Unlike worldly fear that creates alarm and anxiety, godly fear is a source of peace, assurance, and confidence.
Which is why Julie Rowe is able to get people to cash in their 401k’s over the slightest inkling of the “end of the world”? No, you don’t get to claim that a religion built on the idea that the “end of days is nigh, even at the very doors” gives peace and relaxes anxiety. Prophetic calls that “Albany will be burned by fire and Boston sunk into the sea”, that everyone should plant a garden to be self-sustaining, that SLC will run red with blood are not anti-anxiety remedies.
One day while playing with my friends, I accidentally broke a window in a store near our home. As the glass shattered and the security alarm blared, a paralyzing fear filled my heart and mind. I realized immediately I was doomed to spend the remainder of my life in prison.
Here is a fascinating phenomenons in LDS talks. I want you to answer quietly to yourself if you think he broke the window playing baseball. Now, re-read the paragraph above (or the talk). Nope, no baseball, just “playing with friends”. They could have been playing “Take the jeweled necklace from the store”. He might have actually been committing a crime. We are left to infer that his activities were harmless, and hence it is a joke that he was afraid of jail time. However, without the authoritative position of “apostle” this story might make one think the miscreant had jail-time coming to them.
You undoubtedly have experienced much greater feelings of dread after learning about a personal health challenge, discovering a family member in difficulty or danger, or observing disturbing world events.
This paragraph can be summed up, “You’re afraid of things too, huh!”
In such instances, the distressing emotion of fear arises because of impending danger, uncertainty, or pain and through experiences that are unexpected, sometimes sudden, and likely to produce a negative outcome.
Now he is clearly helping us feel our fears are rational. Unexpected things happen, yes. And we do feel fear when impending danger is there… that’s a survival mechanism. But then he connects it to irrational fears:
In our daily lives, endless reports of criminal violence, famine, wars, corruption, terrorism, declining values, disease, and the destructive forces of nature can engender fear and apprehension.
Spoken like a fox news broadcaster. Why, listening to him you’d forget that crime is at all time lows and the world is more at peace than most of its history per capita.
Criminal violence is awful, but we don’t need to fear it continuously if we don’t live in areas plagued by it. What’s interesting is he doesn’t mention police violence, which is statistically over 100 times more likely to kill the average listener than terrorism which he does mention, in the United States.
Famine is something that the vast majority of his listeners have never experienced. The closest they’ve felt is when their favorite brand of breakfast cereal was sold out once at the grocer.
Wars hardly impact the citizens of the United States, unless they have a loved one serving. And even then the death rate of our troops is so low, it is nothing like war throughout the majority of history. And don’t get me wrong, that’s a great thing. We can resolve conflicts with a reduction of loss. This may be more real for a lof of members outside the U.S.
Corruption is a real issue, but I don’t know that “fear” is the right word. “Anger”, “frustration”, and “a drive to correct the system” perhaps, but those are good emotions that help correct the issue.
Terrorism. Ah yes, that word. Pure fear itself with so little reason behind it that we allow full body scans of our children because some idiot tried to blow up his own underwear once.
Declining values are hardly a cause to fear. I’m not exactly sure which values are declining either. Should we be afraid that our neighbors have sex before having a wedding ring? Do we cry out in terror in the middle of the night if a man holds another man’s hand? Should we shake in our boots at girls wearing clothing not authorized by a prophet?
Where does the idea that moral cleanliness is something catastrophic if not followed… oh yes, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the destruction of Israelites after forming the golden calf and… scripture. Religion. Again, the argument that it is anti-anxiety is pretty thin.
Disease. we live in the most disease-free time in all of human history. Sure, we all fear somewhat from getting a cold or cancer. But he should have perhaps said “High cost of health care” in that mostly we fear the financial implications of serious illness, rather than the actual disease these days.
Destructive forces of nature will always be a concern. Whether an astroid plummiting into our world, or if we live in “Tornado Alley” we have a reason to always have a low-level fear. However, we also have buildings that have stood for thousands of years, house insurance, and community outreach programs like never in human history. The individuals in the Dominican Republic after their devastating natural event would have just suffered before the internet. Now, organizing socially, individuals and money from around the world could be there to provide real aide to those struck by disaster.
My message to you, the reader is: It’s a great time to be alive.
And religion doesn’t cast out all fear. Instead, it creates anxiety where none needs to be. See someone drinking a coffee, no need to be anxious without religion. Your next door neighbor mowing his lawn on Sunday, only religion tells you he should be put to death (or scowled at as you walk to church).
“But Alma went forth and stood among them, and exhorted them that they should not be frightened, but … should remember the Lord their God and he would deliver them.
“Therefore they hushed their fears” (Mosiah 23:27–28).
Conclusion: You don’t need apostles, prophets or even Jesus to cast out fear. You just need to understand that life is worth living, we live in a wondrous age, and the future is bright. There are things to be concerned of (Global Warming, for example, is curiously absent from the talk, as are water rights, both things that potentially impact every listener).
Therefore, hush your fears. Be still, and don’t worry about what God says; just live a good life anyway