Last week, there spoke at our church (Imago Dei) a reverand from Sudan named Celestin Musekura. I, unfortunately, was speaking at a conference that weekend and missed his sermon (I highly urge you to download the sermon and listen to it: here). This man and his family lived in and through the Rwanda genocide in the early 1990s. He encouraged the church body to see the new movie Hotel Rwanda. He assured us that the movie was a painfully true representation of what happened there.
So, my close friend Josh “Social Activist” Butler suggested that we, the band, take a break from our weekly Monday practice and go watch the movie together. The women couldn’t attend, so it became a sort of “guys’ movie night”. Now I realize that none of us were prepared for what we would see and experience in this movie.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to give any spoilers in this post, but I can tell you that I came away from the movie utterly disgusted with myself and the western world. At a time when we’re at war in Iraq (over less than clear humanitarian reasons and more for political and economical motivations), this movie puts human suffering and genocide on the map.
After seeing this movie and processing it over a few pale ales at the Virginia Cafe with Josh and Anthony “mad MAX driver” Forrester, two strong gutteral responses welled up deep within me: shame and outrage. Shame for my past personal indifference to the Rwandan genocide. Shame for my current lack of involvement in the current Sudanese crisis. Outrage that my country and the world powers did so little to intervene and stop the massive killings (estimated to be around 800.000).Here is a quote from Clinton’s State Department on the issue in June 1994:
“That’s just not a question that I’m in a position to answer.”
“Well, is it true that you have specific guidance not to use the word ‘genocide’ in isolation, but always to preface it with these words ‘acts of’?”
I think the most outrageous aspect of international genocide and human rights violations, is how (apparently) little the Church (i.e., the global Christian church, not just Catholics or protestants, etc) is doing about them. Christ was the ultimate human rights crusader and advocate for the poor, helpless, sick, and downtrodden. The Church appears to me to have (willingly vs. unknowningly?) allowed itself to become marginalized and impotent in these matters. Josh had a great idea: what if we staged a 40 day public fast (say, in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square) for solidarity and to speak of our outrage against the atrocities in Sudan? What if? Lent would be a perfect time to do it (but we’re already now 2 weeks into Lent). Hmm… This summer? Next year’s Lent?
These genocides are absolute travesties. What should I be doing about this? I’m not totally sure of that yet, but I will be thinking and praying about it. Here’s a good place to start too: Passion of the Present (Sudan).
:: peder ::
So, as so often happens, I had an epiphany as I was in bed talking to Holly, peparing for the highly-anticipated slumber…
We were catching up with each other (time with each other since returning from Hawaii has been severely limited by my need to complete a presentation for a conference this weekend in Sun River, Orygun). She was sharing some intimate, (very) deep, personal spiritual insights and thoughts about what she was learning in her spiritual formation class (intense) at Imago. It is amazing how much she has learned about herself and her relationship with God within just a few weeks. She was relating about how most of this new learning was coming about via a lot of purposeful introspection and quiet reflection. As she was telling me this, I became quite morose. However, I didn’t know I was morose, yet. What I felt, suddenly, was “The Funk.”
The Funk, as you may know, may be defined one of many ways, including that syncopated afro beat made famous in the 1970s by Herbie Hancock, Bootsy Collins, Curtis Mayfield, and George Clinton. The funk I’m talking about, though, is that sudden, seemingly unexplainable, temporary feeling of depression, loss, or longing. Its etiology is usually just… out of reach. Perceptible but frustratingly intangible. This time, though, I was able to pinpoint the causitive factor: timelessness.
After some thought regarding the matter, I realized (lightbulb anyone?) that I have been suffering from a lack of reflection. I’ve always wondered (with some cynicism no doubt) how the average American, who watches 4 hours of TV per day, has time to effectively reflect on current events or politics, let alone delve into more important existential issues. I thought I was “ahead of the game”, since I don’t watch the tele at all. I oft thought aloud proudly, “I have an extra 4 hours a day to be a better, reflective person, not just one of those ‘reactive’ American types.”
Instead, much to my chagrin, I’ve succumbed to the same “busy-ness” of which most other people around me are victims. I have filled my evenings with an extraordinary time on the computer, including researching current events, reading blogs, reading thoughtful theological articles and critiques, responding to a gizillion emails from friends and Classic Jazz Corner listeners, et cetera ad nauseam. I desperately need more time to think. How can this be done, when so many of the things listed above are relative needs for me right now? I’m pulled from many directions - family, God, work, personal interests (fewer and fewer hobbies), exercise, etc. Maybe I’ll sleep less. Maybe I’ll give up blogging (rarely do it anyway). Should I give up the jazz broadcast? Unfortunately, the solution is the problem: time to think. Ack.
:: Peder ::