Monday, November 19, 2001

 
From another Mars Hill tape (March/April 1996), host Ken Myers quotes D. H. Lawrence:

Men are free when they are in a living homeland, not when they are straying and breaking away. Men are free when they are obeying some deep inward voice of religious belief, obeying from within. Men are free when they belong to a living, organic believing community, active in fufilling some unfulfilled, perhaps, unrealized purpose, not when they're escaping to some wild west. The most unfree souls go west and shout of freedom -- the shout is a rattling of chains

I think this quote strikes at the heart of a deeply ingrained gnosticism in our culture...one that, unfortunately is as common within the church (and within me) as it is without. To think that we can be free when we are unattached and unconnected to other human beings in communities (and not cyber-communities, but real face to face flesh and bone communities) is, I believe, at least partly a gnostic error. The snare of the DVD player, the home theater system, the X box, and even the iMac that I'm typing this on is that each of those technologies and most of the things we do with them are intensely privatizing and cocoon us up in our houses, rather than pushing us outdoors to talk to the neighbors about the Rams or the weather or whatever. That final image in the Lawrence quote above is powerful...those who have utopian visions of the internet tell us how we are have more options, more freedom, just by turning on our computers and surfing over to Google.com. "Freedom...the world is accessible through my monitor," goes the shout, and three hours later when I've surfed around trying to locate a dozen good articles on postmodern architecture and the Pruitt-Igoe housing project, I realize that the shout does resemble a rattling of chains. I'm no Luddite, I appreciate the benefits of technology as much as the next guy. I just think how unfortunate -- maybe inhuman -- it is to never take the opportunity to sit on a porch with my next door neighbor drink a Big Butt and talk theology, family, and Saturday Night Live. Instead I opt for reading his blog and zipping e-mails back and forth. It's better than nothing, but something tells me it ain't exactly freedom.

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