Monday, July 30, 2012

[the sacrament of friendship]

What does true friendship look like? What does it offer the other person? What expectations are involved?

Richard Beck has been reading A Private and Public Faith by Stringfellow, and says the following:

So what does this sacramental life look like? For Stringfellow one proxy is simply friendship. In this chapter he describes his relationship (Stringfellow was living in a Harlem tenement at the time) with a boy addicted to narcotics. Stringfellow discusses how various clergy and social workers had come to view this boy with suspicion, as a lost cause, as a waste of their time and effort. And Stringfellow agrees that the boy probably is a lost cause from those pragmatic and programmatic perspectives. And insofar as Stringfellow can help the boy he helps. But his central concern is simply being a sacrament of life in the world of this boy. To be a life-giving oasis. To bring resurrection where only death is at work. To being a friend.
He often visits me when he is free, and we have talked a lot together. I am not aware that I have ever told him that he has a bad and costly and very debilitating habit. He knows that better than I do. And while he and I have talked about how his habit might be controlled or even cured, our relationship is not contingent upon his breaking his addiction. Acceptance of another person is acceptance of the other as he is, without entailing any demands that he change in any empirical way. This boy is an addict, and while I would rejoice if he were freed from this affliction, that would not change or increase my acceptance of him as a person. And though I am not an addict, that makes me no better nor worse than he. I am not his judge. I am just his friend. (Stringfellow)
And that, according to Stringfellow, is the central and primary witness of the Christian in the world.

The sacrament of friendship.

Overall excerpted from Richard Beck's blog post The William Stringfellow Project: A Private and Public Faith, Part 4. Stringfellow quotes from chapter 4 of  A Private and Public Faith.

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