A blood-red moon is coming up shortly and the hyper conservative Christians are again being whipped into a frenzy by the likes of televangelist John Hagee who feverishly proclaim that this is a sure sign that the Second Coming of Christ is imminent. Now growing up in a fundamentalist Baptist church, I’ve lived through six decades of this fear-mongering and remember so clearly how effective it was with me. But what I haven’t admitted before is that I had mixed emotions—I was supposed to be excited that Jesus was finally coming back but I secretly wanted to live longer…and to get to have sex! I got the impression there would not be any of those shenanigans in heaven! (See John Hagee in a 10 minute spiel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvLo57f0Do8)
Part of me wants to snicker at this lunacy but mostly I’m just so sad, knowing that worldwide thousands of young people are being bludgeoned into Christianity…or other conservative faiths…because of fear-mongering of this sorts. A good dose of fear every now and then will always “rally the troops” and intensify the loyalty to the church or group. However, I remember clearly that Jesus taught that “perfect love casteth out fear” so that convinces me He would not feel he needs to rely on fear mongering to coerce people…especially little children…into the fold.
The real issue is the fear of death which I have used my Christian faith to avoid most of my life. My faith was only a denial system, designed to stem the tide from the steady torrent of fear, shame, and humiliation that lurked beneath the surface of my life. But now my faith is getting me beyond my immaturity and allowing me to be more accepting of things like “death.” Certainly, there are remnants of fear remaining; for my love has yet to find “perfection.”! But the focus of my spiritual energy is on the remaining 5-6 decades of my life and living authentically in each one of these days, no longer haunted by the past or escaping into a fantasy future. (Actually, I’m only kidding! I do not expect, nor do I desire, to live that old!)
Life and death are inextricably intermingled. Those who fear death inevitably are also fearful of life and its uncertainty. I think Jesus knew that and offered us to invest in another dimension of life…the Spiritual…but we immediately took this notion and made it concrete so that we could worship the idea and escape the experience.