Because it is the exact opposite of who I have been in the first twenty years of my ministry. I have stated before that cool, calm and collected was the way I have operated. It is how my pastor hero, my dad, walked through the world. People had said about him, “When Roger walks into the room, he brings calm with him.” I wanted to be able to do the same thing. There are still times when a calm pastoral presence is a good thing. This spring taught me that there are times when this girls needs to be on fire.
But before we get to the spring we can go back to the 18-19 academic year, when a friend introduced me to the Enneagram. I am a 9, which is part of the Anger Triad (8,9,1). As a 9, I have spent my life forgetting my anger, and believing my anger didn’t really matter. It would be fair to say that I was afraid of my anger. For years I truly thought there was nothing to get angry about in the world, and I don’t think I actually allowed myself to feel it. It is hard to admit this, but it was dealing with my children, that reintroduced me to my anger. Breastfeeding was hard – it made me angry. She wouldn’t take a nap – that made me angry. Traveling was hard – that made me angry. They can be so ungrateful – I screamed at them – it is sadly a memory my girls will also have of me. I wish that the wisdom of the Ennegram had come into my life before my kids. I’m glad that in this moment in time, I have had some time to think more about my anger and to lean into my 8 wing, which allows me to be more comfortable expressing my anger.
The time working with the Enneagram helped prepare me for this moment. The former me would have run away from the anger that I felt, due to personal and national trauma. I would have clammed up and kept my hurt to myself. Because of the work, reading and listening, I had done around the Enneagram, I’m honoring my anger. I’m not running from it. I’m embracing it. I have realized it is time not to be afraid of my anger and to use it for myself and the sake of others to bring some change to the world. Pissed Off Pastor is the result.
Why #pissedoffpastor? Why was that the phrase that resonated with me? One reason is that people don’t expect pastors to be angry and even pastors too commonly think that it isn’t okay to be angry. It makes me wonder if we have forgotten about the prophets/leaders who have gone before us? Moses got upset with the people of Israel as they wandered through the dessert. Jonah clearly wasn’t seen as a happy guy. Amos pulled the people in with his words and then let them know he was talking about them. John the Baptist called the crowd a brood of vipers. Paul also called folks out on their crappy behavior in the letters he wrote. Unhappy, frustrated or angry leaders, calling people to accountability isn’t new.
Another reason for #pissedoffpastor is that I’m frustrated with the church that claims to love God and to love neighbor, yet continues to twist scripture as a way to justify fear and hatred of others. Humanity has been studying the Bible and other sacred texts for thousands of years. Over and over again, the words, “Do not be afraid” are in the Bible. Yet, as a society (America) that claims Christianity more than any other faith worldview, we are wracked with fear. We allow politicians to prey on our fears, so they can justify holding on to the white supremacy status quo of this country. Too many want their faith to bring them comfort and to justify the status quo. The Gospel comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.
I want people to know that Christianity is hard. Jesus gave us two main commandments: Love God and Love Neighbor. We love God by loving our neighbor. When we fail at loving our neighbor we fail at loving God. When we dehumanize others, when we refuse to see the pain of 400 years of racial oppression, or when we don’t see Christ in the least, the lost and the lonely, we miss the call of our faith tradition. Jesus was always hanging out with those deemed unworthy by the religious authorities. The woman at the well. The Good Samaritan. Tax collectors and sinners. He was always telling stories about flipping the script – the last being first and the first being last. He was always asking people to do hard things, pick up your cross and follow me, give away all your wealth and come with me. Folks, this is hard. We would be in a much better place if we could claim how far away we are from what Jesus calls us to be. Then, at least, we would be honest about the work that we need to be doing to transform our hearts and our minds. We are so far from having this Christianity right, and it pisses me off that we can’t see that.
Finally (at least for this post) why pissed off pastor? Because it is my turn to speak up and to speak out. I’m a black person who was raised in a white family, who is raising a black family. Early in life I kept all dealing with race at arms length. When I went to seminary, I wondered, when it might be my time to use my voice to make a difference, but I had no idea what that would look like. There is no doubt now is the time for me to use my voice, in my denomination, and in the world. I’m pissed and I plan to stay that way as I work to end systemic racism.