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20 January 2005

Hotel Rwanda: Damn I love being American!


NakedChurch and I went to see Hotel Rwanda last night (trailer here). It's movies like these that make me so proud to be an American (read = sarcasm...bitter sarcasm). It's also movies like these that make me wonder, "How accurate was the film? Were the facts there? Did they exaggerate things just to make it a moving, emotional film...?" And I think these questions are valid questions, I think it's fair to ask them. But at the same time, it really doesn't matter.

I was moved. I was told a people's story; a story of discrimination, hatred, suffering, survival, courage, and sorrow. The story of the Hutus and the Tutsis. The story of a rebellion and a genocide. The story of UN decisions (primarily bad) and USA ignorance (read = knowing what was happening and simply turning away). Movies like these make me realize that it's hard to be an American and someone who cares about the atrocities across the world. I don't think the US needs to be the worldwide police to intervene in everything, but it seems that if people are being killed for absolutely no reason, there needs to be a response. Should we be in Iraq trying to force them into a democracy? Maybe not. Should we seek to make the entire world democratic? Probably not. Should we intervene to try and make multiple mini-USAs? No. Should we intervene when human-rights violations are taking place? People dying? Mass-killings? Yes, I think that's a no brainer.

After leaving the theatre in downtown Princeton, I was just mad at myself. I was frustrated. While I was only 14 years old while this horrible genocide in Rwanda took place, that's really no excuse for not being aware of horrible atrocities taking place in the world today. [Wikipedia on the Rwandan genocide]

So what does this mean for today...what does this mean for bloggers? [Andrew asks similar questions on his most recent blog entry about Emergent and Relevance]

I think it means we need to get our heads out of the dirt (or our asses) and listen to the world; listen to the cries of the oppressed. We need to be reading a lot more liberation theology. We need to be blogging about social issues. We need to stop talking about "what is Emergent" and decide that whatever the hell "Emergent" is, it needs to be about something; about "doing" something that will make the world more like the kingdom of God. Not just for the people in our congregations, but for the people in Sudan; for the people in Latin America; for the people in Rwanda...let us be about that task in 2005, and maybe that will help our critics see that Emergent is not some heretical movement, or a bunch of people who just don't want to deal with the institutional church: rather, that we are attempting to live our lives faithfully into the gospel, and seeing how that gospel can change the world today for all peoples.

[friend and fellow blogger Tony Biasell calls for the same...let us heed the call]

06:59 PM in Emergent, Film | Permalink


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I totally agree. What a laxidazical Church we have become, so focused on God loves instead of righting what God hates.

Too much talk, more do.

Posted by: Andrew Seely | January 20, 2005 07:37 PM

"We need to be reading a lot more liberation theology."

Or, we could just read the Bible and get all the good stuff that LT teaches without the compromises.

Posted by: Keith | January 20, 2005 08:34 PM

My mom got me On Job by Gustavo Gutierrez, and I find that I have to read it on my own, because it makes me cry. And I'm not the type of person who typically cries over commentaries, either.

I haven't seen this movie yet- it's not playing anywhere near me- but I did just post a long, ramblingish post about the effect of prosperity theology on the Church. I'll have to remember to look for this movie when it comes out on video.

Posted by: julie | January 21, 2005 12:10 AM

I totally agree and feel your frustration. Being a youth pastor, I wrestle with praxis. What do we do? How do we do "it?" Will it really make change happen?

The youth community I serve has decided to fight slavery. We have read, studied, read, discussed, researched, read..... And we decided to "do something" for the region of Darfur in Sudan. We are raising money, raising awareness in our community: we have spoken at weekend services, wrote letters, we are holding a candlelight vigil in our city's park next month. In March, we are having Francis Bok, a former slave come to our city and he is speaking at an assembly at our local High School, and we are sponsoring a community event and having him speak.

Yet, I still wrestle with what it means "to be the church." I don't want to promote social action, I want the spirit of Jesus to transform our world. So how do "we" do that?

Posted by: Mark | January 21, 2005 08:03 AM

i know you've got plenty of books to read, but if you're interested, The Rwanda Crisis by Gerard Prunier is excellent. Not good news for our country, but it tells the story.

The Bible talks about justice more than many many other things. Maybe we should too.

Posted by: sean | January 21, 2005 10:40 AM

I too struggle with this, especially the appropriate response for us as individuals and as a nation. You say, "Should we intervene when human-rights violations are taking place? People dying? Mass-killings? Yes, I think that's a no brainer." I agree. You also say, "Should we be in Iraq trying to force them into a democracy? Maybe not. Should we seek to make the entire world democratic? Probably not. Should we intervene to try and make multiple mini-USAs? No." And I agree with that, to a certain extent. The problem is that if we don't do those things, we need to do something else. It's irresponsible to go in (using Iraq as an example), and get rid of the bad guys, and leave anarchy in our wake. So we have to do some work toward installing some kind of government. And that's where I constantly spin my wheels. Anarchy is bad, and colonization is bad. Where's the narrow path between these wide roads?

Posted by: Brian Baute | January 21, 2005 11:59 AM

i heard a really good interview today on npr of the UN commander who was resposible for containing the genocide. i don't remember his name, but he just release his memoir. i am sure if you poke around npr's site, you'll find it. great insight and perspective on this issue.

Posted by: Zach | January 21, 2005 07:18 PM

i'm with keith. LT is good, but makes way too many concessions politicallly that are worthless, i.e. the concession that violence is necessary, which should be whole heartedly rejected. The Gospel is much more radical than that.

Posted by: myles | January 22, 2005 09:52 AM

I just saw it. It's powerful. Thanks for posting on Hotel Rwanda.


Posted by: roland allen | January 22, 2005 08:55 PM

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