Why we drive

Cars have always meant freedom to me.

Back in my day at the Air Force Academy, underclassman couldn’t own cars. But a great incentive for sticking it out was the promise of getting a new car your senior year.

Out of 800 seniors, 300 had Corvettes.

Banks would loan cadets $4000, enough for a fully loaded Camaro. Corvettes were $5100.

My Uncle Don was a Chevy dealer, and I spent a whole day with him over Christmas break my junior year picking out a Camaro. But before I left, Uncle Don asked, if I could get a Corvette, what would it be like? That was easy; Corvettes back then had few options. But I had no hope of getting one because I didn’t have $1100.

A few days later, as Christmas break was ending, Dad asked, “You’d really like that Corvette, wouldn’t you?” Yes, of course, I said. Dad said that he would make up the price difference.

As a father myself I can imagine his joy in making my dream come true.

Jana and I drove our Corvette cross country on our honeymoon. It was our daily driver for years. During the three years we lived in Northern Maine we had no garage, and it sometimes got buried in snow.

We’re having that car restored for our sons now. We know it’s just a car, but it reminds me of Dad and Uncle Don. It’s as close to a family heirloom as we’ve got.

In his book Why We Drive, Matthew Crawford, a motorcycle mechanic with a PhD in political philosophy, makes the case that moving through our world is part of what makes us human. He laments how cars have become boring, cushier, and insulated from the feel of the road. He details how advances in safety led to “safetyism.” He says tech companies are betting that we’ll be OK with becoming passive occupants of self-driving cars. They’re betting we’ll be willing to give up freedom for the illusion of safety.

The author of Hebrews writes of how Jesus Christ shared our humanity “so that he might break the power of death…and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”

Isn’t freedom from death the greatest freedom of all?

Imagine our Heavenly Father’s joy in setting us free.

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