A God you can't trust
Checking in at Hotel Rwanda
by William Cleary
Religious people will be stunned by both the meditation and the movie Hotel
Rwanda. I dragged myself there after hearing from so many who had little to
say verbally but who spoke volumes with their faces: "Hotel Rwanda"
leaves the jaw slack. It's not entertainment.
puzzles us first is the historical event: in 1993 a vicious army of human killers
crushed out the lives of a half million people, their neighbors, their human
companions, families across the street. The Asian tsunami did the equivalent
but the killer there was nature itself, grotesque as that sounds. In Rwanda
it was human choice, long years of growing hatred, and arms. Right here I for
one realize how dangerous is any army, any crowd in the same uniform, any band
of humans armed for killing. Without floods of arms available in Africa, nothing
so tragic could have happened.
how important is this movie documentation. We must never forget Rwanda: what
made it possible, what motivated its ruthless energies, what it says about human
evil and its causes. We too, each of us, have immense potential for complicity
with evil. The so-called holocaust was/is a similar lesson to us. Thank God
Jewish historians and artists will not let us forget it. Similarly we have to
remember Rwanda, the facts, and also the fiction.
fiction? This movie tells a true story but one that is truer than true. The
heroism of one man and one couple, of one group of people, is immortalized,
but all the manufactured conversations in the unfolding of the story are also
wonderfully invented and recorded. We laugh – with the lovers – just seconds
before "Paul" (played spectacularly by Don Creadle) tells his wife
she must think of a group suicide for herself and all their children: a leap
together from the hotel roof. And it's believable. Could you do it? Could you
require it? You could. See the movie. Life can get that desperate, that tragic,
people that trapped.
is God? After Rwanda, after the tsunami, it is a new God for me, in a new place:
a deeper mystery than ever. Faith keeps God close, just a thought away. But
God's ways are not our ways – more decisively than ever. As a New York Times
science article pointed out, when our planet earth moves, creates mountains
and giant cracks, it is essentially life itself that pours out. Every tsunami
carries new life forces – and if we are in the way, we shall not survive it.
Similarly when hatred of others and domination needs infect the human heart,
tragedy is on its way too. Before we question God, we have to turn to one another
– in compassion and openness and toleration. Otherwise wwe are not living wisely
at all, however sophisticated our computer electronics and our email connections
among the privileged. It is not so much God we need: it is the wise use of the
intelligence we already have in abundance, the wise strategies of human greetings
and respectful talk and basic equality and forgiveness and solidarity -- and
compassion above all, the core Gospel commands. Without these, we court catastrophes
Let us pray. Holy God, at times we find it almost impossible to believe in
you. So much in our world speaks out against your existence: injustice and human
evil most of all, but also disease and sorrow, anger and delusion. Almost any
kind of a God we can imagine would never allow the worldwide abuses of women
and children, of the poor and vulnerable, or massive, sudden death from unexpected
natural disasters. You are an unimaginable God. Still we believe. Help thou
our unbelief. Amen.