Wednesday 16 August 2006
Dominating the New Zealand news bulletins throughout the day has been the death of Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, the Maori Queen. Dame Te Atairangikaahu was an iconic figure, heir to a protest movement that attempted to unite the tribes of Aotearoa in the face of growing European dominance in the 1850s. Tributes have flowed today from all sections of society. She was a remarkable woman, raised in near poverty, preferring to avoid the limelight but a passionate advocate for her people.
But what strikes me as noteworthy is the way her succession will be decided. The next Arikinui will be chosen by representatives of the tribes she served.
Contrast the leaders of Armstrongism. Here the succession is soley in the hands of the reigning tyrant. Herb chose Ted - even going as far as anointing his bonce with oil, Old Testament-style. Until, of course, Ted proved unsuitable and the senile Apostle spun the bottle and finally ended up with Joe Tkach Sr. (the Holy Spirit seems to have been having a nap at the time.) Then Joe Sr. conducted an extensive search for the best qualif... oops, not quite. Joe declared Joe Jr. the next Pastor General for no apparent reason other than sheer, unadulterated nepotism.
The very first editorial I ever wrote for the old AW was on King Joe and his presidential pretensions: the church leader with no mandate, the power to play god, and neither the intention nor the wit to change things for the better. Even today, despite an ocean of cloying prattle to the contrary, Papa Joe reigns without a credible system of checks or balances in evidence. Should this spiritual giant fall under a bus tomorrow (or more likely, be hit by a lethal rogue golf ball) it seems the dumb sheep will once again simply be told who to suck up to next. Some reformation!
Perhaps the Pastor General, sitting in his plush, high-backed presidential chair in Glendora, along with the team of yes-men that surround him, could learn a little from events happening half a world away this week.