Round Table with Oscar
September 19, 2014
Rumble in the Church

If Mr Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel in Palestine were to attend the funeral of a leading Palestine militant in the Java Strip, he would get ‘Boo ‘ – at least. In enemy territory, you get hostility. And that is where we are in SVG. The Church witnessed that cruel reality at the funeral of the late Mr Elwardo Lynch at the Anglican Church in Georgetown and we want to deny the ugly truth and behave as if some crack heads were let loose in town!{{more}}

It is time to take back our society from the criminal political civil war and the somewhat related “gangland lunacy” that are raging here. At a season when electoral excitation is on the horizon, we dare not turn away from our national duty to confront the material, the spiritual and the political relations that are tearing us apart. Does the Christian Church have a part in this struggle for right and liberating relations? This is where the Church stands and this is what the Church needs to say like Isaiah, the court prophet, did:

“I am a man of unclean lips and I live in the midst of a people of unclean lips…” – Isaiah 6:5.

In fact, from top to bottom, we all must sign up for the reconciliation campaign, because we all are messed up in the criminal gangland politics.

Regal Reconciliation

About three weeks ago, I heard a news item that stayed with me. Prime Minister Gonsalves said that the time for political peace and reconciliation had come. He had met with Bishop Leopold Friday of the Anglican Church, and Pastor Steven Ollivierre of the National Reconciliation Committee and he was calling on citizens to behave properly to one another. “Respect each other; be courteous and neighbourly; when you have different or opposing opinions, don’t curse.” Speak reasoningly with each other. This sound advice is welcome, but if it comes from a strife leader, it doesn’t fly. In fact it sounds as if Dr Gonsalves is a wise King, like Solomon, who is judging a case between two parties and telling them “Behave alyoself.” The king is not part of the argument, just an impartial judge making a ruling. Perhaps we should note that King Solomon, in spite of his imperial astuteness and accomplishments and wisdom, did die leaving his Empire in disunity and with structural injustice. Regal declaration does not produce reconciliation. Regal repentance has a better chance of getting to join in the pilgrimage to peace justice and prosperity. The Isaiah confession of unclean lips is particularly pertinent to our king.

Radical, Rootical Reconciliation

The Roman Catholic Bishop and his team recently confessed their “mea culpa”, pleading “guilty” to sealing their lips when they should have spoken, challenged and ventured. Like many prophets before them, they know that they will meet a backlash. Their statement speaks to the society, and its governance. It is a good example of the start-up of the pilgrimage our people have to make on the road out of tribes being manipulated to hate other tribes. The rumble in the Georgetown Church, the consultation-chat between the Prime Minister and two leading churchmen, the Roman Catholic Church statement and Dr Gonsalves’ irate response to it, are signs of a deeper malaise and an imminent pregnancy. While the Prime Minister’s hostility was predictable, his misunderstanding of the Hebrew Christian Scriptures and the prophetic role is alarming. The Bishop has work to do with him.

But the sleeping Vincy volcano is not focusing on the Church, because the Church is not about to become the people’s suffering servant. Although the political strife, victimization, and electoral criminality are clear and present and burning flames in the heart of the nation, even the political parties too, have no desire or programme to erase the conditions that produce such strife. We have to go again to school, and a new generation will take us there. An election upset will help, but that is not enough by itself. A deeper, wider renewal of the Vincentian nation is the journey that we are embarking on now.