Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Faith and Fear

Karen Spears Zacharias is a born storyteller, and that is why I want to commend to you her new book Where’s Your Jesus Now?. I became aware of Karen at our local Barnes & Noble when I happened one evening upon her book After the Flag Has Been Folded (called “Hero Mama” at that time). I picked it up, couldn’t put it down, bought it and read most of it that weekend. (We met Karen and her brother Frank at an event in Seattle.) Karen’s been through alot and I’m glad she’s got the journalist gift to record some of that “alot.” (Here’s the other part of the “alot” that you should know.)
Karen’s father died in Viet Nam when she was just a kid; the death of her father led to some family wrecks. She tells about this in After the Flag Has Been Folded and I don’t need to rehearse that story here.
Through it all Karen became a Christian and I recognized that it in her truth-telling book and so I wrote her; she wrote back. And so I was thrilled when Zondervan chose to offer her a contract to publish her stuff. Hence Where’s Your Jesus Now? The title comes off with an edge, but it is a line clipped from the first chp … and some story it is.
I wonder if you ever had a confrontation like this one?
It’s a story of violence that she covered in Oregon. A young man, Eric, who had wanted to become a preacher eventually became obsessed with his own power and authority and made life unbearable for those who crossed his path. His girlfriend, Robin, got in on his act. She ended up pointing a gun at a woman, a Christian woman, and said, “Where’s your Jesus now?” Shirley said “He’s right here.” It all ends up in a police chase and the police shooting Eric dead. “Eric,” Karen tells us, “went in search of a God of retribution, and he missed the God of redemption altogether.”
The chp ends with this: “Where should we go to put an end to all the wrongs and try to heal all that has happened?” She answers: “To none other than the Jesus who wept at the gravesite.”
The theme of fear — from several angles — shapes this book. It’s not an exposition of fear; it’s stories about fear.

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posted September 15, 2008 at 8:41 am

Erin and Robin seem to have fallen into this, cut from your other post: “The worst thing that can happen to the Church,? Peter Kreeft says, ?is what is happening to the Church now in the West, namely that the Church is deliberately conforming to the world.? … And he adds: ?The imitation of Christ has changed into the imitation of popular culture.?
I think I’m changing the context of this quote, but all the same, imho one of the worst problems of the church is it’s failure to conffront the “might makes right” and “guns solve problems” mentality of the popular culture. If there’s no religion without sacrifice, one thing Christians must sacrifice is reliance on violence for security or power. The church needs to be much, much clearer on its division from the world in this instance. We rely on a God of love whose love overpowers violence.

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posted September 15, 2008 at 12:23 pm

Diane: When you are raised up in a church culture whose entire message is Prepare Ye the Way for the Coming Tribulation, guns are necessary and violence is just a vehicle for the reign of Christ. And fear is just the fuel that compels the faithful.

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Ben Wheaton

posted September 15, 2008 at 4:24 pm

Diane and karen,
You just keep those straw men comin’.

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posted September 16, 2008 at 6:27 am

You wound me! :)
I was speaking too abstractly in my last post to have set up a strawman. Maybe I’m dealing in “airy notions” but those notions seem to me to be at the core of the Christian worldview.

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posted September 16, 2008 at 2:40 pm

What makes the story above particularly compelling is that Shirley, the woman who answered, pointing to her chest, “Jesus is right here” was the mother of the young man, Eric, who had ambushed her and her husband in their home, in a delusional and violent attempt to get back custody of his “first-born” son, who was in Shirley’s custody. There are many factors in this story, which make it complicated, not the least of which is that the young man clearly had a screw loose.
Too often in these domestic tragedies, when an abusive husband/father, or in this case son, attacks or kills his family there is some fundamentalist religious aspect to it. A few years ago here a devoutly Fundamentalist Christian father slaughtered his 6 children to punish his abused wife for leaving him. Like the young man is this story he was narcissistic and paranoid. Like this young man he believed his controlling, abusive behavior was his due as the God-directed ?head of the family?. But it begs the question ?was he crazy because of religion or was he religious because he was crazy?? People who are mentally ill will use a variety of things to rationalize their behavior ? including religious beliefs (if you can call them that). In fact, mentally ill people are often attracted to religion either for succor or for justification. . Nevertheless, I don?t know if it is fair to blame these sorts of incidents on fundamentalist religious thinking. This sort of of anti-social behavior linked to religious beliefs is by no means limited to Christianity. Fear-motivated anti-social behavior ? including domestic violence and terrorism – is linked to other fundamentalist faiths, as well as cultural factors as well. Fundamentalist or rigid religious thinking will make it easier for certain kinds of antii-social behavior to be encouraged or tolerated in susceptible individuals., but I am not sure whether it causes it.
This is why so many secularists think religion is dangerous ? because it can be and is used as an excuse for all manner of anti-social behavior. It isn?t just the truly insane who justify their actions by saying that God told them or that God wanted them to do whatever it is that they did. For secularists, who think God is imaginary, the line between crazy and religious is not that clear. ( Look at Todd Bentley, for example.) What seems to be, to an outsider, irrational or insane actions may make sense to individuals within a particular community or culture where there are cultural issues which make rational argument suspect.
In my own experience in dealing with people with mental illness I’ve observed that isolation appears to cause mental illness and it can exacerbate an existing condition. Religious faith can be healing if it brings with it a sense of connection and belonging, but it can make matters worse if it leads to fear and increasing isolation. We shouldn?t be left alone with our own thoughts ? it would cause most of us to become depressed and paranoid. We need to engage our thoughts with others in order to stay in balance. I think a similar thing can be in effect in group situations. That is that isolation from mainstream society is not healthy and leads to group psychosis. We need the give and take of alternative ideas to keep us sane. I would even argue that the same rule applies among nations. Nations who isolate themselves become increasingly unhealthy and paranoid.

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posted August 28, 2014 at 12:24 am

Hello there! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site?
I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking
at alternatives for another platform. I
would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

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