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The Death Of My Mom by Randall Barfield A short reflection on a lack of tears for my mom. [565 words]
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The Adventure Of Human Freedom
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The Adventure Of Human Freedom
As title indicates.
Jeffrey (George) Winter
Journalist, counselor, author.
AUTHOR'S E-MAIL ADDRESS
|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (10)
Ed's Gift (Short Stories) An insignificant man imparts the truth of wisdom and peace. [1,308 words] [Spiritual]
Heaven Is Hell's Fire (Poetry) - [108 words] [Spiritual]
Justice Come Due (Poetry) God's reply to justice. [95 words] [Spiritual]
Love Denied (Poetry) - [171 words] [Spiritual]
Strength's Illusion (Essays) A visit with a disabled friend: How our understandings of strength affect our relationships. [1,696 words] [Spiritual]
The Power Of Surrender (Short Stories) A good man takes on evil. [1,431 words] [Spiritual]
The Way We Actually Were (Short Stories) Recollections from a veteran of the Third Reich. [1,337 words] [History]
The Weapon Of Hope (Short Stories) When all else fails, there is hope. Three short stories reveals where lies ours. [1,385 words] [Spiritual]
Tied By The Heart (Essays) Does our freedom ensnares us? [1,128 words] [Spiritual]
Wisdom Dug Out Of Dirt (Short Stories) The wealth possessed by a poor, old farmer. [1,032 words] [Biography]
The Adventure Of Human Freedom
Jeffrey (George) Winter
To be free.
People have remained constant in their desire to establish individuality and distinctness, in their attempts to “be free to be me”, to establish their self-worth. It is man’s highest adventure but can be his most unfortunate: achieving individuality and independence at the expense of connectedness and love. To seek and build one’s life around that which won’t endure.
I know a man approximately 40 years old who is grappling with the question of what to do with his life. Previously he's enjoyed a good deal of success in a corporate setting but rejected that in the wake of a broken relationship and upon realization that the paybacks borne of the corporate set pale beneath, in his words, “its blatant two-facedness.”
He currently works in another field where his question remains unanswered. He doesn’t yet know what he should, or rather need, do with his life to find the fulfillment he seeks. Still lured by the "gifts" of the corporate world, he struggles to justify their hollowness while his heart calls him in another direction.
A beckoning which it is his leaning to ignore.
Not unlike many of us, confronted by the hint that the standards and goals this world sets may not be true to our hearts, my friend is engaged in what Christos Yannaras calls "the tragic adventure of human freedom."
Yannaras, a prominent and controversial Greek theologian, summarizes much of what has captured human nature in the 20th and 21st centuries in his book, "The Freedom of Morality". The foundation of his work is centered on a simple aspect: man's separation from God by sin. That heinous-sounding word that has been rationalized to a point of inconsequence and inapplicability.
Sin is for us a “religious” term seen as better suited to church matters, seminary discussion and the confession booth. One without much relevance outside the confines of church walls, a consideration from which we re-coil tinged as “sin” is with connotations of guilt, judgment and condemnation.
Yannaras points out however that in the Orthodox view, "Sin is identified not with transgression and guilt but with missing the mark” while "the idea cultivated in western Christendom identifies sin with legal transgression and consequently, salvation with individual justification and atonement."
According to Yannaras, such a construction "creates a host of psychological complexes offering no way of escape…The striving for personal justification and atonement, for freedom from guilt and condemnation, leaves man still enslaved to his autonomous individuality, separated from the possibility of genuine life and true existence. The egocentric fear of transgression becomes coupled with the tendency to gloss over sin or reach an accommodation with it."
In other words, motivated by a fear of judgment, men are left without a vehicle to fulfillment, only a vehicle to escape condemnation. We’d rather avoid being wrong than trying to be right and in that, lose sight of what being right means and involves. We serve a god of our own ideas, oblivious to the real one.
We ‘re left to try to justify ourselves before a God whom we think requires payback for our insult to Him, remaining unaware that the insult has been rendered to ourselves and our opportunity at fulfillment. God seeks only to receive the hearts which strayed away.
A parent doesn’t require his child to perform duties of oblation in order to win back his acceptance and love. Though that parent may see the need for such duties, they’re not for sake of retribution. Rather, for discipline to train the child away from the tendency to injure himself or others. Love never left the picture, no matter the discipline required. Nor did retribution, payback or atonement ever enter.
Legality may know judgment but judgment excludes love. So too, it might comprehend order but it doesn’t know peace. Compromise it considers but mercy it forgets.
But what in heaven's name has that to do with a man in his 40's seeking to find his place in the world or with us? In truth, everything, because our minds and hearts have become buried in our perception.
Man is always hungry, never satiated, be he a child, a young adult or 80 years old. That’s our nature by design. We will never know contentment, fulfillment and peace until the hole in our heart is addressed.
We seek in ways innumerable to achieve that satisfaction. Through jobs or careers, relationships, money and power, recognition and appreciation. Through whatever it is we think will justify us, will establish us as distinct and valuable. Will after all is said and done, merit us as worthy. Inherently we know what it is to feel worth and that we were created to know love and to express it. Our heart was crafted to seek that as its zenith.
But in our pursuit of distinction we forget uniqueness. There is nothing valuable about distinctness, it’s simply a state of being recognized as different and separate. Uniqueness however, implies not so much something separate and apart but something irreplaceable and bound within something unified.
People can be distinct from others but they are unique among their friends.
Christ came to offer an escape from that separation not to offer a payback to His Father. He came to not just show a better way but to actualize it, make it vibrant and alive, practical and pertinent, real and do-able.
He offered Himself on our behalf not as payment for debts due but as a bridge by which to reconnect to God, our Source and Father, and to our neighbors, His children and beloved no less so than we. He showed us how to participate in that life-restoring process by being partakers of His mode of existence.
He calls us to repentance not repayment. In Yannaras's words, to a change of mind, attitude and heart that secures connection and communion with God and our neighbor not through individual merit or "virtues' of the individual but through trust in Him.
That is why Christ said that a heart remains restless until it rests in God and not simply in our perception of Him. But when he says “rests”, perhaps a better word to use is “focuses” as in resting one’s aim and desire, not simply crawling into a safe hole where God will take care of everything. He wants our hearts to want Him as he wants us.
Then and only then, can man receive salvation from his "agonizing thirst for life". It can be man's only response to the frenzied love that is shown to him. It’s the only foundation for a truly unique and personal life.
That no longer has need to ask what career it should seek, what relationship it desires or what achievement can garner the affirmation for which it hungers.
It is the true adventure of man's freedom, the others being only tempting, tragic imposters.
|READER'S REVIEWS (4)
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"I envy you your faith. I wish I'd been able to find absolute faith. I had to read some parts of this two or three times to truly take in what you were saying, if this had been a piece of fiction that would have been a critisism, but with a piece like this it's good to stretch peoples understanding. I had to concentrate to try and understand, and although I might not agree with everything you wrote I respect your opinion and your essay. " -- Sooz, Dalton, England, Cumbria.
"Sooz, thanks for the critique and I can relate to having to re-read something until grasping it or grasping it somewhat. Been there, done that...and still do that. I appreciate your acknowledgement that such material calls for writing that requires that approach. Since you took the time to read and respond in a way that shows it wasn't a quick read, would like to discuss at your leisure and choice your disagreements. I don't claim to know much or even a great deal and enjoy talking with someone who has a different view or understanding. Like you say, it's good to have one's mind, and maybe even heart, stretched. Thanks again! Jeff " -- Jeff, Summit Lake, WI, USA.
"You are an excellent writer, Jeffrey (George) Winter, certainly you are looking for more than the hassle you can get here. RoseDog.comThe largest manuscript showcase available to writers, agents, and publishers.Enter RoseDog BooksBecome a published author at a fraction of the cost of traditional self-publishing.Enter RoseDog is working to get writers noticed. We now have 110 publishers and 59 agents registered with us! There are over 6,870 manuscripts in the showcase! · Writers: Are you looking for a publisher or agent? Learn about the benefits of RoseDog membership here. · Showcase excerpts from your unpublished work quickly and easily. Use your RoseDog email to communicate with other writers. Request a free banner to draw attention to your manuscript. · Read our Writers FAQs here. · Agents and Publishers: Find out why RoseDog makes good business sense for you. No fees, no commissions, no hassles. " -- RoseDog Afficianado.
"This was an astounding piece of work! The author finds a way to weave his way to one's soul and although his approach is challenging, it is after all consideration, in no way disparaging. Kudos to him. Let's see more!" -- Samuel, Antigo, WI.
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© 2002 Jeffrey (George) Winter
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