I’ve become weary, in recent days, from the aggression, the vitriolic language, and the fear-driven messages coming from professing Christians — in their social networking, their politics, and their protests.

I’ve seen so much hate speech.

I’ve seen a forceful refusal to make “room in the inn” for the poor (because there’s a chance that somebody with bad intentions might be hiding among the thousands of desperate refugees who need our help).

I’ve seen endorsements of candidates who routinely disrespect minorities and the poor. I’ve seen endorsements of violence against abortion clinics, against protestors, against anybody who threatens them or who questions their right to carry deadly weapons. I’ve seen a zealous summons to defend so-called “faith” in a way that suggests its defenders don’t have any.

When I’m confronted with so much ignorance of what Christ actually taught us to believe and do, when it seems that “believers” have forgotten the promises upon which Christian faith is founded, and when the command “Fear not” — the loudest refrain in the Scriptures — falls on deaf ears even within the church… I wonder if the Scripture’s warnings about the coming of the “Antichrist” aren’t actually warning of just this: a replacement Christianity, a false Christ, characterized by a spirit of reactionary wrath and condemnation, self-interest, hard-heartedness, unforgiveness, and unmercifulness.

It’s no wonder that Christians don’t like the way they are portrayed on television and in the movies: what they’re seeing is a mirror of the impression that they’ve so often given the world.

In times like these, the louder these anti-Christ voices become, the more clearly and insistently I seem to hear the truth whispering back from unexpected places.

For example, tonight, as I was re-reading a chapter of Watership Down, I stopped and stared at page 253.

It’s a chapter in which Dandelion, the rabbit’s storyteller, seeks to inspire them by telling a story about their trickster hero — El-ahrairah. El-ahrairah has risked his life to save his people, but then, encountering the Black Rabbit of Inle — the phantom spirit who represents both death and liberation — he is told that he needn’t make that sacrifice. The Black Rabbit will save his people. In fact, being timeless, he already has.

Later, El-ahrairah returns to his people, who have been saved by the Black Rabbit’s grace. And they are still behaving badly. So El-ahrairah says this to the Black Rabbit:

“…I have learned that with creatures one loves, suffering is not the only thing for which one may pity them. A rabbit who does not know when a gift has made him safe is poorer than a slug, even though he may think otherwise himself.”

I wish I could draw believers’ attention back to their own scriptures. They might find there that the Gospel really is good news — that it means we can be recklessly generous and gracious in the confidence that nothing, not even death, can overcome God’s unconditional grace. This is, in fact, the truth that their so-called “savior” gave his life to show them.

But then, even as I begin to realize how easily my frustrations can turn into an equivalent of that same self-righteous indignation, I come across this poem — one of my favorites — from Scott Cairns. Read it slowly. Read it out loud. See if you can hear the ache, and the gentleness, in God’s voice.

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