Poetry Month Challenges Day 7: Fear and Faithfulness

Faithfulness in Fear by Maria L. Berg 2023

Over at April Blogging from A to Z Challenge today’s word is Fun! I enjoyed the pep talk, and the reminder that these challenges are meant to be fun. So here’s to having fun, meeting new people, learning new things, and making friends.

Fear & Faithfulness

Speaking of fun, the internet took me down a fun little rabbit hole this morning. While researching the physiology of faithfulness, I found a text from 1912 called The Physiology of Faith and Fear or the Mind in Health and Disease by William S. Sadler M. D.. Sadler was an American surgeon and “self-trained psychiatrist” who also is known for debunking psychic phenomenon which led to his text “The Mind at Mischief. He said he was not being able to debunk one instance which led to publishing a huge tome called “The Urantia Book” or “Urantia Papers” (1955) which are supposedly messages from celestial beings, all made available through one worried woman’s husband who would go into an odd sleep-state, 2,163 pages worth, now available online as a PDF! Talk about fear and faithfulness.

In chapter nine of The Mind at Mischief called “The Fear Complexes”, Sadler defines fear:

Fear is one of the basic and self-protective emotions and is shared by all species of thinking animals. Fear is one of the most important of the survival instincts and is an impulse which is responsible for caution, forethought, prudence. In the case of our primitive ancestors it no doubt served a valuable purpose. On the other hand, in connection with our modern civilization, unwarranted fear many times is the cause of much sorrow and sickness.

William S. Sadler, M. D.

I thought this section on the causes of fear was pretty fun as well:

There are many physical causes of fear, not the least of which are the various poisons or intoxicants. We are all familiar with the fears of an intoxicated man under certain conditions. In delirium tremens the drunkard fully believes that his horrible fantasies are real, and in this state he may plunge out of the window of a high building to certain death. He so thoroughly believes in the reality of what he apparently sees that he will stop at nothing in his effort to escape.

Fatigue contributes greatly to the aggravation of fear. We are always more likely to succumb to our fears when we are tired out. Our sensations seem to affect us more unfavorably at such times. The ductless glands also exert an influence along these lines. We are more subject to acute fears when the thyroid is indulging in excessive secretion, while we are more subject to chronic worries when the adrenal function is deficient. Pain augments our fears, and disease sometimes aids in predisposing us to certain fears, dreads, and phobias. This is particularly true of severe infections.

While the general tendency to be afraid is inherited, specific fears—aside from the fear of falling and certain loud and shrill noises—are not inherited. The fears of after-life have all been suggested to us directly or indirectly. We might speak of them as being “conditioned.”

We must remember that children are very prone to pick up the early fears suggested to them in stories, and they are quick to take on the fears of their elders. Fear is highly contagious, especially to the young mind.

Fond mothers thoughtlessly suggest fear to their children when they are so agitated about the children being left alone. These young minds get the idea that something might happen if they were left alone, and fear, to them, has none of that fascination which sometimes comes to the older and more sophisticated intellect. In adult life we sometimes become reckless in the presence of fear. We get a sort of thrill, a “kick,” out of daring adventure. We deliberately court danger in order to get the thrill that is born of recklessness, to enjoy the fascination of daring to defy danger.

We should remember that fear is not necessarily abnormal. It is only when it becomes an obsession that it is able to harass us and interfere with health and happiness.”

William S. Sadler, M. D.

Last Sunday I talked about how I think all of my contradictory abstract nouns fit on a continuum of fight or flight. Within that discussion I mentioned the sympathetic nervous system. In The Physiology of Faith and Fear, I found a wonderful passage about the sympathetic nervous system in which Doctor Sadler shows how fear and faithfulness are contradictory:

It would thus seem that the mind, through the nervous system, and within certain limits , has considerable control over the functions of the body, with power to influence and modify these functions at will ; and this would indeed be true , were it not for the fact that all the vital functions o f the body are wholly or partially under the control Of the involuntary or sympathetic nervous system a nervous system which not only does not have its headquarters in the brain , but which does not so much as enter the brain by means Of the smallest nerve fibre .

The sympathetic nervous system is nature ’ s great barrier against the whims of the mind; it is the physiological safety brake against mental panic in the individual ’ s brain; it is the everlasting safeguard ‘ against a demoralized mind — mental confusion , and suicidal tendencies .

The mind only indirectly dictates or controls the mental messages sent out over this sympathetic nervous system . The majority Of the orders o f the mind centres reach the vital organs only indirectly, by means Of a system of cross connections between the voluntary and involuntary nervous systems ; and even then , only after its messages are duly censored (in the sympathetic relay stations or ganglia ) is the mind able to get its messages through to the various vital organs , upon whose faithful action life itself depends.

And this explains why, though fear or sudden fright may excite the heart to palpitation, one cannot entirely stop the beating Of the heart or greatly modify its rate by the exertion Of the will . Only for a short time can a person stop breathing by means o f an effort o f the will or an order from the mind.

And so our definition o f mind must be enlarged to include that mysterious power seated upon the throne of the nerve centres, which so fascinatingly presides, not only over the realms of thought and intelligence, but also over those of function and physiology.

William S. Sadler, M. D.

I am so happy I stumbled upon Doctor Sadler this morning. I am thoroughly enjoying his texts. Here is how he defines faith:

The term faith is used in this text as expressive of optimism, satisfaction, happiness, confidence, assurance, hopefulness , cheerfulness, courage, and determination ; while the term fear is made to include pessimism, dissatisfaction, grief, anxiety, despondency, hatred, worry, moroseness, anger, and vacillation . It will thus appear that faith represents a mode of life and thought — it represents the normal, the healthy, the natural state o f civilized man; while fear stands for the Opposite mode of life and thought — it represents the unnatural, the abnormal, the unhealthy mental and moral attitude.

William S. Sadler, M. D.

Notice how his definition is more of faithfulness (the fact or quality of being true to one’s word or commitments, as to what one has pledged to do, professes to believe) than faith (confidence or trust in a person or thing). And he defines faithfulness in contrast to fear right there in his definition. So fun.

Today’s Images

One of the words I found in the thesaurus for faithfulness was “adhesion” which made me think of stickers. I thought of using stickers in two ways:

  1. To dull the brightness on one side of the lights
  2. To create shapes

I feel like I made an important break through today. Using the stickers on the lights gave me control of a blurred effect that I was only getting with my orange lights before. Now I can create that blur on any light I want. I also focused on the pyramid as a shape for faithfulness and created two different pyramid transformer filters that I really like.

Fear in Faithfulness by Maria L. Berg 2023

The Prompts


Today’s prompt is to write a poem that plays with the idea of a list.

I wrote a series of How-to poems a while ago that used destruction verbs for creation and creation verbs for destruction. I think I’ll take a look at those and play around with that idea for today’s poems.

Poem A Day

Today’s prompt is to write a “small” poem.

The Poem

Eight Small Steps to Faithfully Face Fears

1. Swallow the fibs bouncing on your tongue that would so easily solve this problem, but once freed from the mouth would grow and grow into an enormous untruth.

2. Challenge the bad ideas, the evil inklings that grasp and take hold, don’t let them pass by unnoticed, or turn away from their ugliness, or let them seep in slowly.

3. Trust that patience will guide, that rest and thought will bring a better moment, after the sneak attack of anxiety, after the deep breaths and hope prevail.

4. Risk the touch of fingers and palms to hold someone’s hand: though cold and clammy, or hot and sweaty, this connection and comfort makes fear disappear.

5. Endure the thorns of disappointment, the pain found within the beauty: do not stop searching through the thickets for fear of them, the discoveries are well worth the drops of blood.

6. Defy each name, every label given, make every word and symbol your own, don’t ignore or forget, learn and pay attention, but do not give away your power.

7. Withstand the pin pricks of rejection, and dare to be rejected again and again: make rejection a goal, a reward, a motivation, an inspiration, because then fear won’t arrive with the inevitable rejections.

8. Wait among the whispers listening, sort the truths from untruths in your calm safety. There is no reason to fear others’ fictional fears. Have faith in yourself.

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