SOUTH AFRICAN CHURCHES IN A REVOLUTIONARY SITUATION by Marjorie & James Young Hope

SOUTH AFRICAN CHURCHES IN A REVOLUTIONARY SITUATION

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

An artless, informative, highly partisan (how not?) report on the ways local churches and clergy are dealing, or not dealing, with the impossible mess in South Africa. Hope and Young are Christian leftists, pro-revolution but anti-violence, and while they both teach sociology (Wilmington College, Ohio), their book makes no pretense to technical analysis. It offers, instead: a useful historical outline, from the first settlement of the Dutch East India Company in 1652, to the militant demonstrations by Coloreds in 1980; a detailed, if occasionally tedious Who's Who in the religious resistance to apartheid; brief but often frank and revealing interviews with a broad spectrum of church leaders and other activists--the radical Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu, the plucky and relatively apolitical Congregationalist minister Unez Smuts (whose efforts to feed the black poor have led to narrow escapes from white assassins), the powerful and controversial Zulu chief Gatsha Buthelezi, etc. Hope and Young obviously know the ecclesiastical territory of South Africa. The reader may protest when they insist on guiding him through an impenetrable thicket of denominational congresses and committees (at least 75, with their obscure English or Afrikaans acronyms), but there's no explaining the country's ongoing racist nightmare without an understanding of the NGK (Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk, the bulwark of the white establishment). And there's probably no chance of ending it without the help of reform-minded bodies like the SACC (South African Council of Churches): Christianity, of whatever sort, is simply too much a part of the fabric of South African life. Hope and Young conclude with a guarded prognosis, hoping that the charity and incredible patience of native Christians will prevail, while admitting the growing likelihood of a bloodbath. A modest but real contribution.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Orbis