Posts Tagged ‘Freedom’

Imagine this fall and something being set free

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Imagine.  Imagine something set free this fall.  I imagine you know what that thing is for you, even if it is no more than a sense.  A piece, a part, that yearns to slide into its own skin.

And that freedom always entail a fall, a death of sorts.  Christ’s words fill wtih this truth.

I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24)

We discover a freedom – we think we discover a freedom – through ways we come to see, over time, as wanting and shallow.  The 20 year old who leaves home believing self indulgent indepedence forms the beginning and end of all wisdom.  The 30 year old with money and money on their mind. “$50,000 a year then I will be free!”… my mantra for a decade.  The 40 year old wiggling around in the discomforts of change, challenge, and children in middleage marriage sure something is “wrong.”  We could go on.

And I know this … we will be set free. That is God’s point. Divine providence pulling us towards an undivided life. Something dies there in that new life. Something greater, and precious lives there as well. And the call is painful many days.  Joyful on many others.

A prayer as we enter fall … may something be set free in your soul!

What I know about the Declaration of Independence

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

A different document than most of think…

  1. Written after the Revolutionary War had started, after the battles of Lexington and Concord
  2. The word “property” was replaced by “and the pursuit of happiness”
  3. The Declaration or Independence originally referenced slavery as an afront: “He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither.  This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain.  Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce.  And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he has obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed again the Liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.”  The passage was tragically deleted.
  4. The Declaration of Independence was not a strategic plan.  It did not give rise to the Constitution which came many years later.  We started fighting, declared our independence, and slowly came to form the type of government we have today.
Why does this all matter?
Because I believe freedom on the natural or on the spiritual plane ….
  1. Takes us on a long, tumultous  journey
  2. Is critical so we must “proclaim it” over and over again.
  3. Is arduous so must be willing to work in the hardness that it takes to live it
We tend to see freedom as finally being free from all shackles.  But much of freedom is actually taking those same hands, now unfettered, and putting them “to the plough” as the Bible would say.  ”Freedom from” moves then eloquently to the more workmanlike notion of “Freedom to”, a place where freedom and discipline go hand-in-lifegiving-hand.  Freedom is hard work.  Blessed.  And hard.
Happy 4th of July!!!

Our desire for acceptance may render us invisible

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Jim Carrie shared this remark in a recent valedictory speech.  Rings true.

How does that work?  How does our desire for acceptance render us invisible?

Start with this idea from the 12 Step tradition … addicts are ego maniacs with an inferiority complex.   Most of us I believe harbor an addict’s soul somewhere in our lives.  Most of us, at least part of the time, live there, in an ego driven place both of superficial puffery and deep self loathing. We feverishly desire to both stand out and fit in. Or at least the ego does.   So we press ourselves into roles and persona’s that effectively render us, in terms of our souls,  invisible.  In trying to be all things we end up no-thing.

Our true selves however show us something far different.  They light a way, they sound a call to a settled place beyond standing out or fitting in.  It is a place of service, a place of love, a place of connection, a place of a blessed self forgetfulness, where questions of status or rank remain mute.  In the Epistle of James one striking line reads that we must judge by “The law which gives freedom.”  (James 2:12)   What is that law?  How does it fit?  What does it mean to judge things in such a way that we both discover and allow for such sweet freedom?

And there I have no clear, simple, communicable answer.  But I know God does.

Compulsive Mental Grids

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Our minds often commit themselves solely to the defense of our egos.  As Emanuel Swedenborg noted, “We can freely justify anything we please.” (Divine Providence, 286)  That is exactly what we spend much time doing… laboring to critique, to explain a world that fully justifies all our behaviors and casts others in less than favorable light.  That misplaced labor in turn creates, as Richard Rohr noted, “compulsive mental grids”, well defended, well ensconced.

If this is the problem as it were, can we sense then why freedom is such an incredible spiritual gift?  It is not the freedom as the ego  defines freedom… a freedom of being able to do anything, have anything the heart desires.  It is the God-given freedom of a soul able to live in and out of the world, able to breath freely in the soft space that values the other, that remains open to dialog and conversation.

No compulsive mental grid.  No compulsive mental gridlock.



The Freedom of Genuine Choice

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Freedom is the name-of-the-game in a certain sense within New Church theology.   God’s desire is for us to be free.  And we can hold that freedom a number of ways.  Freedom from … fear, anger, jealously, addiction, lust.  Freedom to …. serve, love, connect, relate, live.  Without that freedom – both an end in itself and a means to that end – as Emanuel Swedenborg noted, “How could we co-operate in receiving these things from God?’ (True Christianity 615)

Freedom is more than personal taste. As Seth Godin noted:

Genuine choice involves whole new categories, or “none of the above.” Genuine choice is difficult to embrace, because it puts so many options and so many assumptions on the table with it. There’s nothing wrong with avoiding significant choices most of the time. Life (and an organization) is difficult to manage if everything is at stake, all the time. The trap is believing that the superficial choices are the essential part of our work. They’re not. They’re mostly an easy way to avoid the much more frightening job of changing everything when it matters.

Spiritual choice often presents with just that … the more frightening job of changing everything that matters!   Choices towards life often appear to embrace life-giving danger.


Find A Way Out

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Idolatry traps us – often very subtly.

Emanuel Swedenborg conjectured … “There are three forms of idolatry.  This first is love of ourselves, the second is love of worldly advantages, and the third is sensual pleasure.” In other words we can choose to worship ourselves, our stuff, or our pleasures. And that is why the experience of God, on the other hand, can be so deeply freeing.

See worship of God lacks a possessive “urge” to it.  God does not endeavor to “own” humanity.  He is not feverishly clutching for souls.  He endeavors, passionately but with the utmost deference to our free will, to liberate humanity.  Not a closed hand but an open hand.  Restated, the three forms of idolatry listed above pull us more and more down the rabbit hole of narcissism.  God pulls us more and more out of the rabbit hole and into the expansive path of connectedness.  Worship of God then, rightly held, opens us more to the wonder surrounding us. Not a place devoid of suffering, but a place where even that suffering in part forms a matrix from which we grow.

Getting Ready for …..

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Started working on this year’s Easter service.  We will be focusing on the Road to Emmaus.  What a beautiful story!  I won’t ruin it by outlining the plot but at its core it is about “Success” and “Failure” – our view vs. God’s.

God’s call appears to go well beyond what we can imagine it to be.  Our story about faith hems us in – both in good ways and bad.  And much of the Easter story is about those illusions being destroyed – the illusions of the disciples, to the skittish Roman Occupiers, to the sanctimonious Pharisees.   Is God an earthy King, concerned with GDP and American Exceptionalism?  Is He here to set people against one another in a class war?  Does He spend His time parsing out the legitimacy of particular forms of worship?   Actually God is far more free than any of those.

“Success” and “Failure” are often our own private and misguided way of framing our world.  Maybe Easter leaves us with the simple acknowledgement that even that illusion of an all too readily cleaved world, broken simply between “success” and “failure,” must die, our call being to “participate in the qualities of love and faith.”  God is THAT free – able to choose both “Success” and “Failure.”

Are We Limited to Correct Answers?

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

It was stunning to read a recent New York Times article on crime at an Indian reservation in Wyoming.  The numbers on the Winding River Reservation startle. As the article notes, “On average, residents can expect to live 49 years, 20 years fewer than in Iraq. Unemployment, estimated to be higher than 80 percent, is on a par with Zimbabwe’s, and is approaching the proportionate inverse of Wyoming’s 6 percent jobless rate.”

Many causes no doubt contribute to create the situation – historical, political, economic etc….  Solutions likewise will need tp be multifaceted.  However, one thing does remain true – a basic sense of order, or structure is a key starting point.

Of course saying that is deeply unpopular.  I feel a discomforting twinge of “Oh I hope no one actually reads THAT” as I type the sentence.  Because shouldn’t the problem be laid carefully and cleanly on the “system” that creates perpetrators who in turn create victims?  The challenge however in taking that tact is then no one person is held accountable.  Responsibility just shift to the nebulous “system.”

Yet we all in a sense bear responsibility.  We all in a sense owe something to the solution.  With a reservation as far away as Wyoming, direct help may well be challenging – beyond our reach – with the exception of a few individuals for whom it may be a call.  But what is not beyond anyone’s reach reading this is a simple call to exercise discipline in our own lives.

Such an unpopular term discipline.  Yet it is critical.  It is how we move beyond our tastes to deeper forms of God given discernment.  It creates the foundation for growth.   In the end, we are actually a bit limited to at least a few correct answers!


Friday, February 11th, 2011

The news out of Egypt is very exciting! While movements towards democracy are never without fits and starts, neither are they without births.  So, for today, lets just celebrate a wonderful birth.  God’s most precious gift if human freedom.  When we sense it, when we witness its arrival, all of can celebrate.