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Friending: Real Relationships in a Virtual World Paperback – May 5, 2011
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"This book is extremely relevant and interesting, and at the heart, it is really about getting to the core of what friendship is." (Libraries Alive!, Winter 2012)
"Refreshing, informative and compelling." (War Cry, June 4, 2011)
"Challenging those who decry online communication as shallow and banal, Friending offers guidelines and multiple examples of the way close relationships can be maintained and deepened through Facebook and other Internet connections. Writing in the brisk style of digital messaging, Lynne Baab convincingly shows how the biblical virtues of caring, sharing, loving and forgiving can survive and thrive in a world where busyness and mobility have become the norm." (Em Griffin, Professor Emeritus, Wheaton College)
"Lynne Baab has written a warm and practical meditation on friendship that embraces all of the challenges and opportunities that accompany its practice in our day and age. In fact, there is little about this topic that Baab does not address. While that may be attributable to her skill as a researcher and a writer, it is as likely that she writes from her own deep commitment to and experience of friendship. Like friendship itself, Baab's book is a rich resource that invites and rewards personal investment. Make friends with this book." (Tim Keel, author of Intuitive Leadership: Embracing a Paradigm of Metaphor, Narrative, and Chaos)
"Friends are so important to me! But today there are more forces pushing us apart--as well as new media to bring us together--than ever before in history. Lynne Baab explores a world of options and encourages us to redevelop the art of friendship for a new era. This book is full of practical tools, winsome stories and keen insights. I'm hooked." (Dr. Steve Hayner, president, Columbia Theological Seminary)
"Lynne Baab offers interesting reflection on the changing nature of friendship in a networked society, where relationships are increasingly cultivated and sustained through social media. Using engaging real-life examples she asks important questions about how friendships may be shaped in certain directions when mediated through technology and the potential spiritual consequences of these interactions. Importantly the book calls readers to personally consider the intentionality and motivations behind their own friendship practices to uncover what values they stem from and the social world they may cultivate." (Heidi Campbell, Ph.D., author of Exploring Religious Community Online)
"As we've come to expect from Lynne Baab, inside Friending are thoughtful questions, fascinating research and excellent biblical analysis. I found her discussion on the new wave of technology and how this impacts relationships quite illuminating. This would be an excellent book for small groups to discuss and for anyone who wants help in how to be a faithful friend--to God, to our families and to our circle of friends." (Rebecca Manley Pippert, author, Out of the Saltshaker and Into the World)
About the Author
Lynne M. Baab is the author of multiple books and Bible studies. A Presbyterian minister, she completed a Ph.D. in communication at the University of Washington in 2007 and moved with her husband to Dunedin, New Zealand, where she is a lecturer in pastoral theology at the University of Otago. Lynne is the author of eight books, including A Renewed Spirituality, Sabbath Keeping, Fasting, Sabbath, Personality Type in Congregations, Embracing Midlife, Beating Burnout in Congregations, Reaching Out in a Networked World: Expressing Your Congregation's Heart and Soul and Friending. She is also the author of three LifeGuide Bible Studies.
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Using her own experience as a child who moved often (she now lives in Dunedin, teaching pastoral theology at the University of Otago), she has had to make new friends and nurture old friends for years. She says the issue is not that technology determines the depth and health of our relationships. Technology is neutral. We are the ones who give email, texting, and entries in Facebook meaning.
Media is vilified by some and embraced fanatically by others, not unlike the telephone nearly a hundred years ago. Yes, dynamics are lost in email (voice tone, facial expression) and body language is lost on the phone. Yet these still are vital media for our maintaining relationships of all kinds over vast distances, greater than ever in our history.
Baab finds inspiration in scripture. What faith brings to technology (or good faith in those who claim no stated belief) is practice such as that described by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians: Love is patient; love is kind. And Colossians 3: ...clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another...forgive each other. Friendships maintained by email, text and Skype require the same values and skills that all relationships do. For those of faith, kindness and patience dictate how friendships are maintained whether they are on Facebook or face to face. Baab then offers a series of chapters on friending skills: Initiating, Listening-Remembering-Praying. Asking-Giving-Thanking. Sharing-Caring-Being together and apart. Pacing-Choosing. Accepting- Forgiving. "The challenge in friendship isn't to figure out who is a friend," she asserts. "The challenge is to grow in the ability to act like a friend."
After exploring good relationships and those which helped her grow, Baab offers a final chapter on her experience of living in New Zealand. The distance has changed the intensity of some relationships and made her acquainted with loneliness she hadn't experienced for some time. She concludes, "Befriending loneliness more intentionally has been a healthy spiritual endeavor for me." Indeed, since Jesus called his followers friends (John 15:12-17) and the model of God's love for the world was "patterned into us at creation because...we are made in God's image," faith teaches us how to care for ourselves whether alone or with others. These skills grow with practice.
With questions for reflection, journaling, discussion or action at the end of each chapter, Baab leads us to ways of sharing our own experiences, often a source of spiritual growth. Lynne Baab concludes, Every act of friendship, whether it is well received or not, transforms us into people who know a little bit more about love, who understand a little more deeply what it means to be a neighbor to the people around us. Friendship transforms us, even as it brings healing, reconciliation and warmth to the world.
Much of the material in the first five chapters on technology and friendship could not have been written twenty, ten or in some cases five years ago. Baab avoids one size fits all generalizations. No, Facebook and texting do not automatically lead to superficial relationships, but one needs to use them wisely. Yes, twenty-somethings are more likely to text than are seventy-year-olds, but there are many exceptions to the generational stereotypes.
Chapter 6, "Friendship With God," and the last seven chapters on the nuts and bolts of friendship include examples from biblical times and on up to today. Baab includes such topics as Initiating, Listening, Praying, Forgiving, Being Together, and Being Apart.
Each chapter includes a series of thought-provoking questions that encourage personal or group study. Several ways to profit from this book immediately came to my mind while reading it.
The first chapters helped me, someone who learned to be a friend before the computer age, to understand the value of recent technology in strengthening or even forming healthy friendships. Those who never knew a time without e-mailing, texting, and Twitter would find the same material helpful in reflecting on the pros and cons of these technologies. Parents (or grandparents) and children could have fruitful conversations on these chapters.
The latter chapters serve as a springboard for those who want to think more deeply about friendship in their lives. For some, the material helps to clarify what went wrong in a friendship, or why their friendships don't seem to last. Others will welcome ideas on how to reach beyond their current circle of friendships, and how to protect and nurture friendships. Those stressed with the felt obligation of keeping track of too many friends might be intrigued by Baab's suggestion in the last chapter to consider befriending loneliness.
So pick up a copy, read it, ponder the questions, and perhaps get a few copies for your parents, your children, your friends, or your study group.
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She explained that you have to be intentional with relationships.Read more