Lately I’ve been pondering Fear again. I first began to hate Fear as a motivator when I realised how many people were using it to drive their agendas. Politicians use fear–of terrorists, of economic struggle, of the changing way of life–to win elections. Christian writers use fear to sell books. Remember Mike Hyatt’s sky-is-falling Y2K tome? Hal Lindsey’s books? Even the Left Behind series capitalises on that Christian fear of being, well, left behind to deal with the hell on earth that is purported to be the tribulation. Secular writers use fear to sell books too. And win Oscars and Nobel Peace Prizes. Fear is the easiest ore to mine, and the smoothest path to wealth for those who have no qualms in exploiting it.
A few years ago I met a man who excelled at exploiting the fear of others. He preached the gospel of Peak Oil and moved his family to his father-in-law’s farm to prepare for the coming apocalypse. It was thanks to him that I became anti-fear. God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and self-discipline. I’ve been able to remember that for the big things, the End Of The World As We Know It things. It has helped me evaluate whom I vote for. It has helped me weigh proclamations from all sides about the bogeymen they dangle.
But clearly I still need to work on the tiny fears. The fears that lay/lie* on my own doorstep. Things like driving to the grocery, writing short stories, ending novels, knitting a catbed. Okay, maybe not the cat bed, since I haven’t actually gotten a cat. Just as I write this I realised that verse I quote to myself all the time–the one about “not being given a spirit of fear”–also ENDS with the fact that we’ve been given a spirit of self-discipline. HOW DID I OVERLOOK THAT? It should be that spirit I rely upon to do my daily work.
Which brings me to the other point I wanted to make. Christianity is only one of many religions that address the very human condition of fear and how to overcome it. In Christianity overcoming fear is free of monetary cost. Other major world religions also deal with fear in their own ways.
Yet there exists one religion that charges people a lot of money to overcome fear. They preach that this fear is the cause of things like, well, arthritis, and if you go through their process you can become fearfree. The fact that they are rolling in money and famous people is a testament to how badly people want to banish that aspect of themselves that limits their potential.
I wish my religion–Christianity–would be more upfront about how we deal with fear. Instead of constantly stirring the pot with Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God and “oooh, that license plate has ‘666’ on it, I want another one”, we need to draw a line in the sand that says HOPE, NOT FEAR. Think how much more we could get done.
*(would someone HELP me learn the right way to use these?)