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In this essential collection of Desmond Tutu’s most historic and controversial speeches and writings, we witness his unique career of provoking the powerful and confronting the world in order to protect the oppressed, the poor, and other victims of injustice. Renowned first for his courageous opposition to apartheid in South Africa, he and his ministry soon took on internat In this essential collection of Desmond Tutu’s most historic and controversial speeches and writings, we witness his unique career of provoking the powerful and confronting the world in order to protect the oppressed, the poor, and other victims of injustice. Renowned first for his courageous opposition to apartheid in South Africa, he and his ministry soon took on international dimensions. Rooted in his faith and in the values embodied in the African spirit of ubuntu, Tutu’s uncompromising vision of a shared humanity has compelled him to speak out, even in the face of violent opposition and virulent criticism, against political injustice and oppression, religious fundamentalism, and the persecution of minorities. Arranged by theme and introduced with insight and historical context by Tutu’s biographer, John Allen, this collection takes readers from the violent apartheid clashes in South Africa to the healing work of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee; from Trafalgar Square after the fall of the Berlin Wall to a national broadcast commemorating the legacy of Nelson Mandela; from Ireland’s Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin to a basketball stadium in Luanda, Angola. Whether exploring democracy in Africa, the genocide in Rwanda, black theology, the inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church, or the plight of Palestinians, Tutu’s message of truth is clear and his voice unflinching. In a world of suffering and conflict, where human laws all too often clash with God’s law, Tutu’s hopeful, timeless messages become increasingly necessary and powerful with each passing year—and are needed now more than ever.


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In this essential collection of Desmond Tutu’s most historic and controversial speeches and writings, we witness his unique career of provoking the powerful and confronting the world in order to protect the oppressed, the poor, and other victims of injustice. Renowned first for his courageous opposition to apartheid in South Africa, he and his ministry soon took on internat In this essential collection of Desmond Tutu’s most historic and controversial speeches and writings, we witness his unique career of provoking the powerful and confronting the world in order to protect the oppressed, the poor, and other victims of injustice. Renowned first for his courageous opposition to apartheid in South Africa, he and his ministry soon took on international dimensions. Rooted in his faith and in the values embodied in the African spirit of ubuntu, Tutu’s uncompromising vision of a shared humanity has compelled him to speak out, even in the face of violent opposition and virulent criticism, against political injustice and oppression, religious fundamentalism, and the persecution of minorities. Arranged by theme and introduced with insight and historical context by Tutu’s biographer, John Allen, this collection takes readers from the violent apartheid clashes in South Africa to the healing work of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee; from Trafalgar Square after the fall of the Berlin Wall to a national broadcast commemorating the legacy of Nelson Mandela; from Ireland’s Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin to a basketball stadium in Luanda, Angola. Whether exploring democracy in Africa, the genocide in Rwanda, black theology, the inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church, or the plight of Palestinians, Tutu’s message of truth is clear and his voice unflinching. In a world of suffering and conflict, where human laws all too often clash with God’s law, Tutu’s hopeful, timeless messages become increasingly necessary and powerful with each passing year—and are needed now more than ever.

30 review for God Is Not a Christian: And Other Provocations

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rebekka Steg

    It took me just over a month to read God Is Not a Christian: And Other Provocations by Desmond Tutu. Not because it's long, it's just over 200 pages, but because it is so incredibly thought-provoking. I really enjoyed it on so many levels. Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Laureate, arch bishop of South Africa, and avid fighter against the apartheid system, is such an inspiration. I really admire him for standing up for everyone, all across the world, even when it isn't popular. This book will make you It took me just over a month to read God Is Not a Christian: And Other Provocations by Desmond Tutu. Not because it's long, it's just over 200 pages, but because it is so incredibly thought-provoking. I really enjoyed it on so many levels. Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Laureate, arch bishop of South Africa, and avid fighter against the apartheid system, is such an inspiration. I really admire him for standing up for everyone, all across the world, even when it isn't popular. This book will make you think. It will make you question things. And if you are anything like me it'll make you say "EXACTLY" more than once. Especially for the first half, I wanted to quote almost every single word of it. Hence the 7 pages of book notes with quotes. I want everyone to go out and read it, it's amazing.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    A powerful collection of Desmond Tutu's writings and speeches spanning several decades. He is an unapologetic Christian, but incredibly gifted at interfaith dialogue and outreach. There is some repetition; a man this prolific is bound to plagiarize himself at least somewhat, especially in off-the-cuff, extemporaneous remarks to groups. And now I'm going to let him speak for himself (mostly so I have a record of these great quotes before I have to return the book to the library): * Life...has too A powerful collection of Desmond Tutu's writings and speeches spanning several decades. He is an unapologetic Christian, but incredibly gifted at interfaith dialogue and outreach. There is some repetition; a man this prolific is bound to plagiarize himself at least somewhat, especially in off-the-cuff, extemporaneous remarks to groups. And now I'm going to let him speak for himself (mostly so I have a record of these great quotes before I have to return the book to the library): * Life...has too many ambivalences and ambiguities to allow always for a straightforward and simplistic answer." (4) * "Our perspective differs with our context, the things that have helped to form us; and religion is one of the most potent of these formative influences." (5) * "We must be ready to learn from one another, not claiming that we alone possess all truth and that somehow we have a corner on God." (6) * "We have enough that conspires to separate us; let us celebrate that which unites us, that which we share in common." (7) * "God does not need us to protect him. Many of us perhaps need to have our notion of God deepened and expanded." (8) * "God is clearly not a Christian. His concern is for all his children. There is a Jewish story which says that soon after the episode of the drowning of the Egyptians in the Red Sea, while the Israelites were celebrating, God accosted them and demanded, 'How can you rejoice when my children have drowned?'" (12) * "It is no dishonor to God for us to claim that all truth, all sense of beauty, all awareness of and desire after goodness has one source, and that source is God, who is not confined to one place, time, and people." (15) * "We must not make the mistake of judging other faiths by their least attractive features or adherents." (16) * "People of religion have no choice in the matter. Where there is injustice and oppression, where people are treated as if they were less than who they are--those created in the image of God--you have no choice but to oppose, and oppose vehemently and oppose with all the force that you have in your being, that injustice and oppression." (19) * "Ubuntu is the essence of being human. It speaks of how my humanity is caught up and bound up inextricably with yours. It says, not as Descartes did, 'I think, therefore I am' but rather, 'I am because I belong.' I need other human beings in order to be human. The completely self-sufficient human being is subhuman. I can be me only if you are fully you. I am because we are, for we are made for togetherness, for family." (22) * "There is an obsession [in the West] with achievement, and it seems it does not much matter in what you succeed as long as you do succeed. The worst thing that can happen, it appears, is to fail. And the culture easily dismisses people as expendable, discardable, when, because they are poor or unemployed, they are judged to have failed." (23) * "Even the worst of us still remains a child of God with the potential to become better, someone to be salvaged, to be rehabilitated, not to be ostracized but ultimately to be reintegrated into the community." (42) * "We shall be surprised at those we meet in heaven whom we least expected to be there, and perhaps also by those we do not find there whom we had expected to be there." (44) * "We inhabit a universe that is characterized by diversity...We are constantly being made aware of the glorious diversity that is written into the structure of the universe we inhabit, and we are helped to see that if it were otherwise, things would go awry. How could you have a soccer team if all were goalkeepers? How would it be an orchestra if all were French horns?" (50) * "Our survival as a species will depend not on unbridled power lacking moral direction, or on eliminating those who are different and seeking only those who think and speak and behave and look like ourselves. That way is stagnation and ultimately death and disintegration." (51) * "Our God came in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to set us free from all that makes us less than what God wants us to be." (64) * "We learn from the Bible that God is a God who takes sides. He is not neutral. God is a God who is always on the side of the poor, the oppressed, the little ones who are despised; and it is for that reason that we, his church, have got to be in solidarity with the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the oppressed." (65) * "God has a special caring for those whom the world thinks are not important." (93) * "As strongly as I identify with the striving of peoples for freedom, I deplore just as strongly the use of violence, whether it is the violence of those seeking to change the status quo or those seeking to uphold it. It is necessary, though, to go beyond vigorous denunciation of violence. We must go further by insisting on the removal of the conditions which are conducive to violence." (93) * "If our madness [i.e., apartheid in South Africa], if our intractable problem, could have ended as it did, then we believe it must be possible everywhere else in the world." (107) * "God speaks to us as we are, and our theology is filtered through who we are." (118) * "Much harm has happened to the Christian enterprise in attempting to make absolute the relative." (121) * "Biblical unity comes not out of a uniformity of style or understanding, but from being centered on God's action in human history, on the record of this activity and of man's understanding of, distortion of, and response to this activity." (124) * "To coerce, to intimidate, is to admit that your policy can't persuade on its own merits." (171) * "It is a great deal easier to be against than to be for." (179) * "Truth cannot suffer from being challenged and examined...We should lower the temperature in our public discourse and hopefully thus increase the light. We should not impugn the motives of others but accept the bona fides of all. If we believe in something, then surely we will be ready to defend it rationally, hoping to persuade those opposed to change their point of view. We should not too quickly want to pull rank and to demand an uncritical, sycophantic, obsequious conformity." (192) For more book reviews, come visit my blog, Build Enough Bookshelves.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marc Arlt

    A fantastic read. These letters and speeches by Tutu are a stirring collection which have helped make Tutu a real hero of mine. He is unafraid to speak the truth to political power and way ahead of the curve in matters of organized religion. We need this voice and beautiful laugh in our world a little longer.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rod Horncastle

    Sorry Des but I gotta give you 1 star on this one. (mostly because I can't believe the Anglican church would actually make you a pastor/bishop/cleric??? actually I guess it's not that hard to believe - Anglican's have never been big on theology.) This collection shows Mr. Tutu (does anyone else think that's kind of funny?)to be a wonderful human rights activist. It even appears he has made some impressive progress in certain areas, well done. But my problem is: that isn't what the Book is labelle Sorry Des but I gotta give you 1 star on this one. (mostly because I can't believe the Anglican church would actually make you a pastor/bishop/cleric??? actually I guess it's not that hard to believe - Anglican's have never been big on theology.) This collection shows Mr. Tutu (does anyone else think that's kind of funny?)to be a wonderful human rights activist. It even appears he has made some impressive progress in certain areas, well done. But my problem is: that isn't what the Book is labelled. Desmond Tutu: God Is Not A Christian - and other Provocations. My big problem is: I really like the Bible. And I mean A LOT! And I've learned from this collection Mr. Tutu that you are not very fond of God's word. And if the Dalai Lama likes you that means you haven't shared any serious Biblical truth with your Buddha Buddy. That's some poor evangelism Desmond. Sure you might claim to enjoy the odd Bible verse here and there (even Satan probably does that) but you failed to get the specific need we have for a savior. (How the HELL did you miss THAT?) It seems you are good at discussing issues of humanity (a much needed calling) but you are only arranging chairs on a sinking ship. You even claim that your boat is wonderfully afloat on many rivers to heaven. I'm sorry - but does the Bible say that? Of course not, that would be retarded. According to the Bible Mr. Tutu - God is only interested in Christians. IF someone does not have the Salvation afforded by Christ then Heaven is NOT an option. Your god is very small and helpless it seems. You seem to think the goodness of mankind will save them through any variety of paths. Acts 4:12 (yes, from the BIBLE) And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” You can read this book for more Biblical blasphemy if you desire. I actually recommend it - A very fun challenge. Desmond do you remember that part in the Bible where some people are children of God...and others are children of Satan? Did you bother to read that part? I didn't think so. 1 John 3:10 Children of God …9No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. Now go figure out what sin and salvation really are. Please. (and stop pretending you are a Christian.) Just declare yourself a liberal humanist - even I will applaud you if you do that.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kay

    I have a hard time rating non-fiction, because it creates such a different experience than fiction does. But I've decided to give five stars to books that change my life, and this book came pretty close. I chose this book for its provocative title. I'd never heard of Desmond Tutu. What fascinated me most was that Tutu is a Christian and said God is not a Christian. I thought to myself, "What kind of Christian is he?" I discovered that he is a true Christian and emulates what Christianity should b I have a hard time rating non-fiction, because it creates such a different experience than fiction does. But I've decided to give five stars to books that change my life, and this book came pretty close. I chose this book for its provocative title. I'd never heard of Desmond Tutu. What fascinated me most was that Tutu is a Christian and said God is not a Christian. I thought to myself, "What kind of Christian is he?" I discovered that he is a true Christian and emulates what Christianity should be about - Jesus; specifically, Jesus' teachings against injustice and oppression - his emphasis on sowing love, compassion, and caring. There are several big themes Tutu addresses in this book: religious tolerance, forgiveness, justice, celebrating differences, inclusiveness, human rights, defense of the oppressed, and non-violence. Some of these things Christians in general don't have a very good track record with. He says God cannot be Christian because people before Christ worshiped God. Also, He created all people, and all religions. And God's concern is for all his children, not just Christians. God is not confined to one place, one time, or people. And, if God were a Christian, what was the fate of all those who lived before Jesus was born? Were they punished for not knowing Christ, even though they had no control over it? He also discussed the African concept of "ubuntu," which translates into the concept that we need other human beings for us to learn how to be human. We are different in order to know our need of each other. The intrinsic worth of persons is not dependent on status, race, creed, gender, or achievement. It means being humane, compassionate and gentle, caring. We matter because we are made in the image of God - all of us. This book gave me a lot to think about. It introduced me to a very important person in the history of the world. It made me knowledgeable about huge conflicts occurring in other places, which I didn't know or knew very little about. But mostly, it gave me a huge sense of relief. Finally, someone got it right! Also, by coincidence, I discovered that Desmond Tutu wrote the forward of the next book I had decided to read "Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril." It will be all the more meaningful to me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    Excellent book. This is a collection of Bishop Tutu's speeches and articles in which he addresses the human condition at large and the condition of the South African people in particular both during and after Apartheid. He states frequently that he feels that people of faith need to be on the side of the oppressed, where he believes God is also, and about the shared humanity of all of God's children, regardless of their race, gender, age or sexual orientation. This book is full of much wisdom an Excellent book. This is a collection of Bishop Tutu's speeches and articles in which he addresses the human condition at large and the condition of the South African people in particular both during and after Apartheid. He states frequently that he feels that people of faith need to be on the side of the oppressed, where he believes God is also, and about the shared humanity of all of God's children, regardless of their race, gender, age or sexual orientation. This book is full of much wisdom and great, bottomless compassion and I loved it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Megan Abraham

    Desmond Tutu is a tough guy. Fearless and dedicated to his people, Tutu was a remarkable agent of change during South Africa's apartheid era. In this collection, he aired out his disappointments and warnings against repeating history as the government (as of 2009) began slipping back into familiar waters. He admits to being a repetitive man, and his essays do tend to repeat his frustrations and guidance, but they are no less valuable. His essays will give you a great deal of perspective on what Desmond Tutu is a tough guy. Fearless and dedicated to his people, Tutu was a remarkable agent of change during South Africa's apartheid era. In this collection, he aired out his disappointments and warnings against repeating history as the government (as of 2009) began slipping back into familiar waters. He admits to being a repetitive man, and his essays do tend to repeat his frustrations and guidance, but they are no less valuable. His essays will give you a great deal of perspective on what to fight for and against, whether you are a Christian or an atheist.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jon Gill

    The title is provocative enough (the subtitle is “and other provocations,” after all) to perhaps scare certain kinds of Christians away from this book. However, even if you’re offended by the title, I hope you’ll think twice before you dismiss it. There is a significant group of Christians who need to hear the heart, stories, and messages of Archbishop Tutu. We can all learn not only from what he has to say, but from what he has lived while saying it. My first experience reading Tutu was last yea The title is provocative enough (the subtitle is “and other provocations,” after all) to perhaps scare certain kinds of Christians away from this book. However, even if you’re offended by the title, I hope you’ll think twice before you dismiss it. There is a significant group of Christians who need to hear the heart, stories, and messages of Archbishop Tutu. We can all learn not only from what he has to say, but from what he has lived while saying it. My first experience reading Tutu was last year in the Book of Joy, which involved conversations with fellow octogenarian and BFF the Dalai Lama (and let me highly recommend that book)! So I knew he was a bit of a rascal, provocateur, and had a good sense of humor, while still healing the souls of his listeners and challenging them to a greater love. This book is a collection of sermons and speeches (and a few written works, such as letters) from over several decades, which combine to give a very good picture of his life’s work preaching forgiveness, reconciliation, and social justice. The speeches are fairly short to read – I read them like vignettes or devotionals over coffee in the morning. There is plenty to highlight, and plenty that I learned about my own place in society (coming from a place of comfort and privilege). “Liberation theology” arises out of oppressive situations, and while it may not be the entire “systematic” kind of theology that many people (of privilege) are accustomed to, it has its place as a kind of prophetic and reformative voice within the faith. Indeed, Jesus himself was such a reformer, calling for radical justice from the oppressors, and radical love and forgiveness from the oppressed. Tutu’s message has accomplished much more than just finding its way into a book; this is truly a story of South Africa – its pathway to ending apartheid and healing afterward. His Nobel Peace Prize was well earned. The motivation behind his work has always been this theology – that God is always at work on behalf of the oppressed, and we must be, too. Simple to state, hard to practice – like so many truths! If you’re wondering whether you’ll like this book, I would consider a few things. First, do you approach faith with the heart to turn it into action? Even if you don’t yet know how, this book will inspire you to find ways to bring about justice with your faith. If you’re not a person of faith, you can still learn the value and impact of this kind of active faith. The next thing you’ll want to consider is whether you’re willing to listen to a Nobel Peace Prize winner speak about peace and justice. Do you think what he has to say will be useful? Do you think he has some authority to speak on these topics? You’d be surprised by the naysayers, I think. In one church I used to attend, both liberation theology and Tutu himself were vilified (largely because Tutu identifies as a socialist, which was just TOO MUCH for these hyper-conservative American Christians); however, now that I’ve left that church behind and actually read Tutu for myself, I find his message very compelling and effective. He ruffles feathers everywhere he goes, so while everyone wants to claim him for their own (because of his successes), they also seem quick to drop him when he says the next thing they disagree with (like his positions on Israel and Palestine, which are included in the book). I find parallels with MLK’s unpopular later criticism of the Vietnam War (“stick to Civil Rights!” they’d say) – Tutu just says what he thinks is right to say, and not everyone always listens. But it’s absolutely worth hearing for yourself. You’ll learn a lot about South Africa’s history in this book, but it doesn’t bog you down, and it serves as a good example of how this kind of a faith can be active in political movements, popular or not. We see his struggles and his shrewdness, ultimately leading to successes, but even then he does not rest. Indeed, he is 87 now and still giving what influence he can in global justice, peace, and reconciliation. If you’re looking to inspire your faith into action, check out this book. If you’re not a person of faith, but you want to see how people of faith can be active social justice warriors (and not the opposite), this is also worthwhile. Even for a non-Christian, the messages of love and forgiveness are radical challenges to do things differently than they’ve always been done before. And unlike many theoretical philosophers and theologians, Tutu has the historical credits to back it up.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Denny

    God Is Not a Christian packs quite a wallop for such a small book. Tutu propounds a constant message of forgiveness, tolerance, reconciliation, peace, and above all faith. Reading this collection of speeches and essays made me feel that I am a small, insignificant, moral failure and wish that I had the courage and strength of Tutu’s convictions. I rated it 3 stars instead of 4 solely because Tutu preaches the same message over and over again against a variety of situations (Apartheid, support for God Is Not a Christian packs quite a wallop for such a small book. Tutu propounds a constant message of forgiveness, tolerance, reconciliation, peace, and above all faith. Reading this collection of speeches and essays made me feel that I am a small, insignificant, moral failure and wish that I had the courage and strength of Tutu’s convictions. I rated it 3 stars instead of 4 solely because Tutu preaches the same message over and over again against a variety of situations (Apartheid, support for an transgressive Israeli government, failings of the Middle East peace process, and the flaws and failures of South Africa’s new government following the end of Apartheid) which he freely admits on page 184, writing, “You know that I am repetitive if anything at all.” Still, the repetition makes his message ring out like a bell, like a clarion call of faith, forgiveness, tolerance, and peace. I will definitely read more of Tutu’s writing!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    A real voice of sanity; uncompromisingly and courageously truthful, honest, bold and intelligently biblical. Whether preaching the gospel on justice, ubuntu (not the computer O.S!) inclusivity, diversity, apartheid, Judaeo-Palestinian relations, Black theology, African colonial history, Nicaragua or politics in general this man had fire and steel in his belly, truth on his tongue and love and compassion in his heart. I would like to hear him, or somebody of his caliber speaking like this into to A real voice of sanity; uncompromisingly and courageously truthful, honest, bold and intelligently biblical. Whether preaching the gospel on justice, ubuntu (not the computer O.S!) inclusivity, diversity, apartheid, Judaeo-Palestinian relations, Black theology, African colonial history, Nicaragua or politics in general this man had fire and steel in his belly, truth on his tongue and love and compassion in his heart. I would like to hear him, or somebody of his caliber speaking like this into today's world issues! In fact I can't speak highly enough of this anthology of historical writings, lectures and sermons. So I'll just add a couple of excerpts from the chapter entitled 'Why Black?';Jesus Christ, in a real sense, was not any and every man. To have been really and truly man he had to be a particular man, born of a particular woman at a particular time and in a particular place. Only thus could he then be universalized, but with considerable caution because some things he did and said were relative and much harm has happened to the Christian enterprise in attempting to make absolute the relative. The divine kinosis (self-emptying) had to occur for the incarnation to be God really truly becoming man. And always God left himself open to being misunderstood Black theology is attempting to do for a significant sector of Christianity precisely what the biblical authors were doing for the communities to which they addressed themselves. Since the occasions were various, the theologies which were produced and recorded in the Bible are themselves varied. Because of their particularity they must of necessity display a rich diversity. Who can seriously argue that the New Testament would be greatly improved if the four Gospels had been thoroughly harmonized into one account? Or that the books of Job and Ruth do not add a necessary counterbalance to Ezra- Nehemiah? That we do not on the whole possess in the Bible a far more wonderful thing with prophecy cheek by jowl with apocalypse, each genre with its own particular brand of theology? We risk losing a splendid richness if we decry the existence of many varied theologies in pursuing our desire for a premature universality and unity. Biblical unity comes not out of a uniformity of style or understanding, but from being centered on God's action in human history, on the record of this activity and of man's understanding of, distortion of, and response to this activity

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sean Goh

    God is clearly not a Christian. His concern is for all his children. There is a Jewish story which says that soon after the Egyptians drowned in the Red Sea, while the Israelites were celebrating, God accosted them and demanded, "How can you rejoice when my children have drowned?" It surely must be more sensible to maintain that God was, and is, accessible to all his human creatures and that people did have a real encounter with this God before the Christian dispensation. Ubuntu is the essence of God is clearly not a Christian. His concern is for all his children. There is a Jewish story which says that soon after the Egyptians drowned in the Red Sea, while the Israelites were celebrating, God accosted them and demanded, "How can you rejoice when my children have drowned?" It surely must be more sensible to maintain that God was, and is, accessible to all his human creatures and that people did have a real encounter with this God before the Christian dispensation. Ubuntu is the essence of being human. It speaks of how my humanity is caught up and inextricably bound up in yours : "I am because I belong." A person is only a person through other persons. When people quarreled in the traditional setting, the main intention was not to punish the miscreant but to restore good relations (restorative, not punitive justice). It holds that all can be redeemed. God is on the side of the poor and oppressed. In negotiations, any group no matter how small, if they have grievances real or perceived, must not feel excluded; otherwise peace will remain a dream. Some things Christ did and said were relative and much harm has happened to the Christian enterprise in attempting to make absolute the relative. Always, God left himself open to being misunderstood. The autheticity of my vertical relationship with God is expressed for me and tested out by my relationship with my neighbour (horizontal dimension). "Improve your argument, don't raise your voice."

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    I really went back and forth between 3 & 4 on this and eventually came down on the side of a high 3.5. This book was not actually written by Tutu as a comprehensive whole. These are selected (by someone else) writings on particular topics with a foreword by Bishop Tutu himself. My problem is more with the structure than the content, which was both good and intriguing. It did feel like the format of the book got in the way. It was like somebody was going to do a dissertation on Tutu's views and g I really went back and forth between 3 & 4 on this and eventually came down on the side of a high 3.5. This book was not actually written by Tutu as a comprehensive whole. These are selected (by someone else) writings on particular topics with a foreword by Bishop Tutu himself. My problem is more with the structure than the content, which was both good and intriguing. It did feel like the format of the book got in the way. It was like somebody was going to do a dissertation on Tutu's views and gathered the quotes and material, put them in order and then forgot to write the narrative that ties it all together. Some of the selections were quite short and it almost felt like you were stumbling over them. It did whet my appetite to read more of his writings, including the book about the Truth Commissions. Lustration is something that has interested me for a while and I'm interested in learning more of the South African experience from Tutu's insider role. I also found his faith sections very interesting -- his take on universalism intrigues me. Normally, I don't downgrade this much for structure but it really did feel like it got in the way of the content.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    God Is Not a Christian: And Other Provocations smarts as whiplash and stings like a stirred-up honeybee colony. It is a black is beautiful and bold book, a captivating and courageous collection of sermons and speeches that cuts through the crap, that pokes, probes, and provokes all of us so-called Christians, culturally conditioned by premises of position and privilege, particularly from First World status in the West, to put into real and serious question and reformulation our crusty/dusty/encr God Is Not a Christian: And Other Provocations smarts as whiplash and stings like a stirred-up honeybee colony. It is a black is beautiful and bold book, a captivating and courageous collection of sermons and speeches that cuts through the crap, that pokes, probes, and provokes all of us so-called Christians, culturally conditioned by premises of position and privilege, particularly from First World status in the West, to put into real and serious question and reformulation our crusty/dusty/encrusted versions/vessels of Christianity and the corrupted/corruptive political powers in desperate and dire need of the proper care and corrective of poetic-prophetic voices who advocate and champion the pariah and the impoverished, the weak and the destitute. Indeed, Desmond Tutu is a rabble-rouser and radical for racial reconciliation and reformation and real relational revolution.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of Desmond Tutu speeches, put together with important linking explanations by John Allen. Like Tutu's God, I am not a Christian and I wondered if I would find a whole book of his religious perspective too difficult. However, it was both tremendously accessible and a great advert for Bible studies... as he says at one point"Let's read Bibles again, because they're the most explosive things ever" It was fascinating to revisit South African history... especially I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of Desmond Tutu speeches, put together with important linking explanations by John Allen. Like Tutu's God, I am not a Christian and I wondered if I would find a whole book of his religious perspective too difficult. However, it was both tremendously accessible and a great advert for Bible studies... as he says at one point"Let's read Bibles again, because they're the most explosive things ever" It was fascinating to revisit South African history... especially as I took this book out a few days before Nelson Mandela's death... for all that some of his great hope has, with good reason, turned sour. He has such a distinctive voice that it was impossible not to hear him inside my head as I read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Thom

    I was a little disappointed with this, hoping that it would be more specifically about the provocative issue of interfaith dialog. But that was my fault due to a misreading of the title. So rather than being inspired or provoked, my curiosity was satiated regarding Bishop Tutu's role during the South African revolution. I taught about apartheid early in my teaching career and to witness the transformation as it occurred was marvelous. Bishop Tutu is noteworthy for holding both sides up for criti I was a little disappointed with this, hoping that it would be more specifically about the provocative issue of interfaith dialog. But that was my fault due to a misreading of the title. So rather than being inspired or provoked, my curiosity was satiated regarding Bishop Tutu's role during the South African revolution. I taught about apartheid early in my teaching career and to witness the transformation as it occurred was marvelous. Bishop Tutu is noteworthy for holding both sides up for criticism, maintaining standards of behavior for all those in power. He reminds all of our accountability to God for our treatment of the poor and outsider.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    When I read the title of this book God is Not a Christian: And Other Provocations, I remember thinking in the bookstore that I am in for another treat from Archbishop Tutu. What I love most about the theology of Tutu is the emphasis on God's inclusiveness. Tutu reminds us that God is about love and justice. It saddens me how some religious entities have used God as a weapon to alienate groups of people, and cause a spirit of divisiveness that is anything but Godly. Thank Goodness that the theolo When I read the title of this book God is Not a Christian: And Other Provocations, I remember thinking in the bookstore that I am in for another treat from Archbishop Tutu. What I love most about the theology of Tutu is the emphasis on God's inclusiveness. Tutu reminds us that God is about love and justice. It saddens me how some religious entities have used God as a weapon to alienate groups of people, and cause a spirit of divisiveness that is anything but Godly. Thank Goodness that the theology of Tutu is available to anyone, anywhere, to help us recognize our interconnectedness through God.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sandy H

    I only gave this 3 stars not because of Archbishop Tutu's words but because of the format of the book. I may not have read descriptions carefully but I thought this was going to be entire sermons/speeches and was disappointed to find that it was merely excerpts strung together around basic themes. I enjoyed reading his words but I had difficulty really getting into the book as I kept feeling like I was getting cut off mid-thought and being hustled along to the next excerpt the author wanted me t I only gave this 3 stars not because of Archbishop Tutu's words but because of the format of the book. I may not have read descriptions carefully but I thought this was going to be entire sermons/speeches and was disappointed to find that it was merely excerpts strung together around basic themes. I enjoyed reading his words but I had difficulty really getting into the book as I kept feeling like I was getting cut off mid-thought and being hustled along to the next excerpt the author wanted me to read. Still n' all, it was a good overview of Tutu's thoughts and words. I just didn't get as much out of this book as I'd hoped.

  18. 5 out of 5

    David

    When people meet a man or woman of spirit, peace or national leadership, the reaction is almost always the same; there is an aura about these men and women that exudes power, confidence and leadership. I have not had the honor of sitting in the presence of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, but believe he, too, meets this criterion. So when I had the opportunity to review a collection of his speeches and letters, I jumped at it. Read more: http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/revie... (Release date May 3, 2011 When people meet a man or woman of spirit, peace or national leadership, the reaction is almost always the same; there is an aura about these men and women that exudes power, confidence and leadership. I have not had the honor of sitting in the presence of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, but believe he, too, meets this criterion. So when I had the opportunity to review a collection of his speeches and letters, I jumped at it. Read more: http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/revie... (Release date May 3, 2011)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    The world has plenty of freedom fighters, but how do these people act once they're in power? Archbishop Tutu sets an example of incredible forgiveness towards the terrorists and tyrants he opposed, as well as the integrity to criticize and preach to his allies and compatriots. This book contains an edited selection of writings from several decades of Tutu's career, letting you trace the themes of reconciliation, non-violence and concern for the poor through the many contexts Tutu wrote and spoke The world has plenty of freedom fighters, but how do these people act once they're in power? Archbishop Tutu sets an example of incredible forgiveness towards the terrorists and tyrants he opposed, as well as the integrity to criticize and preach to his allies and compatriots. This book contains an edited selection of writings from several decades of Tutu's career, letting you trace the themes of reconciliation, non-violence and concern for the poor through the many contexts Tutu wrote and spoke in. A very powerful book - and a challenge that says "yes, is *is* possible to act this way."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Danial Tanvir

    This is actually a book by Demond Tutu. in the start of the book the author asks the question that "where is god in a world where all these bad things are happening"?. it is about Christianity and about Christians and about how god is not a Christain. it is about the Desmond tutu who is a priest and who won the nobel prize and about his life. he is from south Africa and this book is actually about nelson Mandela , south Africa and it is about the apartheid. I read this book in 2 to 3 days as it was a This is actually a book by Demond Tutu. in the start of the book the author asks the question that "where is god in a world where all these bad things are happening"?. it is about Christianity and about Christians and about how god is not a Christain. it is about the Desmond tutu who is a priest and who won the nobel prize and about his life. he is from south Africa and this book is actually about nelson Mandela , south Africa and it is about the apartheid. I read this book in 2 to 3 days as it was a very short read!.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Georgiana

    If I could give this more than five stars, I would in a heartbeat. If I could have lunch with any living famous person, it would be Tutu. And if you've ever wondered why a supposedly bright, definitely disruptive woman like me might choose to follow Christian teachings, read this and you'll get it. Tutu has no qualms whatsoever about calling the powerful to account, and his methods and reasons for doing so are inextricably connected to his faith. If I could give this more than five stars, I would in a heartbeat. If I could have lunch with any living famous person, it would be Tutu. And if you've ever wondered why a supposedly bright, definitely disruptive woman like me might choose to follow Christian teachings, read this and you'll get it. Tutu has no qualms whatsoever about calling the powerful to account, and his methods and reasons for doing so are inextricably connected to his faith.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Schatschneider

    I had a few minutes to kill while waiting for a friend who was late for lunch, and found this at the bookstore next to the restaurant. Thinking it might provide some good material for my speechwriting duties, I picked it up - and was immediately drawn in. I can't wait to have another interlude when I can pick it up again! I had a few minutes to kill while waiting for a friend who was late for lunch, and found this at the bookstore next to the restaurant. Thinking it might provide some good material for my speechwriting duties, I picked it up - and was immediately drawn in. I can't wait to have another interlude when I can pick it up again!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Martinus

    Archbishop Tutu's theological starting point is that all human beings are created in the image of God leading to his continued emphasis on tolerance, respect and justice. In this very readable book a collection of Tutu's speeches, lectures and sermons drives the consistency of his message home, no matter whom the audience is. Archbishop Tutu's theological starting point is that all human beings are created in the image of God leading to his continued emphasis on tolerance, respect and justice. In this very readable book a collection of Tutu's speeches, lectures and sermons drives the consistency of his message home, no matter whom the audience is.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bobby

    My great respect for Desmond Tutu is solidified even more through reading this book. I don't know anyone who represents Christ so fearlessly and lovingly as this amazing man. These various speeches and talks are supplemented with bits of background info to provide context thereby making this a great read as inspiration or as a bit of history. Well done. My great respect for Desmond Tutu is solidified even more through reading this book. I don't know anyone who represents Christ so fearlessly and lovingly as this amazing man. These various speeches and talks are supplemented with bits of background info to provide context thereby making this a great read as inspiration or as a bit of history. Well done.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gary Ross-Jordan

    I found it very repetitive and at times the issues were not explored in depth. This is a problem I think with the chosen excerpts and not the speaker. Whilst the issues raised are enagaging the lack of depth in this book switches one off which is sad as the archbishop certainly has plenty of worth to say and be noted.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    There are some beautiful, eloquent and powerful passages here. However, I can't reconcile some of the theological ideas he presents and I'm not sure which is the real Tutu. Interesting and provocative read, nevertheless. There are some beautiful, eloquent and powerful passages here. However, I can't reconcile some of the theological ideas he presents and I'm not sure which is the real Tutu. Interesting and provocative read, nevertheless.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This book is very interesting, but it is so deep that I can only read bits at a time. I started high-lighting the sections I considered especially important. Now most of what I've read so far is high-lighted! This book is very interesting, but it is so deep that I can only read bits at a time. I started high-lighting the sections I considered especially important. Now most of what I've read so far is high-lighted!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Neal Lemery

    Tutu's devout spirituality and great insight into Scripture are tools he uses to provoke the reader into thinking outside of the usual frame of reference on our beliefs. He calls each of us to action, and challenges our prejudices and our thinking. He is a breath of fresh air in this genre. Tutu's devout spirituality and great insight into Scripture are tools he uses to provoke the reader into thinking outside of the usual frame of reference on our beliefs. He calls each of us to action, and challenges our prejudices and our thinking. He is a breath of fresh air in this genre.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    An amazing man with some great thoughts. It gets a little dry at times, but it's well worth the effort. An amazing man with some great thoughts. It gets a little dry at times, but it's well worth the effort.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    Inspiring! Encouraged me to speak up for myself and others with more courage.

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