The Pandemic of Fear

By Hans Boersma

I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions. I’ve never made one with any degree of seriousness. Whenever one comes to mind, I immediately put it aside as being too inconsequential to devote an entire year to it.

In the midst of all the Covid-hype, I finally found an exception: I have started taking the jab. Yes, dear reader, you read that right. Every day this year I will be taking the jab—booster after booster. I am talking, of course, of the vaccine called contemptus mundi (contempt for the world).

Vaccination will take the form of a daily examen of my fears and hopes. I confess I’m not doing well by my own standards—I am an anxious person, and my hopes are often shamefully immediate and self-centered.

My fearful tendencies are a problem. They serve as a pre-existing condition, easily exploited by the fear-pandemic that is ravaging our world and threatens to deprive even otherwise healthy Christians of their otherworldly hope.

The past few years, governments and media have actively spread the fear-pandemic as an efficient way of ensuring compliance with Covid-vaccination campaigns. Judging by personal observation, the campaign has been remarkably successful. Truly, fear has gone about like a virus, spreading virulently and wreaking havoc wherever it lands.

When a leader designates himself as a “wartime president,” the message is bound to trickle down in the form of fear. When doctors are called “soldiers” and school kids “easy targets” for the virus, it is obvious we have succumbed to fear.

Our susceptibility to the virus of fear has a variety of factors. Key among them is the broad societal shift from otherworldliness to this-worldliness. Having lost our faith in the world-to-come, our hopes and dreams have narrowed to the here and now. The result is: Not only do we grieve as others do who have no hope (1 Thess. 4:13), but we also fear as others do who have no hope. Our fears tell us what we hold most dear.

My hunch is that earlier generations were less unnerved by the bubonic plague or smallpox than we are by Covid—though the former were much more deadly than the latter.

Why this difference? Christians of a bygone age had a healthy dose of contempt for the world. Contemptus mundi was a common medieval trope grounded both in classical (Cicero) and patristic (Eucherius of Lyons) antecedents. The theme was popularized especially through the 12th-century French Benedictine monk, Bernard of Cluny. His De contemptu mundi was a lengthy, prophetic satirical poem attacking people’s material wealth and extravagant lifestyle, contrasting them with a life of virtue and contemplation.

Warning his contemporaries of the coming judgement of heaven and hell, Bernard opened his poem with these words:

Hora novissima, tempora pessima sunt—vigilemus.
Ecce minaciter imminet arbiter ille supremus.
Imminet imminet ut mala terminet, æqua coronet,
Recta remuneret, anxia liberet, æthera donet.

Or, in Samuel Duffield’s translation:

These are the latter times, these are not better times, let us stand waiting:
Lo, how with awfulness He, first in lawfulness, comes arbitrating!
Nearer and nearer yet!—Wrong shall in …read more

Via:: American Conservative

      

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