Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The death of Satan: How Kenyans have lost a sense of evil (and why they must get it b4 2007)

Let me first declare my interests in this matter, about which I had promised to write a few days ago: I'm a born-again Christian in the Reformed tradition, a son to an evangelical clergyman, a trained journalist with some experience in the local and international media, passionate about my faith as well as issues (politics included) that inform life on this planet. I also have a fairly good grasp of the Kenyan, African and global Christian landscape; gained through reading, travel and practical engagement in life with other believers. This piece has been distilled from my own thoughts on this matter as well as ideas I have gleaned from some Christian friends with whom I have been reflecting on this subject. I write this, therefore, with as much of a detached observer's skepticism as much as I'm doing so with an insider's determined anguish to redeem what I believe is a situation perfectly within our sights. At the time of this writing, I had it on good authority that a large number of Christian candidates will be contesting for parliamentary seats in next year's General Elections. Some of the prospective candidates are already in parliament, others will be doing so for the very first time; a good number of the latter are folks I either attended university with or have interacted with in Christian circles or in the media industry. In the new crop of candidates are folks I could vote for anytime anywhere, but in the same camp are folks I would rather we had others - like the Artur brothers :-) - running in their stead, democracy or no democracy. Alongside this development is the established thought in some circles, proved wrong in some constituencies and even on the presidential ballot in 2002, that there are annointed MPs for whom Kenyans should uncritically vote in 2007. The foregoing is the kind of thinking informing some of the rather weird consensus in some Christian circles that seeks to be the driving force behind some of the Christian parliamentary and presidential hopefuls. I have no problems with Christians, Muslims, Hindus or whoever else fielding candidates in the General Elections - it is within their legal rights to do so; what I'm opposed to is the possible emergence in the next Parliament of some legislators - falling in my category of persons I would rather die than vote for - who will be our bane. Those legislators-to-be have nothing, apart from their professed faith, to offer this country; they are in good company with several past and present Christian legislators and presidents whose work ethic could be called anything but productive. Those legislators-to-be have not engaged the real issues of the day in the way of a dedicated life of service and reflection; you'll find nothing to back up their talk either in any known political philosophy or paper trail documenting their contribution to the leadership of organizations or groups they have been part of.

Those legislators-to-be talk so glibly about social transformation but have never allowed their faith to - in the thoughts of Christ in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12)- affect their world as they know it in any discernible way; their faith has been kept private and safe, never really pushing them out of their comfort zones much enough to disturb the status quo that puts the weak and vulnerable in our society at the mercy of the high and mighty.
Those legislators-to-be suffer from a terrible but conveniently nourished cognitive dissonance that allows them to live not as they believe, while at the same time hitting the campaign trail with the message of how much their salvation will help them transform our country. Those legislators-to-be have for their heroes the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, Daniel Arap Moi and President Mwai Kibaki and their large army of "Christian" political disciples - both in government and the opposition -; men and women whose record in private life and the conduct of public affairs is nothing to write home about. Those legislators-to-be will, gladly, use the state to promote Christianity while utilizing the same machinery to oppress those who will, in their estimation, be having nothing to contribute to "national cohesion, stability and development." As some Zambian pastors reportedly did when Christian President Frederick Chiluba came in, those legislators are likely to - for a social vision - ask for more land for the construction of churches, more freedom for "crusades" and, who knows, a declaration that Kenya is officially a Christian nation; all that while as Kenya goes down the gutter under whoever else they will have helped us annoint. As someone has so well noted: "The most powerful man in the world today (President George Bush) claims to be a born-again, evangelical Christian. Are his domestic and foreign policies any Christian? Where did we get the idea that if we had more Christians in positions of power and influence our nation would be more just and compassionate? We have 2,000 years of history to deny that." And do take this from him too: "If you have people who only think that the Gospel is about being born-again and going to Heaven when we die, pray that these people won't have positions of power in our country. Let's pray that we'll have Christians in those positions who we'll have taken time to develop a Christian, political philosophy and vision of the world. And for that you need much more than the Bible...or quoting Romans 13 and I Peter 2 as if that settles the issue. There's more than 2,000 years of profound Christian reflection on politics, beginning with that great North African called St. 2,000 years of Christian political reflection, and often not done by evangelicals (and - I add - sometimes Christians in general)." These nicely dressed-up, dangerous wannabes, presenting themselves as angels of light, need not be handled with kids' gloves as has been the case in past elections. The Kenyan voter needs to refresh his or her sense of evil and vote out those who will be calling "Christ, Christ" in the campaigns and private strategy meetings yet have no real, known love for someone before whom all known and unknown history will someday culminate. He's someone whom if, as they claim, they truely believe in, would have informed their understanding of how best to make their lives a daily responsible answer to the question of God's call on their lives in our generation. *I'll see if I or anyone else can do a sequel to this. If you are interested in doing so, just holla at me via the e-mail address on my homepage. I'm terribly time-limited for now to do anything serious. By the way, a Swahili translation of this piece is available at my Swahili blog.


Anonymous AM, American living in Kenya said...

Jesse, I would have to disagree about George Bush. I will not dispute
that his foreign policy, except for the commitment to a large block of
money to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa, is objectionable. However,
domestically it appears to me that his Christianity has made a great
difference in his decision making. He stands firmly against abortion,
he has attempted to put into place stringent guidelines regarding
embryonic stem cell research based on that conviction, he is pushing
abstinence as a solution to HIV prevention, he has opened up
immigration in the U.S., especially with regards to persons already
living in the country illegally (though admittedly not Arab ones) more
than any president in recent memory. Now, one can argue that he is not
correct on some of his positions, but that his Christianity has
impacted his domestic policy in a noticeable way is not arguable. Nor,
may I point out, would most of his opponents in the U.S. make that
argument. They would assert that he is wrong--possibly because of his
faith--but not that his faith has not impacted his stands on issues. I
do some research in the area of HIV/AIDS, and I can assure you that
persons involved in that field do not think George W. Bush's faith has
not made a difference--they think it has made a very strong, negative
difference (I happen to be very appreciative of his stance on
abstinence, though I'm less convinced that his administration's
position downgrading the importance of the media in fighting HIV/AIDS
is useful. But then again I would not think that position springs from
faith convictions). That is the main reason why, despite the fact that
it is clearly in the descendency, many persons on the opposite side of
the political spectrum are excruciatingly vocal in expressing their
fears that the conservative Christian ideology is taking over American

5/04/2006 10:13:00 am  
Anonymous A.J, Pennsylvania, USA said...

It's alright with you barbing at Bush; you were quoting.
Incidentally, I doubt very much that he would have made even the efforts he has to deal with things like AIDS in Africa, genocide in Sudan or (certainly) an attempt, however faltering, to bring about democracy in the Middle East without his Christian faith. That being said, there are many politicians of the type you describe here.
A good piece of advice on this matter is to compare the political action of Chuck Colson with that of Jerry Fallwell. Colson writes the "Breakpoint" web column, which always makes for good daily reading. I recommend it to anyone.

5/04/2006 10:15:00 am  
Blogger Pukks said...

I am also born-again BUT I am of the persuasion of liberation theologists. I believe in heaven here not tomorrow. I believe that Jesus came so that we may have life in full (politically, economocally, socially, physiclly, mentally etc). For that reason, a leader who propagates separation of plotics from religion will not be in my list of buddies. In Kenya we have seen many born agains telling people to leave politics to the politicians. That to me shows they dont read their bible well. Regarding Bush and his Christianity - speaking as an African, I say he attacked Iraq because he was a Christian. He saw that to stop the spread of Islamists who harm christians for just being christains - then Iraq had to succumb. However he did not envisage a situation where Musilims would interpret that for a crusade. The war in iraq now is not about oil. It is Jesus verses Mohammed.

Otherwise your analysis on the Kenyan scenario has hit the nail on the button.

5/04/2006 11:06:00 am  
Blogger Kenyan Idiot said...

You made my day today. I will choose to ignore the Americans and their bush in this debate, they'll do and say anything to defend him: i saw that with my lecturers during their last general elections.But i will no hesitate to say that Bush's policies, at least those that i know of (the international ones), are nowhere near christocentrism.
To argue that the Iraq situation is a Christian motivation is a display of ignorance of the fundamental Principles that guide christianity. Christianity is not defended with arms, neither does God need lawyers (am not downplaying the place of apologetics, for i am an apologist)to chant His course.He will and has always done it for himself. over 2000 years of Christianity is itself an attestation.
If the 'Christian bush is is concerned about the spread of Islam let him resort to prayer and Godly living and not war.
...and i tthhink this is the point Jesse is putting across: that the so-called Christian leaders have failed to lead with the biblical principles aptly putt forth...and that some non-christian leaders have done a better job. The bone of contention is about the leaders whose policies, decisions and actions have raised questions as to whether they are indeed Christians in the first place.
These are the kind of 'Christian leaders' Kenya has had. In Africa, we have the Chilubas and worldwide we have the Bushes, among others. The so-called-leaders elected on the platform of Christianity... that since they are christians they'l bring positive christian change, only to add negativity to what is already a bad situation. I am an evangelical believer and do not believe in a utopia BUT still much can be deduceed from individual responsibility such as the Christian Bush causing the massive lose of life in Iraq.

5/05/2006 12:56:00 am  
Blogger Matt and Crystal Kehn said...

Let's start by saying this. The world is fallen, the Church is fallen, and all people are fallen. We must be careful to not judge others and find that we are condemning ourselves. Nathan told David a story, "There were two men who lived in the same town; one was rich and the other poor.
The rich man had many cattle and sheep, while the poor man had only one lamb, which he had bought. He took care of it, and it grew up in his home with his children. He would feed it some of his own food, let it drink from his cup, and hold it in his lap. The lamb was like a daughter to him.
One day a visitor arrived at the rich man's home. The rich man didn't want to kill one of his own animals to fix a meal for him; instead, he took the poor man's lamb and prepared a meal for his guest."
David became very angry at the rich man and said, "I swear by the living LORD that the man who did this ought to die!
For having done such a cruel thing, he must pay back four times as much as he took."
"You are that man," Nathan said to David."
David immediately burned for justice and found himself guilty. Many days I burn for justice in the world, in politics, in the desparate situations where people are being exploited and oppressed - but in the end find myself guilty.
I think if we are honest about Bush, he has used his Christendom as a platform for votes and support on the basis of morality rather than a true real and vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus never came to make us moral - He came to give us His righteousness and calls us to pursue HIM not the Law/Morality. Christian's who support him only on the basis of his 'faith' are falling prey to the neo-cons desire for personal power through religious lingo (It happens in Kenya, Uganda and all over the world, people us Christianity for their own personal gain). Bush's Christianity is religion, law, morality- like the pharisees who thought they had it all together. It is not his faith that has affected his decisions, but his religion.
One only needs to weed through history to see the fallen diplomatic policies that the US, not only Bush, has used to take advantage of others. For example: supporting and enabling dictatorial couts in South American countries. What strikes me most about the US's foreign policy is SELFISHNESS. Ethnocentrism spills over from every act and decision. "What does not benefit the US is useless!" Look again to the story of Nathan. The US is the rich man, most third world countries are the poor man. We have seen this scenario many times throughout the history of the US.
I have also seen it in my own life. My overwhelming selfishness is the root of all my sin. It creeps up from the very nature of who I am into all areas of my life. If I, being saved by Jesus as a sinner, judge and condemn selfish acts among others, I must first confess them myself. Therefore I now stand on the same side as Bush, the US, the rich man, and David. We are all fallen, the world needs Jesus Christ. Putting more 'Christians' in politics and leadership of nations will not redeem the world. Redemption only comes when you put Jesus Christ as the Leader and President of your individual life. He asks you to count the cost, destroy your selfishness, carry the cross, be crucified with Him and follow Him for the rest of your life. I will journey with anyone who is on this road.

5/07/2006 06:01:00 am  
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