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04.06.2021

Inseparably Together at the Friends Reunion

Given it’s arguably the biggest show of all time, any mention of ‘Friends’ and ‘reunion’ in the same sentence was sure to make waves. But last week, rumours became reality, and we surfed the recap.

During this reminisce-athon, the Friends creator reminded us of the show’s pitch: ‘the time when your friends are your family’. Unlike other sitcoms, Friends had no central character around which everyone else orbits. Community itself was the protagonist.

What’s dreamy about the show is that it glimpses something we find in the community of God, who is three persons in one being, Father-Son-Spirit. The Trinity is proof – contra-critics like Nietzsche, the premier philosopher-provocateur opposing religion last century – that we can be bonded to someone who’s different without collapsing into violence or the destruction of those very differences.

Each of the friends remain fully distinct from the other five, minus Nietzsche’s expected outcomes: they bicker, but no-one’s otherness is a threat; no-one is attacked to maintain the group identity. And no-one’s uniqueness dissolves into the other characters to sustain the union.

In fact, the times when they mimic each other – like Joey saying, ‘Look at me, I’m Chandler! Could I be wearing any more clothes?’ – are funny precisely because this kind of character diffusion never actually takes place among them, except as a joke.

The six choose to remain in a state of perpetual hospitality towards the ‘other’: when you love the stranger enough to let them remain strange, even while allowing them to be fully at home in your life.

Often our route to ‘peace’ is by keeping our distance, managing deep difference by relocating, or unfollowing those we disagree with. Alternatively, if we desire proximity we destroy difference by shaving off the diverse edges until we’re left with an ever-narrowing homogenous echo-chamber of colleagues or ‘friends’.

By contrast, these six friends maintain clear difference with zero distance, a nearly unbelievable feat. Nietzsche might protest that ‘Rachel and Phoebe couldn’t be friends in real life’. But the Trinity proves the myth of Friends is possible. In unity, the three persons fully joined and fully diverse – eternally ‘there for you’.

How might we enter this triune love and extend it to communities desperate for re-union? As we pray and reach out this week, let’s learn from Friends and invite those on our frontlines into the perpetual hospitality at the heart of our three-in-one God.

 

Jen Logan
Co-founder and Director of Fer: Christ-based living through the arts, and as art  

Comments

  1. Brilliant reflection and how true having just preached on the Trinity that had given me another angle for next time! Thank you

    By Chris  -  4 Jun 2021
  2. Great getting the contemporary Christianity going. To put the word ‘Friends’ into a more cosmic focus of The Ecochurch, are not our friends everything which is alive?
    Anyway thanks for this, bringing the church up to date and relevant to contemporary culture!
    God Bless

    By Susan De Grazia  -  4 Jun 2021
    • Great point, Susan – yes, in the sense of seeking the holistic flourishing of all things (shalom, being the duty and delight of right relationship with God, neighbour, *nature*, and self) there is a kind of community of all creatures under our Creator. It may or may not be right to call this ‘friendship’ (which implies a ‘mutual bond of knowing affinity for the other’ which may or may not be possible for this planet’s less sentient creatures), but in God, we are certainly called to this care. Thanks for the reminder. Dave Bookless from A Rocha will be writing about this in the next few weeks in a long-form blog piece … keep a look out for this one. Grace and Peace in Christ.

      Dave Benson
      By Dave Benson Culture & Discipleship Director, LICC
  3. Thanks, good piece. Just look at the line-up of white-ness in the image though – not sure a group sitcom would get away with it these days…

    By Bruce Gulland  -  4 Jun 2021
    • Interesting observation, Bruce. Agreed, that is a blind-spot easy to judge today, though not felt with the same tension at the time the show was made. There was a great diversity among the characters in terms of personality and view of the world … though not along a number of other intersectional lines, including ethnicity, age, city, and arguably socio-economic strata. As the piece said, Friends merely ‘glimpses something we find in the community of God’. As with many of our cultural ideals, they are rightly oriented and only realised in their Creator and the community he is building as a light to the nations (however imperfect the church’s witness is at present, often afflicted with the same uniformity as Friends displays). Praying we might each be contributing to this discovery of unity-in-diversity in ever dimension. Thanks for the important reminder.

      Dave Benson
      By Dave Benson Culture & Discipleship Director, LICC

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