Posts filed under ‘Africa’

From Ghana, with some great stuff (part VI)

Click here….bonyeza hapa….

November 15, 2006 at 8:02 pm 6 comments

“Adam, where are you?”

“Life oozes out even before the best physician is aware.” – Charles H. Spurgeon, British evangelist.

That question in Genesis 3:9 was among the earliest that got me thinking about my God as a communicator.

Today, though, that question rang in my mind with a fresh urgency after I got some news from a friend.

“Hey, how r u? Just wanted 2 let u know that Adam, my bro, died jana after a serious car accident.”

It was 1:04 p.m; I couldn’t bring myself to stay faithful to my schedules for the rest of the day.

Too shocked, I couldn’t call or text back either.

What to do?

Much later in the night, I buzzed Adam’s family for a little more on what had actually happened.

“He was drunk, trying to cross a road in town last night. A car hit him. He sustained some serious head injuries. He passed on.”

I often write faster than I can talk; my silence on this one was getting much longer.

I offered to visit with the family a little later, for Adam was my friend.

I first met him in mid 2004; I was at their place on invitation by his younger sibling with whom I had become friends at a university we both attended.

Politics ranks among my most favourite of interests, so we hit off immediately on that note.

He had an intimate knowledge of the Kenyan political landscape.

But something else bound us together: Battling against the bottle and some substance abuse, he was looking for faith and some support structure in the community.

His family had done so much already in both respects; I was now offering to help him process his thoughts on faith in Christ if He would be willing.

“You are a good man,” he told me once as he grilled me on why I had ever chosen to be a follower of Christ.

I refused the designation, as I detailed my own struggles with God in this life; he listened patiently.

Once, after similar chats, he told me that he had committed his life to Christ and that his father (also a Christian) was now walking with him in that.

I didn’t touch base with him much afterwards – to my shame – till I got the news today, nearly 10 months down the road.

Adam’s family isn’t really sure whether or not he had made that all-important decision about Christ….I hope to give my perspective of things when I touch base with them some time.

I am also informed that some of my contemporaries (folks I schooled with in primary and high school, a few at the campus level) have passed on in the past few days; a good number of them for involvement in violent crime.

One of my low-points in this is that most of these folks were extremely promising (academically) but never proceeded further for lack of school fees; and there seems to be another generation of similarly deprived young people following in their footsteps.

November 14, 2006 at 12:20 am 4 comments

Good News for Democrats, Good News for Evangelicals

Via Christianity Today

And Good News for the world.

Although the United States is in a Republican era, in which the majority is culturally conservative, the people last night voted in Democratic majorities to governorships, the House, and perhaps the Senate. Like most complex events, this one has multiple causes. The issues were less local and more national. The people rejected the war in Iraq (but not in Afghanistan). The people seemed to want less unilateralism in international affairs, less budget deficit and trade deficit, less pork in our legislation, and less hubris, arrogance, power-lust, partisanship, and corruption in our leaders; and they wanted more good jobs, health care, truth, principle, and competent government.

Related articles and links

The pre-election campaign exposed evangelical Christianity’s fading influence in the Republican Party and in the nation. David Kuo’s Tempting Faith revealed that the actual influence of evangelicals in the government was more image than reality. While some Republican leaders cultivated evangelical votes, the former White House staffer reported, they also ridiculed evangelical ideas and leaders. In the campaign, evangelicals were seldom visible—except in relation to Abramoff, Cunningham, DeLay, Foley, Haggard, and other public scandals.

We may, of course, ignore the insights of 2006. Or we could reflect, repent, and rethink our witness in this land. Consider the following two-plank platform.

First, we could repent of our monogamous alliance with the Republican Party and encourage evangelicals to become involved with Democrats. Biblical Christians are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world; there never was biblical warrant for disengaging from the half of the population called Democrats. We are called to love Democrats as well as Republicans, to support their causes that are congruent with Scripture, and to reach Democrats as well as Republicans. From the 1700s until the late 1970s (from the traditions of Wesley, Wilberforce, Finney, and others), evangelical Christians strived, in cooperation with many parties and movements, to end slavery and to advance many humane causes—as evangelical Christians continue to do in many nations today. We could recover our tradition’s full social power.

Second, we could recover, and champion, Christianity’s full ethic. Most Americans would assume, from listening to public evangelicals, that the biblical social vision is limited to concerns about abortion, homosexual marriage, and evolution. For our sake and the nation’s, let’s allow society in on the larger revealed ethic that Jesus mandated his disciples “to obey” (Matt. 28:20).

Jesus’ ethic, for instance, stands powerfully against war and all forms of violence; because his kingdom is “not of this world,” he said his servants must not fight (John 18:36). Many pagans know that Jesus taught nonviolent love; our acquiescence to the current war of choice in Iraq has undermined evangelical credibility with millions of people.

Again, people know that Jesus taught us to “love your enemies” (Matt. 5:44). It doesn’t take much brainpower to reason that, whatever else the command means, it undoubtedly implies that we are not to torture or abuse your enemies! Our reluctance to speak prophetically against prisoner abuse, and the astonishing denial by some evangelical leaders that it has ever happened, undermines our credibility with millions of people.

Yet again, we are the people who are supposed to know that all people are our brothers and sisters, they matter to God, and Christ died for them. While we are called to love our country and its people, we have no business cooperating with nation-state idolatry (which, like gluttony, is too much of a good thing), or with the corollary assumption that “we” matter more than “they” do.

Many American evangelicals have forgotten that other Americans, who belong to another political party, are our brothers and sisters. The world now follows our politics on television. As the world’s peoples observe the deceitful, “Swift-Boating,” character-assassinating campaign tactics that now pass for “the American (political) way,” the American democratic experiment is perceived, less and less, as a model for other nations to copy. If evangelical Christians do not call campaign obscenity by its right name, and intervene in campaigns whenever necessary, who will?

Space does not permit an extended reflection on “the weightier matters” of Christianity’s ethic. Scripture stands strongly on the side of justice, peace, reconciliation, and health–including the health of creation. Some evangelicals have been strangely mute on the social ethic of God’s kingdom; the world might not even know, from us, what it would look like if the will of God were done “on earth, as in heaven.” The prophets were more than predictors of the future; they were revealers of God’s purposes for his people, the nation, and the earth’s peoples. And Jesus did much more than provide the way to heaven; he also taught and showed people how to live and what kind of world he wants.

The shifting times suggest that many of us are called to become “oxymorons”— Christian evangelical Democrats. Two obstacles, however, seem to stop evangelicals in their tracks when they consider this possibility.

First, many evangelicals experience distress bordering on trauma at the thought of associating with the “lunatic fringe” of the Democratic Party. I sympathize, but those people often need Christian friends and invitations to follow Christ. I experience discomfort at the thought of associating with Klansmen and other “flat earth” people who attach to the Republican Party, until I remember they may need Christian friends and redemption. In either direction, “politics makes strange bedfellows.” If we are salt and light people, however, there is no valid reason to avoid the fringe folks—when we remember that, in them, Jesus meets us anew (Matt. 25:40).

Second, many evangelicals are more comfortable in the company of Republicans than Democrats, because Republicans seem to profess religion in greater numbers. That is probably true, but please reconsider Jesus’ parable in Matthew 21. A man asked his two sons to work in the vineyard. One son said he would not, but he did; the other son said he would, but he did not. Jesus then posed a rhetorical question that has exposed the “lip service” fallacy ever since. “Which of the two did the will of his father?” I am, on most days, an evangelical Democrat because the Republicans are often like the second son, and the Democrats like the first.

George G. Hunter III is Beeson Distinguished Professor of Evangelization at Asbury Theological Seminary and the author of Christian, Evangelical, and … Democrat? (Abingdon Press, 2006). This article, as with all “Speaking Out” pieces, does not necessarily represent the views of Christianity Today.

Related Elsewhere:

Hunter’s Christian, Evangelical, and … Democrat? is available from ChristianBook.com and other book retailers.

See today’s other commentary on the election, “Faith-Based Triangulation | Religious moderates propelled the Democrats to victory” by Joseph Loconte.

Christianity Today editors liveblogged the election results.

More on politics is available in our full coverage area.

November 9, 2006 at 12:58 am 5 comments

In response: “Why I support Wiccanism”

By IVAN RICHMOND

As a Wiccan myself, I’d like to respond to this.

First of all, it wasn’t for anything lacking in Christianity that I became a Wiccan. I believe that all Deities are One. Wicca is a good religion for someone who believes that.

Secondly, much of Wicca as I’ve seen it is about using meditation and other benign mystical practices to make us better people (this is often called “magic” by Wiccans, but you have to understand what we mean by the term).

Third, far from being dangerous, Wicca is extraordinarily benign. Sanders omits one basic tenet of ethics in Wicca, “an it harm none, do as thou wilt”. This must be explained, since it has a special meaning in Wicca. It means that each one of us should figure out why we were put on Earth. This is our True Will.

The purpose of life is to enact our True Will while avoiding harm to others. This summerizes many ethics, like not killing people. I and all the Wiccans I’ve met are generally good people because of this ethic that we try to follow. One result of this is that we’d never do something like “curse” people or use voodoo dolls. If some teenagers are doing things like that, they don’t understand our ethics.

I think Sanders is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. While one moment playing the compassion card, the next she describes Wicca as “dangerous” when in fact my religion encourages us to avoid harm to others.

I can’t speak for people who had “bad experiences”, but every religion has problematic congregations. As Wiccan clergy, I was trained to make sure that congregants have positive experiences. Any religion can be manipulated, in the hands of bad people, to abusive ends. But, it’s against Wiccan teaching to do so.

On the other hand, we can’t help it if people come to us with anti-Wiccan biases. Maybe some of those teenagers came in with such bad biases that they tainted their own experience.

In any case, Wicca, from everything I’ve seen of it, is a great religion with a positive message: make yourself a better person, take care of the earth and try to live your life in such a way that you avoid harming others.

November 8, 2006 at 7:59 pm 3 comments

Barua ya wazi kwa Rais Jakaya Kikwete

*Kama nilivyoipokea toka kwa R.L, rafiki yangu wa miaka mingi toka TZ.

Ndugu Yesse,

Salamu!

Mimi mzima namshukuru Mungu sana.

Asante kwa maombi yako kwani Jumamosi ilikuwa nzuri sana na yenye mafanikio lukuki.

Huku Bongo namba za simu zimebadilika ndo maana umepata shida kunipata.

Nimepata hii maneno ya mmoja kati kundi kuuuubwaaaaa la Wabongo wanavyofikiria kuhusu EAC na mchakato wa kuanzisha jumuia; najua utapata point kwenye shughuli zako.

NISIKUPOTEZEE MUDA SANA NAJUA SIKU HIZI UKO BUSY THAN EVER.

******

BURIANI TANZANIA … AU KILA LA HERI AFRIKA MASHARIKI?
Na Mlenge Fanuel
“Mtu akikushauri jambo la kijinga, huku anajua jambo hilo analokushauri ni la kijinga, na wewe ukakubali, basi atakuona, wewe zuzu!” — Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere,  1994/5
Mheshimiwa Rais Jakaya Kikwete, Rais wa Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania, tafadhali isome barua hii ya wazi ya kukufikishia ujumbe kwamba Tanzania haiko
tayari kujiunga na Shirikisho la Afrika Mashariki (East African Federation, EAF) wala “Soko la Pamoja” la Afrika Mashariki, na kwamba Watanzania hatutaki Tanzania ijiunge na Shirikisho hilo.

Yatakuwa ni maafa makubwa kwa Tanzania na Watanzania iwapo Tanzania itajiunga na EAF hasa kwa mpangilio ulioko wa ” fast track”. Ndiyo maana nimeanza na nukuu ya Mwalimu Nyerere, ambaye tayari baadhi ya watu, hasa wa nchi jirani za Kenya, Uganda na Rwanda, wameanza kumsingizia kwamba kwa kujiunga na EAF tutakuwa
“tunamuenzi” Mwalimu Nyerere, huku wakijua fika ushauri wanaotupa wa kujiunga na Shirikisho na Soko la Pamoja la Afrika Mashariki hauna manufaa yoyote kwa
Tanzania, wakidhania sisi Watanzania ni mazuzu tunaoendekeza wema wa mshumaa kuwaangazia wengine huku wenyewe unateketea, kwa minajil ya kupata misifa isiyo
na tija.
Ni kweli Mheshimiwa Rais umeunda Tume ya Kupokea Maoni kuhusu Shirikisho la Afrika Mashariki, lakini inatia mashaka iwapo huo siyo tu ni utaratibu uliouweka
kuhalalisha maamuzi yaliyokwishafikiwa ya kuidumbukiza Tanzania kwenye EAF.

Hii inatokana na muonekano kwamba Tanzania kujiunga na EAF kumeshaamuliwa tayari — kutaka watu tujadili siyo kiinimacho tu?

Mheshimiwa Rais, palikuwa na muswada uliopelekwa Bungeni wa Tanzania kujiunga na EAF, ambao Waheshimiwa Wabunge waliukataa, na serikali ikabidi iuondoe. Lakini
mchakato wa Tanzania kujiunga na EAF ukaendelea tu, na kupuuza maoni ya Wabunge wetu tuliowachagua watuwakilishe.

Ikiwa sikusikiliza vibaya, katika Bunge la Bajeti 2006/2007, Mheshimiwa Waziri wa Afrika Mashariki aliliambia Bunge kwamba patakuwa na KURA YA MAONI kuhusu Afrika Mashariki.

Matokeo yake tumeletewa Tume badala ya kura ya maoni! Kana kwamba hiyo
haitoshi, iliripotiwa kwenye vyombo vya habari kuwa wewe Mheshimiwa Rais wetu, ulimhakikishia Rais Yoweri Museveni wa Uganda kwamba utafanya kila unaloweza
kuhakikisha kufanikiwa kwa Shirikisho la Afrika Mashariki, kwenye mkutano wenu uliofanyika Mwanza.

Je, maoni tunayotoa Watanzania kukataa kujiunga na shirikisho si “kilio cha samaki — machozi yanakwenda na maji?” Wenyewe “wenye nchi” mshaamua mloamua?  Pana maswali mengi mheshimiwa Rais ambayo ukitupatia majibu utakuwa umetuwezesha Watanzania tulio wengi kuelewa kuhusu mustakabala wa maisha yetu na Tanzania
yetu:
* Je, Ni sera ya CCM Tanzania kujiunga na EAF au Soko la Pamoja la Afrika Mashariki?
* Je, Ilikuwa kwenye ilani ya Uchaguzi 2005 ya Chama Tawala CCM Tanzania kujiunga na EAF?
* Je, Nani aliyependekeza Tanzania ijiunge na EAF? (Inabidi tumfahamu ili tuweze kumpamba maua iwapo Tanzania itafanya tunalodhani ni kosa la maisha la
kujiunga EAF kumbe ikathibitika EAF ni manufaa tele kwa Tanzania ; vinginevyo inabidi tumfahamu ili tuweze kumzomea na kumuimbia nyimbo za kumsimanga pindi
machungu ya EAF yatakapoanza kudhihirika muda si muda iwapo Tanzania itafanya kosa la maisha kujitumbukiza kwenye EAF. Vinginevyo itakuwa kama mikataba ya madini — hatuelezwi nani aliwaalika na kuingia mikataba na ‘wawekezaji’ kwenye migodi.)
* Rais Yoweri Museveni wa Uganda ameshajitangaza kuwa Rais wa Kwanza wa Shirikisho la Afrika Mashariki — ikiwa na maana yote mengine yanayojitokeza sasa ni
kuhalalisha na kusafisha njia ya Museveni kuwa Rais wa Kwanza wa Shirikisho la Afrika Mashariki, hasa ukitilia maanani Rais wa Kenya na wewe Rais wetu mko
kimya, ikielekea mmekubaliana na matamshi ya Museveni. Si hivyo?
* Kutokana na maneno yanayosemwa na Wakenya na Waganda, Wanyarwanda na Warundi, inaonekana kama vile serikali ya Tanzania HAINA UBAVU wa kusema HAPANA kwa EAF — kila mara Tanzania inazomewa inapohoji maslahi yake kwenye EAF — au inapotaka kutumia uhuru wake ISIJIUNGE na EAF. Hivi karibuni Waziri wa Afrika Mashariki wa Tanzania alisemwa kwenye vyombo vya habari kwamba hahudhurii vikao vya Afrika Mashariki — na kumfanya Mheshimiwa Waziri Mkuu ajitokeze kumtetea — na baadaye Waziri yule akaondoshwa toka Wizara ya
Afrika Mashariki kwenye mabadiliko ya Baraza la Mawaziri uliyoyafanya hivi karibuni Mheshimiwa Rais.
Ina maana Tanzania ni kama mbwa anayeelekea kwenye mdomo wa chatu EAF — amefyata mkia, anatoa kilio cha mwisho, na hana la kufanya zaidi ya kufanywa asusa na kumezwa — au si hivyo?
* Ni kwa nini Kiswahili SIYO lugha rasmi EAC, na badala yake ni kiingereza?
* Kama shida ni ushirikiano, kwa nini Tanzania isijiunge na Msumbiji na Zambia , na kutengeneza shirikisho?
* Kwa nini EAF inaharakishwa namna hii?
* Ni nini Tanzania inahitaji kwenye EAF ambacho haiwezi kukipata bila kuwemo kwenye shirikisho hilo ? (Mbali na ngonjera za kisiasa, pengine na watu fulani kupata posho za vikao vya EAC na baadhi kuandikwa kwenye vitabu vya historia, vitu ambavyo havimsaidii Mtanzania mpiga kura wako anayesubiri neema tele na
maisha bora…)
* Pana bidhaa zipi za Tanzania hazifiki kwenye soko Kenya au Uganda , ambazo EAF itazifanya zifike sokoni?
* Nani atakuwa Amiri Jeshi Mkuu wa Majeshi ya Afrika Mashariki, na ni upi mchango wa EAF kwenye uvamizi dhidi ya DRC?
* Mheshimiwa Rais, hivi “Usalama wa Taifa” wa Tanzania una majukumu gani makubwa zaidi ya kulinda (uhuru) “Sovereignty” ya nchi yetu? Kwa nini “Usalama wa
Taifa” haukupi picha kamili ambayo itakufanya usijisumbue hata kuja kutuuliza iwapo tunataka uhuru wa nchi yetu uondoke kupitia “soko la pamoja” na “Shirikisho la Afrika Mashariki”, badala yake tukaendelea kulijenga taifa “letu changa” na kuulizana
maswala ya maendeleo kama vile tutanufaikaje na maliasili tulizojaaliwa nchini mwetu?
* Kwa kuitumbukiza Tanzania kwenye “Soko la Pamoja” la Afrika Mashariki, huoni kwamba utakuwa umekiuka kiapo ulichokula cha kuulinda uhuru wa, na mipaka ya
Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania ?
* Kulikuwa na sababu gani ya kupambana na Idd Amin aliyetaka kipande “kidogo tu” cha nchi yetu, ikiwa leo tunaigawa sandakarawe nchi nzima kwa kisingizio cha soko la pamoja?
* Tanzania itaondoka SADC? (Tayari nchi nyingine za Afrika Mashariki zimeanza kutuamuru tutoke SADC. SADC imeweka bayana kwamba wakati umefika wa kuchagua kati ya EAF au SADC.) Unadhani itakuwa ni busara kuondoka SADC? Kwa nini usitoe tamko kwamba Tanzania ya kesho ni ndani ya SADC?
* Je sisi wananchi wa Watanzania tutaulizwa kuhusu kujiunga na “Soko la Pamoja la Afrika Mashariki” au ni uamuzi uliofikiwa tayari kwamba tutajiunga na soko la pamoja la Afrika Mashariki?
* Huo Mkataba wa EAC/EAF uko wapi ili tuweze kuuona na kuusoma? Ni Watanzania gani waliousoma na kuuridhia kwamba SASA tunaanza kuwa kwenye mchakato wa kuelekea kwenye Shirikisho? (Inaripotiwa kwamba Tume yako ni sehemu tu ya taratibu ‘chovu’ za mchakato huo…)
Watanzania tutafanyaje ili kuondoka kwenye EAF, iwapo Tanzania ijajikaanga yenyewe kwa kuingia kwenye EAF?
Vipengele vya kujiondoa kwenye EAF viko wapi?
Hautakuwa ni uhaini kuzungumzia kujitoa EAF, kama ambavyo si ruksa kuzungumza kujitoa kwenye Muungano wa Tanganyika na Zanzibar ?
Mheshimiwa Rais Jakaya Kikwete, maswali hayo na mengine mengi yanaleta  changamoto kwako binafsi kwamba zawadi kubwa kuliko zote unazoweza kutupa sisi
Watanzania, ni kutukabidhi Tanzania yetu yenye “sovereignty” ileile au zaidi ya uliyokabidhiwa pale utakapoacha madaraka mwaka 2010 au 2015, panapo majaaliwa.
Kwa taarifa yako Mheshimiwa Rais , Tanzania ndiye “Mbuzi wa Shughuli” kwenye Shirikisho la Afrika Mashariki. Na mbuzi huyu amepangwa “kuchinjiwa kwenye
maji” ili hata ukelele wake wa mwisho usisike.
Hawatarudia makosa ya Jumuia ile iliyokufa 1977, kwa kutuacha bado tunafurukututa. Kujiunga kwa Tanzania EAF kwafanana na Punda wa kwenye hadithi moja iliyochapishwa Tanzania ambamo Simba baada ya kujeruhiwa, alishindwa kuwinda; na Sungura, Fisi na Punda wakaenda kumpa pole. Kumbe Fisi na Sungura
walikuwa na lao jambo.
“Simba kwa kuwa huwezi kuwinda naomba unile mimi”, alianza kusema Sungura.
” Asante sana kwa kunijali, siwezi kukula wewe rafiki yangu. Sasa nimefahamu wewe ni rafiki yangu wa kweli katika kipindi hiki kigumu cha dhiki!” alijibu Simba.
Fisi naye akajitoa aliwe na Simba, ambaye pia alikataa kumla, akitoa sababu zilezile.
Sasa Punda akawa njia panda: “Nikikaa kimya nitaonekana mbaya kwa Simba. Kwanza Simba mwenyewe kakataa kuwala wenzangu, na mimi atakataa… acha
nijisemee tu kwamba najitolea anile…” aliwaza.
Akaropoka, “Simba kwa kuwa huwezi kuwinda naomba unile mi…” Kabla hajamaliza maneno yake alirukiwa na kuraruliwa palepale.
Kenya, Uganda , Rwanda na Burundi zina ajenda kadhaa kwenye EAF: mbali na zile “rasmi” zinazotangazwa hadharani. Ili ajenda zao zitimie, lazima “Punda” Tanzania awemo kwenye EAF ili aweze “kuliwa”.
Mheshimiwa Rais, ni wajibu na heshima kwako kuhakikisha Tanzania haijiungi na EAF kwa kuwa Tanzania haina ajenda mbali na ngonjera za kisiasa, pengine na posho za vikao kwa baadhi ya watu. Kwanza Tanzania siyo lazima ijiunge au ikubaliane na
kila kitu kwenye ushirikiano wa Afrika Mashariki.
Wachache wanaounga mkono kujiunga na shirikisho la afrika mashariki, wanadai upo umuhimu wa kujiunga kwa vile “dunia nzima mwelekeo ni kujiunga pamoja, kama
vile Jumuia ya Ulaya, EU”. Kama sababu ni hiyo, kwa nini tusibakie SADC tuliko? Hivi tulipigania uhuru wa kusini mwa Afrika ili iweje? Watanzania tulitoa damu zetu, mali na uhai wetu, kukomboa Ndugu zetu walio Kusini mwa Afrika, sasa ukombozi umepatikana, pana wakati gani muafaka zaidi ya huu kuendeleza undugu
wetu? Majirani zetu wa Afrika Mashariki tutaendelea kushiriana nao, kama tunavyoendelea kushirikiana na majirani zetu wengine. Kutojiunga kwenye shirikisho
siyo maana yake tutakuwa maadui!
Tanzania lazima ikae mbali na EAF, hata ikibidi kwa miongo kadhaa ijayo, ikiwa si moja kwa moja. Kwanza , Muungano wetu wenyewe una “mipasuko” ambayo haijasilibwa bado. Kabla ya kuulizwa kuhusu Shirikisho la Afrika Mashariki, tuulizwe basi kuhusu Muungano wa Tanganyika na Zanzibar . Tanganyika na Zanzibar , mara
baada ya kupata Uhuru, hazikutimiza miaka mitano, “zikaishia” na kuwa Taifa moja Tanzania . Sasa jamani, Tanzania hata miaka hamsini haijafikia, nayo “iishie”, tena kusikoeleweka? Tanzania ina manufaa tele SADC, kuliko kwenye shirikisho la Afrika Mashariki.

Hivi, wakati tulipokuwa “Mstari wa Mbele wa Ukombozi Kusini mwa Afrika”, majirani zetu wa Kenya na Uganda walikuwa wapi? Leo hii tukiwakubalia kuondoka SADC,
watatuona timamu kweli?
Mheshimiwa Rais Kikwete, kiasi inaeleweka ikiwa unaona pana ugumu wa wewe kuonekana unakwenda tofauti na Watawala wetu waliotutangulia, ambao huenda
wanapendelea kuona EAF ikizinduliwa, Tanzania ikiwemo.
Lakini mheshimiwa Rais, ndiyo maana kukawa na kikomo cha utawala cha vipindi viwiliviwili! Kwa kuwa umechaguliwa kwa ushindi “wa kishindo”, imani yetu
Watanzania imekuwa kwako kwamba utaweza kuipeleka Tanzania kule tunakotaka. Na tunakotaka sisi Watanzania siyo kwenye “soko la pamoja la afrika mashariki” wala EAF. Huo Muungano tu wa Forodha wa Afrika Mashariki unatekelezwaje? Matatizo na mizengwe iliyoko panaashiria nini pindi tukiwagaia nchi hii yote kwenye Shirikisho au “soko la pamoja”?

Siyo maafa, Mheshimiwa Rais?
Mheshimiwa Rais Kikwete, kwenye Jumuia ya Ulaya –EU, Uingereza na Jamhuri ya Ireland SIYO mataifa yaliyoko kwenye “Mkataba wa Schengen” wa Jumuia ya Ulaya,
mkataba unaoondoa mipaka na vizuizi baina ya nchi za Jumuia ya Ulaya kwenye masuala ya Uhamiaji, japo Uingereza na Jamhuri ya Ireland ni wanachama kamili wa
Jumuia ya Ulaya. Hii haikuzuia Ufaransa, Uholanzi, Ubelgiji, Ujerumani na nchi nyinginezo za EU zilizokubali kusaini kuendelea na “Makubaliano ya
Schengen”. Kadhalika , Iceland , Norway na Uswisi zimesaini “Mkataba wa Schengen” japo nchi hizo SI zanachama Jumuia ya Ulaya. Kila taifa linaangalia maslahi yake kama taifa.

Ulipoanzishwa umoja wa Forodha wa Afrika Mashariki takriban karne moja
iliyopita, Tanganyika haikujiunga mpaka ilipoona vema kwamba itakuwa ni kwa maslahi yake kujiunga. Hii haikuzizuia Kenya na Uganda kuanzisha Umoja wao wa
Forodha. Tanganyika ilijiunga baadaye! Hata ile Jumuia ya Afrika Mashariki iliyovunjika, ilianzishwa baada ya kupita MIAKA HAMSINI tangu kuanzishwa ule
Umoja wa Forodha wa Afrika Mashariki, japo nchi hizi zote tatu zilikuwa zinatawaliwa na Mkoloni mmoja takriban muda wote huo. Haraka ya sasa hivi ya nini?
Wanajua wakituachia muda, tukienda hatua kwa hatua, hawataweza tena kuigeuza Tanzania koloni lao. Tanzania iendelee kuwa mwanachama wa SADC, na kuendelea kuwa imesaini kwa muda makubaliano ya Umoja wa Forodha wa Afrika Mashariki mpaka pale SADC itakapoanzisha Umoja wa Forodha wa SADC, ambapo Tanzania itajitoa kwenye Umoja wa Forodha wa Afrika Mashariki. Au busara zaidi, ni vyema Tanzania ikajitoa SASA HIVI toka Umoja wa Forodha wa Afrika Mashariki, na kuelekeza nguvu zake kwenye SADC. Kenya , Uganda , Rwanda na Burundi zinaweza kuendelea na Umoja wao wa Forodha, Soko la Pamoja na Shirikisho (waliite vyovyote wapendavyo), bila Tanzania kuwemo.
Mheshimiwa Rais, ukubwa wa eneo la ardhi ya Tanzania ni zaidi ya Jumla ya eneo lote la ardhi ya Kenya , Uganda , Rwanda na Burundi ukizichanganya pamoja — bila kuzungumzia rasilmali zilizoko. Halafu wanasema tuchanganye ardhi yetu na zao, halafu tugawane sawasawa kwa jina la “Soko la Pamoja la Afrika Mashariki”. Hivi tukikubali ujuha huo, ni kwa nini wasituone sisi mazuzu?
Swali kuu tunaloulizwa Watanzania na Tume yako mheshimiwa Rais ni iwapo Watanzania tunaona bado kuna sababu za Tanzania kuendelea kuwa nchi huru ambayo ni “dola”, wakati ambapo kuna shinikizo nchi yetu igawe uhuru wake kwa kisingizio cha “soko la pamoja” na “shirikisho la Afrika Mashariki”. Tuchukulie kwa
mfano, tume itawahoji na kupokea maoni toka kwa watu laki mbili. Kati yao 80% wakasema Tanzania ijiunge kwenye “Soko la Pamoja” na “Shirikisho la Afrika
Mashariki”, 20% wakasema tusijiunge. Je, Mheshimiwa Rais, hiyo itakuwa na maana uamuzi utakuwa umesilibwa wa Tanzania kufikia mwisho wake, kwa kujiunga na Soko
la Pamoja na Shirikisho la Afrika Mashariki?

Je, hutatumia busara kama ilivyotumika kwenye Tume ya Nyalali ya Vyama Vingi pale Tanzania ilipoangalia maslahi ya taifa, na kuruhusu mfumo wa vyama vingi, bila kuangalia asilimia zilizotokana na tume? Ikiwa kweli kabisa umedhamiria kuipeleka Tanzania kwenye mwisho wake machinjioni Afrika Mashariki, kwa nini usiweke KURA YA MAONI kwa kila Mtanzania kupiga kura yake, badala ya kutumia Tume, angalau basi kuchelewesha kwa muda mauti ya Taifa Tanzania? “Soko la Pamoja” na pacha wake “Shirikisho la Afrika Mashariki” maana yake ni mwisho wa uhai wa Taifa la Tanzania . Ikiwa Tanzania itajinyonga (Mungu apishie mbali!) kwa kusaini mkataba wa “Soko la Pamoja la Afrika Mashariki” au ule wa “Shirikisho la Afrika Mashariki”, basi Watanzania tutasahau “maisha bora kwa kila Mtanzania” na itabidi tujiandae kwa “Bora Maisha kwa kila Mtanzania”, na kwamba wewe Rais wetu, Jakaya Kikwete, utakuwa umefeli vibaya kabisa jukumu lako la msingi tulilokupa — kulinda uhuru na umoja wa Taifa la Tanzania na kubakisha Taifa la Tanzania kuwa dola huru kwa manufaa ya Watanzania mpaka pale utakapomkabidhi madaraka ya Urais wa dola la Tanzania huru Mtanzania mwingine.
Kwa kuandika barua hii, imani yetu Watanzania kwako Rais wetu kwamba utaweza kuhimili mashinikizo yote ya nje, na kutusikiliza sisi raia zako, tunaotaka tubakie na taifa letu huru la dola ya Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania .
Mwenyezi Mungu akujalie.

Amin.
Ndimi,
Mlenge Fanuel
Raia na Mwananchi wa Tanzania,
Simu: +255 75 4372902,
Email: mlenge@yahoo. com,
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania .

November 6, 2006 at 11:37 pm 2 comments

KBW : A year on

It’s roughly been a year since I began blogging within the KBW.

I write to thank Banks, Mama Mia and Farmgal for the various ways in which they made my blogging within KBW a pleasure; I’ve learnt much (technical and non-technical) from each one of them.

My early times within KBW were troubled by one of my readers who sent me a piece from M‘s as his own.

Not knowing M at the time or even his works, I had proceeded to publish it on my site (of course with credit to the reader in question).

With all the drama from some M readers that followed, I think I must still thank M for keeping his head throughout and accepting my apologies without much ado.

In KBW I also met one of my media professors (yes, she is in here…blogging) and at least 9 ex-campus mates: We don’t comment much on each other’s blogs, but we talk kando kando lots :-)

I’ve made some great friends in and out of KBW along the way (both Christian and non-Christian)….I correspond with some lots; i have come to learn lots more about myself and my world in the process.

My approach to blogging has had to change lots in terms of content, style and even frequency, – much because of reasons beyond my control (for now at least).

My online activities are mostly restricted to this blog, though I also dabble in other fora where I believe I can influence debates in some ways (Mashada and such don’t rank on my list); I especially relish those in which people (Christians like myself) busy themselves either excusing or ignoring ills in society in the name of God.

Too sketchy, perhaps, but that’s my summation of the times I’ve had in and outside the KBW thus far.

November 6, 2006 at 10:56 pm 10 comments

The Botha speech Mailu (allegedly) wrote

Many thanks to R for responding to my query.  Zidi kuji-enjoy, lakini tahadhari Azania isikumeze :-)

Botha’s Speech -1985

THE FOLLOWING is a speech made by former South African President P.W. Botha to his Cabinet. This reprint was written by David G. Mailu for the Sunday Times, a South African newspaper, dated August 18, 1985.

“Pretoria has been made by the White mind for the White man. We are not obliged even the least to try to prove to anybody and to the Blacks that we are superior people. We have demonstrated that to the Blacks in a thousand and one ways. The Republic of South Africa that we know of today has not been created by wishful thinking. We have created it at the expense of intelligence, sweat and blood. Were they Afrikaners who tried to eliminate the Australian Aborigines? Are they Afrikaners who discriminate against Blacks and call them Nigge*rs in the States? Were they Afrikaners who started the slave trade? Where is the Black man appreciated? England discriminates against its Black and their “Sus” law is out to discipline the Blacks. Canada, France, Russia, and Japan all play their discrimination too. Why in the hell then is so much noise made about us? Why are they biased against us? I am simply trying to prove to you all that there is nothing unusual we are doing that the so called civilized worlds are not doing. We are simply an honest people who have come out aloud with a clear philosophy of how we want to live our own White life.

We do not pretend like other Whites that we like Blacks. The fact that, Blacks look like human beings and act like human beings do not necessarily make them sensible human beings. Hedgehogs are not porcupines and lizards are not crocodiles simply because they look alike. If God wanted us to be equal to the Blacks, he would have created> us all of a uniform colour and intellect. But he created us differently: Whites, Blacks, Yellow, Rulers and the ruled. Intellectually, we are superior to the Blacks; that has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt over the years. I believe that the Afrikaner is an honest, God fearing person, who has demonstrated practically the right way of being. Nevertheless, it is comforting to know that behind the scenes, Europe, America, Canada, Australia-and all others are behind us in spite of what they say. For diplomatic relations, we all know what language should be used and where. To prove my point, Comrades, does anyone of you know a White country without an investment or interest in South Africa? Who buys our gold? Who buys our diamonds? Who trades with us? Who is helping us develop other nuclear weapon? The very truth is that we are their people and they are our people. It’s a big secret. The strength of our economy is backed by America, Britain, Germany. It is our strong conviction, therefore, that the Black is the raw material for the White man. So Brothers and Sisters, let us join hands together to fight against this Black devil. I appeal to all Afrikaners to come out with any creative means of fighting this war. Surely God cannot forsake his own people whom we are. By now every one of us has seen it practically that the Blacks cannot rule themselves. Give them guns and they will kill each other. They are good in nothing else but making noise, dancing, marrying many wives and indulging in sex. Let us all accept that the Black man is the symbol of poverty, mental inferiority, laziness and emotional incompetence. Isn’t it plausible? therefore that the White man is created to rule the Black man? Come to think of what would happen one day if you woke up and on the throne sat a Kaff*ir! Can you imagine what would happen to our women? Does anyone of you believe that the Blacks can rule this country?

Hence, we have good reasons to let them all-the Mandelas-rot in prison, and I think we should be commended for having kept them alive in spite of what we have at hand with which to finish them off. I wish to announce a number of new strategies that should be put to use to destroy this Black bug. We should now make use of the chemical weapon. Priority number one, we should not by all means allow any more increases of the Black population lest we be choked very soon. I have exciting news that our scientists have come with an efficient stuff. I am sending out more researchers to the field to identify as many venues as possible where the chemical weapons could be employed to combat any further population increases. The hospital is a very strategic opening, for example and should be fully utilized. The food supply channel should be used. We have developed excellent slow killing poisons and fertility destroyers. Our only fear is in case such stuff came in! ! to their hands as they are bound to start using it against us if you care to think of the many Blacks working for us in our homes.

However, we are doing the best we can to make sure that the stuff remains strictly in our hands. Secondly, most Blacks are vulnerable to money inducements. I have set aside a special fund to exploit this venue. The old trick of divide and rule is still very valid today. Our experts should work day and night to set the Black man against his fellowman. His inferior sense of morals can be exploited beautifully. And here is a creature that lacks foresight. There is a need for us to combat him in long term projections that he cannot suspect. The average Black does not plan his life beyond a year: that stance, for example, should be exploited. My special department is already working round the clock to come out with a long-term operation blueprint. I am also sending a special request to all Afrikaner mothers to double their birth rate. It may be necessary too to set up a population boom industry by putting up centres where we employ and support fully White young men and women to produce children for the nation. We are also investigating the merit of uterus rentals as a possible means of speeding up the growth of our population through surrogate mothers.

For the time being, we should also engage a higher gear to make sure that Black men are separated from their women and fines imposed upon married wives who bear illegitimate children.


I have a committee working on finding better methods of inciting Blacks against each other and encouraging murders among themselves. Murder cases among Blacks should bear very little punishment in order to encourage them.

My scientists have come up with a drug that could be smuggled into their brews to effect slow poisoning results and fertility destruction. Working through drinks and manufacturing of soft drinks geared to the Blacks, could promote the channels of reducing their population. Ours is not a war that we can use the atomic bomb to destroy the Blacks, so we must use our intelligence to effect this. The person-to-person encounter can be very effective.

As the records show that the Black man is dying to go to bed with the White woman, here is our unique opportunity. Our Sex Mercenary Squad should go out and camouflage with Apartheid Fighters while doing their operations quietly administering slow killing poison and fertility destroyers to those Blacks they thus befriend.


We are modifying the Sex Mercenary Squad by introducing White men who should go for the militant Black woman and any other vulnerable Black woman. We have received a new supply of prostitutes from Europe and America who are desperate and too keen to take up the appointments.

My latest appeal is that the maternity hospital operations should be intensified. We are not paying those people to help bring Black babies to this world but to eliminate them on the very delivery moment. If this department worked very efficiently, a great deal could be achieved.

My Government has set aside a special fund for erecting more covert hospitals and clinics to promote this programme. Money can do anything for you. So while we have it, we should make the best use of it. In the meantime my beloved White citizens, do not take to heart what the world says, and don’t be ashamed of being called racists. I do not mind being called the architect and King of Apartheid. I shall not become a monkey simply because someone has called me a monkey. I will still remain your bright star…His Excellency Botha. ”  

November 6, 2006 at 10:12 pm 41 comments

US warns of Africa terror attacks

Via the Beeb

The US has issued a warning to its citizens in the Horn of Africa about the threat of suicide attacks from Somali extremists.

The US embassy in Nairobi said public landmarks in Kenya and Ethiopia could be targets for suicide bombers.

The alert follows the collapse of peace talks between rival factions in Somalia vying for control of the country.

In Somalia there are reports of heightened military preparations in an increasingly tense situation.

The BBC’s East Africa correspondent, Adam Mynott, says the warning is in one respect specific – it talks of a threat of suicide explosions in prominent landmarks in Kenya and Ethiopia and warns US citizens to take caution in prominent public places.

However, prominent landmarks in Kenya and Ethiopia could mean a very extensive list of possible targets.

Islamic courts

A spokeswoman at the US embassy in Nairobi said the warning was based on threats by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys.

Sheikh Aweys is one of the leaders of a group of Islamic courts in Somalia who urge Somalis to carry out the attacks.

The Islamic courts are in a struggle for power in Somalia with the weak interim government of the country.

Talks in Sudan between the two sides intended to find a peaceful solution collapsed on Thursday.

Militias in Somalia are reported to be making preparations for conflict by reinforcing frontline positions and recruiting more fighters.

November 2, 2006 at 11:51 pm 2 comments

Whose goat has Mailu eaten?

A South African journalist (the IP address and so much else appears to add up) has written me twice today asking to be linked up with Kenyan writer David Mailu.

Says he: “…I am desperate to talk to (him)….There is an e-mail doing the rounds about P.W Botha and we would like to speak to him.”

In the other communication, he alleges that the said e-mail has been “reprinted by David Mailu. We want to speak to Mailu about he (sic) contents of the e-mail, please if you can forward me his details we need to speak to him ASAP.”

Lumka Oliphant is the name, Sartuday Star is the newspaper and 011 633 2407 is the number he’s given.

I asked him to pursue his query with the East African Educational Publishers, for lack of a better way around this.

Would KBWers in the South consider looking into this?

And would the night editors at our local dailies also look into this?

November 2, 2006 at 10:00 pm Leave a comment

Holy Sex : How it ravishes our souls

Seeing as I do that there has been a renewed interest in sexual matters in sections of the Kenyan blogosphere, I consider it apt that I also re-visit a definitive piece on the same I shared about a few months ago.

Via Christianity Today

By PHILIP YANCEY (a favourite author of mine)

A PHYSICIAN FRIEND OF MINE spent two months in a remote part of the African nation Benin. The airplane on which he traveled home was showing current movies, and after two months away from all media, he found them jarring. Each movie centered on sexual intercourse, as though this were the only significant topic in the world, whereas David had just been dealing with weighty matters—disease, poverty, hunger, religion, death—while relating to colleagues in a way that had nothing to do with sexual intercourse. When the plane stopped for refueling at the Brussels airport, David saw rows of magazines for sale featuring women’s breasts in various stages of exposure. That, too, seemed odd, for he had been working in an area where women commonly uncovered their breasts in public, not for sexual arousal but to feed their children. Welcome back to Western civilization, he thought to himself.

Rumors of
Another World:
What on
Earth Are
We Missing?

Philip Yancey
Zondervan Corp.,
272 pages, $16.99

I know no clearer example of the modern, reductionistic approach to life than human sexuality. We survey people about their private sex lives, and write manuals based on data gained by watching people perform sex in a laboratory setting. To junior high students we teach details of sexuality forbidden to previous generations.

At the same time, I know of no greater failure among Christians than in presenting a persuasive approach to sexuality. Outside the church, people think of God as the great spoilsport of human sexuality, not its inventor. The pope utters pronouncements, denominations issue position papers, and many Christians ignore them and follow the lead of the rest of society. Surveys reveal little difference between church attenders and non-attenders in the rates of premarital intercourse and cohabitation. Surveys also show that many people have left their churches in disgust over hypocrisy about sex, especially when ministers fail to practice what they preach.

Nothing intrinsic in human sexuality keeps a person from experimenting with multiple partners, both genders, even children, close relatives, or animals. Yet every tribe studied by anthropologists has taboos that fence off some of these practices. As if by instinct, the most “primitive” of humans recognize in sex something beyond a merely physical act.

Only in technologically advanced cultures do people reduce sex to an act of pleasure we perform like any other animal. Music gives us away. A popular song by Bloodhound Gang urges, “You and me, baby, ain’t nothin’ but mammals, so let’s do it like they do it on the Discovery Channel.” Why not? The Discovery television channel often portrays close-up detail of sex in the animal kingdom.

The attempt to reduce human sex to a merely animal act, however, runs into unexpected problems. The more we learn about human sexuality, the more it differs from how the animals do it. Most obviously, humans come vastly over-equipped for sex. The human male has the largest penis of any primate, and the female is the only mammal whose breasts develop before her first pregnancy. Virtually all other mammals have a specified time in which the female is receptive, or in heat, whereas the human female can be receptive anytime, not just once or twice a year. In addition, the human species is one of very few in which females experience orgasm, and humans continue to have sex long after their child-bearing years have passed. Why are we so oversexed?

Relationship is the key. Human beings experience sex as a personal encounter, not just a biological act. We are the only species that commonly copulates face-to-face, so that partners look at each other as they mate, and have full-body contact. Unlike other social animals, humans prefer privacy for the act. In many species, females openly advertise their receptivity with swollen, colorful genitals, and the male and female mate in full view of the group.

Zoologists puzzle over the oddities of human sexuality, unable to find any evolutionary advantage in sex that does not directly lead to reproduction. Some conclude that for humans sex represents a huge waste of time—certainly true if the point of sex was fertilization rather than relationship.

In every feature, human sexuality encourages relationship. Humans negotiate a contract between consenting parties—a contract as simple as a marriage vow, a tourist paying for an hour of a prostitute’s time, or as complicated as a Shakespearean love triangle. Unlike domestic bulls or rams, which service every receptive female within sniffing distance, mating humans demand some sort of mutual consent. When none exists, we call that rape and punish it.

Some people try to treat sex as an animal act. In a scene from the movie A Beautiful Mind, the brilliant but socially inept mathematician John Nash approaches an attractive woman in a bar: “Listen, I don’t have the words to say whatever it is that’s necessary to get you into bed, so can we just pretend I said those things and skip to the part where we exchange bodily fluids?” He learns quickly, from the imprint of her palm on his face, that reductionism does not work well as a pickup line.

Schizophrenic is the best way to describe modern society’s view of sexuality. On the one hand, scientists insist that we are organisms like any other animal, and that sex is a natural expression of that animal nature. The pornography industry (which in the U.S. grosses more money than all professional sports combined) happily complies, supplying sexual images of the famous and the anonymous to anyone willing to pay.

But when people truly act out their animal natures, society frowns in disapproval. John Nash gets slapped for telling the truth. A few states in the U.S. allow legalized prostitution, but no parents encourage their daughters to pursue such a career. Hollywood may glamorize adultery onscreen, but in real life it provokes pain and a rage sometimes strong enough to drive the wounded party to murder the rival or jump off a bridge.

The root cause of this schizophrenia is the attempt to reduce sex between humans to a purely physical act. For humans, unlike sheep or chimpanzees, sex involves more than bodies. In A Natural History of Rape, Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer report that only 22 percent of rapes involve “gratuitous” violence beyond what is necessary to subdue the victim, yet any rape counselor knows that the real violence occurs on the inside and may lead to years of depression, nightmares, memory loss, and sexual dysfunction. Victims of abusive relatives and pedophiliac priests testify that something far more than a body gets hurt when a trusted adult abuses a child sexually. Decades later, suffering persists.

In 2002 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress cannot outlaw “virtual child porn,” consisting of computer-generated images on the Internet, since no one gets harmed in its manufacture. Their decision neglects the harm done to the people feeding on such images, for the real damage in sexuality occurs inside. Sex may engage our bodies, but unlike such bodily functions as excretion, sneezing, and burping, it also touches our souls—as tenderly, and as precariously, as they can be touched.

WHY DOES SEX PLAY SO MUCH LARGER in modern cities than, say, in the villages of the Amazon? Clothing fashions, billboards, and ads on the sides of city buses give human sexuality a prominence it never attains in the naked jungle. The French sociologist Jacques Ellul saw our modern fixation with sex as the symptom of a breakdown in intimacy. Having detached the physical act of sex from relationship, we can only work at perfecting the “technique”—hence the proliferation of sex studies, sex manuals, and sex videos, none of which address the real source of our pain.

When a society loses faith in God, lesser powers arise to take God’s place. “Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God,” said G. K. Chesterton. In modern Europe and the U.S., sex has a near-sacred quality of mythic, numinous power. We select our sexiest individuals and accord them the status of gods and goddesses, fawning over the details of their lives, broadcasting their bodily statistics, surrounding them with paparazzi, rewarding them with money and status. Sex no longer points to something beyond; it becomes the thing itself, the substitute sacred.

The very word sex comes from a Latin verb that means to cut off or sever, and sexual impulses drive us to unite, to restore somehow the union that has been severed. Freud diagnosed the deep pain within as a longing for union with a parent; Jung diagnosed a longing for union with the opposite sex. The Christian sees a deeper longing, for union with the God who created us.

Unfortunately, few people look to the church for perspective on the true meaning of human sexuality, since they view the church as an implacable enemy of sex. It should be obvious why the church so often falls on the side of repression, rather than celebration, of sexuality: No human longing is more powerful, more difficult to rein in. Sex has enough combustive force to incinerate conscience, vows, family commitments, religious devotion, and anything else in its path.

How the church got its reputation as an enemy of sex is a long story, in some ways shameful and in some ways understandable. Every society sets boundaries, or taboos, around sexuality, and in Western civilization Christianity was the main force to set those boundaries. Against the background of pagan Greek and Roman culture, which incorporated temple prostitutes into worship activities, the early church went through a period of purging.

Saint Augustine, converted out of that pagan background and tormented by his own guilty past, connected the transmission of sin with the act of intercourse and proclaimed that sex for any purpose other than conceiving is a sin. He came to regret that God had created sex in the first place.

Augustine’s contemporary, Jerome, went much further. Plagued by sexual fantasies, he often found himself “surrounded by bands of dancing girls.”

He turned to studying Hebrew as form of sublimation. His scholarship resulted in the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible used by the church for a thousand years, but did little for Jerome’s attitude toward sex. “I praise wedlock, I praise marriage; but it is because they produce me virgins,” he said, and proceeded to give prison-like rules to the mothers who raised these virgins. To husbands he declared, “Anyone who is too passionate a lover with his own wife is himself an adulterer.”

In the succeeding centuries church authorities issued edicts forbidding sex on Thursdays, the day of Christ’s arrest; on Fridays, the day of his death; on Saturdays, in honor of the Blessed Virgin; and on Sundays in honor of the departed saints. Wednesdays sometimes made the list too, as did the 40-day fast periods before Easter, Christmas, and Pentecost, and also feast days and days of the Apostles, as well as the days of female impurity. The list escalated until, as John Boswell has estimated, only 44 days a year remained available for marital sex.

The Protestant Reformation brought about a shift in attitudes toward sex. Luther scorned the church’s proscription against marital sex for the sake of pleasure, and transferred to the home much of the respect that had been accorded the nunnery. When secular revolutions swept across Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, the church’s position as guardian of sexuality faded. Yet in England and America, Victorians brought back an ethic of repression, even to the extent of covering the legs of furniture lest they arouse impure thoughts.

I dwell on the church’s severe attitude toward sex because I believe we Christians bear heavy responsibility for the counter reaction so evident in modern society. Jesus treated those who had fallen into sexual sins with compassion and forgiveness, and reserved his harshest words for the hidden sins of hypocrisy, pride, greed, and legalism. How is it that we who follow him use the word “immoral” to signify sexual sins almost exclusively, and reserve church discipline for those who fail sexually?

Perhaps worse, though, the church in its prudery has silenced a powerful rumor of transcendence that could point to the Creator and originator of human sexuality, who invested in it far more meaning than most modern people can imagine. We have de-sacralized it, in effect, by suppression and denial, and along the way our clumsy attempts at repression helped to empower a false infinite. Sexual power lives on, but few see in that power a pointer to the One who designed it.

UPTIGHT CHRISTIANS forget the fundamental fact that God created sex. Having studied some anatomy, I marvel at God laboring over the physiology of sex: the soft parts, the moist parts, the millions of nerve cells sensitive to pressure and pain yet also capable of producing pleasure, the intricacies of erectile tissue, the economical and ironic combination of organs for excretion and reproduction, the blending of visual appeal and mechanical design. As the zoologists remind us, in comparison with every other species, the human is bountifully endowed.

A connected view of life assumes this is God’s world, and that despite its fractured state, clues of its original design remain. When I experience desire, I need not flinch in guilt, as if something unnatural has happened. Rather, I should follow the desire to its source, to learn God’s original intent.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” In this, the Bible’s strongest statement about sexual desire, Jesus cuts to the heart of the matter. He affirms that sexual desire affects the inside of a person (“in his heart”) whether or not anything takes place externally. He also connects sexual desire with relationship, startlingly, by linking lust and adultery. The voyeur wants to keep his desires both discreet and discrete, disconnected from any actual personal contact; Jesus exposes the deception.

Recently I came across Martin Luther’s pastoral advice about lust:

But some might say, “Waiting for marriage is unbearable and aggravating!” They’re right. It’s very similar to other difficulties requiring patience that believers must face, such as fasting, imprisonment, cold, sickness, and persecution. Lust is a serious burden. You must resist it and fight against it. But after you have overcome it through prayer, lust will have caused you to pray more and grow in faith.

It struck me that most of the difficulties Luther mentions—fasting, imprisonment, cold, persecution, even most sicknesses—no longer confront Christians in prosperous democracies. We have eliminated many of the spiritual burdens common to our forebearers. Lust, however, we have perfected. In Luther’s day, a teenage boy might get a glimpse of a girl’s bare legs as she stomped on grapes or bent over to draw water from a well. He did not face the temptation of MTV reports on coeds who flash their breasts on the beach during spring break; he did not have photos of Britney and J-Lo and Anna Kournikova streaming digitally over his DSL line in the privacy of his bedroom. In modern lust, people sit in living rooms or even office cubicles watching strangers undress and make love. Yielding to such unattached desire can become addictive, and often damages true relationship. A wife who discovers her husband fawning over pornography may well feel rejected and devalued, her feelings of intimacy betrayed.

Flannery O’Connor’s short story “A Temple of the Holy Ghost” tells of a precocious 12-year-old girl and two country boys who have come to court her visiting cousins. The girl overhears her teenage cousins mock a nun, Sister Perpetua, who has suggested a formula to use in fending off fresh young men in the back seats of cars. “Stop sir! I am a Temple of the Holy Ghost!” the nun taught the girls to say. The cousins think such advice hilarious. The girl, however, is moved. The news that she is the dwelling place of God makes her feel as if somebody has given her a present.

The nun’s formula comes from a passage, , that is among Paul’s strangest. In trying to shock the Corinthians out of their wild behavior, Paul uses this astonishing argument: “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.'”

Whether or not such an argument might deter an adolescent’s groping hands—much less the Corinthians’ worldly escapades—Paul does reveal something of the multi-layered nature of desire. The biology of sex has a seamless integration with the deeply personal (Paul quotes God’s original formula for marriage in Genesis) and also the spiritual. We cannot simply compartmentalize sexual desire. Luther correctly identified lust as a spiritual battle, not merely a physical one.

IN A REMARKABLY CANDID BOOK, Jean Vanier, founder of the worldwide l’Arche communities where the author and priest Henri Nouwen spent his last years, discusses what he learned in many years of working with the profoundly retarded. Man and Woman He Made Them (Paulist Press, 1986) describes men and women so disturbed or mentally challenged as to be incapable of a normal relationship with another human. Some cannot speak. Some are blind. Some cannot control their spastic movements. Some seem unable to process any sensory data from the outer world.

Still, most of the damaged people Vanier works with experience sexual desires. One young man masturbates almost constantly. Others “fall in love” with other residents, though they lack the social ability to express that love, and want to get married. Others have no comprehension of marriage and simply want to have sex.

Meanwhile Vanier, a lay minister, tries to live out his chosen life of celibacy. He confesses the difficulty of that struggle, a struggle to which many others succumb. He tells of the loneliness on the road, away from the supportive community he serves, when he feels most vulnerable to seduction.

Vanier admits that his life of celibacy includes very real suffering. Yet he prefers his own suffering to the suffering of those who exercise genital sexuality without responsibility or commitment. In his vocation, he has heard many of their stories in confession. Often they end up disappointed, and more isolated than ever. Relationships based primarily on sex do not wear well, for when the physical attraction fades, so does the love.

For Vanier, a commitment to purity is a sign of hope, an effort to bring personal order into a disordered world. Purity can be sought as a celibate single person or as a married person. Either state involves loneliness and sometimes anguish as well as hope. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God,” Jesus promised. Note the extent of the promise: not that they will find complete sexual fulfillment and solve all loneliness, but that they will see God.

“We all have to choose between two ways of being crazy,” says Vanier: “the foolishness of the Gospel and the non-sense of the values of our world.” Both Jean Vanier and Henri Nouwen (who looked upon Vanier as a mentor) cast their lot with the foolishness of the Gospel, leaving prestigious careers and living in community with some of the saddest, most neglected human beings on earth. To those who have known these men, however, the choice looks like wisdom and not foolishness.

At times I have given in to lust. I cannot deny that nude women, whether in art museums or magazines or over the Internet, exert on me a power like gravitational force. Our culture has mastered the disconnected “technique” of sex, and I have fallen victim. I must also say, though, that when I resist the temptation, and pour sexual energy into my marriage—a much more complicated and less selfish transaction, to be sure—the obsessive power of sexuality fades away. The air clears. Marriage becomes more of a haven. My life with God yields unexpected rewards.

LYRICS FROM THE LOVE SONGS broadcast on pop radio stations tap into romantic yearnings but promise more than any person can deliver. “You are my everything.” “I can’t live without you.” Sexual desires and romantic longings are a kind of debased sacrament. If humanity serves as your religion, then sex becomes an act of worship. On the other hand, if God is the object of your religion, then romantic love becomes an unmistakable pointer, a rumor of transcendence as loud as any we hear on earth.

I credit three things—classical music, the beauty of nature, and romantic love—as responsible for my own conversion. The first two convinced me of the goodness of this world, and prodded me to search for the One who had made it. The third convinced me of the possibility of change in myself. I met a woman who saw worth in me where I had seen little. The hard, cynical shell I had carefully cultivated as a form of protection split apart like a carapace, and to my surprise I discovered that vulnerability need not mean danger.

Romance gives intriguing hints of transcendence. I am “possessed” by the one I love. I think of her day and night, languish when she leaves me, perform brave deeds to impress her, revel in her attention, live for her, even die for her. I want to be both heroic and meek at the same time. For a time, and only for a time, I can live on that edge of exaltation. Then reality sets in, or boredom, betrayal, old age, or death. At least, though, I can see in it a glimpse of God’s infinite capacity for such attention. Could this be how God views us?

Charles Williams, a colleague and close friend of C. S. Lewis, wrote that romantic love gives us a new vision of one other human being, an insight into his or her “eternal identity.” For a brief time, at least, romance gives us the ability to see the best in one other person, to ignore or forgive flaws, to bask in endless fascination. That state, said Williams, gives a foretaste of how we will one day view every resurrected person, and how God now views us. Romantic love does not distort vision but corrects it, in a very narrow range. The Bible uses explicit romantic images to describe God’s love for us: What we feel in passing for one person, God feels eternally for the many.

DOSTOEVSKY’S Notes from the Underground contains a chilling scene in which the underground man, a disturbed egoist, visits a prostitute. He pays his money, she performs, and then the two of them lie there in silence. Suddenly he looks to the side and sees two wide-open eyes staring at him. “The look in those eyes was coldly indifferent and sullen, as though it were utterly detached, and it made me feel terribly depressed.” Then it occurs to him that for two hours he has not said a word to the naked creature beside him, and has not even thought it necessary.

Now, however, I suddenly saw clearly how absurd and hideous like a spider was the idea of vice which, without love, grossly and shamelessly begins where true love finds its consummation. We went on looking at each other like that for a long time, but she did not drop her eyes before mine, nor did she change her expression, so that in the end it made me for some reason feel creepy.

An extraordinary conversation takes place. The underground man asks the prostitute’s name. “Liza.” He inquires about her nationality and her parents. He speaks of a funeral he observed that morning. He asks about her profession, and they discuss love, sex, and married life.

Gradually the two, who have wordlessly completed the most intimate act of physical union, become human to one another. A relationship, guarded and manipulative but a relationship nonetheless, stirs to life. In the remainder of the book, a plot plays out in which Liza penetrates the underground man’s armor of cruel egoism by responding to him with tenderness and selfless love. “Something was not dead within me,” he finally realizes; the prostitute Liza, a person even more pitiable than himself, has coaxed it out.

A few mysterious passages in the Bible hint that, besides being a token of human intimacy, sex has layers of further meaning. Weddings often include the passage from Ephesians in which Paul declares, “After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.’ “

In one sense, we are never more Godlike than in the act of sex. We make ourselves vulnerable. We risk. We give and receive in a simultaneous act. We feel a primordial delight, entering into the other in communion. Two independent beings open their inmost selves and experience not a loss but a gain. In some way—”a profound mystery” not even Paul dared explore—this most human act reveals something of the nature of reality, God’s reality, in his relations with creation and perhaps within the Trinity itself.

I will go no further because to do so seems a kind of sacrilege, an ignorant probing of what we cannot possibly comprehend, an attempt to reduce an irreducible mystery. Simply recognizing the sacramental nature of sex does, however, shed light on some of the sexual taboos of the Bible. I now see them not as capricious rules to spoil our sexual adventures but rather as guidelines protecting something of great value that can only be realized in an exclusive, covenant relationship.

Confining sex to marriage does not guarantee that we will realize anything beyond physical gratification in our sex lives. It may, however, create an environment of safety, intimacy, and trust where the true meaning of sex, the sacramental meaning, may at times break through. Marriage provides the security we need to experience sex without restraint, apart from guilt, danger, or deceit. Teenagers worry that they will miss out on something if they heed the Bible’s warnings against premarital sex. Actually, the warnings are there to keep them from missing out on something. Fidelity sets a boundary in which sex can run free.

I ONCE HEARD AN ACTOR being interviewed on late-night television. “Tell me,” said David Letterman. “You’re a sex symbol who plays all sorts of exciting roles with gorgeous women. How does that compare to your real life, off-screen?”

The actor reminded Letterman that he had been happily married for 20 years. Then he said, “Here’s the difference in a nutshell. In the movies, life is mostly about sex and occasionally about children. Married life is mostly about children and occasionally about sex.”

Sex is such a powerful force that a young person may have trouble understanding how anything else could ever eclipse it. Most married people, like the actor, will tell you that sex within marriage is neither as easy nor as important as they had imagined before marriage. It expresses intimacy, yes, and provides pleasure. But much of marriage consists in making day-to-day decisions, managing the complexities of careers and schedules, rearing children, negotiating differences, juggling finances, and all the other effort involved in keeping a home running.

Marriage strips away the illusions about sex pounded into us daily by the entertainment media. Few of us live with oversexed supermodels. We live instead with ordinary people, men and women who get bad breath, body odors, and unruly hair; who menstruate and experience occasional impotence; who have bad moods and embarrass us in public; who pay more attention to our children’s needs than our own. We live with people who require compassion, tolerance, understanding, and an endless supply of forgiveness. So do our partners. Such is the ironical power of sex: It lures us into a relationship that offers to teach us what we need far more—sacrificial love.

Philip Yancey is a CT columnist and author of Rumors of Another World (Zondervan, 2003), from which this article was adapted with permission.

Related Elsewhere

A ready-to-download Bible Study on this article is available at ChristianBibleStudies.com. These unique Bible studies use articles from current issues of Christianity Today to prompt thought-provoking discussions in adult Sunday school classes or small groups.

Yancey’s Rumors of Another World is available from ChristianBook.com and other book retailers.

See more articles on sex in our Sexuality and Gender area.

Yancey is a columnist for Christianity Today.

Christianity Today has earlier excerpted several of Yancey’s other books, including Reaching for the Invisible God, Soul Survivor: How My Faith Survived the Church, The Bible Jesus Read, and What’s So Amazing About Grace?

See also today’s interview with Yancey about Rumors of Another World.

 

November 2, 2006 at 1:18 am 3 comments

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