3 thoughts on “Preposterously Reverend Lord Professor Bishop Baron Lord Richard Harries, Baron Pentregarth, Gresham Professor of Divinity, Baron, Bishop, Professor, Lord…

  1. I never met Desmond Tutu. The thing I associate him with is his simple ability to point out the immorality of apartheid from a Christian perspective.
    For me it was just so obviously wrong that nothing anyone in the British establishment said about the ANC being communist and the whites keeping up European culture could overcome the injustice.
    Tutu made that simple humanitarian point. He, of course, bound it up in Christian theology, which I suppose was useful in some quarters, but it was the inhumanity of separating people purely based on the colour of their skin that he was able to successfully exploit.


  2. It was inevitable but perhaps fitting that Harries should devote his three minutes this morning to an encomium to Desmond Tutu. Hard, then, to critique this as a ‘person or story in the news from a faith perspective.’ I wouldn’t argue with anything Harries said about the late Archbishop – perhaps the least controversial of recent religious figures, and a man readily admired. But for me there was an uncomfortable undertone, highlighted in the anecdote that Harries quoted from Tutu himself. “When the missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, ‘let us pray.’ We closed our eyes, when we opened them, we had the Bible, and they had the land.”

    The tenacity with which many countries, formerly part of the British Empire, still cling to the Christian faith which was alien to their own culture, and a major part of colonialism – native beliefs being condemned and banished is remarkable. It could be argued that most of the former colonies where the missionaries imposed their Christianity actually practice a purer form of that religion than now exists in the ‘mother’ country. But it is still the oppressors’ religion – same as in the slave communities of the Americas.

    Who could doubt the depth of Tutu’s faith? But it is still puzzling that someone who fought so hard to remove injustices imposed on his people by alien occupiers should have adopted their religion in the first place.


  3. Little to argue against in Harries’s encomium this morning; it was a heartfelt and gracious tribute to a brave and honest man who did more than most to practice what he preached.

    Both PaulT and Liverpudlian make good points. I suppose part of the answer to the conundrum the latter poses is that one of the reasons for Christianity’s enduring attraction is that it was aimed at the poor and downtrodden from the start. I read somewhere that Christianity was originally thought of as a religion for women and slaves, as opposed to Marcionism, which attracted the mystics, and Mithraism, which was a religion for real men. Poor and downtrodden people across the world seem to have latched onto this key attribute, whereas the missionaries who brought it to them in the first place probably thought they were preaching a somewhat different message.

    Anyway, Tutu was a good man, who had a good influence on millions of people, which is more than most Christian leaders manage.


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