Huffington Post

Running To

Howard Fineman’s article in the Huffington Post was titled, Running Toward the Screams on Patriot’s Day. He wrote the piece on Monday, just hours after.

We now have another day for which we will ask each other, “Where were you when?” Not unlike the questions in our recent memory. “Where were you at 9:02 a.m. (CDT) on April 19, 1995?” “Where were you at 8:46 (EDT) on September 11, 2001?” Our collective psyche will log another terror creating event.

Mr. Fineman pointed out, in his article, that people were running toward those in need on Monday. We read the same stories after the Alfred P. Murrah building bombing. We read the same stories after the Twin Towers fell. The wounded were running away, as they should. Others bent on rescue were running toward.

Christians couch their response to these events in a variety of ways. For some it brings out the best and worst of our sense of patriotism, after all this did occur on Patriot’s Day. The best expressions come in the form of prayers. The worst responses take the form of ethnic profiling. At this writing no one knows who is responsible. And, when we do learn the identity of the perpetrator(s), we should take care not to indict an entire group of people.

There is another possibility for Christians. We could take the stories of heroism as inspiration to always be found faithfully running toward those who are wounded – by life, by decisions, by others, even by bombs.

We rarely talk of the strain of Christian theology that understands that Jesus lived, suffered, and died in solidarity with all of us who are broken. We are broken by unexplained experiences of life, by decisions made with or without the full understanding of consequences, by the actions of others without remorse, and even by those whose intention is terror.

We may shorthand these experiences and tie them to human sin. But, when we fail to name the ways we are broken we often miss the occasion to draw attention to the sent Son who came for us, to be with us, and to bring an end to the reign of sin’s terror that contributes to our broken experiences.

Rather than stand aloof and shout descriptions of the ways others are broken, maybe it is time, even past time, to run to the screams. Jesus did.

Image Credit

This post first ran in the Tuttle Times 4/18/13 for my weekly column.

Natural Anger, Natural Fear – Boston and Beyond

Religion writer Paul Raushenbush called on religious language to spark readers to think carefully about how anger may overtake us. Demonic anger, he writes,

is characterized by a fury that takes over or possesses us. I'm not talking about demons as some sort of external being, but rather the internal radical emotions that, if unchecked, dominates; dictating our thoughts and actions with the most destructive impulses.

In a video interview that goes along with the post, Raushenbush suggests we think about those spiritual disciplines that may be employed to stave off this unhealthy anger. He writes offering a way to think about how spiritual disciplines may help us choose holy anger,

This means that I take time to stop, to pray, to meditate to ask for wisdom and to not let my anger take over my heart, head and spirit. But rather use holy anger to fuel a response that truly reflects the kind of person of peace, compassion and, yes, justice, that I want to be in this world.

Paul connects two things that rarely get discussed – fear and anger. What may be missed by a quick read is that fear is rooted in anger. We often think fear and anger to be two different emotions to address and tackle specifically.

Several years ago I had a conversation with my counselor friend, Brett. He helped me think through a counseling situation where anger inhibited progress. We talked about ways to peel away the layers of anger to expose its core – fear.

When we think about the reactions to the Boston Marathon bombing it is easy to mine the core of angry sentiment and unearth great fears, natural fears. Today my friend Marty posted a piece offering something different than Pat Robertson. I know. You dismiss Pat too. However, he really taps into the same fear that produces anger Raushenbush describes.

Duren, a conservative voice, calls attention to the way our ongoing use of drones around the world may well create in others the same sort of fear producing anger that results in what Raushenbush describes as demonic fear. The piece is not intended to ignore or cheapen the events in Boston. Instead, they provide us pause to consider the ways we should carefully respond.

Some often wonder about the Scripture that notes, “complete love casts out fear.” When fear is removes, so is anger. Miroslav Volf posted today,

@MiroslavVolf: We cannot love Jesus without loving *both* those killed/maimed in Boston and the prisoners, not charged with a crime and tortured, at Gitmo.

We tend to fear those whom we consider our enemies. Christians, according to Jesus, must pray for and love our enemies. There is no indication in the Scriptures that we possess the human privilege of choosing enemies. If that is the case, then to be an enemy is to have been chosen an enemy rather than choosing the other as enemy. Loving our neighbor recasts others as subjects to learn to know and love.

The call is to do what is unnatural. Too often we simply want to say, “I am only human.” If Jesus came to show us how to be truly human to others then being human in the way of Jesus means to love our enemies and work to eradicate fear that produces anger.


Some Interesting Huffington Post Reads

Here are three posts I found compelling over the past week while taking a break from writing here. What are your thoughts? And please, let’s discuss the content of the article and not our opinions about the authors.

The Debacle that is the movie version of The Hobbit

The Bible Is Man-Made: Why Patriarchy Still Reigns

Where Was God In Newtown

If you are new here, I often point to challenging pieces related to life and faith as they often challenge my own assumptions. Links are not endorsements, though I may agree with all or part of pieces to which I point. Discussion is intended to get beneath our knee-jerk responses to either a title or a given author.

I am working on a site update. If you have suggestions, nice ones, send me a note.

Underneath the Tunic or, What Do Rachel Held Evans and Rob Bell Have In Common?

Equal treatment. Rachel Held Evans and Rob Bell suffered the same hammer when facing the prospects of offering a different vision for how we talk about others in relationship to our pronouncements as final. For many the hammer is the only tool in the box and everyone who disagrees, or poses a different possibility, becomes the nail. Criticism is egalitarian.

Piper bid farewell to Rob Bell over Love Wins and Rachel Held Evans faced the prospect Christian booksellers would not carry her book, allegedly over her reference to female parts according to medical parlance. The result? Rob Bell owes Piper for the negative publicity that resulted in huge sales for Love Wins. And, Rachel Held Evans owes Lifeway for the negative publicity generating interest and sales for her new book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood.

The kerfuffle created by the report that Lifeway will not stock Evans’ book, either a result of the poor sales of her first book or another unmentioned reason, continues to spur points and counter-points. This amounts to reader titillation. Baptists, and many Evangelicals, really do not care to be told what to read, or what not to read. Read More