Sunday, September 30, 2007

Happy birthday Natalie!

Isn't SHE beautiful? Nats 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


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


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


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.