The death of Margaret Thatcher and the suicide of Matthew Warren–the son of Pastor Rick Warren has brought to light the irrational rage that has been simmering in our society for some time.
I experienced this when a colleague said in 2008 that any Catholic who knowingly voted for Obama should go to confession. His statement made the national news and his email box was suddenly flooded with hate mail. When he disabled his email they started sending their hate mail to anyone associated with the parish who still had an email box open. Some of it came to me. This was not simply polite disagreement. It wasn’t just anger. This was vile, blasphemous, explicitly sexual and scatological language directed not just toward me, but toward the Catholic faith, the Blessed Mother, the Pope and Our Lord Jesus Christ.
I have seen the same vile material in comboxes all over the internet. Neither is this simply a few nut cases who troll around spreading their filth. This is a global phenomenon, and it is truly frightening. To understand it we should be clear. This is not simply anger. Although anger is an emotion, it still has a rational dimension. I’m angry because someone harmed me. I’m angry because of a perceived injustice. I’m angry because of some fault or failure. Even when the anger is deeply rooted, there is still a rational object or focus for the anger.
What we are seeing as the result of Matthew Warren’s suicide and Mrs Thatcher’s death is not simply anger. It is being called “hate”. Hatred is anger that is nurtured into an active wish for someone else’s harm. I might get angry at my boss for being a jerk, but when I nurture that anger and direct it towards him as a person (rather than just anger with his actions) and when I start to plan revenge or imagine harm to him or his loved ones, then the anger has turned to hatred. The hatred–while vile–still has an element of rationality to it. It can be discussed and analyzed and understood–even if it cannot be defused.
The phenomenon we are seeing is something worse than anger and hatred. It is rage. Rage is irrational. You cannot argue with rage. Rage is cruel and violent for its own sake. Rage is anarchical and demonic in its absurdity and irrationality. When I say it is demonic, I am not exaggerating or being symbolical. The spirit of hatred has overtaken people, and I fear what we are seeing is only the beginning. Are the people so filled with rage demon possessed? I am not an authority on the subject, but I venture the diagnosis that if they are not literally demon possessed, then their personalities have been oppressed by evil to such an extent that they are out of their minds.
What to do? This sort only comes out by prayer and fasting.