Sunday, February 18, 2018

2018.02.18 Anger

I’m so enraged, so angry, so downright outraged. I think there must be fear underneath this anger, but by God I simply can’t find it in my heart right now. And I am furious that I am so powerless.

Oh yes, I’ve wallowed in detachment-with-love and all that wisdom, but right now I’m attached in anger to the terrible FACT of the regular slaughter of young children in schools. Statistics are helpful but boring. You can easily find them.

How many children have to die because our nation, our government is too damn paralyzed to legislate gun control?  What prohibits gun control? Piggishness I’d say. I believe that the well-being of the whole is the responsibility of us all. I also believe that children have an edge— little children face down on beaches just trying to get to safety, teens hugging and wailing because their classmates are dead and they are alive, one more time a parent having to explain that this won’t happen here and your school is secure and protected, and no, I don’t know why this happens or why this unstable person could or would buy such a weapon. One young child asked: How come anyone can have big guns? Only soldiers or police have those. The answer: I don’t know. And a kiss. 

Please don’t speak spiritual/religious platitudes like Fear not. I’m done with that. Yes, I know it’s all over the Bible, but I simply can not swallow or follow that wisdom right now. Mea culpa, maybe. But just now it packs no wallop.  

What is the gun mania in this country?

It’s not just about National Rifle Association money, or is it? It’s not just so we can protect big gun manufacturing companies, or is it? It’s not just because we have a president, our national leader, who expresses tearlessly impotent sympathy, or is it?  It’s not just because all those Republicans worry about wallets, or all those Democrats simper along about progressive ideals and have no strong politics right now, or is it? It’s not just because America thinks it’s so great and is just discovering that it has deceived itself and followed its own privileged swollen ego, or is it?  It’s not just because so many voices from pulpits and bimahs lack courage to encourage the fires of anger, the only adequate fuel for transformative change, or is it? It’s not just because of patriarchy, or is it? 

If this list imposed a forced choice on me I’d vote for the centuries-old demonic idea that has been perpetuated in every culture: “The powerful and the privileged have the right to bend the lives, bodies and wills of the powerless to serve their own needs and desires and wants.” (Quote taken from a sermon delivered on Ash Wednesday 2/14/18 at Trinity Episcopal Church, Wall Street by the Rt. Rev. Andrew Dietsche, Bishop of New York)

The poor and the powerless are expendable. This same idea means that the powerful and privileged own even the freedom of others!   

I’m a religious person. Should I not feel compassion? Should I not be consumed with love for all these shooting victims and even the deranged shooters? Should I not be praying feverishly for God to intervene? I don’t believe in such a God. I believe God gave us, created and equipped us all, with hearts, minds and wills to mend the broken world. 

I believe God right now does weep with those who weep. I think God by now has consumed that old bush that caught Moses’s eye because it burned without being consumed, and moved on. Who will lead us out of this inferno of gun violence, flashes of gunfire exploding in children’s faces? Who? Will it be the wrath of God within us?

The only sacrifice I need is your gratitude. So speaks God in Psalm 50.

America instead sacrifices children on the altar of GUN-worship. This gun-empowered nation apparently does want children sacrificed, is that it?  In guns we trust?  The idolatry of salvation by guns, is that it? Hope in guns?  America IS a gun. 

All I can do is write and preach and sign every petition I can, call every politician I can, vote in every poll and every election. I’m too old and breath-limited to march and rally, but I can gnash my own teeth to no good end. And I can offer gratitude, very selfishly, because my own grandchildren are not dead in these recurring American shooting sprees in schools—yet.

I am a fervent believer in Hope. Right now I find hope in my anger.

As to thoughts and prayers? Yes!— that enough outrage will overcome American lassitude and selfish sloth to help Godde heal our souls, blast us for Christ’s sake out of torpor and turpitude into (insert any good C-word: communion, community, cooperation, collaboration, common good.) 

Be angry and sin not. Do not let the sun go down on our anger. (Ephesians 4: 26.)  I will be angry. I will not sin by buying a gun, just in case. But by Godde I want to. I want to. As to the sun: it’s already down.

Today we heard Mark’s story of how the heavens were “torn” apart to reveal Jesus as Beloved Son. Then Jesus was “driven” into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted to reject that identity and its heft.  Torn and driven are strong verbs, angry verbs.

The greatest temptation for me right now would be to dress the sacrifice of my anger in more acceptably prissy theological language, like “righteous indignation." To hell with that!
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Yet as priest I consecrate the holy meal, inviting communicants to give thanks to God who brings us “out of error into truth, out of sin into righteousness, out of death into life.” (BCP, p. 368)
                                            Is that it?