TO most people, rainbows are nature's prisms of colors observed
after a rainstorm.
To Desmond Tutu, the Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, rainbows
are symbols: of peace and reconciliation; of coming prosperity; and
most of all, a symbol of what is possible in racially divided
"It is to say if this incredibly unlikely bunch of people in
South Africa of different races, different cultures, different
religions can begin to cohere as one community, then it must be the
case that everywhere that will be something that can happen, that
really all of us are ultimately the rainbow people of God," Dr.
Tutu said in a recent interview in New York.
Yes, "the rainbow people of God" is part of the name of the
archbishop's new book ("The Rainbow People of God: The Making of
a Peaceful Revolution," see review, right), but it is also the way
Tutu sees his fellow countrymen. "At home in South Africa I have
sometimes said in big meetings where you have black and white
together: `Raise your hands!' Then I've said, `Move your hands,'
and I've said, `Look at your hands - different colors representing
different people. You are the rainbow people of God,' " Tutu said
in 1991 while preaching at the remote town of Tromso in Norway.
Behind Tutu's rainbow is the Bible. It sustained him through the
dark days when it seemed that apartheid would always remain. The
Bible's assertions "are quite startling," he says. Startling?
"You know, the thing about being created in the image of God."
This assertion he believes "was the most subversive thing you
could ever come up with" since it refutes any claims of superior
worth because of a biological attribute. But, for Tutu, the Bible
did more than just destroy apartheid's racial superiority claims.
It was a comforter. No matter how bleak the situation appeared,
"you didn't lose God's word, God was in charge."
To Tutu, God is not neutral; rather, God is biased, "always on
the side of those who don't deserve it - the weak, the oppressed,
but also the sinners."
In fact, Tutu believes many Christians misunderstand their
faith. "We tend to turn the Christian religion into a religion of
virtues," he explains, "but it is a religion of grace - you
become a good person because you are loved. You are not loved
because you are good."
Tutu considers the history of Christianity "the goriest you can
think of" with countless wars between Christians. …