The Power of Outrage . . .

10 Jul

Some people go through life as the victims of perpetual outrage. They behave as though they were a bundle of anger looking for a direction in which to channel itself.

As Captain Reynaud illustrates in the video clip, you often don’t have to hang around these folks for very long to find that they are using their outrage as a cover for their own inadequacies. Or, to put it in Captain Reynaud’s language, “I am a *poor* corrupt official.”

It was funny in “Casablanca”, but it is sometimes hard to see the humor when the outrage is being channeled in your direction and . . . you know that an obvious hypocrisy lurks very close to the surface in your accuser.

It is with this view of our oh-too-human nature that I joined an online group of people dedicated to the discussion of theology. What I have found has been enlightening.

Much of our group has come from an extreme expression of the Baptist faith–former members of that extreme expression. There are a few who are currently still members of that extreme faction and who don’t hesitate to say so whenever given an opening.

The extreme faction is known by its love of flamboyant preaching and its distaste for scholarship. I have never belonged to a church like this, but I have seen videos of services held at such churches. I have to characterize them as nothing short of ridiculous. The pastor presents himself as “the man of God” and makes it clear that any questions asked of him, even just to clarify a point, are “attacks upon the man of God” (insert appropriate taken-out-of-context Scripture).

Needless to say, the members of such a church learn to just quote their pastor and to eschew studying the Bible for themselves.

So when they show up in a theological chatgroup and try just quoting their pastor to prove a point . . . they get crucified. As they should, since the chatgroup they have joined is about what the Bible says, not about what their pastors say!

On the other hand, the group has people on the opposite side of the aisle who seem to comb the Internet for examples of this extreme Baptist teaching/writing/blogging, with the intent of posting these examples for comment.

Which is fine, when explained in context. I get their outrage, but I also realize that this is a very big tempest in a very small teapot.

This segment of extreme Baptists once consistently started the largest Baptist churches in the U.S.A., but that shark was jumped decades ago. The “man of God” pastors aren’t taken seriously by much of anybody anymore and their rantings/writings/blogs are best ignored in most cases.

In my case, I *must* ignore most of them as their poor grammar, punctuation, and spelling brings my inner language snob to the surface, gasping for air!!!

So my job in the chatgroup seems to be to point out that we all need perspective. If we comb the internet looking for every example of anything that could produce outrage, we will indeed find it. But why spend our lives looking for reasons to be outraged?

We could chase down every example of pedophilia in the Catholic church.

We could find every example of anti-Semitism in Martin Luther’s life.

We could go after all the examples of when Christians during the Reformation fought each other to the death over doctrine.

We could keep a record of every time the charismatic movement slips into weird expressions of spirituality during a church service (barking like a dog, etc.).

Point is, if we want to be outraged, we will be outraged. There are plenty of examples out there to which we can attach ourselves. Even examples tailored to our favorite cause(s).

But what is the point?

If we claim to follow Christ, who sent us forth to disciple others in Him, then spending time with Him, and with those others who need Him, seems to matter more than chasing down reasons to be outraged.

Especially to be part of a tempest in a teapot.

Once when I said something silly in the chatgroup, I actually found myself thankful that I did that in front of 400 or so people there instead of on my own personal Facebook page, with almost 2000 people . . .

Perspective, folks!

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