This morning’s God Pause from Luther Seminary, written by Joe Natwick, introduced me to a new word, more a portmanteau, that I had never heard before: spanger. Just as one can become hangry -hungry and angry – when they have not had enough to eat and their blood sugar begins to drop, the author suggest that those of us who claim to be disciples of Jesus can experience spanger – spiritual anger – when we see the world around us falling so short of the dream of God. Natwick goes on to suggest that the only cure for spanger is a heaping helping of the truth. That is, as disciples of Jesus, we are called to speak the truth in the face of injustice, oppressing, and degradation.
A quick Google search shows that Natwick cannot take credit for having created the word, spanger, however, he might be the first to use it as a combination of spiritual and anger. Ironically, according to that ever-trusted resource, wiktionary.com, spanger’s previous use is as a pejorative term to describe a beggar. Again a portmanteu, this earlier usage comes from combining spare and change, as in, one who begs for spare change. This older usage, which dates all the way back to 2007, actually creates a scenario in which both uses of the word would work.
“My encounter with that spanger outside the coffee shop left me feeling spanger.”
This rather long introduction can be blamed on the Apostle Paul (or one of his disciples), who, in the letter to the Ephesians gives the Christians there permission to get angry, but with the strong caveat not to fall into sin. This anger that the author of Ephesians speaks of is that righteous indignation that comes when we look around and see a world full of corruption, violence, and oppression, often under the guise of Christian virtue, that is so obviously not what God had in mind at the beginning of Creation. This righteous anger should, as Natwick suggests, lead us to action. It should spur us to speak the truth in love. It should motivate us to work toward justice and peace. It is God at work within us, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, that propels us out into the world to break the bonds of oppression, patriarchy, racism, xenophobia, classism, etc.
The portion of the letter to the Ephesians that we will hear on Sunday is the perfect response to those who would suggest that Christianity isn’t political. Christianity, because it is interested in bringing the Kingdom of God to earth as it is in heaven, is, by its very nature, political, calling the kingdoms of this world to leave behind selfish desires and to remember the poor, the needy, the orphan, and the widow. May our spanger over this world being so out of sorts compel us to good work to glory of God.