i've been watching the hbo miniseries "john adams" the last couple days. it's very well done--not quite as good as "the wire," but still interesting in its own way. i always find myself somewhat convicted when i watch patriotic historical movies/shows that depict the forming of america. i love the patriot, but find the same tension that i've experienced watching john adams. all these ideals, the formation of this "great nation," this "new world," the thing is--i believe it is so misguided.

i get a similar but much less intense feeling watching braveheart. it is my favorite movie, and i love the themes and devotion and story--and the scottish cause for freedom is a little greater than simply taxation without representation, so i'm more understanding. it was about throwing off oppressors--but our revolution and the french and russian and other enlightenment revolutions were much more focused around the idea of "rights." yes there was some oppression and suffering--but enough to justify so many violent deaths?

i'm fairly convinced that some of the worst problems with christianity and perhaps the world as well come from placing rights above love. i don't know that there is such a thing as an inalienable right. it is a selfish idea to think that anything we have is more than a gracious gift--whether you believe it to be from God or cosmic fate. we did not earn anything, and any rights we believe to possess--where do those supposedly come from?

consider also that often the greatest spiritual advancement comes when rights are abused and people suffer persecution. it is a forced surrender and sacrifice in which people turn to God. but then why don't we let our rights be taken away willingly? then maybe we would realize that we don't actually need them to live a decent life. indeed they only seem to get in the way so often. we just don't seem to be able to willingly and consistently inflict this upon ourselves. why would we? why get up early when you can sleep in? (to use an example of much less significance)

i realize i'm speaking all of this from a place of almost total freedom. these words would be very different coming from the midst of not having rights--like the ability to express these thoughts freely. but that still doesn't change my belief in this reality, i just maybe should be careful what i ask for.

but then look at it aside from the external. what are my internal enslavements? and aren't those a far greater danger than the external ones that cannot steal my heart and soul? i must seek freedom from these oppressions. and that freedom does not come from revolution--i don't think it can be that quick. maybe there are many ways to that freedom. i don't know. but i know that at least one way to finding true freedom is through the desert, not comfort. and we very quickly want to go back from that desert, especially when we feel the discomfort and have come this way somewhat of our own will. just hit the snooze again, or reset the alarm for later. but usually there is no turning back from the desert. and you know the way back is just a return to slavery. we must be freed from our enslavements.

and our enslavements are not taxes or rights and their abuses. real freedom is not just getting what you want to live less encumbered by externals. exterior freedom ≠ internal freedom. exterior control ≠ internal enslavement. though external order can yield internal freedom, as can exterior and internal suffering.

real liberty is being able to do the good i would like to do--to love like i would like to love.

how do i find that liberty? not, how can i try to change people's actions by laws and external controls. they will just fight for their own "rights." no, true and meaningful change only comes when people of themselves surrender their own rights for love of others--or when they are persecuted and they realize the rights were only a hindrance in the first place. is this too overstated?

though perhaps too often the problem is not that we are fighting for the wrong things, but that we in truth aren't really doing any meaningful battles at all. what are you fighting for in your life? what is its ultimate value? indeed freedom is a value that i believe is so vital--it inspires me so much. it is a deep american value. though perhaps we fight for the wrong kind of freedom. and, believing we have achieved that freedom, we celebrate it and sit back with a beer and watch fireworks rather than realizing that maybe we are far more enslaved than we know. or even if we know or have an idea of it, why do we not fight with the same passion of our revolutionary forbearers? because ours is such a comfortable slavery, like falling asleep for a few more hours--only to find the day gone and yourself unable to rise much at all.

__it's interesting how i'm getting a lot of my major recent spiritual insights from television shows. the redemption of all things people__


  1. Not much of a person to read or write blogs (altho that may change), but I came across yours and found this entry really interesting. I will be thinking of it more this week. Can't say much more but I think you've made some interesting points.
    Paul Bruss

  2. Dear luke
    I will always drink beer and blow things up on july fourth
    nothing you say can change that
    Your friend

  3. Good points. I got goosebumps reading this, and not just because it's freezing in my office. :)

  4. P.S. I love the new picture at the top. I want to go there, wherever "there" is.