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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Free. Dumb.


“It’s a mystery how people behave. How we long for life as a slave.” - The Cardigans

Most often when we are confronted with uncertainty we turn to our leader and seek dictatorship. We press our leaders, governments, spouses, parents, and friends to do anything to end our uncertainty. We plea with them to end the chaos. To bring peace, stability, and clarity.

An example of this could be found in today’s visit from Pope Benedict. Taryn and I were in NYC last weekend and overheard one of the local talk radio programs. They were discussing the importance of the Pope’s appearance in the U.S. due to the decaying values in both the Catholic church and Catholic universities. I do not deny the moral authority that the Pope has in our world nor do I intend to question the theology of the papacy. I will listen closely to his words while he is here, but why must Pope Benedict be looked to as the answer for the complexity of the Catholic Church in America? Why do we insist on looking to a referee or judge when things get difficult and uncertainty sets in?

We ask those around us for a false sense of equilibrium to avoid the complexity of choice. We sacrifice our freedom for safety and security.

Why do we do this? Because dictatorship is comfortable and freedom is demanding. And how is freedom demanding? Freedom requires hope.

Slavery. Binaries. Restrictions. What do they require of us? They require a head nod. They require a coin flip. They require a mindless moving with the crowd. Restrictions, guidelines, and limitations eliminate the need for hope. But freedom. Freedom is the breeding ground for hope.

And hope scares us. Hope requires something of our soul. It requires tears. It requires sleepless nights. It requires confrontation. It requires us. Generally, we are not willing to truly hope (for ourselves or for others) because of what it requires.

Or perhaps we hate hope. Sounds silly I know. Hope is attached so closely to desire that we have learned to despise it. We have been told at a young age that we should ignore our bodies impulses because our humanity is sinful. We have been told to ignore our soul’s cravings and suppress our desire in fear of our “sinful nature”. Forgive me if I missed something, but were we not created in the image of the Creator? Were we not created for good? I do not mean to be cynical nor do I intend to unleash my theological position on humanity here in this post, I do however want to point out that many of us fear our desires. We fear what our heart’s most deeply desire. We fear desire…thus we fear hope…and thus we fear freedom.

We could then conclude that fear is the enemy of freedom. Fear is a reaction. Freedom involves action. In fear you imagine destruction. With freedom you dream of birth. In fear we cower from difference. With freedom we engage opposition. In fear we turn from God. With freedom we anticipate creation with God.

But as it is in most cases, fear and freedom are not exclusive. In fact, freedom often creates fear.

It is this pants-pooping fear that I wrestle with today. I stare freedom in the face. Taryn and I have no fixed point. No home base. No 15 year career plan. No babies on board. We stand at the edge of the shore and consider an endless sea of possibilities. The sea is not settled. It is not smooth. Its dark and filled with white-foamy crests. And It may require some Dramamine.

Yet with great hope (read: desire, gut wrenching pain, tears and joyful anticipation) we move into freedom. Together.

May we all work to live in our freedom and resist the temptations of fear and slavery. Together.

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