Cherishing Anger: A Bee in the Mouth

From Mark Earley and Breakpoint Ministry.

“A respected journalist begins an article about the president with a statement of undiluted hatred. A prestigious Christian essayist takes every opportunity to rail publicly against Christians more conservative than she is. A famous conservative columnist uses a sexual epithet to describe a presidential candidate at a national conference.

Are these isolated incidents? Or do we have what Peter Wood calls a “national epidemic of anger”?

Wood, the provost and academic vice-president at King’s College, thinks that such an epidemic is indeed raging. In his new book, A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now, Wood explores the roots of that anger and the way it manifests itself in our culture—which, he says, has turned itself into an “angri-culture.”

Now, anger is nothing new in American culture and especially in American politics. We have all lived through periods of partisan rage, name-calling, and spite. In that respect, Jonathan Chait, Anne Lamott, and Ann Coulter, whose cases I just described, were following an established tradition. Yet Wood senses something different about this “New Anger” that these people and others are practicing—and I think he may be on to something.

New Anger, the book explains, is not just a by-product of the political process. It has become central to it. The discourse of our time has become about anger, with pundits, politicians, and their supporters acting as if their anger and hatred were virtues in themselves. Political and journalistic careers are built on being angry. It’s a nationwide case of “I-hate-therefore-I-am,” says Wood. As traditional virtues like self-control have eroded, replaced by new “virtues” like self-expression, anger and hatred have become celebrated, even cherished.

If you doubt it, look around. Read a bumper sticker or a comic strip. Pick up a newspaper or a magazine. Although Wood cites prominent cases of New Anger on both the right and the left, he sees a September 2003 article in the New Republic as “pivotal.” That was the article that Jonathan Chait began with these words: “I hate President George W. Bush.”

To read more click here.

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