What propels? What restricts?


Caught an interview this weekend with Bill Fay, an old rocker/folkie who is, in his mid-60s, making a comeback. Although, as Fay said, a comeback suggests one had arrived at some earlier point.

What stuck with me was how the interview opened–with Fay’s Be Not So Fearful (a song that is, apparently, better known from its cover by Wilco). It fit with thoughts that had been swirling for a while, about how prevalent fear is, and how sapping. I’m struck by how much is affected by fear, and curious about what happens when fear is no longer part of the equation.

During the same weekend I read an article about a psychiatrist whose interest in brain scans was leading to favorable results for people suffering with various kinds of disorders and challenges. Predictably, his methods were being questioned–and for all I know, he might be too optimistic by half. But in the course of the article, a scientist at Harvard was mentioned–a person whose specialty was placebos. Something that is known about placebos: the more involved, technical and expensive the placebo, the more effective it tends to be.

Which got me thinking: do placebos work (maybe a little, maybe a lot) by quelling fear? That is, if someone hears from a recognized professional, and receives treatment that appears to be very serious, does that in a sense give permission to not be afraid of the original problem, so that the body can relax and get down to the business of healing?

Lots of leaps here, lots of gaps and maybes. And yet…

Firmer ground for me is to consider–and re-consider–how God wants fear to diminish in one’s life. Don’t be afraid was often part of Jesus’ counsel and encouragement. And John says that perfect love drives out fear. When the Spirit of God takes up residence is a life, love is there, to occupy space fear might otherwise control. And when this is the case, what else might happen…?

BTW–Here’s a link to Bill Fay’s song …

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