(CT) Ashley Hales–Oh, the Places We’ll Stay: In a world that promises liberation from the limits of place, we are called to be rooted disciples

What is the allure of space over place? When we choose space over place, we believe we’re choosing the path of freedom: Here there are more options open, more purchases available to us, more connections with real people behind screens. We imagine that freedom is a life without constraints.

Yet freedom is never a freedom from; it’s a freedom for others. Wendell Berry helpfully articulates how the individual has two ways to turn: either to this rootless “space” typified by the “relatively unconditional life of the public” (where we pursue self-interest primarily) or toward the life of the household and community. Patrick Deneen writes in his fascinating book, Why Liberalism Failed, of the temptation of rootlessness: “We are increasingly shaped by technology that promises liberation from limits of place, time, and even identity.”

Our temporal habits that put us on autopilot not only inhibit our creativity but also numb our souls. As we detach from real people, real places, and even the ordinary banal moments of life—when we choose space over place—we also lose our spirituality. The spiritual life is always a concrete, embodied life. Might we re-imagine freedom to be less about me and more about us, more about choosing (when we can) the rooted, specific, concrete over the abstract?

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Posted in geography, Theology