Monday, 12 March 2012

On Wrath

Not so long ago and not so far away I was raised devoutly Catholic. I attended Sunday School, was an altar boy (and no, Father Rudolph Daz was far too kindly, old and feeble to molest me, but thank you for assuming, you unconscionable bastards), and was baptized, took my first communion, and was confirmed at St. Olaf's Catholic Church in scenic Bountiful, UT.

St. Olaf's Catholic Church

I struggled briefly when I was about 11 or 12 with the idea that the priesthood and/or Seminary might be for me. 

I was a bookish young man, and Catholicism is a religion that truly loves books, and that appealed to me. There also seemed to be something beautiful about the life that Father Daz led - I'm sure he had his struggles, and I was only a boy, but living, reading, breathing and gardening God seemed to me to be the highest life one could possibly aspire to. 

A subsequent onset of predictable adolescent lust that was like poison ivy crossed with Obsessive-Compulsive disorder and the unfortunate expansion of my readings to include atheistic tracts did short work of my sectarian career plan, but many elements of my Catholic faith have stuck with me all the way to my current almost completely inexplicable spiritual crossroads. Anyway.

Of the so-called Seven Deadly Sins - ever popular tropes in everything from torture-porn murder movies to Protestant tracts - the one I would like to deal with briefly here is Wrath.

I am not a student of etymology or philology, and do not pretend to have much more than a layman's knowledge of word usage in general (although that doesn't stop me from taking the old gal - the English language that is - out for a spin on a pleasant night). For the purposes of this brief piece, then, we will consider "anger," "rage," and "wrath" interchangeable, although there certainly are nuances at play there.

Since I was knee high to a kitchen chair broken in an uncontrollable fit of rage by a certain member of my family, rage has been part of my life. At first it was literally and truly an act of God, as children really cannot differentiate between parents and deities. A bad day at work, or, more often, a simple mistake - tripping over a toy on the floor, burning a hand on something hot - could trigger anything from what I called "the Growl" to the complete sundering of a piece of furniture, or, more rarely, a hole punched in the wall.

We are what we pick up along the way, and I can say with great certainty that I understand this phenomenon from the other side now. Psychologists (that pack of useless jackals) have come up with a charming and belittling term: rageaholic. Other terms like road rage have been floated by pop psychologists (perhaps the most useless variety of an incredibly useless lot) lately, but unless you have literally smashed your hands so hard against your dashboard that your fingernails bleed, unless you have screamed so loudly at the driver in front of (or behind) you that your throat bleeds a little, I would advise you to use such terms carefully.

Wrath is a weakness. I do not subscribe to Christian theology, or even ethics for the most part, but I think they nailed it by including Wrath in the Seven Deadlies.

It is utterly intoxicating. Have you ever been so angry that you literally felt transported, as though you were having a spiritual experience? To some extent, you were. Humans have certain underlying emotional or cognitive states that transcend culture. To be transported by Wrath is to become Wrath.

But be careful. Like the alcoholic left alone with a barrel of wine, like an intelligent Chimpanzee given the tools with which s/he can destroy the world...give someone who has tasted Wrath an excuse to indulge, and the results will be ugly. Beyond ugly - the results will be murder.

1 comment:

  1. Exposing a child to wrath often is murder- her innocence gone, this can not be undone.