Kinds of Choice
What is being offered to the church today is a multitude of choices. (Let me see: leeks or onions? I choose onions!) We are being told that when we select one of these choices, we are making a free choice. And we feel as though we are free when we make our selection from among the several choices. This is not perfect freedom. As the philosopher Zizek writes in his book, On Belief:
... the truly free choice is a choice in which I do not merely choose between two or more options WITHIN a pre-given set of coordinates, but I choose to change this set of coordinates itself.Zizek points out that Lenin differentiated between two kinds of freedom: "formal" and "actual":
This is what the distinction between 'formal' and 'actual' freedom ultimately amounts to: 'formal freedom' is the freedom of choice WITHIN the coordinates of the existing power relations, while 'actual freedom' designates the site of an intervention which undermines these very coordinates.I do not want to settle for formal freedom. And the church as well as other religious communities, I suspect, are under the illusion that this formal freedom is as good as it gets in this life. I refuse to accept this concession. We are actually given actual freedom. It is ours to live. It requires courage and transformation, but it is entirely ours. Zizek also writes:
We can go on making our small choices, 'reinventing ourselves' thoroughly, on condition that these choices do not seriously disturb the social and ideological balance.Small choices. Reinventing ourselves within the prescribed parameters. Conditions. Don't rock the boat. Keep balanced. This will go on forever. Unless I stop. Unless you stop.