Heat and anger go together. “His anger burned hot.” “She burned with rage.” That seething, roiling feeling you get feels like something boiling. Even your face gets warm and red, like sunburn from the inside.
This makes anger dangerous. Like any fire left uncontrolled, anger can destroy and harm, causing irreparable damage to people and organizations. Too much fuel or a breeze from an unexpected direction will cause a smoldering anger to blaze and burn out of control. It’s a short trip from bonfire to forest fire.
But that same heat makes anger useful.
This is the essence, I believe, of a question that a commenter left on my last article. He asked, “Do you believe it is okay for a woman to think and write about theology, given she will also be read by men such as myself? If so, why is not allowed for a woman to preach?”
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You cannot hide behind concrete words. Political language (being politically correct) has trained us to even redefine the meaning of the word “is”. This is why we are temporarily speechless when evil confronts us. And it is also why we respond with spin instead of truth. We explain away the evil of a Boston bomber and turn him into a victim. Terrorist attacks have little to do with Islam and more with people hijacking a peaceful religion for their own ends. We’ve lost the ability to use a specific word to describe a very real evil.
The church is not immune. Rather than actually naming sin we hide behind vague terms. People are “broken” not sinful*. There is no sense in confessing our guilty actions of sinning when we can modify it and say “I’m struggling with sin”. We’re offended by the explicit.
Self-talk. Soul-talk. Positive affirmation. Your inner coach. If you read headlines from modern psychology you may be familiar with these phrases. The Huffington Post’s website has just under 50 articles listed under the tag “self-talk,” and an Amazon search turned up 34,793 results in books alone (I made it to #5 before I quit). The idea behind the phrases is that each of us has a constant inner monologue going on, a torrent of words, perspectives, and evaluations that no one hears but ourselves. By changing the tone and content of this self-talk, the experts say, we can change ourselves. Hence we have books titled “What to Say When You Talk to Yourself” and “Self-Talk Your Way to Success.”
I think, as usual, the psychologists are on to something…and have simultaneously totally missed the deeper point. Let me explain.