Book Plunge: The Culture of Fear

What do I think of Barry Glassner’s book published by Basic Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This was an interesting listen done through Audible as I agreed with the overarching thesis that we live in a culture of fear, but I disagreed with much of the terrible argumentation for it. Glassner can often be incredibly contradictory in how he uses data. He will take anecdotes while condemning anecdotes. He will talk about how the media regularly misuse information to put fear into the populace but balk when Trump says the media is the enemy of the people. He will talk about how crime is down so much in America and then point to one of his favorite issues on how we have to get guns off the streets.

When I read this, I was hoping to get not just information on fake fear that terrorizes people, but why it is people are so easily put into a state of fear and I didn’t get that. My personal philosophy has been to never get caught up in a fear craze. When Covid started, I heard some of the first data about people on the cruise ship and how even without a lot of information on the virus, the majority if not all of them made a full recovery. I resolved to not live my life in fear of this virus.

From the start, I did not approve of the lockdowns and I did not support the wearing of masks. My thinking has been that the more we feed fear, the stronger the hold it will be that it has on us. Looking back now, I do not regret any of those decisions.

There are some aspects of Glassner’s presentation that I agree with. I definitely agree with him when he talks about the fear of flying that we have in our country. Plane crashes are spread all across the news when they happen, but little is said about the multiple car accidents that claim many more lives every day. You are far more likely to die in a car accident than you are in a plane crash.

Unfortunately, while there are a few times Glassner goes after liberals in his talking, most of his time is spent going after conservatives. He definitely pulls out all the guns he can when he goes after Donald Trump later on and it’s all the usual stuff that conservatives have heard for years. Glassner has carefully chosen what it is that we should be afraid of in his mind and what we should not be.

Worried about teenage mothers getting pregnant? Don’t be. Listen to this interview of these two girls who are teenagers and want to be mothers soon on the Ricki Lake show. There. Isn’t that better? Talk about climate change? We’re going to all die in twelve years! (As AOC said) Nope. Not a peep about that being fearmongering.

I hope to find a better work on the fear hysteria that we get caught up in, but until then, take my simple advice. Don’t get caught up in the spirit of the age. If all the media is panicking about something, don’t join in. There were people who died of conditions that were treatable because they were scared to go to the hospital and get treated because of Covid scares. Fear can be helpful sometimes, but in a mass population, it can easily reach hysteria.

Don’t go that route.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Selling Fear

Should you join the latest fear craze? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Something that became a meme of sorts in the Trump presidency was fake news. Whatever you think of Trump, fake news is a reality. If you’re on the left, you will likely think organizations like Fox or OANN are fake news. On the right, you will find most everyone else such as CNN and MSNBC as being fake news.

It exists. It exists on the right and on the left. In many cases, it is in extremes on both sides. It’s important to note that when stories are given that are fake news, there is often some degree of truth in the stories. There can be something that is real behind them, but many times, it is done because it sells well.

It would be nice if news organizations were altruistic, but they also have to make enough to keep doing what they’re doing. This is also the case many times for people on YouTube who want to get subscribers and likes and everything else. As a blogger here, I do have a Patreon as well as yes, income definitely helps me with the work that I do.

Something that sells well also is fear. Fear can get you emotionally invested in what is going on and get you where you have to watch the news more to find out more. There can be something there that could be a threat in some way, but then the goal of the news is to get you to think hysterically about it.

The biggest example we have of this is the Coronavirus. I made a decision early based on what I first heard about the virus, I knew it wasn’t anything to be afraid of. I chose to not get into the hysteria.

“But people died from the virus! I know someone who died from it!”

Yes. People die from every virus pretty much. It’s a tragedy (And by the way, dying from and dying with are two different things.), but we should not be shocked when viruses have negative effects on the lives of people. Planes crash sometimes, but it is not realistic to panic before every plane flight.

I made a decision then to not get caught up in the hysteria. Looking back now, I see that I am convinced that was a good decision. I went around and lived my life as normally as I could, having to follow restrictions I hated at some times granted, and I made it through.

Right now, we all know the economy is struggling. I don’t know anyone who will deny that gas prices are on the rise as are food prices. Does that concern me? Yes. I am not at all saying to not be concerned. Am I going to give in to fear hysteria over it? No.

We can also say the same with what is going on in Ukraine. We can get caught up in fear over that.

“And what if Putin starts a nuclear war over this?!”

And what exactly will your living in fear do to stop that? If anything, it leaves you less equipped as when you are emotionally being dominated, you are less likely to think rationally in a situation. The problem with much of the news is that we can learn a lot about problems that we can do absolutely nothing about. (By the way pastors who do talk about political and current events, you are doing your disservice to your flock if you feed them more fear than more confidence in what Jesus Christ can do.)

I’m not going to tell you I bat 1,000 on this. This has been a growing process for me and sometimes, I have given in to fear. Right now, I’m trying to not let it be dominant. When I see rising gas and food prices, I instead try to think that this is just where the challenge rises up and this is the time for true Americans to shine.

If you can’t watch the news without panicking, then just turn it off. You might be less informed on some matters, but you will be better able to care for yourself and your own family. Perhaps spend that extra time in Bible study again and build up your confidence in God until you get to the point where you can watch again. Worrying about something you can do absolutely nothing about is completely useless. If you think there could be some disaster coming, take the preparedness steps you can and then live your life. I am not telling you to be haphazard with your life, but I am also telling you to not live in fear definitely.

Again, speaking from experience, I can say this has served me well. I struggle with enough matters that I have fear over already. Those are also some things I can do something about. I have no need to invest energy into things I can do nothing about. There is a better usage of my time than worrying.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Don’t Panic

How do you handle something frightening? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have a general rule about major “crises” in the world today. That’s to do my best to not panic. Fearmongering doesn’t do any good. Generally, I am anxiety prone. Having gone through a divorce now, I even take medication to help me with anxiety and it does a great deal of good, but I still have to apply the wisdom I have and my knowledge of Scripture. I don’t condemn medication, but medication without sound practice is not wise at all.

When the Coronavirus was first announced, I heard the news about it being on a cruise ship and how the majority of the people there recovered just fine. I knew then the simple principle I had through all other number of diseases and viruses that came our way. It’s a simple tip. As Douglas Adams said, “Don’t Panic.”

So as I saw the rest of the world me panicking over the Coronavirus, I was handling it just fine. Now note this part. I am not denying the virus is real. I am not denying that many people suffered and died from it. I am not saying that we shouldn’t take precautions in this. What I am saying is we shouldn’t lose our minds in fear. My contention is a lot of the measures we take to stop the virus in the long run actually did a lot more harm than they did good.

I think many people who did that fear lean towards the left politically also, so let’s look at the right as well. Yesterday, my mother came upstairs to my room, seeing as I have been living with my parents since the divorce, though I hope to be accepted at NOBTS and move down to New Orleans soon. She told me that soon toothpaste would be at $10 a tube. I generally buy the cheapest store brand stuff that I can so I rarely pay more than $1 or so. We’re talking about a major price increase.

So I looked it up. I found that there was an article about inflation that said that Colgate was coming out with a new toothpaste that would be $10 a tube. My guess is someone saw that and panicked and ran with it. In our society, it’s like we have an addiction to fear. We practically want to be afraid of something. That way, we can feel safe when we know someone can take care of it.

Now to go back to what my mother said, note that I am not at all denying inflation. I work in retail. I see it every day that I work. I am not at all denying high gas prices. I am halfway between 41 and 42 and I have never seen gas prices this high. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have any concern.

However, let’s consider this. Isn’t it when times are hardest that often people rise up and do the most good? I just finished listening to a biography of John Adams while driving. It’s amazing to hear about what these ordinary people did in the start of our nation’s history. Were they scared? Sure they were. If they weren’t, they were crazy. They were taking on the most powerful people at the time in the world, if not the most powerful ever.

We also know there were preachers who preached a sermon every Sunday and yet they had a bounty on their heads. They kept going. They weren’t letting their fear control them.

We could point to many other times in history. As Christians, we hold that the disciples were scared after the crucifixion of Jesus. Where would our world be if they had not lost that fear? Where would they be if they had stayed locked in that room even after the Holy Spirit came? I happen to also like the prayer in Acts 4 that they speak the Word of God with boldness. They still had fear and needed to overcome it.

Panicking about something really does us no good. With medication, matters are much easier for me and if that’s what it takes for you, that’s fine too. I also recommend the book by Pierce Taylor Hobbs called Struck Down But Not Destroyed. The book is the best book on anxiety I have ever read and if you want to know about the Facebook group he has for this, well, you need to read the book and then join it as he tells the name of the group in it.

I don’t know how many times in the past I knew i needed to get up early to do something and I would worry if i would get to sleep in time to get all the sleep I need. Want to know what happened? No, you don’t. You already know. Odds are you’ve been there. You don’t sleep nearly as well that night.

Panic doesn’t do any good. Concern is one thing, but if it drives you to do nothing, then it is useless. If you have any fear or anything of that sort, let it drive you to do something about it. After my separation from my ex, for example, I knew I could lie down and be the victim and let life walk all over me. That was a choice. However, I chose instead to not be a victim anymore, but to get up and live my life and make the most of it. As a lifelong gamer, I chose to play to win. Some people after a divorce want revenge on their ex.

Sue Grafton, for instance, is the mystery writer who wrote those books that were the alphabet mysteries like A Is For Alibi. How did she get started with this? Her divorce and custody battles left her so hurt she thought about ways to murder her ex and knew she was a law-abiding citizen and would never do it, so why not turn them into murder mysteries? It’s certainly a better outlet than committing actual murder.

Also, as a Christian, I have recently told two people who have come to me scared about something to consider a Babylon Bee headline. Lord God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, Omnipotent and Omniscient is Totally Caught Off Guard by XYZ. Put whatever you want in that blank. It will work the same way. When you hear it that way, if you’re a Christian, you can say, “Yeah. That is ridiculous.

I also think of the Heidelberg Catechism. While this Catechism is Protestant and more specifically Calvinistic and used to teach Calvinist doctrines, the first part, every Christian Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox, should be able to affirm.

1. Q.
What is your only comfort
in life and death?
A.
That I am not my own,
but belong with body and soul,
both in life and in death,
to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.
This is in gaming terms the ultimate cheat code. Whatever happens to you, you win. Now you may not like it as it is happening or when it happens, but you will still win in the end.

So folks, when the next craze comes along, take it seriously if need be and take proper precautions, but don’t panic. It never does you any good and only makes you less effective to handle it. Stand up and face the problem. It’s hard to solve it if you’re running from it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Book Plunge: The Price of Panic

What do I think of Jay Richards, William Briggs, and Douglas Axe’s book published by Regenry Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve had a tendency to go against the grain and not go with the crowd. I remember when I first heard about the Coronavirus and what I heard did not frightened me. Then all around me, people were going into a panic. Businesses were being shut down and schools were being closed. Church services were cancelled.

On the positive side, so were professional sports. Then when churches opened, greeting time was cancelled as well and still is at churches. That’s one change I can live with.

Never had I seen anything like this. People I knew were in an absolute panic. It was like death was waiting right outside the door if you dared step out.

This book has been written to deal with what happened. The bad news is that we did indeed panic and that panic cost us greatly. Now the moment I mention this, someone will say “Well, I guess those people who had family members who died shouldn’t have panicked then!” The reality is, any disease that comes across will kill some people. Flu season comes every year and kills some. We don’t shut down for that. We realize this happens.

Anything being said here then is not to diminish the loss of those who did die and their family members who are left behind, but it is a call to look soberly at the issue. Are we letting our fear drive us and are the experts leading us really aware of what they’re talking about?

Now I am not one to downplay experts, but this problem is multi-faceted. Someone who is a doctor is not an expert in every area of medicine. Doctors are also not normally experts in economics and what effect a lockdown will have on society. There is also the question of what happens to people like farmers and others who supply our food for businesses.

What were factors that caused the Coronavirus scare to be greater than others? Many possibilities are mentioned. One is that it was the Trump administration and some people could have wanted this to be on his head. Another is that social media was extremely active and panic spreads on social media.

What constantly amazed the authors of the book is that not only were Americans told to give up their freedoms, they did so willingly and easily. Not only that, they were willing often to snitch on their neighbors. Many people who were doing regular activities could often be arrested.

The authors look at where the virus started. They do not hold to any theories that the virus was intentionally engineered to be used as a sort of weapon. (Having said that, I don’t see any reason why an enemy nation might not try the same thing on us.) However, what happened next was a number of experts spoke on what would happen based on their models.

Not only were these models extremely off, but they had a history of being extremely off. Hundreds of thousands could be predicted to die from diseases that kill, well, hundreds. Despite that, we still listened to these experts and took advice that devastated our economy.

That’s the economy so that’s no big deal. Right? You can’t replace human lives with money. Right? No one is saying that, but people faced extreme financial hardship that resulted in mental health crises and in some cases, suicide. Not only that, some people with diseases that were serious did not go to the hospital to get treatment because they feared getting the virus and so they died from treatable, though serious, problems.

Let’s look at those numbers as well. The writers say that the numbers were being played with in that if someone died from a condition that might have possibly been Covid, it was listed as a Covid death. The doctors would rarely do an autopsy as that is timely and expensive. Some of these people might not have even had Covid. This would also help with funding for the hospitals.

We can also question if the lockdowns themselves worked. We could compare to nations like Sweden, Taiwan, and Japan that did not have lockdowns and did not see the mass death that was expected. Again, sometimes, reporters played with the numbers to make it sound worse than it was, but it was never consistent.

What about masks? Odds are, the masks we often get don’t really work and could actually be helping to spread the virus. Why? People could go out who have it thinking that they are safe and some people could take riskier behavior wearing one.

Why do we need to know all of this? Because there will be another pandemic and we don’t need to panic over that one most likely either. The cost to this has been too great and we don’t need to see a new normal. We need to return to normal.

Anyone who is scared of the Coronavirus needs to read this book. It is extensively researched and well-argued. If more people could read this, perhaps we could return to sanity.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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