I’m as mad as hell. Should I feel guilty about it?

Not all anger is the same:

Anger can be a vague, generalized feeling

  • It can be occasioned by a specific set of circumstances
  • It can arise out of the disparity between what we want and what is
  • (And what we want can be a healthy, good thing to want…and it might not be)
  • It can arise out of the disparity between what is and what should be
  • (And we can be wrong or right about what should be)

We typically mishandle anger

  • By acting out of it unreflectively
  • Or by repressing it

And for that reason we have a lot of alternative vocabulary for anger

  • And we tend to talk about some people as having a temper which (while no doubt true)
  • Obscures the fact that we all get angry

The reason we mishandle anger lies with:

  • Our general discomfort with emotion
  • Negative associations with angry behavior
  • And negative associations with conflict

The cleansing of the Temple is an excellent passage to study in this connection

  • Because it shows Jesus having an emotion that we do not associate with God
  • And it points to a fundamental truth:

Anger is not only appropriate at times, it can be a good and necessary thing

Anger can signal…

  • Clarity
  • Resolve
  • The need to act

The question, of course, is what helps us to measure the appropriateness of our anger

  • The answer lies in noting the difference in our motives
  • In noting the difference between self-serving and other-serving anger
  • The difference between ego, pique and something larger

That’s where the cleansing of the Temple fits in…

  • Jesus embodies the appropriate manifestation of anger
  • Rooted in the things of God

There is a message in anger like that

  • Don’t be afraid of it
  • Listen to it

About Frederick Schmidt

The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Rueben Job Institute for Spiritual Formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and consulting editor at Church Publishing in New York. He is the author of numerous published articles and reviews, as well as several books: A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009), and The Dave Test (Abingdon, 2013). He and his wife, Natalie (who is also an academic and an Episcopal priest), live in Highland Park, Illinois, with their Gordon Setter, Hilda of Whitby. They have four children and four grandchildren: Henry, Addie, Heidi, and Sophie.


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