Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: anger

The Yoda Verses: Anger Leads to Hate

The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why do you look so resentful?” (Genesis 4:6, CEB)

The Jedi Master Yoda warns both Aiken and Luke Skywalker about anger. Yoda tells Luke in The Empire Strikes Back, “Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

Someone should have warned Cain.

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Alex Cross (2012)

200px-alexcross2012posterJames Patterson’s most known character, Detective Dr. Alex Cross, hits the big screen in the all new film Alex Cross, based upon the story found in the book originally published as “Cross.”

When it was announced that Tyler Perry would play the lead role, there was much talk about whether or not he could “pull it off.” Well, he did. As Perry told Charlie Rose, they were intentional about matching the actor with the physical description of Cross in Patterson’s novels. Perry is able to portray Cross’ complexities of angry, determined detective, and loving, nurturing father. The fatherhood of Alex Cross is what was missing in the Morgan Freeman versions of Cross. Perry is a deep person (despite what we may see through Madea) and has grown so much in his personal life he is able to fulfill the complexities that make up Alex Cross.

In the film, Alex Cross (Perry) is a Detroit homicide detective who has a second job as a psychologist. Cross and his partner/best friend Tommy Kane (Ed Burns) is called in by their Chief (Scrubs’ John McGinley) to cover a multiple homicide in the rich end of town. The case gets complicated as they begin to encounter Picasso (Matthew Fox
). Picasso seems to find pleasure in torture and pain. Cross thinks he has profiled Picasso, however, after Cross’ team interferes with his plans, Picasso turns his attention towards them. While still fulfilling his job as a hit man, Picasso plans to take out Alex Cross.

Parts of the film are somewhat slow, as if it can’t quite get going. But something tragic happens in Cross’ life and he changes – he sets out as Detective second and as angry husband first. By far the best parts of the film is Fox as Picasso. He is truly a creepy bad guy. He looks and sounds the part.  Picasso is to Cross what the Joker is to Batman. At one point in the film, Picasso says to Cross, “I made you.” As if to say that Cross would not have been so motivated to solve the case and capture Picasso, had he not done what he did to Cross.

If you are a huge Alex Cross fan, you will find it, as I did, odd that Cross is in Detroit. Cross was born in North Carolina and then sent to live with Nana Mama in Washington, D.C. where the Cross novels all at least start and end. Aside from that, you will be happy to see Cross and his family and to see Cicely Tyson’s Nana Mama. A petite, African-American woman who is sharp, quick, and honest. When Perry stands next to Tyson, it reinforces the concept Patterson works so hard to capture in the Cross novels, that despite her size, Nana Mama is one tough lady.

In the beginning of the film, Alex meets with a young woman in prison, not as Detective Cross, but as Dr. Cross. She says to him, “You can’t save everybody, Dr. Cross.” The idea of salvation almost seems to haunt Cross throughout the film. Once he realizes that he has underestimated Picasso as just a hit man, he seems to lose all ability to save people.  When Cross sets out to seek revenge, Nana Mama (wonderfully played by the great Tyson) tells him to be careful he doesn’t lose his own soul. She goes on to tell him to be mindful of the person he leaves as and the person he returns as. Once the case is finished and Alex has put it to rest, he comes home and stays outside the very door he had that conversation with Nana Mama. He watches as she gives the children instructions to pack, as they are moving to Washington, D. C. She notices him, and finishes her sentence to the children, “You don’t want to leave behind anything you love.”

She’s speaking, of course, of Alex. But she could also be speaking of who we are. Anger and feelings of revenge can get the best of us. Nana Mama asks Alex if he thinks he’s going to be judge, jury, and executioner, naming for him the feelings of revenge he has.  Jesus says in Matthew 5:21-22:

 You have heard it was said to those who lived long ago, ‘Don’t commit murder,’ and all who commit murder will be in danger of judgment.  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with their brother or sister will be in danger of judgment.  If they say to their brother or sister, ‘You idiot,’ they will be in danger of being condemned by the governing council.  And if they say, ‘You fool,’ they will be in danger of fiery hell. (Common English Bible)

Nana Mama reminds us that we must be careful how we act upon our feelings. “Don’t lose your soul,” she warns us along with Alex Cross.

Rise Above

The following is a talk I gave at Sunday Night Alive on February 22, 2009.  SNA is a youth worship service once a month provided by New Season United Methodist and the Steve Kropp Band.

Anger, according to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition, is “a strong feeling of displeasure or hostility.”  There are lots of things in our lives that can cause us displeasure or hostility.  For example: getting grounded by your parents, your lunch money is stolen, a teacher accuses you of cheating when you didn’t, you see your bf or gf at the movies with someone else.

Anger is considered by the Roman Catholic tradition as one of the seven deadly sins.Which is tricky, considering that anger is a very human emotion.But even the most “holy” of the Bible have expressed this emotion.

In Exodus 32, Moses has been spending some time hanging out with God at the top of the mountain.For the Hebrew people at the bottom of mountain, Moses has been hanging out with God too long.They start to get antsy.They plead with Aaron, Moses’ brother, to make them a god.So, they take all the gold in the camp and create a golden calf.When Moses comes down from the mountain he turned into the Hulk.For Moses to be angry is perfectly human.Moses’ anger burned hot and he broke the original 10 Commandment tablets.

Genesis 1:27 says that in the image of God, God created humankind.In Judaism, and likewise in Christianity, there is this understanding that my relationship to you is also my relationship to another image of God.

In the Hebrew Bible when anger leads to cruelty, violence, oppression, or persecution – things that distort my relationship to another image of God – then anger is a sin.It is sin when it disrupts our relationship with another image(s) of God.  Look at what Paul says in Galatians 5:14.

The whole law is summed by that one commandment.Leviticus 19:18 is where that commandment is originally stated.At the core of Leviticus 19 is a summons to holiness – a call to live a holy life.Leviticus 19 starts off with God saying live a holy life, for I am your God and I am holy.We are created in the image of God, the image of God dwells within us, God is holy, we too can be holy.

In Luke 10, Jesus tells a story,a story we refer to as the Parable of the Good Samaritan.This was a surprising story to hear at the time.Jews and Samaritans hated each other!They did not associate with each other.

In telling this story, Jesus, as Jesus tends to do, shatters all the categories of who are and who are not the people of God.It was the Samaritan, the  unclean, the social outcast, and the religious heretic, that followed the commandment to love your neighbor.It was the Samaritan who understood that his relationship to the Jew was his relationship to another image of God.

Rise above what anger can lead to.Remember the holiness code in Leviticus 19 – do not hold a grudge, do not seek vengeance, instead love your neighbor.When Jesus was being persecuted by the Romans and nailed to the cross, instead of rising up against the Romans, instead of calling on the power of the Creator, Jesus uttered these words: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

Anger can be like an over boiling tea kettle, you have no idea when it’s going to run over or who it’s going to burn.

Dr. Bailey realizes that if she responds out of anger, she will be no better than her patient.She could have responded out of anger to her patient, and her anger could have revealed itself through cruelty, violence, oppression, or persecution – distorting the image of God in others.Instead she says, “We will rise above.”

Rise Above.

When Jesus concluded his parable, he asked the lawyer which of these men showed loved for his neighbor.The lawyer answered the one who showed mercy.Jesus, the Great Teacher, knew that as long as we are on this earth, we are never done learning and growing.Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”

Go and love your neighbor.

Go, and as James says, “be slow to anger and quick to listen.”

Go and be holy.

Go and rise above.

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