God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for the Future
Authors: Desmond Tutu
Number of pages: 144
Type of cover: Soft Cover
“‘I have a dream,’ God says. ‘Please help me to realize it.’”
With the same noble message as Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech, Archbiship Desmond Tutu re-introduces an ancient vision that is still waiting to be fulfilled—one of more than mere equality: “God’s dream wants us to be brothers and sisters, wants us to be family.”
The Nobel laureate addresses the despair that accompanies conflict like Northern Ireland’s Catholics and Protestants, the Middle East’s terrorists and South Africa’s apartheid. Hope, he writes, lies only in transfiguration and ubuntu—the African concept of community, or humanity toward others. He challenges his readers, “indispensible agents of change,” to bring that change forth one day at a time, beginning with themselves. The author presents these daily steps in a practical manner by relating lofty messages of war and peace to romantic relationships and traffic jams: “Instead of getting angry and saying, ‘What a bunch of morons,’ you bless them.”
Tutu calls readers to transfiguration by first presenting God on a more personal level through simple descriptions of his voice, emotions and desires. “[Transfiguration] is the only hope for us and for making God’s dream a reality,” Tutu writes. “Because God truly only has us.” Understanding God on this contemplative level, he says, should be our foundation for peace: “Discovering stillness, hearing God’s voice is the basis for real peace and real justice.”
Yet Tutu’s advice is not all spiritual. He Tutu challenges readers to not just balance religion and politics, but to allow the one to drive the other. He asks, “Would you say Moses was a religious leader or a political leader? Was God acting religiously or politically when he set free a slave people?”
While Tutu’s book holds poetic lines of deep wisdom found in most peace speeches, it sets itself apart by bridging the gap between podium and audience. Instead of an echoing auditorium, readers will find themselves seated in Tutu’s private library for a grandfatherly chat. Each chapter is addressed as an intimate letter. “Dear Child of God,” he begins a chapter titled “Seeing with the Eyes of the Heart, “I am sorry to say that suffering is not optional.”
Tutu’s gentle tone of sympathy is balanced with harsher truths that accompany justice talks. Concerning issues of oppression, Tutu informs his readers, “If you say you are neutral, you are a liar, for you have already taken sides with the powerful. Our God is not a neutral God.” He also responds to tough questions like “Why does God need our help?” and “Why does God allow us to do evil?”
With a breakdown on topics like humility and arrogance, generosity and guilt, God Has a Dream is constructive enough to be read as a devotional. Two postscripts are reserved for website listings of recommended charities and a reflection question guide. In all its practicality and spiritual depth, God Has a Dream has the strength to make significant contributions toward the change it seeks.
Yet the book does not claim to be so much. Through Tutu’s gentle approach, his calming voice of reason and the twinkle in his eye, God Has a Dream offers a welcoming well of wisdom that readers will dip into more than once.