ayjay + friendship   8

An Amicable Apology for the Physical Book – Booktrades
It goes without saying that books have their uses within families and among friends, and that’s, in my view, a grave problem. Debates about the future of the physical book, as well as its past and present, have been impoverished by disputants’ relative neglect of what happens to books and to us as they circulate among us, an activity that seems to me as elemental to the understanding of what “the book is and does” as Searls’s triad of buying, holding, and informing. To put the point in bookish terms: a codex can acquire rich associations as result of its provenance, the history that carried it into the current owners’ hands. But certainly this point is more richly illuminated by calling to mind—or fetching—a cherished volume given in commemoration of some holiday or triumph. Or in commiseration. Or as consolation. Or for friendship’s sake. The memories that such objects clasp are both personal and interpersonal. They are records not only of our histories but also of those who mark them closely, who have sought to share in the highlights and the hollows. So too are they invitations to sample another’s tastes, discoveries, experience. Remarkably, the printed text might not even need to be read for a physical book to become talismanic in this manner—though a donee may well prize another text, say an inscription, woven by the donor therein.
books  friendship  from instapaper
january 2018 by ayjay
Friendship by the Book
In the last weeks of Brett’s cancer-shortened life, no codicils or pentameter lines on the library were appended to his will. When the question of its future was gently raised, he was unresponsive. Those closest to him sensed that his very self had become so bound up with his books that it was simply too painful to imagine them without him. The ruling on the library’s doom fell to its inheritor, Brett’s wife, Anise. Preserve its integrity or commission its dispersal? The way of Pepys or of Keats? Her virtue, coupled with her decades-long study of his character, made the books’ purpose now plain: They were to be invested in the gift economy of his wide circle of friends. The books he stashed at home would keep their stations, but the office door would be opened. First, to his colleagues in the English Department. Then, to faculty throughout the college. Next, to students, however recent or ancient. The cavalcade soon included neighbors, co-parishioners, local writers, baristas. All accessories to that magnificent reading life were offered the chance to become material shareholders.
books  friendship  from instapaper
january 2018 by ayjay
Your Body Is a Battleax: Against the Weaponization of Gay Christian Witness, Plus More From Canada
What I try to talk about most is neglected forms of love. These forms are open to everyone, though they are especially desperately needed by gay people who accept the historical Christian sexual ethic. Many of them are specifically forms of same-sex love, and therefore places where gay people can illuminate what the majority of the church has forgotten and allowed to decay. Our longings for same-sex intimacy, care, and devotion can be lamps guiding the whole church back to Her neglected treasures. This is much less likely to happen if straight Christians view us as problems to be solved, or view our longings as dangerous forms of deviance.

If you’ll indulge me–perhaps gay people in the Church have preserved a forgotten language of love, a kind of Christian palare. We mostly use it nowadays to say the wrong things. But once we spoke the words of Scripture. We can teach you to speak those words again.
christian  sexuality  love  friendship 
february 2017 by ayjay
Friendship by the Book: The Book by Friendship – Booktrades
The second theme hit home for me upon the receipt of my very own “et amciorum” volume. In a nineteenth-century edition of Clough’s poems, four friends wrote the inscription with a Latinized version of my name, signing theirs beneath. The loss of one signatory last year has only magnified the book’s value, already among the most treasured in my library. Every time I spot it, and I’ve taken care to set it in a place where I often do, I enjoy the remembrance of its givers. And the actual reading of the book is happily beset with friendly thoughts. Now, of course, this gift didn’t work in exactly the manner of the humanist practice. Yet the experience nonetheless suggests to me something about the humanist experience–even perhaps mentality–of reading. When taking up their books, humanists would have been reminded of their friends, whether through their own amicable inscriptions or by gazing upon a borrowed book. Within the text, too, there may have been regular reminders of friendship, through, for example, the elaborate annotations that humanists often prepared for their fellow readers. (I hope to consider amicable annotation in another post.) In his famous reflection on book collecting, “Unpacking my Library,” Walter Benjamin observes that in pulling old books from storage and shelving them “what memories crowd upon you.” He has in mind the personal memories of a book’s acquisition. My point is that for humanist readers there was likely space in the “crowd” for memories of other readers. Perhaps many books in a humanists’ library, then, served as minor alba amicorum (the “official” kind being ideal matter for this series). The same object served as invitation and guest book: the humanists opened their libraries to friends, and were rewarded, in turn, with the physical and spiritual traces of fellow handlers.
books  reading  friendship 
june 2016 by ayjay
Of Law and Love: Jon D. Levenson on THE LOVE OF GOD
Love in the ancient world—and really in the modern as well—isn’t exclusively or even primarily sexual in nature, even though sexual love commands disproportionate attention at the moment, especially in the fashions of academia. The Hebrew Bible has many metaphors for the God-Israel relationship: suzerain and vassal, king and subject, father and son, shepherd and flock, etc. In order to understand the marital metaphor—God as husband, Israel as wife—it is important to have dealt with some of these others, especially the suzerain-vassal metaphor, beforehand. Otherwise, we’re likely to read all kinds of contemporary assumptions about sexuality and gender into literature that operates on completely different understandings. In particular, if we don’t grasp the dynamics of covenant, we’ll find God’s actions in that marriage to be bizarre and patently indefensible.

For example, in our modern American world, if the wife gives her affections and her body to other men, a common solution lies in divorce: the two parties just go their separate ways, hoping to end up with partners more to their liking. But that is exactly what doesn’t happen in the marital metaphor as the biblical prophets develop it! Here again, the element of unconditionality is crucial. God doesn’t walk away from the relationship, even if Israel has done so. He doesn’t replace her or even take a second wife (remember, ancient Israel had no legal or moral problem with polygamy). He punishes her, even harshly, but this turns out to be a preparation for a restoration of the marriage. The punishment is a consequence of his passionate love for her and faithfulness to her. Ultimately, it evinces a renewal of her love for him, in turn. All this, of course, is foreign to us and doesn’t comport with how we think human husbands ought to act. But that doesn’t authorize us to miss the underlying theology, satisfying ourselves with a simple characterization of it as immoral or whatever.

Later, in the case of the rabbis, the speakers in the great biblical love poem, the Song of Songs, come to be seen as God and Israel, again in their ideal state of mutual fidelity. That’s not the plain sense of the book taken as a stand-alone composition, but within the context of the rest of biblical literature, it is a very natural—and very productive and very moving—way to read it. Nowhere does one see the power of the love of God more dramatically than in the rabbinic interpretations of the Song of Songs. That biblical book enabled the rabbis to interpret the whole history of the God-Israel relationship as a romance—an extremely important move in the history of Jewish thought
bible  friendship  Judaism 
december 2015 by ayjay
The Love of God: Divine Gift, Human Gratitude, and Mutual Faithfulness in Judaism | Jon D. Levenson
At the end of this account of Solomon’s covenant making, our text employs the term šalom to describe the relationship that Solomon, in turn, has established with Hiram through the covenant between the two of them. Although some translations render the word as “peace,” a sense it often has, here the English term “friendship” is preferable. There is no reason to think the two kings would have been at war without the covenant, for there had been no hostilities beforehand. What the covenant does, rather, is to continue and renew a relationship of goodwill and mutual service: Hiram will provide the cypress and cedar logs for Solomon’s projected temple, and Solomon will provide Hiram with wheat and oil on an annual basis (vv. 22–25).

If we extrapolate from this example to the “gracious covenant” that the Lord established with Israel (1 Kgs 8:23), we see that the operative framework assumes a kind of service that is far from slavery. It is, rather, a relationship of service founded not in conquest and subjugation but in good relations and mutual benefit. We can go further. Since covenant in the ancient Near East is usually a relationship between kings, Israel’s status is best seen not as that of a slave but more like that of a regal figure. Indeed, when the Lord promises Israel at Sinai that if they keep the covenant, they “shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exod 19:6), “kingdom” there may well refer not to the regime but to the people, understood collectively as a royal and sacral body. All Israel can stand, in other words, in the position of a regal figure faithfully serving his own covenantal lord—a king, not a slave.
theology  bible  ethics  friendship  Judaism 
december 2015 by ayjay
In Praise of Obnoxious Family Members (and Other Hard-to-Love People) - Christ and Pop Culture
Even if ignoring one’s crazy uncle, emptying an urban neighborhood of its best residents, and aborting a child represent different permutations of using our power to choose our attachments, surely it is an overstatement to tie them all together, right? Perhaps it is—and when technology is both the balm we use to salve our loneliness and the acid that keeps the wound open, we have to acknowledge that in many ways, the genie is out of the bottle. Even as we valorize the little places and the little ways of loving them, there is no going back to Port William as the default way of life for most of us. It has to be chosen. There is more power than ever before—and if we’re not careful, the differential between the haves and have-nots will wreak greater consequences than ever before.

Indeed, only the weakest among us lack the power to choose associations beyond place and kin. People in prison (and those just leaving prison) are often the most vulnerable, in part because their power to move about, work, and associate with others is so profoundly limited. It’s not privileged people like you and me that are suffering the most in the “age of loneliness” (though social media has certainly allowed the privileged to broadcast their loneliness into the cacophony of Twitter and Tumblr)—, it’s people at the margins of society that we’d never follow on Twitter even if they were on it. If one accepts, as Michael Brendan Dougherty asserts, that “political equality isn’t something we discover in nature; it’s something we must create,” then we have to accept that as people with social and economic power, we will naturally gravitate to one another and exclude the weakest.
economics  friendship  family 
april 2015 by ayjay
Podcast: On Friendship | Alastair's Adversaria
One of the deep problems in our understanding of marriage today is that marriage vows have become about a shared narcissism, rather than about the service of something that transcends the couple’s emotional attachment to each other. The institution of marriage is ordered towards creating a new form of society together, within which children can be conceived and welcomed, a wider community served, holy lives lived, and which aims at something greater than individual fulfilment. The vows of marriage exist because marriage, by its very nature as a relationship involving the sexual union of a man and a woman, is ordered towards the creation of something that transcends itself. Having vows of friendship apart from an integral ordering to a greater end seems to me to fall into the same error as the diminished model of marriage in our society.

Rather than taking this route, I believe that the cause of friendship would better be served by attending to our other duties and the other vows that we make. Are we committed and bound to various forms of life that will form us in union with others? If we aren’t, this is where the friendship deficit most likely arises. Instead of vows of friendship, perhaps what we most need is to create common and committed forms of life beyond marriage. As we commit ourselves together to forms of life through which we serve something greater than ourselves we may find that profound kinships arise more naturally.
friendship  theology  ethics  Christianity  from instapaper
september 2014 by ayjay

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