Hotel Rwanda and The Last Word

Just saw it a couple of days ago for the first time. Very moving. Then I ate my dinner. But to my credit me and fam have been sponsoring a family in Africa for a year now through Worldvision. Which isn’t really to my credit it was my kids that suggested it first. Thank God for the faith of children. One of my favorite professors in college Dr. Azevedo, born and raised in Mozambique, first awakened me to the reality of Africa. I plan on going with him to Africa one day to see what I have read about. There is something deep inside me as an African american that wants to kiss the ground of my ancestors. But I seem so detached from that reality. I have no African friends or acquaintances. Its strange really. Being African american and all.

What many black folks experience here in America pales in comparison to the existential realities of people living in particular African countries. What can I do? I have thought about this. Other than give to charities. I want to be on the right side of God’s revolution on this issue. I am tired of being a spectator.

I have been reading Brian McLaren’s new book The Last Word and Word After That. There is chapter (which I think is the first real wake up call in the book) that sort of reminds me of the movie Hotel Rwanda. There is a scene in McLaren’s book where the character’s Neil and Dan are discussing the issue of hell and the afterlife. Specifically they are discussing the issue of the individual soul after death. Here is a wonderful passage in the book that reminded me of the movie Hotel Rwanda. In this particular passage they have been discussing some of the beliefs Christians have held regarding the afterlife (eternal conscious torment, universalism, etc.). But this passage right here grabbed me and reminded me of the world in which we live in and has brought home to me the importance of really saying yes to the gospel of God’s coming kingdom:

Neil: “The problem with Universalism is not just the answer it provides. True, its answers create problems – but so do the alternative answers. The problem is the question it seeks to answer. The question assumes that the purpose of the gospel is to get individual souls into heaven after they die. No matter how good your answer is, its not good enough if you’re askingthe wrong question.”

Dan: “And the right question would be…?”

Neil: “Not just how individuals souls will be saved but instead how the world will be saved. When I say ‘saved,’ I mean not just from hell, and not just from God’s wrath either. After all, God’s wrath is a good thing, a saving thing. No, Daniel, the gospel is about how the world will be saved from human sin and all that goes with it – human greed, human lust, human pride, human oppression, human hypocrisy, and dishonesty, human violence and racism, human chauvinism, human injustice. It’s answer the question, How will humanity be saved from humanity? How will earth be saved from evil that springs from within human individuals and human groups?” (McLaren, The Last Word, pgs. 69-70).

Jesus once said, “seek ye first the kingdom of God and his justice.” What else needs to be said?

Other than amen? Maybe an oh-me?


10 thoughts on “Hotel Rwanda and The Last Word

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  1. Ant,
    that’s a wonderful post. my wife and i have rented hotel rwanda and plan to watch it tomorrow night. i appreciate your honesty and humility in your post.

    i hope to hear more about this and your journey. are you coming to nashville for the ec conference?


  2. jonathan,

    unfortunately my wife will be out of town for training for her job…so I am here with our four kids during that time of the conference. hopefully i will able to make a future one. i would really love to sit down with others who are on this similar path.

    are you going to the conference?

  3. i am. i live in nashville so i don’t have far to drive- 10 minutes to downtown. i attended last year and it was great. sorry you won’t be there. maybe another opportunity will arise in the near future that we’ll both be able to attend and meet face to face.


  4. Is this Don Azevedo a marriage trainer married to a woman named Janet (I believe)? I know a Don Azevedo from North Carolina who recently facilitated a Healthy Marriages Training we hosted in NY. If it is-small world.


  5. I think McLaren has a good point and he certainly swings the pendulum in the necessary direction but isn’t salvation a both/and issue? Does Christ not save individual humans unto the greater all encompassing framework of total redemption? If we begin to say that salvation is only concerned with the whole are we then neglecting the parts? Is it really true that theologies such as universalism are really most interested in individual souls? I tend to think not. Talbott (an avid universalist) certainly defends his position within the framework of salvation for all creation not just individuals although he does maintain concern for the individual.

  6. I think that some schema of universal salvation can be just as reductionist as those accounts of salvation that presume eternal conscious judgment. When I say that Creation will be restored by the mercy and grace of God I would include all the parts…hopefully. The last word for me is not my word nor my conception of justice and love. But I can only hope that the testimony of scripture is true…that God’s mercy endures forever.


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