These thoughts by Wendell Berry and Walter Brueggemann came to mind in a conversation I had this morning at work. Myself and a client were discussing how most often we are so shaped to believe certain things we have been taught, which in turn leads us to live a certain way and we continue to do so even when the thing we desire most remains a distant dream or hope. Freedom. All the while we remain on the same road that continues to produce the same frustrating results. We continue on with these words continuously ringing in our head....TRY HARDER.
Only when our security is found through a restored trusting relationship with our Creator will freedom be realized. And when it happens, we realize freedom isn't the important thing anymore. It was being restored back into relationship with Him that we have been longing for. Many things stand in the way of us having the courage to change directions. I think I would point to fear as being what stands in our way to this relationship. It is manifested in many different ways in which we respond to the reality around us, but until we see it as being fear, the fog remains so thick and complicated to begin to untangle. Once I began to see it as fear, many things that I had refused to face as being in the way I began to accept as being in the way. What follows here are some of the things I am so grateful Father began to open my eyes to and began to show me how to live free from. Once I began to see them for what they are, I began to see the futility of placing any of my trust and hope in them. They began to lose their hold on me.
"We have many commodities but little satisfaction, little sense of the sufficiency of anything. The scarcity of satisfaction makes of our many commodities an infinite series of commodities, the new commodities invariably promising greater satisfaction than the older ones. In fact, the industrial economy's most marketed commodity is satisfaction, and this commodity, which is repeatedly promised, bought, and paid for, is never delivered."
With what follows here, I think I more than likely would differ in a significant way with Walter Brueggemann in how to find freedom from what controls us or what he points to as the failed script. I do believe along with him, that this script has failed and in all actuality, the script never worked. I believe he is right in saying the way to freedom is revealed in the Biblical text as he suggests, but is it found in the way the religious system interprets it? Isn't the ridiculous voice coming from the religious system a part of the same failed script? TRY HARDER. Conform to these rules and you will be free. This is where I think we have had it so wrong. Don't we step full circle back into the script by thinking the religious system and it's fear based conformity will ever produce freedom? Or a trusting relationship? As I have heard Walter say before, "We need to ask if our consciousness and imagination have been so assaulted and co-opted by the culture that we have been robbed of the courage or power to think an alternative thought." We do need to have the courage to think beyond what the secular culture has shaped us to believe, but it is also as important for us to be able to have an alternative thought beyond what the religious culture has taught us. Freedom awaits all of us that can do that and it begins with the hope of a restored trusting relationship with God.
1. Everybody lives by a script. The script may be implicit or explicit. It may be recognised or unrecognized, but everybody has a script.
2. We get scripted. All of us get scripted through the process of nurture and formation and socialization, and it happens to us without our knowing it.
3. The dominant scripting in our society is a script of technological, therapeutic, consumer militarism that socializes us all, liberal and conservative.
4. That script (technological, therapeutic, consumer militarism) enacted through advertising and propaganda and ideology, especially on the liturgies of television, promises to make us safe and to make us happy.
5. That script has failed. That script of military consumerism cannot make us safe and it cannot make us happy. We may be the unhappiest society in the world.
6. Health for our society depends upon disengagement from and relinquishment of that script of military consumerism. This is a disengagement and relinquishment that we mostly resist and about which we are profoundly ambiguous.
7. It is the task of ministry to de-script that script among us. That is, too enable persons to relinquish a world that no longer exists and indeed never did exist.
8. The task of descripting, relinquishment and disengagement is accomplished by a steady, patient, intentional articulation of an alternative script that we say can make us happy and make us safe.
9. The alternative script is rooted in the Bible and is enacted through the tradition of the Church. It is an offer of a counter-narrative, counter to the script of technological, therapeutic, consumer militarism.
10. That alternative script has as its most distinctive feature, its key character – the God of the Bible whom we name as Father, Son, and Spirit.
11. That script is not monolithic, one dimensional or seamless. It is ragged and disjunctive and incoherent. Partly it is ragged and disjunctive and incoherent because it has been crafted over time by many committees. But it is also ragged and disjunctive and incoherent because the key character is illusive and irascible in freedom and in sovereignty and in hiddenness, and, I’m embarrassed to say, in violence – [a] huge problem for us.
12. The ragged, disjunctive, and incoherent quality of the counter-script to which we testify cannot be smoothed or made seamless. [I think the writer of Psalm 119 would probably like too try, to make it seamless]. Because when we do that the script gets flattened and domesticated. [This is my polemic against systematic theology]. The script gets flattened and domesticated and it becomes a weak echo of the dominant script of technological, consumer militarism. Whereas the dominant script of technological, consumer militarism is all about certitude, privilege, and entitlement this counter-script is not about certitude, privilege, and entitlement. Thus care must betaken to let this script be what it is, which entails letting God be God’s irascible self.
13. The ragged, disjunctive character of the counter-script to which we testify invites its adherents to quarrel among themselves – liberals and conservatives – in ways that detract from the main claims of the script and so too debilitate the focus of the script.
14. The entry point into the counter-script is baptism. Whereby we say in the old liturgies, “do you renounce the dominant script?”
15. The nurture, formation, and socialization into the counter-script with this illusive, irascible character is the work of ministry. We do that work of nurture, formation, and socialization by the practices of preaching, liturgy, education, social action, spirituality, and neighboring of all kinds.
16. Most of us are ambiguous about the script; those with whom we minister and I dare say, those of us who minister. Most of us are not at the deepest places wanting to choose between the dominant script and the counter-script. Most of us in the deep places are vacillating and mumbling in ambivalence.
17. This ambivalence between scripts is precisely the primary venue for the Spirit. So that ministry is to name and enhance the ambivalence that liberals and conservatives have in common that puts people in crisis and consequently that invokes resistance and hostility.
18. Ministry is to manage that ambivalence that is crucially present among liberals and conservatives in generative faithful ways in order to permit relinquishment of [the] old script and embrace of the new script.
19. The work of ministry is crucial and pivotal and indispensable in our society precisely because there is no one [see if that’s an overstatement]; there is no one except the church and the synagogue to name and evoke the ambivalence and too manage a way through it. I think often; I see the mundane day-to-day stuff ministers have to do and I think, my God, what would happen if you talk all the ministers out. The role of ministry then is as urgent as it is wondrous and difficult.