Vital Signs

Be Not Afraid

In Leviticus, God gives Israel a number of blessings and curses that describe the benefits and consequences of keeping (or failing to keep) the Sinai covenant.  One of the “covenant curses” is curiously descriptive of the jittery culture of fear in which we now live:

But if [they] will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments . . . I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth [26:14;36].

\A culture of death is a culture of fear, because a culture that loses the holy and freedom-giving fear of God inevitably becomes a culture dominated by the servile fear of man.  It becomes afraid of its own shadow—and with good reason, for the shadow of fallen man is very dark indeed at times.  Precisely because it is dominated by fear, it is not ruled by truth, or light, or even sanity.  In an effort to convince itself that it is not afraid, it turns to bread and circuses to keep up its spirits (Britney Spears Watch!).  And as it grows in fear (because bread and circuses do not satisfy the soul), it begins to exaggerate its fear fantasies into “realism,” to conflate violence with justice, and strength with cruelty and cunning.  And so it behaves much as Saint Paul describes, “tossed...

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