“Ngo isi imeze nabi cyan” / “The world conducts itself very badly”

July 4 is Liberation Day in Rwanda, and while it coincides with the beginning of the end of the genocide that killed a million (or 70% of) Tutsi persons in a hundred day slaughter from April to July 1994, “liberation” did not bring an end to the violence. In April 1995, the Tutsi-majority “Rwanda Patriotic Army” conducted a massacre against Hutu in a displaced persons camp in Kibeho. 

The Australian artist George Gittoes was at the camp, accompanying Australian Defence Forces in their part in the United Nations mission in the country, and he painted the harrowing “The Preacher” based on what he witnessed—a man reading to others from the New Testament as the killing took place around them. 

Strangely, Kibeho had been since the early 1980s a place where marian apparitions were located, some depicting the Virgin Mary not only announcing that “the world conducts itself very badly,” but in disturbing dialogue with her devotees about rivers of blood, the country on fire, and people slaughtering one another.

Today Kibeho is a place of pilgrimage:

George Gittoes won the Blake Prize for Religious Art for “The Preacher,” of which there are several close variants, one of which hangs in the chapel of Ridley College, Melbourne, an image that confronts those training for ministry each time they gather for worship.

Read Rod Pattenden on George Gittoes’ art here: and here:

The Blake Prize:

The Kibeho massacre:

Images below: The Kibeho Shrine and Our Lady of Kibeho,

Feminist readings of the Bible

Talitha Fraser’s photo essay of last week’s day seminar of the Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies is now online:

Pilgrim Theological College was packed for the event with Adela Yarbro Collins from Yale Divinity School, USA, Gerald West from KwaZulu-Natal University, South Africa, Jione Havea from Trinity Methodist College, Aotearoa New Zealand, Rachelle Gilmour from the University of Sydney, as well as a wealth of scholarship from the University of Divinity with Angela Sawyer from Sterling Theological College, and Carolyn Alsen and Dorothy Lee from Trinity College Theological School all giving papers. Katharine Massam and Coralie Ling led prayer.

Yarbro Collins marshalled evidence of women’s leadership in early Christian tradition, and a number of the other speakers explored difficult biblical texts that do not always make their way into lectionary sequences or contexts of worship. Their explorations of the troublesome texts involved calls to both “re-read and re-write the Bible” (West)—hence Havea and West’s embrace of the biblical genre of letter writing for their presentations.

Thank you, Talitha.