Connecting with Culture
It’s been said that culture is ‘what we make of the world’, but what does that look like as Christians? How can we begin conversations about what’s goin...
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.
Co-founder and Director of Fer: Christ-based living through the arts, and as art