By Mitch Rhodes
In recent years, there has been a growth in the number of people reporting experiences of anxiety or developing anxiety disorders. This is affecting secular culture as well as Christian community. It is essential that we prepare ourselves with the tools to help others as they struggle with anxiety.
We need to try to understand anxiety. When you speak with someone who is anxious, they may share that they are feeling anxious but that can mean any variety of things. Anxiety carries with it a sense of preoccupation combined with fear. In many ways, it is normal to feel fearful about certain things. Anxiety goes beyond the normal experience of fear into an obsession or preoccupation. For that reason, many people who are anxious struggle to think about anything besides the object of their fear.
Raymond Pettibon depicts anxiety as a spiral in his art. Lewis Carroll depicts Alice going down the rabbit hole until the moment she meets the Cheshire cat who tells her “We’re all mad down here.” The author John Green, brings up the idea of an infinite regression about anxiety. All three have to do with an intense focus on one thing. This rings true to many people’s experience with anxiety.
The Bible uses the word “Merimnao” for anxiety. It carries with it a sense of being preoccupied, focused on, fearful of something. It should be concluded, that anxiety has a lot to do with our focus. Read More
Julian Barnes (a prolific English author) finds himself deeply moved by certain works of art that convey a spiritual message —even though he doesn’t belief in God. For example, Mozart’s Requiem relies on the Christian understanding of death, judgment and afterlife. Yet, Barnes rejects these ideas. He believes that nothing follows after death, but extinction. Nevertheless, the Requiem moves him and not merely the arrangements of notes, but the words. “It is one of the haunting hypotheticals for the nonbeliever…What would it be like ‘if [the Requiem] were true’[?]”
Leonard Bernstein (an American composer and conductor) famously admitted that when he heard great music and great beauty he sensed “Heaven.”
[Beethoven] has the real goods, the stuff from Heaven, the power to make you feel at the finish: something is right in the world. There is something that checks throughout, that follows its own law consistently: something we can trust, that will never let us down.
If we are the product of accidental natural forces, then what we call “beauty” is nothing but a neurological hardwired response. Read More
Photograph: Antonio Olmos for the Observer
The prolific English author and columnist, A. N. Wilson, graduated from Oxford in the early ‘70s and considered going into the Anglican ministry. But he lost his faith by the ‘80s. He called himself an atheist and wrote a short book entitled, Against Religion: Why We Should Try to Live Without It. He describes his conversion to atheism.
I realised that after a lifetime of churchgoing, the whole house of cards had collapsed for me - the sense of God's presence in life, and the notion that there was any kind of God, let alone a merciful God, in this brutal, nasty world…It was a nonsense…the idea of a personal God, or a loving God in a suffering universe. Nonsense, nonsense, nonsense. It was such a relief to discard it all that, for months, I walked on air…
Yet, he started doubting his doubts about God. Read More