Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Terrible Troll?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Terrible Troll?

Article excerpt

CHARACTERS from children's books often convey messages that can be valuable to all of us. Consider angry, mean-looking trolls, for example--a favorite in children's literature. Once recently, as we watched professional football on television, a game official made a debatable decision. One coach flew into a hopping-mad fit on the sideline, right in front of the televisions cameras. My son, always ready to have fun with his five-year-old sister, said, "Look Annie! The terrible troll!

We all laughed. And though the coach quickly regained his composure, we all marveled at how silly he had looked. Then, we laughed at ourselves, remembering the times when each of us had acted out the terrible troll's part.

But temper problems are serious. And solving them is worthy of our best thinking. I thought how unlike himself that coach had appeared, and how unlike myself I feel when I grow angry. Of course, I am responsible for controlling my own emotions. Yet, that "terrible troll image can give a useful starting point for healing anger.

The truth is, anger, whether it's simmering, or erupting and violent, is unlike us. Man in God's image reflects peace, poise, and love from his creator. "Let us make man in our image, the Bible says in Genesis, "after our likeness: and let them have dominion. The man that God gives dominion to is spiritual. Learning in practical terms that this is our genuine identity takes continuing effort. But with the spiritual truth as our ideal, we can make progress.

The Biblical story of David and Nabal illustrates this in a moving way. Nabal, evidently an obnoxious fellow, deeply offends David, and an angry David sets out with a band of armed men to do him violence in return. Abigail, Nabal's wife, quickly moves to intercede peacefully. It's clear her intent is to dissuade David from doing anything that would diminish his prospects for the future. …

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