Thursday, January 7, 2021

Of Rage in an Angry Time

I don't generally need to go by my small congregation during the week, as the pandemic means few in person meetings.  But I will, just to 1) check the mail; 2) walk to check on the facility, and 3) be somewhere else.  

Sweet Lord Jesus, is it nice to be in another place.

When I arrived on Wednesday, I did the walkabout, checked mail and messages, and then set down in my office to do some reading and sermon prep.  After about fifteen minutes, I made the mistake of checking Facebook.  Which is how I learned that a right-wing mob had, at Donald J. Trump's direct instigation, invaded the House and Senate to disrupt the certification of the election.

This of a dissonance in my soul. 

I'm American.  I've always been proud of our republic.  Flawed though she may be, the essential idea of our constitutional republic appeals to me.  I've read enough history, studied, and traveled enough to realize that authoritarian regimes ain't no fun.  Watching a delusional mob in the thrall of a would-be despot rampage through the Capitol seeking to overthrow a free and fair election?  

All I felt was rage.

One of the pesky features of my Scots-Irish blood is that my anger doesn't tend to be particularly measured.  I do not express it often, because I find that it is most often not helpful.  And sure, yes, anger is an emotion that has uses.  It lets us know something is wrong.  It alerts us to the need for action.  "If we are not angry," or so my activist friends insist, "we are not paying attention."  Sure.  Fine.  I get that.  

But my anger?  It does not call my heart to to justice, and it is the farthest thing from constructive.  

What my anger wanted, as I seethed in impotent fury watching a rabble of buffoons and traitors desecrate our republic, was nothing less than their complete destruction.  Had shafts of fire gouted from the Capitol dome like God's wrath in that Nazi-slaughtering scene at the end of Raider of the Lost Ark, immolating tens of thousands?  It would have pleased my anger. 

My feelings towards Trump and those in his thrall...all of them, everywhere...were similar this week.   And have been similar over the last four years.  

As lies, deceit, and a bullying demonic falseness have poisoned the minds of so many Americans, maintaining a heart of peace has been a strain.  Seeing their demons masquerading as my faith only deepens my vehemence.   They imagine that this?  THIS?  Is Following Jesus?  Let all of them be raptured away, hisses my rage, a scripture in its hand.  Let them all rise to the heavens, it whispers, until they strangle and freeze in the void of space.  

I wish I was alone in this anger.  I have had other souls share similar feelings with me in confidence, of how hard it is not to wish ill upon those who follow this mad, manipulative, pathetic fool, and to yearn for his violent demise.  Of how much they are consumed by a hatred that tries their souls.  Of how hard that makes it for them to love family and friends who have fallen under the spell.

Against the burning hells and vengeful butcheries of my monkey-mind rage, there is Jesus.  Always, always Jesus.

There are some, particularly among my more political Jesus-friends, who suggest that Jesus does not call us to challenge the demands of our own anger.  This is not so.  No matter how many times one posts about "overturning the tables," the moral demands of nonviolence are too essential to the life of a Christian disciple.  If you claim Jesus has authority over your life, you understand that when rage rules your soul, when you yield to its heart of destruction and condemnation, you are serving another.  You are serving the Enemy, tapping into the dark spirit of the Adversary.  You are fighting evil with evil, tearing down rather than building up.

I do not always win that struggle.  In times of weakness I have let anger harm others more than I'd like to admit, but I do know it is a struggle worth having.

So I let myself breathe.  I let the anger burn down.  I put in the control rods of prayer, and cool down the reactor.  I step away from the endless din of social fury.  I make a lasagna.  I read a book.  I let my soul center.

Does that mean injustice should be tolerated?  No.  Neither does it mean that the lies, delusions, and manipulations of others should be accepted.  Those who seek to tear down the blessing of our republic and replace it with a fever-dream sham need to be resisted and held to account.

But not blindly, and not from the heart of the Adversary.  If Christ is my guide in all things, then that needs to be true now, as much as ever.