Though the physical battle at the Westgate Mall in Kenya has drawn to a close, the moral war rages on. For all the intelligence intercepts, military raids, and advanced weaponry we possess, we have to face reality – this battle will not be won by bullets and drones. COMPETING RADICALISMS
Many – but not all - observers of Islam view extreme acts of violence (such as the attack on Westgate) as radical perversions of the core tenets of that faith. There are many factors that contribute to such terrible acts (check out this interesting BBC article) but one thing is clear: the center of this ideological and theological perspective is shifting south and west, from the “stans” (Pakistan, Afghanistan) to north and east Africa.
Of course, it is also apparent that the future center of Christianity will also be in Africa, suggesting that this continent and the world to come will be more contentious than the world to date.
In the middle of this fray, we find “the church.” Hardly a monolithic “the,” “the church” is fragmented, diminished and dismissed. And it is the only hope for Africa’s future, if…
… If the church responds to “the other” as “another,” (as in “another of God’s children, frail and fallen”).
… If the church embodies redeeming love and perseverance.
…. If the church speaks with authority unsullied by practices.
Tall orders. A lot of conditional “ifs.” And, by the way, these same conditions apply to the US church as it struggles to adapt to a rapidly and radically changing culture all around it.
So, is it time to surrender? Or, to roll up our sleeves and get to work?
I, for one, am rolling up my sleeves. It’s why I joined African Leadership, because “the church” in Africa is asking us to help, and in so helping we too (“the church” in America) will also be made to see our own reality. We seek to contribute to one continent’s moral and cultural foundations, and end up shoring up our own. Where I come from, that sounds like a “two-fer” (as in “two fer the price of one”) and that sounds like a pretty good deal to me.