Jesus Chose the Gritty

The Scriptures are filled with the ruggedness and struggles of actual life. But in our teaching of the gospel we have sweetened or repressed the universal human qualities of our Lord’s stories almost beyond recognition. Jesus evidently talked about the things like people’s sexual escapades and crooked business deals to illustrate his message about the reign of God. And he furnished additional wine for at least one celebration. Read the parables. With the whole of human behavior from which to select, Jesus chose the gritty, earthy areas of life to illustrate the way God loves people. He was real! He expressed his own uncertainly and doubt in the midst of his faith. And he got very angry. Jesus talked about the same deep separation, dishonest and inner restlessness we experience in modern life. I had always heard the church saying the God prefers the poor, the despised, and the weak… Religious people have difficulty admitting that (Jesus) prefers sinners to the righteous. Those who call themselves righteous are not free from it but have repressed it. Those called sinners are aware of their guilt and are, for that reason, ready to receive pardon and grace.

Keith Miller, The Becomers

Social Media’s Outrage Mob

So what is it about social media that transforms ordinary internet users into pitchfork-wielding villagers? Futurologist David Brin notes that feelings of righteous indignation can give people a drug-like high. “You go into the bathroom during one of these [indignant] snits,” he says, “and you look in the mirror and you have to admit, this feels great! ‘I am so much smarter and better than my enemies!’” Everyone can now get an instant, ego-boosting high by opening their computer or smartphone and joining in the online shaming of a perceived offender. But they haven’t made the world any better. All they’ve done is made a stranger’s life a little worse.

Theunis Bates writing in The Week Magazine

enduring mistreatment to justify taking revenge

A woman will seek psychiatric attention for depression in response to desertion by her husband. She will regale the psychiatrist with an endless tales of repeated mistreatment by her husband.

The therapist discovers that this pattern of mistreatment has existed for twenty years, and that while the poor woman divorced the brute of a husband twice, she also remarried him twice, and that innumerable separations were followed by innumerable reconciliations.

What is going on here? In trying to understand what has happened, the therapists recalls the obvious relish with which the woman had recounted the long history of her husband’s brutality and mistreatment. Suddenly a strange idea begins to dawn: maybe this woman endures her husband’s mistreatment, and even seeks it out, for the very pleasure of talking about it. But what would be the nature of such pleasure? The therapist remembers the woman’s self-righteousness. Could it be that the most important thing in the woman’s life is t have a sense of moral superiority and that in order to maintain this sense she needs to be mistreated? The nature of the pattern now becomes clear. By allowing herself to be treated basely she can feel superior.

If the world is treating us well we have no need to avenge ourselves on it. If seeking revenge is our goal in life, we will have to see to it that the world treats us badly in order to justify our goal. Masochists look on their submission to mistreatment as love, whereas, in fact it is a necessity in their never-ceasing search for revenge and is basically motivated by hatred.

M Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled