Archives For Fear


A Life of Hope
in a Society of Fear.

A Feature Review of 

Unafraid: Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times
Adam Hamilton

Hardback: Convergent Books, 2018
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]


Reviewed by Ryan Johnson


We live in a society where fear has become ubiquitous.  It looms behind every corner, and for many it is impossible to go through a day without feeling its effects.  Those of us tasked with the responsibility of leading others are left wondering how to guide people to hope and courage through a labyrinth of fears.  Adam Hamilton, in his typical pastoral way, offers a resource for just such a purpose in his new book Unafraid:  Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times.

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Expanding Our Capacity to Love

A Feature Review of

Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith
Benjamin Corey

Hardcover: HarperOne, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Justin Cober-Lake
Benjamin Corey’s latest book Unafraid began with a spiritual crisis. Corey was paralyzed with fear, and he realized he could trace his problems largely to a flawed view of God. He had a fear of God – not the healthy sort of awe and respect, but a terror that one false move would bring him to God’s wrath. As the  thinker best known for his blog Formerly Fundie, he could have seen this problem in the roots of his early faith, but he also saw the same sort of issues prevalent in the context of his newer progressive outlook. His “fear-based faith” was limiting and destructive, and his new book mixes memoir, theology, and practice to look into religious fear and find a way to the God of love.

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One of the best new book releases of this week is:

Fear+Less Dialogues: A New Movement for Justice
Gregory Ellison II

Paperback: WJK Books, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]

I have started reading this book,
and am finding it very helpful!


These brief video clips are a great intro to the book…

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Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:

(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…)


Awaiting the King: Reforming Public Theology (Cultural Liturgies)

James K.A. Smith

*** Watch several brief video clips introducing this book



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Not for The Faint of Heart

A Feature Review of 

Break Open the Sky: Saving Our Faith from a Culture of Fear
Stephan Bauman

Paperback: Multnomah, 2017
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Jeff Crosby

Chicago’s historic Fourth Presbyterian Church at the corner of Michigan Avenue (the “Miracle Mile”) and Chestnut, a Gothic Revival masterpiece designed by famed architect Ralph Adams Cram, opened more than a century ago. Since its first worship services in 1912, the church has played host to numerous cultural and spiritual gatherings of importance alongside its weekly proclamation of scripture and its robust outreach to people – both the well-heeled and the down-on-their luck – in the heart of the near north side of the city.

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What if the problem is not out there, but in our own hearts?

A Feature Review of

Fear of the Other: No Fear in Love
William Willimon

Paperback: Abingdon Press, 2016
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]


Reviewed by James Honig


The long months of the presidential campaign have given people of faith plenty of self-righteous high horses from which to rail at those who would stir up the juices of our all too common human fear of the other.

Reminds me of that delicious story in Luke’s gospel of a Pharisee named Simon who throws a dinner party and invites Jesus (Luke 7). When a woman with a reputation crashes the party, Simon takes the occasion for some self-righteous harrumphing about Jesus’ rusty skills as a prophet. Jesus doesn’t even know who it is who is wetting his’ feet with her tears and wiping them dry with her hair, Simon says to himself. In a brief and masterfully told parable, Jesus turns the tables on that highly religious man, exposing Simon’s self-righteousness and need for forgiveness.

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Knowing Fear

A review of

A Fresh Look at Fear: Encountering Jesus in our Weakness
Dan Baumann

Paperback: YWAM Publishing, 2015
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]


Reviewed by Hillary Jo Foreman


Like most children, I was afraid of many things while growing up. I was afraid of spiders, the Boogey Man and, of course, the dark. The majority of children outgrow superficial fears such as these, replacing them with more matured versions. I, too, allowed my fears of monsters in the closet to transform into real life fears of finances and failure. I have been in the church all my life so Christian fears also bloomed. Am I following God’s will? Why doesn’t he speak to me? What happens if people judge me?

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Samuel Wells - Be Not AfraidInto Engagement
with the World and With God.

A Review of

Be Not Afraid:  Facing Fear with Faith

Samuel Wells

Paperback: Brazos Press, 2011.
Buy now:
[ ]
[ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Jennifer Burns Lewis

Sam Wells’ new book, Be Not Afraid, is a powerful antidote to the fear-based news and views so prevalent in our time.  These short essays read like sermons – very good sermons – grounded in scripture and bringing to life some important insights and reminders about courage, authenticity and candor.  A person seemingly acquainted with despair and fear, Wells writes from a heart-felt place of deep reflection that would invite even the most intractable soul to reconsider what it means to live in the world today as a person of faith.
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A Brief Review of
The Inquisition: Reign of Fear.
Toby Green.

Hardback: Thomas Dunn Books, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Mark Eckel.

Human beings, no matter their belief, will use their power to make others cower.  The Spanish Inquisition is one of innumerable historical episodes displaying this facet of human depravity.  Usurping rule, abusing authority, creating fear, promoting group hatred is the progression of every hostile takeover of any human institution.  “Fear is of course a wonderful tool for consolidating the power of an increasingly authoritarian state.  Successfully embedded, this fear can always be invoked, in the name of the war of good against evil, against targets that pose an economic or political challenge” (77).   Toby Green joins the ranks of many researchers who remind us atrocities perpetrated against people for their beliefs is always a blow against freedom.  Inquisition: Reign of Fear is a display of how the institutional becomes personal.

One feels the dread of the average citizen in his attempt to steer clear of suspicion. Anonymous accusations led to misleading evidence prompting psychological conditioning creating lie-upon-lie, all because of authorities’ weak compliance.  Exported through New World discoveries, the Inquisition flourished in distant lands whose inhabitants were subjected to bloody evangelism.  Detailed accounts in Green’s book are impressive.  Fifty pages of endnotes demonstrate the depth of research.

The reader learns that the papacy did not condone the inquisitors.  Weak kings allowed special interests to usurp control of institutions.  Indeed, the Spanish church authorities were an aberration within the Church itself.  A powerful argument could have been created by Green to make more of hijacked belief.  There is a huge difference between The Inquisition—detoured doctrine, a deviation from its Source—and the worldwide results of totalitarian dictatorships.  The former shows the ends of undeterred, untethered minority control, the latter is an inevitable consequence of a group’s presuppositions.  To equate inquisitors with murderous East German stasi or Mao Zedong’s killing fields is a memorial insult to hundreds of millions of people who lost their lives because of Communism (355).

Macro-motivations for the inquisition are also absent.  Islamic invasions are unmentioned.  Protestant persecution is muted.  One is left to wonder why power was usurped at this time, in this place.  Green’s consistent truism is once the match is lit, the fire is hard to contain.  For example, “The inquisitional state of mind helped to sew [sic] the seeds of the rebellions which at away at Spanish power and its role in the world” (140-41).  But a full examination of inquisitional fallout would bolster the argument.

Lord Acton’s famous statement “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” applies to the Inquisition.  Green has done a service to everyone by reminding institutions that special interest groups within their own organizations can create adversarial, sometimes deadly, climates.  But everyone must never forget their personal susceptibility toward abuse of power.


“Following Jesus in a Political Climate of Fear”
The Other Journal interviews Scott Bader-Saye

TOJ: Christian churches and communities are supporting both candidates, yet there is little primacy for Christian unity over and above political debate and unity. Should we be more actively considering Christian unity? And what are a few first considerations or things to consider in regard to fidelity to our Christian faith when assessing how to engage the politics defined by liberal procedural democracy?


SBS: Certainly in fearful times we need the support of strong communities. Indeed, I believe one of the causes of our fearfulness is our sense of moral, cultural, and familial fragmentation, our sense of being on our own as we face potential threats. Our fears about declining pensions and a failing social security system, for instance, tie directly into the cultural presumption that when you are old, you should not rely on others. The fear of “becoming a burden for my children” resonates strongly with many older people, but it seems to me that this fear is a result of our failure to create communities that joyfully “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). It may well be that children alone cannot meet all of the needs of aging parents; this is too great a weight to place on family when family no longer means an extended network of relatives who share a common life. This is why we need the church to take some of that pressure off of family by being extended family for each other in quite concrete ways. It’s easy for a parish to say, “We’re a family here,” but this lapses into sentimentality if it does not include practical assistance and mutual responsibility, such as opening our wallets to make sure one of our members has the medical care he or she needs.

Read the full interview:

Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear.
Scott Bader-Saye.
Paperback: Brazos Press, 2007.
Buy now [ Doulos Christou Books $18 ] [ Amazon ]

Byron Borger reviews
Andrew Krivak’s A LONG RETREAT

The Long Retreat: In Search of a Religious Life (FSG; $25.00) is the wonderfully rendered memoir of a Northeastern Pennsylvania boy who joins the Jesuit order, working for 8 long years in prayer, discernment, service, travel, study, and huge amounts of (hardly realized) self-doubt and the clarification of vocational discernment, to come to that place of needing to finally decide if he would make his final vows to pursue ordination.  Andrew Krivak is a very good writer, very aware of his own deepest issues and able to tell of his emotional and spiritual journey without sounding overly pious and certainly never sentimental.


It is a fabulous story, filled with romances (yes), weird colleagues, thoughtful spiritual directors, stirring scenes of social service and college teaching and urban ministry. (His harrowing account of a working with a manipulative, distressed student rivals the scenes of almost being mugged on ghetto streets by a drug dealer/pimp.)  He explains much about Catholic monastic life, about orders and vows and praying the Divine Hours which are revealing and demystifing—hearing about brothers arguing about who does the dishes, or being grumpy about another’s annoying habits was refreshing in a way.  Mostly, though, it is a long, long journey to figure out what in the hell to do with one’s longings, with certainity and uncertainity, with one’s sense of self and God.

Read the full review:

Andre Krivak.
Hardcover: FSG, 2008.
Buy now [ Doulos Christou Books $20 ] [ Amazon ]


In I WAS WRONG, Nick Smith identifies and characterizes the elements that combine to form meaningful, morally significant apologies. Additionally, Smith analyses the inadequacies of evasive, insincere, or otherwise defective apologies. Indeed, this book is perhaps most valuable as a field guide to inadequate apologies — that is, apologies that omit some element of an ideally meaningful apology. Some of the practices with which Smith takes issue will be familiar to anyone who pays attention to the lives of public figures, and Smith’s discussion is enhanced by a wealth of real-life examples involving such figures. Most of us have heard misbehaving politicians or celebrities offer vague admissions that “mistakes were made” or expressions of regret that “people were offended.” Smith aims to impose order and precision on our intuitive sense that something is amiss in these supposed apologies.

Read the full review:

Nick Smith.
Paperback: Cambridge UP, 2007.
Buy now [ Doulos Christou Books $22 ] [ Amazon ]