Tag Archives: Freedom

Ep69 Becoming Truly Free



Father Len explains what it takes to become truly free and how the common American understanding of freedom leads to selfishness and narcissism.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Freedom involves being free from something in order to be free to become something.
  • The American Revolution was about becoming free from the tyranny of a king and the injustices and oppression of a political system.
  • 70% of Americans say they are free or mostly free.
  • Two thirds of Americans define freedom as being “free to do whatever I want.”
  • Being “free to do whatever I want” is an immature definition of freedom and the least likely to lead to happiness.
  • Being “free to do whatever I want” is a form of tyranny that allows you to intrude on the life and liberty of others.
  • “The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos” by Sohrab Ahmari
  • We create laws to set the parameters for a working society.
  • To be free theologically means that we are always working on freedom. Working to become more free from the tyranny of selfishness, oppression, and injustice.
  • When the people of a country define freedom as selfishness, it will always be divided and destroyed.
  • People who report the highest level of happiness tend to be religious and meditate regularly.
  • People who report the most freedom from moral constraints tend to be the least happy.
  • “Suicide, A Study in Sociology” by Emile Durkheim
  • The really hard part of becoming more free is wrestling with our own egos and recognizing when we’re being selfish.
  • Christians who believe giving up liberties for the sake of others makes them less free don’t understand the freedom of the cross of Christ.

Ep55 What Is Salvation?



Father Len reveals the meaning of the salvation God seeks for all of us.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Salvation is about freedom and belonging and being saved from harm.
  • Freedom doesn’t mean doing whatever selfish thing you want to do. That’s merely a form of slavery to the ego.
  • Salvation is freedom to be with and for others. It’s a whole lot of dying to your ego.
  • Salvation is not just about me being free. It’s about me and everybody else becoming free. I’m not free unless you’re free.
  • There is an unease in human beings, an innate desire to escape from freedom. Sometimes being confined is less fearful than being loosed. Being restricted can feel better than being free because freedom means choices and choices and choices. And, choices can be difficult.
  • Human beings really want freedom and structure. Structure that makes it possible for us to be free and at the same time feel safe.
  • “The Fear of Freedom” by Erich Fromm
  • Freedom without structure is just chaos. It’s emptiness.
  • The Catholic Mass is a prayer for the order in the kingdom of God, not the order created by human structures or capricious living.
  • There’s always this tug-of-war in the human heart between freedom and safety, between freedom and structure, between chaos and order.
  • Salvation is just another word for freedom, but it’s freedom with structure.
  • Totalitarian lifestyles and their appeal are created by the fear of freedom without structure.
  • God gives us the law to grant us freedom with structure that liberates our spirit for the service of love and community.
  • The ultimate place of freedom and order is heaven where everyone is completely free, but not self-absorbed.
  • Jesus came to show us the way to salvation; freedom from our ultimate enemies of hate, injustice, selfishness, and ego.
  • There is no such thing as personal salvation. Salvation is always tied to belonging to a family and community and everyone in the family and community being free.
  • Salvation is a mix of freedom, structure, responsibility, and belonging.
  • Catholics believe three things are needed for salvation.
    • Repentance: leaving our old life and slavery to our sins behind.
    • Trust and faith in God.
    • Baptism and the new life it brings.
  • Nowhere in the Bible does God save an individual. God always saves a community.

Ep51 Why Did God Create Us?



Father Len reveals three reasons God created us with some illustrative and inspiring stories and a funny Twinkies analogy.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • Father Len reviews the two creation stories in the Bible.
  • Everyone is born an Earthling and we only become true human beings when we can love to the point of death.
  • We are meant to evolve into a relationship of unconditional love with God, other people, and creation itself.
  • Pagan myths trace their creation to something grand and declare their superiority to other people and their origin.
  • In Christianity, we have this idea of a Trinity. God is a Trinity: lover, beloved, and love itself. We are created by perfect loving relationship, a Trinity for relationship.
  • God is pure unconditional, self-sacrificing, and self-giving love.
  • Baltimore Catechism question: “Why did God make you?” Answer: “God made me to know him, to love him, to serve him in this world and be happy with him forever in heaven.”
  • Heaven is a place of ultimate community and unconditional love. Where we’re all completely different, but united together. Hell is the opposite, to live by and for only one’s self.
  • In Heaven, we’ll be together as one as grapes in wine. Shedding our selfishness like grapes shedding their skins. We’ll become one without losing our uniqueness, totally united, just as grapes in wine.
  • Christ sums up all of his teachings this way: “love God with all your heart, mind, and soul and your neighbor as yourself.”
  • God is not a rule keeper handing out punishment for misbehaving. We inflict our own punishment when we choose only to think of ourselves.
  • We’re created for relationship and love, work and responsibility, worship and freedom.
  • Our sin or our holiness affects creation and how we relate to each other.
  • People who live in long and loving relationships live longer, are happier and healthier.
  • It is better for your health to eat a Twinkie with friends than a salad by yourself.
  • People who live life having a purpose beyond themselves live longer, happier and more satisfying lives.

Ep16 What is forgiveness and why do it?



Father Len explains what forgiveness is and isn’t and the powerful positive effects it has on us and those around us.

Highlights, Ideas, and Wisdom

  • We live in an age of anger. It defines our politics, the way we drive, our Facebook posts, and even our religion.
  • A lot of religious people baptize anger and make excuses for it by calling it righteous.
  • Nowhere in the Bible does it mention God’s having righteous anger. There is no righteous anger. Anger is anger.
  • There is a joke about Irish Alzheimer’s. It’s when you forget everything, but those you’re mad at.
  • People often confuse forgiveness with reconciliation. Forgiveness doesn’t require reconciliation.
  • Everything is forgivable, but not all things can be reconciled.
  • Forgiveness means you’re not going to be trapped in a prison of anger, bitterness, and resentment. It’s a source of freedom.
  • Attempts to reconcile with the sociopath can be problematic. An invitation to get hurt again and again.
  • Forgiveness that skips over justice and doesn’t hold the offender accountable is fake forgiveness. Its amnesty and submission to the wrong. It turns forgiveness into the way of the weak and not the strong.
  • Why should we forgive? First and foremost because God said so.
  • Father Len describes how forgiveness gave Nelson Mandela freedom.
  • Father Len tells the amazing story of a young actress whose career was ruined by Alfred Hitchcock, but she was able to forgive him and later attend his funeral free of anger, bitterness, and resentment.
  • Bitterness has a long-term effect on the brain. It makes you dumber.
  • Anger contributes to bad decision-making.
  • Wounded people wound others. If you hold on to anger and a really deep hurt, you’re likely to hurt other people.
  • Forgiveness silences the voice of the offender that keeps telling you you’re a victim and you have no dignity.
  • Forgiveness contributes to better health and a longer life.
  • Dr. Robert Enright’s “International Forgiveness Institute”
  • “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive.” – CS Lewis
  • The book, “A 1000 Acres” by Jane Smiley is a great story about the power of forgiveness.
  • People who’ve been able to forgive a deep hurt have a much greater capacity to love.