This and that at the start of a new year

I have been trying out a few new podcasts lately.

The Bulletin is an offering by Christianity Today. On the Jan. 6 episode they were discussing the nonsense with the speaker of the house vote and the group of twenty obstructionists who made this such a farce. The hosts were talking about how, for some people in positions of power, it’s not about actually doing anything, or having goals to accomplish, but simply to “have the requisite amount of rage.”

Image by CryptoSkylark from Pixabay

This resonated because I have just completed a year of wrestling with how (or if) anger—sometimes rage, let’s be honest—should factor into the way a Christian interacts with the world.

After that last post in December, where I really let loose on the way people react to people who are homeless, I recognized that haranguing does nothing, because nobody even bothers to read. In my own defense, I waited weeks to write that post, trying to discern if it was supposed to be written at all. But still, nobody read it. Since then I’ve been quiet, not because I don’t have things to work through, but because I recognized a need to approach things differently.

I don’t have it figured out yet, except that a good friend suggested that I pose questions—with a genuine openness to listening to the answers.

The second tidbit I’ve come across in a podcast—although I wasn’t forward-thinking enough in the moment to note which podcast, or which episode—was a throwaway comment about how anger is never the primary emotion; it is always the secondary one, a response to the deeper emotional reaction, a way to protect it. That lit up receptors in my brain because my spiritual director had said that to me several years ago, and I’ve been wrestling with it ever since.

In this case, the podcaster said that the problem we have with rage in America is that we don’t know how to grieve. We have had so much to grieve in recent years. The loss of our ordinary in the pandemic was a grief response, but America doesn’t know how to do it, so we just get angry.

That rang VERY true to me. Anger is a protective reaction to avoid having to deal with the grief of lost high school years, of isolation, of fear of losing a child who’s already come close to dying because of a respiratory virus, etc., etc. It’s easier to be angry than to face the deeper pain.

Not to be too tiresome, but that reminds me of yet another cultural reference:

Anger is easier, quicker. You will know the dark from the light when you are calm, still, at peace.

Hmmm. I sense some real commonality with Christianity there, and with contemplative prayer in particular. 🙂

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