Discovered just now, by scrolling through the internet, that today is a trifecta of scariness. It is a Friday.* It is the 13th of the month. And it is a full moon. Line up your freak-out gifs!!! And right on cue, as of first importance, I have been delivered a long screed against Christians having anything to do with Halloween. It’s going to be epic this year. I am gathering entries for our annual extra-super-special Halloween Podcast, so send them in!
On the whole, as you know, I’m a big fan of apocalyptic level panic. On the French news this morning they were interviewing a philosoph/ecriven (philosopher/writer—gosh, I wish that could be my tagline) whose new book, Le Fin de l’Individu: Voyage d’un philosophe au pays de l’intelligence artificielle, is all about, well, that. I don’t have to buy and read it because he put it in a nutshell. Because of AI, all our decisions are going to be taken away from us and we’re all going to die. I mean, he might not have said exactly that, it was three hours ago and I wasn’t listening very well, but that’s what it felt like.
On an unrelated note, if you think my English spelling is scary, you should see me try to spell in French. It’s epic for its horror.
So I posted this on Facebook this week…
…with the comment, “My trust is without boarders, my trust is without boarders,” meaning, of course, “borders.” At least, I think that’s what I meant because I’ve never actually seen the lyrics written out. Personally, I would rather have “trust without boarders” than “trust without borders.” Indeed, aren’t “borders” exactly what are required for trust–like, the main thing that you always need in order to be able to trust anything or anyone? Anyway, someone asked if I was trying to make a political statement, which I assure you, I was not, spelling or otherwise. It was a reference to this:
My favorite comments were, “Together we’re Pod Scum,” and, Together we’re a Lake…of Fire.” Also appreciated the people who noticed that oceans, in the bible, are symbolic of chaos and catastrophe and that if we, together, are one and they mean it in a good and happy way, that’s totes biblical illiteracy.
Anyway, that’s old last week news. This week the sign reads: “The Gentle Oppressor.” Truly, I heart the Unitarians. #fundaysinchurch
Of course, it’s not all these sorts of things that really scare me, it’s the little pricking doubts and anxieties that follow me around on a regular school day. Looking at all the weeks and books and work I think, “there’s no way we’re going to get through all this stuff, NO WAY,” and I’m right, because somehow we never do. Therefore, based on actual experience and careful consideration of the future, it seems eminently reasonable, on day one, to succumb to fear from top to bottom. In this spirit, I drive my offspring academically forward, all the time envying those people who apparently don’t live in the Kingdom of Anxiety.Five
I feel like that’s one of the major sicknesses of fear—envy. Looking at someone else and thinking that they are ok, that if I could just have what they are having, I would be happy. I assume they are happy, and then I look at myself and discover that I am unhappy, and poor, and miserable. I chew on that for a while, until I discover that if I can’t have what they are having I will probably die—of not having enough. Never mind that I don’t know whether they are really happy or not, they may be very miserable as I am. Who knows. I mean, I feel like I know, hence the brewing discontent that opens the gate to anxiety and fear.
I don’t think I am entirely wrong about this dark association. Came across this horrifying line in Psalm 49, “Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd…” The psalm is titled “Why Should I Fear in Times of Trouble?” Which seems a manifestly foolish question. The answer is obvious—BECAUSE.
The psalmist, however, doesn’t think so. He draws a fine, filigree line between the “high and rich” and the “low and poor.” The “rich” person isn’t just someone who has all the money he wants, it is the person who seems to have it all together, who doesn’t appear to suffer, for whom everything goes well. When she makes a phone call, the other person is on the end of the line and listening. When he tries to accomplish a task, he actually does it to his own satisfaction. They—these high and rich—are so well off that they get to “call lands by their own names.”
The “poor” on the other hand, well, remarkably, the psalmist doesn’t really describe him. Her singular characteristic is that she “sees that even the wise die.” He understands that “truly no man can ransom another or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of his life is costly and can never suffice” but then, remarkably that, “God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me.” Therefore, concludes the Psalmist, “Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him.”
So I guess even the most gruesome border–death–need not be that scary. Maybe I’ll try going with that today.
Speaking of scary, I wrote about the theology of Jen Hatmaker a long while ago and you can read it by subscribing to CRI, which you should do not just for my piece but because equip.org is such an excellent apologetic resource. Also, there’s a podcast at that link, and an older blogpost to whet your appetite.
Also, go check out more takes and pray for Kelly and her family if you have a moment.
*Can’t remember why Fridays are supposed to be scary. Aren’t they what we all are longing for with every fiber of our beings, no matter what their dates?