Posted by: Dan | March 31, 2005

Anger Revisted

Here is my love and anger,
These are my gods, these are my scars.
Here is my love and anger,
My arms are burning, but they're open wide.

– The Indigo Girls

It is true that I am sometimes angry. And instantly objections abound… how is such anger worthwhile? Is anger not detrimental to the causes I am pursuing? Anger does little to enact reconciliation, anger does little to spark apathetic hearts to repentance.

Of course suggesting that I should not be angry only reveals how apathetic people are. When you begin to live a life of radical compassion then you will have gained a position to speak about anger. Until then I'm not sure that you know what you're talking about.

You see, my friends are dying. And not by tragedies that can't be prevented. My friends are being killed. They are children dying because they are surrounded by people who are incapable of feeling anything strongly — except selfishness.

And my friends are being raped quite regularly. By johns, by cops, by friends, by fathers. My friends are being raped.

And my friends are being tortured. They are girls who have cigarettes put out on their thighs. They are boys who's abdomens are covered with stab wounds. They are prostitutes getting their toes cut off for running away.

And I am here with them. I am here loving them, knowing that they don't have to die, don't have to be raped, don't have to be tortured. But knowing that they are essentially hopeless because those who should be committed to journeying with them have abandoned them. And so I can only cry with them. I can love them as they die.

And I shouldn't be angry? I wonder how you would feel if your daughters were raped. What would you know of anger when your loved ones are beaten to death? When your loved ones are tortured? When your loved ones are driven to “sucking cock for rock”?

No. Do not take this anger from me. This anger is an element of prophetic mourning, which in turn is a part of participating in the broken heart of God. There is a place for anger. We cannot dismiss it a priori.

I only ask that you learn to love me enough to allow me moments to express my broken-heartedness with angry words. If you loved me enough you would allow me the space to do that.

You see the thing is that, even in the midst of anger, I do not speak against individual people. I curse systems of oppression, systems of wealth, and perverted Christianity, I curse the idols of our times — I do not curse individual people. I do not name names. People should not take offence to such curses.

Yet they do. I can only conclude that this is because they have worshiped the idols of our times and as a result they have been formed in the image of the idols. The Bible teaches clearly that we become like that which we worship. In that case to curse the idols also ends up cursing the person who is the image of the idols.

I am mourning. I am mourning the murder, the rape, the torture of my friends. I am mourning the fact that my friends are essentially hopeless. I am mourning the fact that Christians have been worshiping idols instead of worshiping the living God. I am mourning the fact that they are forsaken and I can only suffer with them, I cannot bring an exodus — because the people of God will not allow such a thing. And so I mourn. And I curse. And I weep. And I love.

Take away my anger and you take away my empathy — while revealing your own inability to journey in intimacy with others as you embrace something far more comfortable. The idols, after all, are predictable. They're safe. They're not full of surprises. They may not be great at loving us but they're always there for us.

However, the God who weeps, and curses, and loves, is not so safe. Not so comfortable. Not so predictable. And we may also discover that, by abandoning the oppressed, this God is not always there for us.

In which case we already are fucked.

Hey, Jesus, it's me. I don't usually talk to you but my baby's gonna leave me, and there's something you must do. I am not your faithful servant, I hang around sometimes with a bunch of your black sheep, but if you make my baby stay, I'll make it up to you and that's a promise i will keep.

Hey, Jesus, it's me. I'm the one who talked to you yesterday and I asked you please, please for a favor but my baby's gone away, went away anyway and I don't really think it's fair. You've got the power to make us all believe in you and then we call you in our despair, and you don't come through.

Hey, Jesus, it's me, I'm sorry. I don't remember all I said, I had a few, no, too many and they went straight to my head. Made me feel like I could argue with god but you know, it's easy for you. You got friends all over the world, you had the whole world waiting for your birth but now I ain't got nobody, I don't know what my life's worth.

I'm not gonna call on you anymore. I'm sure you've got a million things to do. All I was trying to do was to get through to you. Get through to you because when I die and I get up to your doors I don't even know if you're gonna let me in the place. How come I gotta die to get a chance to talk to you face to face?
– The Indigo Girls

Oh, you lift me through my love and anger,
You see now, these are my gods, these are your scars.
Lift me through my love and anger,
Oh, when my arms are burning, and they're open wide.

– The Indigo Girls

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