My Google reader is giving generously this morning and I want to share a little of the bounty. I am, once again, jealous of Simcha Fisher’s writing. Only this time she’s not being funny – which is what usually makes me envy her. She’s quite serious and, I think, makes a good point. What do we do with imperfect heroes? Can we acknowledge their accomplishments while recognizing them as people of their time? The argument she makes for Washington and Pope John Paul II brings a lot of my own heroes to mind – Wesley, Luther, Chesterton, O’Connor, even (dare I say it?) my beloved St. Paul. The ruthless idealist in me has trouble reconciling greatness with blind spots. Because, of course, I don’t have any. KIDDING!
Roger Ebert’s blog contains a fascinating letter from Walter Murch, highly respected film editor and sound designer, on why 3D is not worth the fuss. I’d like to tell you I completely understand what he’s saying but that would be a lie. It does, however, make me feel justified in my distaste for the 3D craze. And having my prejudices confirmed gives me a warm feeling on a cold morning. Okay, I’m sort of kidding about that, too. Don’t let my lazy bias stop you from considering what Murch has to say.
Finally, and all kidding aside, the Internet Monk has a post up on anger that is very challenging. Sometimes what I really need on a cold Monday morning is a smack in the head, and this post provides it. There are sins we struggle against and then there are sins that we treat like pets, and I think for many Christians anger falls into the second category. We feel entitled to to anger in ourselves, even if we condemn it in others. Chaplain Mike quotes Dallas Willard on the frequent connection between anger and contempt and, dear God, don’t let me feel justified in having contempt for another human being! Putting away anger and contempt is necessary to having a Kingdom heart. I find this passage from the post particularly powerful in that I’ve seen this dynamic play out a thousand time, both from the inside and the outside:
Dallas Willard also talks about the sinful tendency to indulge our anger. We can choose to hold on to this emotion, to become angry people, carrying “a supply of anger around” with us, ready to pull it out and wield it at any moment.
Why would anyone choose to do that? Because anger often works hand in hand with another deadly sin, Pride. In our self-righteous, self-centered hearts, we believe the universe should revolve around us, that all the breaks should go our way, that people should always agree with us, cooperate with us, coddle us. When my ego gets wounded, when my autonomy is constrained, or when my agenda gets challenged, I feel I have a right to be angry. After all, it is all about me, isn’t it?
One problem with living this way, of course, is that I am only one “sun” among many, and all of us think we are the centers of our own solar systems. If I, an egocentric sinner with a sense of privilege, get mad when one of these other egocentric sinners with a sense of privilege impedes my will, what do I expect in response from them? Anger begets anger begets anger. Is it any wonder we live in such a violent world?
The good news is that Chaplain Mike doesn’t leave the post in that dark place, nor does he just tell Christians to try harder. The hope he offers is rooted in surrendering ourselves again and again to the grace of God.
We come back to the Gospel. I need Jesus’ continual forgiveness and mercy for my anger. I need the cross. I also need Jesus’ victory over the powers of sin, his living presence with me, and the power of the Holy Spirit filling me each day. I need the resurrection, the ascension, and Pentecost. I need a family that loves and supports me, that forbears my faults, forgives my sins, and befriends me in spite of my weaknesses. I need the church. I need to hear and receive and be nourished by the Gospel all the time. I need the Word and the Table. I need to remember my Baptism.
In short, I need a life with Jesus. I need the life of Jesus.