Angry at Who?

Bill O’Reilly recently stated that he was angry at God because all of the attention given to Mr. O’Reilly’s alleged bad behavior. I have heard other people express their displeasure against the divine for a number of reasons. Lee Strobel, the evangelical author, once claimed that during a period of atheism in his life he was angry at God for not existing. As paradoxical as that sounds, I suspect he was not the first person to ever be in that situation.

I can understand being angry at God for various reasons. When my maternal grandparents died within three weeks of one another, my aunt said to me, “I told God it is not fair!” She was right it was not the least bit fair. I told a grieving grandmother that God was definitely big enough to take our anger. God must be. There are over seven billion people on this planet alone. And each of us must be angry sometimes. Whether our existential anger is directed against God, the divine, luck, or the Universe, expressing that anger is always directed at a target that is not only unseen; we have to find a direction for the target. But, while we take these points into account, let us not minimize those instances of legitimate anger or grief for legitimate loss.

We should ask the question what is the primary focus of God? We should immediately recognize that no known religious texts (even in the Bible) answer that question. The Westminster Confession puts the chief aim of humanity being to know God and enjoy the Divine forever (Yes, I am paraphrasing here.). And yet, even among the most conservative protestants God is “Wholly Other.” St. John gives us the statement that “God is Love.” So, then, we may assume that we cannot fully understand even the simplest concept of love. We have Norman Maclean’s assertion from his story A River Runs Through It, that we can love without perfect understanding.

I believe that we are not the primary focus of anything that is wholly other even God. Yet, we are still loved. To accept this truth will help us come to a realization in our anger that we often assume we are the center of everything both in times of real loss and felt loss. Since God being love means God is the source of love, that we can declare love as our vocation in the world that is so unloving. Our existential anger and the traumas that come with it then makes forgiveness a virtue we hope to achieve only as can grow in love and loving-kindness.

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One thought on “Angry at Who?

  1. One of the most common arguments I hear against the existence of a Good God is the bit about how He could allow bad things to happen to good people. It is difficult to explain to people in this mindset that “unfair” is a relative concept. We see things from a personal perspective and often interpret goodness only in regard to how events affect us personally. We have feelings. We were created with feelings. So how could a good deity hurt them?
    Objectivity is the moral responsibility of any thinking person, religious or not. One can argue that humans broke the world and as is demanded by free will and terrestrial stewardship, we are responsible for fixing what we broke. If I dump barrels of toxic waste into a river that a tribe downstream drinks from, is it God’s fault when those people are poisoned, or is it my fault?
    One can also argue that human suffering is necessary in order for compassion to be exercised. Mother Teresa sponsored Homes For The Dying, but many of the residents could have been cured or simple antibiotics or pain management meds, which were available and affordable,but denied to the inmates of the facilities she oversaw. God’s fault?

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