A group calling itself “Africa for Norway” has created a brilliant sendup of the way Western efforts to aid the Global South tend to suggest that every solution to Africa’s problem will come from the outside—specifically, from the largesse and good intentions of individual Westerners. You alone can help save a whole continent, we are told time and again.
This satire of our cliched fantasies of magnanimity applies with particular sharpness to the Christian church. Our future is especially tied to that of the rising Global South, and it is likely to be a future not of one-sided dependence but very much one of mutual reliance. Vocations, prayers, confirmations have welled up in the Africa and elsewhere in the developing world even while going dry in Europe and North America. The heart of the Church continues to inch south.
Despite all this, as Philip Jenkins observed in his 2006 Erasmus Lecture, we still tend to misunderstand those on whom our future depends:
For both the Liberation Dream and the Conservative Dream, the new South has seemed useful, politically and rhetorically. Each, in its different way, expects the southern churches to reproduce western obsessions and approaches rather than to evolve their own distinctive solutions to their own particular problems.
In time, we Western Christians—whether in Norway or North America—really will depend on our brothers and sisters in the Global South. Africa for Norway indeed!
via Brandon Watson