Good and Angry by David Powlison
Counselor and Professor David Powlison has written a gem in his new book called Good and Angry. Many books on the subject of anger come up with seven solutions to solve anger issues or focus on techniques that someone can do before they get angry, David’s book does not solve the so-called problem of anger but promotes ways to think through and talk through anger that are wise and true. Further, David looks at avenues by which good comes from a right kind of anger.
To begin the book, David points to various personalities of anger or ways people carry out their anger; whether its domestic gunslingers, volcanoes, or icebergs. I resonated with the iceberg person who does not explode when angry but keeps a growing list of those who have wronged you and will at times verbally unload the list on a person when hurt. This kind of anger rarely causes two parties to come together in apologies but usually exacerbates bitterness. The interesting point that David brings to bear concerning iceberg angry people is that generally all the hurt or anger surrounds upon the person bringing up all the past hurt. Seldom does the angry person realize that they are part of the vicious cycle that continues the unbridled anger.
Anger is an activity that is learned also. Powlison writes, “A father who routinely damns the weather, yells in traffic, and demeans his wife is training his children to do likewise.” (67) He goes on, “Constructive anger is also learned from role models…Did you ever know a parent or close friend, a teacher or coach, who was patient and generous with others, not easily set off?” (67) We want to provide good role models for our children and yet we allow bad habits and practices to foster a sinister witness for anger’s demise in our own children. It’s possible though to unlearn bad behavior patterns in anger and to emulate those who carefully weave through anger in patient and long suffering ways.
The section on Anger with God is appropriate considering both the struggles humans face on earth and the experience of the psalmists. Yet, I do admit that I think Powlison stretches a bit too far in saying that, “Anger at God is wrong.” (226) Many kinds of anger at God are due to unmet desires or putting on God things he never promised us. Yet, our visceral response to God in the moment of intense suffering, pain, loss, and struggle doesn’t necessarily come from a place of sin or misconception of God, but a real human dealing with a broken world and messed up relationships.
Overall, this is a wonderful book that passes bye pat answers and digs into the nitty gritty of anger on this earth. With a fully orbed biblical understanding, Powlison gives us a fresh book on anger.
Thanks to New Growth Press and Cross Focused Reviews for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.