Saturday, May 2, 2009


Reading the Unlikely Disciple book has made me think a lot about betrayal.

Loyalty and friendship and family and faithfulness are really important elements of my personal and family morality. I am certain they have been handed down for generations upon generations in our family. They are too strong I think to be explained solely by the older generation teaching the younger. I suspect there is a kind of spiritual heredity that is akin to DNA except it is not physical. I don't know what it is nor can I prove it but I suspect it exists.

I am a traducian because I do believe the soul and spirit originate coincidentally with the body. Some people believe the soul is specially created by God sometime before birth and others believe the soul preexists the body. But that's a different subject.

But for me and others in my family there is little more sacred than loyalty to family and friends and self. Perhaps self should be first because you have to be true to your core values above all else.

Kevin Roose first encounters the issue with his family and friends. They are concerned that he will be corrupted by his experience at Liberty. He is sometimes afraid of that himself as the story unfolds. He secures approval for his venture by giving his assurance that he is only interested in observing and writing.

At Liberty though he begins to develop relationships with other students. He does not tell them that he is only there to study them and to try to make some sense of their culture.

Relationships often begin on a less-than-honest basis though. It is not unusual to present oneself in the best light when meeting new people. That's especially true when the relationships involve romantic attraction. I think Roose did nothing more sinister than that when he enters Liberty.

In the writing of the book he apparently protects individual identities. In my mind his treatment of the university itself and the culture is neither malicious nor dishonest.

I have no way of knowing how those he does write about feel about his treatment.

One time I had this friend and I thought I understood his opinion about a particular subject. It was a complex subject. In a meeting I stated that my friend believed such and such about the subject. Not long after my friend and I met and he was so angry with me. Someone had told him I had said something about his opinion. It actually wasn't what I said but I had said something. My friend felt I had betrayed him and our relationship. Our relationship was never the same because of that experience. I have never forgotten.

The thing about betrayal is that it is often one sided. I did not intend to betray my friend. In fact I did not think I had betrayed him. But he thought I had. That was all it took.

I have felt betrayed, too. I remember one such time when my friend told me "that it had nothing to do with me." I am certain my friend believed that and probably never understood why I felt as I did.

There are few things worse that I have experienced than the emotion of feeling betrayed. Those feelings for me have been physically jolting as well as emotionally wrenching. Those feelings have been so terrible for me that I desperately want to avoid doing that to someone else. And I sometimes worry about things I did 30 or 40 years ago that I now think were awful.

A couple of times I have actually apologized to some old friend about something that looms so large in my memory. In one particular case I was astonished that my old friend had no memory of the event at all.

I was very surprised to begin to worry about something that happened so long ago that I had not given the least thought about.

As much as I enjoyed reading Roose's book there is no doubt in my mind that had I been one of his friends that I would have felt betrayed. He knew that, too, because he remarks about how gracious and forgiving were his Liberty friends (or more truthfully specimens).

I wonder if he will have regrets in 40 years.


arutherford said...

Terry, your post is timely for me. Not that I feel exactly betrayed by a friend, just deeply hurt by a sudden change in attitude towards me. Am I innocent? Absolutely not. Do I deserve her reaction and shutting out? Absolutely not.

For those of us who feel deeply and invest our whole selves into our relationships, I suppose we always risk the pain of betrayal or sudden alienation.

I can't be any other way so I'm stuck with these rare times of pain. But the joy of friendships is too precious to me to not invest myself in them. I reap large benefits.

Lori1955 said...

Loyalty is very important to me too.

I've been pondering the idea of betrayal. I think that is something very difficult to get over. When we are betrayed, we lose trust. Trust may be something we give freely in the beginning but once it is lost, it must be earned back. Not an easy thing.