Over at Christianity Today, Allison Althoff has a story about the growing attention to LGBT issues on evangelical Christian college campuses:
Same-sex attracted students at several Christian institutions have attempted to start on-campus organizations with varying degrees of success. Seattle Pacific University’s Haven is an “unofficial club” organized by students. It hosts weekly meetings on campus to encourage honest conversations about sexuality while holding to the school’s “Lifestyle Expectations” regarding sex outside of heterosexual marriage.
“Haven is recognized by the university administration, but not as a recognized student club through the student government system,” vice president of student life Jeff Jordan said.
Last week I caught up with some friends in England, my former next-door neighbors and parents of my godson. My friends have just had their second child and were remarking on how their fellow church members have been bringing meals and helping with household chores and in general offering support. “We couldn’t have survived these last few weeks without that,” they told me.
None of this struck me as surprising or remarkable until my friends recounted a conversation they had with their neighbors. Also new parents themselves, those neighbors expressed their astonishment at the network of support my friends enjoyed. “How do you know so many people?” they asked, incredulous. “How do you have so many friends? I wish we had half as much help as you’re receiving. We have friends we go to the pub with, but we don’t have any friends who brought us meals after our baby was born.”
If friendship needs to be seen afresh in our time as an intimate love in its own right, distinct from the love of spouses or romantic partners, then we need stories of friendship that show us how its rediscovery is possible. I’m always on the lookout for such stories, and I just finished reading one of the best I’ve encountered in some time, Gail Caldwell’s Let’s Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship.
Published a couple of years ago, Caldwell’s book narrates her friendship with a fellow writer, Caroline Knapp. The two women met in middle age, both of them unmarried at the time. They quickly discovered they both shared love of dogs and the outdoors, and some of the most artful prose of the book describes Caldwell and Knapp’s frequent rowing on a lake near their respective homes and their walks in the adjacent woods. Eventually, their friendship led to deeper intimacies and a mutual disclosure of their drinking histories. Both women were sober when they became friends, but their past addictions cemented their sense of solidarity with one another. (Caldwell’s description of the spiral into addiction is unblinking and one of the real gifts of this book.)