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  • Pastor Nancy Switzler

Age of Grievance Post 1


This week I began reading, “Age of Grievance” by Frank Bruni. He is a columnist for the New York Times, so if you read his columns some of what is in the book may be familiar. I think the title of the book is worth pondering. Age of grievance. Or time of complaining about other people. Age of intense polarization. Time of looking at others as the enemy.

The first chapter is titled, “Let Me Tell You How I’ve Been Wronged.” He starts the chapter with some in the media using their platforms to gin up outrage. In describing one example, he quotes another columnist who wrote, “And they’d cynically and theatrically turned ‘the thinnest possible set of facts into days of outrage over Them getting something You deserve.’”

I think of this as the “outrage machine.” This can happen to some extent on both ends of the political spectrum, but Fox News has used this to continually feed an outrage machine and, in the process, create a lot of very angry people.

My advice to myself and others is that if a story immediately makes you angry, take some time to get the full context. Also take some time away from the story…or the news in general.

There is a difference between being informed and being obsessed…this is something, as a political news junky, I have to continually remind myself of. It is also helpful to take time to enjoy the world around you as a way to gain perspective. It is not always easy! Sometimes we have to seek out the good.

Last week, we had a little celebration for our youth group members who promoted to high school. Some of these kids struggle in school, and often they will tell us of their difficulties with school staff.

I am grateful that they get to hang out once a week with three adults who encourage them.

I wanted to try and do something special, so I made each of them a greeting card with a watercolor painting of a candle and little piles of salt (hard to tell its salt but oh well). On the inside of the card I wrote, “Jesus said, You are salt… You are light.” Matthew 5:13-14.

We then provided three more “You are” for each person. It took me a lot longer than I anticipated to paint 15 cards! While doing this I wondered if I was wasting my time. Would these kids even care about these affirmations?

Tiffany explained the salt and light references. We then presented the cards to each person & read their three “You are…” affirmations.

You could tell by the way they listened and by their body language that they were hearing these affirmations. I’m glad we did this.

And, as I think about grievance culture, maybe we could begin to counter it by being a bit more intentional in offering affirmation to one another.

I know of one of you who’d like to discuss this book. I am thinking of offering time on Zoom in the evening on June 25th to talk about the first 3 chapters. Let me know if you are interested.

Peace in Christ,

Pastor Nancy

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