Bishop David Oakley, Bishop of Northampton
Freddie Mercury would have been turning 75 on Sunday 5 September, the Bishop of Northampton was invited onto OJ Borg’s midnight show to ‘Pause for Thought’ on his favourite Freddie Mercury song. He chose ‘I want to break free’. Listen to hear why and read the script here:
How time flies? It’s hard to imagine, Freddie Mercury would have been 75 this week. Honestly, I can’t claim to have been a massive fan of Queen, but even I could hum along to the iconic song, I want to Break Free. I’ll spare you my bath-time rendition of it, but ask this question, what’s the song about? You can look at this from a number of perspectives, but it certainly seems to concern some fundamental features of the human condition; feeling trapped, loneliness, freedom and love.
Now over the years, I’ve looked at quite a few religious traditions and philosophical systems, meaning of life stuff if you will, and it seems to me that breaking free is part of every human narrative. Imagine listening to this song with the backdrop of recent news scenes from Kabul airport.
But even within our own relatively comfortable world, we all daydream, something to keep us going in our humdrum world. When I was a boy, I used to imagine the sea was the other side of the railway embankment near my home. I wanted to break free from the constraints of my young life at that time. When I’m seriously stressed out, I still yearn for the sea.
But that raises another question; breaking free from lies, as the song puts it, is one thing, but the question in my mind, what comes next? What makes me the authentic person I want to become?
I’ve spent my life trying to understand what might follow after breaking free from the pressures which threaten to overwhelm us.
Five times, Freddie Mercury sings, ‘God knows’. Actually, I think that’s really true, and what makes life free and exciting for me is when I can begin to trust those words.
Bishop David Oakley
1 September 2021
Pause for Thought