Archbishop Tutu: A Real Man, Christian and Human Being

Today, Archbishop Tutu of South Africa died at the age of 90.  He was a champion of the struggle for justice in circumstances that were trying and terrible.  I speak of course of the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa.   He was a spiritual warrior, a religious leader, a humanitarian, a man of courage, character and humor.

Archbishop Tutu at the Skoll World Forum discussing leadership. Originally posted to Flickr by Skoll Foundation.

Recipient of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent opposition against the white rulers of oppression, Tutu was praised by the current President Cyril Ramaphosa, for “distinguishing himself as a non-sectarian, inclusive champion of universal human rights.”

He stood up for gay rights, for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and in opposition to the Iraq War.  

In a speech in 2013, he said: I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this.  I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven.  No, I would say sorry.  I mean I would much rather go to the other place.  I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaking on behalf of LGBTQIA+ rights. Originally posted to YouTube by UN Human Rights.

About injustice, he said.  “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.  If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

And a warning: “Perpetrators don’t have horns, don’t have tails, they are as ordinary looking as you and I.  The people who supported Hitler were not demons, they were often very respectable peoples.”  

His humor shows here: “We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven.  God has a soft spot for sinners.  His standards are quite low.”

May “Arch” find plenty of surprises where he now resides; and may we call on him as an ancestor, remembering this wise, down-to-earth, plain-speaking, truth-telling, courageous spiritual warrior, a fine example of the sacred masculine in our midst.


See Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality; Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth.  And Fox, A Spirituality Named Compassion. 

To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Archbishop Tutu greeting a crowd of South Africans. Originally posted to Flickr by Johan Wessels.

Queries for Contemplation

Spend time with the teachings above from Archbishop Tutu.  How do they speak to your heart and to your work in the world?  Research others as well.  What do they tell you about the healthy, as opposed to the toxic, masculine in us all?

Recommended Reading

Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

A Spirituality Named Compassion: Uniting Mystical Awareness with Social Justice

In A Spirituality Named Compassion, Matthew Fox delivers a profound exploration of the meaning and practice of compassion. Establishing a spirituality for the future that promises personal, social, and global healing, Fox marries mysticism with social justice, leading the way toward a gentler and more ecological spirituality and an acceptance of our interdependence which is the substratum of all compassionate activity.
“Well worth our deepest consideration…Puts compassion into its proper focus after centuries of neglect.” –The Catholic Register

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10 thoughts on “Archbishop Tutu: A Real Man, Christian and Human Being”

  1. Avatar

    Although small in stature, Tutu was a “big” man! Such courage, selflessness, generosity, and kindness, truly marks of Creator God, God walking among us. Thanks, Rev. Fox, for featuring him today!

  2. Avatar

    As Mathew has spoken today, Desmond Tutu truly did walk the talk of love and justice. He was also a living example of the balance of the Sacred Masculine and the Divine Feminine, as well as a brilliant reflection of our human and divine nature functioning and manifesting in union with the One heart, mind, soul and spirit of the Great Mystery we call the Trinity.

    As a sacred ancestor, the essence and presence of his being will certainly continue to give witness, testifying to this same potential inherent within us all, which we too are to walk the talk of within our own unique journey of birthing and manifesting our true self, in love and justice, for the greater good of the whole.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, Thank you for your comment. I know that you have said so much more than this, but I like the reference to a “sacred ancestor” that Matthew made in his video for today, and you mention. Now, you have mentioned that you work with elderly people. Well, I too, as clergy, have spent nearly 40 years visiting “shut-ins,” people in assisted living and skilled nursing facilities on a weekly basis, and on a daily basis when they are hospitalized. And I have visited them sometimes for a number of years until they die. I know that you have done this too in a different capacity. But why I wanted to bring it up is because I like the idea that these elderly people I visit till the end–then go on to the place, or realm of the ancestors. If we are still, and in the silence, we can be aware of their presence and their influence, for they are our “cloud of witnesses.”

  3. Avatar

    Thank you for once again clarifying that non-duality does not mean passivity in the face of injustice or the suspension of critical faculties or an excuse for failure to show up in the world.

    Thank you for celebrating dear Desmond Tutu. “The Book of Joy” featuring him and the Dalai Lama is a delight, as he was. Years ago, there was a video series called “Faces of Faith” or something similar, which posed various questions to prominent religious figures. When asked his idea of heaven, he replied that it was where a person became the person that God intended, in all his/her/their perfection. Or something to that effect. He is a great loss to all of humanity.

    Injustice to one is injustice to all, as I think the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King mentioned. I have experienced enough of it myself to have a great deal of compassion for all others suffering from it, in whatever form it takes and against whomever it is directed. And I will speak out and act against injustice whenever I can. It may not make a difference in this darkening world, but I believe that is what we are all called to do.

    Lately, I have been thinking that democracy may be too great a burden to bear as so many people are weary from the various crises in the US and just want peace and security at any price. Democracy can be messy, while tyranny always promises order. It is tragic that so many seem to be falling for its allure, and it does not matter that it is based on lies and injustice.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Sue, I am glad that there are women like you who are not afraid to stand up to injustice! And in your last paragraph, in the way you speak about the burden of democracy, you sound like a modern-day prophet–warning against tyranny! Which seemed to almost happen in the last presidency…

  4. Avatar

    May we be continue to be inspired by God’s Spirit of Love~Wisdom~Truth~Peace~Justice~Strength~Beauty~Joy~Creativity~Diversity/Oneness in our daily inner-outer lives with one another, all living creatures, nature, Mother Earth, and All Creation/Cosmos as evolving co-Creators, including our inter-dimensional ancestors…. Amen

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