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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Fear and dread

Our text for today is a verse from Isaiah. I say it over to myself frequently, especially in recent days and weeks:

"Do not call conspiracy all that this people call conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD your God, him you shall regard as holy; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread."

I never used to understand the idea of "God-fearing." It seemed that fear was something very different from trust, and weren't we supposed to trust rather than fear God? But now, plagued by years of adult anxieties, I have a somewhat different idea.

We all have fear and dread; the question is, is it worth it? Do we direct it towards something like nuclear war (how twentieth century of me), which we cannot control and which may never happen? What a waste of worry that would be. (Thanks to my seventh-grade language arts teacher for pointing this out.)

One of the points of having a God is that "he" is big enough to be worth our fear and trust. Yes, of course I hear Richard Dawkins saying this is a delusion. I respect Dawkins, but as an evangelical preacher--which, for atheism, he is--not a practicing scientist. He hasn't done original research in years.

The point of this delusion, if that is what it is, is that it is insulated from time. The fear and dread are not linked to today's conspiracy theories or the woes of this particular generation. There is far more at stake in this universe of grace than that.

Margaret Cavendish, the Duchess of Newcastle
Sidney Godolphin

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