Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Angus Buchan is human, after all- 'beterskap oom' !

The news of evangelist, Angus Buchan's collapse at the Mighty Men conference has been causing a stir amongst his followers as well as other commentators. Many ask the question: what does it mean? Is there a divine meaning to this ? Many joke oblivious of what is happening amongst us- maybe even trying to hide their own masculine insecurities.

The official statement from the organizers is that 'Oom' Angus, collapsed because of heat and exhaustion, that he need rest and will be on the stage soon. Part of this story is suggesting that his recovery has been nothing less then a miracle, a close call from the brink of death. 'Oom' Angus, personally assured followers that even if he should pass on- he is assured of his place in heaven. The question is: are they assured of this ?

The question remain: what is the message that we can learn from this. Apart from being ready. I would hope that this is a call for caution, but also a realistic assesment of the role of 'Oom' Angus. He is certainly human, after all and a frail human being, like most of us. Some of the big boys on the farm, is physically, possibly stronger than Oom and this need to be taken into account, when the arrangements for his campaigns and performances is made. He, himself should take this into account and possibly leave the push-ups and jumps for Pieter de Villiers and his boys. Whilst Buchan, possibly like Nelson Mandela, or Desmond Tutu, evidently commands high respect and a strong following currently in South Africa, but also, whilst his message provides spiritual direction and indeed inspire hundreds of thousands, he is no super-hero. Yes,South Africa, currently need voices and inspirational figures to remind us of the moral values that could secure our future. Indeed, our men and boys need rolemodels of integrity, service and a deep humble spirituality, in the midst of an onslaught of plastic consumerism, crude materialism, but also decay in moral standards. In this context, we need to treasure our finest examples of these traits and standards, of which the life of Jesus Christ, speak so eloquently. But, we need to see these 'ooms' for what and who they are- human beings, who may get tired, who are getting old and who sometimes struggle with the weight of the world's expectations on their shoulders. What does this calls us toward ?

If anything, let's not feed into the frenzy or create super-heroes, that are simply human beings, who God uses at specific points of time. Let's remind ourselves that all of us have to hear God's word for our time, today to be able to walk our road. Let's pray that God might raise up, from amongst us more ordinary potato farmers, mineworkers, rugby coaches or simply unemployed young men who will be obedient to God's call and, in Jesus Christ, will continue to make and carry their own cross here and now. The real question is: are we ready for this ?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mighty Men excludes women ?

The Mighty Men is preparing for their biggest show of strength yet; in fact, they promise a rally of over 200 000 men on the farm in Greytown. Whilst there has been a debate over many things related to the theology of Angus Buchan and the multi-million rand industry that has developed around the once humble potato farmer, it may remain a movement that inspire hope.

Buchan is clear that he want to address the needs of men in their struggle, in the new South African and new world. He states, 'Man's masculinity in the world today, in this 21st century is being eroded and broken down. And young men-some young men- don't know what a man is supposed to be!. He has made some very hopeful statements by challenging men to take up their responsibility in this country and not to run away. But it seems, at least in terms of the numbers, that his appeal is only (or mostly!) for white men. Buchan does not specifically deals with the question why the movement is predominantly coming from the white community, in particular the Afrikaans community. One could argue that this movement was jolted into the Afrikaans media after a men's conference on the biblical figure (Daniel) at the whites-only, Afrikaans NG Kerk, Moraletapark, with endorsements from NG dominee, Bennie Mosterd. The movement is however not confined to these and the fact that this movement have effectively by-passed the mega-churches of our time, but also the once powerful mainline churches, indicate a shift in ecclesial power. Then, it also seems as if issues like credibility, or truthfulness, is not rooted in the formal education or ecclesial letters of credence, but somewhere else. Buchan makes it clear that he's never been to 'Bible College', but to 'the school of hard knocks' and that he listens to God and God speaks to him and that he simply acts on behalf of Jesus.

The biggest worry, of course, remains the forthright exclusivist nature of this movement. Mighty Men, are clear that they only for men. In fact, they would asks followers to come, without women or girls. This suggest that they have essentialist views of gender, but also leadership within the house, within the church. Only men are suppose to be leaders in the church. These type of ideas evidently establish a kind of masculinity that, maybe does not address the challenges raised and therefore what is needed rather, is movements who includes, builds partnerships and affirms the dignity of humanity.

Let me conclude to again, plead a process of open discussion and dialogue, as we, as Christians struggle to be responsive to the challenges we face.