Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me — those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches? No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them — the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough — so that they should live on forever and not see decay.
For all can see that the wise die, that the foolish and the senseless also perish, leaving their wealth to others. Their tombs will remain their houses forever, their dwellings for endless generations, though they had named lands after themselves.
People, despite their wealth, do not endure; they are like the beasts that perish.
– Psalm 49:5-12
“… Like [C. P. Snow], I am not certain whether if [the H-bomb] killed one-third of us (the one-third I belong to), this would be a bad thing for the remainder; like him, I don’t think it will kill us all. But suppose it did? As a Christian I take it for granted that human history will some day end; and I am offering Omniscience no advice as to the best date for that consummation. I am more concerned by what the Bomb is doing already.
“One meets young people who make the threat of it a reason for poisoning pleasure and evading every duty in the present. Don’t they know that, Bomb or no Bomb, all men die (many in horrible ways)?”
– C. S. Lewis, ‘Is Progress Possible?’
I told a Myron Cohen story a few days ago. Another comes to mind. A person taking a poll came into the neighborhood and talked to one of the old-timers there. The pollster asked about the mortality rate in the old man’s neighborhood. The old man said, “Well, Meestah, in my opinion, just for this neighborhood mind you, I find that it is one per person.”
This post, and especially the C. S. Lewis quote, may be lost on most people. You cannot be much younger than I am and still remember the nuclear fallout shelters, the storage of food in case the bombs started to fall, and the nuclear bomb drills.
Let’s look at another C. S. Lewis quote from a different essay.
“If we are going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things — praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts — not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They might break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”
– C. S. Lewis, ‘On Living in an Atomic Age’
But that is what was the focus in my early developmental years. Growing up in rural Mississippi, we figured that we were not a prime target (although the drills were a government requirement), so we took less interest than urban areas did, especially urban areas where global financial and governmental decisions were made. Now those places were more likely targets.
The odd thing is that every age has their pet fear. I chose those words carefully. We feed our pet fear. We nurture our pet fear. We take our pet fear out for walks.
The nuclear apocalypse fear lasted from the early 50s through the mid 60s. But the 60s also had the civil rights movement, the counter culture, and the Vietnam War. By the end of the 60s, some were welcoming global destruction as they thought we were imploding within ourselves. From the counter culture, there was an ever-growing drug scene. While some feared Disco music for some strange reason in the 70s, most feared the spread of illegal drugs and the crime machine that moved drugs into and through the country faster than the government’s ability to figure out ways to stem the tide.
Now we have Global Warming, or the new name of Climate Change. The slow rise in temperature, on average, is being noticed. The ice caps, on average, are melting. Yet, I am still not convinced that they are 100% accurate as to the cause. If they keep insisting on reducing our carbon footprint, an evil despot will eventually take over and establish a “Logan’s Run” type of world where everyone over 35, except for the despot, is killed. People are the largest single producer of the carbon footprint. The densest populations on earth are easy to track. Look for the areas on a world map that have the most consistent temperatures above normal every month. Yet, the world’s governments attack industry – for now.
I read a novel several years ago by Michael Crichton, The State of Fear. The book was a fictional tale using global warming as the fear with a global crime syndicate behind the plot. Crichton had a lot of research that he wove into the story as the fictional story progressed. The story was fiction, but the title was based upon something that is very real. There are those within the media, the government, and the law profession who make their money from the fear of others. If you artificially increase the fear through the media, some lawmakers start making more speeches, which they are paid to make, to gain popularity, notoriety, etc. Their speech does nothing more than heighten the fear. In so doing, they make even more money. As fear increases to paranoia, the law profession steps in to create lawsuits against the people blamed for the source of the fear, whether the blame is accurately placed or not. They line their bank accounts at other’s expense simply because they convinced a jury that did not understand the science – just the fear. And of course, as fear increases, sensational journalism increases, selling a lot of advertisements. In Crichton’s fictional book, he uses this real “state of fear” concept as the engine producing illegal plots to increase the fear, all to make money.
While Crichton’s book is fictional, we all have seen similar responses from the media, government, and law profession. I am not saying all three are evil, but the means of making money in the “state of fear” model is real and employed every day.
But we started with “the Bomb”. Both of C. S. Lewis’ quotes pointed to the fact that we will all die at some point. Some speak of the rapture being a means of not dying for some, but it never says that you don’t die on the spot and your soul rises to meet Jesus in the sky. I am still with Myron Cohen. The mortality rate is roughly one per person.
Let’s take an inventory of our National Fears: We still have the Bomb. If North Korea or Iran perfect the Bomb and obtain a reliable delivery system, they might be crazy enough to use it. The civil rights movement and counter culture are still alive and well, pointing out that we still have inequalities. As Jesus said, “You will always have the poor…” We still have a drug problem. It may be worse than ever. Okay, we killed Disco, but that was not so wide spread of a fear.
What did fear accomplish? What did worry accomplish?
So, what do we do? I suggest that we have faith. Regardless of what fear is out there, some real, some not real, God is in charge. Our worry and our fear only reduce the Joy in our lives, the Peace in our hearts, and our worry and fear battle the Faith we have that God is really in control. Let us do as C. S. Lewis suggests. Let us worship, pray, learn, sing, and do normal things. Let us fill our hearts and minds with thoughts of how awesome our God is. In His presence, those fears will vanish.
Billy Graham once wrote, “I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.”
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.