Moore: We were created to be free
As close as it is to Independence Day, I thought we could talk about freedom. Specifically, freedom as seen in the rich cultural world of classic rock ‘n’ roll. The songs abound, such as “Freewill” by Rush, “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty, “Free Ride” by the Edgar Winter Group, “Philadelphia Freedom” by Elton John, and of course, “I’m Free” by The Who.
There are also songs that don’t use the word specifically but scream freedom from their soul. I’m thinking of “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen and “Born to be Wild” by Steppenwolf. I’d throw in 1966’s “Born Free” but I think that’s outside our genre.
If you grew up in the South like me, you may have signed that petition to make “Free Bird” the new national anthem. Can I get a witness? Bringing in the world of roots reggae, a deep well is Bob Marley’s box set “Songs of Freedom” which includes the live recording of “Redemption Song,” recorded at Marley’s last concert in 1980.
Sitting in the dark 106 miles from Chicago with a full tank of gas, wearing sunglasses, the great anthem of the even greater Aretha Franklin comes to mind. “Think” was released as a single in 1968 and stands as one of the most heartfelt cries of my generation, whether or not you are a fan of the Blues Brothers. I don’t know, but I’ve got to think George Michael had Aretha in his ears has he wrote his own classic “Freedom! 90.” Freedom, freedom, freedom! Aretha and George, we salute you.
But at the top of my freedom playlist is Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee.” For your trivia notes, what is one of only two songs to be posthumously released and become No. 1 on the U.S. singles chart? You may think she wrote “Me and Bobby McGee,” and I’m of course referring to the iconic Janis Joplin. “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”
Why is freedom so ingrained in the desires of our hearts? In this time of crippling partisanship, in which people disagree about so many things, we all desire freedom. Both the desire for freedom, and the desire to take it away from others, are at the heart of virtually every conflict in human history. For a species who has to continually strive to preserve this most precious of values, why is it even our value in the first place?
As a person of faith, I respectfully submit that humanity craves freedom because we were created to be free. Don’t take my word for it, I defer to the founders of our country. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
As a follower of Christ, I respectfully submit that we are created to be free because freedom is an essential value of God himself. There’s an interesting dynamic found in the New Testament, where on the one hand we see an unapologetic declaration of the freedom given by Christ. The Apostle Paul declared “I am free and belong to no man!” And yet, he followed that statement by saying “I have made myself a slave to everyone.” In other words, Paul’s desire for people to come to know the freedom of God led him to surrender — when necessary — his own freedom before God.
Another interesting New Testament twist is its identification of one the greatest threats to freedom. Again, Paul declared “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” The “yoke of slavery” here is not the big bad immoral world … it is the temptation of pride, empty religion, and legalism.
We were created to be free, and the only value greater than our personal freedom is the God given love of our fellow man, woman, and child. As we the people wrestle with so many issues, the reality of freedom lived out of love is not one we should set aside.
I’ll end with the great Pete Townshend, quoting from The Who’s masterpiece “Tommy.” “I’m free. I’m free! And freedom tastes of reality. I’m free … I’m free! And I’m waiting for you to follow me.”
Reminds me of words spoken by another cultural rebel some 2000 years earlier. “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed… follow me!”
Live free everyone. And also … rock on.
Ethan Moore is the pastor of Trinity Church in Edwards. He and his wife Lisa have lived in the valley since 1995. You can reach him at email@example.com.