Fortress Press

Neighbor Love through Fearful Days: Finding Purpose and Meaning in a Time of Crisis

Neighbor Love through Fearful Days

Finding Purpose and Meaning in a Time of Crisis

Jason A. Mahn (Author)


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Neighbor Love through Fearful Days is a reflection on pandemics--the Covid-19 pandemic, the accompanying economic collapse, a summer of climate chaos, and the pandemic of white supremacy--as well as on the calling to "serve thy neighbor" and work toward the common good, even and especially in times of crisis. Mahn's real-time reflections begin with an entry dated March 17, 2020, after the college where he teaches moved online and his family began sheltering in place; they end with an entry dated August 31, 2020, when the college reopened for an unprecedented fall term. Through the intervening entries, he reflects on perennial questions about purpose, faith, and vocation as they take on a newfound urgency as cities lock down, economies reopen and close again, and our fractured country teeters on the edge of civil war. Each entry grapples with the anxieties and opportunities, the suffering and sense of being summoned, that characterize that same period.

Jason A. Mahn's evocative narrative is a story about living through a time when the world as we know it is being leveled by pandemics--and it is also a deeply philosophical exploration of what it means to live well. In the pages of this book, Mahn invites readers to muse on the difficult balance between self-care and other-care; ­the role of love in social justice, and how white privilege might be atoned for; and how, amid intense suffering, to practice a faith that is not escapist, but embraces a hope more durable than optimism and a public, strategic love more fierce and enduring than previously imagined. Ultimately, these reflections acknowledge the immense challenge of living a purposeful life in the middle of crisis but invite readers to the shared hope that from the ashen stillness, we may just hear new callings to imagine healing, cultivate hope, and love neighbors in creative ways.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506479477
  • eBook ISBN 9781506479484
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 218
  • Publication Date August 3, 2021


"Jason Mahn has done something both rare and relevant. He has written about our callings in medias res, where all of us always find ourselves. The fresh, retrospectively sculpted journal entries that chart his own halting and continuing efforts to live a 'summoned' life of Christian, loving responsibility in 'fearful days' of multiple pandemics include many other stories as well. This book captures the vocabulary of vocation as well as any book we know."

Mark R. Schwehn & Dorothy C. Bass, editors, Leading Lives that Matter: What we Should Do and Who We Should Be (Second Edition, 2020)

"This book is such a compelling read because two things happen as we read. We find our own vexed thinking echoed; at the same time, we find ourselves led in generative ways beyond our own thinking. This book is a deep gift for any reader who wants to engage our present circumstance as chance for fresh faithful, generous, emancipated obedience."

Walter Brueggeman, Columbia Theological Seminary

"Anyone interested to profoundly consider the scriptural injunction to 'love your neighbor as yourself' will find a treasure in Mahn's reflections written in real-time during the 2020 pandemic."

Rev. Mark Wilhelm, Executive Director, Network of Colleges and Universities, ELCA

"In Mahn's words I found insight and challenge, wisdom and confession... this book will stir you to reflection and to action in a profoundly good way.­"

Drew Tucker, University Pastor and Director of the Center for Faith and Learning at Capital University

"2020 is a year many would rather forget than remember. But Jason Mahn's Neighbor Love through Fearful Days helps us see that remembering rightly is pivotal to navigating any crisis purposefully."

Tim Clydesdale, Vice Provost, Dean of Graduate Studies, The College of New Jersey

"A relevant and meaningful book written not only for our moment--but from within that very moment. Read it and heed its clarion call to love, lament, and listen...and to remember, reflect, and resist the triple pandemics of our time: racism, COVID-19, and environmental disasters."

Jacqueline Bussie, award-winning author of Outlaw Christian and Love Without Limits

"Jason Mahn offers himself as a thoughtful and honest reflection partner in the complicated, difficult, and ultimately life-affirming task of discerning vocation and the call to love in this moment."

Sergia Hay, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Pacific Lutheran University

"Through his honest, poignant prose, Mahn allows himself to be seen in a way that makes me, likewise, feel seen and heard."

Mindy Makant, Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Director of Youth and Family Ministry, Lenoir-Rhyne University

"Through fragments and stories captured as the world turned itself outside in, we feel the texture of a time and are called into an as-yet-undetermined future."

Caryn Riswold, McCoy Family Distinguished Chair in Lutheran Heritage and Mission, Wartburg College

Table of Contents



Part 1: Who is my Neighbor?

(March and April)

Part 2: Strange Fruit

(May and June)

Part 3: These Three Remain

(July and August)