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Thursday, October 11, 2012

MADE FOR GOODNESS – Desmond Tutu & Mpho Tutu

Alas, I have been lax in reporting my reading. Actually months have gone by and the stack on my desk of books read to blog about is getting very tall. This was Zion Lutheran's First Tuesday class choice for the month of April. Also my friend Paula has read all or most of Desmond Tutu's works and named her youngest son in honor of him. Therefore I was looking forward to this book and I wasn't disappointed. Besides the fact that Pastor Mark can make any discussion fascinating, there was enough food for thought to make our group into an animated sharing session.

I won't go into the merits of this Nobel-winning holy man, you can look all of that up for yourself if you need to do so. I just want to talk about this book. The premise of this book is that humans are made in the image of God and therefore are full of goodness, love, and creativity. The important thing then is to see ourselves this way and to strive to be good servants, to care, have empathy, compassion, love our enemies, and work hard in this life to change things for the better.

Tutu interweaves vignettes from his life, many which are painful and ugly but also many that are beautiful and inspiring to make all his points. My favorite chapter might be #4 “Free to Choose.” Along with quoting Ghandi, “be the change we want to see,” and citing many times when making choices isn't easy Tutu assures the reader that Making good and right choices is often far from easy. God respects our right to choose and isn't going to send angels down on wings to make it clear but we are charged with doing the best we can and living with blessings and consequences of our choices.

Chapter 8 is really good too (well they are all good) “Why Does God Let Us Sin?” This chapter reminds me a bit of some of the work in Phillip Gulley's book If Grace is True. Like Gulley, Tutu reminds us that all humans are God's beloved children, not only Christians but all people. We need to face the fact that even our worst enemies may not burn in hell. God calls us to goodness but we may choose not to go. Conscience plays a big part and we should listen to these whispers from God. When he says, “Did you have to do/say that?” “Was that necessary?” “Couldn't you say a kind word here?” “Forgive.” “Give.”

In Chapter 9 Tutu talks about helping others heal by offering the “listening ear.” We don't have to have the answers or fix the problems, we just need to listen. There are plenty of other great lessons here but those are my favorites. This is a one afternoon read but one that I will want to turn to again and to pass along to a valued friend.

The Tutu's speak from experience with love, wisdom, and true goodness. I can only hope to be like them someday. 

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