God Has a Dream

With the presidential campaign likely to inspire a Smackdown over the next few weeks, the war in Iraq a mess, and Darfur much worse, Desmond Tutu's new book, "God Has a Dream" offers the kind of tough minded Christian hope we need.

It is a hope for redemption, no matter what the circumstances. He writes:

There is no such thing as a totally hopeless case. Our God is an expert at dealing with chaos, with brokenness, with all the worst that we can imagine. God created order out of disorder, cosmos out of chaos, and God can do so always, can do so now—in our personal lives and in our lives as nations, globally."

Tutu calls the book "the culmination" of his life's work. As a man who has seen true horror in his life, and true redemption, Tutu is unyielding in his proclamtion of hope.

He doesn't sugar coat things. Here's how he described a visit he made to Rwanda:

When I was serving as the president of the All Africa Conference of Churches, I went to Rwanda one year after the genocide there that claimed the lives of more than half
a million people. I saw skulls that still had machetes and daggers embedded in
them. I couldn't pray. I could only weep.

Only a madman, or a Christian, can still believe in redemption after seeing something like that.

We don't really believe in hope or in redemption, not in the wing of the Christian church I know best. There are pockets of it, where people extend grace to one another, where love covers a multitude of sins. But we aren't willing to go all the way. Step off the path, think a wrong thought, or say something that strays from the party line and it's time for Smackdown Jesus style.

Of course, it's not just Christians who play the smackdown game. It's practically America's national pastime. (Bloggers, especially love it.)We have discovered the Fun in Fundamentalism, at least in the way the Real Live Preacher defines it:

Never confuse fundamentalism with a particular set of beliefs. Fundamentalism is a methodology. It is a way of relating to people. There are fundamentalist Christians, fundamentalist Muslims, and don’t forget the politically correct zealots. You will meet fundamentalists in every walk of life.

Fundamentalism’s method is confrontation and its fuel is anger. There can be no dialogue and no mutual respect. There will only be winners and losers. They are right. You are wrong. End of discussion.

As Desmond Tutu points out, this is nothing Christian about this kind of Fundamentalism.

A few other highlights from God has Dream's first chapter:

  • Many people believe that they are beyond God's love—that God may love others but
    that what they have done has caused God to stop loving them. But Jesus by his
    example showed us that God loves sinners as much as saints

  • God, looking on us here, does not see us as a mass. God knows us each by
    name. God says, “Your name is engraved on the palms of My hands.”

  • You see, Jesus would most probably have been seen in the red-light district of a city. Can you imagine if they saw me there walking into a brothel to visit with what are often called the women of easy virtue. Who would say, “We're quite sure the archbishop is there for a pastoral reason”? But that's exactly what Jesus did.

  • we are reminded that God's love is not cut off from anyone. However diabolical the act, it does not turn the perpetrator into a demon.

  • If you had said a few years before that South Africa would be a beacon of hope,
    people would have taken you to a psychiatrist. And yet it was so. Our problems
    are not over— poverty, unemployment, and the AIDS epidemic—because
    transfiguration is ongoing. But just because there is more to be done, we should
    not forget the miracles that have taken place in our lifetime

  • The Bible has this incredible image of you, of me, of all of us, each one, held as something precious, fragile in the palms of God's hands. And that you and I exist only because God is forever blowing God's breath into our being.


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