…there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the “rat race” – the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.
A friend sent me this speech by David Foster Wallace today. It was published in the Guardian three years ago when he died. (Although I must confess I had never heard of him before.) It reminds me of Walter Brueggemann’s assessment of freedom as disengagement from the means of production (among other things no doubt, and to be practised weekly not as a total lifestyle choice). And the sabbath as about taking a day to remember you are free. Then I suppose you have six days to exercise that freedom.
Because here’s something else that’s true. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship – be it JC or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles – is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.