04 July 2014

Happy Fourth of July (Reprised and redacted)

Only one thought occurs to me on this day, and that is that Christians have much to tell America about the nature of true freedom, even while they are grateful for a country which allows them the liberty to practice their faith pretty much as they wish and need. Too often today Freedom is thought of as the ability to do anything we want. It is the quintessential value of the narcissist. And yet, within Christian thought and praxis freedom is the power to be the persons we are called to be. It is the direct counterpart of Divine sovereignty and is other-centered. I believe our founding fathers had a keen sense of this, but today, it is a sense Americans often lack. Those of us who celebrate the freedom of Christians can help recover a sense of this necessary value by embracing it more authentically ourselves. Not least we can practice a freedom which is integrally linked to correlative obligations and exists for the sake of all; that is, it involves an obligation to be there for the other, most especially the least and poorest among us.

This year those thoughts (which I posted last year) echo against the backdrop of the situation in Iraq and the Middle East. We have Dominican Sisters who are struggling to serve their Iraqi brothers and sisters (Muslim and Christian) and a minority of Christians who are simply trying to live their faith in spite of religious persecution. Their presence and commitment is a challenge to all of us who might be tempted to embrace a domesticated Christianity and a freedom which is really less radical than that to which Jesus calls us. Today in the US we celebrate our independence; let us do so by recognizing the fragile gift  and awesome responsibility it really is for us.

Meanwhile, All good wishes for the birthday of our Nation!