The Failure of the West and Can the South Save the West?

Author: Dr Jonathan Ingleby, Head of Mission Studies, Redcliffe College.


I begin with an extract from Malcolm Muggeridge. You might call this the choice between Life (with a capital ‘L’) and the Legend. Muggeridge is speaking about the way things are for most of us. He says:
Let me express it, as I have often thought of it, in terms of a stage. In the middle is the workaday world where we live our daily lives, earning a living, reading newspapers, exchanging money, recording votes, chattering and eating and desiring. I call this the Café Limbo. On the left of the stage is an area of darkness, within which shapes and movements can be faintly discerned, and inconclusive noises heard…I call this Life. The right of the stage is bright with arc-lights like a television studio. This is where history is unfolded and news is made; this is where we live our public, collective lives, seat and unseat rulers, declare war and negotiate peace, glow with patriotism and get carried away with revolutionary zeal, enact laws, declaim rhetoric, swear eternal passion and sink into abysses of desolation. I call this the Legend…Those who belong exclusively or predominantly to Life are saints, mystics, artists. In extreme cases – Christ for instance – they have to be killed. Those who belong exclusively or predominantly to the Legend are power-maniacs, rulers, heroes, demagogues and liberators. In extreme cases – Hitler, for instance – they bring about their own destruction. In Life there is suffering, deprivation and sanity; in the Legend, happiness, abundance and madness (Unwin 1966, 141).

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