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An Underrated Virtue

April 15th, 2016 by Stephen Bauman

I’m not sure when author Francine du Plessix Gray wrote this pithy bit of wisdom, but certainly decades ago. And my (!) how resonant is the first sentence with our cultural moment given the political palaver we’re choking on!

In a world more and more polluted by the lying of politicians and the illusions of the media, I occasionally crave to hear and tell the truth. To borrow a beautiful phrase from Friedrich Nietzsche, I look upon my friend as “the beautiful enemy” who alone is able to offer me total candor. Friendship is by its very nature freer of deceit than any other relationship we can know because it is the bond least affected by striving for power, physical pleasure, or material profit, most liberated from any oath of duty or of constancy.

Truth seems an underrated virtue today. And like Gray, I find that I long to hear it and experience it, in part, because when gaining an objective distance from myself I recognize my own duplicity and tendency to wear a masquerade. I am a product of my environment, after all. A really good friend is the best hedge against this subterfuge. Fortunately I have several. And very fortunately, among them is my spouse.

I simply want to underline the power of a friend offering “total candor.” Accompanied by loving intention there is no more potent agent for personal transformation. This also lies at the heart of mature spirituality—transparency before God, fully disclosed “as is.”

Friendship is a laboratory for living authentically. A really wonderful gift. You may want to say so to someone who fills the bill…



The Reverend Dr. Stephen Bauman

Stephen Bauman

Rev. Dr. Stephen P. Bauman is the Senior Minister at Christ Church.