Moral Freedom


I have been reading What Is the Point of Being a Christian? by Timothy Radcliffe, a Dominican friar who taught theology at the University of Oxford. (I already wrote about his latest book.) I could quote the whole volume, given that I keep finding lapidary passages. I advise you to buy it. Now.

Here are two insightful paragraphs on moral freedom and Christianity (that also confirm the Dominican love of food and drink):

A few years ago, when I was visiting the Dominicans in the Czech Republic, I spent the night in a small town called Snojmo near the Austrian border. There was the usual meeting with the Dominican Family. There were lots of young families with their noisy offspring, and we feasted on delicious sausages and drank slivovitz. Then we had an open discussion, and the first question was from a young woman who asked how she could transmit the Church’s moral teaching to her children, who seemed to be just as resistant as children in Western Europe. I did not know how to answer the question and so I passed it to my companion for that trip, a moral theologian called Wojcieh Giertych, professor at the Angelicum University in Rome.

He went to the blackboard and drew a small square in a corner. “In that square are the commandments. Is that what morality is about?” And everyone cried “Of course.” “No,” he said “God is not much interested in commandments.” Then he drew a square which covered all the rest of the board and said, “That is freedom. That is what interests God. Your task is to teach your children to be free. That is the teaching of the Gospels, and of St. Thomas Aquinas.”[1]


[1] Timothy Radcliffe OP, What Is the Point of Being a Christian? (London: Burns & Oates, 2005), pp. 29-30.