Fear is a Really Lousy Religion

It must be awful to go through life terrified; to believe that you are perpetually in danger, to always be threatened by encroaching predators lurking in the shadows and around the corners and beneath the bed. What a drag it has to be to walk through every day looking over your shoulder, certain that attack is inevitable and you are soon to be overtaken. 

And yet this is the experience of far too many Christians in this country; people who have been a people weaned since birth on a faith of fear:

Fear of Hell from a loving God.
Fear of immigrants stealing their jobs.

Fear of refugees bringing terrorism in a Trojan Horse.
Fear of Transgender people lurking in bathrooms.
Fear of Atheists assailing their freedoms.
Fear of brown people brandishing violence.
Fear of Hollywood perverting their children.
Fear of Non Christians converting their children.

Fear of the Government coming for their guns.
Fear of the Media distorting their reality.
Fear of the Devil coming in the form of Muslims, Gays, and Liberals.

It all helps create a monstrous, Frankensteined faith that has turned on them. Somehow, what should be a hope-giving, life-breathing, joy-inducing gift, has been reduced to a sanctified burglar alarm, forever forecasting doom, forever inciting panic, forever triggering outrage.

And as a Christian, this makes me so very sad because it’s a million miles from the heart of the story—that story is one of a Maker who says: Do Not Fear.

It is the most common command in the Bible. It is the continuous golden tether running throughout the Scriptures; the assurance that faith is the antidote to all that terrifies us. It is the steady declaration that if God is indeed God, we are safe and loved and that all will be well.

The poet of the Psalms writes in his 27th song of praise: The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? (Apparently no one’s read that over at the White House or FoxNews or in a large portion of Evangelical pulpits in America, because they’re all shaking like dogs before a coming storm and trying to convoke us all to tremble too.)

That so many who claim this same religious tradition and profess adherence to this same text spend so much of their days as if the sky is imminently falling, is something that as a pastor I grieve deeply. I don’t know how to process people who can simultaneously say they trust a God who supposedly spoke the Universe into being—and yet can’t handle a Starbucks cup, an Evolution class, a gay couple in their church or some distraught refugee families. It’s the very pinnacle of cognitive dissonance to say In God We Trust while proving with every frantic, desperate move that they trust no one.

In the Old Testament, Joshua is chosen to succeed Moses to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. The Scripture says he is encouraged by the voice of God saying: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I don’t believe many Christians have heard that voice. I don’t believe they truly rest in this truth. Because those who’ve heard that voice and rest in that truth wouldn’t be so damn terrified all the time. They wouldn’t be so obsessed with protection and insulation and damnation, they wouldn’t have so much contempt for the diversity around them—and they wouldn’t be so angry.

The Gospel biographer Mark tells the story of Jesus in a boat with his disciples, when a furious storm engulfs them. Panic-stricken, they rush to find Jesus in the back of the boat sleeping on a cushion and questioning his concern for them. Just before calming the wind and the waves, he asks them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

I wonder how those who profess faith in Jesus, yet preach a Gospel of terror would honestly respond to such an inquiry? I wonder how their hearts might be renovated if their religion became a source of security rather than fuel for generating fear. I wonder how differently they might respond to the real pain and despair around them.

I keep waiting for the people of God to act as if they believe that God is God. 

Fear is a powerful drug.
It’s a fantastic political tactic.
It’s a wonderful manipulator.

It’s an effective motivator.
But it’s a really lousy religion.

May more Christians in America come to believe that the sky is not falling, because they know the One who holds up the sky.

And may they stop being so very afraid—for their sake and the sake of those they fear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

187 thoughts on “Fear is a Really Lousy Religion

    • As a Christian (and ordained clergy), I appreciate everything you have to say, John Pavlovitz. Keep saying stuff that needs to be said, please.

    • Yup, just more sections of the Bible to rip out and toss on the fire, including large sections of Jesus’ own words. Thank God we have Pavlovitz here to guide us.

  1. Kind of sounds like you’re justifying liberal fears but not conservative fears. Liberals tend to march in the streets more than conservatives because they fear social programs being taken away. They are afraid that police officers go door to door to root out black folks and shoot them in the streets. They are afraid that just because they want people to enter this country the correct and legal way, that they hate foreigners and want them all sent back. Let’s face it, both sides built it’s base through fear of the other side. For the record, I believe also that fear is dangerous. Zig Ziglar used to say that fear is spelled F-E-A-R and it means, “False Evidence Appearing Real.” However I believe that my faith in God keeps me from going mad with fear. Maybe we all need a bit more faith without religion.

    • Fear really is a lousy religion and I feel as if conservative politicians have been attempting to manipulate me my whole life with their various bogeymen. First, it was the Cold War and I was positive I would not live long enough to see forty. Then the Cold War ended all of a sudden, we were supposed to be scared of “Muslim” terrorists.

      I decided I would not live in fear.

      One thing. John P. wrote “It is the steady declaration that if God is indeed God, we are safe and loved and that all will be well.” Yes, we are loved but what does the bible mean by “safe” and “all will be well?” Because it certainly can’t mean that nothing bad is ever going to happen or that there will be no pain and suffering because we all know that bad things happen to good people. If the sun shines in the just and the unjust, then it stands to reason that the rain falls on the just and the unjust.

      God’s promise is that God keeps us safe to Her/Himself, that our true home is in God’s cupped hands and nothing can ever remove us from that place, except our own wills.

        • I have no idea what you mean by the phrase “scare quotes”, Navy CDR. I don’t mean them to scare anyone. I mean them to indicate anyone who commits an act of terror is not a true Muslim in the same way any white supremacist who commits an act of terror is not a true Christian.

          • That’s definitely not how they see it. Everything those guys do is taken straight from their 1000 year old religious texts. I would suggest that we’ll never solve the issue of Islamic terror if we don’t understand their motivation.

            • What’s important to me is how the leaders of Islam understand Daesch, Al Qaeda, and Taliban. Which is to say, the leaders of Islam have repudiated the terrorists as not of Islam.

              We have to remember that Muslims worship the same God as Christians. “Allah” is not the name of their god, it is merely the Arab word fof “god.” Arab Christians also say “Allah Ahkbar” just as Christians say “God is great.”

              Daesch, Al Qaeda, Taliban have much more in common with Stephen Bannon, the KKK, white supremacists, Dylan Roof, etc than they have with mainstream Islam just as Stephen Bannon, the KKK, white supremacists, Dylan Roof have more in common with Daesch, Al Qaeda, Taliban than mainstream Christianity.

              What we need to recognize that the issue is not Islam, it is radical right wing extremists.

              I highly recommend A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam by Karen Armstrong

              Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time
              by Karen Armstrong

              Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence
              by Karen Armstrong

              Islam: A Short History
              by Karen Armstrong

              Read one of these and get back to me.

              Three terrorists were arrected in the USA last week and they all of them white supremacists.

              • I don’t think it really matters what other Muslims say about ISIS. They’ve made clear their beliefs and motivations, all of which are rooted in a 7th century version of Islam. It does no good to deny it. When they throw homosexuals off rooftops, and burn alive those they consider apostates they’re not doing it just for the shock value. It’s what their sacred texts call for.

                As for your suggested reading list, I’m not sure what more I’d learn than I already have in the years I’ve spent in that part of the world. Why don’t you move to Bahrain, Afghanistan, or any other middle eastern nation, and get back to me. Living something is quite a bit more educational than reading about it.

                • When someone from another religion criticizes Christianity, it certainly matters to us what our theologians say in response.

                  I think Muslim theologians know far more about their own religion than you or I do.

                  But as you have such a closed mind that you reject out of hand some good resources, we are done.

                  I hope you will not linger here as yet another troll as we already have too many.

                  • Hold on, believing that years of actual life experience, living among and interacting with a certain group, is a more valuable educational experience than reading a book makes me a troll? That’s hardly a controversial opinion.

                    Or was it because I responded in kind to the condescension you displayed in suggesting I wasn’t educated enough to debate this topic with you without further research?

                • Does everyone here go into the fetal position when their views are challenged, or just this woman? I said nothing inaccurate or inappropriate. She felt she was superior to me and treated me accordingly, hence my reply. Someone tell me what I’m missing.

            • I guarantee that every Christian that does anything in the name of Christ is “taking it straight from their” 2000 year old text. Good or bad. But we can’t understand motivation solely based on a text because we are not our texts. There are many good books that explain the many aspects of human existence over time that motivate us to war, but Jared Diamond’s “The World Before Yesterday” gives an interesting view of “traditional societies” and why we can’t simplify these things into religious texts, politics, or even life resources. You are right that we need to understand them, and Christians, and Israeli’s and Russians, and… We need to understand humans all over the planet, but we have a very long way to go because we have no interest in understanding, only labeling as different and assuming *their* difference is what makes the problem vs. differences on both sides. I’m not saying *you* have this problem, Navy CDR, but that we, the West as a whole, has it.

    • Conservatives fear bogeymen, the monsters under the bed and in the closet. These things are no more real than they were when we were children.

      Progressives fear people going hungry, naked, without medical care or the things they need to thrive.

      • John P is fixated on the adversary (there is no power there) Why complain about the devil all day long?

        We can be like Job –accept the trials.

        When Job said to his wife, ‘why should I accept the good from God and not the bad?’…. that was the end of Satan’s interference. He went away and he never came back.

        • leslie, interesting point– I just don’t think the Job story fits in this case because we can act to make things better when they are going wrong. What about the story of David and Goliath? Goliath was making everyone afraid and taunting the army of Israel but David stood up to Goliath. Should David have gone around and placated everyone by saying this is a trial just accept the Philistines are stronger ?

          • Kathy. I believe, that sometimes, as Christians, we would do well to do nothing, and say nothing.

            The sweetest words God ever heard from me, were, ‘Help. I give up –I can’t do it anymore.’

            • No Leslie. What you are really saying is that nonfundies should do nothing and get out of the way so you fundies can have free reign to do whatever you please to people—no matter how much it hurts them. WE SHALL NEVER DO THAT.

            • leslie- I appreciate you engaging me. Both you are Charles have worthy responses. There is a time to be quiet and a time to speak up. Each person can be guided by wisdom. So it is in their hearts to speak up or remain silent.

              When you said, “The sweetest words God ever heard from me, were, ‘Help. I give up –I can’t do it anymore.’” Yes, there is a time we give our lives to God and humble our wills seeking God in everything we do. And, part of what we do is to speak up against bad policies and injustice.

              The way I see it, people who oppose Trump’s policies are not opposing God they are opposing Trump’s policies– and many are doing so on their knees in prayer.

              I am not opposed to those who are silent if they are silent because they agree with Trump’s policies and if people are silent because they are fearful I can understand that because they probably are not in a safe environment to speak up or have the time to do something. But for those people who are waiting to see what God will do– I have a hard time with that– because doing nothing when it is in your power to do something is a sin of omission.

              What does your heart tell you leslie? Do you agree with Trumps’ policies and how he is implementing them?

              • Kathy. from my own experience… i found that in my day to day life, being quieter, has helped me just be a Servant. When I’m not opining, or putting my will on others, I am able to hear & see more things that God has for me to do. (I realize the huge contradiction as I ‘chime’ in here.) 🙂

                [I know its hard to believe, but I genuinely care about John P, and his followers. ]

                Just positing the idea (shut up and serve God) as a possible option for all who are in turmoil & pain about Trumps Presidency.

                I disagree that shouting expletives , rioting, protesting, & being depressed are godly endeavors.

                Re Trump: I approve of:
                –Enforcing Immigration Laws (sending criminals back to their country, no sanctuary for alien criminals. )
                –Prying Liberals fingers off of Public Education (that I pay for!). I’m against govt run college –higher ed should be free from that influence.
                –I’m against mandatory Govt run Healthcare (it’s too controlling & sub standard!)
                –I’m for the Keystone Pipeline (that passed every EPA guideline.) I’m Pro Gas/Oil, Energy.
                –Housing & Urban Development, Ben Carson will bring action & hope to our suffering citizens in Detroit, Chicago, etc.
                –Strengthened Military. (Peace through strength.)
                –Religious Freedom (btw: It’s nice to see a Leadership that is not ashamed of Jesus.)
                –Originalist Supreme Court Justices. (because they are impartial and don’t make new laws. ) (we have more than enough Laws)

                …I could go on…

                • First off, leslie, we spend more on our military than the next 30 countries combined. The more you spend on the military the less you have to spend on such things as..oh..infrastructure and the people. You might want to keep in mind what more than anything else drove the Soviet Union into the trash heap was their ever increasing spending on the military.

                  Secondly yes we liberals do fear that your party will cut social programs. but the reason we fear it is because you conservatives have spent the last 40 years so tilting the economy in the favor of the top few with your precious supply side economics that the economy simply doesn’t work for the rest of us. When 95% of the income growth goes to the already rich that means that the economy is so imbalanced that it’s teetering on the edge of collapse. The last time that economic situation existed in this country, Leslie, it was right before the Great Depression. Do you want a repeat of that?

                  Secondly no..we liberals do not “have our hands around public education.” Your side whines that because your side thinks public schools exist to shove your religious beliefs down the throats of other peoples kids. That whole entire “Liberals control public education” is based around your side whining that it doesn’t get to force kids to pray and doesn’t get to teach that hearsay creationism/intelligent design as science when its not. Then there is the fact that for the last 40 years at least your side has waged war against any education period. Oh I did forget..for some reason your side also thinks that I should pay taxes that goes to private religious schools. Gee…I wonder how long it would take your side to object to a private Muslim school being given tax dollars…

                  Your view on higher education means that only the rich would get to send their kids to college.

                  As for “government mandated health care” well the fact that every other western industrialized country has single payer and has actual better health care than the United States proves you wrong there. You republicans have spent the last 20 years claiming that the free market will fix health care..and it hasn’t. In fact it has made it worse. Person A’s health should not depend on corporate executive B’s greed.

                  And funny..your party didn’t have a problem with “government mandated health care” when your party proposed exactly that in the 1990s.

                  So why the sudden opposition to it..oh wait…

                  As for cops dragging people out of their homes and shooting them ..gee maybe your side should actually help us deal with bad cops instead of covering their asses?

                  As for illegal immigrants..well first off your side is only going to crash the economy if it deports all illegal immigrants. I don’t see you conservatives rushing to work in the fields so if you deport them all you’re going to crash the food supply of this country.

                  So how about your side actually compromise with ours and 1: secure the border and 2: give those people the means to earn legal status.

                  Because sorry, as long as the legal immigration system is so byzantine that it takes years and decades for people to be allowed to enter legally you are going to have illegal immigrants. And trump’s precious wall will not do a damn thing to stop it.

                  The only party in 20 years that has proposed an actual border security and immigration reform bill is the Democrats. The Republicans promptly sabotaged it.

                  It would also help your sides credibility on the subject of illegal immigration if your side actually went after the people and companies that hire illegal immigrants.

                  People and companies like Trump who has a long history of 1: hiring illegals and 2: importing foreign workers.

      • Thank you. I was just thinking the same thing. Conservatives are always afraid of “them” while we progressives are afraid of what will happen to “them” if we don”t intercede on their behalf. A very different view indeed.

        • A profoundly fundamental difference in POV, Ellen. For instance, I don’t care who is hungry, naked, ill, in need. Whoever is hungry, I want them fed. Whoever is naked, I want them clothed. Whoever is ill I want them to have medical care. Whoever is in need, I want those needs met.

          Jesus tells me to love my neighbor as myself. Jesus tells me to love my neighbor as God loves me. Since Jesus fails to include a list of exceptions, footnotes or appendices limiting the definition of “neighbor” that makes everyone in the world my neighbor.

          Unlike the conservatives and the Christian right, who only will help their own. And if they do help those who are not their own, there are strings attached to the giving, as I have learned right here on this blog.

          Human needs are human needs are human needs. We all have them because we are all human. We are called to serve each other. When we limit whom we would help, we place ourselves at the highest pinnacle of arrogance and pride that in Greek is called hubris.

        • I don’t know Ellen it’s kind of the same thing. Conservatives worry about what will happen to their loved ones and therefore fear the stranger and liberals worry about what will happen to the stranger and therefore fear conservatives. So many people felt real dread after Trump was elected. It is the same thing — we fear each other and don’t know how to come together to conquer our fears and work jointly together to assuage those fears. We don’t know how to make peace with each other because we oppose each other– not realizing we are the same inside and each of us do wish the best for all, but we can’t agree so we argue and fight rather than dialogue and negotiate.

          • Thank you, Jenny. I am so tired of the theological litmus tests or the theological checklist before needs are met. Or strings attached to what ought to be an open-handed gift.

            We are human beings and we have needs. For instance, SNAP benefits are really miserly. They represent something like 1% of the total Federal budget yet conservatives blame SNAP for all sorts of problems with the budget.

            SNAP applications look only at income. They do not want to know what a person pays in rent, utlities, etc. They do not adjust for the varying levels of the cost of living. As a result, no one on SNAP really gets enough benefits to make healthful food choices. We end up going to food banks who hand us a bag of food and it is always the cheapest stuff that may not be the best choice for an individual.

            I remember one time I went to a Salvation Army food bank. In addition to the usual rice, beans, boxes of mac n cheese, canned veg, I was handed a box with a dozen powder sugar donuts. I declined the donuts because I am diabetic. The response was “Then you must not be very hungry.”

            I am on the receiving end of that exact same slap in the face at all the food banks because I want to turn down all the carbs that have adverse effects upon my diabetes. I really don’t want to eat foods that are going to kill me.

            My doctor is threatening me with insulin if I don’t get my diabetes under control. Thing is, I am allergic to insulin.

            But people’s fear of someone getting something for nothing (as if that is really such a bad thing) prevent the SNAP benefits from being higher. People fear that receiving SNAP benefits would make one lazy, conveniently overlooking that the majority of recipients are children, the disabled, and seniors. Recipients are also families where both parents work their butts off trying to provide for their kids.

            Oh, I just gotta stop now.

    • Peter, I wonder if the “False Evidence Appearing Real.” is our idea that there is a distinct divide between liberals and conservatives. I have to admit my point of view is a blend of the two. Fear is common in us all and I think it takes courage to stand up to the government and speak out against injustice when we see it.

    • I really love these blog posts, and they have been provocative and comforting in ways I’ve needed over these past several months. But I also find they reinforce my own judgmental thinking at points, focusing negatively on “them” and what I’d like to change about “them.” So I appreciate this response inviting us to think about our own fear. I for one have been very scared and anxious about this administration and the harm it may inflict on multitudes of people and on our shared planet and on life as we know it. And I really long to hear God, Jesus, whomever, saying, Do not be afraid, not as a harsh rebuke but as a deep reassurance that God is with us whatever comes. I pray we might all, from right to left, be less afraid, and maybe even that our fear might be something that lends to compassion for one another, rather than more judgement and hostility.

      • Kimberly, God is indeed with us, whatever comes. I had a dream once, a vision, really, and I have never lost the impact of that vision and I can step into its truth at will. It’s a great gift God gave me.

        At one point in my life i used to cry myself to sleep begging Jesus to hold my hand so I would know He was there. Never happened and eventually, I cease to ask for that.

        Years later after Certain Events, I remembered how I used to beg and I shrieked with venomous rage at God “How dare you deny me that? It would have been so simple for You.” Cannot tell you how furious I was.

        I heard a Voice saying “how could I hold your hand whenI am always holding you in mine?” Then I saw myself standing within the cupped hands of God, standing on the fleshy bit at the base of God’s fingers, holding on to two of them, peeking out over them at the world and my life and I knew then, that whatever slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that would sure as shooting come my way, ultimately I am safe in God’s cupped hands and there I remain.

        This does not mean I am released from all fear for I am not. It doesn;t mean bad things have avoided me for they have not. There has been profound suffering what with becoming disabled and handicapped. What with my brothers abandoning my mother and me. What with a buncha other stuff.

        What it does mean is that God keeps me safe for Her/Himself and I already live in Heaven with God, the Mother/Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I will always live there even as I die a hideous death from diabetes which be untreated once the ACA is repealed without replacement because I will always have a pre-existing condition.

    • We don’t march in the streets out of fear, we would hide out of fear. We march against injustice. The Red neckties don’t seem to understand justice or injustice; they only speak of fair or unfair. The former is ‘We, the People’ while the latter is ‘Me, Myself.’

    • If you believe that, Mr. Crocker, then I am sorry for you. Liberal fear is based on compassion for her or his fellow humans; conservative fear is not.

  2. Thank you John. I think we all need to be reminded of this from time to time. Some more than others. Thank you for putting into words so eloquently the thoughts that roll around in my head. Please continue, you help me keep my sanity. Peace……………..

  3. This is a weird post, since so many of your posts have been about liberals panicking, crying, not sleeping, etc. The fear on the left has been palpable. The insults have flowed freely (wolves, crazy, chaos, fascist, criminal, impeachable). Maybe you are projecting your fear on your enemies?

  4. ..It is the continuous golden tether running throughout the Scriptures; the assurance that faith is the antidote to all that terrifies us. It is the steady declaration that if God is indeed God, we are safe and loved and that all will be well.

    Thanks for using your incredible gift so eloquently..

  5. Recently discovered on Facebook a list of the ways this country has improved under Trump already. I think it’s intended to be funny, but it’s excellent. For instance, there has been a 10,000 % increase in sales of Orwell’s 1984, and that is the correct figure! The writer goes on to say that 9th grade teachers are now rock stars. People are dramatically increasing support for mainstream newspapers, white people everywhere are discovering that racism is not dead, and on and on. People are being mobilized from within themselves.

    I used to think we needed the threat of an invasion from outer space to pull us together . It seems it’s already here, placed among us. I was greatly cheered by this.

    .

    • Hey Emily, thank you for sharing this. I’ve been thinking about all the gifts we’re receiving in this hard turn of events, which I think is part of how God works, bringing light in darkness, bringing life out of death, bringing gifts even in suffering. If you see this, would you mind sharing a link to the list you referenced here? I could use more help focusing on the gifts rather than the outrage right now. Thanks!

      • Now I have to look again for his name …Michael Fernandez on Facebook. I don’t know him; he’s listed as something with the NBA…basketball? Anyway, I had already noticed something of this effect already and was thrilled to find someone had explored it.

        Re Trump followers, I say just wait. If they have to defend their stance, they will end up just digging themselves in deeper. Time will show them what they’ve done to themselves.

        Yes, fear is miserable. Trusting God isn’t easy, since He/She/It functions on a much grander scale than a puny human life. Trusting that he/she/it will help me carry the fear works better. That I can pretty much count on.

  6. Dear John,

    The contradictions are vast, and you have picked up on one of those contradictions. In my experience, I have found many Christians are able to synthesize their contradictions into a whole theology that serve their interests. Notice how I said “their” interests?

    Another part is that fear is central to their theology. They fear the Lord, and what the Lord will do to them if they do not act. The Old Testament coincides God’s wrath with terrifying events. If bad things happen, it is because of human sin. If good things happen then it is due to human righteousness. Those that interpret the bad things happening in the world believe that they are calling the world to righteousness (to make it right again). Rooted in the Old Testament and the call by John the Baptist to repent, the call is about fear of what God is doing in the world as a result of human sin. Their ultimate fear is that they will go to hell or evil will take over the world and plunge the world into hell. To them, this is a reality and a justification for anything they may do that contradicts the gospel of Jesus Christ. They believe that their “life after death” security is threatened and they will do anything to regain that security.

    There are further points along this line of discussion that can be highlighted. However, this may provide a starting point. Battling other people’s fear, when it is theologically entrenched, is a daunting task. Let us hope that we continue to proclaim the message of hope and security in God’s love for the world.

      • Thanks for that, it took me a long time to believe it– assurance is a serious problem with christians because they think the are going to hell for the smallest sin or mistake and they harbour a tremendous amount of anxiety over it. Grace is there for a reason but many preachers don’t preach grace they preach hell and punishment. Some christians are faking it because they are afraid to speak about their fears for fear they will be judged or revealed as false christians. This has come up in conversation several times when talking to christians. Why is it that a religion based on God’s love can keep people locked in fear of their salvation? Isn’t salvation a free gift?

        • Kathy. Christians that depend on their Pastor to tell them everything about God are making a mistake. Assurance (for all believers) is made plain in the bible. [It’s not a good thing when we say we don’t believe something God said. ]

          Once you belong to God (circumcision of the heart) , it’s permanent. (otherwise your back to ‘works-based’ Salvation.)

          There can be no ‘merit-based’ Salvation. That’s the whole point, we don’t merit it!

  7. Thank you, John. I have always hoped that people would just stop being afraid, and listed to what God has said.

    Then again, I am reminded of the old adage, God grant me the strength to change what I can…and the wisdom to accept what I cannot change. When do you think people would take this phrase to heart? I just hope that, when they do decide to make a change, it is for the better.

    • One of my sons was a worrier, he was “But, what if?” I used to tell him that most of the what ifs we worry ourselves about never happen, it’s the ones we never thought of that get us. So my advice was that if you live in the present as a decent moral human being, taking care of all who cross your path no matter who they are or what they are or what they believe, and do the best you can, then when the unforeseen comes along, you have God and she will help navigate through it and make you an even better person on the other side. None of us go through life unscathed but we shouldn’t let the what ifs keep us from being present and accounted for. We can hide but that is not what we are called to do. Gods people are God’s people, no distinctions allowed. Peace………

      • Kathleen. terrific. I get what you said. As for me, I do what I am able to do. [Sometimes, it’s kind of a lot… other times, not very much.] It helps to know that God is not measuring me by my good deeds. whew. He knows Im weak. He accepts my weaknesses.

      • Kathleen. …. it made me think a bit more… I’ve had many conversations with Christians about this. I’m always amazed how hard they are on themselves. [They have such unrealistically high expectations of themselves.] And are often down and disappointed, and feel they’ve failed. (who set them up for this? –not God).

        I remind them that it’s ok to just be. Pray. Sing to God. Praise God. He loves that the most.

  8. Thank you once again, John. Fear is an insidious emotion that creeps into our lives and taints everything. And 99% of it is imaginary scenarios that exist simply in our thoughts, and stop us from doing what we have been commanded to do – love one another.

  9. AMERICA’S DESCENT INTO GREATNESS

    Even party hacks and bourgeois commentators have for decades regarded the internment of 120,000 Japanese [including 70,000 US citizens] for indefinite detention as a humiliating scar on US history. Yet 75 years after FDR’s Japanese internment order, Trump prepares a mass immigration roundup.

    It is imperative to expose the political purpose of campaign to whip up a fascistic ‘touch-on-crime’ hysteria against immigrants and even local governments that refuse to hand them over to the feds for deportation.

    Anti-immigrant hysteria is a political tool used to suppress opposition to war, and to advance an imperial strategy.

    Under the false ‘war on terror’ banner, the ruling class made ‘national security’ a pretext for illegal war, torture, mass surveillance and deportation. Trump’s anti-immigrant policies require unprecedented attacks on democratic rights of the whole working class. The mobilization of 100,000 National Guard troops will place parts of San Francisco, San Diego, Phoenix, Denver and other cities under de facto martial law.

    The Democratic and Republican parties together prepared the current attack on immigrants, and together they cultivated an anti-immigrant xenophobic climate to advance their policies social counterrevolution and war.

    It is not enough to reject this anti-migrant policy. It is necessary to reject the entire framework of the official narrative on immigration. We must affirm that the needs/interests of any one section of workers [national or ethnic], are bound indissolubly with working class brothers and sisters around the world.

    Open Borders!
    Full Citizenship Rights for all Workers
    In any country they Choose!

    Blessings!

  10. Thank you for your courage. To quote the Presiding Bishop of my Church (Episcopalian) “if it is not of love, it is not of God”.

  11. Is there a church or belief that claims allegiance to Jesus that does not teach one can only be saved by certain beliefs in Jesus or otherwise be one of the dammed?

    Only when those teachings change that message to one which proclaims every human is good, was born perfect and regardless of appearances is still a child of God – does not need a savior but as a child of God cannot ever be separated from that which they already are – One with their Creator. The only separation is self induced, that is when we think we are separated from God – but that cannot ever happen in reality; when that is the message, fear will subside.
    Jesus was the prime ‘wayshower’, he understood something lost long ago through the bastardization of the “Christian” message. Of course that message was cleverly designed to maintain control, power and generate money by telling folks that ‘They’ had the secret to eternal life..

    Those of you who want tell me I’m off base – that one must believe in Jesus or not be saved – you, yes YOU are the perpetrator of fear. Do you ever wonder why Christianity -the minority in religious belief is the only one that spreads fear by the ‘stick’ of hell without Jesus?

    • There are some of us who are followers of Jesus who don’t use the stick of hell. I believe my god is so great that she recognized that one size does not fit all and so for me Jesus’s life and teachings work for me but I don’t think I am any better than a Muslim, Jew or whatever. It works for me and I am not sure about the hell thing. My grandfather used to say he thought it was about the presence of God, my mother-in-law believed that it meant you had a do over. They both make some sense to me but I don’t worry about it. I believe as I know better and do better for everyone, no matter, and as my son reminds me, even if they voted for the present occupant of the white house, I will be fine. First and foremost, God is Love. Peace…………………..

      • You are thinking like me. Good stuff!

        Whereas Joe Catholic loves the hell angle because his religion has used money, power and control so effectively to cause him to fear, fear fear. Not good Joe!

        • Ellis. There are lots of church/ temples / mosques that teach Jesus, but don’t believe that ‘Jesus is the only Way.’

          Universalist Church
          Unity Church
          Unitarian Church
          Episcopal Church
          Self-Realization Fellowship
          New Age Church
          Hinduism
          Islam
          Baha’i

          • Since I never belonged to any of the above, there are also people from other churches who think for themselves. I just know that if I spend all my life worry about what happens after that is over, my life will be meaningless. I have a life and I am present and I do the best I can, with what I have, for whomever needs it. I figure the rest is in God’s hands. Because at the end of the day, I believe we will be asked “Did you feed me, did you clothe me, did you love me?” Not how many times did you castigate people in my name. And if my mother in law was right, and I didn’t do enough, I’ll get a do over. All this worrying about Hell is a waste of time when there are so many people in need.

            • Kathleen, I’ve never been involved with any of those groups either, but I have noticed over the years that many of them are on a more solid spiritual walk than are many Christians who seem to be phoning in the spiritual life. I have also known many Christians who have embraced a solid spiritual journey.

              If we claim that all of humanity is created in the image and likeness of God, then it stands to reason that all of humanity can embrace the spiritual life. The Dalai Lama and Thicht Nanh Han, for example, are holy people living holy lives.

              I wish I could say the same thing of many of our politicians who claim to be Christians and yet turn their backs on the hungry, the homeless, the naked, the sick, those in need.

              • I agree one hundred per cent. Mainly what I was trying to get across was that we can think for ourselves and by studying other peoples beliefs we might find something that speaks to us. After all most of what we know was written by a bunch of old men. Peace………

  12. Unfortunately John P- your very own god of love has perpetrated himself as a god to be feared. Religion as a masses-control device. Tell them they are going to hell if they don’t behave and you can control them because of their fear of hell. Sad. So really- you have to start there and dump those beliefs propagated by the very book/religion that you want to be about loving. Until then- it controls you. Mass mind control that’s been unfolding for 2000+ years now. MIND CONTROL. Your (male patriarchal father-figure dominant supreme unchallengable never-to-be-questioned for the good of all) “god” is an a$$hole. Created by whatever- but perpetrated all these many years by the male of this species to help said male retain control over everything.

    The human body tends to have a fear of dying because death is seen as the end of something- and we’ve been taught to think that that’s a bad thing instead of a transition to be celebrated. So if- through your own personal spiritual experience- you come to realize there’s nothing to be afraid of- then the “fear” of dying dissipates. Death is the one great illusion that only exists from the perspective of the body. But incarnate (in a body) Consciousness that recognizes it is connected to everything and separate from nothing- no longer holds this fear. And can’t be controlled. And just IS everything. The “body” is only a vehicle for a singular life experience. Its Consciousness Spark is never fully integrated into the “body” until after it’s born- which is why the abortion argument is such a load of bull. If that body isn’t fully realized IT will just step in to a different one. But whatever. That will throw some members of your group into a tizzy- so enough from me…

    • Hear! Here! Day by day, one by one, humanity wakes up to the oneness of it all. Once is all it takes to know yourself as the life energy (spirit?) that you are, understand that “god” is so much more than “our heavenly father”. Imagine there’s no separate place to go after this lifetime, you awake connected, once again, to the Oneness. You are that. And as they say about God, the One, you have always been & you will always be. Nothing to be feared , but much to be learned.

    • I agree, Bruce.

      But I still believe in God. Just not the God that has been taught by the church for the past 1500 years, nor the God that is found in a great majority of the scriptures (of several religions).

      But if one looks carefully, I believe the God that Jesus demonstrated IS the God of love that John P., myself and some others are attempting to make known.

      In short, we are trying to give God back His good reputation (ie. glory) that has for so long been disparaged by religion.

      You may not wish to join us in the endeavor, but I hope you will give us your blessings and good will. 🙂

      • A: Little tine planet w/humans on it.
        B: Great BIG universe. So big we’re only just now seeing some of it via things like the Hubble Telescope.
        C: Any human version of “god” reflects ONLY what is seen through a human lens.
        D: Humans are inherently myopic. Most can’t see any further outside OR INSIDE themselves than their ordinary vision.
        E: The nature of religion is to keep you uninformed. Controllable. Through fear. While professing love.
        F: If your love isn’t for EVERYTHING your vision is too small.
        G: If your god isn’t EVERYTHING then YOUR god believes there’s something outside of IT. There isn’t. There can’t be.

        You don’t need my blessing. You just need to wake up.

        • Again, I agree with all of that.

          My God IS everything. Not that everything is God, but the universe is God’s creative love given substance. There IS nothing outside of God. As Paul said, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” (And He said that to ‘pagans’).

          And I DO need your blessings, just as you need the blessings of others. We all must learn to live and love as one, realizing that in blessing others, we receive blessing ourselves. We all need each other. Such is the oneness that we have in God, and that Jesus spoke/prayed about.

          Blessings, brother.

        • Religion and faith are not synonymous terms. Back in the 1970s we were fond of saying things like “I am not a religious person, I am a person of faith or a spiritual person.”

          What we have done in the USA to faith is inexcusable. However, my faith is in Jesus, not what the huge cultuses of religion have made of Him where the apparatus of the cultus, be it Roman Catholic, Latter Day Saint, Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, non-denomination, etc, have attempted to do to Him.

          Jesus is as much of God as we can ever hope to comprehend and even that is a lifetime’s work. But I trust the Holy Spirit to i.umine my mind and soften my heart to be made more like Jesus every day.

          Of course, I goof up every day because I am a fallible human being, But that is ok because God loves me exactly as I am. God loves all of us exactly as we are and that is why we are supposed to love each other, exactly as we are, as challenging as that is.

          The problem with religion, with the cultus of religion, is that it gives us excuses for not loving those people or that person. When we use those excuses as a way of getting out of doing the business of loving everyone, then Jesus will tell us on the Last Day that He never knew us.

          So my faith is in Jesus, not what human beings have created in the cultus of religion.

  13. Thanks for this JP. I think fear is our greatest enemy, especially the fear of hell and Satan which we don’t know if they truly exist or if they are metaphors and misrepresentations of our fears– like horror movies which scare us but the monsters are not real. Our fears feel real but some fears are unwarranted– and many of the ones you listed are irrational fears. We cannot stop being fearful until we have to have the courage to confront our fears and dispel the ones which have no basis in reality and do something about the ones which do. God gives us a lot of encouragement in the scripture and thanks JP for including some examples in your post.

    • I am reminded of this:

      “I must not fear.
      Fear is the mind-killer.
      Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
      I will face my fear.
      I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
      And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
      Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
      Only I will remain.”

      Frank Herbert, Dune

  14. Present fears are often unresolved past fears that failed to get reality’s memo. Christians fear God today because our faith is rooted in father Abraham, whose ancient Mesopotamian culture feared that inexplicable events of climate, illness, or death meant the gods must be angry. Abram wisely reduced all God’s to one God, but we’ve yet to psycho-socially resolve our middle eastern heritage from 5,000 years or so back. Any day now we may choose to just let it go and get over it. Enough is enough!

    • DH: Abram had a 2-way relationship with the real God, so it makes sense he would drop all other gods. Of course, he spent a lifetime struggling with the tendency to revert to old ways. (like we all do.) God forgave Abram, like he forgives us.

  15. “Every day a little death…
    “In the parlor, in the bed…
    “In the curtains, in the silver, in the buttons, in the bread…”

    ~ Stephen Sondheim, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC

  16. I will.pray that prayer of deliverance with you. I can picture Jesus hollering, “You on the right, and now you on the left, fear not! Follow me love one another freely and FEAR NOT!”

  17. There will always be disagreement between Progressives and Conservatives. The danger is that we now play by different sets of facts – and the messenger is now the litmus test of veracity. If someone from our own tribe does not convey the message – and convey it in the right way – the message is ignored, but even worse the messenger is made apostate.

    I take comfort in the knowledge that our founders were Deists – products of the Enlightenment, and believers that God in all wisdom granted us Reason with which to, together, steward our small part of creation.

    Fear is not “false evidence appearing real”. That says “you’re trying to scare me”. That’s way too political a definition. Fear is, ultimately, a personal thing. It lives within us. We have the power to control it, by being present with the fearful thing. If we make the mistake of assigning the source of the fear to the messenger, we reduce our own agency and reject the gifts of experience that the messenger brings us. We cease being a community.

    The key to seeing the reality behind the message is humility. To set aside our own perspectives – these days, first to acknowledge that they are perspectives and not necessarily truths – is the first step towards seeing a common reality that we must perceive to better the world.

    If Progressives are fearful these days, it is because the larger table that we dream of is in danger – and it is a table that all are welcome to sit at.

  18. What I think is the most pressing concern is something right out of The Screwtape Letters by C.S.Lewis when evidence, facts, truth are labeled “lies” while actual lies are labeled as “truth” or “alternative facts.”

    When Christians turn their back on truth, we call that apostasy.

    Scapegoating people are different from one’s self just has to stop. For instance:
    “Hunting guides charged in connection to Presidio County ranch shooting”

    http://www.cbs7.com/content/news/Hunting-guides-charged-in-connection-to-Presidio-County-ranch-shooting-413885063.html

  19. some where, somehow there is one thing missing in your equation: rage. i wonder how much energy it takes to try and disguise all that rage and fear as love. how they do twist them selves up

  20. I want to add something to the John Pavlovitz main post for today. Communication is my business, and I am really great at listening and reading body language. So I want to tell you a brief story about an Apostolic Church in Knoxville, Tennessee.

    My son plays Ultimate Frisbee, and we take him to his games on Saturdays. Sometimes the games are scheduled in parts of Knoxville we are not familiar with, and we have to scout out how to get to his playing fields long ahead of time. On one such scouting mission, I and my wife got completely lost. We had no idea where we were in town and could not find the park where the game was scheduled. This was on a weekday. To make matters worse, I had to pee really badly because of a medication I take. So, we decided to stop at an Apostolic Church to see if they were open, get directions, and use the restroom.

    We tried every door of this church, which was locked up like a U.S. Army Fort. We finally found one door that was open. A bunch of old ladies had just concluded a morning prayer meeting and Bible study. When we opened the door, one old lady stepped immediately into the door and started giving us the Joe Friday routine—in a very detached and unfriendly way. We stated our needs politely and clearly. They hemmed and hawed a few minutes and with great and grudging reluctance, they finally allowed me to pee in one of the church restrooms rather than on my clothes—and gave us directions to the park. I just stopped for a moment and took in my surroundings—and the word that screamed back at me was FEAR. This church was pervaded by FEAR.

    Overcome with daily FEAR and probably a constant diet of FEAR in church, these little old ladies (a group of about 50) had sequestered themselves that morning inside a locked down fort to wall out the surrounding sinful world and all the depraved sinners in it—who I suspect was everyone else who lives in Knoxville—for a Bible study and prayer. I could tell that my wife and I were instantly regarded as the Devil himself come knocking at their door—and we were treated with all the FEAR and suspicion that would attend such a grossly wrong assumption. Where was the love of Jesus that greets strangers? Where was the love of helping out people in distress? I did not see or feel any of the love of Jesus. All I saw was a bunch of hard-hearted old women who appeared to be spending their lives wracked with FEAR—and only very grudgingly inclined to help anyone in the name of Jesus.

    I came away from that experience with a very bad taste in my mouth for the so-called Apostolic Church. Clearly, it seemed to me, Jesus did not live in that place, and he had not taken up residence in many hearts there. All that I detected in that place was FEAR. And no, best I could tell it was not in a bad neighborhood with a lot of crime. It looked very well-off suburban.

    My church is open most of the day on weekdays. People go freely in and out of it with no questioning. If someone needs something, they are greeted with a smiling face and open arms. There is a reason for that. People at my church know Jesus and help people with a smile in the name of Jesus. FEAR is not the primary resident at my church—and I am so very glad of that.

    • Charles, I am so glad they allowed you to use the bathroom. Basic human decency.

      I wonder when did you experience this? How long after the good people of Mother Emmanuel welcome Dylan Roof into their Bible Study?

      At the same time, I agree with everything you wrote. Fear should not prevail in our churches. Hospitality should.

      There is a church about quarter mile from my home, an AG church. There is a sign right by the front door about how everyone is welcome. At the same time, there is a chain across their four-space parking lot so no one can park there. The only time anyone uses this lot is Sunday morning.

      Parking is limited on my street. Seems to me when no one else in the church is using them, the hospitable thing would be to allow the neighors to park there.

      • Gloriamarie. It happened sometime just this past autumn 2016—not that long ago—just a few months ago. Church is the Lord’s house. My position, like it or not, is that every church in the United States should be open for prayer from 8:00 a.m until 5:00 p.m. Monday through Sunday. When I was growing up, churches were not locked up like a fort on weekdays. I could always go into mine to pray, read in the library, or whatever. People today decry all of the sin in their midst—-but yet they lock up our churches like prisons.

        • When I was growing up, our local parish church was never locked.

          Unfortunately people started to vandalize churches and instead of removing things that might be stolen, they started locking our churches.

          Yes, they responded in fear. It seems to be our kneejerk reaction and we thing we have a right to our kneejerk reactions but we don’t.

          Jesus walked the earth to make us better people and one of the ways He does that is by making us question our kneejerk reactions.

          The kneejerk reactions of two people was to pass by and ignore the wounded man. The kneejerk reaction of the Samaritan was to pick up the injured, carry him to a place of respite and shell out money for the wounded man’s care.

          Whose kneejerked in a Godwardly direction?

    • Charles, I have seen this happen. It is shameful, perhaps more so because they would say that they were right. My husband (a minister) and I were on a motorcycle when we got a flat tire, my husband managed to keep us up but we needed help. We went to a church in this small town and they wouldn’t let us in the church, they kept us on the sidewalk outside and made a call for someone to come help us. That was 30 years ago, I thought perhaps things would change but it doesn’t appear so. This was in Indiana. So it is all over. Thanks for sharing.

    • They were locked up in fear … yet gave you precisely what you asked for anyway …

      They let you in.

      They let you use the bathroom.

      It isn’t like churches don’t get robbed. It isn’t like people don’t get murdered in churches. It isn’t like there isn’t crime in Knoxville.

      According to your story, Charles, they didn’t turn you away. So … you had to say more than one sentence to make your case … and that makes those ladies horrible people … as opposed to reasonable people who live in a rough world?

      They didn’t know you and you wanted to use their church as if it was a gas station …

      In a World of Fear, they wouldn’t have let a couple of strangers in, Charles.

      If they thought you were the Devil, they wouldn’t have let you in, Charles.

      If they thought you were out to do harm to others, they wouldn’t have directed you to find a park where children were playing, Charles.

      Charles, you showed up and immediately imposed your values on their community and when they didn’t hop to and embrace you like a long lost relative, you rated them as failures … knowing nothing of them, the lives they live in their community, or the history of that particular church.

      No, you pre-judged them. With scant knowledge gained over mere minutes of minimal interaction, you appear to have plastered all 50 with your preconceived narrative.

      Had two women recently been victims of un-reported rapes at that that church? In that very church? Many rapes go unreported though they are not unknown to those close to the victims ~ such as a church support group.

      Had a member recently been murdered while walking home? Since you didn’t know the neighborhood, how could you possibly reference a recent murder to this neighborhood?

      Had their church been recently broken into, vandalized and/or robbed? Perhaps the chose to not report it and instead took care of the loss and damages themselves.

      Had you listened to their most recent Bible Study lesson, or the most recent church sermons, to know what messages they taught?

      You have no idea, do you? Yet, you wove this idea these women were controlled by religious doctrine of fear … because it fits in with how you want to believe they are as supposed to how you know they are. They may have had multiple, rational and excusable reasons for their fear dealing with real-world issues which you, a stranger in an admitted strange neighborhood, knew nothing about.

      According to the facts as presented by you, Charles, they did help you when you were in need – twice. Grudgingly perhaps, but they gave aid with both their private-property bathroom and directions to the park. Unless you gained such gifts through threat of force, that doesn’t sound like people ruled by fear. It sounds like people cautious of the unknown ~ which is a very human condition.

    • Obama was the most Godless, Did everything to take god out of our society and replace it with humanism. Love of self, Love of Pleasure, Love of what ever feels good.
      He did more behind the scenes to destroy Christianity in america than any other president in history.
      Did More Executive order work than any other president ,
      Lowered the standards across the board, Gave more low paying jobs while watching companys go out the door to other countrys .
      And YOU did not even notice the damage.
      Truly this is How satan works , Floating 99% truth to sell one lie, NO God in america. Self god , Man is his own god, and everyone is going to heaven no matter what. No sense of guilt for what they do. No Conscience. this is how the evil one will decieve many.
      The Judgement from God is lower standards, Man left to himself, Cost Up, Wages Down
      This is Truly the Frog in The Frying pan being boiled , did not even know what happened

  21. Sticking my nose in again because I’m getting kind of irritated here. It’s loads of fun sitting in judgement on others…it’s a cheap & easy way to feel superior. (And one of my bigger failings, so I know whereof I speak.)

    I have no patience with theology. As far as I’m concerned, we are here to serve God…we are his hands and arms in the world. We serve Him best by doing what is in front of us to do. That seems always to be small stuff (at least in my case), but that’s what my job is.

    Trump seems to have awakened people to this requirement, surprisingly.

  22. If Not Fear of God, Respect, understanding that he is Just , and rewards or punish’s those who love and Do Keep his commandments and respect his judgements as though he is righteous and love s mankind and wants thier best. Hi intention is not evil , But Good.
    Justice is not Fairness, and not the politically correct.
    Some times in the heat of the moments its hard to see truth and understand god. While he has an eternal plan , not a accepted by the mass plan. God is Righteous and Hates Rebellion . Those who hate god , show this in thier actions. and promote every evil deed they can think of to promote pleasure at whatever the cost.
    Obeying God is not following the crowd and loving each other is not loving what they do. living apart , but accepting people for the purpose of change.

    • Roger: Good essay. thank you. I question your idea that Trump Admin is persecuting Muslims which will only spread Islam? [Also, are you saying that is a bad thing? ]

      Islam gains believers by birth (as opposed to Christianity), and holds them there by threat . Over 50 countries are Islamic now. If you decide to leave Islam, you will be persecuted by Muslims (not Donald Trump). That is the type of persecution that WILL keep them inside of Islam (fear of torture & death.)

  23. I hear that we are a divided culture, torn between many opposites, the haves and have-nots, the inner circle and the expendable fringe, the power brokers and the broken powerless. I am no politician to define these lines of privilege, but I am a stakeholder in justice. I can make my claim of conscience. If we are divided, I will stand over here. With those cut out of the budget. With those about to be sent away. With the ones waiting to be called on so they can ask for help. If we are divided, I will choose my side just as it has chosen me. No healing happens until the least of these are equal to the ones who have it all. If we are divided, I will stand over here.
    -Steven Charleston

  24. “Fear of Hell from a loving God.”

    That can be up to you and which denomination, if any, you subscribe to.

    “Fear of immigrants stealing their jobs.”

    That is more a worry about illegal immigrants lowering wages in low skill job categories.

    “Fear of refugees bringing terrorism in a Trojan Horse.”

    Yes. By all means, ignore all the Muslim immigrants who have murdered people in the past 17 years in the United States alone. White males have killed more, but does that excuse the reality that those other people would most likely be alive if those Muslim immigrants had been stopped, or not radicalized?

    “Fear of Transgender people lurking in bathrooms.”

    Too true … too many stupid people confuse cross-dressers, drag queens, cosplayers and transgender people … with the actually dangers pedophiles who none of the above usually are.

    “Fear of Atheists assailing their freedoms.”

    Sadly not totally unfounded. There was a time when religion and public institutions could co-exist side by side. Now there is a movement to drive religion – namely Christianity – out of the public forum. It is what it is. Did the Founding Father’s intention of a separation of Church and State really mean not having the Ten Commandments on the Court House steps?

    “Fear of brown people brandishing violence.”

    Well, ‘Brown’ people are killing more people in the US than anyone else. Tis true. Looking at 2015 FBI Homicide Statistics:
    White people were responsible for 8.6% of all Black homicides (229) while Blacks were responsible for 15.8% of all White homicides (500). Considering Blacks make up 12.6% of the US population that suggest White folks have a good reason for fearing ‘Brown’ violence. So do other ‘Brown’ people though. Black Americans in 2015 committed 47.8% of all homicides (2,934) compared to Whites at 47.2% (2,897).

    Again, that means Black Americans are 3.8 TIMES more likely to commit a murder than their White counterparts. Unfortunately for them, they are also responsible for 89.3% of Black homicides in America which is higher than the Whites killing Whites at 81.3%.

    Two final notes: these are 2015 stats. 2016 was a much more violent year so those figures are going to suck BIG TIME. Also, the FBI has combined the Hispanic population in with the White population when determining these numbers. The other two categories ere ‘Other’ which included Asians, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans – and ‘Unknown’. There were 194 and 112 (respectively) homicides in 2015 were the offender was recorded as ‘Other’, or ‘Unknown’ out of the 6,137 total.

    “Fear of Hollywood perverting their children.”

    We have been down this road since … Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle. Somehow those ‘perverted’ children went on to be our Greatest Generation and their kids put men on the Moon and their kids created the internet … which gave us internet porn … okay … maybe there is something to this bizarre hysterical conspiracy theory … or maybe we see in movies and TV what we are looking to see?

    “Fear of Non Christians converting their children.”

    Okay, this one is pretty lame. I’ve hears about prison converts to Islam, but that’s about it and none of that recently.

    “Fear of the Government coming for their guns.”

    Depends where you live to how much that fear is justified and how much you might really need one (cough ~ Chicago ~ cough).

    “Fear of the Media distorting their reality.”

    Checked and double-checked. The Media is distorting reality. Not all the time, but for this type of hysteria to spread, it only takes a few true incidents for this fear to gain traction. The Media has screwed up and done so maliciously.

    Worse, they aren’t even pretending to be non-partisan in any real manner. There is a Credibility Gap based on this attitude they are not addressing. Plenty of internet sources are doing a far worse job … but we have become comfortable in our echo chambers … so this seems to be the new status quo: ‘Your side’ screams about the ‘other side’ but only to the benefit of your audience. No one else is listening.

    “Fear of the Devil coming in the form of Muslims, Gays, and Liberals.”

    The Devil can come in all three of those forms in the same way he can come as an Evangelical, homophobic Conservative. By all means, assume your ‘Sacred Cows’ are safe. They are not.

  25. Disturb us, Lord, when
    We are too well pleased with ourselves,
    When our dreams have come true
    Because we have dreamed too little,
    When we arrived safely
    Because we sailed too close to the shore.

    Disturb us, Lord, when
    With the abundance of things we possess
    We have lost our thirst
    For the waters of life;
    Having fallen in love with life,
    We have ceased to dream of eternity
    And in our efforts to build a new earth,
    We have allowed our vision
    Of the new Heaven to dim.

    Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
    To venture on wider seas
    Where storms will show your mastery;
    Where losing sight of land,
    We shall find the stars.

    We ask You to push back
    The horizons of our hopes;
    And to push into the future
    In strength, courage, hope, and love.

    attributed – sir francis drake -1577

  26. Sine there seems to be a sub-thread discussion of religion vs faith, religion vs spirituality, I thought this book and/or excerpt might interest some. Not all, of course. I daresay some will rant and rage as is their boring wont.

    How to Pray without Being Religious
    Finding Your Own Spiritual Path
    By Janell Moon
    Janell Moon on living on this earth with grace and caring.

    • “Let me step into the circle. Let me step into the circle of life.

    • “This is what I want to happen, that our earth mother be clothed in ground snow in rest before the time of seed and planting, then the season of blossom and fruit. That fire clear the forest but just enough, the birds gathering thistle, willow, and cottonwood, the mountain shielding the valley from the winds and too much rain, the spruce growing in the shade of aspen, fir in the shade of yellow pine. Into the bodies of stars and the round bright sun, life beamed, given and returned to the sky. I give this prayer, my drum alive.

    • “I am the world, myself, all living beings.

    • “Water, oceans of my life.

    • “I remember you.

    • “Together we belong.

    • “All of us, forest and fish, human, together — treasures.

    • “Let peace begin with me. Let me be an instrument. Let me be the voice of peace. Let peace begin with me.

    • “More than kindness know, let me in kindness act. Let me find my way to children’s door so that I may find in the full smile of their face a healing force. Let me find a child who needs a sewn bear and warm milk. The human spirit longs for peace among the flocks and together we share our cupped hands.

    • “I live on this earth with grace and caring.

    • “Just to start begins it all.

    • “Our prayer: always the human race, our family circle, the bird and the bear, hollyhocks and forget-me-nots — one embrace — the mud body of earth.”

    • It gospel is man learning about his true nature and situation in reference to God and how God loves us even though they exist and then presents us with a gift, that we can either accept, or reject. If you acknowledge the truth and accept the gift, the Gospel is the greatest experience of your life. If you reject the truth, you will forever be searching for another way into the kingdom of God only to find that the one door you rejected is the only door.

  27. If fear is such a lousy religion, you should really stop preaching it, Pavlovitz. But what am I saying? You’re a leftist. We can’t expect you to even attempt the standards you want to hold the rest of us to.

  28. Thought people might possibly find this book review of interest which I found in the National Catholic Reporter at

    https://www.ncronline.org/books/2017/02/muslim-writer-explores-current-relevance-jesus-message-islam

    THE ISLAMIC JESUS: HOW THE KING OF THE JEWS BECAME A PROPHET OF THE MUSLIMS
    By Mustafa Akyol
    Published by St. Martin’s Press, 288 pages, $26.99
    Does Jesus have something important to say to today’s Muslims? The Islamic Jesus says yes, but not in a way most readers might assume.

    The question may sound like a Christian appeal to evangelize Muslims, but author Mustafa Akyol is a believing Muslim whose book shows no intention of wanting to convert anyone. Instead, most of it details the history of a little-known branch of early Christianity and how he says it influenced the later religion of Islam.

    It’s in the last chapter, titled “What Jesus Can Teach Muslims Today,” that Akyol leaps over the centuries to present some provocative ideas about how that historical link can help the present-day Muslim world.

    But fast-forwarding to the last chapter would mean missing the investigation that took him there. It all started several years ago when Akyol, a columnist for Turkey’s Hürriyet Daily News and an op-ed contributor to The New York Times, was handed a New Testament by a Christian missionary on a busy street in his native Istanbul.

    Out of curiosity, he read it through, underlining passages he didn’t agree with in red and ones he liked in blue. When he got to the Epistle of St. James, all his underlining was in blue. Nowhere did James say that Jesus was divine. He read these passages to his Quran study group and his friends there agreed. It was like the Islamic Jesus — not the Son of God but a great prophet nonetheless.

    The more he read, especially in the numerous historical studies of early Christianity that he recounts in his book, the more Akyol saw a link between St. James and the view of Jesus that appears in the Quran. As head of the early Christian group in Jerusalem, James kept the Jewish law and saw Jesus as the Messiah.

    St. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, saw Jesus as the Son of God who freed Christians from following the Jewish law as the Pharisees did. When the Council of Jerusalem met to decide whether converts had to become Jews first, which meant circumcision for the men, Paul won out and his view of Christianity eventually became the dominant one.

    James’ group, which became known as Jewish Christians, gradually dispersed after the destruction of the Temple. Some of them went to Arabia, bringing with them their belief — later denounced as a heresy — that Jesus was a miracle-working prophet born of a virgin but not divine.

    The Quran presents Jesus as a prophet second only to Mohammad. Islam’s holy book recounts episodes from his life, including stories from apocryphal writings not included in the Bible, but does not spell out his teachings in detail.

    This is where Akyol, with the help of two modern writers, makes his leap to the 21st century. The first was the Iranian-American author Reza Aslan, whose 2013 book Zealot portrayed Jesus as a Jewish rebel against Roman rule rather than a religious reformer.

    “That’s not the Jesus that I and other Muslims believe in,” Akyol told NCR by Skype from Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where he is a senior visiting fellow at the Freedom Project. “We believe in a Jesus who is not divine but still was sacred and brought a message of faith.”

    The second author was the British historian Arnold Toynbee, who in a 1948 essay drew a parallel between the Jews of Jesus’ time and Muslims in his day. Under pressure from the Roman Empire, he said, the Jews divided into “Herodians” who conformed with the superior power and “zealots” who clung to their religion and rebelled against the outsiders.

    The modern-day Herodians were the secular rulers of the Arab world, Toynbee said, while the modern zealots were Saudi Wahhabis. Akyol expanded the parallel, saying today’s zealots would include Salafis and jihadis.

    The Sadducees of 2,000 years ago were the conformist Islamic institutions of today, he continued, and the Pharisees were the Islamists devoted to upholding the Shariah.

    What is missing, he argues, is the message Jesus preached about the kingdom of God. It was not a political institution or a theocracy, but a spiritual kingdom. Translated to present-day Islam, this would mean that Muslims need not strive to found a caliphate because, as he puts it, “the caliphate is within you.”

    He drew a similar lesson from Jesus’ message to focus on the spirit of the Halakha, the Jewish law, rather than just its letter. “The way forward for Muslims is to understand that just like the Halakha, the Shariah is made for man — and women, of course — and not the other way around,” he writes.

    For skeptics who question whether Muslim theologians would be open to this approach, Akyol notes that Islamic tradition includes thinkers such Abu Ishaq al-Shatibi. This 14th-century Andalusian scholar stressed following the maqasid, or intentions, of Islamic law more flexibly, an approach favored by some modern Islamists like those in Tunisia.

    Indiana University Professor Asma Afsaruddin, who has read the book, noted that the 2007 “Common Word” manifesto, which has been signed by over 400 Muslim scholars, has already highlighted how much common ground Christianity and Islam have. “Akyol’s book may be regarded as building on this insight already accepted by mainstream Muslim thinkers in the Islamic world,” she told NCR in an email.

    Akyol said he didn’t have the final chapter in mind when he started the book, but it ends with a striking message for Christians, Muslims and Jews.

    “As Muslims, who are latecomers to this scene, we have disagreements with both Jews and Christians,” he writes in the book’s final paragraph. “But we have major agreements as well. With Jews, we agree a lot on God. With Christians, we agree that Jesus was born of a virgin, that he was the Messiah, and that he is the Word of God. Surely, we do not worship Jesus, like Christians do. Yet still, we can follow him. In fact, given our grim malaise and his shining wisdom, we need to follow him.”

    [Tom Heneghan is the Paris correspondent for the London-based weekly Catholic magazine The Tablet.]

  29. Wow, this was a popular topic, and I know why. When I was a child in America , I learned about the evangelical movement every week in church.They had revival after revival.This was the point : Scare the children into joining the church, so they won’t go to hell. They actually believe that stuff, even though Christ said we must come to accept salvation as little children , freely accepting a gift.So, I don’t get the fear. It seems like the resurgence is full-swing related to politics. They want everyone scared and compliant: like frightened children.
    None of this helps anybody, however, they refuse to stop making the big mistake of lying.Scaring us about people from other countries is absolutely childish and seems to be expensive.It has nothing to do with God. We are trapped as a society by very outspoken haters.People that preach hate, xenophobia, homophobia, and misogyny.These are the voices that have overtaken the public radio waves, and bark louder than the polite voices that speak out in dissent.
    It’s our culture. We need help changing it.We need to stop being encouraged to follow the loudest and angriest voices. Teach the children to ignore the barking dogs, and learn to listen to the quiet voice inside that speaks the words:”I Love You”.

  30. From the remnants of a very Marian Catholic upbringing , obsessions with great men of peace like Mahatma Ghandi and His holiness The Dahli Lama in college and still and always the strongest pillar of my spiritual house, mi Mama, who’s devotion, faith and love have shown me the way through many a dark and uncertain time
    I humbly offer up this vivid memory of a song during communion so many Sundays ago along with words scrawled and framed in my home. Not for the purpose of appeasing the fears you may have for indeed this is a scary time, but to have strength for the fight! And to know the comfort of the fact there is rest and peace on the other side of this . I have faith in us.

    “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”

    ― Mahatma Gandhi

    “To remain indifferent to the challenges we face is indefensible. If the goal is noble, whether or not it is realized within our lifetime is largely irrelevant. What we must do therefore is to strive and persevere and never give up.” –

    “As you breathe in, cherish yourself. As you breathe out, cherish all Beings.” – The Dalai Lama

    You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst.
    You shall wander far in safety though you do not know the way.
    You shall speak your words in foreign lands and all will understand.
    You shall see the face of God and live.

    Be not afraid.
    I go before you always.
    Come follow me, and
    I will give you rest.

    If you pass through raging waters in the sea, you shall not drown.
    If you walk amid the burning flames, you shall not be harmed.
    If you stand before the power of hell and death is at your side, know that
    I am with you through it all.

    Blessed are your poor, for the kingdom shall be theirs.
    Blessed are you that weep and mourn, for one day you shall laugh.
    And if wicked men insult and hate you all because of me, blessed, blessed are you!

    Be not afraid.
    I go before you always.
    Come follow me, and
    I will give you rest.

    much love and courage to you all

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.