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What are angry Christians angry about?

What are angry Christians angry about?

Deana Naal has written a column in the Columbia (Tenn.) Daily Herald about the angry faith in which she was raised. She writes:

At some point back in my early church years, I realized the anger I saw around me was a defense mechanism. The angry church people I knew had their convictions all lined up in neat black-and-white rows. If they stopped being angry long enough to try to understand the changes going on around them, they might realize that some of the things they had always been against just might be OK after all. And that would mess up all those neat little rows, and the black and white might become a murky gray. And gray is unsettling. Terrifying, even. Gray can make us feel uncomfortable. It can make us hurt. It can force us to ask questions we never dreamed we would ask. And it makes us afraid of the answers we might get.

It’s easier to stay angry. It doesn’t require as much soul-searching on our part, and we don’t have to think as hard.

If we can stay angry with people of other religions, or people who have no religion, we don’t risk realizing they are a lot more like us than we thought.

What kinds of anger do progressive Christians need to let go of?


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Jack Ryan

I agree with Paige Baker that “Anger is an appropriate first response to injustice.” But it is often the second response that is crucial. Constructive anger works towards resolution. Destructive anger – which is what I am generally seeing out there with all the name calling and judging and pointing fingers – only compounds the original problem.

Jim Naughton

Perhaps what I should have asked was “In what ways do progressive Christians need to get over themselves?” After reading an article about all of the ways in which the Christian right gets it wrong, it can be useful to practice a little self criticism.

Rod Gillis

The relationship of anger to social behavior in general, and religious activity in particular, is complex. The article by Deana Naal, unfortunately, is more symptomatic than insightful. Many of the items on her list, for example, are not simply about anger, but are related to fear, ignorance, hatred and social insularity and alienation. The question in the post “What kinds of anger do progressive Christians need to let go of?” is the kind of pyscho-babel one finds in churches and other quasi-therapeutic settings.

Religions send out conflicting messages about the management of anger. On the one hand there is exhortation to transcend, on the other hand religions have been in the forefront of harnessing anger to terrible acts of social aggression. Jesus counseled us to love our enemies, but also referred to his enemies as a “viper’s brood” within the context of some of the harshest words in the NT directed by Jesus toward (fellow) Jews.

Clergy are not unknown for pious platitudinous conversation offered up simultaneous with passive aggressive gossip and back-biting.

Anger is part of the human experience. One may distinguish between, for example, the narcissistic rage of the personality disorder, and the “outrage” expressed in response of genocide or other socially heinous crimes.

Thomas Aquinas, in the Summa Theol. wrote in depth about the relationship between the passions and reason ” … the act of the sensitive tendency is subject to reason’s rule.”

Aquinas’ analysis remains a cogent perspective with regard to the integration of the emotional state within an ethical response.

Anger is a human emotion. It must be acknowledged, confronted “owned” if you will, and then moral and ethical decisions must be made. Such is true for both individuals and communities of faith–an ongoing challenge for both Christians and our churches.

Richard Edward Helmer

I agree. Anger can be a powerful motivator for good. Maybe our calling is to seek a healthy focus for it. Is this one way we interpret Ephesians 4:26?

Paige Baker

I’m with Mark Brunson. What I see is a lot of people either wringing their hands or shrugging with a “What are you gonna do?” attitude.

Anger is an appropriate first response to injustice. As the old saying goes, “If you aren’t outraged, you aren’t paying attention.”

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