Nothing to Fear But…

I did my first pressure canning this weekend. It went well. I cowered in a corner the whole 70 minutes of the rocking and rolling jars inside the canner. I sent husband and dog for a walk. Followed the directions to the letter. And the meat sauce turned out beautifully.

Fear isn’t just a thing to be overcome, though. Fear is in many ways a healthy respect for something that deserves it. Like the pressurized contents of a 20-lb steel container. Or the eroding of democracy. Or a dog whose ears are laid back. There’s a reason we have signs, directions, and intuition. There’s also a reason we are called to a prayerful life.

Knowing the difference between, as a friend put it recently if not too subtly or kindly, “New Testament Jesus and Republican Jesus,” keeps me from being afraid. This whole “Trump’s not gonna leave the White House thing” smacks of selling papers, and irresponsibility. Don’t get me wrong, so does Trump’s entire presidency. Servant leaders are humble shepherds. He’s a wolf, ready to eat his flock and proud of it. We voted him in; we can vote him out because even wolves can’t break democracies. So I’m not afraid of what the papers tell us.

I am afraid of pressure canners, but not when following directions. I am afraid of the future sometimes, but not when listening for Jesus and reading the directions left in the Bible, New Testament especially. Where this penchant for picking things out of Deuteronomy and Exodus at the expense of new commandments came from, I don’t care to speculate. I have more things to pressure can.

My friend in Canada says there is nothing more dangerous than contents under pressure. He could be right, and he could be talking about his Southern border. A lot of my Christian friends seem dangerous right now. So do my atheist friends. The other day someone said “what shall we do with the so-called people who support Trump after the election?” Which is a question straight from the pit of hell. Utopia is not a mere massacre away, kids. We have to live with each other, and the righteous indignation that has some of you sharpening plowshares into swords isn’t gonna help.

A friend asked if I was prepping. She meant the canning, but I thought she meant my constant self-check to see if I was dehumanizing those who don’t think like me. No, and yes. I like canning. I don’t like pressure to say rude things about those who think differently than me, or the subtle creep of how people come to think of that as earning extra God points. Not doing that.

The gift of fear: a healthy respect for that which can truly harm us, versus that which we are told to be afraid of by people with agendas. Think on it.