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Why We’re Publishing “Fear Not”

Here’s a little experiment for you. Sometime in the next month, sit down and watch one hour of broadcast unbiased news coverage, including the advertising. Filter what you see and hear with attention to fear, intimidation, truth, and gaslighting.

Then watch a good movie, a well-written one with an engaging storyline and conflict. Watch how the characters will inevitably face a challenge that seems insurmountable. Depending on the movie, either they’ll triumph in the final 10 minutes, or you’ll find yourself watching a sad, sad movie. Finally, watch an hour of religious programming. How many times do you hear the preacher say something scary, shocking, or damning? It’s shocking how our emotions, particularly fear, pervade every aspect of our lives. Learning the facts about our world, determining which products to buy, how we entertain ourselves, and how we live our faith. As much as we like to think humans are capable of reasoning our way above the muck and mire of fear, fear still drives much of what we do at the instinctual level.

Many in the political and advertising realm are masters at using our fears for their own purposes.[1] Sometimes those motives are obvious, like holding onto power and wealth. Sometimes those motives are obscured, like holding onto advantage and privilege.

Eric H.F. Law’s latest book, Fear Not: Living Grace and Truth in a Frightened World, helps you see those motives – but far more importantly, it teaches you how to overcome those motives, individually and communally, to build authentic relationships and to reject fearmongering from those who wish to control you and your emotions.

Fear Not is Eric’s 10th book with Chalice Press and updates Finding Intimacy in a World of Fear. Published in 2007, the original reflected on America’s response to 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina. Think back to 2007 – President George W. Bush was winding down his second term, Barack Obama was still a candidate for the Democratic nomination, the housing bubble was popping, climate change was still gaining traction as a real problem. So much has changed since then, and the second edition is wiser thanks in part to a decade of data.

One of the most intriguing chunks of data follows three years of a poll [2] by Chapman University of “what strikes fear in Americans.” The top 10 answers for each year’s poll are below. It’s easy to see the political partisan warfare in their answers.

2015

2016

2017

1. Corruption of government officials Corrupt government officials Corrupt government officials
2. Cyber-terrorism Terrorist attacks American Health Care Act/Trumpcare
3. Corporate tracking of personal information Not having enough money for the future Pollution of oceans, rivers, and lakes
4. Terrorist attacks Terrorism Pollution of drinking water
5. Government tracking of personal information Government restrictions on firearms and ammunition Not having enough money for the future
6. Biowarfare People I love dying High medical bills
7. Identity theft Economic/financial collapse The U.S. being involved in another World War
8. Economic collapse Identity theft Global warming and climate change
9. Running out of money in the future People I love becoming seriously ill North Korea using nuclear weapons
10. Credit card fraud The Affordable Care Act/Obamacare Air pollution

Eric notes that the odds of many of these possibilities actually occurring are far more remote than others. We are more likely to lose somebody we love than for another world war to break out. We are far more likely to have air pollution affect our lives than government restrictions on firearms and ammunition directly impacting our safety. So many of these top 10 items probably wouldn’t be in our collective consciousness if politicians and advertisers weren’t playing on our fears for their own gain.

While this could easily be a book on marketing or political science, what makes this a Chalice Press book is Eric’s vision of the church and people of faith uniting in opposition to such fearmongering, of building communities that drown out words of fear with acts of compassion and justice. It calls back to a wandering preacher building communities in a country occupied by a foreign power that used brute power to control the masses. Times are a little different, but the methods remain the same – community is at the core of change.

It’s no coincidence Fear Not is releasing at the beginning of the 2020 political season. Fear Not equips you to think critically about the issues facing our country and our communities – and to make the courageous choice. We hope you find Fear Not an ideal companion for a year when there will be ample opportunities to put it to the test.

Gratefully,
Brad

 

[1] This was written in the midst of the 2020 impeachment hearing, perhaps the most unjustifiably fearmongering era in American history.

[2] Survey sources:

“America’s Top Fears 2015,” Chapman University, October 13, 2015, https://blogs.chapman.edu/wilkinson/2015/10/13/americas-top-fears-2015/

“America’s Top Fears 2016,” Chapman University, October 11, 2016, https://blogs.chapman.edu/wilkinson/2016/10/11/americas-top-fears-2016/

“America’s Top Fears 2017,” Chapman University, October 11, 2017, https://blogs.chapman.edu/wilkinson/2017/10/11/americas-top-fears-2017/

 

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