A post I wrote for bLOGOS on the Ekklesia Project website:

Third Sunday in Lent
John 2:13-22 (25)

“The gesture in the temple is all the more poignant and prophetic when we imagine it executed by a man too slight to carry his own cross without assistance, a man whose idea of a workout is a forty-day fast.”

Garret Keizer, The Enigma of Anger

We live in angry times.

In our politics, anger can lead to cynicism and despair or it can energize grassroots movements for change. (Rush Limbaugh is now feeling some of the effects of the latter). More often, perhaps, our anger at the “broken system” we all lament leaves us somewhere in the middle: indifferent, disengaged, checked out.

In our family lives and our working environments, we are paying more attention to anger and its destructive ways. “Anger management” is not the butt of jokes it once was; it’s a set of skills that has saved many a job, many a marriage. We may not always win the battle against the buried fury or the passive-aggression that can wreak havoc on our personal and professional relationships, but at least the subject itself is no longer taboo.

In the church, however, anger is almost never talked about. The seething rage I may feel in a board meeting or Bible study is more likely to come spilling out afterward in a private conversation in the church parking lot (and thus my personal ire and the group’s larger discord will almost surely go unresolved). The “niceness” that Christians have taken to be our highest calling has us regularly avoiding conflicts both large and small, and leaves us bereft of the skills to distinguish between petty acrimony and righteous anger, between misplaced indignation and anger as both gift and necessity.

And then there’s Jesus’ anger. The textual variations in the gospels’ “money changers” scenes are interesting to consider: The Synoptics have Jesus throwing over the temple tables near the end of his public ministry—the action itself a clear impetus for his arrest, torture, and crucifixion. In John’s gospel, Jesus has barely begun his work—he has summoned a few disciples, carried out an impressive “sign” at a wedding in Cana—and now he’s in the outer courtyard of the temple losing his cool.

To read the rest click here.