Friendship at the Margins: Discovering Mutuality and Service in Mission is part of the Resources for Reconciliation series, which pairs a practioner and an academic around a shared topic of expertise and interest. With an ongoing interest in shaping a practical theology that works itself out in actual relationships, I like the approach of this series. (Last year, I reviewed another book from the same series: Welcoming Justice.)
This book is a collaboration between Christopher Heuertz, the director of Word Made Flesh, and Christine Pohl of Asbury Theological Seminary. I was already familiar with her writings though reading a few portions of Making Rooom, a book that shapes a theology of Chrisitan hospitality. This theme of hospitality is prominent in this book as Heuertz and Pohl contend that ministry to the poor should not consist only in the giving of material support, but in genuine and lasting relationship. It’s a challenging book, not because I disagree with their emphasis, but because I don’t practice it well.
A few helpful and thoughtful passages from my highlights:
- Cause-driven models of mission, advocacy and relief often allow contributors / donors to provide help at a distance, captured by the concern but disconnected from the actual persons most affected by it. (page 27)
- Does that mean that we all must sew our own clothes, or live without the beauty of artwork in our homes? Probably not, but it does suggest that if we know people who lack sufficient food, clothing or housing to sustain life, it would be harder to spend our money frivolously or self-indulgently. (page 57)
- I’ve become more and more convinced that the ones who will be able to resist evil and offer hope are those who are morally and spiritually tender, deeply committed to holiness and integrity, and aware of their own frailty and dependence on Christ. If purity of heart and openness to the wisdom of others shapes every aspect of their lives, they are more likely to do well in complicated situations. (page 99)
- It is hard to imagine sustaining significant friendships on the margins if we ourselves are not part of a community. It is simply too difficult to do alone. (page 126)
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