It’ll be practical, it’ll be fun, it’ll be taught by . . . me!
Well, the show I’ve had a love/hate relationship with for years is finally going off the air. Friends is finishing its final season.
It’s easy to see why I would have a problem with the show. The Friends’ morality was, well, a little too friendly. These six highly attractive characters had sex with virtually every person they dated. What’s worse, they gave the impression that this was normal dating behavior. That’s not a message I want young teenagers – or anyone – to see.
But it’s easy for me, as a single person, to see why the show is so popular. It’s very funny, of course, and the characters are so well developed that the viewers really do come to see them as friends. But, more important than that, the show is attractive to single people because, in many ways, it depicts single life as we wish it was.
The theme song of the show says “I’ll be there for you.” And they are. They live together. They eat together. They hang out together. Rarely is a Friend alone for long.
The average single person’s life, on the other hand, would make very bad TV. There are no charming or eccentric neighbors constantly popping in. Meals are often eaten in front of the tube (watching, ironically, Friends.) Single people are frequently alone – and that makes for a less-than-entertaining TV viewing experience.
I’ve been writing for quite some time about unmarried singles and their need for community. Pope John Paul II says that, as human persons, we are all called to life in “the communion of persons” – communities where we live, not just for ourselves, but with and for others. That “communion of persons” is built in for families, and for religious communities.
It’s a little tougher for the single person to find.
Parishes would seem like a natural place for single adults to find real, authentic community. After all, isn’t that what a Catholic faith community is supposed to be all about? But most Catholic parishes haven’t caught up with the demographics. Single adult Catholics didn’t exist as a population a generation or two ago. And so most parishes revolve almost exclusively around families. Singes wonder where they fit in – or if they fit in at all. Many parishes have “young adult” groups, but most of these cater to the twentysomething crowd, and are more socially than spiritually oriented.
As I said, I’ve written a whole lot of articles about this phenomenon. But beyond reminding people to acknowledge and include the singles around them, I haven’t been able to offer much by way of solutions. After all, I live in Denver, and other singles live all over the country, and there is no real way for me to offer anything to them.
Thanks to the wonders of internet technology, and a partnership with the Heart, Mind and Strength University for Living (HMSU), this spring I will be offering the world’s first online course for single adult Catholics. It will be called “Flying Solo in a Noah’s Ark World,” and it will deal with the real issues that single adults face in trying to live out their faith on a daily basis.
First of all, this will not be an “academic” class with an emphasis on regurgitation of information. This will be a practical class, with an emphasis on understanding ourselves, and on building the skills to live more fulfilled lives. I want to go beyond the usual fare offered to singles and delve into the deeper questions singles ask. “Where do I fit into the Church?” ”Does God want me to be single?” “How do I find the love of my life?” “How should I live while I’m looking for the love of my life?” “How do I deal with loneliness?” “Where can I find community?”
More than that, I want this little class to foster community. I want to bring single people together, to share their hearts and share their lives. I want to help create a virtual “communion of persons.”
It’ll be like our own little episode of Catholic Friends.
For more information, go to www.hmsu.com