Monday, May 24, 2010

Aristotle's Views on Friendship

Our last book in Great Books 1 by Mr. Wesley Callihan, was The Basic Works of Aristotle. The last few books of the Ethics were Aristotle's thoughts on friendship and the different types and levels within friendship. This is the last paper I wrote for the class. I'd love to hear your thoughts/comments.


In his book Nicomachean Ethics, book eight, Aristotle lays out his idea of the varying degrees of friendship. Though it is not believed Aristotle feared God, there is a remarkable correlation between his three ideas of friendship and the different types of friendship seen in Proverbs. The word friend is used throughout Proverbs more than 15 times, but revealed through a closer look, the meaning behind the word differs. Even a quick inspection through a list of friends on facebook, will even shockingly agree with both Aristotle and Scripture. Everyone has friends of contrasting purposes. There are three kinds of friendship; that of utility, pleasure, and perfection.

The first tie between people, Aristotle calls the friendship of utility. Utilitarian friends are described by Aristotle when he says "those who love each other for their utility do not love each other for themselves but in virtue of some good which they get from each other." This relationship forms because of needs met by the other party. Business partners demonstrate this association well. Two business men may not have an existing camaraderie with each other, but they are useful to one another for the express reason that one or both individuals benefit from the acquaintance. Aristotle, Plato's student, saw clearly into the reason all men have such relation with another person and expressed it in saying, "do men love, then, the good, or what is good for them?" Sometimes this alliance is formed for necessity, but also out of love for oneself and what he may receive from the relationship. The mutual friendship can be beneficial in some cases, but there is also the danger of falling into a trap or be taken advantage of. The Bible shows that this level of friendship can often be harmful. Proverbs 19:4 warns us that, "wealth makes many friends, but the poor is separated from his friend." And then in 19:6 we are told that, "many entreat the favor of the nobility, and every man is a friend to one who gives gifts." It is natural for people to befriend those from whom they will gain something, and it is not all wrong, but it is a relationship to be cautious of and enter into with discretion.

Secondly, Aristotle says, is the friendship of pleasure. This friendship is not wholly unconnected with the first for as Aristotle says, "therefore those who love for the sake of utility love for the sake of what is good for themselves, and those who love for the sake of pleasure do so for the sake of what is pleasant to themselves." He expressed it very clearly. Such friendships are obviously not going to last forever. People change and once a person does not find pleasure in the acquaintance, then the friendship is likely to end. Proverbs 17:9 seems to give an example of people who are friends for the sake of enjoyment, but when there is strife or trouble caused, they are separated. There is no consistency in a relationship that is based on momentary satisfaction or amusement.

The final and most meaningful friendship, is that of the perfect friendship. By perfect, Aristotle in no way implies flawless people, but rather a friendship in which the two people love the other person with pure love for who they are with no thoughts as to how they might benefit. In fact their goal, rather than focusing on themselves is centered completely on the well being of the friend. This selfless relationship often lasts for years or even a life time. These friends are the ones that will stick by each other in good times and bad. They are the ones who are there to share their troubles, tears, and joys. Everyone has heard the proverb that says, "a friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." This is the kind of friend everyone wants to have. Families should model this type of friendship. Though there is the tie of relation, there ought to be a strong, yes even the strongest, tie of friendship.

Without fail everyone has friends, and as Aristotle says, "Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods; even rich men and those in possession of office and of dominating power are thought to need friends most of all." Some friends are here for a moment and others for day, but it's the friends that stay for years that will mean the most and have proved their true friendship in the end. Speaking of friendship Aristotle says, "it helps the young to keep from error; it aids older people by ministering to their needs; and those in the prime of life it stimulates to noble actions." Aristotle also says of friendship that "it helps the young to keep from error; it aids older people by ministering to their needs; and those in the prime of life it stimulates to noble actions." Proverbs says "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." Not only should we look for the right friends with which to spend time, share thoughts, tell stories, speak confidentially, and eat meals, we ought to aspire to become better friends ourselves. Strive for virtue and excellence, for it is the virtuous and principled people that make the best of friends.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

the value of feminine domesticity

In the modern world of people worried about being politically correct and socially acceptable, a woman living as best she can in light of Proverbs 31 is truly a diamond in the rough--quite a shock to the mediocratic populace. This is such an exceptional concept that a lady often has to endure a long bout of criticism and grueling, loaded questions when she mentions her future plans and goals. A woman who focuses her energies looking after the ways of her household should be commended; her “job” is one of the most important and noble responsibilities given to the daughters of Eve.

“Homemaking—being a full-time wife and mother—is not a destructive drought of usefulness but an overflowing oasis of opportunity; it is not a dreary cell to contain one’s talents and skills but a brilliant catalyst to channel creativity and energies into meaningful work; it is not a rope for binding one’s productivity in the marketplace, but reins for guiding one’s posterity in the home; it is not oppressive restraint of intellectual prowess for the community, but a release of wise instruction to your own household; it is not the bitter assignment of inferiority to your person, but the bright assurance of the ingenuity of God’s plan for the complementarity of the sexes, especially as worked out in God’s plan for marriage; it is neither limitation of gifts available nor stinginess in distributing the benefits of those gifts, but rather the multiplication of a mother’s legacy to the generations to come and the generous bestowal of all God meant a mother to give to those He entrusted to her care. (Dorothy Paterson)”

Aspirations to be a keeper-at-home can be quickly dashed when a young lady tells someone that what she wants to be when she grows up is a wife and mommy instead of a prestigious career woman in the workplace. Eyebrows raise, a smirk might flicker, and a barrage of questions follow. “What about your education? You’re smart and have such potential, why waste it at home? What will you do all day if you don’t have a job?” Because of the contrary opinions that she is bound to come in contact with, a future homemaker would be wise to formulate answers to these dubious arguments. A lady used to be considered accomplished if she was well versed in all the arts. Mr. Darcey says that a girl must have a working knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and modern languages, and she must learn to improve her mind through useful studies and extensive reading and she also should apply proper deportment in all situations. It takes a great woman intentional in her pursuits and broad of mind to fulfill these expectations. Though Austen’s fictional hero lived centuries ago and his list of qualifications are a bit out-dated, the modern, liberally educated woman is better prepared to fulfill her biblical calling if she has spent time preparing herself.

There are many profitable ways for a woman to occupy her time at home. Some ladies have families and that, obviously, would take up the majority of her time; mentoring, cleaning, training, baking, repairing, nurturing, teaching, sewing, guiding, befriending. Others are older and empty-nesters or have not been blest with children of their own. Their role in a Christian community would involve the Titus 2 model of helping with duties and imparting wisdom to younger or overwhelmed wives. A girl who is not married has the opulent freedom to delve into any area of study that interests her and learn all there is to know. As G.K. Chesterton says, a lady choosing to stay home opens up vast numbers of educational pursuits--the world is her oyster.

“Woman must be a cook, but not a competitive cook; a school mistress, but not a competitive schoolmistress; a house-decorator but not a competitive house-decorator; a dressmaker, but not a competitive dressmaker. She should have not one trade but twenty hobbies; she, unlike the man, may develop all her second bests. This is what has been really aimed at from the first in what is called the seclusion, or even the oppression, of women. Women were not kept at home in order to keep them narrow; on the contrary, they were kept at home in order to keep them broad.”

In the pursuit of knowledge a woman need not become an authority on all points in a given subject or live under the shadow of constant comparison. Rather than extensively studying one topic, she has the opportunity to customize and explore different fields of her education, learning what would specifically be profitable to her.

Being home-centered has more to do with the heart of a lady, than the fact that she works in, and sometimes from, the home instead of an office job, or that she logs a certain number of hours in a house each week, applies her quota of band-aids, and washes all the dishes in the sink. A woman who has a vision to be a keeper at home, a devoted mother, and a self-less wife desires to work to the best of her ability where she is needed. If the house is not tidy and laundry unfolded, but she has the heart strings of her children tied to her own and her husband is content, she has found the essence of her biblical role. Proverbs and 1 Timothy exhorts women to serve, submit, and encourage their husbands as well as care for their families. “A godly woman is one who sees her life as a mission of service. What others view as a burden, she views as a blessing and opportunity. (Christine Russell)” Ordinary tasks may seem to be repetitious or even tiresome, but when seen in the light of eternity, it is the unremarkable chores that shape the lives of others--thus making routine responsibilities extra-ordinary.

“Thank God, O women, for the quietude of your home, and that you are the queen in it. Men come at eventide to the home, but all day long you are there, beautifying it, sanctifying it, adorning it, blessing it. Better be there than wearing a queen’s coronet. Better be there than carrying the purse of a princess. It may be a very humble home. There may be no carpet no the floor. There may be no pictures on the wall. There may be no silks in the wardrobe, but, by your faith in God, and you cheerful demeanor, you may garniture that place with more splendor than the upholsterer’s hand ever kindled. (T. Delwitt Talmage)”

Anyone could stay home, but wrapped up in the middle of the issue is the fact that a woman desires her focus to be centered on her family and running it smoothly. Called to be a help-meet to their God-given husbands, women have a huge duty to fulfill. Often the mundane, everyday chores are looked at as menial, but in truth, a homemaker works harder than almost all other career-minded individuals; there will always be cuts, burns, and bruises to kiss and doctor; dishes never stop stacking up; dust and dirt persistently pile up no matter how often the house is cleaned; souls are ever in need of guidance and cheering. Finding joy in the daily trials that face a stay-at-home mom is the simplest, yet most difficult, role a Biblically-focused woman can do; learning to treasure domesticity in all its forms.

this was an assignment, but since it has so much to do with daily life, I decided to share it here.

For further reading:

femininagirls, cinnamonrollsandbacon

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

Today's the day we all think about our mothers, give them a gift, send flowers, write a card, or make a phone call. We thank them for all they've done for us and all the ways they've sacrificed, loved, cared, and nurtured us throughout our lives. And so we should. Mother's Day is a great thing and very worthy of celebration, but why should it only be once a year? Shouldn't we express our love and gratitude every single day? Mothers can never receive too much love, too many words of encouragement, too many hugs, too many signs that we care; at least mine can't. So many moms give and give, pouring themselves into the lives of their children and families, every day of their motherhood, but is seems that too many moms go unappreciated, under valued, or unnoticed (excepting on Mother's Day when it'd be nearly sacrilegious not to send something). Moms are such an amazing blessing from the Lord and I am so thankful to have been placed in this family with this mom. She is an amazing woman and I'm blessed not only to call her Mama, but also friend, mentor, confidant, and kindred spirt. =) Here's to the best mom I could ask for. I love you Mama.

This morning Caity and Mark made breakfast for Mom. They made french toast, candied bacon, eggs, and a delicious berry smoothie. For lunch Caity and I made grilled chicken salads (our favorite grill master grilled the chicken (thanks Daddy)).

"Mothers hold their children's hands for a short while, but their hearts forever." ~Author Unknown

"A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest." ~Irish Proverb

"Insanity is hereditary; you get it from your children." ~Sam Levenson

"Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away." ~Dinah Craik

"Mom, the most important things I know about life, I understand because of you. Because you always encouraged me, even when I wanted to give up, I learned that no matter the result, the real victory was believing in myself. Because you were never too busy to listen and wanted to know more, I learned exactly what it means to be there for someone, and just how much that matters. Because you've given me one special memory after another, I trust in what the future has in store, and enjoy every present moment for the gift that it is. I have so much to be grateful for, so much to appreciate, and so many reasons to be happy. And it's because of you." Mother's Day Card

Cooking Escapades

Daddy's gonna be giving Rudy's, our favorite barbecue joint, a run for their money if he keeps cooking the way he did on Saturday. =) Daddy smoked a brisket in his new smoker he got for his birthday using the recipe that came with the smoker and it was very similar to the Rudy's Rub you can buy at the store. It was delicious! Mama made beans and creamed corn which are must have sides at Rudy's. =)

Our dear friend Mrs. Simons at gracelaced told us about this fantastic bread book called Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day. The idea is that there are several basic recipes for delicious breads that can be used for for all kinds of things. A basic dough is made up and put in a bucket and stored in the fridge. When you're ready to make the bread, you just take off a chunk and make it into the desired bread. The book has all the recipes and technics you could want to make them all. It is amazing all the simple ways these simple doughs can make delicious, professional loaves! We enjoyed some of this bread along with our smoked brisket.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

These are all crochet projects that I've made over the past year or so.

This one is an afghan I made just before this past Christmas. It was very simple and I whipped it out in about a week. It's really soft and is the current resident on my bed. =)
Up close of the pattern
This is a blue and brown baby blanket I made started on Monday
on the outer edge, I did a scalloped shell border
I made this afghan for Caity in March.
I did a shell pattern with a border
This took first place in the state fair a year or two ago
Theses are three coordinating baby blankets. I get baby blanket yarn when it's on sale and make blankets for people I know. I also just gave a bag of them to CareNet.
Another baby blanket in the shell pattern (it's one of my favorites) =)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hospitable Haircuts?

My sister has been given an amazing ability to make everything beautiful. The ways she pulls simple things together and takes what seems to be useless and turns them into a master piece leaves us befuddled. Whether putting cheese and crackers on a platter, pulling accessories together to make an outfit, creating a unique shirt or apron for a friend, decorating the table for a meal, or giving a hair cut, Caity constantly astounds us with her creativity and ability to make everything beautiful. If you didn't notice in the list above, the majority of her time is not spent on herself or doing things to satisfy her, instead she is mastering the art of service and hospitality.

This afternoon a friend of ours was over for a hair cut and perm, in the laundry room of all places, but had it not been for the washer and dryer, it would be difficult to realize it wasn't a sitting room. A pretty cloth laid over the baskets of clothes, everything set out and ready, peaceful music playing, a cup of hot tea or glass of cold water ready to be poured, a spring scented candle freshening the air in anticipation of the toxic perm solution, a smiling face ready to talk, and a fan cooling the windowless room on this warm spring afternoon. What hair solon exudes such hospitality and beauty? Who would think to make the environment pretty while cutting hair? I wouldn't consider the garage, but I certainly wouldn't normally think to prepare the space other than pick up clutter and make sure the floor is clean. =) My sister's God-given ability is a blessing in and of itself, but even more so when she uses it to bless others. And how blessed I am to have such as sister from whom I can learn so much! =) I love you Caity. You inspire me.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

ROSES anyone?

well, those aren't from my garden--you will have to wait a month or so until my plants start blooming and then you're welcome to a freshly cut bunch (I don't'll have to come over). Mother Dear took Marissa and me to Hobby Lobby and we picked out some silk flowers for bouquets (yes those amazingly real-looking, velvety petaled flowers are only fabric).


and Rissie's creation for our bathroom =D