Friday, October 13, 2006

Met any Anger Lately?

Over the past months, I have bumped into a lot of anger. One friend I know tells of no longer being able to stnad hearing the voice of the President. If he comes on the TV, she leaves the room. Another friend is still mad at former President Clinton, and develops a pronounced hiss in his voice and a tightness to his face at the mention of his name. At dinner some time ago, in the middle of a friendly and rambling conversation, a church building project came up and my friend blurted out with a profanity about "that ___________ building!" then covered her mouth and said "Ooops!" Driving home from the market a couple Saturdays ago Martha and I saw a pickup truck cut off another pickup truck, horns blasted, fingers were thrown up into the air and they tore after each other down streets, while we headed the opposite way. What's this all about? Do you sense it too?
It seems like so many situations have folks with big pots of anger simmering just beneath the surface of life. It only takes a small spark to set off a blast of hurt, anger, rage, whatever. I've heard rants about health care, organized religion, the school system, politics (yikes, way too much), the wealthy, the poor, past infranctions, remembered insults, moral indiscretions not forgotten, .....
In getting ready for Sunday's sermon on Jesus healing the leper in Mark 1:40-45, I am reading the companion Psalm 30, where the Psalmist declares abouut God "for his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime!" And as I reflected I thought how many of us live that Psalm upside-down "our favor is for a moment; but our anger is for a lifetime!" Isn't it great to know that God's dominant currency is joy, not anger? So, what's with us then? Why do we need to traffic in the currency of anger so much? And why do I so quickly default to a response of anger at the slightest provocation or infraction?
The prayer at the end of the Psalm needs to be my prayer: "You have turned my mourning into dancing, you have taken off my sackcloth (anger??) and clother me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent."


At 5:50 AM , Anonymous kent said...

I wonder if it is connected the heighten sense of anxiety in our culture. As Greg Easterboork indicates we are living in a better world than has ever existed but the majority of people think that something is wrong. The peace of Christ does not bring the response of anger but anger is more and more a part of the Christian language, public and private. What is the genesis of this anxiety is uncertain, but it is there.

At 8:11 AM , Anonymous Gary Means said...

The media has so raised the level of expectation and the sense of entitlement that it's only natural that our society is comprised of angry individuals.

My working definition of anger is my emotional response to the fact that the world has failed to meet my expectations. Usually, in my case, a sense of entitlement is at the root of my anger. Or, it's fear, and ultimately fear of not being accepted, if I look far enough. I think as people in our country drift further and further apart (see recent articles about the increasing loneliness in our nation) we feel less secure, less sure that we are loved, or even worthy of love.

Yes, ultimately Christ is the only real answer to these issues. But even a life lived with Christ only goes so far. We live in a fallen world, and we have to contend with our own natural selfish bent.


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