Fear Colors Us

Fear Colors Us

Fear the graph.

From a pre-Ebola study by the Pew Research Center.

A very revealing graph, to be sure. I'd recommend reading The Atlantic's observations related to various countries. There is much insight here to be gleaned—and then more thoroughly considered.

As an ordinary follower of Jesus (in the real world), and as a would-be globally conscious and globally oriented Christian, these colors—these fears—pulled my mind and heart in many different directions. There are many desperately needed Good News-responses, of course, and each makes its important case under the inspiration and ambition of the Christian story.

But, today, these colors remind me of a single, motivating quotation by the writer Kathleen Norris:

The Incarnation is the place where hope contends with fear.
— Kathleen Norris, "Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith"

People of Christian faith should appreciate this for its fighting spirit, its perseverance and resistance, its sense of place.

Call it first-impulse Christianity—that is, the hope-filled desire and loving will to incarnate. To be present fully among flesh and blood, for the sake of all flesh and blood.

Naturally, this tangled and entangled garden takes work. Norris reminds us that hope must contend with fear, which, if the above chart is any indication, has an ever-expansive reign. We certainly must take stock of what it takes.

And any incarnation worth its salt and light must stay clear of wishful thinking or simplistic solutions. There really is no time for either. In fact, arriving at comprehensive and sustainable remedies for human crises that inevitably color us all requires the challenge of a very peculiar Christian asking, How does a Jesus-shaped vision for humanity in turn shape us to be present, and in what concrete way(s), and why?

Notwithstanding, I think the point remains: For the Christian, the most significant intersection with crisis and fear is always presence. Anything less is shriveling up or building a community ghetto, focusing on some future escape, or walking around talking to death about apocalypse.

Anything less is far less than the true color of hope.


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