Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Age of Fear

Nativity, by Hiroshi Tabata, Japan

What does the
Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8

I had to reread yesterday's post and examine my own vehemence.

My spiritual director has long held before me that anger is most often, if not always, rooted in fear. There is little else to add except to reflect for a moment on the roots of the current crisis in the Anglican Communion through that important piece of understanding.

The most unnerving thing about the recent article in The New York Times about Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria is not so much what he says, but how he reflects in his words and actions a deeply rooted anxiety -- fear -- that resides at the center of so much of the vitriol on all sides of the rifts we suffer from in our faith community at present.

We live in an age of fear. I don't have the experience to say if it is more so now than at other times in world history, but the language of the great movers and shakers of our day reflects the root of so much driving the human family at the present time: war on terror, insurgents, evil ones.

Even the language of Anglicanism in our day, with all its subtleties, has overtones of fear: the title of the Windsor Report: "Walking Apart". Impaired Communion. Canonical Violations. Episcobabble. Voluntary withdrawal. Strained bonds of affection. And some old Christian standbys: heretics, schismatics, apostasy.

I dare not venture to argue which side likes to use the fear language more. It is too easy to demonize. And demonization is a child of fear.

We have a common enemy, perhaps among the oldest and most devious and universal of demonic tools: fear.

We fear the other. We fear those who disagree with us. We worry about the ones who might try to harm us if we dissent.

The antithesis of fear is, of course, courage, but more importantly, daring to love in the midst of such heated attacks and rages of fear, even as it burns holes in our communities and digs chasms that appear impassable.

I confess for myself and to God that I want to start looking for this new way out of fear in the New Year. So I learn to stand in solidarity with those who suffer most from fear, be it their own or those of others. Perhaps there we have more in common, be we "progressive" or "conservative," "reasserters" or "reappraisers."

And we have Christ in common. And Christ is born in our hearts, leading us to resurrection, to be born again. Born again free from fear, and to stand anew with the One who is ushering in a new day.

The Christians better than I will be standing outside the fear in the days to come. Help me watch for them and may we learn from them together.

God's peace.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very nicely put ... my prayers and hopes for those who struggle to love.
Denbeau A.