Tuesday, January 16, 2007

When the 3 Legs Intertangle. . .

"It's as if by our ... tragic history that we've ... lost a sense of purpose for life. That's why it's so easy to destroy life," Kagame said in an interview with The Orange County Register. "Grasping the meaning of life ... is more relevant for our society than any other."

Still, Kagame says the most important aspect of the PEACE plan is its practical assistance.

The measure of progress "is by seeing the incomes of ordinary people go up, by being able to meet the basics of daily needs," he says.

Kagame also says Saddleback has been "extremely useful" in connecting Rwanda's tourism and investment sectors to influential decision-makers in the West.

Warren "has already connected us with a lot of people," says Kagame. "He's been telling different investors and people who lead powerful institutions … about Rwanda."
("The Pastor and the President," Gwendolyn Driscoll, Orange County Register, 12/24/06.) [emphasis added]

In the utopian world of the 3-legged stool, described in the previous post, the statements above might seem like an ideal situation. Each leg of the stool is helping to support the other two legs in ways that are beneficial and complementary. A poor and war-torn African nation is assisted by the institutions of the western nations which try to rebuild it. In the lexicon of the internationalists this is known as "nation-building."

Rwanda has already been called the world's first Purpose-Driven nation. What exactly does this mean?

It means that the idealistic views of a perfect "Society" held by Peter Drucker, the business guru, are being applied in real-time to a tattered nation on the continent of Africa.

But Drucker's ideas weren't all that utopian in real life. In fact, his schemes place heavy burdens upon individuals and groups in his "Society."

Elsewhere on this blog many posts have covered the mentoring relationship between Peter Drucker and Rick Warren. It is therefore of interest that a recent article in the Orange County Register sends up some red flags about what could be happening in Rwanda.

1. There is a "measure of progress" mentioned in the quotation above. In Drucker's system there are assessments, measurements, and performance criteria. By whose standards will progress for Rwanda be judged? By western internationalist agencies, NGOs, philanthropic organizations, the UN Millennium Development Goals, Saddleback, multinational corporations? The list could go on and on.

The Orange County Register article takes notice of the authoritarian style of governance that emerges from this rewards and penalties structure, and corresponding ethical issues that arise by bringing in missionaries to assist the endeavor:

"The former director of military intelligence for neighboring Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has brought stability to Rwanda but also an authoritarian style of governance that worries nongovernmental organizations and human-rights observers. By working so closely with Kagame, they say, Warren and his teams of PEACE missionaries may be unwittingly playing politics."

2. The plan is to turn Rwanda into a "knowledge-based economy," which by Drucker's definition requires that people be measured by the criteria of "knowledge capital," a virulent form of "human capital" in which one's worth to "Society" is based upon their training and ability to perform in an economically productive manner. The Orange County Register article points out that:

"A concept paper distributed by the Rwandan government in 2002 laid the ambitious goal of transforming Rwanda, a country of subsistence farmers living on less than a dollar a day, into a 'knowledge-based economy' by the year 2020."

3. Africa is ripe for exploitation. Who is to say that bringing in these "investors" or "people who lead powerful institutions" will actually benefit the little people? What strings come with the investments? Who profits? The Orange County Register article reports on the power-brokering going on:

"I've actually sat down with presidents in Africa ... and my first question is, 'Are you going to rip me off?' " says Warren. "And I say: 'I have the ability to bring in resources and investments. We're certainly not going to come in here if you're just going ... put it in a Swiss bank account.'"

4. What does it mean to have a Purpose-Driven nation? What about freedom of religion? There are some disturbing indications that there is a weird new hybrid of church and state manifesting:

"KIGALI, Rwanda – In the reception area outside Rwandan President Paul Kagame's offices – in the second of several reception areas patrolled by armed guards – a television entertains guests with an American drama about Jesus.

"Inside, Kagame, a tall, matchstick-thin man whose elegant suit hangs on him like a sail, greets visitors on a gilded chair.

"The contrast of external piety and internal power is perhaps apt. During the past year, Rwanda's powerful president has embarked on an uncommon partnership with Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren and his global PEACE plan, an effort to link churches in networks of evangelism and practical good works."

To understand the significance of this, read to the end of the OC Register article:

"There may be other reasons why Kagame has welcomed evangelical churches like Saddleback to his country.

"Before the war, most Hutus belonged to the Catholic Church, an institution used by both Belgian colonists and the past Hutu-dominated regime as an instrument of state power. Today, the association of Catholicism with the Hutu majority remains, despite uneven efforts by the Catholic Church to atone for its actions.

"Meanwhile, Rutayisire and other evangelicals hold prayer breakfasts and Bible studies for Rwanda's leaders and have participated in rallies for Kagame during the 2003 elections. Protestant churches are the primary beneficiaries of the PEACE plan, as the Catholic Church, citing concerns about 'the clarity of people's intentions' has stayed away.

"The concern, observers say, is that by working exclusively with churches whose leadership is in large part associated with the Tutsi elite, Saddleback Church may be making a political contribution as well as a social one."

The questions raised above barely scratch the surface. Here is one man's church -- set to go global in scope -- doing "mission" work by nation-building in a potentially volatile country in Africa by employing results-driven standards, according to unknown criteria, with hidden players harboring unspecified motives who stand to profit greatly by their "investments."

The Truth:

"When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat."
(Proverbs 23:1-3)