Thursday, June 21, 2007

Theological Society of South Africa

Today we concluded our second day of the TSSA conference.

Dion gave a fantastic paper entitled "A generous ontology: Identity as a process of intersubjective discovery - An African theological contribution". He got our minds spinning and I even sit here now asking myself the question whether I am actually sitting here typing this blog, and, whether my Apple Powerbook has a more advanced and certain consciousness than me.

With a mind doing all kinds of backflips, cartwheels and bungi-jumping through different quantum realities, I moved on to the next session where I presented my paper, entitled "Martyrs: Shall we die for the church or the faith?" It was received very well, despite me feeling that it resembled the likes of a Saturday night sermon. (Those preachers out there will know what I'm talking about). Still, a great day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

100th blog and some good news!!!!

Could you believe it? Well, believe it 'cos its true! This is my 100th blog! I never thought I'd make it.

Neither did I think I would make my PhD, but yes, I got news today that my thesis was passed by all the examiners and that there are no corrections! My defense will take place next Wednesday at 14:30, so please spare a prayer for me.

Now I quickly have to finish an article which I am presenting at the Theological Society of South Africa conference tomorrow. Spare another prayer for me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Jislaaik, it’s such a lekker place here in sunny S.A.

I got this from a colleague:

AG: This is one of the most useful South African words. Pronounced like the “ach” in the German “Achtung” it can be used to start a reply when you are asked a tricky question, as in “Ag, I don’t know.” Or a sense of resignation “Ag, I’ll have some more mieliepap then.” It can stand alone too as a signal of irritation or of pleasure.

DONNER: A rude word, it comes from the Afrikaans “Donder” (thunder). Pronounced “Dorner”, it means “beat up”. Your rugby team can get donnered in a game, or your boss can donner you if you do a lousy job.

EINA: Widely used by al language groups, this word, derived from the Afrikaans means “Ouch”. Pronounced “aynah”, you can shout it in sympathy when someone burns his finger on a hot mealie at a braai.

HEY: Often used at the end of a sentence to emphasise the importance of what had just been said, as in “Jislaaik boet, you’re only going to get a lekker klap if you can’t find your takkies now, hey?” It can also stand alone as a question. Instead f saying “Excuse me?” or “Pardon?” when you have not heard something directed t you, you can say “Hey?”

ISIT? This is a great word for conversations. Derived from the two words “is” and “it”, it can be used when you have nothing to contribute if someone tells you at the braai “The Russians will succeed in their bid for capitalism once they adopt a work ethic and respect for private ownership.” It is quite appropriate to respond by saying, “Isit?”

JAWELNOFINE: This is another conversation fallback word. Derived from the four words “yes”, “well”, “no” and “fine”, it means roughly “how about that?” If your bank manager tells you your account is overdrawn, you can say with confidence “Jawelnofine.”

JISLAAIK: Pronounced “Yis-like”, it is an expression of astonishment. For instance, if someone tells you there are a billion people in China, a suitable comment is “Jislaaik, that’s a hang of a lot of people, hey?”

KLAP: Pronounced “klup” – an Afrikaans word meaning smack, whack or spank. If you spend too much time at the movies at exam time, you could end up catching a klap from your pa.

LEKKER: An Afrikaans word meaning nice, this word is used by aall language groups to express approval. If you see someone of the opposite sex who is good-looking, you can exclaim “Lekkerrr!” while drawing out the last syllable.

TACKIES: These are sneakers or running shoes. The word is also used to describe automobile or truck tyres. “Fat tackies” are big tyres, as in “Where did you get those lekker tackies on your Volksie, hey?”

DOP: This word has two basic meanings, one good and one bad. First, the good. A dop is a drink, a cocktail, a sundowner, a noggin. If you are invited over for a dop, be careful. It could be one or two sedate drinks or a blast, depending on the company you have fallen in with. Now the bad. To dop is to fail. If you dopped standard two (grade 4) more than once, you probably won’t be reading this.

SARMIE: This is a sandwich. For generations, school children have traded sarmies during lunch breaks. If you are sending kids off to school in the morning, don’t give them liver-polony sarmies. They are the toughest to trade.

HOWZIT: This is the universal South African greeting, and you will hear this word throughout the land. It is often used with the word “no” as this exchange “No, howzit?”, “No, fine.”, “No, isit?”

WHAT’S POTTING: Local vernacular for “What’s happening?” or “What’s up?”. This term has no gardening connotation whatsoever.

BIOSCOPE: A local word now losing a little fashion meaning movie theatre, cinema, flicks or pictures, depending on which part of the world you come from.

JUST NOW: Contrary to its apparent meaning, “just now” can mean anytime from now right through to the next millennium. Asked to do a job you don’t particularly like, you would reply “Ja, I’ll do it just now”

NOW NOW: In much of the outside world, this is a comforting phrase “Now, now, don’t cry – I’ll take you to the bioscope tomorrow. But in South Africa, this phrase means a little sooner than soon. “I’ll clean up my room now now, Ma”, knowing that you will receive a well deserved “klap” if you don’t do it at once. It is a little more urgent than “just now”.

BOET: This is an Afrikaans word meaning “brother” which is shared by all labguage groups. Pronounced “boot” as in “foot”, it can be applied to a non-brother. For instance, a father can call his son “Boet” and friends can apply the term to each other too. Sometimes the diminutive “boetie” is used. Don’t use this term with someone you hardly know – it would be thought patronizing.

PASOP: From the Afrikaans phrase meaning “Watch out!” this warning is used and heeded by all language groups. As in “Your ma hasn’t had her morning coffee yet Boet so pasop and stay out of her way.” Sometimes just the word, “Pasop!” is enough without further explanation. Everyone knows it sets out a line in the sand not to be crossed.

VROT: Pronounced “frot”. A wonderful word which means “rotten” or “putrid” in Afrikaans, it is used by all language groups to describe anything they really don’t like. Most commonly it describes fruit and vegetables whose shelf-lives have long expired, but a pair of tackies worn a few times too often can be termed “vrot” by unfortunate folk in the same room as the wearer. Also a rugby player who misses important tackles can be said to have played a vrot game – but not to his face because he won’t appreciate it. We once saw a movie review with this headline “Slick Flick, Vrot Plot”.

JA-NEE: Afrikaans for “Yes/No” in English. This expression’s origin is believed to have originated when a family member starts talking politics (what else do we talk about in South Africa?) and you don’t want to cause a political argument and get klapped or donnered, then every now and then you mutter, “Ja-Nee” (pronounced yah-near)

GRAZE: In a country with a strong agricultural tradition, it is not surprising that farming words crop up (pun intended) in general conversation. Thus to graze means to eat. If you are invited to a bioscope show, you may be asked “Do you want to catch a graze now now”.

CATCH A TAN: This is what you do when you lie on the beach pretending to study for matric exams. The Brits, who have their own odd phrases, say they are getting “bronzed”. Nature has always been unkind to South African school children, providing beach and swimming pool weather just when they should be swotting for the mid-summer finals. If you spend too much time “catching a tan” at exam time, you could end up catching a sharp “klap” from your pa.

ROCK UP: To rock up at some place is to just sort of arrive. You don’t make an appointment or tell anyone you are coming – you just rock up. Friends can do that, but you have to be selective about it. You can’t just rock up for an interview or at aa five star restaurant. You give them a bell first, then you rock up.

BELL: South African vernacular for telephone call as in “Ja Boet, I’ll give you aa bell just now” which means phoning anytime from now to eternity.

SCALE: To scale something is to steal it. A person who is “scaly” is not nice, he’s a scumbag and should be left off the Christmas part invitation list.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A day to remember

Yesterday was my birthday. But this birthday was one to remember, thanks to my beautiful wife. It seemed as if the whole universe conspired to make this a very special occassion.

I woke with U2's "Where the streets have no name" playing in my head. You know the feeling: when you have a particular tune in mind that you know will not let you go for the rest of the day. I didn't think much of it, but realized that I hadn't listened to my favourite band for quite some time. So, I started singing along. The muffled noise subsequently woke Natalie and the two boys, who were not too impressed, but delighted in the opportunity to jump on our bed and sing "Happy Birthday" (well, only Nats and Matt sang, while Nathan tried to join in with some spontaneous vocal harmonies which closely resembled his father's attempt to sing melody).

And then it came out... a big, flat square wrapped in purple and blue paper. And, you could have guessed, it was the book "U2 by U2" - something that I have been looking at for quite some time. While Natalie made some coffee and fed the boys, I followed orders to stay in bed and read my new book. It was bliss.

I had to get up sometime and decided to eat breakfast while watching the "U2 - live at Slane Castle" DVD which had been gathering dust for well over a year. Nathan had his mid-morning nap, while Matt and I jumped around the lounge to "It's a beautiful day" and the like. Natalie popped out to go and "run some erands", unbeknowns to me that she was plotting something for the rest of the day.

In between jumping on couches, swinging from a ceiling fan and behaving like a hooligan - something that comes more naturally to Matt than to me - I answered calls, everybody wishing me well, and reading SMS's and thanking God for dear friends.

Natalie returned, loaded the boys, including me, in the car and drove to her mom's house. Her mom recently got married and is still on honeymoon, so I was made to believe that we were going to braai there, because the we would be able to watch the rugby. Fair enough.

It didn't take long before the gatebell started ringing, announcing the arrival of very dear friends. Natalie planned a party! WOW! First, my brother arrived, bringing me a helmet - so now I can ride (of course when my Vespa is all put back together), Melanie came back from flying and gave me a Jeremy Clarkson book - which I have almost finished reading, John, Olga and baby Lilly surprised me with a '95 Laborie Cabernet and a Toblerone chockie (which I've been craving for about a lifetime) and also Rene, whose voucher I must spend on getting the other Clarkson books.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't about the wonderful gifts, but being surprised by friends and family who wanted to spend this day with me.

We braaied, chatted, played a bit of cricket with Matt and then partook in the most divine feast of salads, meat, breads and conversation. Our meal ended as the rugby started, and what a game it was! Shouting for the Boks was only interrupted by opening our mouths to eat some carrotcake and milktart.

As the sun set, friends and family started making their way home, leaving me with great appreciation and memories to last me another year. Special thanks must go to Natalie, for making this a day to remember.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

He knows my name!

Nathan said "Pappa"! He has been calling his mother for about a week now, but when I returned home today, he looked at me, smiled and said "Pappa".

At first I thought it was just baby-babble, but when I left the room and went back a while later, he did exactly the same! There is no feeling like this. They truly grow up too quickly.

This experience made me think about my relationship with God. It hasn't been all that great lately, mainly because I have not spent enough time in prayer. But what must God feel like when we call on him for the first time. It may be a call of recognition, perhaps even a call of desperation. In my case it was a call of total surrender.

If God has a heart I would like to believe that it beat strongly in his chest when we call Him by name.

It's time for me to go spend some time with Abba.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Just registered on

See if you can find me there.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Hell, I thought I had a bit of savvy...

Matthew and I went shopping for supper. We stayed out a bit late, because we first HAD to stop at Mugg and Bean for a milkshake...our normal Friday Father-Son routine.

It was getting a bit late, so we made our way back home. Matt suddenly looked up and saw the Evening-star and said: "Pappa, look at that star! It is so bright, hey!". Noting a perfect opportunity to teach him something I asked "Do you know what that star's name is?", just to tell him that this star's name is Venus. And so I went on and said "Can you say Venus? Ve-nus" to which he responded "Ag, pappa... Venus is not a star, it's a planet and Jupiter is the biggest one!"

I decided to keep quiet for the rest of the trip and listen to his enlightened thinking.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

6 June 1992

Today, 15 years ago, I preached my first sermon.

It was an evening service at Carletonville Methodist Church. My supervisor, Rev. (now Dr.) Dion Forster sat in the front pew. I was 16 years old and preached about faith. I was sure I knew what faith was, how God called us to faith and that faith had absolutely nothing to do with what we know.

I had a very clear picture of God in my mind and my preaching was filled with conviction. Theologians were doomed to hell, and so were homosexuals, drunkards and anyone who didn't believe as I did. My God was ready to kick some backside!

I wonder what I would have said to myself if I had the opportunity to meet the present "me". I wonder what I would say to the me of the past if I had the opportunity to meet myself-of-old.

Strange thing is, that I do meet my old self in many others, who are just as convinced and passionate about their views as what I used to be.

Time has taught me to listen more carefully, because the me of the future might even struggle to have a decent conversation with the me of the present.

Time has taught me about grace and graciousness.

I do not doom the me of the past. I celebrate today, because it reminds me that I will continue to grow and that the Lord's pruning sheers are active in this life.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Being a man.

I think it was Bill Cosby who said that God gave man a brain and a penis, but only enough blood to operate one at a time.
Being a man demands an understanding of this simple truth, the wisdom to know which organ is in control at any given moment, and the search for the place where one can control your own bloodflow.
I have been looking for a men's magazine for quite some time - mainly to relax a bit while enjoying being a man. Unfortunately, modern men's mag's do not have a balanced approach to manhood, focussing much more on the nether-regions than on broader issues. And so, it is easy to pick up a Men's Health, a GQ or FHM and see that the articles are predictable, monotonous and just plain same-old... "Loose weight, gain muscle fast... 207 things she wished you'd know... Erectile dysfunction, the secret cure...". As I celebrated life today, I came across a Men's Mag with a difference. It is called Manwees (Afrikaans for "Being a man"). I was astonished to see that it dedicated only about 5 of the 150 pages to erotic pleasure. The rest was made up of book and movie reviews, wine-tasting, ideas for quality-time activities with the kids...wife...yourself, bikes and a whole lot more. It is only available in Afrikaans, but is a must-read.
My wife just walked in, saw the mag on my desk and asked "Is this a South African magazine?" She read the title in English. I first had to laugh, not because of her mistake, but to the obvious connection between men and their things, for she did not think the title to be that out of character at all. Then I said a prayer, praying for the wisdom I spoke about earlier.