Discussion Questions and Further Reading: Fear

We hope the stories in each issue of Oregon Humanities are the beginning of conversations and exploration for our readers. Here you'll find some prompts for discussing these articles with others, as well as links to books, articles, and organizations where you can learn more about the stories and ideas explored in the "Fear" issue.


  • In “The Still Point at Sanger Lake,” Maud Mcrory Powell suggests that Dot’s past experiences with violent men and her training in nonviolence helped her survive being witness to a murder. How do you think you would react in a life-threatening situation? What experiences do you think might influence your reaction?
  • Marlena Willams’s essay “The Devil, You Know” argues that mass panics over satan or satan-worship tend to appear as reactions against leftist political and social movements. Do you agree? Why do you think fear of satanic conspiracy is so widespread?
  • In “Life after Running,” Astra Lincoln writes about the existential challenges faced by athletes when they develop chronic illnesses or sustain debilitating injuries. She writes, “None of the hours logged in the gallows make it any easier to admit that the defining feature of your life has vanished—and that without it, you have no clue where, or how, to find your center.” Have you experienced a change or loss that has permanently altered a defining feature of your life? If so, how did you redefine yourself? Where did you find your center?
  • Eleanor Klock’s comic “The Light Beam” explores the anxiety and disillusionment she feels pursuing a creative career in her mid-twenties. Thinking about your experience of early adulthood, what were your hopes and fears related to work? If you are older now, were those hopes and fears borne out?
  • In “Broken Glass, Broken Trust,” Robert Leo Heilman names two possible motivations for attacks on his home: divisive political rhetoric and fear of that which we don’t understand. Politically motivated violence is not new in the US or in Oregon, but it does seem to be on the rise. What do you think causes a person to throw a rock or fire a gun at another person’s home? What cultural forces do you think contribute to such an act?
  • In “Speaking in Tongues,” Aleksandr Chernousov describes the ways that political changes in Russia slowly conributed to his inability to use the Russian language. How does the author's experience with language and the impact of political and social upheaval on language use shape their understanding of identity, communication, and the power dynamics within language? How does this reflection on language evolve throughout the essay, and what does it reveal about the author's journey to find a new linguistic and cultural equilibrium?
  • Carrie Walker's essay "In the Company of Cougars" describes a terrifying cougar attack in Central Oregon—and Walker's decision to start hiking again shortly after. She writes, "I have to believe that opportunities to enjoy this short life are worth the risks—and the costs. What will I find on the trail ahead? Beauty or blood? The only way to know is to forge onward." How do you balance opportunity and risk in your life? Do you find that anxiety affects your behavior? Are you motivated to prioritize adventure or safety? What experiences have informed that choice?

Further Reading

“The Still Point at Sanger Lake”

Dot, the subject of the story, recommends the following:

Maud Macrory Powell, the author, recommends the following readings on nonviolence and the psychology of fear:

“Speaking in Tongues”

“The Devil, You Know”

“Broken Glass, Broken Trust”

Robert Leo Heilman’s writing can be found at The Daily Yonder and Roseburg News-Review, as well as his books Overstory: Zero and Children of Death.



Oregon Humanities Magazine, Fear


1 comments have been posted.

Nonviolence in the families seem to have a huge impact on the peacefulness of whole nations. Austrian sociologist Franz Jedlicka has analysed worldwide data regarding domestic violence and wars.

Francine | April 2024 |

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Also in this Issue

From the Director: What Awaits

Editor's Note: Fear

our farm

The Still Point at Sanger Lake

Speaking in Tongues

The Devil, You Know

Life after Running

Light Beam

Broken Glass, Broken Trust

In the Company of Cougars

Posts: Fear

People, Places, Things: BLK&GLD

Discussion Questions and Further Reading: Fear