Love & Friendship


Dear Russell and Friends,

I’m back a week now and so happy to be so.  The cobwebs of jetlag are clearing.  I’m so appreciative of Russell’s Paean to a Peon in the last post.  I thought I would add my perspective.  When will I speak of the impact of visiting Israel?  Not for some time.  There is so much to digest before I’m ready to synthesize and share.

Last night we drove the 1.5 hours needed to pick up our oldest son at his dorm and take him out to dinner with his brothers.  We met two friends of his from high school out on a dinner date and discreetly enquired as to their social status.  He said they said they were friends.  They looked happy, compatible and able to enjoy each others company.  P1 said it with a twinkle in his eye.  “Yeah – – we’ve tried to tell them there’s more to it.”

Perhaps our young friends are discovering what the older crowd knows.  ‘Just friends’ is a middle school perspective.  Friendship lasts when passion fades.  What then is the difference between love and friendship and how does it relate to my friend Russell and me?

Love is a decision.  For a follower of Christ it is a command.  Love God.  Love others.  It has a description:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

It is hard.  At least for me.  Despite Russell’s insistence, I’m not kind by nature.  I actually enjoy sarcasm and that can be quite rude.  I am irritable and prone to resentment.  I don’t bear all things, don’t hope in all things.  Don’t endure.  Love is hard.  But to love and be loved brooks no description.  It is air and you only notice it when it isn’t there. Loving Russell was a choice.  I loved him because God loved him and I honestly admired him for the way he served his wife and daughters and cared deeply about the effects of his deconversion for them.

So, what is friendship?  I’m not sure that it is as much a decision.  It is actually harder to build than love in my opinion.  Friendship is aided by such things as common interests and disinterests.  Much of what Russell and I enjoy is spawned from the common interest of science.  Do our interests diverge?  Of course. Even in science my competency tends towards psychology & biology and his towards physics, math, engineering, computer science, formal logic … (you get the idea).

Friendship requires – – time.  I used to say that time was the currency of love.  That is true as far as it goes, but it is likely more true of friendship.  I can love someone out of respect for God and his commands or out of respect for a fellow human and her intrinsic worth as a co-member of the race.  I need not know her to treat her with love.  I only need the work of:  patience, kindness, humility, pliability, and selflessness. Only that.  Easy, right?  But friendship takes time.

So what if you start with friendship?  That is what happened with my wife.  We talked, walked, listened, wrote letters and realized that we enjoyed each other’s company.  We were teens and next enjoyed each other’s embrace then married and enjoyed sharing more and more of life.  But we were friends.  Still are. In marital love, friendship is an antibody to despair and divorce.

Russell and I inverted the process – – we started with a brotherly love.  The friendship has been building.

I’m curious as to the advice you might give another – – friendship, love, both?  How does it work for you?

Pascal – – 1:16

photo credit:  By Pictofigo (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons


  1. Impossible to have an opinion because love, like friendship, is between two persons, each one having his own story of life, and friendship may well be but the encounter of feelings, tastes and interests. It may also result of a laborious construction of one of them and the passivity or convenience of the other, It it brings comfort and happiness to both of them that is enough! Better if none of them is using the other for other purposes that have nothing to do with true friendship and dignity, if they try to live inside the comfort of what they want to strengthen with serious ties but have no reflection in social life, at least the way they want. Love is different! Both give what has no measure nor calculated value. In true love there are no losers nor winners because it all belongs to both no matter space or time. But love is an essential truth! It needs frontal courage and can’t depend on guessing feelings. Too serious to live from imagination, too mysterious to be closed in distant silence and too fragile to be taken as a rough wall were stones can be sent. Usually friendship lasts more than love because is a much more common feeling. You meet someone in a party . a hotel or a travel and you cal him ‘friend’ almost immediately … if you like him. Love is too intense for that. You cannot go around telling you love someone – the worst thing you can do because love is the most intimate of the feelings both in flesh and sprit – and, being so intense and secretive, it is easily hurt to death… even if no one is killed. A posthumous love is similar to the pain you feel when you lost someone very dear. You cannot forget though you know you can no more talk, laugh, be kind , kiss or embrace but keep wishing it the same way. You may easily regain a friendship if you find a good argument but its almost impossible to reconstruct love! There is a purity in love that, if lost, may be some other thing like companion, memory – you can both talk about the love you lived with one another and maintain that intimacy but what you have are the remains of a lost love. This is what great unknown love stories are made. Lou Salome wrote very interesting pages on the subject. Love is too much! Nothing is enough to fulfill it. I think…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Speaking of love and friendship in the context of the blogosphere is difficult for me. Because it is far too easy and cost-free. This is to me where this “online communication” thing is fatally flawed. It does not invest; it divests. In both cases you mentioned–friendship to love with your wife, and vice versa with Russell–you describe a costly process, one that requires a great deal of soul-searching and openness to the Other. And it boils down, I think, to the fact that in both cases, there is a physical presence, across the room or the table, that requires your presence in return. It is possible, of course, to physically walk out of a room, or away from a friend; it is ever so much easier to ignore someone’s online presence, and in that context, their presence doesn’t require your own: I can enjoy the fact that others pay attention to what I say, and thank them for it, without ever bothering really to pay attention to them or what they say. That is neither love nor friendship (self-love, more like), or even communication, beyond the most rudimentary of definitions. It is easy to tell someone what a great friend they are when maintaining that “friendship” costs nothing, time or sacrifice or anything else. In a very few cases, true friendship may grow out of online relationships, but I think not as often as we think or say that it does.

    Of course, this comes from someone who is almost pathologically incapable of carrying out the actions required by actual friendship, so take it with a grain of salt. It’s also easier to criticize the shallowness of the digital world than it is to really do anything about it. And I know that this stuff gets me labeled as “cynical,” and as an admitted Luddite, I agree that I probably am when it comes to this stuff. But if I had an actual friend for every so-called friend who’s disappeared into the ether never to be heard from again…well, I’d have a plethora, as El Guapo would say.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh Vance,

      I think your letter above proves your point in a fantastic way. You said that I liked then loved my wife. That I loved then liked Russell. Yes. That is the thesis exactly. The fact that you got it reveals that 1) we are on the same wavelength, 2) you invested the time to read, digest, think and respond.

      That really means alot to me. A blog is like a funnel. Many followers and occasional readers, few regular readers, likers and commenters, and very few who take the time to reveal enough of themselves to allow friendship. Here are the few for me: you, Madalyn, Victoria, JJ, Howie, and Lane, CC, and Russell. There is enough written on this blog or on their own for me to want friendship. There is enough bilateral investment to grow it.

      Although I would not recognize several of these people in an uncrowded library, they mean something to me. Friendship is too strong a word now, but I can wait. They are sufficiently special to God and different from me to capture my interest. And you, of course fulfil that requirement. You may be cynical, but you may be right too. The cynics sometimes get it right.

      We don’t need many friends – – few of us have the energy required for many friends. But we do need a few, and I hope that the years and patient correspondence lets me be counted one of yours.


      Liked by 2 people


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s