Archive for January 2008

christians aren’t angry enough

January 20, 2008

If there’s one thing that’s worse than the wrong kind of emotion it’s no emotion at all. How often do we watch the news or read the paper and feel nothing? We intellectually acknowledge the tragedy but we refuse to enter into the struggle.

I have spent my growing up years believing that to be christian means to find a way to get rid of dark emotions and replace them with positive ones. if someone wrongs you, turn the other cheek… love, have the joy and peace of Christ… But let me tell you about two of my favourite memories:

1) when i was 9 i was innocent as children should be. There was a boy in my class (who was a lot more ‘street wise’ and known as the school bully) who persistently relayed to me that he wanted me to be his girlfriend. I persistently relayed to him that i wanted no such thing! One day after school i was waiting at the gates for my mother to pick me up, she was running late as was his mother. As we waited he came and grabbed me by the throat and pushed me against the wall and called me a long list of degrading names (many of which i didn’t know what they meant!). As he ran off i stared to cry. My mother was shocked to find me getting into the car with tears running down my face. On the journey home as i told her what had happened she got angry, REALLY angry. Usually my mothers’ anger was a signal to flee, but not this time… this time her anger was safe and warm and strong. She was angry at the way her daughter had been hurt. Her anger told me, “it’s not ok what just happened to you”. Her anger told me “i’m sorry”. Her anger was for me.

2) when i was a student i along with my family had been treated very poorly by a Church leader. As i talked to a friend about it he listened intently then he sat back in his chair and with tears rising in his eyes he said “bastard!”. I laughed with shock, i think he shocked himself too, but although his response was not necessarily the right one, something about it brought great healing to me. His honest response was similar to that i felt from my mother all those years before – again his anger said “this is not ok”, his anger was one that wanted to protect me from hurt and wounds. He was willing to be honest about the injustice and betrayal of the situation and in so doing he allowed me to enter into the same honest struggle.

I tell these stories to illustrate a point. An absence of anger in the face of injustice is inhumane. If my mother had felt nothing i would have been far more deeply betrayed and wounded. BUT it doesn’t stop there! IF our anger leads us only to retribution then we are missing out on its redemptive power and allowing greater damage to be done.

In order to truly hate evil we must hate the evil for the perpetrator as well as the victim. I must be able to feel sorrow at the damage done to those who DO wrong as well as for those to whom wrong is done.

We need to become more angry. We need to become so angry that we move toward desire and hope for reconciliation and healing where evil will lose all power. We need to hate evil so much that we desire more for those who have wronged us, we need to hate it so much that we are willing to be used by God in calling that person into more of who they were created to be. only here will evil truly be destroyed. We will not become such an instrument of redemption unless we are willing to enter honestly into the struggle of pain and injustice in our world and acknowledge the full consequence of harm. It is a bloodier battle than the cycle of revenge, but it is a taste of heaven to see darkness swallowed up in life.

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‘a wild & marvellous joke’

January 11, 2008

“Is it possible, I wonder, to say that it is only when you hear the gospel as a wild and marvellous joke that you really hear it at all?” (Fredrick Buechner)

The other day I was standing looking out at the sea in the freezing cold, the noise of it was so loud that I felt silent. As I breathed it in I couldn’t help but think about the sheer vastness of God, his splendour, his majesty… I had been in one of those contemplative moods, where I felt very aware of my own heart, my capacity to make the wrong choices, to sell out to mediocre desires rather than really long for life, my capacity to hate rather than love.   But as I stood there, I was reminded that God (in all his glory) literally reaches down to me with a kiss (I hope this isn’t irreverent but you know what I mean!).  That this God would get his hands dirty with an unfaithful lover like me – this for me is a glimpse of the comedy of the gospel that Buechner speaks of. And more than that, the most wild and marvellous joke is that he never gives up on me, and that with him at work in me I will become like him.     

waiting for a plane

January 8, 2008

woman at the airport desk: “do you have anything sharp or liquid in your lugage?”

me & rach: NO

me (in a whisper): Rach i’ve got shampoo am i allowed?

Rach (in a booming voice): ack i’ve got LOADS of liquids in my bag dont worry!

woman at desk: silence (pretending she didn’t hear so that she can go on her lunch asap)