This book, by design, refers to a litany of fear-provoking events, from traffic fatalities to 9/11 to “a genetic time bomb hidden in our DNA,” to the end of humankind, and of course, growing old and our own death. Yes, there is plenty to fear in life, and in this thin volume, Kushner offers inspiration and practical advice gleaned from a variety of religious and secular sources.
Each chapter tackles one or more sources of fear. In the chapter on “Job Loss and Loss of Love,” Kushner points out that having a job and having a relationship both make you feel valued. When either is lost, feelings of rejection follow. Though it’s natural to fear losing these things, it’s critical not to let fear interfere with your ability to cherish what you have. If your significant other leaves you, don’t let fear of rejection prevent you from looking for a new love. If you lose your job but have loved ones to support you emotionally, if not financially, revel in that. But, if you lose both — not an unheard of phenomenon given our battered economy and high divorce rate — conquering fear is somewhat harder.
Around the same length as Rabbi Kushner’s most famous book, Why Bad Things Happen to Good People, Conquering Fear pivots around the same theological pillar — God doesn’t cause the things that we fear but can be a source of hope. It’s a quick and inspirational read that certainly puts fear into the right perspective. But it doesn’t seem destined to have the same impact as Why Bad Things Happen.