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Truth and Anger

October 14, 2009 Leave a comment

I’m currently reading a thoughtfully provocative book.  There is so much in the book I find so interesting that I’m finding it difficult narrowing down any coherent thoughts.  Having said that, I found this quote to be particularly interesting.

Anger has always marked the religious establishment.  This is why so many Christian leaders historically have justified such things as the stifling of debate with ex cathedra pronouncements, the persecutions of dissenters, the excommunication of nonconformists, the execution of heretics, and the engagement in religious wars.  This is also why anger is just beneath the surface of organized religion in almost every one of its Western manifestations… Anger lies underneath the glee expressed by the preachers of Christian history when they assign unbelievers to hell.  Anger is the reason why many religious people act as if they will not enjoy the bliss of heaven if they are not simultaneously allowed to view those not so fortunate writhing before their eyes in the fires of hell.  Anger is the reason why the Church throughout its history kept writing creed after creed to clarify just who is in and who is out of this religious enterprise so that religious people who know who their enemies were and could act appropriately against them.

I find this particularly interesting because we can deny and justify anger all day long, but if we are to be people who honestly look in the mirror and see an accurate reflection of ourselves, we’ve got to realize this is so very true for many of us.  And not just the issue of anger that is boiling beneath the surface, but the deeper rooted problems it brings to the surface.

One of those issues being that anger seems more often than not to be the engine for our pride in which we claim to be right, holding onto absolute truth, yet refusing to allow that truth to hold it’s own in the public arena.  Yet when questions are raised concerning those things we have barricaded in as untouchables, we get defensive and often hostile.  And as much as I really dislike Freud, I agree with him when he said, “Real truth, does not need to be surrounded by such impenetrable barriers.  Truth in its objective form can win in debate in the public arena.”

Now, I’m not going to identify any of those truths, I’ll leave that up to you to decide.  But, I will offer this clue.  The truths most in need of discussion in the public debate are probably those that we religious folks hold onto most tightly.  Hold that thought up against the previous arguments about anger, and we start to see the relationship between the two.

My concluding thought then continues as follows: why do we insist on reacting to the changes and challenges of our world via an angry, hostile defensive posture?   Why must we claim absolute knowledge in certain subjects yet refuse to allow them to be brought into public discussion.  Why has the history of organized religion been based primarily on anger, fear and hostility to “get people to think like us?”

I’m not sure if I’m okay with that.  There seems to be a rather large chasm between our lifestyle and Jesus’.  Just something to think about.

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