Control Issues and Freedom

One of my reader’s response to yesterday’s blog has got me to thinking more about control issues and related matters.  As noted yesterday, we all have control issues and address them in ways unique to our genetic, cultural, and social endowment. Hopefully our adaptation will leave us with a socially tenable persona; or, if not, one that is so “untenable” that that we don’t give a damn about the outside field of reference, basking in the comfort of some rigid ideology or cultic religion!

The latter response is what Erich Fromm had in mind half a century ago with his book, “Escape from Freedom.”  Those who can’t submit their private field of reference to the external “market place” of ideas escape into the illusion of being in control but will be safe from any awareness of their dilemma.  Their “freedom” is specious as hell and, indeed, might be one of the best examples we have of hell.  Those who have opted to enter and confine themselves to this conflagration have found the illusory need for control so powerful that they have sold their soul.  And always they will be voicing a conviction that “we are right”…usually exclusively so…to counter the deep-seated feeling that they are intrinsically wrong and even “damned.”  Confinement to this narrow prism of “the right way” is the curse of death, spiritually speaking, as it reflects a deep-seated inability to self-reflect, to deign to let go of some of the very-human need to be in control, and to gently tippy-toe into the realm of a mature faith.  For in the often frightening world of faith, doubts, fears, and insecurities are common.

So, why do we have such an inordinate need to be in control and thwart the heart’s natural inclination to faith?  I think it stems from our unconscious “knowledge” that life is much more precarious than our tribe taught us that it was.  And this tribal “fig leaf” (part of which is our persona) was very necessary just as T. S. Eliot noted with his observation, “Humankind cannot bear very much reality.”  But if we are lucky in what Richard Rohr and Carl Jung describes as “the second half of life,” we will find the courage to slowly remove that fig leaf, tippy-toe into the nakedness that it has hidden, and learn to swim in the realm of faith.  But faith, at this mature point of our life must not be the ideological regurgitation of dogma that often characterizes the first half of life.  It must be a faith that, in addition to an external reference point, includes an internal reference point which is what Jesus had in mind when he told us the Kingdom is within.  This faith must at some point become a faith, not only in a God who is “out there” but in the person “in here” who is “me.”  It requires “The Courage to Be.”  (See Paul Tillich book by same title, free on-line pdf at following link—


2 thoughts on “Control Issues and Freedom

  1. Anne-Marie

    Thank-you. I love the way that you said, “In the frightening world of faith, doubts, fears and insecurities are common.” This is very freeing because I think it is not helpful when we try to get rid of anxiety instead of making friends with it. Just reading the title of Paul Tillich’s book makes one breathe a little easier and I downloaded a copy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 21stcenturyxstian Post author

      Tillich is a hard read. But it is the essence of what you and I…and RR..are wrestling with. No, we must embrace our anxiety. It is what Paul meant with his quip about “weakness, fear, and much trembling.”



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