'Dudus next to God'
By Pastor Devon Dick:
On Thursday last, an unnamed woman expressed solidarity with Christopher 'Dudus' Coke by stating that "Dudus next to God." This affirmation portrays how she perceived both God and Dudus.
Some Christians might find it an affront to God. And it is hardly likely that the churches that will be observing Trinity Sunday in three days time will have such a formulation as they try to explain God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. But it appears to me that this woman was mouthing a concept of God, to which some sections of the church have unwittingly ascribed. Obviously, for her, God is someone who destroys the enemies, dispenses justice quickly without going through legal human channels, provides for them and protects them. And apparently, Dudus has similar attributes. One woman proclaimed that she has six children and Dudus is the godfather, while another testified that she can leave her door open and her children are not raped.
This concept of God is not empowering and definitely one-dimensional. Rather it makes people passive, expecting handouts only. It is a mentality in some sections of the church in which the main philosophy is to give a fish rather than teaching the person to fish. It is a mendicancy syndrome. Therefore, some churches take pride in announcing what they can hand out to persons on the margins rather than challenging the economic system which impoverishes those on the periphery. And there is a similar mentality in our political system in which politicians boast in Parliament how much handouts are given for school fees, to bury dead and to feed people through the Constituency Development Fund.
Hiding behind prayer
Some sections of the church use prayer in this passive role of doing nothing but only waiting on God to do everything. Therefore, as we listen to the prayers to God about our crisis, it is always telling God what to do, as if God does not know the gravity of the crisis, rather than seeking the will of God concerning our role in confronting the tribulations.
So we would rather pray for more rain than build more dams, and channel more rivers to dams and engage in better stewardship of water. We would rather pray to God about the high murder rate rather than have God induce courage to telephone Crime Stop.
And most of our gospel music is not wrestling with issues of economic justice and equality of all. Not even Rastafarian singers will chant, "Get up, stand for your rights".
The Church has largely moved away from an activist role in society. In Rebellion to Riot: The Jamaican Church in Nation Building (2002), I showed that pre-Independence (1962) the Church was leading in nation building in the areas of economic empowerment, educating the people and holistic concept of evangelism, etc. And in the concluding chapter I suggested that we need to return to that activist role.
The Church needs to admit that the theologising that claimed that "Dudus next to God" is a reflection of the failure of sections of the church to present the proper attributes of God. God must be shown also as a God of justice who rewards the righteous and empowers persons to live a life of service and sacrifice, as well as punishes the wicked for their evil deeds.
Let us not blame so much the unnamed woman for the affirmation "Dudus next to God", but perceive it as an indictment on the church which often engages in cowardice and inaction rather than confronting evil and turning the city upside down (Acts 17:6), and serving God rather than man (Acts 5:29).
Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church and author of 'The Cross and the Machete: Native Baptists of Jamaica - Identity, Ministry and Legacy'. Feedback may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 27, 2010