I don’t know about you, but I am now hooked by the word “JOY”. I was thinking of people I may know who in my opinion are “joyful” and Arch. Desmond Tutu (who recently died) came to my mind, and then the Dalai Lama, because at the end of the day, they wrote a book on “Joy”. I was going to write, but actually, I think sharing this transcript of the conversation Arch Tutu had with Krista Tippet in her radio show Onbeing in 2010 is way better… (If you google, you can find the audio).
Tippett: You know, you told a story at a conference in 1990 about a man during the apartheid era, and of his village that had been demolished. People were being uprooted, and he prayed, Thank you, God, for loving us. And you wrote, “I’ve never understood that prayer.” But I think people might look at you and the life you’ve lived, and also, you know, the bad things that continue to happen in South Africa and the rest of the world, and say, This guy says this is a moral universe? And there’s this line that you’ve just echoed — you’ve written this so many times — “God is in charge.” And they might also say, How can he say that? I mean, tell me, you’ve been saying “God is in charge” for a long time; for decades. And so what do you mean when you say that, and has what that means to you, has that changed? Has that evolved?
Tutu:[laughs] Well, I mean, you must add that I’ve sometimes said to God, It would be nice for you to make it slightly more obvious that you’re in charge. [laughs]
But don’t you believe this? I mean, when you encounter somebody good — just take the Dalai Lama.
Tippett:Right, your friend, the Dalai Lama.
Tutu:Yes. Just take the Dalai Lama. Now, this is someone who’s been in exile for over 50 years. How should he really be? I mean, he’s missing his beloved Tibet. He’s missing his people. He’s been made to live a life that he wouldn’t really want to live. By rights, I mean, when you meet him you expect somebody who is bitter; who, if you mention the Chinese, will wish the worst possible to happen to them.
But you meet him, he’s actually quite mischievous. He’s fun. He’s laughing. And people flock to hear him. And, you know, he doesn’t even speak English properly, you know. [laughs]
Tippett:And they still flock to hear him.
Tutu:No, no, I mean, I must tell you, I’m not — no, no, actually, I’m not jealous. But, I mean, look at the number — I mean, he can fill Central Park.
Tippett:So this is another question I wanted to ask you. I’ve talked about how has your sense of reconciliation developed. How has your sense of Christian truth evolved through experiences you’ve had, coming out of apartheid with the Nobel Peace Prize — for example, your friendship with the Dalai Lama, this great Tibetan Buddhist leader?
Tutu:Do you really think that God would say, “Dalai Lama, you really are a great guy, man. What a shame you’re not a Christian”? [laughs] I somehow don’t think so. I think God is just thrilled, because no faith, not even the Christian faith, can ever encompass God or even be able to communicate who God is. Only God can do that.
Tippett:This is a big subject to introduce right here at the end, but does it strike you — the irony that, in many ways, the British were very complicit in this 300 years that your country is now recovering from, and you are an archbishop in the Anglican Church?
Tutu:Isn’t that an example of God’s sense of humor?
God is just thrilled, Loves,