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In the world of the intertubes the word “friend” has taken on a whole new meaning. A friend can be someone you’ve never met, never even talked to except through the medium of the web, or never communicated with in any way except reading what they wrote every day, over time coming to feel as attached to them as to the people whose hands you held when they were sick or whose jokes made you groan over a beer at your local pub.
Is it as real? I don’t know but it sure seems that way. I never met Rev Andrew Weaver in person. We talked on the phone a couple of times and emailed each other regularly but I didn’t even know what he looked like. Yet when I called up Talk to Action the other day and discovered that he died over the weekend, I was as bereft as if I had lost the kind of friend who might have introduced me to my first Little Feat record or talked me out of getting serious about that girl who stole every penny from her last boyfriend and then burned down his house.
Andrew would have done either, maybe both, had the need arisen. Fortunately it didn’t. But we did have long talks about Bush, his library, and the nature of god, the universe and everything. I found it odd having the same kind of conversations with Andrew (I never called him Andy; one, well, wouldn’t – he wasn’t the “Andy” type, not to me) in our respective middle age that I used to have in my 20’s, those deep, theological and philosophical discussions about life and love that you never seem to have once the pressures of daily survival grip you with their claws.
Those things still mattered to Andrew, though. He displayed a passion for Large Questions that was somewhat surprising in its width and breadth for a man his age. We were both too old to be as didactic in our opinions as when we were younger and Andrew certainly had a leavening humor that helped keep my sometimes dour cynicism in check but there was no mistaking the deep conviction behind the calm demeanor and the sly jokes he used to maintain his passion for justice and humanity without diving into hatred or despair.