Peace Corner

Published on Feb 28th, 2019 by wpd-office | 0

I find it difficult to create my own articles about peace issues, but it is relatively easy to find many other sources that have strong and inspiring words to share. I came across this article on Valentine’s Day and thought it worth sharing with all of you.

Blessings and Peace – Terri
WPD Peace & Justice Coordinator


Essay by Rev.Irene Monroe
February 14, 2019 

I have chosen the Matthew 21: 12-17 text about Jesus turning over the tables of the money changers because I notice America is angry. And, with this anger I’ve noticed we have lost the ability and desire to “agree to disagree,” to talk across our differences; consequently, civil discourse has devolved. For so many, this story of Jesus turning the tables of the money changers becomes a non-apology for getting angry, for posting biting commentaries, and for online rants on divisive political issues, theological controversies and discussions on some polarizing social and cultural issues.

Acts of violence and terrorism have increased as ways to make a point. And as a country we are imploding and we’re hurting each other.  Many of us, myself included, are disheartened and despondent seeing what is happening around us and to our country.

Today, many folks don’t watch the news much unless related to work, because it can make you angry. I talk about anger all the time, but about “righteous anger” in the context of constructive activism, such as non-violent civil disobedience that is associated with Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Jesus during their lifetimes.

There is no better time than now to explore this topic of “righteous rage.” In the Matthew text, there are a diversity of opinions suggesting what Jesus was doing. Some scholars depict this text as the “temple tantrum,” saying Jesus just simply lost his cool. Others refer to it as “cleansing of the temple,” representing an attempt at reforming the temple. And, those with my hermeneutical lens see the text as an example of “righteous anger.”

Jesus courageously confronted injustice. He challenged the temple’s hierarchy against the backdrop of the ongoing economic and social oppression of his times. Jesus was a non-violent revolutionary, but he was not passive. He regularly walked into the face of danger, spoke truth to power, and demanded justice. As far as religious people were concerned, Jesus was nothing but a nuisance and trouble-maker. He hung out with the wrong people, healed at the wrong time, visited the wrong places, and said the wrong things. His nonviolence was active, provocative, public, daring, and at times outright dangerous. Many of Jesus’ actions were illegal because he broke the law. He frequently committed civil disobedience in similar, if not the same ways, which we have come to know of Gandhi’s and MLK’s acts of civil disobedience. Many thought of Jesus as a one-man crime wave walking through the Roman Empire, beginning the process of disarmament wherever he went.

So, to tackle this topic, I pose four questions: What is righteous anger? What have been examples of acts of “righteous anger” in your lifetime? Who embodied or embodies it? What should “righteous anger” look like today?

Righteous anger is a holy discontent and indignation. It occurs when significant injustice exists, but it is always anger and indignation that is under control, and directed at the condition of injustice and not at a person. Righteous anger should attempt to teach rather than destroy the offender. It is unselfishness, wrapped in love, and does not involve revenge. It never uses guilt nor does it intend to humiliate, dominate or to control. In other words, righteous anger should lead to constructive actions and activism…..

On every MLK holiday and during Black History Month, like now, the nation will honor Dr. King. However, King, like Jesus, was a revolutionary. He was thought of as one of America’s most dangerous. As a matter of fact, King was thought of as an agitator and angry black man, a racial trope now flung at Colin Kaepernick. King, however, ignored the criticism, evoking the rage of the Hebrew prophet Amos, who said: “let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” King’s prophetic work of “turning over the tables” is because he saw America “in the wilderness,” divided along a color line violating the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution that the federal government exerted little to no effort to enforce.

Righteous anger allows you to see the faces of the damned, the dispossessed, the disinherited, and the disrespected, knowing that it is a starting place to begin the work of justice. The prophetic work of “turning over the tables” and fighting against the forces of injustice gave rise to King’s concept of the beloved community, because God is a God of love, and God is a God of justice. However, “turning over the tables” comes at a high cost.

Is this really a battle we Christians want to take on?

I pose this question because I have noticed America is angry and expressing it in unhealthy and dangerous ways. While I am nervous where we are in 2019, Jesus’, Gandhi’s, and King’s righteous anger free us to go out in the world to make a difference. My looking back at those times they lived gives me hope to look forward beyond this moment. As American Christians, we fail to realize that our gift is not fear, fighting, or hopelessness, but rather it is a righteous anger.

If you don’t like where America is, then let’s change it. Martin Luther King said there are two types of leadership. There are those who are thermometers; they measure the temperature in the room. And there are those who are thermostats; they change the temperature.
Let’s improve this moral climate we’re in and be thermostats.


~ Rev. Irene Monroe
About the Author
The Reverend Monroe is an ordained minister. She does a weekly Monday segment, “All Revved Up!” on WGBH (89.7 FM), a Boston member station of National Public Radio (NPR), that is now a podcast, and is a weekly Friday commentator on New England Channel NEWS (NECN). Monroe is the Boston voice for Detour’s African American Heritage Trail, Guided Walking Tour of Beacon Hill: Boston’s Black Women Abolitionists (Boston) – Detour

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