Item description for Mirror to the Church: Resurrecting Faith After Genocide in Rwanda by Emmanuel M. Katongole & Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove...
Overview In 1994, the most Christianized country in Africa became the site of its worst genocide. The tragedy was in Rwanda, but what happened was a mirror reflecting the deep brokenness of the church in the West. Yet by looking at what happened and why, we can find hope for the global body of Christ.
Publishers Description We learn who we are as we walk together in the way of Jesus. So I want to invite you on a pilgrimage. Rwanda is often held up as a model of evangelization in Africa. Yet in 1994, beginning on the Thursday of Easter week, Christians killed other Christians, often in the same churches where they had worshiped together. The most Christianized country in Africa became the site of its worst genocide. With a mother who was a Hutu and a father who was a Tutsi, author Emmanuel Katongole is uniquely qualified to point out that the tragedy in Rwanda is also a mirror reflecting the deep brokenness of the church in the West. Rwanda brings us to a cry of lament on our knees where together we learn that we must interrupt these patterns of brokenness But Rwanda also brings us to a place of hope. Indeed, the only hope for our world after Rwanda's genocide is a new kind of Christian identity for the global body of Christ---a people on pilgrimage together, a mixed group, bearing witness to a new identity made possible by the Gospel.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.25" Weight: 0.35 lbs.
Release Date Feb 3, 2009
Publisher Zondervan Publishing
ISBN 0310284899 ISBN13 9780310284895 UPC 025986284893
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From tragedy to redemption Feb 25, 2010
TiTLE: From tragedy to redemption KEYWORDS: genocide; Hutu; Tutsi; Rwanda; Christianity; church; forgiveness; reconciliation; body of Christ; betrayal; Easter 1994; confused identity! FULL REFERENCE: Katongole, Emmanuel M. and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, "Mirror to the Church: Resurrecting Faith after Genocide in Rwanda." Zondervan, 2009. /////////////////////////////////////////////////////// In this relatively short and easy-to-read book (176 pp.), Katongole recalls the Rwanda tragedy that pitted the Hutus against the Tutsis beginning, of all times, on Maundy Thursday of Easter week in the year 1994. Ironically, Rwanda is considered to be the "most evangelized [and thus Christianized] country" in the entire continent of Africa. Within a span of 100 days, hard-line [and heartless] Hutus mercilessly killed some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus throughout Rwanda (pp. 30). Ironically, the killers were, for the most part, neighbors and fellow church members (pp. 30).
While the genocide forms the background for the entire book, Katongole is not dwelling on the massacre itself (except in Chapter 2, "What happened"). Instead, Katongole is more interested in analyzing and understanding the root causes of the conflict, going as far back as the colonial period and even earlier (See Chapter 3, "The story that made Rwanda"). The root cause of the Rwanda tragedy, argues Katongole, is not "tribalism," as widely reported by Western media in 1994 and beyond, but well nigh a case of "confused [and deliberately assigned] identities," in which the Christian church and colonial powers did play a considerable role.
Beyond Chapter 3, Katongole moves from the local tragedy in 1994 Rwanda to the wider scene of the Western world (i.e., Europe and esp. the USA where Katongole, a Catholic priest, currently lives with his family and works as a teacher of theology at Duke University in North Carolina). Using the 1994 Rwanda tragedy as a case study, Katongole proceeds to make an indictment of the worldwide Christian church, and of Christianity, which he calls "Christianity without consequence" (pp. 84).
On this same page, Katongole writes, "Maybe the deepest tragedy of the Rwandan genocide is that Christianity didn't seem to make any difference" (pp. 84). Expanding from this local, African context, Katongole proceeds to a wider generalization, causing him to write on the following page, "The story that made Rwanda is the story of the West. When we look at Rwanda as a mirror to the church [i.e., the main title and thus primary thesis of Katongole's book], it helps us realize what little consequence the biblical story has on the way Christians live their lives in the West [...]. Seeing this, we have to ask: does Christianity make any real difference in the West? The question is not so much whether Jesus' message has been proclaimed in all the earth. The real question is, what difference has the gospel made in people's lives?" (pp. 85).
This is, in my view, the turning point in Katongole's narrative and argument. Here he moves from the particular [i.e., the 1994 Rwandan tragedy] to the general [i.e., the role of the gospel in people's lives and its influence on society], not just in Rwanda, but anywhere in the world where the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached and received. This is where the 1994 Rwandan tragedy no longer remains the tragedy of the Rwandan people, but well night becomes your and my tragedy as well. And this may well explain the "turn-off" reaction of at least one previous reviewer [Debbie from Alpena, AR, United States], who wrote that Katongole should have ended his narrative on page 80. Page 80 [or shortly thereafter] marks the point where Katongole began his expansion from the local Rwandan context to the wider international scene, and, understandably, that could make some people uncomfortable and even upset.
One could ask, "Cruel and tragic as the Rwandan conflict was in 1994, could a similar conflict erupt in Western, so-called civilized countries like the USA, Canada, France or Spain?" Running the risk of irritating or even offending some of the readers of this review, i would answer a resounding, "Yes!"
My late grand-mother used to say, "We are all cut from the same wood!" And so, yes, of course, given the right circumstances and social pre-conditioning, most of us [unless we share the fortitude and convictions of a Dietrich Bonhoeffer] probably would do precisely the same as the Hutus did to the Tutsis in Rwanda, beginning on Easter Thursday of 1994. One has only to look back at what happened in the 1930's and early 1940's in Nazi Germany, "Where was the Christian church [or what did German Christians do] when thousands and millions of innocent Jews [and other undesirables] were systematically exterminated by the Nazis in Hitler's death camps?" Where was the so-called "international community" [or what did it do, including the United Nations] when Pol Pot and his army of Khmer Rouge systematically exterminated millions of innocent Cambodians in the "Killing Fields" during the late 1970's?
That is what makes Katongole's book so irritating to read. As well-bred and well-behaving Christians, we think and believe ourselves to be above the fray. "How could they do that? Aren't they not Christians, or followers of Jesus? i could never do that!" In pointing our accusing index finger at the Rwandan people responsible for the tragedy, we are, in fact, pointing three fingers back at ourselves.
Katongole, however, is not content with simply pointing out the problems facing Rwanda and Western Christianity. Instead, Katongole is quick to move on to proposing solutions, and devotes two full chapters to that purpose, namely Chapter 7 ("Making a prophetic posture possible"), and Chapter 8 ("Resurrecting the church").
Even though Katongole's book started with the narration of death and suffering (Chapter 1, "An Easter season of bodies), the book ends on a note of resurrection hope (Chapter 8, "Resurrecting the church"). I particularly like Katongole's last sentence, which epitomizes the entire thesis of his book, "The world is longing for such new and odd communities in our time [...]. I pray the time is now and that the resurrection might begin with us" (pp. 170). Crucifixion turned into resurrection and new life. Tragedy turned into redemption and hope.
NOTE: Should you have any comment(s) and/or suggestion(s) about this review, I can be reached via email at <[...]>. I look forward to hearing from you. ///////////////////////////////////////// [...] = END =
Honest. Accessible. Provocative. Challenging. Mar 27, 2009
Honest. Accessible. Provocative. Challenging.
Katongole's newest book is thoughtfully organized and engaging. His reflections are an important and crucial contribution to the literature on the Rwandan genocide. His own story informs the way he translates what happened in 1994 with a deep investment that ensures an honest narration of the tragic events.
Half is good, the other half has problems Mar 23, 2009
The author is a Rwandan who grew up in Uganda who is now a Catholic priest. He has spent six years (as of the writing of this book) as a professor at Duke University.
The first half of this book is about the Rwanda genocide and the history leading up to it. The information was good, but the author tended to skip around in time and digress into side narratives that made it difficult for me to follow his main point. That point seemed to be: Hutu Christian slaughtered Tutsi Christian neighbors--people they worshipped together with in church--and American Christians abandoned Tutsi Christians. So, he says, to avoid this we must ask ourselves if our identity as Christians is stronger than our loyalty to other cultural labels. It's a good question, and I would have recommended the book if the book stopped at page 80.
However, in the first part of the book, the author says that the Belgians came to Rwanda, made faulty categorizations of the population after only a brief stay in the land, and that this lead to the genocide. Yet, in the second part of the book, he tries to neatly place American Christians into categories based on what he's seen during his relatively brief stay here.
Based on my own lifetime of research, none of his explanations for our American cultural identities seemed accurate to me because they miss the nuances. Also, I don't know a single Christian who fits into the neat categories he makes for us. Basically, I rather felt he was making the same mistake that the Belgians did of trying to categorize a culture and failing because he missed the many nuances.
I also felt like he made several assumptions that I couldn't agree with. First, he doesn't seem to recognize that we live in a sinful, fallen world. In the second half of the book, his argument seems to suggest that if everyone in the world just picked one identity and we were all loyal to that one identity above all others, then all divisions--and therefore all evil, pain, suffering, starvation, etc.--would be eradicated.
The problem I have with this is that people need to be transformed by Jesus in order to not act self-first like they did in Rwanda. Just calling ourselves Christians and shedding all other identities won't work. Having one unifying national identity has been tried before with no success. Even if everyone who called themselves Christians were totally transformed by Jesus and dropped all divisions, the world isn't made up totally of Christians. Evil would still occur.
Basically, his points in the first half of the book are good, but, in my opinion, the book falls apart in the second half because it fails to recognize the true source of the problems in this world.