“Let angry people endure the backlash of their own anger; if you try to make it better, you’ll only make it worse. Take good counsel and accept correction – that’s the way to live wisely and well.” a Proverb
“I wish you would’ve bounced it off of me first” a close friend winced as he spoke to me almost 30 years ago.
“It was out of my mouth before I could take it back”, I confessed.
We were talking about the perils & consequences of being totally honest in our answers to others. 30+ years ago, I had just been blindsided by a youth group leader who had told me, “Racism is a good thing.” My response was swift and without hesitation, “Seriously? Are you kidding me?? We all bleed red. God is no respecter of persons, and neither am I. You should be ashamed of yourself.”. They went off on a crazed rant, directed squarely at myself and my friend standing next to me: ‘Get Thee Behind Me Satan!’ he thundered, poking a finger squarely in my chest. He then went on to decry the sorry state of youth, America, music, politics and everything else he didn’t appear to be happy with. To be honest, I tuned him out, feeling truly sorry for him, yet deeply ashamed. Nonetheless, I was stunned.
That an assistant pastor of a large, well-respected megachurch could hold forth such views publicly in a church parking lot in front of a crowd of applauding members shocked me. I thought it was an aberration. I quickly learned. It wasn’t. His and others’ anger was a tangible thing hanging in the air, even after the self-righteous grandstanding. My friend and I shook our heads and walked inside to our music practice. Not much has changed in America in 30+ years
Later, that same month, while on tour in a group performing all over the midwest, we found ourselves performing as requested, at a very large megachurch in a large , norther U.S. metropolitan, midwest city. The church was packed for the concert venue. Many people came forward to eagerly share with us after the concert. I was shocked, once again, when the senior leadership intervened, diverting those wishing to speak with us. “You can follow up in a church more appropriate for you.”. My jaw dropped. Those wishing to speak with us were then ‘directed’ for follow up to several other, different, local congregations with large, non-caucasian memberships. The pastor winked and nodded, ‘We know how to handle their kind.’. I was livid, deeply ashamed, disgusted, and dismayed. Our music director shot me a warning glance. I held my tongue. The rest of that road trip was muted, silent on the bus as the miles rolled on into the night. Our group was supposed to be self-supporting entirely and needed to help with our own costs as much as possible through album sales and we were struggling.
The very last stop on that tour, a small, Appalachian congregation, very culturally mixed, couldn’t have been more of a contrast to the first concert venue on that tour. They took up a generous offering for us while praying for a local single mother who had just lost her house to a fire. I stepped quietly over to our music director. He knew. After I spoke in his ear, he agreed, albeit with a pained expression. We donated the entire collection taken up for us, (which would have paid for our trip’s expense), to the single mother and her children. There were many tears of joy, all around.
The contrast was glaring: simple human dignity, respect, love and honor for her loss, brought all of us together in that small Appalachian church on a cold, icy, snowy, winter’s night. Later, another friend convinced me to transfer from a public, state university to a private university. They liked me so much, after a single semester, I was offered a job. I turned it down, mostly because I couldn’t afford the tuition, returning part-time to a public, state university. A year later, they made a standing offer, which I accepted.
Thinking that finally, I was where I wanted me to be, I dove into my first professional position. After working there the first year, engrossed in work, I married, was promoted, and moving up. My spouse was able to secure a position at the same private, university as a counselor. We were off. The second year was eye-opening, shocking, and jaw-dropping, and not in a good way. A continuous backdrop of raging, angry, hateful, spiteful judgement being publicly espoused while gobbling up self-sufficient ministry assets sold, then flipped for private profit, left us deeply disillusioned. After coming across political financing, mail, wire, credit card, investment and loan fraud on a massive scale, along with personal enrichment by leadership, members, and families directly from their own non-profit’s missteps, anything from failed get-rich-quick schemes to outright default and worse, some, at retiring employees expense, we both rightly came to the conclusion to leave.
We returned to our hometown, several states away securing professional positions. We were even more ashamed to hear the same spew of anger, judgement and hate in our home city, literally in the midst of splitting it apart. The evangelical churches I’d been raised in had drunk too deeply of paranoid anti-government conspiracy theories, crackpot pseudoscience, get rich quick schemes, investments and loans and more. That was almost 30 years ago. My father & I had a discussion then. I shared with my father, “There will be a backlash, sooner or later against these wolves in sheep’s clothing, these goats. There will be a day of accounting, of reckoning, and, it will be painful. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth as they are held to account, proclaiming the righteousness of their cause and *still* defending their thoroughly corrupt methods. They will have absolutely no one to blame but themselves.”. He didn’t agree. My father and I agreed to respectfully disagree. I was the recipient of religious wrath, rage and anger, even though I never spoke up – to the point of turning my back on spirituality when faced with a vengeful ministry lawsuit. Thankfully, the judge dismissed it and threw the ministries out of the court & state with a warning to never show up in that state’s courts again.
Flash forward to 3 1/2 years ago. A spiritual side had been with me all those years, patiently teaching me love for the next 20 years, despite the constant drumbeat of rage and anger all around me. I discovered not everyone, in fact, quite a few, in my experience, were safe places of humility, love, and service. I was so traumatized and sensitive, before volunteering, I asked, ‘Are non-Calvinist, non-religious welcome?’. The senior director laughed, ‘Of course!’. They embodied the love, tolerance, acceptance, and humble service I didn’t realize I was interested in. It hasn’t made them very popular with the Angry “christians” screaming and raging at everyone about everything. He just chuckles and loves them anyway. I’ve learned from his and my father’s now own example.
When I thought I was safely beyond the reach of the Angry Mobs – BAM! I was blindsided again. This time from yet more religious faithful: hateful, spiteful and absolutely convinced I was using love to actively subvert true faith. What a twisted concept. The angry accusations, from several individuals, complete with raging spittle, left me numb, stunned. It took way to long for me to realize, I don’t need to answer or engage such hateful, spiteful, self-righteous, blaming anger. I walked away, brushing the dust off, to never return.
It won’t do any good.
There’s absolutely nothing I can say to make it better, to such as these. I speak and refuse to argue. I can, and do, love, even those who are forever raging about something: politics, religion, doctrine, race, whatever – I actively remove such toxic people from my life, no matter who they are. They are corrosive, self-destructive, poisoning everyone they touch.
The only thing I can do is love. I do know how to do that. What good is anyone’s spirituality – without love? Religion? Don’t make me laugh. It’s dead. Anything, without love and spirit, deeds and life to back it up, are indeed, truly: dead. Only love can make it better. The Angry will experience the full backlash against their own misguided anger. Those raging in their anger and hypocrisy will no doubt experience the full backlash and consequences of their own anger. They know it, already are, and it’s causing them to rage even more. Thirty Years. Thirty Years, and I still hear these people screaming at others with the same raging fury and hatred about the same stupid, sickening bullshit. More than 30 years in building a head of steam, there will be, a Backlash. Count on it.
For those whom don’t know what’s in the book they worship, extensive bibliographic reference notes from their own holy book follows:
Proverbs 19:19-20 MSG “Let angry people endure the backlash of their own anger; if you try to make it better, you’ll only make it worse. Take good counsel and accept correction – that’s the way to live wisely and well.”
Proverbs 22:24-25 ESV “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare”
Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Titus 3:1-2 NIV “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.”
2 Timothy 3:2-5 NIV “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive,disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God — having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”
2 Timothy 2:23 NIV “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.”
- When Is It Time to Leave a Church? (vineoflife.net)
- Are you ready for a fight? (mattrosine.com)
- Pray for your pastors (christianpf.com)