Father Robert Barron has become one of my favorite youtube commentators. In his relatively short videos, he discusses movies, historical events, and theology. I don’t agree with everything he says, but I always appreciate his thoughtful and careful analysis and his affinity with mimetic theory.
Here, Father Barron discusses some positive and negative aspects of Independence Day. I admire his ability to both appreciate aspects of the American political system while also critiquing the American idolatrous spirit of independent freedom. Mimetic theory helps us understand that our excessive devotion to freedom can quickly put us in rivalry with one another, as we each assert our “freedom” at the expense of another’s freedom. Examples of the idolatry of freedom leading to violence and destruction against others abound not only in American history, but also in world history. The biblical story, as alluded to by Father Barron, begins the process of inviting us not into independent freedom, but into the dependent freedom of love. The freedom to love is a dependent freedom, of course, because love is always dependent on a relationship with an “other.”
Indeed, cheers for the Fourth of July, but as a person of faith, I agree with Father Barron and give it a cautious two cheers.