Saturday, August 9, 2014

Friendships Across Philosophical Lines

It has been awhile since I've been here as of course I've been busy. Not only don't I have time to write, but sadly, I don't have time to think.  But there is something that has been on my mind and I wanted to air it out here.

I think men tend to be lonely by nature. So some of us, are far more lonely than others.  It isn't like I'm not around people. I sit all day long and listen to the most intimate stories of heartbreak and suffering and my job, by definition, is to console and comfort them. I even have my own therapist that I'm seeing right now to help me process my stress and deal with my natural anxieties. But neither of those are the same as friendships of course.

I asked my wife today why am I one of the loneliest men I know?  I, like a scientist, was seeking some common denominator that would explain it. I don't want to be alone.  I loved my years in college when I had many close friends. I loved to seek them out and to spend time together. But we were part of a cult and we shared one brain among us.

I know that one factor is my lack of time.  For example, I sometimes come here to Starbucks early in the morning, say 6 AM, and people I know come in. They say "hi."  But I'm here either to work on bill paying for my company or dealing with patient's requests for medication refills.  I know if I don't get all of this work done before 8 AM that I will behind all day. So I say "hi" back but I give body language that I don't want to sit and chat.

Today Denise, as we were driving home, said one of my problems is that I keep looking for people who think like I do.  She is partially correct.  But I'm old enough, however, to have given up the idealism that once had that I could be part of a Christian group where we all thought alike.

But I do find it hard to be close to someone who often brings up their views, such as the Democrats are Satan's tool for destroying America. Or that the Arabs should all be bombed. When Christian "friends" say things like that, I have no desire to be around them anymore.

I think one of the reasons . . . backtracking for a moment . . . that men in general are lonely is that men are more insecure than women.  We put up layers and layers of protection, hiding the true self.

I went to a dinner party last night at one of Denise's fellow employee's houses.  I knew no one, but I determined that I would make the best of it.  There were two other men and I tried stand in a circle and talk with them with some red wine in hand  However, they constantly talked of their accomplishments and how much money they had.  I was quite miserable until I stumbled onto a group of women in conversation, where I quite enjoyed the exchange. But, I can't have women as friends.

So, now back to my main point.  Recently we became part of a small group through our church. I do like it quite well.  It seemed like a good match as one of the couples had some experience through a LAbri  ministry. They were quite bright and understood philosophical  and theological issues quite well and didn't seem to be pretentious. The other person is a physician, so not an dumb person either.

As we have gotten closer to the first couple, the  man reveled to us that he was somewhat of a misfit in our church and within Christianity, because he considered himself as an intellectual mystic.  To be more precise, he is charismatic and speaks in tongues on a regular basis.  My heart sank.  I've been there and done that. I think, personally, that 99% if not 100% of so-called charismatic experiences are emotional and not spiritual. In my personal opinion it is the Christian equivalent of New Age spirituality, where the emotions are reinterpreted as supernatural spiritual experiences.

So, while I was disappointed,  I know that I can still be this man's friend.  Denise argues with me at this point that it is all my fault. But, my concern isn't that I can't accept someone who thinks different than I do, but I fear what is coming.  I've been told by so many charismatics over the years that my problem is that I haven't had x,y or z experience so therefore I am not a "spiritual person."  But they don't get it that I did drink of that Kool Aide once a long time ago and those years were the most dishonest of my life (and I think for everyone in our group). I never have a desire to go back there again.

I'm not the kind of person that tries to impose his views on other people. I'm quiet about my views. I only speak up when the pressure is being applied to me from the other side to believe like they do.

So we will see where this relationship will take me.

I'm being summoned so I must go once again before I can proof-read.


8 comments:

Peter Venable said...

You can't have women as friends? Why not?

j. Michael Jones said...

I think I can have many women as friends in group settings, where my wife and I go out together with them like we did the other night. It creates stress in a marriage if one spouse has a "best friend" who is of the opposite sex. I think this always creates stress.

Trevor Morgan said...

I'm finding it's quite possible to be friends with people who have different philosophical positions; especially if you're reasonably confident in where your coming from, and don't have a huge urge to convince the other person of your 'rightness'.

It's also worth bearing in mind that while facts may be universal, experiences are uniquely individual. People hold the beliefs they have largely because of the experiences that they've had. And even when I disagree with their position, it's always interesting to hear from someone how they arrived at that position.

But for deeper friendships, yes, it is helpful to find one or two other people who have a similar temperament. For example, when I started hanging out on an INTP discussion board, it was surprising to come across so many people who seemed so 'normal' to me compared with the rest of the world.

In the end we need both - people like us who we can relax with and people different from us who challenge us and prevent us from falling into 'groupthink'.

Michael Jones said...

Trevor, I think "group think" is a good way of putting what I was talking about before. When I was in a network of really close friends, we were guilty of group think. This made friendships easier but also didn't challenge the errors of our thinking.

Anonymous said...

Hi michael,
Just ran across a short article you might be interested in regarding mental health and dualism -- some intersting stuff in the comments also:

http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2014/08/incarnational-theology-and-mental.html

Tom Lutke said...

Michael,

I was reading some excerpts from your PDF, Butterflies, especially regarding the effects of dualism a found a great example in an article that refers Robin Williams’s depression and subsequent suicide.
On Goodfight Ministries website there is an articleby Joe Schimmel, “Robin William: The sad truth the media won’t tell you.”


The author refers to an interview with William’s in which he “acknowledged that he had opened himself up to transformative demonic powers that aided him on stage. Without the aid of such demonic powers, it is likely that you would have never have heard of Robin Williams and many other famous celebrities.”

He asserts, “Most people are blind to this diabolical pattern of celebrities giving themselves over to satanic power for fame and fortune, only to be exploited, used and abused, and then spit out after Satan is done with them.”

Many Christian still fail to acknowledge that mental illnesses have physical origins. Depression, the variety the Williams had, must be spiritual, according to Schimmel. His prescription? “Depression can have many sources, but has only one ultimate remedy. True joy can only come from a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and the infilling of His Holy Spirit.”

Tom Lutke said...

Sorry for the bad link. It's http://www.goodfight.org/a_v_williams_robin.html

j. Michael Jones said...

Tom, I don't what to say about that article and statement but how did we Christians get to be so stupid? I don't know this for sure, but I estimate that depression is as prevalent in the Christian world as outside of it. Maybe Christians disguise it better.