I recently had a classmate email me to say that the anger often present in my posts (for an online class) is inappropriate and destructive.
To which I had a number of reactions, involving some rather salty language and several cups of coffee.
(Coffee fixes everything.)
But, after I stopped imagining how satisfying it would be to scream at this classmate, it got me thinking. What is it about anger that Christians don’t like? Why is it so unwelcome in the church?
“Authentic” is one of those words that gets thrown around in Christian circles like it’s a volleyball. Frequently flying left and right, but no one is really in contact with it for long enough to actually pin down a definition and a practical application. We claim to want to be authentic, but then, when someone in our community doesn’t fit the Shiny Happy People Who Are Satisfied With Whatever Happens And Never Get Mad At God, we (at the very least) shy away from them, and often encourage them to be happier.
Jesus Wept, I don’t know how many times someone has told me to “Delight in the Lord” or “Talk to Jesus about it.” And the next person who does is getting thrown out a window.
I don’t know about you, but all this has ever done is made me angrier.
Our emotions are real. As sentient beings, we have the ability to experience a wide range of feelings. If we really want to be authentic, we would embrace and encourage these emotions, not stifle all the darker, bolder, or greyer ones.
And, frankly, yes. I am angry. About a lot of things. I am angry about terrible theology that persists despite thousands and thousands of years of theological evolution. I am angry at the way the church continues to say it cares about the whole of creation, but is not on the forefront of change. I am angry that I feel so unwelcome in most churches. I am angry that my history and most Christian theology are asynchronous. I am angry that people still use “God’s ways are not our ways” as an excuse for incoherent, illogical, or unrealistic theology. I am angry that the church is den of irresponsibility and privilege. I am angry that there are so many people who put the Bible on a higher plane than living, breathing humans.
I. Am. Angry.
And I love it.
Because, for the first time in my life, I’m free. I’m not shackled by the need to make square pegs fit in round holes. I’m free to point out the flaws in the church and the whole of creation and do something about it. I’m free to scream and shout and curse the heavens and mourn the perpetual “who gives a fuck, it’s all temporary anyway” attitude of most Christians. I am free to be genuinely, truly authentic to myself and my spirituality.
And I know I’m not the only one.
I know there are countless wearied souls cringing on Sunday mornings. They are terrified by the contents of the Bible. They are enraged by the conduct of Christian leaders. They grieve those pushed to the outside. They are furious about the way people cling to centuries- or even millennia-old beliefs that have never really worked within reality.
And they are silenced.
But, the first time we are finally bold enough to feel those emotions, to make them known, that’s when we become free.
And I, for one, would rather be angry and free than happy and in a cage.