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The Day The Donald Took The Throne
Friday 20th January 2017 @ 8:15 am

On the day The Donald took the throne in USA, my own day began with readings & reflections on the throne of Egypt in the time of Moses. It’s tough to read it … God deliberately intervenes to harden hearts; animals & harvests get wiped out, several times; destruction upon destruction is amplified; finally the first born of every home (with the text deliberately pointing out that the first born of the throne is not exempt) are slaughered. It is quite a narrative – and without making exegetical comment, I simply note that Walter Bruggermann reminds us this text speaks of the freedom of YHWH to be YHWH. The human on the throne, is not YHWH, YHWH is – and YWHW is ‘wild untamed unfettered and free.’

In a timely ironic paradox, Martin McGuinness last night announced he will not fight another election. He has stepped off the throne in wee Northern Ireland, and he’s taking on another fight, this time for his life.

Martin has fought a lot. At times in his wild life, he has been steeped in violence, hatred, sectarianism and bitter injustice. He has been jailed for it. This man really did hate his enemies.
And as he stood outside his home last evening, addressing an impromptu public gathering, there was real emotion and pain in his voice as he spoke about a heartbreaking choice to fight politically no more.

But he doesn’t have to. He has been part of a quite remarkable chapter in Irish history. A gunman turned conciliator. One who was hated and feared, turned into one respected maybe even admired. One who shared the throne with his ‘other’ and historically held out his hand to the Queen of England – his ultimate ‘other.’ A hard man, who somehow managed to bring violent republicanism to the negotiation table and then into government, in Britain. A man who today is hearing historic enemies thank him for his work toward peace.

Thrones can be used for good.

Two nights ago, I shook hands with a gentleman who won a Nobel Peace Prize.

FW De Klerk negotiated the release from prison of Nelson Mandela, and created a constitution, along with Mandela, that gave the chance for South Africa to experience reconciliation and a journey toward prosperity and healing.

I took my moment – I don’t speak with Nobel Peace Prize winners very often. I told him about our work with Space to Breathe, and about getting students together to engage their ‘other.’ And I asked him what his experience taught him were the most important aspects of peace–building. He didn’t hesitate.

He told me you have to take risks. “You can’t have all the work done before you achieve what you desire – you have to risk as you walk forward.”

There’s something beautiful about hearing the word ‘risk’ in a South African accent.

He then added, “And you must trust. Trust the process, trust that the risk is worth taking. And maybe trust your opponent – risk and trust.”

Seems to me that thrones are dangerous places. Those who sit on them can so easily be wrapped up in power–plays, megalomania, unreality and voracity. The things of destruction upon destruction.

Yet it doesn’t have to be this way.

Thrones can also be used to advance reconciliation, justice, hope and positive transformation.

But it takes risk. And it takes trust.

Well done Martin – the risk and trust has helped move us forward … well done President De Klerk – you’re contribution has been massive.
Come on Donald.
Surprise us.


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