Confession time: I've been a little angry lately. I'm not sure anyone has actually seen it, but the end of January especially I found myself frequently becoming very upset over minor things that didn't seem to be going my way. I'm not normally an angry person. I think maybe it was the weather, over January and February, that really got to me. So, I picked this book about letting go of anger off my shelf for February's book.
I used to read a lot before college, but I found that during college I not only didn't have time to read but I was also required to read a considerable amount for classes, and it just kind of ruined reading for me. So last year I tried to get in to reading a little bit, but very gradually, and this year I'm trying to read a book each month. I posted about it on Facebook last month, and there seemed like there was enough interest to warrant writing a full report on my monthly reading.
I've had Unoffendable for several years, but never actually finished reading it. It's written by Brant Hansen, who many people may recognize from the Christian radio scene; I grew up listening to him on Air1 Radio, and he's a host on WayFM. On the WayFM website, Brant's self-written about page says, "Brant is a Christian with a distaste for religion. He’s under the impression there was no religion in Eden, and there won’t be any in Heaven, either. Thank God. Politically, he’s pro-life, pro-science, and is allergic to political elitism, which means he’s waaay out of step with the reigning American monoculture."
That gives you an idea of the kind of guy Brant is. He's quirky and humble but also fun-loving and wise. He's passionate about the Bible, but has no tolerance for adding anything on or twisting its words. This comes out in his writing style. It's at times light-hearted and at times direct, and he's not afraid to attack commonly held Christian beliefs if he feels the Bible doesn't back them up. Which he does. That's what the entire book is about, actually.
Christian culture likes to tell us that anger is good. I've seen blog posts and even books about that, actually. But the Bible doesn't actually affirm that. This book immediately makes a case for anger being bad and sinful, arguing that there is not even such a thing as righteous anger for people, since we are not God and thus not righteous. This is something of a radical idea, but the author provides plenty of supporting evidence from various passages of scripture to drive the point home.
What this book doesn't do, though, is make you feel guilty for your anger. It's not all, "Look at how sinful you are!" or "Stop being angry or you'll go to hell!" Which I appreciate, because I find guilt doesn't often make me a better person, it just makes me feel bad for continuing in my errant ways.
Unoffendable takes a different approach, suggesting that life will be easier if we are less angry. Get rid of your anger to please God, yes, but also get rid of your anger for you. You don't need the added stress of holding a grudge or being angry about something you can't control. "Ain't You Tired?" asks the title of Chapter 8. Relax. You don't need to be angry about wrongs or offended by people's immoral behavior or mad about the things that didn't go as planned. God is the judge, God is in control, take a deep breath and let him do his job.
It's important not to confuse anger with action and lack of anger with inaction: we can still fight against injustice or seek to resolve issues without being angry. But we can approach those things in a calm and rational way, which will likely be more effective and will certainly be less stressful.
The book I read last month, Why We're Polarized by Ezra Klein, highlighted how in part political polarization in America stems from people forming identities and then taking offense to anything which conflicts with one or more of those identities, and even taking offense as if the violation is against their entire spectrum of identities. This offense partly explains how it seems that our American political parties can't begin to have a conversation on anything and bipartisanship is so rare. Unoffendable seems to suggest a different response, not that we must agree with everything, but that we love people we don't agree with and even be friends with them, having rational discussions instead of treating their stance on one issue as an affront on our entire being. What would the world be like, I wonder, if Christians couldn't be offended?
For me, this book brought a lot of relief. It helped me to take a step back, inhale, exhale, and remember that things don't have to go exactly the way I think, in my small mind, that they should. If I don't get as much done in an evening as I wanted or I lose a game or something breaks, the world keeps turning. God isn't standing over me with a stick expecting perfection. If somebody does something I think is wrong, the world keeps turning. God isn't expecting me to judge them. So why be angry?
I'll leave you with this quote:
"I don't control anyone, because that's God's job. That's His deal. I can just enjoy and love people. As I keep saying, I wish I would've known this sooner. I wish I could've seen the entire redemptive, narrative arc of the Bible, rather than cherry-picking the few bits that seemed, when isolated, to suggest disengagement with sinners. But the good thing is, I've finally learned: Don't condemn the culture; redeem it." ~ Unoffendable by Brant Hansen, page 84
If this book interests you, you can check it out here. The links in this post are affiliate links.