Notebook

Anger

Friday’s terrible shooting in Oslo is yet another indication — as if we needed more — of the breakdown of conversation in our society. Culturally, the West is pulled in different directions. With certain tendencies we may be in deep disagreement. Yet to seek to annihilate difference, to point a gun (be it rhetorical) at those who embody difference, is perverse. It is time to recover the use of logos, reasoned speech. It is time to be on our guard against discourse sprung from anger. Macarius the Great said: ‘If while correcting another you are carried away by anger, you are feeding your own passion. Yet you mustn’t destroy yourself to save another.’ Today’s Gospel is relevant. Faced with the insult of a Samaritan village that refused to let Jesus in, James and John proposed to ‘call down fire from heaven to burn them up’. The Lord ‘turned and rebuked them’. An ancient Gospel manuscript adds the content of his rebuke: ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man came not to destroy men’s lives but to save them’ (Luke 9:51-5)