Regularly I receive an e-newsletter from Seattle University. Someone I used to work with on a committee, Dr. Michael Trice, is Assistant Professor and Assistant Dean for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue at the School of Theology and Ministry there. He recently wrote this:
Using Burke’s words, the “passion of fear” can make human beings seek out a person or group that we perceive will free us from the fear we are experiencing. The process works like this: We choose a scapegoat who we brand as both the source of our fear and, as Rene Girard points out, is also our salvation from our fear.He went on to say:
Unmitigated fear identifies a source and offers a way to alleviate it, and simultaneously “robs the mind of all its power of acting and reasoning.”These words were included as he shared his thoughts about the current political scene and how fear is being used to control (my word) our thinking "for" one person by being irrationally (again, my word) "against" the other. Trice posits that fear is truly the enemy, not the “other.”
It made me reflect on how this thought of fear can be played out in so many ways. When threatened, or feeling threatened, we tend to think that eliminating the threat will alleviate the fear. But it doesn’t really work - we just find something new to fear.
Yet, praise God, there is hope. The freedom Christ brings through the resurrection is the antithesis of fear - and, I would add, the way to eliminate fear. For as we trust the assurance of being loved through Jesus, fear is broken down and its power taken away. Then as we follow Jesus and love others as we are loved, the need to control them or overpower them is destroyed.
Sounds simplistic? Maybe, but it's not my idea: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear” 1 John 4:18a, New English translation.
Jesus IS perfect love. And has a lot of work for us to do, doesn't he?