The Voting Horror Show is Almost Over

Dear Civil Citizens:

Well, tomorrow it happens! Election Day! Finally!

Still, I am going to miss all the campaign ads. They really helped me focus on the issues and understand the complexity of governing in these days; they also clarified the depth of experience and the qualities of leadership in each of the highly deserving candidates…said no one, ever!

I mused a few weeks back that there’s something amiss in the relationship between politics and faith, not in the suggestion that our faith should draw us to one candidate or another or how individual politicians may or may not be committed Christians (although I suppose we might see one or two in heaven someday); the problem is how politics commandeers the power of anxiety.

Briefly defined, anxiety is fear without an object. Anxiety is an internal stress-response that neurologically and physiologically mirrors how we behave when frightened, but absent any particular stimuli the brain flounders to discover an explanation. Through medication or cognitive behavior therapy those struggling with an anxiety disorder work to slow the brain’s processing, allowing the rational portions of neocortical function to quiet the hyperdrive of stress-response and discern the reality of threat or safety.  

It is in the floundering moment that our brains are extremely susceptible to suggestion. This is why haunted houses work. The spooky, eerie, smoky, ghostly stuff on the exterior activates our stress-response, then the individual vignettes inside fill in the blanks with specific reasons for our sense of terror--mad scientists, Frankenstein monsters, werewolves, etc. Between each room in the house, the designers create corridors of ambiguity to re-ignite the suggestibility of anxiety, so we will scream all over again at the next fright-room. Welcome to the modern political campaign.

Having worked a few haunted houses in my youth, it was always amazing to me how un-scary the experience was when the work-lights were on. We weren’t all that good with make-up or design, and budgets were always too small for quality special effects. As a result, without the anxiety-producing context of a darkened exterior and spooky corridors, the whole thing appeared really cheesy. Welcome to the modern political campaign.

Here’s where the question of faith enters the picture. In coaching clients at the Care and Counseling Center suffering from anxiety disorder, I’ve been encouraged how a faith-based approach assists in quieting the floundering fear response of the anxious brain. Simple concepts like God’s promise to never leave or forsake (Deuteronomy 31.8, Joshua 1.5, Hebrews 13.5-6) and the reminder that perfect love casts out fear (John 4.18) serve to calm reactivity and raise rationality. The confidence of 1 John 4.4 reminds us we “are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” 

We as people of faith are living in an anxious world, and there are those seeking to amplify our stress-response so they can exploit the irrationality of our anxious brains. I am suggesting we experience the mind-calming therapy of the light of God. Once God’s Spirit calms us down, it’s amazing how cheesy the whole thing appears.

Flashing the lights because the polls are closing, I remain,

With Love, 
Jonathan Krogh 
Your Pastor