Tis the season to be outraged. It’s also the season for extraordinary humbug. For example, I found the statement by the Duck Dynasty fellow offensive, but I was disturbed by the A&E network’s reaction. A&E ‘adopts’ a family which prides itself on its “redneck” identity, builds an enormously successful Reality Show around the family, makes money out of the homespun lifestyles of the family, and is outraged when a family member expresses opinions more often than not found among such people.
I can be outraged by the Duck Dynasty patriarch and by A&E, all at the same time. I can blog about my outrage using the most evocative terms available in my working vocabulary. I can thereby demonstrate that I am on the right side, whatever that side may be, show you all just how virtuous I am, and accomplish all this from the comfort of my recliner. Guess what? It won’t cost me much time, much energy, or any money. I don’t even have to be objective. If someone is attacking my belief, my lifestyle, my ethnicity I can strike back, on behalf of my circle and be as aggressive as I like. I can go for the jugular, attack the person in my sight, spill blood, shut down my computer and go and get on with my life basking in the glow of my own rightness. Outrage is delicious. I can be as self-serving and self-centered as I like, and reap the rewards heaped on me by people who approve of my position.
How did God demonstrate his outrage at the human condition? He emptied himself, became a servant, surrendered his life as a public felon. He came as a vulnerable baby, the prey of an ‘outrageous’ tyrant. He was attacked by the virtuous, the righteous, the Pharisees – a society to protect the purity of the Nation and its Church – and he offered in return his love. He associated with sinners, untouchables, while the virtuous called him a drunk and a glutton. Jesus expressed his ‘outrage’ by offering love, by showing God’s amazing concern for human beings, flawed, sinful women and men. He sought to change lives not by reading the riot act and administering a flogging -yes. he took the whip to religious humbugs – but by exposing them to the life-changing power of the Divine love.
We are told not to judge; we are told to care. This does not mean we are called to approve of human fallenness. Rather we are to remind ourselves that because we are fallen, we have no standing as judges and when we have the temerity to assume the mantle of a judge we turn into humbugs and join the ranks of those who in their moral superiority, sent Jesus to his death.
Having written this. I must be sure that I am not impressed about my outrage about the outraged. It’s not easy is it?, to attempt to lose our lives, carry our crosses, walk with Jesus, not easy to make the attempt without being impressed by our nobility, our virtue and a short step to the place when we can, once again, indulge in the beauty of being outraged.
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