Conquering Fear

Jo Kadlecek finds Fear Not a harder command to follow
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FEAR: A Spiritual Navigation
Jo Kadlecek
Shaw, 192 pages, $9.99

There are those who say that if you believe in God, there is nothing you should be afraid of," writes Kadlecek. "But I have found that the fears themselves have helped me believe all the more in God." In this thematic memoir, the author frames her personal history in the motif of fear: fear of relationships, fear of differences, fear of mortality, fear of faith. Through Kadlecek's real-life parables, we experience her journey from sheltered suburban kid to activist urban Christian.

Her metaphor of choice is water, and so she draws from her memories as a child at the deep end of the pool, as a teenager wading in the Pacific Ocean, as a thirtysomething discovering the Great Barrier Reef in a glass-bottom boat.

Kadlecek works to strip her language of the platitudes that are an easy temptation in this type of book. Mostly she succeeds, though some analogies feel a trace overdone. Still, her honesty and humor win the day. Each of her experiences holds a helpful, if not profound, lesson: Being a Christian does not erase life's challenges—or fears—but it does help us approach them with grace and integrity.

Related Elsewhere: offers Fear: A Spiritual Navigation.

Kadlecek has written for Christianity Today,, Ministries Today, and other publications. has more information about Kadlecek and her book.

Outisder artist Matt Lamb's "Fear Not" appeared in the April 5, 1999 issue of Christianity Today.

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