Fear plays a huge part in our everyday lives. It what motivates us, keeps us safe, imprisons us and fuels our imaginations. Fear is just a human emotion, it can be created from truth, lies our own imaginations and the imaginations of others. Fear is used as a tool to control us, to confuse us and sometimes to kill us.
The painting above is Hellmouth, a monstrous animal into whose mouth the damned disappear at the Last Judgement. Pretty powerful visual from the eighth century. The poor unwashed ignorant people of that day, after seeing this probably became devout Christians or Jews or whatever religion it was used for.
This followed by these verses from the Hebrew bible in regards to Leviathan of the Middle Ages who was said to be Satan, endangering both God's creatures by attempting to eat them and God's creation by threatening it with upheaval in the waters of Chaos. Pretty frightening stuff in its day.
1 Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook or tie down his tongue with a rope?
2 Can you put a cord through his nose or pierce his jaw with a hook?
3 Will he keep begging you for mercy? Will he speak to you with gentle words?
4 Will he make an agreement with you for you to take him as your slave for life?
5 Can you make a pet of him like a bird or put him on a leash for your girls?
6 Will traders barter for him? Will they divide him up among the merchants?
7 Can you fill his hide with harpoons or his head with fishing spears?
8 If you lay a hand on him, you will remember the struggle and never do it again!
9 Any hope of subduing him is false; the mere sight of him is overpowering.
10 No-one is fierce enough to rouse him. Who then is able to stand against me?
11 Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.
12 I will not fail to speak of his limbs, his strength and his graceful form.
13 Who can strip off his outer coat? Who would approach him with a bridle?
14 Who dares open the doors of his mouth, ringed about with his fearsome teeth?
15 His back has rows of shields tightly sealed together;
16 each is so close to the next that no air can pass between.
17 They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted.
18 His snorting throws out flashes of light; his eyes are like the rays of dawn.
19 Firebrands stream from his mouth; sparks of fire shoot out.
20 Smoke pours from his nostrils as from a boiling pot over a fire of reeds.
21 His breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from his mouth.
22 Strength resides in his neck; dismay goes before him.
23 The folds of his flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable.
24 His chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone.
25 When he rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before his thrashing.
26 The sword that reaches him has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.
27 Iron he treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood.
28 Arrows do not make him flee, slingstones are like chaff to him.
29 A club seems to him but a piece of straw, he laughs at the rattling of the lance.
30 His undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing-sledge.
31 He makes the depths churn like a boiling cauldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.
32 Behind him he leaves a glistening wake; one would think the deep had white hair.
33 Nothing on earth is his equal a creature without fear.
34 He looks down on all that are haughty; he is king over all that are proud.
Of course Yahweh crushes him into a small pieces and feeds it to the people.
Holy Sea Snakes, after a presentation like that to some hungry sandy nomad, while holding a sword to the back of his neck, do you think he just might kiss the feet of the Pope and join whole heartedly their campaign? Not much choice in the matter, he's damned if he doesn't submit right here on earth, but he probably has pissed himself at this point.
Now flash forward to today. How is the unholy image of the Twin Towers collapsing, different than Leviathan in how it fuels our fears today? And how different are fears of global chaos caused by Satan, different than our fears of global climate change? And how different is the sword at the backs of our necks, different than government jack boots at our throats?
It does not matter whether the fear is real or imagined, the monster a giant snake in the ocean or a boogie man in a cave. When we let our fears restrain free thought, make people incapable of expressing themselves from fear of retribution, persecution, we then go back 1200 years to being that dusty, ignorant nomad, who kisses the foot of his Master.