Fear versus Faith

“Fear comes from uncertainty. When we are absolutely certain, whether of our worth or worthlessness, we are almost impervious to fear.”  William Congreve, English playwright and poet.

It’s Sunday (i.e. yesterday).  I woke around 6am to a cold morning (28 deg F/-2.2 deg C), the result of a clear, moonlit night.

Then as the night sky lightened with the coming dawn, the green, forest-cloaked valleys, visible to the East through the bedroom windows filled with a white, morning mist.  In a metaphorical sense that descending mist matched a mood of gloom that was trying to descend on me.

Early morning mist, Merlin, Oregon
Early morning mist, taken 7:15 am Sunday, 24th Feb.

As I lay back against the headboard of the bed, Jean still sleeping close to me, dogs Cleo, Hazel and Sweeny snoozing on and around me, I pondered on my mood.  It came to me that I might be picking up the growing sense of anxiety, of uncertainty, that seems to be ‘in the air’.  Me reading too many blog articles about global warming, climate change, et al.  Being three-quarters through Professor Guy McPherson’s book Walking Away from Empire: A Personal Journey wasn’t helping either!

Then I recalled a recent conversation with dear friend and colleague from our Payson, AZ. days, John Hurlburt, who said that fear is the absence of faith.  That if we trust what will be will be, then we can counter the fear of the unknown and embrace the present day, one day at a time.  Living in the now as, you’ve guessed it, that dogs do so supremely well.  Something else to learn from dogs!

I made a decision to take a stroll in the forest, emotionally speaking, for this week, so far as Learning from Dogs is concerned.  Enjoy the beauty of the world around me and offer a few essays on the meaning of life. No blog posts at all about anything that engenders fear from any quarter!

And if that doesn’t slash the readership figures, I don’t know what will! So there! You have been warned.

So let me start by offering this essay from John.  John is one of those rare people who has been through more than his fair share of ‘challenges’ over the years, yet has grown from those experiences.

Here’s John – I’m turning over and going back to sleep!


Education, Formation and Transformation

Most Americans remain comfortably complacent despite world economic brinksmanship, the escalating deterioration of our planetary environment and raging world discontent. Although we may be caring and compassionate in our personal lives, we are often reluctant to take any risk of reducing our personal comfort.

Education is a process. A process of learning how to think life through in order to become aware of whom we are, what we are, where we are, and why we exist. Education has always been the human gateway to a better future.

Knowledge does not guarantee wisdom. Education, formation and transformation are an integrated process which includes studying to gain knowledge, making natural connections based on the best information available, and experiencing the higher levels of conscious awareness we recognize as wisdom. The educational process works best when it is open minded, factual and sustained. We learn best when we learn together.

The human wisdom tradition is rich in myth, mysticism, symbols, imagination and creativity. It tells a common story of emergence through centuries of sacred writings stretching back through time to the earliest human cave scratchings roughly 17,000 years ago, and the beauty of the prayers of the Rig-Veda 12,000 years ago which all begin with an homage to the natural energy of the Sun.

We’re conscious components of a living planet. We’re surface dwellers with exposure to universal and planetary energies. Our species is only 200,000 years old. The universe is roughly 13 billion years old. Our planet is deteriorating and we’ve lost our collective moral compass. What can we do to make a local difference?

We only recently learned to hunt woolly mammoths in packs using bows, arrows and spears as tools. A perception of God in relation to our responsibility to each other and creation exists as the foundation of a human wisdom tradition which, relatively speaking, has just began.

In many ways, nothing seems to have changed as we have passed through successive cyclic waves of emergence and contraction. It becomes simultaneously increasingly more complex and exquisitely simple to understand. That is as we begin to realize how our metanexus emerges, contracts and turns inside out without breaking … like a pulse.

The next ten years are more important than the next several thousand years in respect to the choices we make about our biosphere.

There seems to be little doubt that our world problems are steadily increasing. What’s the next right thing to do?  It’s time to grow our conscious connection in God. It’s time to share the spring of human wisdom from the ground up. It’s time to develop a world economy which is gentle to the earth.

The Clearing Rests in Song and Shade

The clearing rests in song and shade.
It is a creature made
By old light held in soul and leaf.
By humans joy and grief,
By human work,
Fidelity of sight and stroke,
By rain, by water on
The parent stone.
We join our work to Heaven’s gift,
Our hope to what is left,
That field and woods at last agree
In an economy
Of widest worth.
High Heaven’s Kingdom come on earth,
Imagine Paradise
O dust, arise!

Wendell Berry; 1909


The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn.” Alvin Toffler

20 thoughts on “Fear versus Faith

  1. ‘fear is the absence of faith’… and in half a dozen words you capture possibly one of the most difficult concepts to realise in a little lifetime. Beautiful. Enjoy the snooze 🙂


  2. I must confess to being bemused by the willingness of so many people – from the time of The Beatles onwards I guess – to embrace all manner of spiritual experiences and ideas. Unfortunately, I think many of these mystical ideas are little more than a modern form of obscurantism and, as I said yesterday, I find the reductionism of atheists to be far more appealing.

    Unfortunately, the modern fashion for extending the marketplace of ideas fallacy into the area of spirituality has landed us in a position where, at great cost to the cause of protecting the environment from the excesses of materialism, all life on Earth is now endangered by the majority of humans failing to see any difference between rational environmentalism and irrational spirituality.


  3. Human beings do not know all the answers. Reason has limits since the human mind is limited. In his final works, published in English by the Oxford Press 200 years after his death under the title of
    Opus postumum“, Immanuel Kant, author of the “Prolegamena to Future Metaphysics” and the “Critique of Pure Reason:” accepted the reality of a greater power than the “self” which we commonly refer to as God.


    1. Thanks John. I was pondering Martin’s reply standing under the shower 15 minutes ago, so appreciate your answer.

      My own very limited analysis is that we humans, as hard as we try, spend much of our time being irrational. Take the range of human emotions for starters!

      I note that Prof. McPherson while offering very strong, hard evidence of the risks to our planet frequently writes with a couple of emotions well to the fore, most notably anger!


      1. Forgive me if I am misunderstanding your intent, Paul, but, you appear to be equating being angry with being irrational? Clearly an atheist cannot believe in concepts such as “righteous anger” or “a just war” (at least not in the same way that religious people do). However, an atheist can surely be justifiably angry about what humanity is doing to this planet?

        This is not the same as my stupid tendency to get very angry in traffic jams. This is irrational because (in general) my being stuck is not my fault and getting angry does not help me get out of the situation. However, surely anger is not irrational if it can help achieve something – in this case policy change?


      2. You make a very valid point. I think both of us are agreeing with the core theme, and I know this includes John, that the science of climate change is beyond doubt.


      3. I think you make a very interesting point too: Namely that all emotions are irrational. However, it could be argued that you have merely watched too many episodes of Star Trek 🙂

        If so, “Live long and prosper”, my dear friend…


      4. @Martin I would argue that being stuck in a traffic jam is very much your fault, insofar as it is representative of our collective dilemma. The current system dictates that we all get into these heavy metal boxes on wheels to go to where the present system dictates that we need to be, which — quite naturally — results in traffic jams. What do we do about this, in general? We build more roads…

        Stupid bloody humans!


    2. Kant played a crucial role in the rise of mass murdering racism in Germany, as Nietzsche pointed out. Well in advance. And as Eichmann himself argued in Jerusalem, nearly a century after Nietzsche. Kant was Eichmann’ s defense. Eichmann said he just did what Kant said to do, and how could that be wrong, as everybody admired Kant?

      Confusing philosophy with anti-philosophy, and claiming we may as well not use reason, as it has limits, such are the main pitfalls.


      1. Kant wrote over two hundred years ago; long before the rise of Nazi Germany. As a matter of fact Kant was highly supportive of the fledgling American experiment in democracy which emerged during his lifetime. Kant’s philosophy is among the most exquisitely reasoned understandings of the nature of reasoned moral purpose that may be found in relatively contemporary philosophical analysis. Stating that Kant’s work is anti-philosophical has no foundation in fact..


  4. I once read: FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real…
    This has helped me tremendously, and very rarely have I had a sleepless night – Amen…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.