. . . for they shall be called the children of God.” That is from the beatitudes found in the Sermon on the Mount, and peace-making has been on my mind a lot lately. Perhaps, this is because I havn’t been feeling at all peaceful. I’d hate to think that it was only the peacemakers who would be called the children of God. That would probably exclude me.
I thought about calling this blog “Doin’ Crazy No More.” That he wasn’t doin’ crazy any longer was the signature line from Pastor Joel’s sermon two weeks ago. I wasn’t entirely sure what he meant by that. Someone thought it had to do with avoiding talk radio–that medium which seems to get progressively more extreme and stridently hateful. I thought pastor Joel’s sermon was a bit confusing but given the immense stress he’s been under with the death of his grand daughter I’m inclined to give him a pass on not being completely coherent.
This week’s sermon clarified his message somewhat. Pastor Joel seems to be saying that we should avoid angry people with closed minds. There are simply people who are not open to the Good News and we should “shake the dust off our feet” as we leave their vicinity. I gathered that by indulging them, or trying to communicate with them, that we are “doin’ crazy” too.
Anger is an addiction. There are rage-aholics. You can see them getting high on their unrestrained anger–all the juices flowing, particularly norepinehrine and dopamine. And like any addiction it takes more and more to get high. I think that’s why the level of civility in this country keeps falling–there are so many provocative issues to rachet up and get one off and flying. Also, one of the things that anger does is protect us from getting depressed. Many people would rather be angry than depressed. Anger gives people a false sense of control and therfore they don’t feel like so much like a victim.
Pastor Joel spelled out three types of “crazy” people to avoid: (1) the self-protective, (2) the self-sufficient and (3) the self-righteous. These close minded people want to argue and in the process infect you with their level of anger (or craziness), and so avoiding them is generally excellent advice.
I kind of react to the term “crazy” and I’d have felt better if he had just said to avoid angry people. I had a bipolar mother who had many hospitalizations. At times she was completely psychotic. Also, some of my friends and family are probably diagnosable, and so at times the word “crazy” to me is as objectionable as the so called N-word is to blacks. But I’ve used that term myself and so I’ll give Pastor Joel some more grace on mis-labling angry people as crazy.
I’ve taught classes on anger management and so I know a little about the topic. Some of the sources of anger: (1) chemical imbalance – lack of the same neurotransmitter (serotonin) that underlies depression also accounts for much of the problem with anger, (2) frustration – being unable to get our needs met or to cope with some situation, and (3) anger communicated to us – much like a virus spreading the flu and or a cold. Considerable anger in adults is acquired in childhood via physical and verbal abuse. (4) unwillingness to face and accept having little or no control in one’s life.
Its the very frustrated folks in the last category that fascinate me the most. They are the ones who call talk radio and rant on and on about the world going to hell in a handbasket. It is, of course. But their outrage doesn’t change that fact. To me it all boils down to their unwillingness to accept reality as it is. Someone pointed out that Jesus changed reality by accepting it for what it was–He surely changed reality by changing our acceptance of it. Accepting that our lives are out of control (unmanageble) is the first step in all 12-step programs modeled on AA. When we accept that we’re not God, and that reality won’t conform to our desires, then we are on the way to recovery.
Many years ago my mother had another elderly friend who was a member of a chorale group called “The Sunshine Singers.” They were all old folks and they gave several concerts a year. Somewhat unenthusiastically, I took my mother to one at Stetson University. The 50 or so seniors marched in wearing matching outfits, the men in tuxes and the ladies in long crimson dresses. I thought this is going to be a long evening. However, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the program. The last song they did was “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” That caused me to well up. It still does.