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July 17, 2011

Question: Is it wrong to be angry with God?

 This a question of moral theology for which we must distinguish between the ideal and the real: how we should behave and what actually takes place in the human condition. Being angry forms part of the normal nexus of human experience, at some time or another, although it would never occur to some persons of faith to be angry with God.

Anger is one of those volatile states which the scriptures of all religions advise us to master because of its devastating effects.

As such, the symptom of anger becomes a call for deeper reflection to understand more profoundly the causes of our anger and, hopefully, thereby reduce it, instead of remaining either a target, victim or purveyor of anger. We thereby empower ourselves to learn a new pattern of behaviour: using reason, understanding and consultation to problem solve instead of futile, repeated fuming and venting. Although justified anger, a visceral reaction of outrage to injustice or immorality does exist, how and when it is applied requires the wisdom of the wise.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921), the third of the Three Central Figures of the Bahá’í Faith, advised in a talk in 1912 in Chicago: “Never become angry with one another. Love the creatures for the sake of God and not for themselves … Humanity is not perfect. There are imperfections in every human being, and you will always become unhappy if you look toward the people themselves” (The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 92).

But the question asks about anger at God. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says: “All that has been created is for man who is at the apex of creation and who must be thankful for the divine bestowals, so that through his gratitude he may learn to understand life as a divine benefit … therefore we must be happy and pass our time in praises, appreciating all things” (Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 134).

My last thought would be this: Anyone is free to be angry at God or not. It may have short-term therapeutic value for a time, but definite risks are involved. - Jack McLean

Printed in the The Ottawa Citizen July 17, 2011
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