Catastrophizing as a Way of Life

Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together – mass hysteria! Dr. Peter Venkman in the original Ghostbusters.

Utter chaos. Cindy Bolbach, Candidate for Moderator of the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) when asked what would happen if she wasn’t elected.

Progressive institutional leaders have specifically taught young progressives that catastrophizing is a good way to get what they want. From this article quoting Matt Yglesias & Jill Filipovic 

The world is a hot mess.

I say those words on a regular basis and it occurs to me that they are sort of true but not totally true. Lent is a great time to acknowledge that we are dust, apart from Jesus we are nothing, and we are indeed a hot mess. Some of us catastrophize for dramatic effect (Dr. Venkman) and some of us catastrophize because we are being brilliantly sarcastic (Cindy) and some of us catastrophize because we’ve been taught it’s useful in daily life.

Even if we try to follow Jesus, many of us are really good at focusing on what’s wrong. If we are connecting with the poor, the sick, the vulnerable, the lost, or the broken on a regular basis (which is what I believe we are all commanded to do) then an average week might have us spending time with someone who is considering suicide, someone whose cancer is not responding to treatment, someone who has monumental financial troubles, someone who has no friends, someone who is being abused but can’t leave, someone who is being vilified, or someone who is feeling utterly hopeless.

Hang on, friends. Resurrection is possible.

Don’t get me wrong. Jumping ahead to resurrection means we are not acknowledging the need to be resurrected. If I am a hot mess, I need to be saved from that. I need signs that life can be different.

I have profound hope in The Church of Jesus Christ as a community for those who want the world to be different. We see in Jesus someone who was destroyed by the Empire, castigated for standing with “the least of these” and mocked as a leader. His ways were not the ways of the powerful. Remember there were two parades the week of Jesus trial: one with a donkey (Jesus) and one with war horses (Pilate).

What gives me hope these days? Churches that love trans kids and remind them that God loves them beyond measure. Churches that partner with the poor rather than lord over the poor with toxic mission practices. Churches that use everything as a tool for ministry from their building (for community needs) to their underused property (for affordable housing, medical clinics, food pantries, clothing closets.)

As for Dr. Venkman, Cindy Bolbach, and the plight of teen-aged girls . . .

  • The Ghostbusters saved the world from Gozer/the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man),
  • Cindy was elected Moderator of my denomination,
  • Compassionate people all over the world are studying the mental health needs of young people so that we can do better.

Yes, the world is a hot mess. And we can do better. And there is hope.

Image source (and a good article)

2 responses to “Catastrophizing as a Way of Life

  1. Martha R Neely

    Hi Jan, I just read an article about Trinity Moravian Church here in Winston Salem which paid off medical debts for 3,555 families during a Debt Jubilee. They bought bad debts for pennies on the dollar and paid off $3.3 million with about $15,000. Amazing. Thanks for your blog. As a lifelong Presbyterian and mother of a female pastor who has gone through a challenging first call, your blog resonates on manny levels! Blessings, Martha Neely

    Liked by 1 person

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