Saturday, January 02, 2010

Palate cleanser on the subject of freedom

Hans Urs von Balthasar put it this way:
. . . from the true Christian there radiates the kind of freedom that is constantly only being sought after by the non-Christian. In modern times, the freedom of man is a theme which preoccupies both Christian and non-Christian, and a competition is in process as to who can understand this freedom more profoundly, who more effectively put it into practice.
One could argue that the failure to understand the true nature of freedom is at the heart of the contemporary crisis, and, moreover, that the very notion of the "true nature" of anything has been put into question by our confusions about freedom. In that context, Dietrich von Hildebrand has something to offer. For example this:
Ontological freedom is far from excluding the consciousness of being obligated to decide in a certain way; in fact it is never greater than in the case of obedience to a moral imperative.

If at a dinner we we are given the choice between two different dishes, it is left up to us to choose which one we eat. This freedom, involving the absence of any moral imperative or moral call, has to be sharply distinguished [however] from the ontological freedom that ... is present ... when we obey the moral law, when we use our freedom in the way ordained by God, for in these cases we exercise moral freedom as well as ontological freedom.
As Benedict XVI has so often argued, if we leave out God -- and what von Hildebrand calls the inner ordination toward God embedded in our very being -- it is very difficult to keep freedom from dissolving into the vacuous and eventually despairing forms of self-validating license that abound in popular culture today.

No comments: