Sunday, December 30, 2007

Can't do it well all the time...

The rock group U2 have a philosophy. They will stop making music when they have two unsuccessful CD's in a row. Spot the open door? If they do manage to create a flop (perhaps Pop Mart came close) they could always make a comeback.

Besides Easter, Christmas is a very busy time in a minister's life. Preparing for multiple services in one week is not easy. But the congregation always expects new insights, an "aha" moment, and so the minister has to be on top of his/her game all the time. Would we expect any less from any other occupation? I would surely hope that my car mechanic or banker perform at their best all the time. But performing at one's best all the time is simply not possible.

Last week Sunday we had a good service, Christmas was a winner, but today I felt as if I was wading through peanut butter and syrup. I am sure the congregation noticed. I am certain that they felt the same.

UUGGGGHHH it felt terrible. Then I try to console myself by saying "Hey, you can't hit a home run every time.". It still feels terrible.

I'll prepare better this week. Like an out-of-form batsman spending a few more hours in the nets. Luckily congregations on the whole are forgiving and I'll probably see the same faces in the pews next week. Hopefully I didn't scare the newcomers away today.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

An atheist’s Christmas wish

Here is a very interesting article from Mail and Guardian. To go to the link, click here.




An atheist’s Christmas wish
Lev David: A QUIET RIOT

24 Dec 2007 23:59
Michael is a recently lapsed Jehovah’s Witness living in my block of flats at the end of the corridor. Since he split from his wife of five years, he’s been dabbling in Anglicanism which, from his description, sounds less like a faith than a hobby. He tried Catholicism first, but found the hymns grim and the sermons hard on his knees. Now, as before, Michael is an affable guy, though he is still affable a little too frequently. So, there’s the knock at my door on a Saturday afternoon. Luckily, Anglicanism isn’t the only new thing Michael is trying; he has, in each hand, a cold beer. The kind of cold that sticks to the palms of your hands.

If only he’d thought of this technique when he was trying to covertly slip Watchtower magazines on to my coffee table. In fold-out chairs, our feet up on the balcony rail, I feel the deep, dull satisfaction of heterosexual male bonding. Tedious, yes. But comforting too. Somehow we land on that old conversation about the commercialisation of Christmas. “Are you trying to save me again, Mike?” “I’m not! It’s just ... since when is it all about the gifts?” Feeling the yawn coming on, I suggest that it might have started with frankincense, myrrh and gold. “Surely the three kings could’ve just given Baby Jesus a nice homemade Christmas card,” I say. Michael laughs and I feel very hip and edgy. “If Jesus were around today,” I continue, “do you think he’d wear Crocs? They are, after all, holey.” Michael stares me down and I know that I’ve crossed the line by suggesting that the Son of God would wear plastic shoes. Then he mumbles: “There’s nobody more religious than an atheist.” He has a point. And we’re only getting more religious. It’s been a good year for the Smartypants Squad.

With Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion and Christopher Hitchens’s God Is Not Great, we have the kinds of books we can tuck under our arms, as snug and as obvious as Bibles while we wander about airports looking for converts. This past year, I’ve even found a couple. Now, I’m busying myself by putting the X back into Xmas. But I’ve hit a couple of wobbles. Two things are testing my faith. One, there’s something quite ugly about the new atheism. It carries a petty, childish tone. Every sentence of Dawkins’s big red book seems to end with an implied, “Ha!”, “I told you so!” or “So there!” Two, there’s something quite appealing about that old time religion. That thing is ... denial. And denial isn’t all that bad. Seems to me that religion is one way of denying our animal nature, of thinking ourselves beyond our biology and beyond the obvious. It’s obvious, looking at a dead body and observing the disintegration that follows death, that the human being that was, is no more. But, we imagine something beyond that.

It’s obvious, looking at the way human beings are built, that we cannot fly. But, we imagine something beyond that too. Both the invention of an imagined afterlife and the invention of human flight began, I believe, with a still moment of “What if?” Sure, we believe a lot of things that are untrue. Religious nuts and atheistic nuts alike have waged wars and been nuisances at dinner parties as a result of their mad convictions. But this species also routinely makes wild dreams real by the sheer will of that same unreasonable human imagination. We defy our physiology and demand that we will fly, not only as far and as high and as fast as birds, but all the way to the moon and beyond. We bake cakes, whip cream, pick cherries and imagine that they might all go well together. And, yes, we dream up rain dances and elephant gods and men in the sky who part seas and write books. We cling to them beyond their usefulness too. But, hey, who’s perfect? So, here’s a thought. More than that, an atheist’s Christmas wish: let’s be less snotty. Let’s do better than “So there!” and “I told you so!” If we think a scientific view of the universe is useful for any reason other than being able to feel superior, then we need to spend less time snuffing dreams out and more time inviting people to dream bigger. Carl Sagan described our planet as “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam”. There are pictures taken from space of that mote of dust; our mote of dust stranded in a vastness almost completely unknown to us. And to see such a picture is to realise that the idea of an ark filled with all the earth’s animals, two-by-two, for all its human poetry, is just not big enough. Being such a finite, tiny part of something so infinite is not meaningless.

It’s just meaningful in a way larger than religion has ever imagined.

Something for Christmas

Christ is Born!

John Banister Tabb, from A diary of readings by John Baillie


A little boy of heavenly birth,
But far from home today,
Comes down to find His ball, the earth,
That sin has cast away.

O comrades, let us one and all
Join in to get Him back His ball!



Thanks Alec.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The 12 days of Christmas (in South Africa)

Click on the image to enlarge.




Used without permission. Sorry. Please buy the Madam & Eve books!!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Hilarious! Barth in a hip-hop nutshell

When wealth and poverty collide



This is a picture of an area in Sao Paolo.

It might as well have been a picture of the Northern suburbs of Johannesburg and Diepsloot or Silver Lakes and Nelmapius.

This problem of economic disparity seems to be everywhere. The middle class seems to have ceased to exist. Now we have wealthy and poor. I am using this picture as a focus-point during my mediations in preparation for Christmas. I try to imagine how a person would encounter the Christ-child while playing tennis on the court. Is there any guilt? Is there a sense of justifying their wealth? How does this person view those across the fence?

I imagine the person in the shack. How does this person encounter the Christchild? Is there envy when hearing the ball being hit on the other side, on a court which is the same in area-size as a dozen shacks? Is there a sense of anger, desperation, or has this person decided that this is his/her lot? How does this person view those across the fence?

The Christ-child comes into this world and does not discriminate. He is the Saviour of all and in His lifetime had a lot to say about economic disparity.

Quote of the day

John Bardis, a member of the Bartian milieu group made the following remark, something I will treasure for a long time:

"But having a stupid, cold and stony heart doesn't make one a heretic.
It just makes one stupid, cold and stony--and one moreover to whom we
need not listen."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ain't politics strange?

Let me put it out there. I don't think that the word "integrity" exists in politics. To me, politics is about self-enhancement, self-enrichment and the exercise of power. Democracy is flawed, but at least it gives people the opportunity to put the least corrupt people in power... or so I thought.

Today Jacob Zuma was elected president of the ANC. Need I say more? You've read the headlines, so form your own opinion about him as a rolemodel for our children. For the first time I will shudder if one of my sons turns to me and says "Hey, dad. I want to be president of the country! I want to be like him!" - Granted, he is not the president of the country yet.

What is also interesting are politicians' views on Zuma before and after the elections. I cannot recall one opposition party politician speaking well of Zuma before the election, but now? The only person who is sticking to her guns is Helen Zille. It is as if politicians choose their battles well. It might seem the right move to now make friends with him and his allies.

Well Mr Zuma, congratulations. You have played the political game well. I hope it is in the interest of all people.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

How's this for Auld Lang Syne?

(A. D. Cridge)

We're Communists and Socialists
And dynamiters, too;
We're slaves of walking delegates*
Who tell us what to do,
There's nothing we should kick about,
We've all got "cheek" sublime;
But we're "bone and sinew of the land,"
About
Election
Time.

We're howlers of calamity,
We're crazy flat fools,
We're lawless scum and foreign scruff,
And "stubborner nor mules."
They threaten us with Gatling guns
And in our "hair to climb";
But we're "thinking toilers of the land,"
About
Election
Time.

We're wild-eyed hayseeds, lazy shirks,
Alliance traitors, knaves;
We're looters of the vaults of wealth,
And our speaker always "raves";
We're a danger to the country
And Republic all the time;
But we're "honest, sturdy farmers,"
About
Election
Time.

We're everything that's vile and mean,
For twice three hundred days;
Nihilists, thugs and Pinkertons
Are urged on us to blaze,
If we but demand justice,
As against a gilded crime;
But we're "valiant hosts of labor,"
About
Election
Time.

They tell us of protection,
And the glory of a tax;
The right of honest capital
To ride upon our backs;
Our comfort and prosperity
(Though we haven't got a dime),
And to once more save the party,
About
Election
Time.

They tax us, and they drive us,
And mock us in our woe;
They tell us we're responsible,
Though they know it isn't so;
And we stand right up and take it,
While the "bloats" their pockets line,
Oh, we're several million darndest fools,
About
Election
Time

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Nathan is baptized.


When Martin Luther felt tempted by the devil, he would audibly respond "I've been baptized!". We pledged to raise him in a Christian home and vowed to provide an example of Christian living so that one day he may respond in faith to God's grace. Hopefully his baptism will be as meaningful to him as Luther viewed his.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Quote of the day

"A lot of aeroplane accidents have happened since people started flying." - My wife.
 
My response: "Really?...HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH"
 
Now, because of "hahahahaha", I'm sleeping on the couch. No, not really.

University of Pretoria



As I am writing this, I am sitting in front of the Faculty of Theology building at the University of Pretoria. This is heaven to me. It is quiet this time of the year. There are only a few postgrad students walking around. You can see that they are thinking, debating with themselves.
There is no better place to be than here.
I am at peace.

Children!!!!!

Children have the most peculiar way to embarrass their parents. Our children are no different. Anybody who knows us will know that we are trying to raise children who respect and treat all people the same. South Africa needs a generation which does not discriminate, especially when it comes to inter-racial relationships. But today our little Matthew became aware of race and made his observations known in the most inopportune moment: in the shops.

We were walking down the sweets isle, and came to a stop very close to an Indian lady and her son. Matthew looked up and at the top of his voice said: "Hey pappa, those people have brown skins!". He meant it very innocently, but I know that those words could be interpreted in a different way which causes pain. I didn't know what to do. I wanted to just turn around and walk away, but decided not to. I turned to the lady and her son who were chuckling away at my son's boldness and apologized vehemently. I tried to explain that we try to raise our children in such away that race should not be an issue. They both reacted very graciously, acknowledging that he is learning and that this was a discovery. They also hinted that we should take him out more often so that he can see more people from a different cultural background. I wasn't going to debate that point, but all too humbly made the best of the situation.

I later explained to Matt that this "pointing out people's skin colour" is not polite, in fact, although true, some things remain better unsaid.

I still feel nervous about the whole incident. Please share your stories of embarrassing moments to help me through this one. I have learnt a lesson though. Communication is complex. What we say and where we say it may mean different things to different people. The hearers' own perception also aids towards their interpretation of the spoken word. This will make me ever more vigilant in sermon preparation, because good communication is the ability to convey a message where the interpretation of the message correlates with the intent and focus of the sender's conveyed thoughts.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Tutu compromises the Gospel?

Headlines like this do not surprise me. This headline concerns recent comments by Desmond Tutu relating to his acceptance of gay people and the church's general negative and unwelcoming approach to them. In fact, statements like these build within me the belief that religion per se has a severely debilitating effect - It makes people believe that they possess, own and have sole custodianship of truth.

Let me say this: My faith starts from the premise that I have not arrived, that may faith is as St. Anselm of Canterbury stated "Faith seeking understanding". Although I hold firm that Christ is the centre of God's self revelation, I cannot for a second think that I have understood God, God's revelation or Jesus Christ. Furthermore I hope and pray that when I meet God face-to-face one day that my mind will be blown! My faith, a journey, a pilgrimage, stands open to correction.

For these reasons I find these utter moralistic proclamations beyond comprehension. If others are so sure of this faith, then please let me in on the detail, but according to the Gospel which I have studied and still do, I cannot particularly find the way in which Tutu compromised it. In fact, the Gospel which I read speaks of one who was persecuted, questioned and eventually crucified for being "a friend of sinners". The irony is thick.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Help mend a heart.


This is our little Matthew. His heart was fixed due to the generous giving of many. I invite you to watch the following short clip to meet those who contributed towards his healing. In this clip you will see Dr Kinsley and Dr Mamorare (Surgeons) and Dr Dansky (Cardiologist).

View the clip here.

The team at the Walter Sisulu Paediatric Cardiac Centre for Africa would appreciate any donation. Come on, get your church to direct a part of its tithe to this worthy cause.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Don't you feel like this?


In a letter to Karl Barth, Emil Brunner wrote the following concerning his struggle in faith (the original is in German, therefore the numerous brackets, etc.):

This is my experience: Either I will completely be at the center...: God lives, let God matter. But then I soon find that all I have in my hands are four letters [G-O-T-T]..., an abstract thought, with which I can neither understand nor master my life. I can say, Let God matter. But, in reality, what matters is not God but my thought that "God should matter."... Or, on the other hand, depressed from this experience, I... fall into the other extreme: "God should matter" [becomes] "The Good should matter," [faith mixed up with] a moral-cultural lifestyle, a system of ethics, that, up to a certain point, shines through one's life, but naturally (as little as "the law" in Paul) has no power...I've always had the feeling - and my moral experiences confirm it - that I have still not yet penetrated to God, that my faith has produced nothing.
This quote was taken from the book "For the sake of the world" (see my library in the sidebar).
Barth later responded with the formulation "God is God and God is God". Food for deep thought.

Matt is doing well.

Today Matt went for his six-monthly heart checkup. We have good news to share.

Besides his heart being on the opposite side of his chest, everything looks healthy and normal. The heart-noises have disappeared, meaning that his VSD and ASD have completely healed. Roundabout now he should have had a second operation as the extra parts which they implant usually calcify by now. There is no sign of calcification anywhere!

Doctor Colyn is very impressed with his progress and so are we. Thanks be to God and God's wonderful doctors and nursing staff.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nathan Daniel (Nataniel for short) is 1!


Hey, our big boy!

You are one today. The first year of your life has passed and you will most probably not remember much of what you have achieved, but that which you did will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life.

We thank God for you. You have added joy, happiness and a greater sense of humour to our family. May God bless you richly and may you be obedient to his grace.

With lots of love,

Pappa, Mamma and Matthew (and Chrissie and Calamity)

Sunday School theology

PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION TO THE WORDING AND SPELLING. IF YOU ARE EVEN REMOTELY FAMILIAR WITH HOLY SCRIPTURE, YOU'LL FIND THIS HILARIOUS! IT COMES FROM A ROMAN CATHOLIC ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEST. KIDS WERE ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS. THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS ABOUT THE BIBLE WERE WRITTEN BY CHILDREN. THEY HAVE NOT BEEN RE-TOUCHED OR CORRECTED. INCORRECT SPEL LING HAS BEEN LEFT IN.


1. IN THE FIRST BOOK OF THE BIBLE, GUINESSIS. GOD GOT TIRED OF CREATING THE WORLD SO HE TOOK THE SABBATH OFF.

2. ADAM AND EVE WERE CREATED FROM AN APPLE TREE. NOAH'S WIFE WAS JOAN OF ARK. NOAH BUILT AND ARK AND THE ANIMALS CAME ON IN PEARS.

3. LOTS WIFE WAS A PILLAR OF SALT DURING THE DAY, BUT A BALL OF FIRE DURING THE NIGHT.
4. THE JEWS WERE A PROUD PEOPLE AND THROUGHOUT HISTORY THEY HAD TROUBLE WITH UNSYMPATHETIC GENITALS.

5. SAMPSON WAS A STRONGMAN WHO LET HIM SELF BE LED ASTRAY BY A JEZEBEL LIKE DELILAH.

6. SAMSON SLAYED THE PHILISTINES WITH THE AXE OF THE APOSTLES.

7. MOSES LED THE JEWS TO THE RED SEA WHERE THEY MADE UNLEAVENED BREAD WHICH IS BREAD WITHOUT ANY INGREDIENTS .

8, THE EGYPTIANS WERE ALL DROWNED IN THE DESSERT. AFTER WARDS, MOSES WENT UP TO MOUNT CYANIDE TO GET THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.

9. THE FIRST COMMANDMENTS WAS WHEN EVE TOLD ADAM TO EAT THE APPLE.

10. THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT IS THOU SHALT NOT ADMIT ADULTERY.

11. MOSES DIED BEFORE HE EVER REACHED CANADA .. THEN JOSHUA LED THE HEBREWS IN THE BATTLE OF GERITOL ..

12. THE GREATEST MIRICLE IN THE BIBLE IS WHEN JOSHUA TOLD HIS SON TO STAND STILL AND HE OBEYED HIM.

13. DAVID WAS A HEBREW KING WHO WAS SKILLED AT PLAYING THE LIAR. HE FOUGHT THE FINKELSTEINS, A RACE OF PEOPLE WHO LIVED IN BIBLICAL TIMES.

14. SOLOMON, ONE OF DAVIDS SONS, HAD 300 WIVES AND 700 PORCUPINES.

15. WHEN MARY HEARD SHE WAS THE MOTHER OF JESUS, SHE SANG THE MAGNA CARTA.

16. WHEN THE THREE WISE GUYS FROM THE EAST SIDE ARRIVED THEY FOUND JESUS IN THE MANAGER.

17. JESUS WAS BORN BECAUSE MARY HAD AN IMMACULATE CONTRAPTION.

18. ST. JOHN THE BLACKSMITH DUMPED WATER ON HIS HEAD.

19. JESUS ENUNCIATED THE GOLDEN RULE, WHICH SAYS TO DO UNTO OTHERS BE FORE THEY DO ONE TO YOU. HE ALSO EXPLAINED A MAN DOTH NOT LIVE BY SWEAT ALONE..

20. IT WAS A MIRICLE WHEN JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD AND MANAGED TO GET THE TOMBSTONE OFF THE ENTRANCE.

21. THE PEOPLE WHO FOLLOWED THE LORD WERE CALLED THE 12 DECIBELS.

22. THE EPISTELS WERE THE WIVES OF THE A POSTLES.

23. ONE OF THE OPPOSSUMS WAS ST. MATTHEW WHO WAS ALSO A TAXIMAN.


24. ST. PAUL CAVORTED TO CHRISTIANITY, HE PREACHED HOLY ACRIMONY WHICH IS ANOTHER NAME FOR MARRAIGE.

25. CHRISTIANS HAVE ONLY ONE SPOUSE . THIS IS CALLED MONOTONY

Monday, November 12, 2007

One small hurdle


By the way, this is my 150th post on this blog.

My eyes are burning, my hand is cramping, my handwriting is becoming more and more illegible, I don't sleep much and when I do, I dream about neural pathways in the brain, optical illusions, the workings of memory, reasoning and problem solving. Today I am writing my last exam for the year - Cognitive Psychology (III). This is the last exam that will allow me entry into the Honours programme. This year I have achieved a lot. I finished my Ph.D. , studied Social Psych, Abnormal Psych, Psych research, Interpersonal skills and Cognitive Psych. I have written 3 articles which will all be published this year, taken over the administration of our church, lectured, enjoyed my family and started practicing for Midmar. It has been a full year, but now I am tired. One paper to go, then we will go to the Spur for supper, have a good sleep, and then start working on my Vespa (and write an article for TEEC, and edit our book, and write a chapter for Dion's book...).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

NEWS

Please don't see this as self-promotion. I am posting this out of excitement, so, use it-don't use it. I just got news that the electronic copy of my thesis is published through the University of Pretoria. The title is "The notion of mission in Karl Barth's ecclesiology".

If you are interested, you can download it from: http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-10162007-151230

Regards.

The quest for meaning.

In 2005 I met Prof. Wessel Stoker. He is a Systematic Theology professor at the Vrije Universiteit van Amsterdam. I had the privilege of presenting a paper on a chapter from his book "Is the quest for meaning the quest for God?" (See my booklist to the right) with him sitting in. The feedback was very positive, but that's beside the point.

I started reading this book again, mainly because my sense of connection to God is increasingly leading me down a path which recognizes that the church does not own God, neither does it exist as the sole custodian of God's ability to reveal Godself. So much for Sola Ecclesia. Let me say this, I am not even sure why I am entering this as a blog, nor do I actually know what I want to achieve with this post, but here it is: raw and unsolicited.

Paul Tillich was a chaplain during WWI. One evening, a night-attack took place which left most of his friends either injured or dead. Reflecting on this event, he states that in that moment he felt a disconnection between himself and the God of religion. He was aware of God's presence, but in a different capacity (I am quoting from memory, but if someone would like the reference, I'll be happy to look it up).

Paul, in his letter to the Romans (which I am busy writing a Bible study on), is clear about the obstacle which caused the Jewish lack of recognition of who God is - not a God owned by institution, religious acts or the law - but a God of love and compassion who called Israel to be a witness. A witness. A witness to who, a witness to the world! Why should they then be upset if gentiles responded to the Gospel? This was the aim!

Let me not even start on Barth!

So, yes, there it is. Fragmented thinking, once again, but I think you catch my drift. I wonder if the ultimate ecclesiology is not one of creatio in nihilum - that the church should work itself out of an institution. What if the church became a witness, which would not get anxious if those who do not "look" like orthodox christians respond to the Gospel. What if the whole world is "saved"? Would the church still exist, or does it exist purely because it is an alternative to something else?

Think, think, think...crawl, crawl, crawl.

Nathan crawled today!


Our son has already achieved something which I didn't do. He crawled. It may not seem like a biggy, but I have come to understand the importance of this milestone. Crawling is one of the essential activities which facilitate cross-lateral neural pathway development. Crawling further helps visual guidance (the use of eyes to guide movement of the hands and other parts of the body - like reaching for and grabbing glowing objects in a dark room), depth perception (ability to perceive objects and surfaces in three dimensions) and visual cliff (the ability to assess depth), not to mention hand-eye coordination.

This is a biggy! Congratulations Nathan! He must have got this from his mother, as I said, I never crawled and now have to count the steps whether I'm going up or down a flight of stairs. Failure to do so leaves me in a prostate position with a hugely damaged ego.

Then for the one thing he got from me - the ability to quickly calculate less complicated alternatives: the first thing he crawled to was his walking ring. Well done Nathan!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The human brain

I'm busy studying Cognitive Psychology and found the following diagrams quite interesting:-)


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Barry Hilton on Stupidity

People should have to wear signs that just say, I'M DOF." That way you wouldn't rely on them, would you?
You wouldn't ask them anything. It would be like, "Excuse me... oops, nevermind. Didn't see your sign."

It's like before my boeta and I moved.. Our house was full of boxes and there was a Pickfords truck in our driveway.
My neighbor comes over and choons, "Hey, you moving?"
"Noooit bru. We just pack our stuff up once or twice a week to see how many boxes it takes. Here's your sign!"

A couple of months ago I went fishing with a mate of mine, we pulled his boat into the ramp, I lifted up this big whiting and this idiot on the ramp goes, "Hey, you catch all those fish?" "Nooit cuzzi. Talked 'em into giving up. Here's your sign."

I was watching one of those animal shows on the Discovery Channel. There was a guy inventing a shark bite suit. And there's only one way to test it. "Alright Jimmy, you got that shark suit on, it looks good... They want you to jump into this pool of sharks, and you tell us if it hurts when they bite you." "Well, alright, but hold my sign. I don't wanna lose it."

Last time I had a flat tyre, I pulled my car into a petrol station. The 'pomp jockey' walks out, looks at my car, looks at me, and I SWEAR he choons, "Tyre go flat?" I couldn't resist. I said, "Nooit Baba. I was driving around and those other three just swelled up on me. Here's your sign."

I was trying to sell my 'jammie' about a year ago. A guy came over to the house and drove the car around for about 45 minutes. We get back to the house, he gets out of the car, reaches down and grabs the exhaust pipe, then says, "Jislaaik, that's hot!"
See? If he'd been wearing his sign, I could have stopped him!

I learned to drive a 18 wheeler in my days in the 'mag'. Wouldn't you know I misjudged the height of a bridge. The truck got stuck and I couldn't get it out no matter how I tried. I radioed in for help and eventually a local cop shows up to take the report. He went through his basic questioning... ok.. no problem. I thought sure he was clear of needing a sign...until he asked "so..is your truck stuck?" I couldn't help myself. I looked at him, looked back at the rig and then back at him took my sign off and chooned, "No. I'm delivering a bridge. Here's your sign."

I stayed late at work one night and a co-worker looked at me and chooned, "Are you still here?" I replied, "No. I left about 10 minutes ago. Here's your sign."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A new discovery

To all those who live in Gauteng and nearby: Do yourself a favour and go to the new Irene Mall (On Nelmapius Drive). The theme of the mall is "Cows" and is derived from the famous Irene dairy farm. Check the pic below:





They have all sorts of shops, but my favourite is a quaint little bookshop which sells all kinds of interesting books at a very good price. This book caught my attention:


The title: "The illustrated encyclopedia of sex"
Author: "Dr. A. Willy"

Seriaaaas!!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A bit of fun

A friend of mine sent me the following list of questions to complete. I thought it was quite fun. If you don't have anything to do, why not spend a minute to complete it and post it in my comments?

Where did we meet:
Take a stab at my middle name:
How long have you known me:
Do I smoke:
What was your first impression of me upon meeting:
Colour of my eyes:
Do I have any siblings:
What's one of my favourite things to do:
Do you remember one of the first things I said to
you:
What's my favourite type of music:
What is the best feature about me:
Am I shy or outgoing:
Am I a rebel or do I follow the rules:
What's your favourite memory of me:
Any special talents:
Would you consider me a friend:
How many children do I have:
If there was one good nickname for me,what would it
be:
If you and i were deserted on an island, what would
i bring?
I can't wait to see the answers!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Are you dyslexic? Well, it doesn't matter.

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too . Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.



i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!!!


WE WON! WHAT A GAME!

After the match, President Thabo Mbeki was lifted on the players' shoulders. Would Gordon Brown have allowed that? Or the Queen?

AMA-BOKKE-BOKKE!!!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pneumatology in the same-sex debate.

Thoughts for another paper.

It is no secret that that church is deeply divided by the debate on same-sex relationships. Not only have I followed different discussions with interest, but have been part of our denomination's struggle for the past 5 years.

Different theological perspectives have given reasons for their respective stances on the issue, and when asked to define the one factor, which causes the difference in theological perspective, the response points to different hermeneutic methods employed in the reading of Scripture. I am not satisfied with this answer. This rift is not due solely to people reading the Bible differently. It is clear that in the discussion there are different understandings of the doctrine of Scripture, Ecclesiology, Soteriology and Missiology. The differences in these doctrines, something that can be captured in a book, are acknowledged, but if there is one doctrine that can be identified as the root of these divergent views, it is Pneumatology.

Yes, Pneumatology is the forgotten doctrine, except in its overemphasis in the charismatic/Pentecostal traditions. Yet, it is a doctrine which informs our understanding of so many other doctrines. This is what I’ve noticed:

Among those arguing for the recognition and appreciation of same-sex relationships in the church, the Spirit of God is seen as one who’s function it is first, to point to the Son. The belief is that God’s self-revelation is not subject to the availability, intention or righteousness of the individual, nor of the community. This means that God’s choice to reveal pre-empts the factor of human cognition, recognition and ability. Wesley refers to this as Prevenient Grace. God does not only reveal Godself through the Son, communicated and recognized through the Spirit to certain individuals, but God’s revelation extends to all. The result is that all have equal opportunity to respond in faith to what God has already done. In the response to this revelation, a community which exceeds time and space is formed, with the aim of holiness. This Soteriology, although affecting the individual does not necessarily depend on the sanctification of the individual per se, but is concerned with the sanctification of the community. It is at this point that one should guard against the danger of Gestalt Theology. The work of the Spirit is not only the cumulative work of transforming individuals for the sake of a redeemed community, but is first at work in the restoration of the community which has, as a result, the inevitable consequence of the restoration of the individual. Even if we were to assume that homosexuality is a sin, then the place of the homosexual is rooted in the community of faith, because the Spirit is at work in the community.


Those who are vehemently opposed to same-sex relationships indicate a different understanding of the Spirit, which in turn affects their ecclesiology, Soteriology and doctrine of mission. The work of the Spirit is to reveal truth and to safeguard the truth in the community of faith. Truth is contained in Scripture, encapsulated in tradition and history. Reason, the third pillar of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, becomes informed and subject to the three mentioned factors, two of which are Quadrilateral pillars themselves. This ensures that truth remains stable, and is not open to change as the result of a clinical and relatively “new” discovery, but must be subject to the truth of the Spirit as revealed through time in the aspects mentioned. It is therefore an unreasonable question to answer when those holding this perspective are asked: “If God is so passionately opposed to homosexuality, why doesn’t the Spirit convict homosexuals of their sin as pointed to in John 16:8-11?”. Based on this Pneumatology, it is the work of the church to convert those who partake in this practice, for the Spirit has already convicted the church through Scripture, history and tradition. The question that is raised is whether this Pneumatology leads to a re-invention of Sola Ecclesia (in the Roman Catholic sense)?

If this is the case, then we must speak of two different Christian theologies. This is of much greater consequence than merely having different hermeneutic approaches.

Share some thoughts… Obviously I haven’t argued concisely and coherently, so please, once again, excuse the fragmented thinking.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I had to laugh.

Friday afternoons in the Bentley-household is family-afternoon. Nothing is allowed to impinge on this time. Usually we go out for lunch, then I drop Natalie and Nathan off at home (because Nathan still has a nap in the afternoon) and then Matt and I spend a little bit of Matthew-pappa-time together at a venue of his choice - usually Woodlands Boulevard for an ice-cream.

Matt is not a wonderful eater. We always have to negotiate some form of positive outcome for his willingness to finish his food. Negotiating works, because he has a good dollop of Greek blood running through his veins. This Friday past, we (the whole family) decided to have lunch at the Wimpy. Matt had his usual vienna and chips with Coke-light. The deal at Wimpy, like so many other food outlets, is that kiddies get a toy with every kiddies meal. I called the waitress aside and asked her only to bring a toy when Matt had finished his meal, otherwise the toy will distract him. Halfway through our meal, she came across with armloads of toys, told Matthew that he could choose one, but that she would only bring it when she saw an "empty" plate. He understood the transaction. He chose a toy, she turned and left.

As soon as she was out of sight, he leant over the table, looked Natalie and myself straight in the eyes, and whispered with a calculating look on his face "Hey, you guys better help me here!"

Lots of lessons to be learnt from this episode, but I won't start my sermon with this illustration, lest Stanley Hauerwas may be sitting in the congregation. (His opinion is that when a minister starts a sermon with the words "This week my son taught me a valuable lesson...", he knows that he is in for a long, shallow sermon.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Is the S. African media fulfilling the prophetic role of the church?

Dion wrote an interesting blog on the church's prophetic voice. I was actually busy constructing my thoughts on the same topic when I came across his post. I want to develop this into an academic article, so your comment will be valued. These are just rough ideas, which need to be sharpened, so please excuse the fragmented nature of the following discussion. The question I would like to ask is: Is the South African media fulfilling the prophetic role of the church?

The church in South Africa has a rich history of being involved in discussion with the State, good and bad. As a prophetic voice, the church has not hindered to declare a Status Confessionis on several occasions. This has led to the signing of the Kairos Document, as well as the Belhar Confession, among others. But statements, confessions and even critique has been few and far between. During the Apartheid era, the Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk was jokingly called "The National Party at prayer". In modern times, my own denomination has been labeled as "The ANC at prayer", and one certainly has to raise the question whether over-identification with a certain cause can lead the church to a place where it is stripped of its prophetic voice, or whether the church's voice simply is not taken seriously enough.

So, who keeps the State accountable - besides the justice system? The obvious answer is the media. The media may be over-critical, be accused of sensationalizing its content, but it is certainly the only forum which is posing questions in public to the authorities. Has the media nudged the church out of a job? One measure is to see whether the media is actually interested in, or reporting on the church's voice - that is, if it has one. It seems like the only interest the media is currently showing in the church concerns the different denominations' stances on the same-sex and civil unions debates. This is a sad state of affairs. The second marker would be to establish whether civil society is interested in what the church has to say, or if it prefers to identify with the media's relentless questioning of current practices.

Obviously we should celebrate the amount of press-freedom that we have in this country, but the church should be concerned about the notion that it has been ousted by the press. Why? For starters, the media can only delivere comment based on a subjectively assumed moral framework. What moral and ethical framework is used for its comment and criticism? Is it a formal framework, or is it subject to the editorial boards' own biases? Here, the church is able to speak with a greater sense of independence and certainty. To hold Christian values, which I know are highly debatable and subjective, as the basis for our conversation with the State, the church is enabled to critique, criticize and endorse practices while being relevant to the needs of the community.

I am concerned. These are just a few rough thoughts.


The "Prophetic voice" is not to be seen as something which should be raised by either the church or the media. These prophetic voices are different. The danger is that one of these voices seemed to have fallen away, leaving the media to fulfill both roles.

Just some thoughts.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Loadshedding


Have you ever heard of the term "loadshedding"? Doesn't it sound vulgar? "Loadshedding"! And it is vulgar, it is offensive and it is enough to make you crawl under your bed, chew your toenails, fry them and pretend that its Cornflakes. It is simply that mind boggling.

What am I talking about? Powercuts. ESKOM, the company in charge of South Africa's electricity supply is busy with maintenance on their generators, have the problem of wet coal and possess a number of generators which are simply "out-of-order". This has led to a nationwide rationing of electricity, where suburbs and towns have to take turns to sit in the dark. Frustrating, believe me, especially after I had to deal with this and write exams yesterday. I climbed in my car and realized that I needed petrol. I peeked into my wallet, to find that I had no money. And so, I had to go from suburb to suburb on petrolfumes, looking for any minuscule sign of electricity so that I could draw money. I eventually managed this, but this particular suburb did not have any petrolstations, and so I had to explore again. Four suburbs later I found a station. The attendant inserted the nozzle, and as my friend Murphy would have it... it was this suburbs turn! AAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!

What should have taken me 20 minutes to get to the exam hall, turned out to be one-and-a-half hours!

Loadshedding - this is what happens when there is a great demand and a limited supply. If not managed, there is total breakdown. Although I found the whole thing distasteful, I managed to learn a lesson from it anyway. In my life I have many different individuals, institutions and responsibilities that tug away at me. In the short- to medium term this is ok. The load may be heavy, but dealt with in short spurts, can actually be done. Management of this stress is vitally important. There are so many needs, but only one of me. If I do not manage this well, then I might just have to do a bit of loadshedding myself. Were I not to shut down some functions temporarily, I might just suffer total breakdown myself. What will happen if this were to take place? Well, the honest answer is that these needs will just move along to the next "supplier of energy".

So, I'm reassessing, rearranging, prioritizing.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Class of 2007

Tonight we celebrated the journey of the 2007 students at John Wesley College Kilnerton. I like what I do, but I love being on campus, engaging with students on theological issues. It is always a good feeling to look back and to remember the bewildered eyes, but now to see ministers and theologians who can think, act and preach with confidence. A big thank you to the class of 2007 for your commitment, love and hard work. To the full-time staff at JWC, your loyalty and dedication to ministerial formation is already seen in the ministries of those who have journeyed in this place - as Dion says, the most hallowed of theological institutions.

Class of 2007



From left to right: Me and Dion.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

New blogger!

Beryl, my colleague started blogging. Give her a visit. Click here.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Methodists in the news today

Advocate Mpshe
Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke


Two of our members are in the news today. This post is to ask for your prayers for them and their families. Advocate Mpshe has to oversee the National Prosecuting Authority while their head is under investigation. We pray for wisdom. Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke today upheld a 15 year prison sentence imposed on Shabir Shaik. We pray for continued strength as many, but many judges refused to oversee the proceedings of this case.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Happy birthday Natalie!


Isn't SHE beautiful? Nats turned...well....um... another year older. She is typically Italian, because like a good red wine, she grows more beautiful with time, and has the increasing ability to intoxicate me with her presence.

Happy birthday for Friday!

I must just say one thing: I now fully understand why it takes ladies a full day to shop for clothes. I decided to get her a black cocktail dress and spent the best part of the day in Menlyn looking for one. Do you know that shops don't sell dresses? Just blouses and skirts! I eventually found one, but she looks much too sexy in it to put a pic on this blog. This is my privilege.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mirrors



Dion's post on who we are and who we aren't reflects some of my own thoughts. And so this inner-debate continued through the week, becoming very clear while listening to an interview on the radio about crime in our country.

The commentator used as an analogy the story of Snow White. As you may recall, her evil stepmother stood in front of the mirror everyday asking the same question. She asked: "Mirror, mirror on the wall...Who is the most beautiful of them all?". The mirror always responded with the words: "You are". While reading the story, one knows that she is aware of one who is more beautiful and that the mirror is not speaking the whole truth. One day the mirror does, to which the evil stepmother responds with violence, anger and denial.

There are many mirrors that exist today. Each one tells its own version of the truth. South Africa is faced with the reality that it is no longer the most beautiful of all and that it is blemished by crime, corruption and greed. We wince. The church is made aware that it is not the place of grace and unconditional love which it professes to be, because it cannot see a truth beyond natural law. We cringe. The world is not as prosperous as it makes out to be, because as we are killing God's earth, we do so while 95% of the world's population do not have money in their wallets. We hide.

Mirrors are nevertheless deceptive. They show us an image of ourselves that others do not see. It is the inverse image of another's view. I am scared to look into the mirror. It might just tell me a truth that I do not wish to hear. But I hope to that my life can be a small reflection of Jesus. This reflection may not be comfortable to the world around me, I may not find it comfortable myself, but at least it is a reflection that gives hope and promise.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Isn't she beautiful?


Cape Town has a special place in my heart. The 118th Conference of the MCSA is being held here and I am delighted to form part of this forum, especially in this place.

During moments of torment and anxiety back home, I often close my eyes imagining that I am walking at the V&A Waterfront, periodically glancing over my shoulder to see if she is still there. She always is. She stands as a beacon of strength. She reminds me of how small I am in tie and space. She reminds me of how small others are. She informs me that what we consider to be immovable and constant is never as permanent as what we may deem.

During the last few days we have encountered people and issues, even ourselves. I have had the privilege of truly walking around at the Waterfront and when I glanced back, she surprised me. She was bigger and higher than in my thoughts. Table Mountain makes me humble and gives me peace.

Just a special word of thanks to special friends for a glorious time in the Mother City: Dion Forster, Kevin Needham, Ken Carr and Barry Marshall and I look forward to spending time with Tim, Barbara, Em, Busi and Thandi.

One day left.

Here are some photo's of a great time in Cape Town.


Ken Carr with some pretty indigenous flowers.



The typical view while having a conversation with Dion Forster.



Sunset at Camps Bay.



Clouds rolling over the 12 apostles.


Pretty and on the beach.

Dianne Moodie, Ken Carr, Barry "No 1" Marshall, Dion "No 3" Forster, Me "No. 4" Bentley, Alan "looks like Jesus" Storey and Kevin "No 2" Needham.

Some semi-divine entertainment.

Apostolic Church


Our belief in One, Holy, Actholic and Apostolic Church was re-affirmed today. On the second last day of the MCSA Conference, the names of those retiring from ministry were read alongside those who are preparing themselves for ordination. In a symbolic gesture, a retiring Bishop, the Rev. Bill Meaker handed over a lit candle to the youngest ordinand, the Rev. Patric Engelbrecht. A special moment indeed.

The fellowship of those who call themselves disciples of Christ centers around our need for and expression of fellowship. While not understanding Apostolic succession in the same manner as
our Catholic family, we hold on to the gift of fellowship in Communion which this expression of the Christian faith has to offer. It is truly special to think that somewhere in this world Mass is being celebrated - a meal which continues 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365.25 days a year. It is a meal of fellowship which lifts us above our differences to a higher place, a place where we are humbled and uplifted to be equal to each other and blessed by the reminder of our fellowship with God.

As this candle was passed on, it symbolized the continuation of the order of the ordained ministry for word and sacrament into a new generation and a new world. Who knows what issues this generation of ministers will have to face? Will this be the last generation is the world is threatened by global warming, threats of using continued force by superpowers and the rise of impatient frustration of the poor? In the moment we can only give thanks that God still calls, and we believe God will do so as long as we have the opportunity to witness to a God who reveals.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Quote of the day - MCSA Conference Day 1

"Minds are like parachutes - they only work when opened."





Friday, September 14, 2007

Lifelessons

Just when you thought you’ve got some time dedicated to not learning anything new, then all of these discoveries pop out of nowhere, begging for your attention. Now you may think that some of these are as meaningful as the discovery of the secret to Methuselah’s 969 years of life — that he followed a strict diet of garlic and beetroot — but here are some points to ponder.

1. Don’t ever choose a book by Bill Bryson as toilet reading when you’ve picked up a tummy bug.
2. Don’t ever read a Bill Bryson book during those vacant timeslots between counselling appointments. There is a slight possibility that while the person is telling you about their life’s miseries you will in fact conjure up images of toity jars, the strategic holes in sneakers and the unexplained burn on Uncle Dick’s bald spot. Advanced empathy with a smile on your face, the occasional explosion of what sounds like a laugh-disguised-as-a-sneeze-mixed-with-spittle-and-trying-to-keep-all-else (point 1)-contained, doesn’t quite work.
3. Why buy a piece of fossilised dinosaur faeces from a rock and fossil exhibition at Menlyn? For heaven’s sake! How do you explain the presence of a 120 million year old turd on your desk? You can’t even try and sound intelligent by saying “This is a piece of pedigrius dinopoefus excreted from the primary orifice of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. We know that it was a T-Rex, because if you look carefully you can see a half-chewed piece of Brontosaurus’ upper lip – a species only devoured by the ferocious T. Now it’s a paperweight”. Despite being laughed at, you may actually be the beneficiary of a generous smack over the head and called names for the rest of your life.

Ignore these lessons, and by all means do, but don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Matthew!


Matthew is 4 today. Those who know his story will know what this means to us. Matthew, we thank God every day for you. You enrich our lives beyond measure and we pray that we will have the privilege of celebrating many more birthdays with you. You are a wonderful brother to Nathan and we know that he looks up to you. God bless you, our son. Love from Pappa and Mommy and Nathan.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Graduation




Friends, I cannot describe the feelings which I experienced today. Most of the day I felt extremely nervous, the same kind I felt on our wedding day. Everything had to be co-ordinated, planned and had absolutely no option of panning out in ways surprising to me. Then I moved into a place where I had to surrender and forced myself to experience this moment and to appreciate its magnitude, for it may only occur once or twice in a lifetime.

As we entered the auditorium, I was overwhelmed by the history and the mystery of academia and knew that this is where I am supposed to be. Some may call it "calling", but I am suspicious of this term. It is used too flippantly, cheaply and doesn't resonate with my sense of being. What I felt was belonging, the kind of belonging that sparks in a young mind when it does not make sense for a puzzle piece to fit in a particular place, but when you try it there, it fits and the picture blends. Do you know what I mean?

And so I took mental pictures of the entire proceedings. I didn't read the programme once, because I wanted to feel the graduation. Sitting right in front, I looked each graduate in the eye, took note of their achievement and applauded wholeheartedly 128 times. Then it was my turn to walk onto the stage. My supervisor, Prof. Conrad Wethmar stepped forward and introduced me to the vice-chancellor. Then he read the following:
In his thesis, The notion of mission in Karl Barth's ecclesiology, the promovendus explores the identity of the Christian church in the light of present-day challenges such as globalisation, the rise of different socio-political orders and a growing tendency towards a post-modern understanding of the world. As heuristic research mechanism, he used the ecclesiology of the well known Swiss theologian Karl Barth. This enables him to confirm that this identity should be found in the notion of a mission directed at the church itself, at other religions, the State and the a-religious. The manner in which the candidate described these relationships proved to be a meaningful contribution to the current rethinking of the church's role in present-day South Africa.
I couldn't blink. I shook the vice-chancellor's hand and was then received by a whole queue of academics, each saying "Congratulations Doctor".

After the graduation I was re-united with the people that made this experience possible. First, to Natalie: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Whenever I feel depressed, you chase me to my study to read. You know what makes me tick. I love you. Then my parents: thank you for your constant love and support and being proud of us. Family and friends: Jacques, Michelle and Rene: Thank you! And then also thanks to all others. Before it gets too mushy...


We returned home and Matthew was still awake. He waited up for us. He crept up behind me and gave me a big squeeze. I couldn't say anything. I took off my cap and placed it on his head. Hopefully he will get his own one day.



Thanks to all for your prayers for today. It was really special and a day I will remember for the rest of my life.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Feeling a bit off-ish

(By the way, the caption reads "Tastes funny")

As a minister, I regularly visit people who are ill. They may be in hospital or at home. If I don't visit, I feel that I haven't done my job. I quite enjoy walking down hospital corridors, and I have once been mistaken for a real doctor. I enjoyed the moment, and had a laugh.

This week was my turn to be upside-down. After a hectic week at work, confronted by the emotional turmoil created by the movie "As it is in Heaven", and struggling with my sense of being called, my body decided to take some time out. And it did it properly. It would have been considerate to at least ask my permission, but I think it takes after my wife. It just does things anyway, because it knows that if it were up to me it wouldn't get done.

For the first time in about ten years I spent a full day in bed. Not being lazy, but continuously making peace with Mr Jesus, just to be on the safe side. And then it struck me. I seriously need to think about how I visit people in hospital. Some may not even want me there. I certainly didn't want to be disturbed. I was quite enjoying Bugs Bunny's company (thanks to Benylin 4 Flu).

Being ill is not for the fainthearted (excuse the pun), so I found a new respect for people who try to make life worth living even when their bodies say "No". Blessings to all real doctors out there who try to make people feel better.

Just some thoughts.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

OK Pete, I give in.

Pete asked for a photo of me in my Speedo, so here it is...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Waiting.

Soooooo. I decided to come to gym today. I haven't been for a couple of months, and seeing that summer is on its way, I better start shaping up. Not only do I have to shape up for summer, but Midmar is drawing close quite fast.

Getting up was easy this morning, because I have been planning this session for a while. The smell of chlorine in the air, pumping music in the background only when I come up to breathe, hell I'm pumped. My car drove itself here, adrenaline flowing through my veins. As I stepped into the gym, I noticed that something is different... not only different, but utterly wrong. The pool is full of people... all the equipment is occupied...all the seats at Kauai are taken. NOOOOO!!!!

So, now I am surfing the net while watching other people exercise. This is not too unpleasant an experience though. Wait, a lane just opened. Let me slip into my Speedo. I might just scare the rest out of the water as well.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Service


What does the word "service" mean to you? The word "service" is a wonderful idea, but somehow knots your stomach like a kindergarten shoelace. My car needs to go for a service - wait for it...here it comes...a double fisherman's knot. Sitting at a coffeeshop, I try to get the waitron's attention "Can I have some service please?" - here it comes...hangman''s noose. And then they look at me as if I insulted their mothers! Service - you say one thing, but it means something else altogether.

Here are some interesting words about service from uncle Karl (I know I've posted it before, but I need some reminding):

"In general terms, service is willing, working and doing in which a person acts not according to his own purposes and plans but with a view to the purpose of another person and according to the need, disposition, and direction of others. It is an act whose freedom is limited and determined by the other’s freedom, an act whose glory becomes increasingly greater to the extent that the doer is not concerned about his own glory but about the glory of the other."

p.s. Sorry about the crude picture, but I thought it was very funny.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Same-sex relationships and getting lost.


Yesterday I led a workshop on Christians and same-sex relationships at Coronationville Methodist Church and received mixed reports. "Mixed reports" means it went well, because I refuse to tell people what to believe and understand the frustration of those who expect to be told what to believe.

But what a trip to get there, more so coming back. I borrowed my in-laws' GPS a toy which I have been eyeing for quite some time. It didn't quite work as I expected it to. The instructions told me that a voice would prompt me and all I needed to do was follow instructions. Simple enough, but life is never as simple as that. Getting to Jo'burg was fine, but then I had to snake my way through some suburbs. All of a sudden a voice spoke, saying "turn left", which I immediately did. The the voice spoke again, saying "recalculating". "Turn left" it said again, which I promptly did, only to hear again "recalculating". Something was not right, which means that something was going wrong, terribly wrong. Each time I turned, it would re-calculate. It must have been my fault, so I stopped, removed all excess wax from my ears, tied a ribbon to my left wrist and tried again. To no avail.

So I tried something more complex, I psychoanalyzed the voice. Thank heavens I am studying psychology, and thank heavens even more that I am doing Abnormal psychology this year. Step 1 in psychoanalysis: You cannot psychoanalyze an object, only a human being, and so I proceeded to give the voice a name: Suzie. Don't ask me why, but that was the first name that jumped to mind. And then it all dawned on me... I was listening to a lady giving directions. Directiongiving 101 explicitly states that... ok, let's not go down this road. Directiongiving 101.2 states that when a lady says "turn left", it never means "turn left", but means "turn left just now, once you are over that hill......there...far away, crossed two streams, swerved out 6 times to miss potholes, pedestrians and dead cows". It all made sense. I then proceeded to translate all of Suzie's instructions and got to Coronationville in no time and returned home in even less.

Thank you Suzie.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Greed!!!!!


During the past few days, we have experienced a shortage of fuel due to a petro-chemical workers' strike. Petrol pumps ran dry over the weekend and everybody talked about the inconvenience of it all.

On Saturday I had to make my way to Eersterus for a meeting and had to find some petrol in order to get there (and back). Eventually I found a petrol station that had unleaded. I waited patiently in line, and getting to the front asked the attendant how much fuel we were allowed. He indicated that they still had enough to fill my 35l tank, which I did. But then I witnessed something that was as painful as chewing on polystyrene.

A man drove up to the pump next to the one where I was filling up. Hitched to the car was a 300l tank which he filled subsequent to filling his car and then opened the boot in order to fill four 5l cans! Can you believe it!!!??? He drove away with at least 6 people's share of fuel and he didn't blush once!

And so I preached on sharing this past Sunday. Sharing enables the strengthening of community. Without sharing, without being considerate towards others, without willfully sacrificing a bit so that there can be enough for all, we will never know the meaning of community.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The quest for the historical Jesus





From a friend:

EVEN GOD ENJOYS A GOOD LAUGH!

There were 3 good arguments that Jesus was Black:
1. He called everyone brother.
2. He liked Gospel.
3. He didn't get a fair trial.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Jewish:
1. He went into His Father's business.
2. He lived at home until he was 33.
3. He was sure his Mother was a virgin and his Mother was sure He was God.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Italian:
1. He talked with His hands.
2. He had wine with His meals.
3. He used olive oil

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was a Californian:
1. He never cut His hair.
2. He walked around barefoot all the time.
3. He started a new religion.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was an American Indian :
1. He was at peace with nature.
2. He ate a lot of fish.
3. He talked about the Great Spirit.

But then there were 3 equally good arguments that Jesus was Irish:
1. He never got married.
2. He was always telling stories.
3. He loved green pastures.

But the most compelling evidence of all - 3 proofs that Jesus was a woman:
1. He fed a crowd at a moment's notice when there was virtually no food.
2. He kept trying to get a message across to a bunch of men who just didn't get it.
3. And even when He was dead, He had to get up because there was still work to do.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My first fitting!

This may look like a preview to the new Mr Bean movie, but believe it or not, this is me! It feels absolutely great to be draped in red. Thanks Dion for coming with and taking the pictures and also for the great gift of buying my hood. The last photo was taken at DEWCOM.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Old ladies and rugby balls

Well, I've been back in the office for a week now and I must say that I have mixed feelings about people who say that they know Mr Jesus.

The ladies (and gents, but more the ladies because they spoil me with coffee and cake) have been extremely good to us. One lady from the congregation came into my office, told me to wake up and demanded to know why I am not aware of what is going on in each of our members' lives. Might I add that we have about 3500 of those - not the old lady, but members.

And so my mind started to wander... to a time and place in the past... where worries were few and dreams were in abundance... a place in primary school... on the rugby field... where I placed a ball perfectly poised for an attempt to convert a try... I stepped forward and kicked... releasing all frustrations, temptations and all other things ending in "ations"...

Tempting... VERY tempting.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Last day at Scottburgh


This is our last day at Scottburgh. These two weeks certainly went by quickly. Nevertheless, we have formed lots of memories to carry us through until we return in February, God willing.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Waffling about waffles

There is nothing quite as nice as eating waffles and ice cream at the coast. There is nothing quite as delightful as testing the quality of the waffles at the new waffle shop that opened last week. Not only do they serve the traditional waffles and cream (or ice cream), but they have a variety of other extras that make this shop worth stopping at. Waffles with fruit salad, waffles with caramel, with Bar One sauce, and then for the not-so-sweet tooth, waffles with pickled pork, with chicken, lamb curry and even savoury mince. Who could be so inventive? Only the English! The owners used to live right next door to Old Trafford, but decided that opening a waffle shop in Scottburgh would be more fulfilling. I just had to chuckle, because in this Pommie shop they were playing De la Rey for background music. That’s like playing Yankee Doodle in an Iraqi Coffee shop, or at least the one that used to operate on the corner of Saddam street and Hussein avenue a couple of years ago.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A bit of reality.

"If you want a tree to grow upright, you do not wait for it to grow for 13 years before you decide to pull it straight." These were the words of Muslim clerics to the ANC when discussing issues of morality.

A few weeks ago I was part of this conversation as the ANC, in preparation for their policy meeting, consulted with leaders from different religious communities. The theme of the workshop was "Value of values". For the last 13 years, the government has taken a backseat on issues of religion. In my opinion, all that it seemed to say about religion is that it is a good idea for people to practice theirs while being tolerant of religions different to their own. And so, formal academic theological training has dwindled as the state and academic institutions do not see Theological or Religious faculties as an investment in the building of our communities.

And so, we have let this tree grow for 13 years without investing in a rod that will help this tree grow upright.

I just spoke to my brother in Pretoria. He and the lady he lives with were robbed in the early hours of this morning. They live in a security complex within a security complex. Yes, you read right - two sets of security firms, two sets of fences, two boomgates. Jacques wasn't there, but Vicky was. She was badly assaulted and threatened with her life. If Jacques were there, they would have probably shot him - that is what they do: shoot the men, beat the ladies. The two robbers stole a HUGE plasma TV and a cuboard full of clothes. Now, how did they get all that stuff out of the complexes when there are patrolling security guards?

What can we do to get this tree straight? Mr Nqakula reads into the crime statistics that things are not worth worrying about. Mr Mbeki does not seem concerned about the social dynamics that form when over a million refugees flood over our borders while one tyrrant after another destroy not only their hopes and homes, but also ours.

The meeting with the religious leaders clearly said to the ANC: "You reap what you sow.". Hell, I'm angry! Too much of me is telling me that it is irresponsible of me to raise our children here.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Day 6

uShaka marine worldWe took a walk along Durban's golden mile. I rode on these exact toys nearly 30 years ago! Oh, the memories...