Am I Adequately Outraged?

At a recent screening of _Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons_, a very bright audience member said that Mormons were pretty silent during the pre-1978 years about what most would now view as clear discrimination.  A few were adequately outraged, but not many–not enough.  He wondered if he in this day was not outraged enough that his daughter would be excluded from the priesthood.

Interesting question.  I latched onto the word “outraged” and hoped that my co-director, who was responding, would hear the danger I heard.

He did.  He said that “outrage” is never a good thing.

I’d like to announce that I am easily outraged, and I feel to repent.  I have a serious problem of holding on to grudges and of judging others for racism, sexism, and homophobia.  The label of “liberal” feels like a Procrustean bed to me, but I suppose I could be made to fit into it–by lopping off a limb or two.   With my own bias against bias, I am capable of being (shudder) STRIDENT.  I think I usually come across as peaceable, but only I know the fullness of my history and the harshness of some of my dealings with people I’ve disagreed with, or who I felt were damaging my loved ones.

I believe that outrage is almost always wrong.  It empowers and energizes unChristian behavior and contention.  I personally was terribly disappointed by some blog posts (on other sites) supporting Proposition 8 which sank into something akin to gay bashing–and to anti-gay-bashing.

As we see huge protests at the Los Angeles Temple over the Church’s support of Proposition 8, I wonder if Latter-day Saints approached the issues in a way that avoided “outrage.”  Did Mormon proponents of Prop 8 follow the mandate to persuade by patience, long-suffering, and with love unfeigned, or was there some “outrage” such as we saw on the bloggernacle?  How are Mormons greeting the protesters now?  Are we providing green Jello and root beer, or are there angry, self-righteous e-mails crossing the web which portray the protesters as our enemies?  (The irony, of course, is that if we consider “them” to be enemies, we are immediately called upon to love and to serve them, even offering a cloak if they demand a coat. )

Only those who know me best have seen me outraged over an issue–and it’s usually a race issue.   I want to change the question which begins this post.  I know for sure that I am adequately outraged.  Truth be told, I am easily outraged.  Now I want to ask if I am adequately loving.   I wonder of one can be outraged and loving simultaneously.  I think not.  I think love wins and rage must flee.

By what authority?  “God is love.”

Comments

  1. nasamomdele says:

    I think love wins and rage must flee.

    I think you’re right. I don’t think there’s space in a heart for love and hate at the same time. I strive to live and die by D&C 121.

    One thing I think about is:

    If I feel rage, is it because I love something that was crossed, or am I fooling myself and my heart was never pure and rightly set upon the thing?

  2. Martin Willey says:

    Very thought provoking. I am one easily outraged, too. But as I think about it, I almost always regret the things I do or say out of outrage. I think that outrage is usually motivated by or connected to selfishness and pride. It is usually about how right and smart and well-informed and enlightened I am, and how NOT those things the other is. I am learning (slowly) to see feelings of outrage as a signal to step back, take a breath, and think about how to express myself in a constructive, and even loving, way. I still need some practice.

  3. How do you stop yourself from expressing your outrage, Martin Willey? I do sometimes write e-mails I’ll never send. But once or twice, my finger has slipped to the “send” button. Sometimes I send myself e-mails which are actually written to someone else. I have one in my files which starts: “You are an idiot.” But it’s addressed to me.
    I often leave a place which has become anger filled and go somewhere quiet. That helps. (Of course, sometimes I leave at 80 mph…)

  4. Eric Russell says:

    Good post, Margaret. People tend to think that anger on behalf of another is not sin. If it’s “on behalf of another” we think, then by definition it’s loving and unselfish. Not so. There’s a difference between genuine love and proxy pride.

  5. Maybe a topic worth reviewing is that of self-awareness. I think you are correct in stating that love wins, though it may also circle around the ability to know what is love and what is rage. Like nasamomdele said, “is it because I love something that was crossed, or am I fooling myself…”

    We should go back to a review of Elder Hales talk at this last General Conference on “Christian courage.” The talk is brilliant and I keep returning to it. As he states, “To respond in a Christlike way cannot be scripted or based on a formula. The Savior responded differently in every situation… The Prophet Joseph Smith demonstrated this courage throughout his life. Though he “suffer[ed] severe persecution at the hands of all classes of men, both religious and irreligious” (Joseph Smith—History 1:27), he did not retaliate or give in to hatred. Like all true disciples of Christ, he stood with the Savior by loving others in a tolerant and compassionate way. That is Christian courage.
    When we do not retaliate—when we turn the other cheek and resist feelings of anger—we too stand with the Savior. We show forth His love, which is the only power that can subdue the adversary and answer our accusers without accusing them in return. That is not weakness. That is Christian courage.”

    Are we self-aware to acknowledge when truth is felt and understood or that we are erring on the side of rage and imperfect outrage, this of course fueled by the adversary of our souls?

  6. Martin Willey says:

    Well, I don’t always stop myself, unfortunately. But, I have tried to learn that those feelings of outrage are a danger signal – – that I really have to think about what I do or say when I am feeling that way. Finding a way to express what I think in a constructive, non-confrontational way is pretty therapeutic, though I do it in my head, not in emails. I have had a lot of one-sided conversations in my head.

  7. Thomas Parkin says:

    Though I tend to think there is a time for every purpose under heaven; and that anger and even outrage are not only natural but correct responses at times – those times are rare.

    My concern with anger is how easily it becomes tied to our ego and identity. (I’m a person who is pissed off about patriarchy, or new order Mormons, or whathaveyou.) Some people’s identities seem to be deeply entwined with the things that make them angry. The concern isn’t only that it causes us to be unloving and augments our various enmities, but also that it has a blinding ray, keeping us from first seeing clearly then thwarting our ability to learn, fixing us spiritually in place. Damning us in little personal hells.

    Here’s a question. God is love, but does that mean God never gets angry? Cannot be terrible? It seems to me that the main reason to not be angry isn’t that anger can’t be godly but that we have a nearly insurmountable limitation in knowing when we might be so. Hence we shall not judge, neither shall we smite __for vengence is the Lord’s and He will repay._

    ~

  8. Margaret,

    I love what President Uchtdorf said in his message in the Ensign last month: it is easy to understand theoretically what we should do- follow Jesus, be loving, forgiving, etc.- but the true test of our discipleship doesn’t come while sitting in Church talking about these things. The true test is how we actually live, and particularly when something difficult happens. Anyway, that is my paraphrased version of one of the ideas I took away from that message.

    I think it comes through experience. Little by little we eventually learn that we are able to choose our response rather than just responding with our natural man instincts.

  9. Interesting food for thought.

    It reminds me of when the San Antonio Temple opened and the protesters were here and members would take them drinks because it was hot, and lots of them were just doing it because they were being paid to protest, and some hadn’t even read the pamphlets they were handing out, but still, the temptation is there to think of them as monsters.

    Oh, and this is the second time I’ve seen you mention the Procrustean Bed. Is it bad that I only know what that is because of Rick Riordan?

  10. Great talk by Elder Hales. Sadly, our history is full of self-made avenging angels. Even past rituals and former lyrics (such as “Praise to the Man” in its original spoke of vengeance more than than peace. I think that kind of tribalism is natural–and deadly. President Kimball nailed it in “The False Gods We Worship”: “We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel — ships, planes, missiles, fortifications — and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become antienemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching:
    “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”

  11. Martin Willey says:

    I think God gets angry. But God always acts out of love and the best interest of his children. I do not think there is anything wrong, really, with feeling angry, if our actions are motivated by love. The problem, of course is, is being motivated by love when you are feeling angry. Maybe that is a characteristic og Godliness?

  12. Thomas Parkin says:

    Martin,

    I think that’s exactly right. It is possible to feel anger and be acting out of love simultaneously. Let’s just make sure we aren’t fooling ourselves. We rarely, if ever, do this. :)

    ~

  13. Martin Willey says:

    Agreed.

  14. Matt W: Is it bad that I don’t know who Rick Riordan is?

    Jim: President Uchtdorf is an example of a truly loving man, isn’t he. He radiates it. I cannot imagine him getting angry. He smiles so much, his mouth seems to naturally go there. I don’t know that it would accommodate a frown. Heartbreak–sure. But not anger.

    Thomas P: Beautifully said. I have to confess, I don’t buy into the angry God image. I just don’t. Yes, I’m aware of its repetition throughout the scriptures, but I just don’t buy it. As a parent, I feel that any angry interaction with my children has been ungodly. Perhaps it’s just that intuition which tells me I must yield to love, and that God is not to be feared as one would fear a school marm wielding a paddle, but honored. I have deep concern for young people who believe that God is angry with them and that they are somehow unworthy of even approaching Him. I see God as a loving Father, even when a child has run away.

  15. I didn’t mean to sound so disconnected from the topic. I too have made grave errors in expressing outrage. I think we all too often are caught in our own pride, a globe of our own smoke and mirrors. It looks like what we read about, thought about, and talked about with others, and yet we always exaggerate actualities, the truth, of any given event.

    I personally feel so badly for those, including myself, that have impeded the work of the Lord because we are just so reactionary. I think there were many positive reactions and relationships formed through saints involvement in the Proposition 8 campaign, such as Martin Perkins with many of his peers. But again, there also have been a lot outrages that will take years to heal, as we sometimes, wait… most of the time, speak out of fury instead of the whispers of the Holy Ghost.

  16. Margaret, he’s the best thing since J.K. Rowling, IMO.

  17. Thomas Parkin says:

    Margaret,

    Yeah. We will have to disagree on that, at least a little bit. I still think you’re really keen. And, in fact, if we are going to make a mistake I think we are way way way better off making a mistake in your direction.

    I think God is whole and complete,- Holy,- and I think that means He has a full repertoire of correct behaviors at His disposal; that he experiences the full range of what we call human passions, but that with Him they are always in place, in proportion, in harmony with what is best, etc.

    I also would say that when under the influence of the Spirit, my anger is always muted, transformed, not inflamed.

    ~

  18. Another thought:

    Think of all the horrible things our Father in Heaven has heard in prayer from His children. I’ve cursed God before. In the midst of freezing to death in the darkness of Utah Lake’s shoreline, I had a mental meltdown and had found myself there because my mind and heart couldn’t handle mortality very well, I wanted to be alone. So I knelt down there, in the night, and cursed God for giving me something I couldn’t grasp or comprehend, it hurt me more than it hurt Him, and guess what? He didn’t answer, not at that point. But as I left the lake, fearing I might freeze, I made my way down Center St. and walk along the overpass of the traintracks there. I thought of jumping, one last impression from Lucifer that life is easier that way, but God whispered to me, “Don’t jump off this overpass Tod.” And I didn’t, I wandered back home to my fiance and now I’ve been happily married for 5 months.

    So I think, in response to Margaret’s comments, God doesn’t take offense like a mortal does. Anger is too limited a word in it’s imperfect lexicon, to describe God’s feelings.

  19. Martin Willey says:

    Margaret and Thomas: Along the lines of your discussion, I think that an angry interaction might not appear so if it is truly motivated by love. Maybe it seems direct, firm or something like that. In any event, I agree with Thomas that mortals can almost never pull it off – – probably better to act after the feelings of anger or outrage have subsided.

  20. Eric Russell says:

    Thomas and Martin, I disagree. I don’t believe there’s any such thing as purely altruistic anger. All anger is motivated in some part by pride and selfishness. The trick, as I noted above, is that frequently we assume that because our pride is on behalf of others, that it is love. It’s not. It’s just proxy pride.

    I’d be interested in a description and analysis of altruistic anger. I think that once we began to look at the situation in any depth, the facade of altruistic anger would be quickly exposed.

    Let’s just make sure we aren’t fooling ourselves.

    This, I think, is exactly the problem.

  21. PS: I didn’t give a very complete story of my situation, so the “now I’ve been happily married” part might sound a little bit disjointed! Ha. Hope my experience connects with someone though.

  22. Martin Willey says:

    Eric: Every situation I can imagine involves one of my children doing something that I think will cause them harm. I might feel anger that they are making a choice that they know they should not and that will bring them injury or sadness. I can feeling anger that they would act this way.

    Of course, in this situation, I might also feel anger that they have disobeyed, or anger that they have caused me distress. That may not be righteous anger, but I think it can, theoretically, be separated out. Theoretically.

  23. Martin Willey says:

    Third sentence should read “I can imagine feeling anger . . .”

  24. Tod–you experience is poignant. Thank you for sharing it.

    Eric–you disagree so amicably. And I love the term “proxy pride.”

    Thanks for some thought-provoking ideas, all. I’m headed to the gym, where I will drug my body with endorphins. That is one way I avoid being outraged. Like Elle says in _Legally Blonde_: “Happy people don’t commit murder.”

  25. Oooh, wait. I have to respond to Martin W:
    I believe that I am far too angry with my children. I am trying to transmute anger into mere firmness. Because my husband is extremely gentle, I have likely over-compensated. But it has not been good. I have rather recent experience with a “disobedient” child. I was furious with her, and knew I shouldn’t even try to articulate my fury because it would sever our bond. I finally created a gift for her–a collection of poetry, scriptures and art which I had chosen specifically for her. I added words of love. I never indicated that I approved of her choices, just that I love her and will never stop believing in her. I wish I had always communicated to my children how strongly I believe in them and their futures. That child is doing well right now, btw, and our bond remains intact.

  26. Adam Greenwood says:

    You sound outraged about outrage. Those folks who are upset about the protesters swarming down the temple–are you loving and embracing the, or are you denouncing them on the internet?

  27. Thomas Parkin says:

    Eric,

    I think there is tension here between our nature, God’s nature, and the fact that we are to try to be like God. The scriptures refer frequently to God’s wrath, even vengeance. It isn’t an isolated idea. I don’t think you can wish those away. At the same time, the scriptures admonish us to eliminate wrath or anger from our personalities, often together with lists that include things like malice and filth. And I think it’s in James where it says that “the wrath of man” cannot work God’s righteousness.

    I’m open to the idea that the “wrath of God” does not resemble ‘the wrath of man.” I’m less open to the idea that the ‘wrath of God’ has no significant association with ‘wrath’, due to the the frequency and intensity in the scriptures. I think it is also pride to imagine that God must conform to our sensibilities.

    Cool.

    ~

  28. Martin Willey says:

    Margaret: Thanks for a great example. I am too angry with my children, too. I hope my comment was not interpreted to be anything other than hypothetical. By far, the safest default position is to avoid expressing anger.

  29. Adam, I can’t speak for Margaret, but I’ll denounce the protestors swarming the Temple. I can love them and embrace them, while still viewing their demonstration as a cause of great sadness and sacrilege.

  30. Quick answer from SoCal during a late lunch — Not to worry: the local Saints have almost universally comported ourselves as the commenters above would hope.
    .
    This email that came across one of the local LDS mailing lists at 7:51 this morning shows the general tone of the members here (yes, it came as a single paragraph).
    .
    As additional information for those who missed the news, I was at the temple assisting in the security efforts and it was quite an experience. Our temple is safe and no damage was done on the grounds. It was a site I never expected to see. At one point we had let in about 20 police vehicles through the gates because they were afraid their vehicles would be damaged as civilian cars were being vandalized. I removed the Utah plates from my truck just so I could drive through the mess and park blocks away. Two full squads of LAPD in riot gear set up their base inside the temple grounds while SWAT vehicles and hundreds of officers followed the crowds run up Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevards. I’ve heard that the crowd was estimated to be over 2,500. The officers inside the temple grounds made a line on the front lawn by the fence. At one point, with 7 news and police helicopters overhead, the crowd began to climb the fence and it looked like there was going to be a lot of trouble. We had it seemed a good forth of a Polynesian ward there so it could have gotten very interesting very fast. While I was there, I was not aware of anyone actually breaching the fence, but we were asked to move far across the parking lot as they were anticipating the need to shoot tear gas canisters. I never thought I would see the day when police officers would sit perched on the spire of our temple as lookouts. All of this happened at about 7:30pm. It should be remembered that most likely many of the law enforcement were not in favor of our stance on Proposition 8, but nevertheless, the men and women were there doing their duty and protecting our property. For that we are grateful. And yes, there was an incident with some of our members who had gone to remove the protest signs from the front fence. One of the protesters did initiate physical contact with one of our sisters so the details are uncertain as to whether the response was fully justified. The lesson to be learned is that it’s important to anticipate and avoid such confrontational situations. Remember the world is watching our reaction and the media is everywhere. In the end, when we keep our cool, the video footage speaks the truth regarding which side is really intollerant and appears hateful when we simply do not respond or do so in a loving and controlled manner. I can testify that I felt the presence of others protecting the temple..those we could not physically see there tonight. We are protected and our Father in Heaven is mindful of our efforts and willingness to withstand persecution. As far as the temple being open or not, I do not have any official word. The decision to close it today came from Church headquarters in the afternoon and I imagine they will have to evaluate the situation day to day. Since protesting has ocurred the past 2 days, I imagine in will happen again tomorrow and as long as people can keep it up without losing their day jobs.
    .
    How soon will we update our own L-word from “Latter” to “Last”?

  31. Eric Russell says:

    Martin, I definitely agree that they can be separated out. Not all anger is equal and the latter forms of anger you refer to are indeed much baser.

    Thomas, I dismiss scriptural references to God’s anger. The scriptures also refer frequently to God’s jealousy and I think jealousy is even more obviously a manifestation of pride. I think much of the scriptures are simply speaking in terms that all people will understand. If the literal God of the scriptures is accurate, then we worship an awfully immature God.

  32. Adam Greenwood says:

    Steve Evans,
    I denounce your misreading of my comment. And while I love you, I do not embrace you, not skin-to-skin anyway.

  33. Thomas Parkin says:

    Eric,

    Disagree. Good on you, mah brutha.

    ~

  34. Margaret, I love the quote from President Kimball in comment #10, and I love this post. I agree that anger always has its roots in pride, and I remind myself of that when I feel “outraged” about something. Our culture celebrates outrage, anger, even rage as a manifestation of righteousness. The danger in this should be obvious, but those who yell slurs at gays or hold signs that say “Mormons go to Hell” are sure that their actions are entirely justified.

  35. Adam Greenwood says:

    “Anger always has its roots in pride.”

    The Father and the Son anger. Perhaps you should emend this to say ‘mortal anger’ or something.

  36. Most mormons did nothing to deserve the cruel protesters. Our ancestors did not deserve to be kicked out of Nauvoo or Missori at gun point because they might have acted holier than though either.

    Maybe you can point to a few examples of someone saying some inflammatory about a certain lifestyle.

    But the zeal and hatred on the other side compared to groups of people going 2 by 2 and respectfully knocking on doors and trying to inform people about an issue, or comparing the rabid protectors to people donating money or turning up to vote, or having the AUDACITY (those evil relgionists!) to hold up a sign that says something so EVIL as “Protect Marriage” or “Yes on 8″ is just beyond me.

    One one side we have perfectly civil actions and on the other we have ravenous lunatic mobs.

    And it appears as if you are playing a game of moral equivilance because maybe a handful of mormons have 0% tact and stick their foot in their mouths from time to time.

  37. And to go even further I have no doubt that if the year were different, the mobs we are seeing on the TV today would be just like the mobs that drove families out of their homes. It’s pretty scary actually.

    I’m seriously wondering if all we’ll end up suffering is some bricks being thrown through a few church windows or worse.

    Or perhaps we’ll just have mobs of people hurling epithets at our children as we walk them into the buildings on Sunday…

  38. sam, nobody’s saying that we deserve it. You’re not really reading Margaret’s post.

  39. I loved this post, and I really needed to hear it.

    Thank you!

    And –FYI– I got this today from my husband:

    Summary
    Thousands of activists will rally and march in cities across California and Utah to protest the passage of Proposition 8, California’s statewide ban on same-sex marriage. Rallies and marches are planned at the following locations:

    Nov. 7
    San Francisco: March will depart at 1730 from Civic Center, proceed down Market Street and end at Delores Park
    Long Beach: March will depart at 1845 from Redondo Avenue and proceed to Alamitos Avenue
    Santa Barbara: Rally at 1700 in De La Guerra Plaza
    San Diego: March will depart at 2100 from intersection of Laurel and Sixth avenues and proceed to City Hall
    Salt Lake City, Utah: Rally at 1800 at intersection of North Temple and State streets
    Nov. 8
    San Diego: March will depart at 1200 from intersection of 1st and University avenues and proceed to 30th Street in North Park
    Laguna Beach: March will depart at 1730 from City Hall and proceed to Main Beach
    Los Angeles: Rally at 1800 at corner of Sunset and Santa Monica boulevards
    Nov. 9
    Sacramento: Rally at 1300 at Capitol West
    Most events will probably remain peaceful but localized travel and business disruptions are likely in surrounding areas.

    Background and Analysis
    Los Angeles and other Californian cities have seen protests periodically erupt since voters narrowly passed the same-sex marriage ban on Nov. 4. The “No on 8″ advocates conceded the vote on Nov. 5 and are now organizing a fight to overturn the proposition; future protests and court challenges are likely. At least 2,000 activists rallied outside of the Mormon temple in Westwood, Los Angeles, late Nov. 5 over accusations that the church funded proponents of the ban. Future protests outside of churches are likely due to the perception that many religious institutions favor the ban. Although minor skirmishes have erupted at past events between pro- and anti-Proposition 8 activists, most demonstrations have remained largely peaceful.

    Advice
    Use caution around rally sites. Allow additional time for travel in areas around the march and rally sites.

  40. I just second Elder Hales’ talk. It will be the one I will likely read and re-read the most. That and Pres. Uchtdorf on hope.

    These are hard times.

  41. Eric Russell says:

    I also think this post is a good response, in a way, to this post, even though that post did spawn one of the all-time greatest threads at BCC.

  42. I read on my own site about the protesting and then come over here and find this post by you, Margaret.

    I wish dearly I was out there mingling as a “street preacher” among the protesters.

  43. LOL, Eric — AWESOME. I’d forgotten about that thread. Arturo, if ever we needed you it is now!

  44. Thank you, Margaret, for another thoughtful post. It is hard for people who are speaking and acting out of outrage to see that they are merely the mirror image of those they oppose and condemn the most vociferously. Our task, I believe, is to recognize that reflection and avoid it at all costs.

    I posted this general idea elsewhere, but I believe the antidote to outrage is outlined in Matthew 5:43-47 and 1 John 4:19. First loving those who revile us is the only way I know to bring peace to contentious situations. Outrage and anger simply don’t fit those verses, imo.

  45. Todd Wood, you are a brave man.

  46. #38 “sam, nobody’s saying that we deserve it. You’re not really reading Margaret’s post.”

    Of course we deserve it. We gave at least 20 million dollars (about half the total) to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign. We fought well, fought hard, and brought the measure from well behind in the polls to victory. The Yes on Prop 8 campaign (like the No on Prop 8 campaign, and indeed virtually all political campaigns) sometimes fought a little dirty. There were manipulative ads, worst case scenarios presented as settled facts, nuances and more reassuring evidence withheld. That’s just the nature of effective political advertising. But we funded this. And we brought to pass a measure that calls 18,000 gay marriages into question.

    And now if we’re going to be “shocked” or “indignant” or “offended” when a few thousand overly rowdy protesters march around our temple with “Mormons go to Hell” signs, then we have no business fighting in the political sphere. If an organization successfully lobbied to overturn your marriage, wouldn’t you smash a car or two?

    And I do hope we were there with root beer, green jello, free pizza. (They might jeer and throw it back at us… but then again, who turns down free pizza?) Our church had every right to fight this battle. The protesters have every right to be furious with us. And we now have a duty to be as gracious, conciliatory, understanding, and sympathetic as we can.

  47. Of course I can be angry and outraged, and also love. Anger and outrage are nouns. Love is both a noun and a verb.

    I am angry, outraged, about the Church’s participation in withdrawing the right to marry from certain people. I love those who voted “yes” on Proposition 8.

    I am angry, outraged, about the fact that my daughter and my wife are not permitted to administer the ordinances. I love those who step in front and do for them.

    I am angry, outraged, that the doors of the temple are held close, to enforce a test of loyalty and orthodoxy, rather than opened as wide as possible to welcome all who would come. I love those who judge and those who attend. And those who do not, by choice or by chance.

    Out of love I chose to give money to “No on 8.” Out of love I choose not to participate in public ordinances. Out of love I choose not to enter the temple. Out of love I choose to be silent, most of the time, in most places, that my anger will not distort and hurt by the words I might speak.

    (And yes I may be damned for my choices. But that is between God and me, and I am really trying to work that relationship right.)

    Loving while angry is the hard daily work of anyone who would follow Christ. Not feeling anger is denial or death.

  48. E, I am not very brave.

    But then I look at Jesus Christ. I am hunkered down in a five chapter study of his last night before he faces the angry mobs and is killed.

    Just the introduction of John 13 smites me in my lack of love.

    Why is he girding himself like a slave? And why would he wash the feet of Judas?

    Complete, sacrificial humiliation.

    The Teacher for all to hear and believe. The Lord for all to bow their knee and obey. It is this unique One who washes the lowest part of creatures, even the man who allows the angry hate of the devil to consume his mind.

    God is love.

    And perfect love casteth out fear.

  49. Todd, what a beautiful response. Thank you for posting it.

  50. #39 – Last sunday local bishops and stake presidents in California were advised to be alert for possible demonstrations to interrupt Sunday Services.

    The advisory will be more timely for this Sunday.

    Meanwhile – now is the time for Christians everywhere “to turn the other cheek” and exercise patience while others vent their outrage.

  51. “Not feeling anger is denial or death.”

    or victory in Christ. It can be both.

  52. I have no problem with people feeling anger as much as they need to. I’ve taught anger-management as part of a domestic violence perpetrator treatment program, and I’ve worked in the human services field with children in foster care, residential treatment and group homes, so I’ve seen quite a lot of anger (not to mention 14 years in retail). People can feel angry all day long and I don’t have a complaint.

    Until they try to justify bad behavior with that anger, and then we have a problem quite quickly. Anger is a feeling. Abuse, violence, rudeness, etc. are all choices, and there are other things which can be chosen instead.

    Being angry all day, however, is also a choice I don’t recommend. Rather, I suggest identifying the feeling that’s being converted into anger — usually fear, frustration or hurt — and then dealing with that feeling and where it’s coming from.

    And I find that most righteous indignation isn’t.

    So I don’t wag my finger at you for getting upset. Not at all.

  53. Margaret, I think if we look inside ourselves, we will realize that much of the time the outrage we feel is due to our feeling RIGHT and the other person is WRONG. And this is, of course, caused by pride, which as we all know is never a good thing. So, avoiding outrage is, it seems, a good goal.

    I have seen many posts referring to “pro Prop. 8 posts that sunk to gay-bashing.” You probably would see such posts on the National Socialist site linked in the sideblog. But in the Bloggernacle, I simply have never seen such posts but yet I keep on hearing people refer to them as if they happened all the time. In the absence of examples, I have to assume that either 1)there never were such posts 2)they were posts supporting the Church’s position on Prop. 8 but which you and other choose to see as “gay-bashing” posts for unknown reasons (perhaps a desire to develop outrage that somebody disagrees with you?) or 3)there were occasional comments that you may have found offensive but the posts themselves were not “gay-bashing” posts.

    I really wish we could get away from the hyperbole that “there were so many gay bashing pro-Prop. 8 posts.” It doesn’t make anybody look good, and it helps increase outrage rather than decrease it.

  54. I feel outrage as an initial reaction to an outrageous situtation–like Texas raiding the FLDS compound or 9/11. But it passes quickly into sorrow. Sorrow that we continue to choose to hurt each other, that for whatever the reason, we refuse to listen, to be charitable enough to imagine another’s point of view to be as reasonable or valid a our own.

  55. Yesterday, I came across this display of “outrage” at the LA Temple.

  56. david knowlton says:

    The L A Times, this morning, has an excellent commentary from a Black Lesbian on why the activists for Prop 8 disconnected with Black Californians. To be succinct, it points out that the lack of White Gay outrage at the social situation of Black Americans discredits their claims to the civil rights banner. It also argues that civil rights was born in the Church among blacks and a movement that seems opposed to religion is a non-starter in that community. It is very interesting in that the author, Jasmyne A. Cannick, is arguing for White Gay activists to come down from thei heights of White privilege and get involved in the African American community and its struggles at ground zero, the ghetto. I think this is a very important issue.

    The op ed pieces can be found here: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-cannick8-2008nov08,0,3669070.story

  57. “I think if we look inside ourselves, we will realize that much of the time the outrage we feel is due to our feeling RIGHT and the other person is WRONG.”

    Yes, but sometimes we really are right, and the other really is wrong, and not just wrong but evil. If righteous people are never angry, the wicked will rule, and we will discover to our sorrow that the peace we purchased at the very dear price of our integrity was false.

  58. If righteous people are never angry, the wicked will rule.

    Kristine, standing up for our beliefs does not require anger – and it is not anger that will keep the wicked from ruling. I don’t read the Sermon on the Mount and think, “Yeah, I need to be more angry.” I definitely don’t get, “I really need to act in anger more.”

    Also, there is nothing (NOTHING) in the Church’s statements that called support of Prop 8 evil. If the Church itself is unwilling to imply that those who disagree with its stance are evil, I certainly am not going to go there.

  59. Eric Russell says:

    If righteous people are never angry, the wicked will rule

    Not at all, Kristine. The opposite of anger is not apathy. One can see something wrong, be concerned by it, and be motivated to act on it – all without anger. Anger does not produce any good that love cannot also produce.

  60. I’m going to read every one of these responses, because this is an issue I have struggles with myself all my life. Is anger always wrong? When is anger actually righteous wrath?

    I was physically and verbally abused from babyhood until age 36 by an older brother. I was abused in high school from age 14 to 16. At age 16 something snapped and I fought back with unskilled demonic fervor. I don’t think I won the fight that day but I won the battle. They never bothered me again. It took another 20 years for me to apply this lesson to my older brother. After 36 years of enduring his abuse, trying to keep the peace, loving him, being kind to him, I had enough and fought back with vicious intensity. As has happened with the bullies in school, my brother has never touched me again since then. I wish I had done it right away. Life would have been so much better for both me AND for my abusers if they learned that lesson instantly, instead of falling into this pattern for decades.

    Now I counsel children who are being abused either at home or in school, either by family members or others, NOT to go to the authorities, NOT to be obedient gentle and proper. The authorities can’t and won’t protect them. I counsel them to feel deep anger and outrage, and to fight back with intensity. Bullies and abusers don’t relish tormenting people who fight back. They look for easy pickings. They want vulnerable prey, not empowered, angry, determined opponents.

    So which way is right? Christ’s way or mine? Of course Christ is correct. But what if you’re not as strong as Christ? What if you’re weak and small and those who are supposed to protect you are the ones hurting you?

    Righteous anger is real and true. I have a testimony of it. It works some mighty miracles in this world. It is transcendent and powerful, and it is godly.

  61. Tatiana, despite my comments about the ideal for which we should strive, I appreciate and agree that there is a place for “righteous anger”. In the cases you describe, I can’t argue, which is why I have said that there is a time and place for grief and anger and outrage. However, I believe that window of appropriateness passes much more quickly than most people realize in their immediate anger – and that it is incredibly important to move to a more comprehensive foundation of love as quickly as possible. I believe the consequences of not doing so can be catastrophic.

    If anyone cares, I tried to address the central issue for me late last night, after reading multiple posts on the issue over the last weeks:

    Proposition 8 and the Presidency: A Week of Reviling

  62. One caveat, Tatiana: I believe I learned to be angry as I defended myself against an abusive spouse in my first marriage. I recall little of anger in my life before then. I can identify an exact moment when my efforts to make the marriage work yielded to an outpouring of rage–and maybe I needed that anger to get myself and my daughter out of the dangerous bond. I would hate to imagine myself still in that situation. It frightens me to think of who I might be today had I stayed. Nonetheless, that learned anger became something I developed more than tamed. I am not an angry person in general, but I am capable of great anger, and I do have to tame it. And for me, forgiving that ex-spouse was absolutely essential to my progress.

  63. I apologize that my comments were something of a threadjack, because we may be talking about entirely different forms of anger. But I think to the people involved in the heat of the moment, their anger always does feel righteous. So I struggle to identify the characteristic that will let me distinguish between righteous and unrighteous wrath.

    Abuse that starts at a very young age makes it difficult for the abused to form a sense of self. Generally the abused identify with their abusers, and love them. They join in despising themselves and they feel as though they deserve it. It often is a long difficult journey to the point where the abused can even begin to feel wrath.

    Margaret, it’s true that the learned anger is then applied to different situations, perhaps not all of them appropriate. I’ve always been willing to step in and stop situations of abuse going on around me. I think this is a good thing, as I recall with dismay how many adults knew what was going on with me and did nothing to help. Yet I’ve also had the experience of feeling ashamed or chagrined at some things I’ve said or done in anger.

    But there’s still the fact that 3 decades of Christlike love didn’t change anything, was of absolutely no help in the situation. One well placed kick did wonders.

  64. Thomas Parkin says:

    “But I think to the people involved in the heat of the moment, their anger always does feel righteous. So I struggle to identify the characteristic that will let me distinguish between righteous and unrighteous wrath.”

    Aye. I get this. I think it’s so good that you are reflective about it, and don’t just assume that the anger justifies whatever the anger directs.

    I personally come from a very loving family. We were certainly unusual, in many ways, but there was never any question that we were loved and valued. But there is something about me. One of my very best friends once told me that if I were put in a room with any hundred random women, I would go just like a magnet to the one with the most problems. That’s an exaggeration, I’m sure. But it’s true enough – and it means that most of the women I’ve been close to outside my family have come from abusive families. I don’t know that even all that has given me any special insight. It means that I’ve been hurt myself, and that my intimate relationships have sometimes been a kind of minefield. And I’ve been very angry at the perpetrators of that abuse, as I’ve seen the impact of it on these people I’ve loved, and, selfishly, but connection on my own life. (I don’t mean to make it sound like I’m the normal saintly one. I’ve brought plenty of my own baggage into every situation I’ve lived.) Certainly, if child abuse doesn’t justify righteous anger, nothing does.

    Something has happened to me as I’ve gotten older, though. I still see these things as worthy or wrath. But they are also pathetic, pitiable, and the products of histories that no one person can be held completely responsible for. They don’t call it the vail of tears for nothing. And I find that though I always want to help I’m of no help whatsoever unless I personally find some peace.

    Anyway, blah blah blah.

    Seems like you’re doing pretty well, Tatiana. Whatever is working, keep it up. :)

    ~

  65. Ray, you misread me–I didn’t say anything about which side was right and which was wrong in the particular case of Prop. 8.

  66. Got it, Kristine. I just went back and re-read your comment, substituting the generic rather than specific “we” – and I think I can see what you meant.

  67. daveonline says:

    I have a jumble of responses to this opening of a complex issue. Freud identified the two major issues of our personality as those of sex and anger. It seems that efforts to repress and/or express these two aspects of the divine nature in a fallen world make for great therapy as well as great comedy and tragedy. While there are unhealthy expressions of sex and anger, they are also divine attributes that for me, need stretching, humility and growth to properly integrate into my life. They are not milk, but are the meat of the gospel.
    My question has less to do with the internal balancing of courage with restraint of my anger and more to what I express or encourage from others when they express anger. Should I be adopting or arguing for a “celibate lifestyle” towards anger for others as well as for myself? I think there is no easy answer here.
    I have had Margaret’s experience of hurting others (and myself) through anger. I also appreciated Tatiana’s comments as resonating with my own very mild experience with bullying as a young teen where the minute I squared up to engage in a fight brought respect and the end of the bullying behavior towards me.
    There are aspects of church culture that I have complied with that encourage repression of anger so that the divine value behind it gets confused with a shaming of it even existing at all. I can react and blame someone else for bringing a contentious spirit when it was my own fatigue, narrow mindedness or pride that was not able to hear someone who lacked the skill to say clearly what they truly felt as well as feel undue shame for what is also a pretty comman human reaction. Contention requires two willing parties (as the saying goes, “It takes two to tango”). While I agree that “God’s ways are not my ways”, I am also a student trying to study God’s nature in order to better emulate him in my life and actions. Thus, I am aware that for me, an even greater discipline of character is the attitude I carry towards the expression by others of their anger.

    While I suspect most accept the holy potential/aspect of sex, I see less appreciation of that for anger. Perhaps I distinguish (as with sex) that while the expression towards other as an object is evil, its appropriate expression should be one that leads to awe, humility and respect. Anger that defines and defends boundaries and core values is an intimate expression of who we are. I still treasure a moment of 15 years ago, where in a moment of anger, my spouse expressed her frustrations with me. There was no intent on her part to harm me or blame me. I had been ignoring her and I realized I was hearing a very intimate expression of who she was expressed in a very heated manner. I was not threatened or afraid, but humbled to see her core values shared with me.
    Lastly, this issue of anger also moves into how conflict is valued and/or avoided. I love to avoid conflict, yet appreciate that most of the worthwhile efforts and growth of my life have only occurred because of it. I respect it, but do not like it.

  68. Adam Greenwood says:

    You are not adequately outraged.

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