Temper. Temper.

jordan-davis-flagWe Christians follow a leader who was once angry enough to turn over tables in the temple. If we don’t like the idea of an angry Messiah, we can call it righteous indignation

Then there was the cursing of the fig tree for having no fruit at breakfast time and the whole pile-it-on rant against the scribes and Pharisees. Again, Jesus got angry because there are Just Some Things in This World that justifiably rile us for the love of God. Jesus was often angry about injustice and hypocrisy and spiritual laziness.

But Jesus was never angry about loud music as far as we can tell. He was never angry about people whose skin color was lighter or darker than his own. He was never angry about strangers in the neighborhood. Actually, he was often that stranger.

I can’t say whether or not Jesus had a temper in terms of general disposition towards angry outbursts and impatience. I can say that Jesus was one to temper justice with mercy, to temper heated moments with grace.

What we need are fewer tempers and more tempering.

Most of us can’t get our heads around a person who would fire a gun at teenagers whose “rap crap” was too loud. It turns out that the teenagers didn’t have weapons in their Dodge Durango, although Michael Dunn explains that he shot at Jordan Davis and his friends in the Durango because he saw a gun. He stood his ground and shot Jordan Davis and then continued to shoot at the car as they drove away.

Mr. Dunn seems to have a bad temper. He lost control. He had just left his son’s wedding before the shooting, so you’d think he would have been in a good mood.

On the other hand, tempering their understandable rage are Jordan Davis’ parents. Nobody could blame them for cursing the heavens – and Michael Dunn. But they are grateful now for a glimpse of justice. Jordan’s father said that “his calmness through anger and grief honored the memory of his son.”

The world needs cooler tempers and more passionate tempering. There is nothing we can say to Jordan’s parents except that many of us worship a God who knows what it’s like to lose a son to violence. Honestly, we have got to get a grip on our anger and fear.

Image of Jordan Davis who would have been 19 last weekend.

3 responses to “Temper. Temper.

  1. This is a great post. Temper and tempering. So true.
    Robert was on a plane last week next to a guy who does security work with a federal agency. High level professional. The flight attendant was asking him to move his coat from the overhead bin because they were running out of room. He went *immediately* to anger with her, questioning her knowledge of the policy, etc.

    It was the speed at which he went from zero to ticked off that was so striking. We need to take a collective chill pill.

    One small thing. I’m glad you featured the photo of Jordan Davis rather than the gun-toting yahoo who shot him. Unfortunately it means that on Feedly, Facebook and the like, there’s a headline about anger next to a picture of a young black man. Just an unfortunate optic…


  2. As always, brilliant, Jan. I confess my own “0 to 60” rage-o-meter, of which I’m not proud. It’s become worse since I live in “the dome” of the North Shore, where I’ve quickly become accustomed to feeling entitled.


  3. Thanks for the reminder about the optics. Did you see the slides of “dangerous young men” that went around?


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