. In other words, nothing particularly special about the road itself. And we were only there overnight, to eat dinner and play games and return the next day.

As a kid, I would have been truly perplexed by our decision to take such a trip. But now? It was great -- quality time, a break from routine, and good friends. We told stories, pondered important questions, challenged each other to grow, laughed. Logically speaking, we could have done all of that at home, right? But as it so often does, the geographical space between here and there created relational space as well.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Anonymous Letters

Attributed to former baseball great Yogi Berra:
"Why buy good luggage? You only use it when you travel."
"A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore."
"It ain't over till it's over."
"Never answer an anonymous letter."

A quick internet search reveals many lists of such Yogi-isms because they are often an amusing mix of foolishness and truth. "Never answer an anonymous letter," for example. After all, where would one send such a response? And yet... many of us move from day to day and place to place hearing message from often-unidentified sources that we come to believe are credible: "You're too _____" or "You're not _____ enough." (Anonymity cloaks sources of criticism far more than sources of praise, it seems...) We try to respond to anonymous -- sometimes nonexistent -- criticism, and end up majoring in image management, trying always to convince others that we're okay, really.

The question of source really is an important one, and I believe God is the ultimate Source. Whenever I hear or "hear" messages about my character, I need to take those to God, asking Him to help me discover the truth and respond accordingly.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I admit it -- I like Facebook. I enjoy hearing what is going on in the lives of people I love, seeing photos of their friends and families and fun times, getting the snippets of status updates. That said, I was challenged recently by something I read through my Leadership Journal (a great publication, by the way) subscription:

"In an article for The Chronicle of Higher Education, William Deresiewicz examines the new forms of friendship that have emerged in the age of Facebook. While social media has allowed us the opportunity to be connected to everyone, it more often than not comes at the expense of deep, meaningful, shaping friendship. Deresiewicz writes:
[Concerning] the moral content of classical friendship, its commitment to virtue and mutual improvement, that … has been lost. We have ceased to believe that a friend's highest purpose is to summon us to the good by offering moral advice and correction. We practice, instead, the nonjudgmental friendship of unconditional acceptance and support—'therapeutic' friendship, [to quote] Robert N. Bellah's scornful term. We seem to be terribly fragile now. A friend fulfills her duty, we suppose, by taking our side—validating our feelings, supporting our decisions, helping us to feel good about ourselves. We tell white lies, make excuses when a friend does something wrong, do what we can to keep the boat steady. We're busy people; we want our friendships fun and friction-free ….
With the social-networking sites of the new century—Friendster and MySpace were launched in 2003, Facebook in 2004—the friendship circle has expanded to engulf the whole of the social world, and in so doing, destroyed both its own nature and that of the individual friendship itself. Facebook's very premise—and promise—is that it makes our friendship circles visible. There they are, my friends, all in the same place. Except, of course, they're not in the same place, or, rather, they're not my friends. They're a [superficial likeness or semblance] of my friends—little dehydrated packets of images and information, no more my friends than a set of baseball cards is the New York Mets ….
Deresiewicz concludes: 'Friendship is devolving, in other words, from a relationship to a feeling—from something people share to something each of us hugs privately to ourselves in the loneliness of our electronic caves.'"

-- Jerry De Luca, Montreal West, Quebec, Canada; source: William Deresiewicz,
"Faux Friendship," The Chronicle of Higher Education (12-6-09)

I'm not planning to give up Facebook anytime soon. But this reminds me to truly value and nurture genuine, soul-transforming friendship, and not settle for any superficial imitation.

My friends, please know that I am grateful for the unconditional love and support that have been shown to me. But we must not stop there. A friendship is only true when we're willing to risk sometimes-scary conversations as we lovingly challenge each other to more fully live according to what we say we believe and value.