East and West In Christ

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Anarchical Freedom and the Loss of Mystery

I have been reading the Pope's work from 1996: Truth and Freedom. It contains an explanation of his term "anarchical freedom" which he used recently referring to relationships outside of marriage in Christ. He is wrestling with the very heart of the Enlightenment and secular relativism from a perspective that is new to me. Yes, I understand that the Enlightenment required the banishment of the possibility of mystery. This was necessary for the enthronement of reason and the progress of science and technology by simplifying our view of the world.

In limiting our world view to reduce complexity, however,we also constricted our perceptual fields to our selves (I no longer think because I exist; I exist because I think). This limitation was not a one-time event but a steady march of "progress", as we simplified steadily and relentlessly what we allowed as "real". The benefit was that we developed a power-full model of the material world. The cost was that we became more and more unable to perceive the Truth. The paradox, of course, is that this depravity made some people much more aware of Mystery (Carl Jung comes to mind) because those whose perceptual fields were less limited noticed that others were missing something!

The Pope points out that now we have so simplified our world view that we have excluded the Truth and, thus, find ourselves bewildered. Like Alice in Wonderland, we are lost in anarchy, wanting to go somewhere and not caring where in particular, lost in a world with no reliable guides. This is the meaning of Anarchical Freedom. We find our way (as Lewis Carroll so curiously illustrates via the Chesire cat) by encountering Mystery. However, we have to put up with apparent madness in this encounter as we extend our perceptual fields, opening ourselves progressively to the Truth. It is only through the Truth that we find the reliable external guides that bring us Freedom.

It seems that through our Enlightenment we have marched into Hell while searching for individual power and now must widen our perceptual fields (open our eyes) to Mystery so that wecan find the Truth and be free. Hmmm--sounds familiar.

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