Moving forward with Christ in a Post-Covid, Sleeping Beauty World

Jun 4, 2021 by

by Melvin Tinker, Christ Church Newland:

[…] over the last few decades we have been creating in the West a ‘Sleeping Beauty culture’, where fear has been the dominant outlook, shaped by the creation of worse case scenarios with the result that maintaining safety becomes the paramount concern… 

…This is the way the sociologist, Professor Frank Furedi, describes the situation, ‘We can see the deleterious impact of safetyism and worst-case thinking in the sphere of childhood. Indeed, childhood has been increasingly organised around the anticipation of the worst possible outcome. Parents are now reluctant to let their children out of their sight. And children have come to view themselves as fragile and vulnerable. During the pandemic, this fearful view of childhood and children intensified. Children’s mental health was said to be at risk, and their physical development threatened. This worst case approach actually incited children to feel hopeless about their future.’

Furedi shrewdly points out that this fear which is socially dominant, now exacerbated by the Covid crisis, is not fear as an emotion when we feel instinctively threatened, for example being pounced on by a Rottweiler, rather he writes, it ‘is fear as a perspective, a cultural orientation towards the world. It provides the prism through which we interpret everyday experience. It feeds risk-aversion, a heightened sense of vulnerability, a preoccupation with safety, and a lack of confidence towards the future.’

Furedi speaks of ‘fear’, but for most of the 20th century it was spoken of as ‘angst’, a sense of dread, as you find in the philosopher Heidegger for instance who described man as ‘being towards death’, and unless confronted creates a kind of terror which overshadows everything else. It is essentially a pagan attitude, treading warily through the world for fear of upsetting the Fates. Another word to describe this sense of foreboding is ‘anxiety’ which one Christian writer describes as a ‘sickness of the soul’ such that our futures as a whole and the possibilities which lay before us don’t fill us with hope, but with terror…

…When you think about it, it is not surprising that it was during the 20th century that anxiety began to rise in the West as this ran parallel to increased secularisation which involved ideas of God, religious activities and symbols being pushed further and further to the margins of public life and more people seeing this world as being the only world and so the ‘be all and end all’. Given such a limited view of reality, everything then has to find value and meaning in this world alone, and given the ever-present threat of death, it is not surprising that anxietylevels rose for you may not achieve what you want to achieve- it begins and ends in the here and now.

But we are not secularists or pagans, we are Christians and so we are to view things radically differently resulting in us feeling differently and so responding differently.

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