Monday, 10 October 2011

In the Lion's Den

I am full of admiration for the personal courage being shown by Rowan Williams in undertaking his current visit to Zimbabwe. Williams stirs mixed feelings in many Christians who hold their faith  from quite different perspectives. Many have expressed a sense of frustration, disillusion, sometimes betrayal, a sense that he does not go far enough or  conversely acts in ways that are so cautious or expedient as to verge on the pusillanimous.
Those accusation certainly cannot be levelled at him this week. He has ventured into an environment where some have expressed the strongest animosity towards him and shown themselves capable of carrying out violence. He has previously opposed  Mugabe and he spoke out strongly against "lawlessness" and  the condemnation of "mindless and Godless" violence seen in Zimbabwe. It is admirable that he is prepared to confront Mugabe face to face. Some might say it is naive of Williams to think that any such meeting will achieve anything or foolish that he is not  deterred by the very real possibility that Mugabe will turn it to his advantage. Undoubtedly, Mugabe will try to gain some sort of mileage out of the situation, but I am of the opinion that he will  find it hard to look anything other than what he is when faced with William's undoubted goodness.
Above all, the greatest aspect of this visit is the moral and spiritual effect it is likely to have upon faithful Anglicans in Zimbabwe, and we have already seen the extent to which the Archbishop's presence and pastoral concern has been a source of hope and encouragement. It should be very clearly stated that the issues at stake here are those of violence and political tyranny, the issue of sexuality has largely been used as leverage by Mugabe and Kunonga to demonise, terrorise and control. I hope and pray that this visit will achieve lasting good and instill a determination in all  of us to speak out  against cruelty and injustice wherever we find it.

4 comments:

  1. Totally agree. He's a brave guy and deserves respect for rolling up his sleeves and getting stuck in. Good on the ABC.

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  2. Let us hope he is emboldened to face the tyrants of Anglican Mainstream when he returns home.

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  3. I share your admiration. This is an Archbishop acting in truly prophetic mode.

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  4. It is such a pity Zimbabwe doesn’t have oil – Mugabe would have been dispatched years ago. I find it weird that many people don’t question why it is the likes of Bush (Snr & Jr) or Blair breathe fire and flame about Iran or Iraq and yet happily let far worse violations human rights and atrocities continue in Africa (or elsewhere in the world). The death toll in the recent and various Congolese wars is well into the millions (see: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/dec/10/congo - altho’ disputed (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8471147.stm) yet the figure is still well into the millions) – the West just shrugged its shoulders. It is curious how the West’s biggest demons are also the ones that are the most perceived threat to its economic security. Zimbabwe has been a mere side-show and I suspect that if Mugabe hadn’t targeted white farmers or blamed Britain for the country’s ills, we would have heard a good deal less of his antics. Consider this: why did NATO happily back Libyan rebels and yet afforded no such support to Zimbabwean opposition? What has Libya got that Zimbabwe ain’t?

    Here we see an Archbishop doing something – and even some diehard conservatives have chosen to praise rather than their more habitual habit of maligning this man. Tho’ I’ve just read comments on Cranmer’s blog (http://archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.com/) where someone has managed to bring up the topic of homosexuality. Which perhaps demonstrates just how twisted are some of these conservative voices. People suffer death, torture, social exclusion etc. and yet some conservatives can still bleat on about willy-woofters and remain strangely silent on issues of social justice (cf. Hos 6:6 & James 1:27). As I’ve said on my own blogs there are various reasons why homosexuality has become such a ‘big issue’ for our conservative brethren, but I remain firm in my conviction that a large portion of their concern is because it is so EASY to busy oneself with other people’s righteousness and behaviour (cf. Matt 7:3) rather than be burdened with the more troublesome act of scrutinising oneself and one’s Church – it is also very CHEAP, there is little personal cost for many in droning about the immorality of homosexuality (if as much effort were applied to the Bible’s stance on usury, divorce, the treatment of foreigners, forgiveness, caring for the vulnerable, the cancelling of debt etc. in addition to personal integrity, it would make life far more inconvenient for our conservative friends, so thank God for the queers – their condemnation gives us a semblance of morality steadfastness without too much effort on our part!).

    ++William visit to Zimbabwe illustrates what is really important and just how far from its real purpose the conservatives are taking the church with their ‘moral’ crusades that appear to focus on the few, without very much inconvenience afforded to the many. If I read more about how concern for the authority and authenticity of the Bible had led many of our conservative friends to give up their vicarages in leafy suburbs and move to the sink estates and the gritty inner city, I might be more convinced of their integrity. If Anglicanmainstream or the Christian Institute etc. organised petitions and pressured politicians about the likes of Mugabe or the growing divide between the rich and the poor or campaigned for conservative Christians to live in the inner cities and send their kids to failing schools ‘to act as salt & light’ – I might just believe they really did care about Biblical orthodoxy. But this doesn’t happen – they sneer, they moan, they bitch and carp. Meanwhile our Archbishop puts his money where his mouth is... As the Jesus tells us: ‘You will know them by their fruits...’ Matt 7:16 QED...

    Peter Denshaw
    London

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