With all the pageantry the Episcopal Church can muster, the
Rev. Ian T. Douglas was consecrated Saturday the fifteenth
bishop of the Diocese of Connecticut.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa preached the
sermon. He spoke of how God requires Christians to love
everyone, no matter who they are:

“All the poor, rich, white, black, Hispanics, all, all.
Clever,not so clever, beautiful, not so beautiful …
tea party, Democrat, Republican. This is radical, man.
This is radical.

“Bin Laden, George Bush, Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton, gay,
lesbian, so-called straight, all, all …”

He charged Douglas, “Please tell the children of God, each
one of them is precious. … Each one of them is a member
of God’s family in which there are no outsiders.”

COMMENT: Some Christian leaders try to live their lives,
and persuade everyone else to live their lives, subject to
every single word written in the Bible plus the tradition
of the Church. They end up living in confusion and confusing
those they endeavour to teach.

Desmond Tutu has spent his Christian life living just one
simple, Christ inspired idea - God loves everyone and it
is the duty of the Christian to do likewise. He learnt the
life redeeming power of this singular truth on the day in
his youth when he met Father Trevor Huddleston for the
first time.

You can see the difference that these two ways of living the
faith brings to those who follow them in the faces of their
adherents. The former type shows the world a frown - the
second type, a smile.


A SIMPLE FAITH — 27 Comments

  1. It was a wonderful day, a wonderful service, and Archbishop Tutu was wonderful. At the end, his passion was heard through understatment:“Please tell the children of God, each one of them is precious. … Each one of them is a member of God’s family in which there are no outsiders.” “Tell them, tell them, tell them, tell them,” he nearly wept, getting softer and softer, and then he sat down.

  2. I seem to recall that a couple of years back we were told Desmond had been diagnosed as having cancer. Does anyone know what the situation is regarding this as he seem to be more active than most physically fit men half his age.

  3. Abp Tutu is a saintly person if ever there was one. As soon as I heard his irenic response to Gene Robinson’s ordination as bishop, compared to the “hair on fire” response of another African Archbishop, I knew who was on the side of God.

    I was blessed to be seated next to his daughter at the ordination of my current Diocesan bishop (she was the preacher for that august occasion). I can say with confidence that the apple does not fall far from the tree.

  4. Google is my friend.

    Desmond Tutu was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997, and the cancer recurred in 2005. He has a hell of a lot more energy than I do.

    Lois, how lovely that you could be there. Thanks for your first-person account of the beautiful moment at the end of the sermon.

  5. And yet such august authorities as the Revd Matt Kennedy have declared the Archbishop Emeritus an apostate and a heretic.

    I for one am gladly humbled to number in those designations with him.

  6. While it seems possible (Saint)+Desmond could outlive us all, all I know is that I want to go wherever he does, after his please-Lord-delay! passing.

  7. To see Desmond Tutu with children is to see Jesus…. Not only that, the man is an imp, with a ready smile, and a view of humanity that grabs you by the throat and will not let go. A global treasure. There are, of course, many others. One of the finest priests I’ve known, a woman, summarized the whole of Christian doctrine: “Love God, love people.” We really do make this awfully complicated.

  8. Paul summed things up pretty well when he wrote to the Galatians (5:22) that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

    It is hard to think of anyone this fits any better than Bishop Tutu.

  9. I was privileged to walk by his Grace’s side as chaplain for five and one half hours on Saturday. He is alive and vital, tender and forceful. He signed books and programs and posed for countless photos. He bent to bless children and those in wheelchairs.

    Lois is right, he ended his sermon in a whisper. It sounded like the breath of God to me.

    At the last, he got in Bishop Scruton’s mini-van with his priest daughter and co-author, Mother Mpho Tutu, and a couple of grand kids. Then he was “Pappa” in a way that Holy Father couldn’t imagine.

  10. Archbishop Emeritus Tutu is one of the reasons that I have not totally abandoned my belief in God.

    The man is a walking, talking, living, breathing testament to the living God and I am thankful to share the Earth with such as he.

    And great blessings on the new Bishop Douglas! May he heed the wise words of Tutu in his role as shepherd.

  11. I love his smile, his giggle, his irrepressable joy … they all illumine his insistent integrity … What a great soul!

    I wonder if he’s the Dalai Lama of Christianity … 🙂

  12. Well, Jaliya, he and the Dalai Lama are good buddies!

    His energy is truly unbelievable. When I worked for him, none of us could keep up with him and that was one thing that really annoyed him. It was because of his true humility, however. He really doesn’t realize how unusual he is and when the rest of us were collapsing around him, he just thought we were being lazy.

    I love the man dearly. He’s one of the few people on this earth I would happily die for.

    By the way, he is utterly committed to prayer. He always used to get to chapel first thing in the morning before I did (even though being a “prayer presence” there was really my “job”.) He used to say, “If governments knew how subversive contemplative prayer is, they would ban it.”

  13. So who of us is going to tell Bin Laden that he is loved by God? Not in the “love the sinner hate the sin” kind of way, but actually and truly loved?

    And who of us is not a little outraged at that thought,if we’re truly honest with oursevles?

  14. Dahveed — I agree. If Archbishop Tutu personifies what an apostate and heretic is, then may I someday be called in that number!

    There are few who better embody what it is to be a Christian than Desmond Tutu. There are some in this world who will worry over doctrine and the letter of the law for the rest of their lives, while entirely missing the import of Jesus’s message. Tutu, on the other hand, has not only grasped the message, but apparently lives it as well.

  15. Lois, sorry I did not see you there… I was captivated by the end of his sermon… yes, the Spirit speaking through him, God’s holy imp. He can repeat himself as much as he wants because his message so needs to be heard over and over again.

  16. I think I can assert with some confidence that the perpetrators of South African apartheid have caused at least as much death and suffering as Bin Laden has. I’ve lived there and I’ve seen the effects (which continue, by the way. That legacy will be present for generations to come.) And I’ve heard the stories and some of them are so horrific that it’s hard not to throw up listening to them. And yes, Desmond has told the most evil of these folk that God “actually and truly” loves them and I think that this is in large part why we didn’t have blood bath on the day of the first free elections (April 27, 1994.)

    He never wanted revenge or retribution. Only truth and reconciliation.

  17. Listening to an interview by Krista Tippet (host of the radio program Speaking of Faith)gave me some new insight into the question of whether it is possible to have love and compassion for evil people. She interviewed Buddhist teacher and author, Matthieu Ricard, a colleague of the Dalai Lama. Speaking of the meaning of happiness, he explained “If we think of happiness as a way of being, a way of being that give you the resources to deal with the ups and downs of life that pervades all emotional state, including sadness. If we think of sadness as incompatible with pleasure, but it’s compatible with what? With altruism, with inner strength, with inner freedom, with sense of direction and meaning in life?”

    “[Happiness can encompass e]very mental state except those who are just opposite which is like despair, hatred, precisely the mental factors that will destroy inner peace, inner strength, inner freedom. If you are under the grip of hatred, you are not free. You are the slave of your own thoughts. So that’s not freedom, therefore, this is opposite to genuine flourishing in happiness.”

    “And then it needs also some understanding about the true nature of loving kindness and compassion. Compassion and loving kindness is not a reward for people who behave well. The absence of compassion is not a punishment for those who behave badly. It has to do with removing suffering. It has to do with going deep at the cause of suffering, and among those cause of suffering there is hatred, there is hatred, there is cruelty. That’s what we wish for a dictator. We wish that the dictator may, that cruelty and hatred be cleansed from that persons mind. That’s what loving kindness is about; it’s not wishing good or liking this guy. [Even the most messed up person may be capable of change.] So loving kindness is just wishing that all the causes of happiness be gathered and all the causes of suffering be dispelled. So you don’t have to limit that to anybody, whether close friends, strangers, or even obnoxious people.”

  18. Bill, thank you. Matthieu Ricard speaks wisdom. I like what Ricard says about hatred, that we are not free when we hate, and I like his description of loving kindness. He makes loving kindness seem possible, even toward those whom we think of as the worst of the worse.

  19. I think there’s a difference between hatred and anger (even aggression). Although one often leads to the others, that’s not always the case.