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We Must Overcome Malicious Anger With Love To Be Followers Of The God Of Love

March 30, 2012

It is quite common for many of us to let anger get the best of us. When we do so, it turns our good intentions into evil. Strife turns us away from the charity which we should have for each other; anger and malice easily find their way into our hearts, possessing us, encouraging us to act contrary to the good under the guise of the good itself. It is easy for us to consider the defense of our pride, the defense of our glory, as a reason enough for “righteous anger.” Yet, it is far from righteous – indeed, it often ends up as idolatrous, the worship of the self, self-adoration, and woe to those who will not bow down to us as the petty god we make ourselves to be. Even the best of us can fall for this fault from time to time. We might realize the error of our ways, repent, and then let ourselves go again and again. To combat this, humility is needed, humility fueled by charity, but that love which we are to have for everyone: how can we seek to strike someone down if we love them, how can we seek to harm them if we love them as ourselves?

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. A man without sense gives a pledge, and becomes surety in the presence of his neighbor. He who loves transgression loves strife; he who makes his door high seeks destruction” (Prov. 17:17 -19 RSV).

We must remember what it is we should be striving for: holiness, and a life of holiness is a life of love. Since love covers a multitude of sins, strife is overcome through love, where we forgive instead of seek retribution for what has been done. This is what we must strive for – and it is something which we can, through work and grace, achieve. Now we might fail, we might let concupiscence take over from time to time – but if we struggle against it, we shall slowly gain victory and find that our fight is not against flesh and blood, but the powers which seek to possess our souls and lead them to transgression.  While sloth can easily be hidden by meekness, all kinds of vice can be performed due to prelest, to some level of self-deception where one believes one is on the right, and this is exceptionally true with sins of malice:

For sometimes the meek, when they are in authority, suffer from the torpor of sloth, which is a kindred disposition, and as it were placed hard by. And for the most part from the laxity of too great gentleness they soften the force of strictness beyond need. But on the other hand the passionate, in that they are swept on into frenzy of mind by the impulse of anger, break up the calm of quietness, and so throw into confusion the life of those that are put under them. For, when rage drives them headlong, they know not what they do in their anger, they know not what in their anger they suffer from themselves. But sometimes, what is more serious, they think the goad of their anger to be the zeal of righteousness. And, when vice is believed to be virtue, guilt is piled up without fear. Often, then, the meek grow torpid in the laziness of inactivity; often the passionate are deceived by the zeal of uprightness. Thus to the virtue of the former a vice is unawares adjoined, but to the latter their vice appears as though it were fervent virtue.[1]

We are so easily led to believe in our own rightness, we rush in, fighting everyone, showing even if we are in the right in one area, we are certainly also in the wrong. Humility is needed. It is not easy. We must fight within ourselves the base egotism which leads us to strike out. If we do not, the charity which we should have will certainly be replaced by malice, the malice which will use some form of the good to lead us to hell if we let it. We must let go – let go of the remembrance of sins of the past. When we keep ours in mind, they become a temptation for us, for what made us to fall into sin will also be before us, encouraging us to seek the pleasure which we once had and make it ours again. On the other hand, remembrance of the sins of others leads us to sin, for it encourages us to malign them, to move out of the dictates of charity and heed the call of malice, as St. John Climacus warns:

Remembrance of wrongs comes as the final point of anger. It is a keeper of sins. It hates a just way of life. It is the ruin of virtues, the poison of the soul, a worm in the mind. It is the shame of prayer, a cutting off of supplication, a turning away from love, a nail piercing the soul. It is a pleasureless feeling cherished in the sweetness of bitterness. It is a never-ending sin, an unsleeping wrong, rancor by the hour.[2]

When we feign pious anger and use it to justify our hatred of others, we quickly find Scriptural proofs to defend our unholy acts. “Malice is an exponent of Scripture which twists words of the Spirit to suit itself.”[3] We can easily find ways to condemn others, to find sins which they have done which we use to prove they deserve reproof. But is not vengeance the Lord’s, and is not the place of spiritual judgment with the Lord and not us?

The way anger and malice affect us should serve as proof as to why we should seek to overcome their effects. As St. Basil writes, they turn us away from all that is reasonable and good, degenerating us so that those qualities which make us human seem to vanish, leaving us as mere ravenous beasts out on the prowl:

For whenever, once reason has been pushed aside, the passion takes control of the soul itself, it makes the human being entirely like a wild beast; it does not hollow him to be a human being, since he no longer has the help of reason. For as venom is in venomous animal, so temper in those who are provoked. They are maddened like dogs; they strike like scorpions, they bite like snakes. [4]

It is one thing to know about the errors of malice, of how it turns us into followers of evil, it is another to win our own internal battle against it. Even the holiest of men and women have been known to take years to gain such a victory; St. Ammonas, the disciple of St. Anthony, once said, “I have spent fourteen years in Scetis asking God night and day to grant me the victory over anger.”[5] We should therefore not despair when we see our weakness but rather, we should rest in grace as we seek to gain the strength needed to be true friends of Christ. Prayer, prayer of the heart to Jesus, heals the heart and helps provide the grace necessary, and indeed, can help us combat those times when anger would rule us. However, true mastery over malice requires more than the elimination of anger, but a heart of charity, a heart which seeks the good of one who has harmed us in some way:

 A true sign of having completely mastered this putrefaction [of  malice- HK] will come not when you pray for the man who offended you, not when you give him presents, not when you invite him to share a meal with you, but only when, on hearing some catastrophe that has afflicted him in body or soul, you suffer and lament for him as if for yourself.[6]

We must strive for this, and remembrance of what true virtue is, the encouragement of it in others, will help us achieve it ourselves. St. John Climacus said that he has seen people overcome malice when they told others of their need to overcome it in their own lives: work of charity clearly lifts the heart and heals the wounds of evil. [7] It is for this reason that one, seeking to achieve this virtue themselves, and finding themselves far from it, can and does reflect upon it, declaring the truth of the saints to others, hoping it will help achieve some good within. The more we dwell on things of heaven, on the path of love, the closer we will find ourselves to a life pleasing of  God, the God who is love.


[1] St. Gregory the Great, Pastoral Rule in NPNF2(12): 39-40 [III-xvi].

[2] St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent. Trans. Colm Luibheid and Norman Russell (New York: Paulist Press, 1982), 152.

[3] Ibid., 153.

[4] St. Basil, “Homily Against Anger” in On the Human Condition. Trans. Nonna Verna Harrison (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2005), 81.

[5] The Sayings of the Desert Fathers. Trans. Benedicta Ward (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1984), 26.

[6] St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, 153.

[7] See ibid., 154.

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34 Comments
  1. Mark Gordon permalink
    March 30, 2012 9:03 am

    This is a most valuable contribution, Henry, particularly on the eve of Holy Week. I’ve struggled with anger for most of my life due to a lot of factors: early sexual abuse, family dynamics, native temperament, etc. I finally achieved some measure of victory over anger by recognizing that it is an occasion of sin for OTHER people, including those who make me angry. I now see the restraint of my own temper as a gift I give others, a sacrifice made on their behalf, and it works … most of the time. :-)

    • March 30, 2012 9:09 am

      Yes, I thought it would be a good way to embrace the saint of the day (St John Climacus), the readings for the day in the East (Proverbs is from the Vespers reading of the day), and also to reflect on a need for myself and others. And certainly as Holy Week is indeed upon us, two texts on the theme of charity this week also I thought was quite helpful, though of course, each took on the notion of charity in separate but complementary ways.

  2. Mark Shea permalink
    March 30, 2012 2:06 pm

    What do you make of forgiving sons of bitches who write filth like this? Cuz when I sent you this link hoping for some sort of reconciliation, I got stony silence in reply.

    Oh well, I tried. One more reason I seldom read this blog. Big talk, but its clear where the boundaries on the universe of discourse are here, who gets cut slack, and who is beyond the pale.

    Zippy had you pegged. No wonder he got banned. Shame on you.

    • March 30, 2012 2:27 pm

      I just thought I would let Mark’s comment through to see what he has to say…

      The fact that Mark bans people from his blog for doing far less than what Zippy did on VN is of course, ignored. Mark even banned me from responding to threads where he was misrepresenting VN earlier today — why? He talks about shame, but he doesn’t want people to see he is the one who is shaming himself with false representation. He wonders why I was not impressed with his thread which he wants us to see. The fact that Mark continues to engage the blogosphere with all kinds of interest in mocking others, ridiculing them based upon falsehoods, says much. He doesn’t even think he needs to read and know what people read! Truth is not his interest, which is why he thinks he can peg blogs which he says he doesn’t read!

      I really hope, Mark, you get things settled: truth is important, and if you want to be a witness for the Gospel, you must first be able to represent people, not through strawmen, not through attempts to denigrate them based upon misrepresentation, but on where they stand. If you want to comment about them, you better know who they are.

      So Mark, once again, thank you for showing up. I am sure people will enjoy reading what you have to say.

    • Mark Gordon permalink
      March 30, 2012 4:45 pm

      Wow. I’m embarrassed for you, Mark. I’m embarrassed for you both. It’s a terrible witness, and one or both of you should relent.

    • Julian Barkin permalink
      March 30, 2012 5:44 pm

      Mark, you shouldn’t even bother here with Henry. You two are clearly at opposite ends of the Catholic political dichotomy like oil and water.

      Now look, generally, yes we should keep our anger in check as it is one of the 7 deadly sins when it becomes highly inordinate. As an obverver at Vox Nova though, I too have also started to see Henry’s post deviate gradually.

      When he/you started, his posts seened full of virtue and compassion and he was writing a decent reflection series. However, starting with the post against Elizabeth Scalia, the Anchoress and the yoga-liturgy thing, his last non reflective-series post, and now this, there is a clear degradation against certain leanings here on the Catholic blogosphere and I’m starting to see a certain polemic rearing its head. The perception I’m sensing is that you are exrepssing contrary views to those of more “conservative” Catholic bloggers and it seems like a subversive attack almost in this post and the last. This is not the Henry I’ve come to know here at VN. Fine Mark Shea is more a looser conservative combined with snark and bluntness, and it is kinda funny when he rants like he`s supreme commander and he can come off as a “jerk” (he isn’t as a person, but you know what I mean). Still, what is your slant Henry?

      • March 30, 2012 5:50 pm

        Where are my posts “deviating”? What is wrong with me posting a discussion based upon the Eastern Vespers reading and the Saint of the Day (St John Climacus) and how they correspond? Why do you think this post has a reflection on anything else in the blogosphere other than, as I pointed in the post and comments, I need to discuss these things for myself as well? And my last post, the one on charity, that was bad how? I really don’t get this “deviate” context. Are you upset that I defend an engagement with India? Tell that to the Thomas Christians (who also practice yoga). The fact of the matter is, my posts, my thoughts remain with similar thoughts on the subjects I discuss. So what is my slant? I am a Catholic.

      • Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
        March 30, 2012 8:13 pm

        Julian,

        Oh, please come out with it! Mark Shea is half- baked nut, with no real understanding of the history of the tradition he claims to find so compelling. His books are an exercise in misinformation as to verifiable history. . Give me a break!

        • March 30, 2012 8:25 pm

          I have to say, I’ve not read his books, so I can’t say if they are or are not. I’ve only encountered him online and have not found it a positive thing. Apologetics, in general, however seems to fall with that problem, and his politics continues to engage that kind of methodology. It’s sad. Anyway, there is no need to go further on Mark Shea here… I’m not a fan, but, I hope all that needs to be said has been said by now

  3. Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
    March 30, 2012 2:45 pm

    The tropes of forgiveness and mercy are one of the strongest elements in the Christian tradition. No doubt about it. But there are elements which we can “Mark” well, or distinguish perhaps, in which Christianity does not do such a good job. There are reasons for this, and they are mostly related to the very health fact of male drive, properly understood, The Chinese in this regard did a much better in their ancient philosophy, especially as it touches on medical issues. For anger is related to the Wood element. It is the force that give the “push” to life, or drive, or energy. It is the force that makes a beautiful flower burst forth. But that is all when it is in balance. On its own it is by far the most destructive of all elemental drives. And “Mark” you well, men have a hard time understanding this. Somehow in the psyche of men, especially in the West, we believe that anger is about whether we are right or wrong. Indeed, there is a separably a phenomenon of justified anger, and it is not to be overlooked or downplayed.

    But it is entirely besides the point, oddly, when it comes to assessing the presence of anger in an individual. In any individual — I believe without exception – any sort of persistent, unmediated anger (aimed anywhere) is by definition systemically destabilizing. Thus, it does not matter if, as a rational matter, in fact the anger is completely “right”. As a systemic matter any substantial anger which has not found some way of practical diffusion, or palliation, or deep balance, be it through humor, or safe expression, or acts of kindness or repentance, will be a destructive force for the individual holder of such anger EVEN IF in fact their anger is 110% justified. And “Mark” you well some people just show the systemic signs of great held anger in their very countenance, and the wood-like drive of anger ironically will draw some people to them interested in setting more existential fires. Religion is a great hiding place for such dysfunction. But religion is also potentially a great source of healing for it as well.

    • March 30, 2012 2:58 pm

      It is true, things in balance, but when the discussion is of malice (and why I point to malicious anger) then it is no longer the proper balance. It is like what we see in the Buddhist tradition — it is not the pleasure which is the problem, it is the imbalanced attachment which seeks to keep and preserve it out of its proper order and time. The passions can be a good, for they are a part of us, but they must be balanced, which I think you rightfully say is the issue.

  4. Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
    March 30, 2012 5:00 pm

    Henry,

    You and I see eye-to-eye on such things. But I think there is a little need for subtle distinction here. Sometimes when anger seems malicious it is really more precisely “disturbed”. That is the the person’s balance is all off and has been for a long time. Now there is a larger macro question here of whether given the massive changes in the world’s environment that have happened just in the last few hundred years, whether we as organisms can in any way be “balanced” in the way we were “meant” to be originally by the mind of God, as it were. But let’s leave that aside, and just say that in general in life when we see malicious anger what we are seeing is imbalance. Again, it is not primarily a moral issue. It is not about who is right. It is about who has the balance to see a way through.

    I feel this makes it easier to deal with angry people. It is not really about us. It is not “aimed” at us. As in so many ways in life, the free-ing thing is to realize that even when we get hit by something is was “not bout me”. It is just about disturbance, which we all have to one degree or another because we are alive and not dead. This is why the capacity for humor is often a great sign of the ability to transcend the “about me” aspect. So , the irony seems to be even though in life it is wise to not back down easily, even when we are making clear “Don’t mess with me” in fact what we are saying is “keep you mess to yourself.” And maybe also “I will pray that you have the grace to clean up that mess.’

  5. Bruce in Kansas permalink
    March 31, 2012 8:10 am

    See you in Confession line, dudes.

  6. Ronald King permalink
    March 31, 2012 9:05 am

    In this particular case the anger expressed by Mark seems to be a symptom of a defense against feeling the vulnerability of being hurt because Henry did not respond to his attempt at “…hoping for some sort of reconcilication, I got stony silence in reply.” The basic problem with the male psyche is the “basic fault” which harbours the history of pain and shame associated with not being good enough and is defended against being discovered internally and externally with the use of primitive defense mechanisms so as not to feel or reveal how deeply one is hurt and isolated from self and others. Combine that with our natural tendency towards aggression then we have what Peter Paul describes as a systemic instability within basic human relationships which creates a chronic condition of underlying fear and mistrust of those who think and act differently than the observer. What is the solution to this particular situation? ” Mark, I am sorry I hurt you.”, might be the answer.

    • March 31, 2012 10:10 am

      No, Mark is not the victim. I am the victim — and he continues to make me the victim by pretending I am the one in the wrong. His so-called apology was anything but one — it was showmanship while making attacks at the same time — and encouraging others (as per the comments) while doing nothing to prevent the false notions being spread (and indeed, continuing to do so, while claiming he is sorry). No, he is not sorry. No, I did nothing to hurt him. Mark is just a bully, and he seems to do as bullies do when someone doesn’t play by their rules. Blame the victim. No go.

      • Ronald King permalink
        March 31, 2012 11:10 am

        Henry, There is more to it than I put down. The bully’s attempt at reconciliation is a spark of awareness that originates from the truth that he is wrong in his aggression against you. His statement above exhibits just how desperate he is for the recognition of being a good enough person. His anger with you exhibits the importance of your acceptance of him. All of us have this desire to be accepted and validated as being good enough. I know that his methods of communicating his disagreements and distress are accomplished with the art of sarcasm and fueled by the rage of being powerless which results in harming others and gives him an illusion of power through the use of these methods. I do not blame you as the victim here. I see you as the healer only if you can see past the false self-protective defenses which the bully projects to defend himself from the awareness of being hurt. I know you did not intentionally hurt him. He is hurt by a lack of attention and it does not matter where it comes from. Please consider this Henry.

      • Julia Smucker permalink*
        April 1, 2012 4:51 pm

        Ouch. I really don’t know the back story here and so I hardly feel qualified to comment, except that I am sharing Mark Gordon’s embarrassment for this whole exchange.

        Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…
        Save us from weak resignation to the evils we deplore…

        This “he is not the victim, I am” comment in particular sounds contradictory to the whole spirit of this eloquent, irenic yet prophetic post. I do recognize the element of my own hypocrisy in pointing this out, because Lord knows (and does he ever) I have yielded to the same temptation many times.

        Lord have mercy.

  7. March 31, 2012 11:31 am

    This has been a good summary of the problems in discourse today. People are obsessing over whether Shea and Karlson like each other, as if that had some cosmic significance. The root of this conflict has nothing to do with personalization. Shea likes to use this blog and its contributors as a foil for his own work. In the process of doing so, he has grossly misrepresented the positions of its members and viciously slurred them. That’s not something you just wake up from in the morning and say, “Let’s have intelligent debate now.” When he bothers to actually and respectfully engage positions, I’m sure he’ll be treated in kind. If he continues on the present path, I’m confident he will continue to not be seriously considered on this blog.

    • March 31, 2012 11:47 am

      Indeed, that is one of the problems (and not just this blog, but many people and blogs), and if he showed actual concern to be different, the response would be different.

    • Ronald King permalink
      March 31, 2012 3:27 pm

      M.Z., it does have cosmic significance. I have great respect for the contributors on this blog and what Henry has written above is the path which Jesus has written into our hearts. I had the occasion several weeks ago to attend a pro-life conference and introduce myself to the keynote speaker who had attacked me on this site a couple of years ago when we last encountered one another. I realized that what I had written had hurt him although it was not my intent. Since we live almost 3000 miles apart I thought it was a gift from God that I had this opportunity to make amends. It was a blessing to be able to be face to face with him and through God’s Grace a healing and a weight was lifted. Nothing like reconciliation.
      The cosmic part of this is the Body of Christ and how we all suffer when there is a chronic infection within that Body. The chronic infection is malicious anger and the cure is what Henry has written above. To treat Shea like he treats those who differ with him is counter to what Christ died for. It is cosmic in actuality.

    • Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
      March 31, 2012 4:11 pm

      M.Z.,

      Good comment. The sub specie aeternitatis take on things is always, without exception, the best way to put harsh emotions into proper context and perspective. And it is not for nothing that most phenomenologies of humor or laughter see it grounded in a feeling of transcendence. For what it is worth, one of my bad memories of being in the RC church was just how nasty and cutting a lot of people were to each other. Yes, that is the human condition in some ways. (Look, I swear I am not just trying to be funny, but truly the only group where I have also encountered such nastiness in is with the few drag queens I have known. I have nothing against drag queens per se, but I don’t often choose them for company.) But in fact most people in normal life I have run into, even if they have a nasty observation to make, seem to have a sense of “Oh well, the poor guy is just trying to survive.” That is not really compassion, but it is a kind of humane slack that is a sort of mercy. Somehow the idealism that Catholicism engenders in many, also leads to a kind of emotional detachment from even this sort of humane mercy based on hardscrabble realities. The result is a sort of incredibly nasty sort of judgmentalism which is detached even life’s bottom line commonsense compassion. This specific conflation of elements seems to be unique to an arch sort of RC Catholic. It is so little to do with the old-style Catholic who had “seen it all” and had compassion for it all as well. The nasty side naturally is most present in converts, who are sure they have reinvented the wheel by claiming congruence with every bit of eternity they can get their spiritual hands on, as if it were a big discovery. It is a particular type, and all I can say in regards to the focus of this discussion is, ecce homo.

  8. Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
    March 31, 2012 11:07 pm

    Henry,

    I have a curious addendum to this discussion. I did a little googling to understand the backstory of this contretemps and came across a Mark Shea about “Henry Karlson…God Our King” . The first thing I noticed was in fact the first picture provided. And I need to go into a bit of inquiry on “art-historical” info to deliver the message here.. In fact the picture of President Obama with rays coming out of his head is NOT just any picture. Naturally, it is meant to depict what all reactionaries like to say about the man. Namely, that he is some sort of supernatural figure for his supporters. But in fact the picture is an exact copy of the style of one Charles Sindelar, who was the chief artist-illustrator for the “I AM” Activity cult founded by the Ballards in the Depression era. (See the Magic Presence by Sindelar) Sindelar’s style was copied by later artist who worked for the Ballards, and then later for Elizabeth Claire Prophet who copied the Ballards in “dogma”. The point is that the picture Mark Shea puts up is a direct descendent of that Sindelar style.

    But there is a more troubling meaning to this. You see, the “I AM” Activity was a very right-wing group that was also incredibly racist as well. In fact their doctrine was that black people were a form of imprisoned animal life in human bodies. To such an extent that they had separate “I AM” Sanctuaries for “white people” and “black people”. This even continues to this day in DC, if you can believe it, and “I AM” congregation for “black people” is right around the corner from St. Matthew’s in DC !! (across from the National Geographic). So it seems that Mark Shea is participating in a very elaborate art-iconographic racist caricature of the President. Using the exact art iconography from a very racist group to make a cheap shot about Obama.

    (Full disclosure: I know something about this because my grandmother, after raising 11 children rosary-saying Catholics converted to this cult, after the death of my grandfather.)

    • April 1, 2012 3:06 am

      Peter,

      Things are much longer standing than that post, and deal with the years of Shea’s misrepresentation of others, his method being quite the bully — and his unwillingness to change and always doing it over and over again. It’s hard to explain the whole history. However, what Shea is trying to say (and this is again, wrong) is that those who are for Obama have turned him into a “God-king” and “messiah.” It’s rather insane but it is the rhetoric he uses — and anyone who disagrees with Shea’s analysis is therefore defending someone who seems to represent an anti-Christ ( which is what the rhetoric is about, turning Obama into a representation of evil,for it suggests he is an anti-Christ, trying to take the place of Christ, though of course Obama is not doing so).

      • Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
        April 1, 2012 11:31 pm

        Henry,

        My only advice is not to take it personally. You are a dialogical sort of intelligent Catholic, the other party someone looking to a past that never was. Who has the higher ground; you already know the answer.

        As to Obama as “God-king”, I always think this is one of the funniest tropes of reactionaries. For it flouts even the most basic real-estate logic of a person. You know, you can tell 90% about a person by where they choose to live. And even more if they actually plunk down their own moolah to live there, by buying a house. Well, President Obama bought a house in Hyde Park in Chicago. Now anyone who has ever known anyone who lives or lived in Hyde Park can discern a basic character type. They are always people with a lot of ready critiques for human pretensions of all types. And maybe for a few pretensions you have not even thought of. That is who lives in Hyde Parjk, If Obama had chosen to live in Santa Fe, or Boulder, or the hills (not the flats!) for Berkeley, or even (gulp!) Sedona, then maybe I could at least see the possibility of their “messiah” paranoia. But Hyde Park!?? That is the furtherest place one would expect to find such people. (The train station for the U of chicago says it all– there must be many 3rd world cities with a better station than that! Pretentious it was not)

        By contrast , many a Republican hamlet like parts of Dallas, etc., are places bristling with people who think they are in touch with the Almighty in the most indisputable way. So, what they try to lay on Obama, does not even pass the most basic real estate logic. Period.

  9. johnmcg permalink
    April 2, 2012 9:30 am

    I don’t want to bring more heat than light, but I thought it may be useful for me to share why I find myself more sympathetic to Mark in these discussions.

    Mark does not pretend that his blog is anything other than it is — whatever is popping into his head as he reads the news every day. He has established a record that sort of compels him to comment on almost every prominent news story, which sometimes leads him to merely reflect his opinions of the poeple involved. (e.g crowing about the 414-0 vote on the Obama budget, which everyone involved recognized was a stunt http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2012/03/not-a-happy-week-for-the-god-king.html). Other times, it leads him to go a bit too far, leading Mark to apologize and try to better.

    I’m not certain this style of commentary is always a positive for public discourse. For one, I don’t care for how he reduces people and movements to Capitalized Shorthand Names. Though I do think Mark was heroic in, for example, confronting people on the right for their support of torture, and calling them to reject it.

    VN seems to aim for something bigger, but, IMO often falls short. There will be posts here that are essentially rewrites of Democratic talking points with a Latin accent. Posts not just supporting or opposing certain politicians, but asserting that anyone who takes the opposite position must be either a phony or a dupe. Naturally, this will lead to heated debate, as there are some who do hold the opposing positions who do not consider themselves phonies and dupes. The comment Mark linked to was not an aberration of the type of commentary these posts invite and the feelings that are affirmed by them.

    Then, we will be treated to “above it all” posts like this about how mean and nasty those Other People are, and how they need to reject their ways and grow up and embrace the Gospel of Love, without any acknowledgement of how the content and tone of a good number of VN posts contribute to the acrimonious atmosphere.

    Maybe it’s unfair to hold VN to a higher standard, but IMO VN has set things up so as to invite it.

    • April 2, 2012 11:03 am

      No, it doesn’t go that way.

      First, this post was universal, and if you note, I put we – I am myself included in it.
      Second, while VN might debate talking points and some people on it might give responses supporting things the GOP doesn’t like, there is an attempt at least to get the story right, and to get opposing views right. This is what is necessary — to get the actual ideas right.
      Third, Mark doesn’t do so, nor does he care for it. But fourth:
      LYING is an intrinsic evil, and Mark has talked about lying as an intrinsic evil before so
      FIFTH your own argument demolishes Mark, who basically said he doesn’t read what others say but he will portray them as he wants.

      And SIXTH: what someone on here says in comments is just that — not the blog, just like those who comment on Mark’s blog should not be seen as representing what Mark says. For example, it was said I am a self-proclaimed pinko. This is false. Mark let it through. So should I say Mark approves and believes that? Of course not. And yes, MARK made it impossible for ME to respond to him. He blocked my posting comments. Enough is enough.

      • johnmcg permalink
        April 2, 2012 1:30 pm

        I’ll leave it to the other readers to determine whether this response is moved by love or anger.

      • Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
        April 2, 2012 5:24 pm

        johnmcg,

        I realize you wrote the following as a defense of the other guy:

        “He has established a record that sort of compels him to comment on almost every prominent news story, which sometimes leads him to merely reflect his opinions of the poeple involved.”

        But that is one of the damning things you could have written about the fellow. A paean to another’s superciliousness is not a defense.

  10. Bruce in Kansas permalink
    April 4, 2012 9:36 am

    I have ten children and I truly love each one of them, but they argue with one another and fuss almost constantly. Yes, one of them is often “more wrong” than another, but that’s not really the problem. What’s a father to do; take sides or call each of them to the higher love they were created for? I realize that I often fail, but I also know what our True Father’s will is.

  11. Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
    April 4, 2012 10:32 pm

    Bruce,

    I get the point of your comment, and actually think it is a god one, as it goes to the more basic issue of human nature, which is vexed. But, I would also like to cite that amazing poll or statistic from a few years ago which queried elderly people and asked if they had to do it over again, would they have children again?? An overwhelming majority said: no. Who knows if it is a comment on children, or parents, or the world and society at large. The only lesson I draw is that we should not expect too much from people, and if they are really fine to us we should praise them and be especially thankful!! The other crucial lesson is just to ignore assholes, even if they are family….or part of the same church or religion.

    • Ronald King permalink
      April 5, 2012 9:06 am

      Peter Paul, I have had a hard time ignoring assholes and have been forced in my life to sit face to face with them and their victims. It involved empowering the victim to speak her/his truth in a safe environment ideally face to face. I have seen many people with narcissistic and sociopathic traits who initially appeared to be personality disorders but eventually these were revealed as defense mechanisms which were employed to protect an immature vulnerable core self. The clinical personality disorder of the narcissitic and sociopathic type is extremely difficult to work with, especially those with high intelligence, because of the complexity of their defenses and I learned that my efforts in therapy with them.were an exercise in futility. They will not have insight into how they harm others or see others as objects to be used; they lack empathy; believe they deserve special treatment; and blame others for their problems. They were in therapy to change their vicitm’s response rather than taking responsibility for the harm which they caused. They would not stay in treatment when the focus was on their dysfunction.
      Empowering the victim to speak the truth of their vulnerability and to be able to gain strength in being vulnerable became the task of our work together. I’ve referenced this Buddhist teacher’s statement previously and I am paraphrasing, “Those who are on the Way will face difficult times in which they react to protect the survival of the old self. However, their task is to seek someone who encourages them to risk themselves. The more they can risk their annihilation the more chance they have of discovering within them that which is indestructible. That is the spirit and integrity of true awakening.”

  12. Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
    April 5, 2012 2:40 pm

    Ronald,

    First, this may be a bit off-topic, but maybe not: You are reminding me of why when I got out of the seminary I did not want to become a psychotherapist. One of the professional downsides is that such a person would need to NOT avoid assholes sometimes, in order to help another, who is probably more the “victim”. It calls for a strong person. But I have frankly now had the experience several times of having truly excellent psychotherapists. who, perhaps not surprisingly, at some point seem to crack a bit under the strain. None of it seemed germane to our therapy sessions particularly, though it eventually manifested by my receiving “less good” sessions from the therapist. It then becomes an interesting calculus for the client. In some sense you feel close to the therapist because they know you intimately, and have helped you profoundly. Yet, on the other hand, the therapist is NOT a friend, and it is not appropriate for you to try to help them in their times of evident need. Plus you are paying a lot for what should be a service at a certain level. It is just a hazard of the profession that when the therapist is not feeling well, you are not getting the full service.

    My last therapist was the best of my life. I wonder sometimes if he will be my last. He was brilliant, sensitive, and kind. He had incredible insight into my issues. He was also realistic and funny. He was so good in fact that when he seemed to start having some problems and acting and looking a bit odd, even in a somewhat diminished state therapeutically he was STILL incredibly helpful just because he was so brilliant and trenchant. But eventually his problems bubbled to the surface a bit more, and I had to leave. I sent him a letter praising him to the heavens, and gently suggesting it might be time for him to take in that old insight: Physician, heal thyself.

    I think of this experience because of our discussion of “avoiding assholes”. He was definitely NOT an asshole. But he had a great insight into the type. He has the one who helped me see the great pragmatic or practical value of just treating the mixture of illness and narcissism in that type as something that per se MUST be ignored. In other words, if we give into the very casual tendency to try to explain or worse “understand” the behavior in any way, we are then locked in the roller -coaster of the matrix of their problem. It helped me get that to some extent or other we all have this problem, in the sense that most of what we think is not rational. It is just that the more well-adjusted seek out coherence and rational behavior, not as a point of pride or hubris, but as a way of getting-along and surviving gracefully. The “asshole type” has a deep instinct that others will try to understand him/her and instinctively uses it to embroil others in their effluvia. The point is the effluvia has NO MEANING, and cannot be understood, though of course strategically one might build a conceptual scaffold around it to facilitate practically dealing with it, or further ignoring it. I guess at bottom this view acknowledges that the asshole type is just a vast extreme of a basic human condition we all share. Everyone is equal, but in this negative sense, some are more equal than others.

    One of the long-term lessons I got from all this is that humor is a great away of ignoring assholes and still getting at the issue of their assholity. It works for me internally, but might be a bit different for others, as the sense-of-humor is very individual. Pax tecum!

    • Ronald King permalink
      April 5, 2012 7:30 pm

      Beautiful:) Towards the end of every session I would ask if I was helpful or not. There were many days I would not charge a fee because I knew I was not up to par and I would communicate this. I also made it clear to each person that we were learning how to express our freedom in the safety of my office and through that freedom of expression we would learn how to build trust with self and the other.
      As I write this there are so many instances coming to mind that challenged my ability to help someone or to confront someone and the only way which was successful was to express the truth of my vulnerability. It would go something like “I don’t know what to do at this time…or, Man, your rage scares the hell out of me imagine what that does to your mate.” Every person who came to see me suffered from a loss of love and it left them with the belief that they were unloveable. Intimate relationships tend to bring out in us what has been unloved and hidden from self and others.
      Peter Paul I admire your gifts. Thanks for indulging me. God Bless You and Your Love

  13. Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
    April 5, 2012 10:05 pm

    Dear Ronald,

    Thank you for your affirmation! I admire your honesty with clients. Yet I also think if that if someone shows up to do the work, and is not utterly skewed, well, not to be crass, but they should just take the money for the therapeutic work. It is up to the client to make the choice later by not continuing.. Because the flip side is that there is also a whole phalanx of seemingly professional wounded people out there, just waiting to take advantage of therapists of all kinds. Wise as serpents is the golden mean. But I am sure you already know that.

    Thanks again.

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