EPISTLE # 1 -Can You Really Become Unoffendable?
JUNE 29, 2016 | BENJAMIN VRBICEK
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About the Author
Inspirational Verse in the free-form style of Emily Dickinson
HT Wagner – is a Freelance writer of WordPress in St Louis, Missouri
She has had a successful career in Project Manager with over 25 years’ experience in research, development and team building, with a strong background in both technical and financial services industry recruiting. She has also built her own successful recruiting company.
She retired and suffered a series of devastating family tragedies that led to a period of deep depression and devastation. Expressing herself in poetry has helped her to rebuild a normal life.
Dee’s ‘turn on’s- are the ocean, swing dancing and comedy.
Her ‘turn-off’s’ are negative people who judge and people who hate.
She and husband of 53 years now live in St Louis close to her family.
You can email her at email@example.com
(htwagner@jencarebce..com – under construction)
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WARNING: You might not want to read Brant Hansen’s Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better because, as you read it, you’ll have more opportunities to practice being unoffended.
At least that’s what happened to me several times. As a teaching pastor in a local church, there always seems to be a cluster of people who run a low-grade fever of disappointment with me. Recently, the fever spiked. And despite my “warning” above, I was thankful to have Unoffendable coach me along the way.
But this isn’t just my life, is it? Likely you’ve also found ways to offend others. It’s not hard to do; it’s natural for us as sinners. Moreover, our world—sometimes even Christian subculture—trains us not to have a chip on our shoulder but a lumberyard. We see this when the predictable cultural “buttons” are pushed concerning issues like abortion and marriage, and now bathrooms, but also in less expected ways. Consider John Piper’s article last winter on guns and self-defense. The volley of response articles revealed his article didn’t simply touch a nerve; it grabbed one with tweezers and yanked.
And surely this presidential election year, as it has already, will continue to multiply opportunities for offense. How shall we respond to these provocations? I loved how Russell Moore responded to Donald Trump when Trump tweeted that Moore is “A nasty guy with no heart.” Moore replied:
[This is] one of the few things I agree with Donald Trump on. I am a nasty guy with no heart. We sing worse things about ourselves in our hymns on Sunday mornings: we’re a wretch and in need of God’s grace.
But where does this ability to be unoffendable come from? Is it as simple as making a choice to not be offended? And backing up a bit, should we really seek to be unoffendable? Isn’t there a place for legitimate, non-sinful anger?
Good questions. Hansen offers provocative answers to both.
Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better
THOMAS NELSON. 214 PAGES.
Do You Have a Choice?
Let’s start with the first question. This is where Hansen opens Unoffendable. It’s also the central idea behind the subtitle.
It seems the answer is yes and no. I do think we can choose not to take offense. This choice, however, isn’t made in isolation; the choice to be unoffendable is an interlocking one determined by our answers to a host of other questions. To use an analogy, is the choice to run a marathon just one choice? Well, yes and no. To be sure, it’s a choice, but it’s not a choice made in isolation from other choices about diet, sleep, training, and rest. The same can be said about choosing which car to own. It’s a choice, but one contingent on other things, such as career and income and family size and comfort with debt.
It’s the exposing of this interlocking nature of anger and offense that I found so helpful in the book. That angry father in your church might not be able to stop his rage because his ego is inflamed (184). That guy flabbergasted on social media might not be able to stop because he doesn’t believe in God’s final punishment (69) or is insecure about his own standing before God (128, 181) or doesn’t believe in the biblical view of human depravity (65–67). And I might not be able to overlook the low-grade disappointment in my ministry because I’ve lost my servant-minded approach (150). In other words, being unoffendable isn’t a mere choice to grow “thick skin” (whatever that means), but the holistic choice to pursue a gospel-saturated life.
Is Anger Always Wrong?
But might there be a legitimate place for righteous anger? Are there times we should be offended? What Hansen wants us to ask, in theological terms, is whether anger is a communicable or incommunicable attribute of God. That is to say, is anger an attribute God shares with people?
Hansen repeatedly argues the provocative thesis that righteous anger belongs to God and God alone. He cites things like the frequent admonitions in the Bible to get rid of it (Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:8), the danger of it (Jas. 1:20), and its connections to folly (Eccl. 7:9). As for the “Be angry and do not sin” passage (Eph. 4:26a), Hansen points out that the rest of the verse tells us that we, as sinful humans, are not to hold onto it (v. 26b). Oh, don’t forget, anger’s not listed as a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23). He also employs quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King Jr., to buttress his argument.
On this point, however, I think Hansen is wrong. Consider systematic theology textbooks (such as Erickson, Frame, and Grudem, as well as Bavinck, Berkhof, and Bird). It would appear they all see included within the imago Dei a sharing of God’s love, holiness, and justice, and it seems to me (and others) that as these shared attributes combine, there ought to be a place—albeit a small and delicate one—for an affection that accords with the injustice of our world. Could we call that affection “righteous anger”? Consider the exchange between Nathan and David in 2 Samuel 12:1–15. God uses the prophet to arouse a flash of anger in David, which prompts his repentance (vv. 1, 5). And consider Jesus’s praise of the Ephesian church for “hating” a particular false teaching (Rev. 2:6). Other passages seem to argue the same (see, e.g., Ps. 97:10).
But I must also say that on this point, before reading Unoffendable, I was wrong. I’m so thankful Hansen showed me how. Whatever space I thought “righteous anger” could legitimately occupy, I’d assumed it was much larger than it really is. I’d assumed anger was like a huge Humvee when God wants human anger to be more like a tiny Smart Car with the battery on low.
Least Offendable People Around
Unoffendable is accessible, even conversational. Hansen is an excellent storyteller. You’ll love the story he tells about doing mission work in Indonesia. A Muslim cleric was so impressed with Hansen that he implored him to take his children back to America (167–70). And personally, I enjoyed the goofy chapter titles. For example, chapter 22 “Here’s the Part Where I Talk About Some Danish People,” and chapter 23, “Forget Danish People—Let’s Talk About Your Elbow.”
Brant Hansen works for CURE International, a Christian organization that operates charitable hospitals all over the world. But if you’re familiar with him, it’s probably as the host of a syndicated Christian radio program (also available by podcast). If I had a working radio in my car, I would surely listen to him. But my radio is broken. A few years ago, my kids stuffed coins into its CD player because they thought that’s what the slot was for.
When it happened, it’s possible I got “a little” angry. I could’ve used Hansen’s book back then. I’m glad I have it now, because Christians, as Hansen says, should be the least offendable people in the world…
Benjamin Vrbicek (MDiv, Covenant Theological Seminary) is a teaching pastor at Community Evangelical Free Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and the managing editor for Gospel-Centered Discipleship. Benjamin and his wife, Brooke, have six children. He is author of Blogging for God’s Glory in a Clickbait World (Fan and Flame, 2020), Struggle Against Porn: 29 Diagnostic Tests for Your Head and Heart (Rainer, 2019), and Don’t Just Send a Resume: How to Find the Right Job in a Local Church (Fan and Flame, 2019). He blogs at Fan and Flame. Follow him on Twitter (@BenjaminVrbicek).
My DNA – Hardware = 6 % Basque (Iberian Peninsula) & the rest ‘converso’ from Austria and Slovenia-No Italy (Hebrew)
My Software – 100% Northern Irish from the tribe of Dan – Annie Sheridan (share of Dan)
Why I do this – The story of Billy. & Craig
The End to Senseless Loss of Lives – END to GMO & SAVE US ALL & Donuts & Return to Sanity!… THE WALL TO BE TAKEN DOWN-GMO
I was at the top 13-year of a High Functioning Project Manager of 5-8 recruiters, ‘camaraderie & synergy’!!
My diet at this time was Excess of GMO & Factory Processed DEAD Foods
When the ‘KNOWING INSIDE’ signaled that it was time to make a change!
In 1999 – This is when I first started to look around and say “God, where are you??”
2005-2006 were particularly difficult years.- feeding with Body only
I retired – BURNED-OUT on Factory foods & Stress or Cortisol Poisoning
Western Medical “professionals’
Did NOT take INTO ACCOUNT-THE ‘GIFT’ OF MY INHERITED DNA!
& MY CHOICE of the SAD (Factory processed AMERICAN DIET…
This began my Journey into DARKNESS-
THE PERFECT STORM TO CAUSE ‘COGNITIVE BURNOUT!’
It began my experience into THE ‘DARK-SIDE’ OF WESTERN MEDICINE (PHARMA)
combined with a stressful job & stressful relation (Cortisol)
& the REVENGES OF THE SAD (DEAD) AMERICAN DIET
- Factory CAFO PROCESSED Dead & GMO FOODS!
Now years of Research of the Dangers of Industrial (Factory) Farm Methods, Starting a business to help create awareness of GMO prevent & reverse modern disease.
LOOSING 2 very close SINGLE (FROM DIVORCE) NEPHEWS to Divorces & Suicide -They were left to GMO Factory Fast processed, convenience foods – After ten years
Without a spouse to provide sustainable whole, natural food – They both fell to relying on TAINTED INDUSTRIAL Factory MEAT & ‘MOLD-LIKE’ MODERN DAIRY-It looks like milk – but it is not (same goes for ice cream, sour cream, yogurt made putrid by heat.
TOO MUCH (GMO fed) Factory ANIMAL PROTEIN (MUSCLE MEAT), TOO LITTLE (UnAltered) PLANT PROTEIN or Brain healthy Pasture raised animal fat
– MIA! Not enough Seafood Protein! Not sufficient to nourish the mind only the body!
** Over-Milling Ancient grains- Removing 50% of germ (Omega 3 – Brain Food)-STARVING – CNS, Brain & Immune system (& not adding to Body Nutrient Storage
** Over-Heat-Sweet dairy with LIVE enzymes & Beneficial Bacteria – made DEAD allergy causing
** Over-Heating Vegetable Oils (Pasteurization & Roasting of raw Nuts, seeds UNCLEAN-NOT SOAKED) – POISONING & making them Omega 6 INFLAMMATORY & GMO grains –
Genetic Modifications (Magnifying the Glutens or seed locks & Lectins in the peel adaptation to ward off predators) as well as the grain itself – making the protein NO-LONGER BIOAVAILABLE–
AND THE MOST DAMAGING of all GMO & EXCESS of them all…
I still feel like I am chasing after God.
HE (some say God) fed the ‘multitudes ‘ with Barley Loaves & Fishes…
(Not Altered GMO) – Just natural Ancient grains (plant protein) & Seafood (both oil & protein which only partially feed the body-The CNS, mind & Immune system are compromised & modern disease result.
Dialogue with Evelyn-Hebrew Orphan from Hebrew Northern Ireland mother & Hebrew French Father-
A Narrative or Life Story of Generational Insecure Attachment
As I grew older
I wanted to avoid you Mom & ‘Why – I Never Knew Why’-
Lessons learned to pass on to generations to come
& there’s whose mothers seem to be intrusive
&’ you don’t know why’-
– I Never Knew Why – because I still loved you.
You & I were all Doing the best that I could with what had been give to me by my Orphan Mother-your under-current of love – life longing for itself-
In Subiaco – you & I were my playmates & best friends-
I always my desired to please you-cherished
& wanted to do my share & still do!
Memory of a adoring 5 year old-when I failed you or felt that I did-I was crushed –
– (ironing Dad’s handkerchiefs – You smiled as I attempt to help & made a mess of the water- you knew they would dry – no condemnation
– you craved to be near your children – the perfect Servant Mother-
After we left our ‘Camelot’ in Subiaco (with the Cathedral St Benedict’s Abby
– to the abyss of our tragic moved to LR-
I began to see You as no longer a friend – but someone to obey –
According you you adopted Mother – each night you cried yourself to sleep – She attempted to console but could not – – Orphans cry themselves to sleep-uncontrollably – grieving loss & mapping a new life to return to the original bond –
– Next to Love God – This – the greatest commandment – It is said to Obey father & mother-
Not Disrespect – I was doing the best with what has been given-
-No excuse only Perfect Understanding – with your Wisdom & Knowledge to guide me!
For that I am Grateful-
Secure Attachment may be lost to trauma can last forever – even when it is 50 years later can be restored if brought to consciousness with a Dr Dan Siegel Cohesive Narrative or Life Story –
The gift of DNA speaks-
Mom- the Orphan from ‘beyond all expectations’
Prisoner of loss – Prisoner loss over loss over loss
& lover of loss-
Lessons you taught me (Subiaco & all life)-all things bright & beautiful
Yes, you had your faults – habits of taking 30 minutes a day to watch ‘Days of our lives’
– They became a respite to the Days of Your life-but your life was not a Soap Opera it was reality~
Love-Unconditional – Deus, Always Love-Eternal – DALE!
• You taught me the name of the Weeds in the pasture & garden
• How to can fruits from our garden to survive-
• How to keep a well kept house-
• How to serve a family – that often did not appreciate or deserve your loving prayerful presence
• Put Others’ – first – always the Perfect Servant-
• Never complaining – even when we children disobeyed & disrespect
• You used a ‘switch’ from the bush in the front yard – but not often – it hurt you – more that it hurt us-
Giving – Cats & all of nature – from parakeets to elephant at the zoo
Healing – Your breath given July 29, 1947 – breaths in me now as I breath-
Showing – how to live in the shadow of death (secularism – judgmental)
Knowing-Gentle lady – Holy Spirit of loving kindness
Distance – Instead of ‘take-turns’ mother-daughter discussions
– my response was often a ‘refute’ defense & ‘I did not know why’-
Mom – Your gave me the Space needed to learn the hard & soft lesson of life-
Longing – for the space the you created in Subiaco & to be forgiven when I let you down
– You knew – in your Sacred Heart – that you had already forgiven me for my transgressions-
Subiaco (Camelot)-Due to the Secure base that You & Dad
– launched me to fulfill my destiny – some how I always knew-
– Joy – Peace – Prosperity – Good Health
now I am taking you with me to find my way back home
Take-no-prisoners – my psyche
Evelyn’s-your ‘Fall from Grace’-Move to LR – after 40 years of orphan-ship – Crowned by
20 Years in Camelot
The Transition years from Securely attached to Guilt ridden-
Remember the Hot summer afternoon in LR (no air conditioning)
You had lost so much of your being from Subiaco – your garden, your milk cow Bessie (Elizabeth)
– you unbounded children to school Holy Souls school, Catholic High School & exclusive Mount St Mary’s Academy-where all of the ‘rich’ Catholic Girls attend.
Your loss of Bessie & drinking pasteurized dairy laid claim to the loss of loss of your quick Mind – but not your will to give to all of us – & loosing the grain mill down the dirt road – to having to make Modern Over-Milled bread as she did in Subiaco –
You changed – or morphed into a different Mom & I do not know why – one that I no longer felt trust – without your garden, Bessie milk & grain from the mill down the dirt rail – You quickly gained weight
– no chickens feed or fry on Sunday after Mass – or pigs to slop & butcher each fall, chores in the LR – (City of her Doom)-trips to the out house with Sears Roebuck Catalog became a toilet paper (only 3 sheets a wipe your instructions-
You were forced to use the calories need to run a Sustainable Farm-
Her long black flaxen hair – cut short & unstylish – No longer able to style it
– Convenience became BLOCKAGE to Your body, mind & sweet soul – Particularly to your sweet precious & lovely soul
– – that we children could not longer sense-
The Anatomy of Evelyn’s Fall from Grace – after launching her family of the sacrifice of her pure love-
Memory of the ‘Beginning of the End’ – Trauma of our broken childhood-bond’
– Hot summer afternoon in LR – She & I decided to lay on the living groom floor of out 2 bedroom house @ 5311 C Street -on a cool down break – we laughed & were happy – as we did in Subiaco –
– You & I shared that she thought her ‘period ‘back & might be able to become pregnant again & have another child – but then you remembered that you ate beets – red
– that caused the false alarm-
– Your weight gain (like today only worse with GMO, ultra refined grain & Omega 6 unhealthy oils) the different was her ‘over-refined’ wheat APF ‘wheat belly’
– which I giggled – my touch – we laughed & both hoped that that engorged belly would be history
– It always was & I felt sahame & ‘I never knew why’ –
– The rest is history – the ‘Great Disconnect of Mother & Daughter bonding’
AFTER THOUGHTS ON MY GRIEF – NOT KNOWING HOW TO ATTACH TO MY MOTHER EVELYN – An Orphan