I know the feeling

Updated: May 18



I remember very little about the movie Network outside of its famous rant.


I don't want to spoil this terrific tirade for you. Watch it for yourself and then come back. I'll have more to say when you're through. (The video below lasts slightly more than 3 minutes.)


Have you ever felt like the fictional newscaster, Howard Beale?


It sure seems sometimes like the world is going to hell in a handbasket.


Like Howard Beale, sometimes the news is enough to make me want to rant and rave. Sometimes, I feel like throwing open the window and shouting, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" But to be honest, I'm one who tends in the other direction. I tend to bottle up my emotions.


Some people wear their emotions on their sleeves. Others are like me. Which are you? Do you bottle up your emotions, or do you let them fly?


As I've stated here in previous posts, I wish that Lutherans were better at worshiping with abandon. I wish that we would let our guard down and let our emotions out. We don't need to open our windows, though. Instead, we can open up our hearts and spill our guts to God. There's a book in the Bible that shows us how to do this, no holds barred. I'm referring to the Psalms.


I miss the Psalms. I love the fact that for years Our Saviour's used these ancient prayers in worship. This hasn't been the case since COVID struck. It's high time that this changed. Later this summer, I will be preaching a sermon series from the Psalms.


Still, in the back of my mind, I don't think that this will change our approach to worship. If I were a betting man, I'd say it's easy money to predict that most of us are much more likely to yell at the TV than we are to God. Being totally honest with God isn't easy for most of us.


As I think about Howard Beale's rant in Network, I can also hear the voice of one of my seminary professors, Dr. Jeff Gibbs. Gibbs wrote a superb essay on the subject of righteous anger. I think about his words often. I try to encourage as many Christians as I can to do the same. Here is a link to what he had to say.


Let's go back to the news. Let's go back to Howard Beale's cry: I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.


Keeping in mind what Dr. Gibbs has to say about anger, I think of the last two verses from the hymn, God of Grace and God of Glory.


Cure Your children's warring madness;

Bend our pride to Your control;

Shame our wanton, selfish gladness,

Rich in things and poor in soul.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,

Lest we miss Your kingdom's goal.

Lest we miss Your kingdom's goal.


Save us from weak resignation

To the evils we deplore;

Let the gift of Your salvation

Be our glory evermore.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,

Serving You whom we adore,

Serving You whom we adore.

Living faithfully today requires both faith and courage. This is particularly true in our vocation as Christian citizens. As I think about our calling as Americans, I keep in mind what Reinhold Niebuhr said: The sad duty of politics is to establish justice in a sinful world.


Like Niebuhr, we need to be Christian realists when it comes to politics.


While I don't agree with everything that Niebuhr wrote or said, I find his insights helpful when trying to live faithfully in the mad, mad world we find ourselves in these days.




Here are a few more insights from the Christian realist:


Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.


Democracy is finding proximate solutions to insoluble problems.


The tendency to claim God as an ally for our partisan value and ends is the source of all religious fanaticism.


Religion, declares the modern man, is consciousness of our highest social values. Nothing could be further from the truth. True religion is a profound uneasiness about our highest social values.


Goodness, armed with power, is corrupted; and pure love without power is destroyed.


 

I'll close with a few thoughts from another Christian realist, Martin Luther.


To be qualified to rule, it is not enough to be pious. A jackass is also pious. Ability and experience are required in order to rule.... He who is to rule dare not lack reason, prudence, wit, and wisdom if he does not want to work great harm in his government; for government is subject to reason.


You must know that from the beginning of the world a wise prince is a rare bird indeed; still more so a pious prince. They are usually the greatest fools or the worst knaves on earth.


As humbly as I conduct myself when God sends me a sickness, so humbly should I conduct myself toward evil government, which the same God also sends me.


The world is entirely too wicked to be worthy of good and pious rulers. It must have princes who war and waste and shed blood...


One should suffer injustice and violence, but one is not to remain quiet. For a Christian should testify to the truth and die for the sake of the truth.


Christian and brotherly treatment is a conduct that does not belong into worldly government... Christian and evangelical treatment is to be used only in the rule of conscience. But sharp and strict laws are required to rule the world in order to check the wickedness of which all are full.



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