We could probably all agree that fear is one of our biggest issues. We find it beneath issues like anger and anxiety. Holy books and wisdom literature admonish us to “fear not,” yet we continue to practice it, even though it yields unhelpful outcomes.
The primary influences to fear practice are organized religion and politics, especially the way we practice them in the West. I have no idea what to do with politics, but I was a pastor for 20 years, so I will address religion.
1. The Doctrines
The suggestion of an afterlife eventually leads to ideas like eternal conscious torment. The idea of an adversary in culture and the arts eventually became Satan who is out to destroy us. It’s very easy to refute these ideas in books like the Bible, but religious leaders continue to push these ideas because they are good for business.
2. The Gathering
Obviously we are hardwired for connection, yet we tend to gather only with people that look, act and believe like us. Preachers take advantage by using otherizing language, such as “the world,” to tell us we are safe inside and not out there.
3. The Pitch
For decades, American pastors used exaggerated accounts of Russia, Islam, homosexuals, drugs and other fears to generate acceptance of their ideas and dogma as a solution. Every salesman knows that fear is the best motivator for what they are selling. Every pastor and priest eventually discovered the same.
We all know that it’s not healthy to have absolutely no fear. But, we also do not need to create and support religious and political institutions that fan our reasonable fears into flames of religious and political ignorance following a character leader (salesman).
When people are confronted with giving up their doctrine of hell (eternal conscious torment), they lament that without this belief, their entire belief system may crumble. Since they have admitted to building a faith on a foundation of fear, I would suggest letting it fall (deconstruction) and begin to evolve with a better foundation like love or compassion.
I agree that we need some kind of community. But I will never admit that we need fear based religion or politics.
Last year Russia invaded an unarmed country and failed miserably.
There are issues to be addressed in our world, but we will never address them effectively by hyping our solutions with fear. If Jesus is the answer, he doesn’t need us to otherwise and demonize others to make him look better.
We believe it is possible to thrive outside organized religion and we wrote a book about it.
Out into the Desert https://amzn.to/3Y9BChE
Be where you are,
Be who you are,
Be at peace,
Photo by samer daboul: https://www.pexels.com/photo/extreme-close-up-photo-of-frightened-eyes-4178738/