Is God angry all the time?

Judging from what directees have told me --- and even from a good deal of what is in print --- a lot of people are fairly sure that God is angry.  Angry some of the time, maybe angry all the time.Some fairly reputable scholars have even argued that is why we need to retool the Christian faith.  “Out with the angry old man in the sky --- in with something new.”The problem with this argument is that it relies on caricatures of God that are not a part of the Christian tradition.  Oh, to be sure, … [Read more...]

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

Not all anger is the same: Anger can be a vague, generalized feelingIt 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 angerBy acting out of it unreflectively Or by repressing itAnd for that r … [Read more...]

After the last sale

In September I traveled to Phoenix, Arizona, to be with my father as he faced surgery to address a growing problem with massive internal bleeding.  Now, after a fairly torturous process he is recuperating in a rehabilitation center and, all being well, he will go back to his small home in Mesa at the end of the month.  He is 85.For most of his life my father worked as a sales engineer.  He both designed and sold conveyer systems for a wide-ranging list of clients, including General Electric, Wh … [Read more...]

Eating as Affirmation

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks observes, “The heart of all Jewish festivals can be summed up like this: They tried to kill us. We survived. Let's eat.”Eating as affirmation: Affirmation of God’s goodness, affirmation of life, affirmation of life’s goodness.Small wonder, then, that festivals and eating are so much a part of religious celebrations and small wonder that heaven is portrayed as a banquet.Invite your friends and family into your home, cook a meal, share your table.  There is no need to wor … [Read more...]

The Question of Size

For years now Protestant churches have been locked in an endless debate over the issue of size.  At the extremes, there are a few mega-church leaders who have touted the virtues of congregational growth and who argue that their size is a sign of their faithfulness.  On the other side of the debate --- the leaders of shrinking denominations have made a virtue of their reality by asserting that small is beautiful, arguing that prophetic churches inevitably drive people away.But the debate among c … [Read more...]

God forgive us

My wife has assumed responsibility for a new parish and she was doing some housekeeping in the office.  Among the things she discovered was “A Form of Confession for Boys an Girls.”  Wow.It’s old and yellowed, but I have a feeling it isn’t old enough, let alone dead and gone.  This little gem, which is probably less a page of text reads as follows:SAY: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.THEN SAY: Bless me Father for I have sinned.THE PRIEST WILL BLESS … [Read more...]

The Misery Sweepstakes

“You may be dying, but you should hear what’s happening to me.”“Well, enough about me, what do you think about me?”People don’t really say that kind of thing, do they?  Actually, yes, they often do.Maybe not in so many words.  But, if you listen to the shape of many conversations, you will often find that someone threw out a lifeline, looked for hope, searched for a friend, or tried to get to the bottom of something that was troubling them, and all they got in return was competition for the … [Read more...]

Be careful what you pray for

A student of mine drew my attention to this story from Anthony Bloom’s Beginning to Pray:The lives of the saints are enlightening in this respect, and in the life of St. Philip Neri just such an occasion is described. He was an irascible man who quarreled easily and had violent outbursts of anger and of course endured violent outbursts from his brothers. One day he felt that it could not go on. Whether it was virtue or whether he could no longer endure his brothers his Vita does not tell us. T … [Read more...]