Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Energy of Anxiety

I’ve been reminded this past month that our society operates on anxiety. From my morning commute to many of my business interactions, anxiety reigns in place of thoughtful consideration, in place of reasoned response, in place of long-term vision, and in place of leadership. And what do we reap as a result of our collective and individual anxiety? Fragmentation in all aspects of life – from the Eurozone crises to road rage to reactionary domestic policy to broken families and other broken relationships to poor business decisions. Anxiety also destroys truth for anxiety pressures a society, a business, a family, an individual, to lie for the sake of relieving pressure – the tyrannical and unrelenting pressure of anxiety assaults the ethics and morality of society until spin and lies are normative.

We no longer value reflection and context, we value trivia, we value data – there is an underlying value assumption behind the popularity of games such as Jeopardy – games that stress data over contextual understanding and thoughtfulness. (After writing this sentence I read a letter from Dorothy L. Sayers to the BBC in which she declines to participate in a Jeopardy-type show because of this very problem – and the letter was written in the early 1940’s!.)

The anxiety of society is to us today as the floodwaters were to those living in Noah’s time – both engulf a generation.

Isaiah writes: Behold a king will reign righteously and princes will rule justly. Each will be like a refuge from the wind and a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry country, like the shade of a huge rock in a parched land, (Isaiah 32:1-2). Am I a refuge in Christ for those around me? Is the church a refuge from the anxiety that is sweeping over our friends, families, neighbors and coworkers? Or, is the church fostering and contributing to the anxiety? Is the church connected to the power grid of the world – or are we resting in Jesus Christ?