Be Not Afraid – Thoughts on the State of Things

Its been a while since I have written on my blog. As always, life for me is a very dynamic circle of things, and though I wont go into all of those details (as they aren’t relevant to my thoughts here) its worth noting that its been a very trying year, and all of us can agree, the Covid19 pandemic (Sars-COV-2) has been at the root of it.

In just a few short months, we have watched our world literally be thrown on its side. The comfort we lived in was shaken, and we were led to believe that at any moment, we really could lose it all, including our lives. Stay At Home Orders, School Closings, even our Churches for many of us, were hidden and taken from us . Its Ironic at this point, of writing this I am listening to a chant not from the Orthodox Church, but that from the Gnostic Cathars – all but forgotten.

The Gnostics were, probably rightly so, condemned for a hidden knowledge – However, there is always some glimmer of truth in any statement if you can find it, and the Gnostics were no different. They desperately were attempting to find the source of truth, among a church that at the point of the 4th-9th centuries, had increasingly become more “The System”, which dictated way of life, thought, and action. Needless to say, their tragedy of their existence, laid not in their mysticism, but the pluralism and pelagianism that crept into their thought process. Make no mistake about it, and I have written on similar things with the reformation – these events are tragedies for the church, because of the loss that was experienced. Brilliant but lost thinkers were cast off, not for what they knew that was true, but for what might not have fit with established thought. People often fear what they don’t understand. This is not to say that there is any credence to Gnosticism , but its to demonstrate that often, when we don’t understand something, its very natural for us to be fearful and resentful, rather then drawing a line and saying, what can I learn from this, or what is it trying to tell me.

This year is no different. Truly, we have a pandemic of what seems to be epic proportions. If we listen to the talking heads, all of us are going to die any day now, and there is nothing we can do about it except cower.

Lets look at that statement for a moment – From a Christian perspective, its almost correct. Its true, we are all going to die (someday), and there isn’t a thing we can do about it, however, where the Church, in its pure truth differs, is that death is not to be feared, but almost embraced with a submission in humility, because we know that this life, with all its trappings is only a step on the journey. Ultimately, we will end up in paradise, with the risen Lord in His Glory, or we will consciously make the choice of not being there, which at that point, Dante’s description is only a poor glimpse of the pain of denying God’s love is. God’s love is more then to make us feel good about ourselves. It is a compass that shows our very souls, where they should go. The Hebrew Kabbalists have a concept that the soul, is wired to want to return to the creator. There is no greater example of this concept then the Christian concept of the Resurrection , which makes that possible.

Sadly many of us have become resigned to the belief that life is finite and with out an immortal continuation, and instead embrace fear because of the belief that this moment in time, is what we are to hold on to. This is greatly re enforced by a media, government, and court of popular opinion, which instead of embracing hope, has embraced fear, not as a prudent action, but that of control.

Bare with me in the fact that, I certainly am not denying the effects of the virus on people, nor am I denying the tragic deaths which result as complications from the virus – However, the voices speaking the loudest through all of this, are fixated on the death and oblivious aspect of the situation. By their insistence on fear, rather then looking for the glimmer of hope in all of this, they have effectively silenced a great amount of people, who other wise might have been able to contribute other perspective to this. However that is only the beginning. The effort itself has began to target Christian thought. Really, its a story we have seen before in Russia, China, and others. Eventually the church was silenced in such a way, that the average human no longer had anything to hope in, except for the State. People in this situation become well adjusted to the situation, and are more pliable, thus more productive for the State and its over reach.

We have gone beyond masks, and efforts to control things (as if we could), and have simply embraced fear. Fear is being used as a tool to subjegate not only the masses, but other avenues of hope for the human mind, least of all the Church, which sadly by her Bishops and their own fears, has sucombed to living in paranoia, rather then staying courageous and steadfast in the face of our enemy, and our Enemy is in all of this.

I suppose these thoughts really came together recently for me. A while ago, I watched the movie “The Village” in the theater. If you are unfamiliar with the movie, we start out in a colonial-esque village, with hand built homes, stone town buildings , really something right out of a history book. However, the residents also deal with the “monsters” who keep them paralyzed in fear. IN fact, every action they take centers around the monsters in the woods – At night they are ever vigilant, standing in towers, lighting fires, even giving up an offering on a slab of stone, however, its to no avail. All through the story, the monsters keep making their presence known. Its only towards the end, where the elders’ hands are forced, and they allow one to leave to get medicine for another. He goes where no one had ever gone before, and ends up meeting a modern day security Guard.

See, the Village was founded out of fear. As the story ends, we learn the elders of the village were regular people in the 60’s, who were terrified by the turbulent world that they lived in, and decided that they would retreat from it. They pulled (quite literally) their trust fund monies, and bought land, which they situated a village in the middle of, and had the greatest example of “going off grid” that we could ever find. The “monsters” were the villagers themselves, dressed up at night, using fear as a motivator to control the Village, in a warped concept of protecting the people. In the end, their efforts were futile, as their stranglehold created a society that not only had lost all hope in anything past the reaches of their village, but they also had allowed the most vulnerable in the village, to become endangered, all because of the fear that they had, fear that terrorized them so deeply, that they would do anything to maintain that control, in the belief that society would be better off, safer, and healthier from it. All through the story, there is never a mention of religious thought. There is however an underlying concept of finality to existence, which actually is punctuated by the phrase “We are privileged for the time we have” – Or something to that affect. There is a subtle nihilism to the whole thing, not to different from the attitudes of pure communism, which abandons all faith, and instead worships at the altar of perceived reason.

We have much the same situation with this pandemic. Our society has become crippled in fear, so much so that we have accepted science as our only deity, and even our Religious leaders, Pastors, Bishops, Apologists, have abandoned God, all but in name. Churches are closed, the sacraments and sacramentals are no longer in reach for many. We no longer are hoping in God and trusting in hist grace, which ultimately leads us beyond this moment in existence, and instead, have become engrossed in fear, to the point of believing that death is the power that controls all of us. We are all going to die, there is nothing we can do about it, and thats that. So the humane thing we can do is to attempt to control the time, place, and method of our death. In our fear and arrogance, we have abandoned any glimmer of faith. Once we lose our faith, its only a small nudge for society to conform , and abandon God all together. I desperately wish people could see beyond some of this, and realize that great liberties have been taken with not only measures, but how information is being fed to the public. If you keep them in fear, they are controllable.

However, we Christians are to live without fear. This doesn’t mean we should live recklessly – We should care for our fellow man, and we should do what we can to protect each other. However, our attitude has to be correct in it, and it cant be governed by a fear of death. We truly have lost a bit of ourselves these last few months, and those nihilistic (atheistic ) voices have become all the louder, ready to ridicule anyone who disagrees with the so called “science”. We in our arrogance have become not too unlike Adam and Eve, believing we have knowledge over life and death, and worse, a control over both

I wont mention his name, but there was a one time priest, who many knew, who mentioned that we shouldn’t fear death, destruction, and the terrors in the world, because in the end, We win, and we win because of Him (Jesus Christ). We can choose to live in fear, or we can choose to hope. I choose to hope and reaffirm the fact that THIS moment in time, is not my end. Christ had victory in the Cross over death, and he will have victory over this pandemic as well. We need to start believing again though, not in the god of science, but in the God of Wonders, who in the end will redeem us. St John Paul the 2nd stated at his Pontifical speech when elected “Be Not Afraid”. This is a phrase all through scripture, and one that should resonate for all us. We need to be not afraid, for our God does go before us in battle.