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Speaking to the Soul: What Passes for Freedom

Speaking to the Soul: What Passes for Freedom

Friday, December 19, 2013 — Week of Advent 3, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 40, 54 (morning) // 51 (evening)

Isaiah 10:5-19

2 Peter 2:17-22

Matthew 11:2-15

Today’s second reading warns us of a great danger to our souls: What passes for freedom in this world is often just another form of domination. For example, our freedom to shop all we want just enslaves us to dissatisfaction and debt. Our freedom to ingest a variety of substances just enslaves us to desire and addiction. Our freedom from government regulations just enslaves us to polluted air and water, or to prejudice and discrimination.

We need to be on guard against these so-called freedoms that ultimately master us. Proponents of these freedoms “promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for people are slaves to whatever masters them.” It can be very hard to tell a proclaimer of freedom from a person who is mastered by the desires that are incited by various aspects of our culture.

My personal favorite example of something that promises freedom but leads to mastery is the automobile. People look so free in car commercials, driving in convertibles along beachside highways. But in reality? Our cars have also enslaved us to traffic, to poor health, to smoggy air, to monthly payments, and to concrete.

This Advent, we should closely examine the promises of freedom that our world makes to us. Will these things really free us, or are they seeking to master us? Let’s tread carefully today.

 Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal.  She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps  program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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Emily Windsor

There's a dilemma here, where freedoms are great or exaggerated along the spectrum of belief and practice.

In congregations where individualism rules, where great discrepancies exist in doctrine and praxis among members, it's very hard for individuals to find their helpful role and place because they're focused on not offending anyone.

On the other hand, where differences in dogma, doctrine and praxis are minimal and freedom is less of an issue, it's easy and simple to know whom and what will serve to help others.

Freedom is not merely an opportunity or option to diverge from virtue, thrift, health and caring behaviors. Freedom of ideology playing out as individualistic parishioners having little in common also truncates social events, personal assistance and simple comraderie.

Great variances in belief and worship in a congregation can lead to indifference and unsociability; so something needs be said about the possibility that each parish can establish an honest set of norms and practices for itself, along the spectrum of belief and political-correctness.

What comes to mind for me is the idea, each Parish might do well to have its own Condo documents, rules-of-the-road; so when you join, you know with whom you are joining.

Just an idea. 🙂

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