Dec 20 2011
Please Don't Get Offended By This Thing About Not Getting Offended. Thanks.

 

(Today, on the show, we talked about this. And if I'm wrong here - I can always be glaringly, spectacularly wrong - please tell me how.  I should note here I write as someone who wants to follow Jesus's example in how he dealt with people, and as someone who believes God uses the Bible to instruct us with wisdom.  Without that as a background, the following will make no sense.)

 

 

You're not allowed to be angry.

I'm serious.  You're not allowed.  

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I don't think lots of people agree with me on this.  I sense this, because tons of people say, "I don't agree with you on this."  I've got antennae for subtlety like that.  I pick up on things.

Typical:  This entry from something called "Nehemiah Notes", an online devotional, dealing with anger.  The writer gives what I think is the reigning understanding:  Anger's pretty dadgum good, sometimes:

There is also a positive, even essential, side to anger. I doubt that we ever accomplish anything fruitful when anger isn't part of our motivation, on a certain level at least.

We don't ever accomplish anything fruitful without anger?  WOW, devotional-writer dude.  

Here's another example of how we retrofit actual scripture with our current embrace of anger-culture:

Ephesians 4 (NIV translation)

"In your anger do not sin" Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold

Ephesians 4 (The Message paraphrase version)

Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry--but don't use your anger as fuel for revenge. 

Did you catch that? I like Eugene Peterson - the guy who wrote The Message - but... sheesh. "You do well to be angry"?  

That ain't in the original, folks.  That's the updated version, hope you like it better. 

Remarkably, Peterson does this, knowing that just a couple sentences later, Paul says, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger".  Get rid.  All.  Anger.  From this, we get, "You do well to be angry"? 

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But doesn't God get angry?  Doesn't Jesus get angry?  Well, in a word:  Yep.  

God is "allowed" anger, yes.  And other things, too, which we're not.  Like vengeance.  That's His, and it makes sense, too that we're not allowed vengeance. We stand as guilty as whomever is the target of our anger.  But God?  He doesn't.

For that matter, God is allowed to judge, too.

God loves you, but you're not God.

We positively love "righteous anger".  The operational definition of "righteous anger", for me, of course, is the anger that I, Brant Hansen, feel, usually because I'm ticked that somebody done me wrong.  It helps that we humans are experts at casting ourselves as victims, and re-writing narratives that put us in the center of injustices.  And we can re-paint our anger or hatred of someone, like, say, a President, into a righteous-looking work of art.  And yet, in Jesus' teaching, there is no allowance for "Okay, well, if someone really is a jerk..."  

We're flat-out told to forgive, even - especially! - the stuff that's legitimately maddening, and legitimately offensive.  That's the whole point.

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Anger is very easy.  Love is very difficult.  Upon hearing my ideas on anger, I was asked, today, "I don't get it.  Shouldn't we be angry at those guys in the news who beat up homeless people?" 

But here's what I think, given that we're to "get rid of all anger":  We're to truly grieve this stuff, and be motivated to pursue justice, and to defend the vulnerable.  

Seek justice, love mercy.  You don't have to be angry to do that.  In fact, the best soldiers don't function out of anger. Neither do the best police.

The problem with anger:  According to the radical teaching of Jesus, I stand as guilty, morally, as any other sinner, period.  I asked the guy, "How long do you think you're allowed to keep this anger?"  He said something like, "You can keep it for a little while."

We can keep it awhile.  Sounds...reasonable.  Sure.  Absolutely.  But mere seemingly "reasonable" isn't what we're going for here.  We want to follow the Gospel, wherever it takes us.

In Proverbs, anger is always -- not sometimes, always -- associated with foolishness, not wisdom.  The writer recognizes that anger may visit us, but when anger finds a residence, it's "in the lap of fools." 

Harboring "justified" anger, towards a political figure, a news network, your dumb neighbor, your lying spouse, your deceased father -- whomever -- is perfectly natural, and perfectly foolish.

And foolishness destroys.

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I get angry.  Can't avoid it.  But anger can't stay here.  I can't try it on.  I have to take it to the Cracks of Doom, like, NOW, and drop that thing, much as I want to wear it awhile.   This silly LotR analogy breaks down quickly, though.  

There's not a single, hyper-destructive "One Ring".  

There's like...six billion.

Drop yours.

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Dec 12 2011
Some Christmas Songs! "Wolfgang the Christmas Wombat", "My (Real) Favorite Things, and "Sad Christmas"

You:  "I'm looking for a woefully under-produced Christmas song about a wombat."

Me:  "Here's 'Wolfgang the Christmas Wombat'!"

You:  "But I'm also looking for a version of 'My Favorite Things' that pretty much makes no sense."

Me:  "Here's a version of 'My Favorite Things' that pretty much makes no sense."

You:  "But I'm also looking for an accidentally Neil Diamond-esque song that's kinda like, 'The Christmas Shoes', except way more stupid."

Me:  "I give you 'Sad Christmas'."

You:  "What about an awesome picture of a penguin in an excruciatingly tight turtleneck sweater?"

Me:  "Uh... c'mon, man, I don't have everyth-"

You:  "I WANT IT I WANT IT I WANT IT I WANT IT RIGHT NOW."

Me:  "Sheesh."

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Dec 11 2011
If Jesus Had a Blog: The Good News is Getting Out!

(From Brant... an explainer, for those new to the series:  The "comments" directly below are NOT real.  They're just my best guesses, if Jesus had a blog, what the comments would look like.) 

 

If Jesus Had a Blog

 

What up.  

Man, it's a busy time of year. It's time to celebrate my birth, I guess, so everyone's doing what you'd expect in response - the only logical option:  Guzzling egg nog and singing about Frosty the Snowman. 

I have noticed there are people passing, children laughing, and I'm greeting smile after smile. So that's nice.

(It's all awesome, but you know what really frosts me?  When the people at the Jerusalem Costco say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas".  MAN, that sets me off.  I hope my followers, thousands of years from now, make a huge, huge deal out of that, in keeping with my teachings regarding Christmas and stuff.  Okay, so I'm being sarcastic.  This isn't the first time, folks.)

###

Anyways, it's all good, and here's my real point:  I'm pretty stoked, because I sent more followers out today to tell the good news!  And here's the news:  The Kingdom of God is near!

Some are catching on that I'm the Messiah, because they see the evidence:  Blind people getting their sight back!  Deaf people getting their hearing!  Lepers now clean!  And the good news is getting out to poor people!

POSTED  TODAY  2:34 P.M.

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COMMENTS

 

I'm sorry, Jesus, but last time I checked, that wasn't the "Good News".  You don't tell the whole story. 

The Good News is that I got my ticket to Gloryland!

-- sharon777

So...when Jesus shares the Good News with the poor, he's supposed to say, "Hey, everybody, Sharon777 got her ticket to Gloryland!" ??

I mean, we know you're important, Sharon, but...

-- julsmith20

I'm with sharon777.  The Good News is that Jesus died for us, and we can accept him and go to heaven.  It bothers me that this blog entry doesn't reflect that.  I'm not even sure what all the "kingdom" talk is about, but it's not the Gospel. 

-- prayerwarrior4god

Sarcasm isn't very Christian, Jesus.

-- nicole_1985

Excuse me, but my church has BIBLE studies, BIBLE preaching, BIBLE class, Vacation BIBLE School...and I have no idea what you're talking about.  So something is really wrong, and I'm just going to presume it's you.

-- liz2

So, I know this wasn't your main point, but you act like it's no big deal that stores won't say, "Merry Christmas."  I think it's time we took a stand, before it's too late to win our country back.

Didn't you tell us to "take a stand" to win our country back?

-- momof4

Right on, "momof4".  I was at Walgreen's this week, buying one of those massive inflatable lawn ornaments, and the lady behind the counter was all like, "Have a great holiday" and man, that burned me up. 

I think it totally takes the focus off of you, Baby Jesus.

-- cindysue12

I don't like the implicit message in this blog entry, here, J.  If God's "kingdom" is "good news", it means we're supposed to want him in charge of everything, like some kind of king.  Not only is this sexist/monarchist, it implies I'm merely his "subject" and I'm supposed to advance his agenda.  How's that "Good News"?

The implications for this are huge.  I like calling my own shots.   I don't serve a demanding "god" who threatens this kind of stuff.  I'm done with this website.

Does Baby Jesus have a blog?

-- goblue32

I think you guys are missing something important here.  He says in his last line that the "good news" is getting to the poor, and that's evidence he is God's chosen one. 

THAT, to me, is the offensive thing.  It shouldn't make a difference whether someone is poor or not.  Our church targets rich people in the Dallas suburbs, because -- guess what -- we're rich people in the Dallas suburbs.  We spend $14 million a year to reach ourselves, and there's nothing wrong with this at all, because God loves us, too.

Yes, poor people matter, but no more than anyone else, and it's not like God has some kind of special relationship with them.

-- howboutthemboys96

Actually, I think Jesus is saying he does have some kind of special relationship with them. 

-- annie21

Well, the God *I* worship doesn't look at people differently just because one has money and power and the other doesn't.

-- howboutthemboys96

I'm sure that's true.

-- annie21

You're a pinko lefty.

-- howboutthemboys96

You're probably so dim-witted you voted for McCain/Palin.

-- annie21

Hey, I like Sarah Palin.  She's a Christian, like Tim Tebow.  And he's super-nice, I think.

-- trish

Sarah Palin said she could see Russia from her house.  Embarrassing.  I don't vote for backward Wal-Mart shoppers.  Sorry.

-- bob239

Hey "bob239", Palin didn't say that, Tina Fey did.  Doof.

BTW, Wal-Mart employs a lot of people, and does this country a lot of good, which is more than I can say for Barack HUSSEIN Obama.

-- dwj

I agree with dwj.  We spend way too much time criticizing Wal-Mart, when we should be trying to find Barack's ACTUAL and REAL birth certificate.  Whoever voted for him is stupid.

-- mike_m

Actually...your stupid.

-- carrieanddave2002

Actually...YOU'RE stupid, because you "actually" don't know how to use apostrophes.

-- mike_m

ddear jesus

i hope you are king here soon like you r in heaven

-- horsegurl9