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.

 

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.