March 8, 2007

Words

Old friend Scott brings up an important critique of yesterday's post, in which I was writing about the spiritual values of freedom, love, and truth:
From a different perspective, I feel like I have been bombarded with concepts like love, freedom, and truth since day one. Unfortunately there is usually an agenda behind each one: love is for selling products, freedom can be reconciled with torture, and truth is whatever justifies our side and demonizes the other side. For me, I have seen more damage due to the perversion of the concepts than the exclusion of them.
The world around us always co-opts our spiritual language and uses it for its own purposes, even up to and including the utterance, "God." As one of my teachers put it, it's a real challenge to preach the good news in a world where "Coca-cola is 'life' and 'infiniti' is a car."

I don't think we're quite at the Orwellian limit of things, i.e., "War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength," but we're not far from it either. That's why you always need to apply a very suspicious and critical hermeneutic to anyone who tries to preach to you about love, freedom, or truth, even if it's a "religious" person, and especially if it's a politician or the media.

We all know in our hearts that what we call love easily becomes possessiveness and control, what we call freedom is often simply just being able to do whatever selfish thing we want without interference, and truth is whatever opinion serves our particular interests best. So it should be no surprise that these inner distortions break out into the wars and madness of the world.

But a reflective heart knows that behind all of the sinister spin of this world, there are such things as love, truth, and freedom.

8 comments:

Frater said...
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Frater said...
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Frater said...

I agree,"professional religious" have co-opted spiritual language and have made sublime spiritual realities mere abstractions. Take the oft quoted phrase, "Christ is Love," as Jon Sobrino, SJ points out, "This phrase asserts something true, but as long as there is no statement, in terms of Jesus, of what this love consists, what forms and priorities are, the love remains abstract; it may include, but also exclude or even reject, fundamental forms of Jesus' love, such as justice and loving partially for the poor."

Charles of New Haven said...

I get the feeling that there is a friary somewhere where the coffee is just a little too strong this morning.

Frater said...

We only use Fair Trade and yeah it is strong.

Frater said...

I probably should not use Jon Sobrino SJ as an example... word on the street is that the Vatican is about to bar him from teaching theology and from writing.

ben said...

I think we are already at the orwelian limit when "reprodutive rights" refers to not reproducing and "planned parenthood" refers to not becoming a parent.

But the worst offender is that the slogan "making every child a wanted child" refers to killing the ones we do not want.

Charles of New Haven said...

Nice to meet you, Ben. The issues you remind us of are a dark corner of our culture indeed.