The Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics:
"Do You Do Well to Be Angry?"
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In this essay, I consider the role of anger in the moral life, especially in the Christian moral life. For this purpose it makes sense to explore three questions. First, how should we describe the phenomenon of anger? Second, what virtues and/or vices properly account for the affection? Finally, what theological assessments of the phenomenon are most fitting? In Parts I, II, and III below, I pursue a response to the first two questions through a kind of Aristotelian strategy that describes the mean of the virtue rightly disposing us to be (both) good and angry. The final three sections more overtly consider theological assessments. My concern throughout is to give an account of anger that helps us make the everyday discriminations appropriate to the Christian life, a life in which the work of love may complete and transform the terms of justice. Most specifically, I explore how the sin of pride deforms the creaturely self-respect that anger fittingly protects, and describe one sort of correction to that peril that is proposed within Christian tradition. I believe that mine is a partial account. Surely it may be complemented by other approaches that pursue different emphases; nevertheless, I think that what follows captures something essential about Christian evaluations of the human emotion at issue.