In Paton’s South Africa, the white settlers had destroyed the African tribal systems through mining camps, exploitation, unequal education, segregation, and inaction, not to mention colonization itself. Against this backdrop Paton writes Cry The Beloved Country (hereafter CTBC), a story of mid-20th century South Africa told mainly through the experience of the Zulu, Stephen Kumalo, an aging Anglican Priest. Kumalo’s parish is a land without potential that has been further devastated by incompetence, drought and decimation. Throughout this essay, attention will be given to Kumalo’s experience in two different contact zones.(1) In the first contact zone, Kumalo is subalternated(2) by his position as an elderly rural Zulu trying to make his way in Johannesburg, a fearful metropolitan world “not made for him.” In the second contact zone Kumalo is subalternated in relation to Jarvis, a successful(3) white farmer whose life interweaves with Kumalo’s in such a way as to accentuate the significant power differential between the two. In each of these contact zones, Kumalo experiences some relief from the clash of cultures, ultimately resulting in Kumalo moving into a new space that had previously been unavailable to him. Though Kumalo’s experience in these contact zones is full of fear and even tragedy, he comes out of them into a different place in life, a place where his new contacts have provided not only material support, but have also helped him to become a more active agent in the story of his family and his parish.
Book Review of Captain America and the Crusade Against Evil: The Dilemma of Zealous Nationalism, Robert Jewett and John Shelton Lawrence, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003, 392 pp.;
The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada, Marci McDonald, Random House Canada, 2010, 419 pp.
These are disturbing books. One could feel having read them like a serious crime victim: the universe once seemed well ordered, predictably unfolding. Until violent crime strikes. And the equilibrium of the universe tilts. One thought perhaps Canada was a safe democracy. One thought the United States stood in reality for making the world safe for democracy. Both books urgently cry out, Think again!
The Armageddon Factor is a second go at publishing on this theme, the first an essay in Walrus magazine in 2006. Captain America is reprised publication from initial discussion thirty years prior, and variously since. McDonald repeatedly alludes to, sometimes describes, antecedents from the States to the rise of Christian Nationalism. Jewett and Lawrence give a full-blown account of what they call “zealous nationalism” from colonial timesonwards. I’ll begin with their account.
The Jewish Tradition, at its noblest and finest, has bequeathed to the Western Tradition a high and noble ethical vision. The oral prophets such as Elijah and Elisha never flinched from staring down power when those in power used it in a way that abused the weaker and less fortunate. The minor and major prophets embodied the best of the oral prophetic tradition and left the West a literate and passionate tale of faith and politics. Amos, like Jonah and Hosea, were active in the 8th century BCE, and they initiated the path and passage of the Minor Prophets. There is no doubt that these Jewish prophets tell us a great deal about their understanding of who God is and the relationship between God, Israel, dominant empires and the social/political/economic/military conditions of the time.
A video symposium on religio-political incendiary language from the murder of Hypatia to our current crisis. David Goa asks, 'Is there a way to hold to a serious faith commitment without demonizing those that genuinely disagree with us?'
In this interview, Ron Dart refers to the movie, Agora (starring Rachel Weisz) that recalls the perpetually relevant life and death of Hypatia. Below is the trailer.
Steve Bell is a seasoned, Juno Award winning song-writer / musician based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In recent years, his thoughtful folk messages have caught the notice of symphony crowds with touring performances backed by a variety of city orchestras. But behind and beyond the pristine quality of his musicianship and lyrics, Steve stands in the tradition of Canadian artists with a heart for integrating spirituality and justice (Bruce Cockburn for example). He is involved in humanitarian work both locally and nationally. In a recent interview with Bell, I asked him to share the backstory to his social concern. Two items from his childhood especially caught my attention.