17 Apr

'Freedom' as tyranny

Category: Sound Thinking
By: Ken Myers
Published: 04/17/15

Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon on democracy and desire


“The primary entity of democracy is the individual, the individual for whom society exists mainly to assist assertions of individuality. Society is formed to supply our needs, no matter the content of those needs. Rather than helping us to judge our needs, to have the right needs which we exercise in right ways, our society becomes a vast supermarket of desire under the assumption that if we are free enough to assert and choose whatever we want we can defer eternally the question of what needs are worth having and on what basis right choices are made. What we call ‘freedom’ becomes the tyranny of our own desires. We are kept detached, strangers to one another as we go about fulfilling our needs and asserting our rights. The individual is given a status that makes incomprehensible the Christian notion of salvation as a political, social phenomenon in the family of God. Our economics correlates to our politics. Capitalism thrives in a climate where ‘rights’ are the main political agenda. The church becomes one more consumer-oriented organization existing to encourage individual fulfillment rather than being a crucible to engender individual conversion into the Body.”

—from Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon, Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1989)

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