by Kevin on July 4, 2013

I can’t believe it’s been two years since I wrote my first post on this blog. So much has happened since then. For one, I’ve finished my Masters in Culture and Spirituality from the Sophia Center at Holy Names University. It was a wonderful experience, and a truly life-changing journey.

I want to thank all of my readers on this blog for following me through that journey. I didn’t post as regularly as I set out to, but I am proud of the body of work collected here, and of the responses I’ve received to my post and poetry. Thank you so much.

So, what’s next? Well, I have started another blog. It’s called Dear Pope Francis, and I am writing to the Pope, every day. It partly serves as my scratchpad, and a way to get myself to the computer to scribble down something each day.

But it’s serving another purpose, too. My Masters project for my degree focused on broadening awareness of the New Story, and taking it beyond the current community. This blog is my way of helping with that. Using the framework of writing each day to Pope Francis,  hope to share more about the New Cosmology, its key thinkers, and how I, each day, grow in awareness.

So, if you’d like to keep reading what I write — and I hope you do! — please mosey on over to Dear Pope Francis. If you use RSS there’s a feed. If you read this current blog by email, there’s a way to sign up to that blog on the site.

And what will happen with Words in the World? It’s not going away. I’m going to transition my writing and poetry over to Dear Pope Francis, but this space will be put to good use. Trust me.

Again, thank you so much for reading my blog, and I hope to see you over on Dear Pope Francis. Leave me some comments there so I know you’ve made the journey!


Kevin Aschenbrenner


Fear. I’m so over it.

It seems like I’m being told to be fearful of everything these days. Don’t vote for this political candidate because she will take your rights away. Don’t vote for that politician, either, because he will be bad for the economy. Be suspicious of anyone who doesn’t believe in the right kind of God. Don’t drive, fly, drink bottled water, or even eat quinoa, because you’ll be a bad person. Don’t eat eggs; that’s just asking for a heart attack. Avoid doorknobs at all costs

If you’re Catholic, don’t you dare speak your mind; you’ll be silenced for having an opinion.

You know, it’s no wonder many of us are stressed out, anxious, eating too much, and not sleeping enough. We’re constantly told to be scared. Of everything. We live in a soup of fear.

What’s worse, we’re told to be scared of ourselves, our ideas and opinions, and the way we live our lives.

Maybe it would be worth it if fear worked as a motivator. I’m not convinced of that, however. If it did, wouldn’t we live in a happier, safer, more egalitarian world? If fear worked, would the diet and sleep aid industries be making billions? Wouldn’t pews be packed on Sunday and seminaries and convents filled to the rafters?

I know how I react when I’m afraid. I don’t feel motivated at all. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Tell me I need to lose weight or bad things will happen, and I will reach for the nearest chocolate bar. Warn me I’m not getting enough exercise, and I’ll spend the weekend on the couch playing video games. I react to fear by shutting down and going on autopilot. It’s not a way to motivate me to change.

When we’re afraid, we also make bad decisions. As a communications professional, I’ve counseled clients through some tough crises. Inevitably, a client’s first response to a perceived threat is either to adopt a bunker mentality or go on the attack. Neither posture is terribly supportive. As an outsider, I’m able to provide a more levelheaded perspective on the right course of action. The reason? I’m not amped up on fear. I can think clearly.

I think Jesus also knew fear wasn’t a winning strategy. He did not say, for example, “Blessed are the fearful.” He knew Peter would deny him three times out of fear. Even the angels heralding his birth told those poor freaked out shepherds not to be afraid.

Jesus did not operate from a fear-based mentality. His approach was one of openness, peace, and understanding. That is an attitude in complete opposition to fear. You can’t be open, peaceful, and understanding if you’re afraid — or fear mongering. Try it. I dare you. Just like I dare you not to think of a pink polka-dotted gorilla wearing a tutu now that I’ve mentioned one. See? It’s impossible. (And, you’re welcome.)

If Jesus did not embrace fear, why do we, his followers, insist on it? Why is our response to a new idea always condemnation? Why do we base our faith around a fear of going to hell rather than embracing the Kingdom of God that Jesus told us was already ours through grace?

Why have we made fear our eighth Sacrament, and a requirement for being loved by God?

For me, personally, it’s time to take fear out of my faith. Thankfully, there are good models to follow.

I recently found out that St. Francis of Assisi, who I always thought was just naturally saintly, was actually deeply afraid of lepers. But, here’s why St. Francis was a saint: he pushed through the fear, and kissed pretty much every leper he could get his holy mitts on. He didn’t let fear affect his response to others.

Now that is an evolved spirituality I can get behind. As a follower of Jesus, and admirer of Francis, I’m going to strive to give up my addiction to fear and kiss more of my own personal lepers. It won’t be easy, but I think continuing to live out of a spirituality of fear will be far worse.

For the good of the world, I fervently hope others pucker up as well.


Science and Spirituality: Why We Need a Third Way

September 17, 2012

A friend recently paid me the greatest compliment. He said “For someone who is studying theology, you are the least religious person I know.” I laughed, but he said he was serious. I knew he was. The reason I laughed, I said, was this misconception about what “being religious” means that draws me to my […]

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Women religious becoming a force to be reckoned with on Wall Street

August 27, 2012

Came across this really good article today on the role that women religious are playing on Wall Street. Primarily this involves how they direct their pension funds, and getting involved in shareholder activism. They are also putting together coalitions and community groups.  

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The Vatican, LCWR, and Definitions of Dialogue (longer version)

August 11, 2012

As promised, here’s the longer version of my commentary piece that appeared in the NCR on August 8. It’s funny how things happen. I’ve had Judy Cannato’s book Field of Compassion on my bedside table for several months now. Ironically, I had bought it to read the chapter on intentionality, but hadn’t gotten around to […]

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National Catholic Reporter publishes my article on the Vatican, LCWR, and dialogue

August 8, 2012

So thrilled that the National Catholic Reporter has published my article on the Vatican, LCWR and definitions of dialogue. Feel free to go check it out. I plan on posting a longer version of the piece on the blog in the next couple of days. If you’re here after having read my post, welcome! Please […]

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Meeting a Hero, Struggling to See the Divine

July 25, 2012

I met one of my heroes a few weeks ago. She’s not a rock star, or an actor — though Susan Sarandon played her in a movie. She’s Helen Préjean, and I’ve admired her work and courage for a very, very long time. Ever since I saw the movie “Dead Man Walking,” I’ve wanted to […]

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How to Shift Your Day: Take a Sacred Mulligan

March 16, 2012
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I don’t know about you, but I’ve been having one of those weeks. From the moment I got up on Monday things seemed to just be spiralling out of my control, taking my mood with it. It got to the point where I was waking up annoyed and frustrated, even before anything had happened in […]

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Poem: Time to Shed That Skin

March 12, 2012
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So, it my last post I wrote about the need to retire my Loyal Soldier so I can experience new things and, ultimately, grow. The following is a poem I wrote along a similar theme. Shed That Skin Tonight I sit on a rock at the edge of an obsidian lake that effervesces in the still […]

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Poem: When Grace Sneaks Up on Us

January 24, 2012

I’ve been thinking a lot about grace lately, especially since the event I write about in this blog post from the other day. It got me to thinking about what grace is, howe we experience it, and why we experience it. Out of that, came this poem. When Grace Sneaks Up on You Grace is […]

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