Friday, August 31, 2007

The Gift of Self - Freedom & Love

Gil Bailie, starts off in tape 6 of his series The Gift of Self with the following remark pertaining to his book, Violence Unveiled;

In the book that is being made ready for publication, I argued that we live in a world where we are less and less able to resolve social crisis violently because the Gospel revelation has shorn our violence of its sacred pretension and without an aura of sacred surrounding it, violence can never be a source of durable cultural stability.

It all has to do with one of the two revelations that is overtaking us in our world: one is that conventional religion and culture is intertwined with violence and the second is that the self is constituted by its relation to the other or to others or to The Other.

The first 5 tapes of the series Gil takes up the first revelation and now he begins to map out how the second revelation is working out in history. I will post on this later, however I felt the calling to do a little weaving of thoughts by 3 great minds here and I hope I can make clear this tapestry. I have already referred to Gil as one source - the others are Raymund Schwager, who just prior to his sudden and unexpected passing on February 27, 2004 had agreed to serve on Cornerstone Forum board; and Romano Guardini, renowned Catholic theologian and writer.

Bailie's very short summary (above) on his book is a great meditation: "the self is constituted by its relation to the other or to others or to The Other." I was drawn to see how freedom and love are linked to this meditation on the self.

In his book, Banished from Eden, Original Sin and Evolutionary Theory in the Drama of Salvation, Schwager elaborates on freedom and I have pulled a few quotes from (link here) Chapter 4 Human Self-Reflection and Universal Responsibility:

At the same time this insight makes it evident that freedom cannot be completely understood either from the standpoint of the isolated subject nor from that of the I-Thou relation, but must be seen in the context of human society and history in their entirety. ... Individual self-reflection, accessible to earlier human individuals within certain limits, has developed into a comprehensive process of self-reflection, which can only be fulfilled by humanity as a whole and in view of its final destination.
... it makes sense that freedom in its radical form as total self-determination cannot be a matter pertaining just to the individual or any group, but is a task of all mankind. All individual attempts toward self-reflection and freedom must complement one another toward an all-embracing self-reflection in which humanity intervenes in its own nature and determines itself with regard to its future and final destination. ... But if freedom is a universal process, it also becomes clear that each individual subject is more determined by the free acts of others than by his or her own self-determination. Freedom turns out also to be an affliction, something that the traditional doctrine of original sin has always known.
Aramis here: The modern individualistic view will never be able to see how we are interconnected. Prayer is key here. We are inter-dividual as members of God's creature and that freedom is bound up with one another. And freedom can only be brought forth in relationships as one surrenders his or her will to the Will which stands outside the mimetic whirlwind, but yet is so very near as Christ's life showed us.

Monsignor Romano Guardini writes from Living the Drama of Faith:
To love, from the human point of view, is first of all to admit the existence of a being greater than myself who demands a sacrifice on my part. To love means to be prepared to meet the Most High, not to shun this encounter, but to seek it in order to realize that it is only in the gift this encounter will involve that I can truly find myself. This attitude awakens in me all that speaks of God, and enables me to see him.
Guardini writes that being in this image of God - being in love with God is "infinitely more vital then whether this or that man exists..."

Aramis here: After going through a rocky time of my life I was invited to go to church (being a non-church-goer for most all of my life, but go figure that I could learn something from church) and what followed, looking back today, is nothing short of amazing; I came to experience love through a poverty of self. This love reached out from me and touched everyone and everything that I too touched. I came to understand that for me to continue to experience this love I had to empty all my closests out to God, and by His Gifts to me I could come to an acceptance of my fallenness, repentance and a metanoia that was embracing and at a deeper level allowing me to reach out and embrace everyone around me. I was able to share this with my wife and we have built our marriage around this love of God, that encapsulates the two of us as one. We came to understand that my love for her (and vise versa) comes from God alone and only by my being humble and open to receive this love can I pass it on to her (and vise versa).

In the end, as Howard Thurman told Bailie, "what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Are we being Christ, coming alive in freedom and love as the new creation, spreading His Love in the world?

The gift of self - freedom and love of the new creation 2 Corinthians Chapter 5: 14-21

For the love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all; therefore, all have died. He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer. So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.

And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

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