Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Fear not"

Review: Conquering Fear – Living Boldly in an Uncertain World; Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, Alfred A. Knopf Publishers, 2009.

Rabbi Kushner offers encouragement to all who suffer fear and dread, and he addresses various types of fears; not phobias, but anxieties common to the human condition. His objective is to achieve mastery over (not the absence of) fear. He states, “Our goal should be to recognize legitimate fears, dismiss exaggerated fears, and not let fear keep us from doing the things we yearn to do.”

Naturally he encourages spiritual resources, and especially prayer--not to seek removal of things we fear, but to ask God to be present, so that we may be less alone as we face our fears. We can then be happy in an unsafe world. “Fearful people cannot be happy.” We may even find that we hurt less by resting in God’s care.

Topics include: terrorism, ageing, rejection, job-loss, natural disasters, end-of-the-world anxiety, change, failure, and fear of death. He points out how God does not explain why life hurts (there is much we cannot grasp about God’s ways); instead He challenges us to respond with hope and rebuild our lives.

I found this an engaging, encouraging book. While I didn’t agree with every point, I felt enriched by Rabbi Kushner’s wise insight, born of experience.

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