Monday, June 28, 2010

On Being Furious

PEOPLE make me angry sometimes.

St. Mark the Monk, a highly-regarded early Christian writer, urges,
Do not be defeated by anger that causes you to hate your brother. Anger, on account of some pathetic and wretched pretext, closes you both to inflict and to suffer pain, and has you storing up reminders of wicked thoughts about your neighbor, shutting you off from pure prayer directed to God.(*)
The word "pretext" here is interesting. A pretext is generally an excuse a person makes up to justify some action/behavior. Here, he's saying that anger is playing with you. It generates some silly basis for being ticked off (the way a person spoke to you, looked at you, or (gasp!) dissed your Internet persona(!)). We take this pretext (fools!) and run with it.

He continues,
Reducing the mind to utter slavery, anger has you suspiciously eyeing your brother and soulmate with savage thoughts. It fetters the conscience with irrational impulses...
I mean this is spot-on. Admit it, when you're in the grip of anger, it owns you. You're its slave. It fetters (chains) your very conscience. Your whole judgment system is off and your words and actions are no longer controlled by your conscience, because, that conscience is chained and powerless.

It also hands you over for a while to evil spirits to whom you submit yourself for punishment, until the mind, completely at a loss and overwhelmed by sorrow and apathy...having lost the spiritual progress gained by living in accordance with God, begins again and sets out once more, with great humility, taking the first steps on the road to salvation.
In the arrogance of our anger, we're robbed completely of everything good, and are forced to state of humility (sooner rather than later, hopefully!) to start again on our spiritual path.

As for me, I hate wasting time and energy on such a destructive cycle. I think we're each better off thinking once and twice before we so easily and arrogantly invite anger through the front door of our heart.

Dude makes mess.
*Vivian, Tim; Casiday, Augustine(trans).Counsels on the Spiritual Life: Mark the Monk. p 62

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