Monday, December 29, 2008

Bee sting

Riding a motorbike does not come without its dangers. A bee did a proper job on my throat while I was riding at high speed (this is relative) on my Vespa. I couldn't exactly flick it away, so I had to grin and bear it. The adrenaline in my body (from riding my bike) prevented me from swelling too badly.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I'm all alone with the boys

Natalie's sister, Michelle, is a pilot for South African Airways. One of the perks of being a pilot is having "family tickets". And so, Natalie boarded the Airbus A340 on Saturday, heading to Frankfurt. She will be there until either tomorrow or Wednesday.

Nats told be that she was bumped up to business class and that the flight was way too short in order to explore all the comforts that the rich enjoy. Yesterday she spent the whole day at a Christmas market in Mainz. Even though it is only 6 degrees celsius there, she is having a lot of fun.

So are we.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Trying to hear something new.

There are a couple of things that irritate me during Christmas. The first is BoneyM's Christmas album. Why do shopping centers insist on playing BoneyM? Wake up! That album is almost 20 years old! Just hearing the Jamaican rendering of "Mary's boychild, Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas day..." drives me dilly. It is forever ingrained in my mind, so much so that as soon as I see the Christmas decorations go up, I hear it booming through my head. Thank you Pavlov, but I do not need this negative re-enforcement!

The second is the Calypso carol (See Him lying in a bed of straw...). Sorry Anne. Something tells me that I am developing a biased against anything Caribbean.

The third is clichéd advent and Christmas sermons. "It is not about he gift...", "It is better to give than to receive..." You name it, I've heard it. It is almost as bad as the clichéd image of ministers in the movies: Rowan Atkinson in a dog collar. This is a time for me to be especially quiet and to discern what God is saying to the world. I wonder if what God has to say has anything to do with how we view Christmas. No, I won't become all "sermonny" now, but I just wonder if there is something new which will be revealed this Christmas - something that is truly going to speak into people's lives and not just about this festive time. In short, is there going to be something so real in people's encounter with God during this advent and Christmas season that it will keep the hoards of people in church after Christmas day? More than that, will Christmas spark something in these people which will see a social transformation?

Maybe I'm expecting too much, but isn't our Christmas just about that - great expectations?

Perhaps something needs to spark in me first.

Please pray for me and all other ministers who are preparing sermons, messages and liturgies during this very difficult time in the liturgical year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Insightful contemplation

My 5-year old son, Matthew, never ceases to astonish me with his insights.

Yesterday we were driving to the shops and I could see that he was deep in thought. Here follows the conversation:

W: Matt, are you thinking, my boy?

M: Yes.

W: Is something bothering you?

M: Yes.

W: Do you want to talk to me about it?

M: Yes.

W: What is it?

M: Pappa, does Batman poep?

Answer that one!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Very clever, Mr. President-elect.

Following on from the G.W. "shoe"-incident, (See Dion's blog), it was quite funny to see Barak Obama holding a press conference at "Dodge Renaissance Academy". Very clever.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pop goes the weasooooolll

In case you were wondering... Matt is visiting with my folks in Carletonville for a few days. He's enjoying it very much, and need I say, being spoilt rotten.

On holiday

I take leave twice a year, two weeks in July and then two weeks in December. This year we went to Manzi Monate, about 20 mins drive from our home. In the previous post you'll see the Roodeplaat dam. The dam itself is quite dirty, largely due to sewage pumped into it from a nearby town. It is good to see that authorities are trying to clean it up.

Unfortunately I could only spend some of the time there with my family. A day before we left our Labrador, Chrissie, had to have some teeth pulled. She is getting quite old and is allergic to grass. From the constant scratching she broke some of her teeth, resulting in this small, but very pricey operation. I spent aa couple of days at home looking after her while Nat, the boys and my in-laws went away. I then later replaced my in-laws. No, let me put the records straight; the day I arrived at Manzi, they left. No bad feelings, it was planned that way.

Anyway, we are back, full of mosquito bites and a little boy who learnt to jump on a trampoline, play hide-and-seek and count to 15.


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Doctor Whom

I have just finished reading Andrew Feinstein's "After the party". It is an incredible book on the deception, corruption and self-enriching tactics used in politics, more specifically the ANC. While it concerns the ANC, I am pessimistic enough to think that this is a universal tendency wherever politics is practiced. I took my time reading this book, and when I read the newspaper (Mail and Guardian & Sunday Independent), it is much easier to see the story behind the story.

Now I am starting the book "Doctor Whom: ET shoots and leaves - The zero tolerance approach to Parodication" by A.R.R.R. Roberts (See my booklist to the right).

Here is the blurb from the cover page:

"Join Dr Whom, his reliably pedantic assistant Linnaeus Trout... and Prose Tailor. Don't worry, not even he knows why he's (possessive apostrophe or the other sort? Uhhh) in the story. Oh (should there be a comma there do you think? Or perhaps an exclamation mark) that's right he's the narrator.

Still there should be plenty of room for all three of them on the adventure what with the TARDY being bigger on the inside than the out. Mind you, have you ever wondered (you haven't, have you?) what that would mean for the smallest room on the TARDY? Yes that's right, the toilet is bigger than the size of an aircraft hangar. Where was I?

Oh yes. Join the Dr., (full stop then a comma - that can't be right - look there's a little squiggly green line under it) Linn and Prose as they fight to protect the galaxy from the perils of bad grammar, sloppy punctuation and careless sentence construction. Not to mention, the Cydermen, the remorseless andoid Garleks and the Celebrity Chefs du Monde."

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Tell me what you think of South Africa.

These questions about South Africa were posted on a South African Tourism Website and were answered by the website owner.

Q: Does it ever get rainy in South Africa? I have never seen it rain on TV, so how do the plants grow? (UK)
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.

Q: Will I be able to see elephants in the street? (USA)
A: Depends how much you've been drinking.

Q: I want to walk from Durban to Cape Town - can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it's only two thousand kilometres. Take lots of water...

Q: Is it safe to run around in the bushes in South Africa ? (Sweden)
A: So it's true what they say about Swedes.

Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in South Africa? Can you send me a List of them in JHB, Cape Town , Knysna and Jeffrey's Bay? ( UK )
A: What did your last slave die of?

Q: Can you give me some information about Koala Bear racing in South Africa? (USA)
A: Aus-tra-lia is that big island in the middle of the pacific. A-Fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe which does not.... Oh forget it. Sure, the Koala Bear racing is every Tuesday night in Hillbrow. Come naked.

Q: Which direction is north in South Africa? (USA)
A: Face south and then turn 90 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.

Q: Can I bring cutlery into South Africa ? (UK)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.

Q: Do you have perfume in South Africa? ( France )
A: No, WE don't stink.

Q: Can you tell me the regions in South Africa where the female population is smaller than the male population? (Italy)
A: Yes, gay nightclubs.

Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in South Africa? (France)
A: Only at Christmas.

Q: Are there killer bees in South Africa? (Germany)
A: Not yet, but for you, we'll import them.

Q: Are there supermarkets in Cape Town and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilisation of vegetarian hunter- gatherers.. Milk Is illegal.

Q: Please send a list of all doctors in South Africa who can dispense rattlesnake serum. (USA)
A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca, which is where YOU come from. All South African snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make good pets.

Q: I was in South Africa in 1969, and I want to contact the girl I dated while I was staying in Hillbrow. Can you help? (USA)
A: Yes, and you will still have to pay her by the hour.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Jupiter, the moon and Venus

Once every 100 years, Jupiter, the Moon and Venus find themselves in this aligned position. It is quite a sight, knowing that the next time this takes place our grandchildren will be watching. Perhaps they will even visit this blog.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The afternoon at Irene Village Mall

Live music, Vida E and a beautiful summer afternoon at Irene Village Mall. Only sundowners at Clifton Beach can beat it!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Matthew the gymnast!

Our Matthew is now a beginner gymnast!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

But wait, there's more...

“When interpreting the bible you must be aware of the people wearing spectacles. For instance a friend of mine shared a story with me of a man who went to buy meat at the butcher wearing spectacles, when he got to the fridge he told the owner that the meat is all off and the owner said it is impossible, he went to look there was nothing wrong with the meat, he asked his client to take the spectacles off because he was wearing green spectacles so everything turns green in his eyes. Remember that there are people like that one.”

On Kantian ethics:
"People must be look on. This must be oral action. According to Kant, it is not based on feelings, it is based on duty... Kant's weakness:Pay attention to one thing only."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Exams. Students. Ja-wat

I am busy marking first year ethics scrips. I love marking as you sometimes come across hilarious things the students come up with. How is this one?

"Gender is about sexuality, namely male and female. When we stop bitten around the bush on this issue..."

I first had to get up from the floor after falling off my chair with laughter, compose myself and then decide that the student was talking about people not taking the issue seriously.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Facebook: "Wessel is PROUD OF HIS BOYS"

Sorry, no photo. Only took video today.

It was Matt's last school concert at Busy Boffins as he is moving on to Grade 0 next year. He played the leading role in the play and EXCELLED! Nathan sat on the edge of the stage, stealing muffins out of the Muffin Man's basket, clapping and gesturing occasionally just to let his teacher think that his attention was in the right place.

And then the little graduation ceremony...snot en trane (Runny nose and tears - for those who do not speak Afrikaans).

I can go to bed tonight knowing that we are doing something right.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy birthday Nathan!

Our little Nathan turns 2 today. Here's a little bit about him:

Favourite sayings:

1. No way, pappa!
2. Maaaaaatttttt!
3. Matt, you are baby!
4. Matt, my mamma!
5. Wotzat?

Favourite things:

1. Motorbikes
2. Motorbikes
3. Did I forget to mention motorbikes?

Favourite toys:

1. Blue pushbike
2. Dinkytoy motorbike
3. The vacuum cleaner

Favourite food:

1. Anything with chocolate
2. Fishfingers
3. Beetroot
4. 5c coins

Favourite DVD:

1. George of the jungle
2. Dinosaurs
3. Sharkboy and Lavagirl

Favourite places:

1. Sitting next to mom or dad
2. Nonna's house
3. Moocow (Irene mall)
4. Church
5. Emergency room

Favourite activity:

1. High risk maneuvers
2. Irritating Matt
3. Climbing the highest object
4. chasing the dogs
5. Dancing

Favourite songs:

1. Grace Kelly
2. I kissed a girl
3. Twinkle twinkle little star
4. Incy wincy spider (Dad's version which involves tickling and an electric guitar)

What he'll be doing today:

1. Eat breakfast
2. Go to school
3. Have a nap
4. Go to Menlyn to watch his first movie on the big screen

Monday, November 10, 2008

After the party

Our little Nathan is turning 2 on Friday. We had to have his party this past weekend to fit in with everyone's comings-and-goings. This tells me that he really enjoyed the day.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Scroll text on BBC

"Teenage girls who watch T.V. programmes with a high sexual content are twice as likely to fall pregnant."

My mom always said T.V. is bad for you...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Dear Rev

Dear Rev. Bentley

I hereby submit my resignation from membership of your church. I do so, because I am unhappy about the Sunday services.

Yours truly

Mrs X.

This is a letter I received the day before yesterday. The person came to see me and said that they are unhappy about the inclusion of children's addresses in the service. "Children should not be in church!". We had a meaningful discussion, after which the person expressed that she feels much more comfortable at one of the churches in our area.

Her husband, an atheist and professed believer in Darwin rather than God, then dug into me. "Why do you do it? This is not the way things used to be in England!". To which I responded, "Even Darwin suggested that we either adapt or we die".

I am happy to see many people come to realize that we are not here to "play church". We ARE CHURCH, which means we are a community. This means "making space" for each other and celebrating our collective space in our common response of faith to God's grace.

Tonight we will be such a community, sharing in a meal and saying farewell to my colleague who is retiring. Children will be welcome.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Nokia E71 Vodacom Bluetooth modem on the Mac

I've been struggling to use my new Nokia E71 as a Bluetooth modem on my Mac (Powerbook G4), but now got it right. I am a Vodacom subscriber. Here are some simple instructions:

1. Download the Phone script here.

2. Expand the file then in the folder, copy the CID1 file and paste it on "harddrive"\Library\Modem Scripts.

3. Pair the phone with the computer.

4. Instead of doing the normal *99#, type "internet"

5. Go to System preferences, Networking, click Bluetooth, Configure.

6. Make sure the number is still "internet" under the PPP tab.

7. PPP configuration, disable "send data packets".

8. Go to Bluetooth modem and see if the Nokia CID1 is selected.

9. Apply now.

Try and connect now.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What I love in what I do

Tonight we had a baptism seminar, preparing the parents for Sunday when they will be making vows pertaining to the way in which they choose to raise their children. I love these moments, especially when through engaging with different understandings, people's eyes light up and it comes across that they now "own the process".

I am always blessed by spouses who do not come to church often becoming new friends. More often than not I sense their reservation when they get to know that I am a minister. I feel the stereotypes being played out in their minds. I think they must think that it is just a matter of time before they will pounce on me for being rigid, autocratic or pious. But that doesn't happen, well it hasn't happened yet. This is because Jesus makes my job easy. I welcome people, listen to them and celebrate their journeys. While Jesus makes my job easy, the church often complicates it, because many people carry negative stereotypes about ministers out of negative experiences in their past.

We parted ways tonight all looking forward to Sunday, celebrating God's love for these children and celebrating their place in community. I pray that it will be a special time for all.

I love teaching. No, I love facilitating journey. Bible studies, preaching, leading seminars, lecturing, these are things that give me life.

I do struggle with depression, and this week has been particularly difficult. This is something that needs to be managed, but I feel so much better having traveled with a few people, for a short time.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Faith, hope and love.

I am intrigued by people's conversations on the topic of faith. I am not talking about faith as a structured religion, but faith as an aspect of religious expression.

I am currently praying about a matter which concerns my future. As I have spoken to some folk, I have been told that I should bring the matter to God in faith, knowing that what I ask for will be given. This is not the first time I have been told to have faith, to exercise faith and to hold on to the things I want faithfully.

In my opinion, such an understanding of faith is too concerned with the future and does not capture the meaning of the term accurately.

Rather that speaking about faith as a future oriented term, I prefer to use the term "hope". "Faith" to me is more concerned with the past. I have faith and trust people whom I have journeyed with. When things go bad, my faith in God comes into full operation as I have an experience of God in my past when similar things have happened. Faith does not help at all if journey is ignored. When I look into the future, I have hope, because of my faith. Faith and hope then meet together in the present and manifest in the form of love.

So when I pray, I pray with hope and in hope. Whatever the outcome, my faith is not negated nor disproved, but intact as this is another stepping stone in the formation of my faith. I just hope I find it possible to love.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The most expensive 5c ever.

This is the 5c piece Nathan swallowed last week. The doc decided to remove it today. So far this coin has cost me over R1300, hospital bills excluded. I told the doctor if he found a R2 instead of the 5c, that we'll then put Nathan on a 'special diet'.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Explain this...

This is now a true mystery.

My mother-in-law dropped my Powerbook G4 and the battery was dinged quite badly. Now, all of a sudden, the battery life has increased by about 30%. I used to get about 2 hours, but now it is up to almost 3.

How's that?

Just proves that a good knock can improve performance. Must say, that my mother-in-law hasn't recovered yet.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Isn't she pretty?

Nat and I converted


We spent two weeks touring Israel and Jordan. It has been a fantastic pilgrimage. The 40 people from my congregation, my wife and I have experienced so much in the past two weeks that it is very difficult to convey. You can view photo's of our trip here.

Israel is great and I'll go back in a heartbeat. Amidst all the turmoil in the country, it still feels like a place with substance and so much to offer the world. Once again, the thoughts are difficult to convey. Our last two days were a bit indifferent. Petra is spectacular, but Jordan as a whole is not on my "to-do" list for the foreseeable future. It is expensive and corrupt.

At the moment I am sitting in Cairo international airport waiting for my flight which is boarding in 4 hours. I am also skype-chatting with my good friend Dion Forster who just landed in Uruguay. Ain't technology great!!!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Israel - A complex place

I came to Israel with very strong views. But I have come to realize that the situation in this country is much more complex than my trivial attempts to see the problems easily solvable. I have refrained from drawing parallels between what I have seen here and what happened in my own country under Apartheid. I think to draw a direct parallel is to ignore many other factors that were not present in my country, and many that are not present here.

Besides the high fences and frequent armed children, I have seen a measure of tolerance that does not appear in our country all that often, albeit a forced tolerance. Today Muslims prayed in the Muslim Quarter of the Temple Mount. To my shock, a few people around me started mocking the prayers which were resounding from the Mosque. I had to call my brothers to a place where we do not only tolerate, but respect the religion of others. An so we started listening. And instead of praying against them, I gave thanks for their example of unashamed devotion. I wish we had the same measure of commitment to public witness.

A complex place with complex people and complex issues. I pray for my redemption, for I cannot say "Well, thank you Lord that I am not like..."

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pictures from Israel

While I have a few minutes of free wi-fi, let me upload some pictures. See them here.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

My Wifey's birthday

Tomorrow (28th) is my Natalie's birthday. We will also be boarding the plane to go to Israel and Jordan for 2 weeks.

If you'd like, you can send her a message on Facebook. I know she'll appreciate it.

Happy Birthday Love!

Monday, September 22, 2008

My new toy

My new Nokia E71. A great gadget. Now I just have to wait for the battery to charge for 16 hours.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mamma mia!

Instead of going to the ordination service, I went to watch Mamma Mia! and discovered the difference between Bloemfontein and Pretoria.
In Bloem people sing along in the movies.
Ag, dis lekker!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Quote of the day

"Church is Jesus with a group of people around him...moving order to change the world." - Dr. Peter Storey


The Conference of the MCSA is in session. It is a time of deliberations, debate and a time that I always look forward to. Bloemfontein is a beautiful venue and it is wonderful to hear the Afrikaans accent which is particular to this region.
We arrived last night only to find that our accommodation had been cancelled. The local committee did not confirm their booking and so the hotel gave the rooms away. That left us a bit stuck. By 8pm last night we managed to find a guesthouse, which turns out to be a much better arrangement than what the church tried to provide.
I am sharing a room with Peter Witbooi. The room has two single beds that are pushed together. The room is too small to seperate the beds, so I had to ask my wife's permission to "share" a bed with a bishop-elect.
I'll post some photos as the day goes on.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Glen Methodist Church site

If you Googled The Glen Methodist Church, please click here to be redirected to the Glen's official blog.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A bit of a disasterous birthday party

We held Matthew's birthday party today at the church. He first went to Kim's party (she was born the day before him - the tenth) and then they both came over to the church to party some more. Matt had his Superman suit on aand was enjoying himself immensely.

I carried food around between the church kitchen and the tables where all the people were sitting. As I walked over, I heard a child crying, but did not make to much of it. Then I heard that this was a really "Ouch" kind of cry and walked over to the jumping castle to investigate. Out popped Marco (Natalie's cousin) with little Damen in his arms. I immediately saw that his arm was broken as it was flopping loosely all over the place. Ethan and Damen's mom quickly dropped them off in order to take her mom to a doctor. No-one had her number, so Marco and I jumped in the car and rushed little Damen to hospital. Natalie eventually got hold of Damen's mom who then met us at hospital. It turned out that Damen broke his arm just above the elbow socket. The whole front part of the arm then twisted almost 180 degrees and then pressed back.

Damen went onto surgery at 6pm. They had to put in 3 screws which will have to be checked in a weeks time and then removed in about 6 weeks.

Obviously we feel terrible about the whole event. Please pray for little Damen that he will recover quickly. He is such a brave little boy. Matt decided to pray a special prayer for Damen and told God how to fix his arm.

Lastly, happy birthday Matt. Sorry I missed most of your party. I know you understand.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

11 September

It's Matt's birthday! He turns 5! I cannot help but think of that day when our world was filled with a new life and then almost collapsed. Thank you Lord for this beautiful life. Here is a then and now photo.

Dancing with giants

Dancing with giants is a risky business. They might just get bored with you and with one step it's over.

Tonight I presented a paper at the Theological Society entitled "Who's truth will set us free?". It is the chapter which will appear in our soon to be published book. I read the title, looked around and noticed that the people listening were all people who's textbooks and studyguides I read as a student. And now I was tackling the issue of our perception of truth!!!! C'mon!!!! Klaus Nurnberger, Neville Richardson, Louise Kretzschmar, Conrad Wethmar, Ettiene de Villiers, the list goes on of well-known professors who really did not need to listen to my interpretation of our misconceptions.

But I was greatly honoured by their gracious interaction with my thinking. At least they did not just listen to the paper and keep quiet. A dynamic discussion ensued and I felt like I was given another chance.

I must say that I love this environment. Let me say it again: I LOVE IT! I hope the feeling will be the same the day my paper is ripped to shreds.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Hayibo - ANC, with 15 million votes and new warships, frightened by cartoon

Another little article from

Hayibo - ANC, with 15 million votes and new warships, frightened by cartoon

PRETORIA. Party insiders have confirmed that despite having a guaranteed two-thirds majority in the next election, the entire GDP at its disposal, R30-billion worth of high-tech weaponry, and complete control of the national broadcaster, the ANC has been "badly frightened" by a controversial cartoon by Jonathan Shapiro depicting the rape of South Africa's justice system by Jacob Zuma.

The cartoon appeared over the weekend in the Sunday Times and immediately unleashed a storm of activity at the ANC's headquarters in Luthuli House, where an alert level of 'Mshini Wami 4' was declared.

It was the first time Luthuli House has gone to 'Mshini Wami 4', the previous highest being 'Mshini Wami 2', declared in 2006 after Zuma had his account with suspended over late payment for a consignment of books which included the collected works of Freud and an illustrated beginner's guide to the work of Germaine Greer.

Addressing the Luthuli House press corps this morning, party spokesman Doughnut Phiri said that Shapiro needed to be "eliminated, destroyed or killed, both literally and/or metaphorically and/or metaphysically, or whichever one we are allowed to do by the Human Rights Commission".

Asked why the ANC and its allies had chosen to present an outraged united front against a solitary cartoonist rather than against Aids, crime, or the abuse of women, Phiri said that Shapiro was "more dangerous than Aids, criminals and women combined".

He declined to explain how this was the case, but said it was "logical to everyone but racists and counterrevolutionaries".

He added that the state could still decide to pursue Shapiro "with everything at its disposal".

This included four corvettes, one manned submarine and two unmanned submarines on bricks, six Swedish fighter jets flown by pilots leased from the Botswana Air Force, an oral poet named SlamSista Mzanzi, 15 million loyal voters, and a slightly soiled copy of the Constitution.

Shapiro could not be reached for comment this morning as he is currently in New York attending a United Nations-sponsored conference called 'South African Leadership: An Oxymoron For Our Times'.

Camping gear

I heard this advert on the radio and I had to listen out for it again. The voice said: "Coleman: Camping gear inspired by nature". The actor's accent made it sound like "Coleman: Camping gear inspired by Nietzsche". And so I thought, what would Nietzsche say about camping? Here are some ideas:

Concerning using a compass:
“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”

Bad directions on a map:
“I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you”

A leaking tent in the middle of a storm:
“Amor Fati – “Love Your Fate”, which is in fact your life.”

Running out of toilet paper in the middle of a hike:
“One should die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly.”

Good boots:
“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking”

Camp food poisoning:
“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”

Reading a GPS:
"There are no facts, only interpretations."

On gadgets:
"It will break. Live with it" - paraphrase

On self:
"Get over it" - paraphrase

Just a few thoughts. Can you add more?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Fat cats

This story just in from

Mboweni "open to third term" after 28 percent pay rise

PRETORIA. Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni has confirmed that he is open to serving a third term after he received a 28 percent pay rise this year. Mboweni's salary is now reportedly R3.8 million a year, or roughly equivalent to what a teacher earns in 27 years and a police constable in 40. "It's a dirty job," he said, "but someone's got to step up and take one for the team."

"Or take 3.8 million ones for the team, as the case may be."

Speaking to journalists this morning in Pretoria, Mboweni said that had not yet made a final decision over his future but would make an announcement once he had carefully considered his options.

It is believed most of his options are stock options in BEE companies with government contracts to build, demolish and rebuild public toilets in the Karoo.

Mboweni conceded that he had sometimes got tired of earning his previous salary, which was R2.9 million a year, and had at times yearned to "just be an ordinary Member of Parliament, spending weekends throwing empty whisky bottles over the wall, shredding wire-tap transcripts and doing donuts in my Beemer".

However he said that he had stayed on in the job out of a sense of duty, and because nobody else in the country, or indeed the world, could do what he did.

"Being Governor of the Reserve Bank is incredibly complicated," he said. "But fortunately I am almost supernaturally clever.

"Anyone other than myself who tried to do this would die instantaneously.

"They would whimper and then their heads would explode."

Asked why inflation was running at 12 percent while he was being paid R3.8 million a year to keep it between 3 and 6 percent, he explained that "numerous forces were at work".

He named these as "the Americans – both the superpower and the Cape Flats gang – oil, wheat, Helen Zille, the big machine they're building under Alaska that can control the weather, Helen Zille, malaria, space chimps, and obviously Helen Zille".

He also used the opportunity to announce that he would no longer be referring to himself as part of South African society in future statements.

"I cannot in good conscience continue to say things like 'We must all strive to tighten our belts as we face some severe economic challenges'," he said.

"I need to be honest with myself and with you, and let you know that from now on, you're on your own.

"So to recap: you need to tighten your belts, and you need to face some severe economic challenges, while I bathe in dachshund milk and have my scalp Botoxed."

The press conference ended on a sour note when one journalist asked him if he was turning into a fat cat.

A furious Mboweni denied that he was fat, insisting that he was "just big-boned" before storming out.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Broken arms, sick family and looking forward to the Promised Land.

It turned out that Nathan indeed broke his arm. A nice greenstick fracture running up the whole of his forearm. Doc suggested that we do not put a cast on as the break is nicely aligned and should heal within 2-3 weeks. Dion, that is the difference between a 21 month old and a 30 something ;-). As for the rest of the family, we all have to contend with the change-of-season illnesses. The rain always seems to sort than out.

In three weeks time, Natalie and I will be joining a group touring Israel and Jordan. Our visas are sorted, our money is coming loose and I am already wondering how I'm going to cope without my boys. I'm sure I'll miss them more than what they will miss me. If anyone has advice to share on internet connectivity abroad, please let me know. It seems like the interweb is very expensive in Israel. I'll be taking my Mac and hopefully I'll be able to upgrade my phone to either a Nokia E90 or E71.

Gotta run. E.W.A. Spring Tea.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Well, I'm feeling better. Tummy still sore, but I'll live. Matt is now ill with broncitis, Nathan almost broke his arm and Natalie has the sniffles. Now it's my turn to doctor them. Please pray for my family.

Good news: I got my Learner's license today. It was by grace, as I forgot to do 1 section of the paper. The marker graciously handed my script back and told me to finish the exam.


Any case, let me run and do my rounds.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A slower recovery than first thought

Well, my day started off with a surprise call from the office manager at UNISA reminding me that I had to give two lectures this morning (which I had in my diary for Friday). I rushed off and found my students waiting for me. I had to do the lecture seated and felt faint. The office manager, Hannelie, saw that I wasn't doing well and rushed me off to her doc. He prodded, pocked, injected and said that he suspected a burst appendix. So, off we went to hospital for further tests. They couldn't find any conclusive evidence of this diagnosis, but did find a badly inflamed and infected colon. Now I'm on stronger meds. If I don't feel better by tomorrow morning, I have to go to hospital again to do further appendix tests. Knowing the seriousness of appendices, I suppose they could have said: "If you're still alive tomorrow morning and still shtting yourself, then come back and we'll run some more tests.". Must say that tonight I feel like a small plate of mash and fishfingers.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A slow recovery

I have had an extremely busy two weeks. Both my colleagues are on leave and I have never experienced the church being this busy. For example, on Sunday alone I conducted 3 services and had 5 counseling appointments. Then my body decided to take a break and so for the last two days I've been living in the toilet. I have never slept and you know what like this in my entire life. I went to the doc yesterday who wanted to put me on a drip, but I promised to drink litres of Rehidrat if he spared me the needle. Today I am feeling a bit more human again, hence my ability to blog. Poor little Nathan is still stuggling. Nats took him to the doc just now and hopefully he'll recover soon.

During this time I have been the recipient of much care from my lovely wife and precious little Matthew. A family member, who is going through a rough patch came to visit yesterday. I didn't speak much, but admired my 4 (almost 5) year old's ability to theologize and counsel. Here is a short excerpt of the discussion:

X: I am really feeling very sad.

Matt: Here is a piece of paper. I wrote your name and there is a heart to tell you that I love you.

X: Ag Matt, you make my heart feel so much better.

Matt: But I'm not Jesus. Jesus is in your heart forever. He makes your heart feel better when you are sad.

X: I just wish the pain would go away.

Matt: Jesus doesn't fix your heart just like that (snaps his fingers). But he does make it better eventually.

X: I suppose it is going to take some time.

All I could think was "WOW". I am glad that we're doing something right.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A promotion

I noticed that both Neill Oosthuizen and I are referred to as Rev. Prof. in the article mentioned in my previous post. Although I hope for this to materialize soon, I must set the record straight and say that I am still just a doctor.

My 15 minutes of fame!!!!

My picture in the Joy magazine.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Prof. Van der Kooi

Last night we had another wonderful meeting at the Theological Society. Prof. Van der Kooi from the Vrij Universiteit van Amsterdam spoke about the nature of Systematic Theology in today's world.

It is his view that Systematic Theology has become a subject of reductionist thinking. The dogmatics of Calvin, Luther, Anselm and others always found its roots in practical Christian living of ordinary Christians. Academic theology only started separating itself from pragmatism in the 19th century. He concluded by stating that the place where an individual thinks that they can do theology outside the church is, for him, "the" Protestant Fallacy. Quite a nice term.

The lecture was presented in Dutch. It was fantastic to hear it again. I took a while to get into it, but after the second glass of wine, he was making a lot of sense. Only joking. My grandfather is Dutch and I haven't heard "Hoog Hollands" for quite some time.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Time for an upgrade

It's almost time to upgrade my mobile phone and I can't quite decide what to go for.

There are a two options. The first is the new iPhone. The second, the new Nokia E71.

The Nokia seems to have an edge over the iPhone (excuse the pun). Any suggestions anyone?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Sorry, I broke the law.

Today I took Bertie, my Vespa, for its roadworthy test. No problems there. I even managed to register my motorbike on my name.

I did this with my conscience bugging me the whole day, because I drove on the open road without a license. I made it to the testing ground safely and enjoyed the trip home.

I'm happy to say that I'll be going for my Learner's license exam on the 3rd of September.

Come-on Dion, your turn.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


It's too late to take a pic now, but I took Bertie my Vespa PX150 out for his first trip - to my mother-in-law's house. I had coffee, he had a rest.

Wow, words cannot describe the feeling. I waited the whole day to go fetch Bertie in Joburg. As soon as we got back, I fixed the mirrors, put my helmet on for the first time and rode off. What a feeling!!!

It is quite strange to ride a bike in rush-hour traffic, but if I have to get used to Bertie, why not there. He went like a dream! Everything works! Even the hooter, which sounds a bit like a wounded duck, but at least it can make the kiddies laugh.

On my way back home I was greeted with the most beautiful sunset. Bertie and I pulled off the road, enjoyed the moment and hit the road again.

I'm hooked!!!!

Dion, we must do the Vicars on Vespa's trip. I'll buy your boss a chocolate. I'll get one for Mr Power too.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Eish, Professor!

On Friday morning I took my doctoral supervisor, Professor Wethmar, for coffee.

What an incredible man! He is one of those people whom you can listen to for hours, because he knows everything... a real library on legs!

We haven't seen each other for a couple of months now. We haven't had a good conversation for just over a year. But I decided to phone him and spend some quality time with this giant in theological circles.

As we were sipping away, talking about Barth, Calvin, the relationship between Fundamentalism and social conditioning (...the hours whizzing past unnoticed) and all kinds of other things, he looked down, and just before taking another sip of coffee said something that knocked me right in the gut: "Wessel, I'm retiring."

I know how to deal with news that shocks, but this was different. I just cannot imagine Tukkies without Prof. Wethmar! Hell, I'm selfish!

I wish Professor Wethmar well with his retirement. Knowing him, he will not use this time to sit idly doing nothing. Perhaps this will give him the opportunity to write the equivalent of Church Dogmatics for our time. Thank you Professor, you have shaped the lives and ministries of many people by expressing your gift of teaching, sharing your deep spirituality and always saying "You're welcome".

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Visions, an angel and coffee.

I was sitting in my office, doing paperwork as usual. The ladies had left already. All was quiet and peaceful.

My car went in for a service and I couldn't go anywhere, even if I wanted to.

Then the gate-bell rang.

I got up thinking it was another person wanting assistance. "I'm on my way!" I shouted from my office and started the long trek to the security gate. Turning the corner, I saw her. An angel. Not the kind of angel Jesus spoke about that would test our hospitality. No, an angel that looks like an angel.

Words refused to cross my lips. My mouth hung open. I didn't expect such a vision.

Then glorious tones, a voice as sweet as honey.

"Stop whatever you're doing. I'm taking you for coffee and pancakes". Before I could respond she continued "Don't worry about the boys, they're with my mom."

And so we spent a few hours catching up, talking about things that we haven't had the chance to discuss in a long time.

Thanks Love.

Everybody has been so nice to me they know something I don't...Am I dying?...If I am, please don't tell me. Then again, I know my angel will always watch over me.

With much appreciation

I know I rant now and then about the state of God's people. My frustration is often with the pettiness people spend their time and energies on when there are so many opportunities for witness and service around them... complaining about the speed of the ceiling fans...why we didn't mention so-and-so when we mentioned know what I'm talking about. I also get frustrated with the institution which seems to have become a haven for power-grabbing, ego-boosting, and pious judgmentalism.

I, however value the hard work and commitment of many people. These people put in a lot of hours without reward, and sometimes without recognition. I'm quite honest in saying that I don't know if I would show the same level of commitment if I were in their shoes. But they do. And they do it week in and week out. They care for people, they love God.

Today we have been the recipients of care, and I feel valued, appreciated, but most of all, loved. I want to say a special thanks to our congregation, the society stewards and in particular, Alec and Renny for taking care of us. I know the time will come when I will no longer be at the Glen. But I know now that this is a time that I will think back on and remember as a very special period in our lives.

Thank you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Why men don't write advice columns:

Dear Don:
I hope you can help me here. The other day I set off for work leaving my husband in the house watching the TV as usual. I hadn't gone more than a mile down the road when my engine conked out and the car shuddered to a halt. I walked back home to get my husband's help. When I got home I couldn't believe my eyes. He was in our bedroom with the neighbour lady. I am 32, my husband is 34 , and we have been married for twelve years.
When I confronted him, he broke down and admitted that they had been having an affair for the past six months. I told him to stop or I would leave him. He was let go from his job six months ago, and he says he has been feeling increasingly depressed and worthless. I love him very much, but ever since I gave him the ultimatum he has become increasingly distant. He won't go to counselling and I'm afraid I can't get through to him anymore. Can you please help?
Sincerely, Anne
Dear Anne:
A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Start by checking that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the vacuum pipes and hoses on the intake manifold and also check all grounding wires. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty,causing low delivery pressure to the carburettor float chamber.
I hope this helps.

Friday, July 18, 2008

His story retold

Me: You know what Matt? It's Nelson Mandela's birthday.
Matt (4yrs): Who?
Me: Nelson Mandela.
Matt: Nelsow Madela? Who's he? Is he a man?
Me: Yes, a very special man.
Matt: Does he turn into incredible Hulk?
Me: No Matt.
Matt: Oh. (A bit disappointed)
Me: A long time ago some naughty people put him in prison.
Matt: Was he in an accident?
Me: No. They didn't like him so they put him in prison for 27 years.
Matt: Ag shame.
Me: He came out of prison and became the most important man in South Africa.
Matt: Oh.
Matt: How old is he?
Me: 90 years old.
Matt: Can he now watch Harry Potter?
Me: Yes Matt.
Matt: What's his name again?
Me: Nelson Mandela.
Matt: Oh, ja, Nelsow Madela.
Happy birthday Tata Madiba. On this day every year I'll tell my children your story.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Welcome back

Post 250 today.

Well, this post is written at almost midnight. It is very honest and a bit of a rant.

Today was my first day back at the office.

I spent two weeks on leave. During this time I worked on my Vespa for 5 hours per day. I know, because I made it part of my daily routine (12:00-17:00 - Vespa time). In all that time, more than 80 hours of putting together small and fragile parts, constructed by Italians who thought they were being bloody clever, my Vespa did not give me half the amount of sh1t than that which I had to endure from God's beloved people in one working day.

Ok, it was a long day (8:30-21:45). It was a bad day, but let's take a moment to remember the good...

I enjoyed seeing my colleagues. I enjoyed the coffee. I loved my Bible study. The rest I must say, if I didn't do it for Jesus, I would kindly take whatever was dished out to me, return it and ask people to grow up, be thankful and not take me for granted. Or else, in the words of Rowan Atkinson, they can simply...

Let me rather go to bed. Good night.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bertie lost his spark

Bad news. Bertie doesn't want to go. Last night he went fine, but all of a sudden there is no spark at the sparkplug.
I'll take him to the professionals early next week.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Fun at Zita park and update on Bertie

Today we had a picnic at Zita park. One blessing of living in the city is that the parks are still well looked after. Here is Matt and his friend, Kim sliding down a small hill. To those living in Cape Town and surrounds: Note the blue sky. We didn't have a cloud in the sky, nor any wind. What a beautiful day!

Here is Bertie. He started today for the first time and idled beautifully. I then noticed that the petrol pipe has a leak, so I'll have to fix that tomorrow. Ah, what bliss! Tomorrow I'll add all the little bits and pieces and pray that I did the wiring correct.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Some good reading

I make a point not to read theology while I am on leave (except editing our book, Dion, with which I am almost done). For my birthday, my friends and family gave me a whole lot of Exclusive Books gift-vouchers - they know me well. So I bought Stiglitz's "Fair trade for all" (Good book on economic justice), a biography of Einstein, Feinstein's "After the party" and John van der Ruit's "Spud" and "Spud: The madness continues".

I am busy reading "Spud", and I must say, that if you are looking for a book that is easy to read, but will make you roll on the ground with laughter, then this is it!

Still giggling. And Natalie said I keep waking her up with my laughing-in-my-sleep. (I'm only getting her back for snoring.)

Today's news

Sorry, the picture is still the same. Good news though. I sorted out the speedo cable. I don't have a Ph.D. for nothing.

I realized that I have to order a few small cable-stops, which believe it or not, I cannot find anywhere here in SA.

So, I'll go on with what I can and then wait patiently for the cable-stops.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Hit a bit of a snag today. I pulled out the speedometer cable and its casing. Does anybody know how to feed it back through the front fork?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Bertie is coming back to life

These are yesterday's pictures. I have done quite a bit of work today, which I will post tomorrow.

The dry bones in the valley...

The bones are starting to rattle...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

News regarding Natalie

Just to let everyone know that Nats is doing fine. She was discharged on the same day. We expected her to be all swollen and bruised, but to our surprise, nothing.

Her nose is a bit sensitive and has been bleeding on-and-off for the last two days, but she'd doing fine. Most of the swelling is inside her nose, causing her to snore like my Vespa.

But that will be sorted out soon. The Vespa, that is.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Winding down and prayer request

On Monday I'll be going on leave for two weeks and I can't wait. We usually take this time to go down to our flat in Scottburgh, but we need to save our pennies for our trip to Israel in September.

So, we're going to Romania (Remain-here), exploring the Garden Route and braving the Pretoria winter for the first time since 2001. I'll take this time to finish fixing my Vespa, play with the kids, finish my Lenten devotion book and a few other small projects.

Please pray for my beautiful wife, Natalie. She will be going in for an operation to remove some growths from her nose. It's a painful op as they need to remove some bone.

I'm also deciding whether to go for an op... the notorious snip-snip.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Zapiro on xenophobia

Click here for more Zapiro.

TSSA 2008

The TSSA conference in Grahamstown was absolutely fantastic. I presented a paper entitled "'Is there a building?' - Should the church be a haven for refugees?". It was received very well.

Here are some photos from Grahamstown.

The Cathedral in Grahamstown.

Commemoration Methodist Church

Professors Louise Kretzschmar and Neville Richardson.

From Left to right: Me, Paul Kruger (Behind), Neville Richardson (in front), Jaco Kruger, Roberto Zwetsch, Katrin Kusmierz

Monday, June 16, 2008

My birthday

Well, what have I done on this historic day?

I must say that I have enjoyed it very much so far.

My son kicked me out of bed at 5am, because his bed was to cold.

So, I got up and marked UNISA assignments until about 8am (about 40)

Then we jumped in and cleaned the house.

We went to the shops to buy some goods for tonight's meal.

I wanted to serve up a 3-course Jamie Oliver meal, but due to interest rates, they'll have to settle for a 3-course Japie Olivier.

Now, I'm quickly updating my blog while the kiddies are sleeping and then it is chop, peel, stir, fry, boil, strain, sweat (not me, but some onions), season, caramelize, mould, chill, bake, welcome friends, serve, eat and enjoy. This should take us to about midnight or soon thereafter.

Food on the go - "We've been having it!!!!"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Confession of the Church

I am guilty of hypocrisy and untruthfulness in the face of force.
I have been lacking in compassion and I have denied the poorest of my brethren.
...she [the Church] has often denied to the outcast and to the despised the compassion which she owes them. She was silent when she should have cried out because the blood of the innocent was crying aloud to heaven...
She has stood by while violence and wrong were being committed under the cover of this name [Christ]...
She has incurred the guilt...of the exploitations of labour even beyond the working weekday...
The Church confesses that she has witnessed the lawless application of brutal force, the physical and spiritual suffering of countless innocent people, oppression, hatred and murder, and that she has not raised her voice on behalf of the victims and has not found ways to hasten to their aid. She is guilty of the deaths of the weakest and most defenseless brothers of Jesus Christ...
She has witnessed in silence the...corruption of the strong.
The Church confesses herself guilty towards the countless victims of calumny, denunciation and defamation.
...she has rendered herself guilty of the decline in responsible action, in bravery in the defense of the cause, and in willingness to suffer for what is known to be right.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Ethics, written between 1940-1943), p. 91

Thanks for reminding me

Natalie's gran "Oumie" passed away a couple of months ago. Our four year old, Matthew, was very fond of her.

This morning, as Matt and I drove to Nat's mom's house, he turned to me and asked: "Pappa, where is Oumie?".

"She is with Jesus, Matthew." I replied.

"She died?"

"Yes, Matthew. She died."

"Why Pappa?"

"Because Oumie was very sick and she was very old. When people get very old, they get sick and then sometimes they die. It happens to everybody."

"Pappa, you are old.", and then I saw his lip quivering.

A sobering moment. In my rattled state I told him that I would do my best to be alive until he is very big.

I've never seen anybody be so happy that I am trying my best not to kick the bucket.

I hope this episode didn't jinx my efforts.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Visiting refugees

This afternoon our circuit staff visited a camp set up for people who have been affected by the Xenophobic attacks in our country. The conditions are terrible. There are many different factors that have contributed towards these people's current situation.

I am left feeling heartbroken and ashamed.

The first picture is one of a colleague, Ross Olivier with some children. It was shocking to see how many children are present in this camp. Nothing has been organized for them. They share the same toilets, tents and other facilities with adults, most of whom they do not know.

This is a photo of Jerry and Jonathan (from Ethiopia), Alan (from the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and a friend (also from Ethiopia). They shared their stories with us, how they fled their countries out of fear for their lives, hoping to make a life here.

This is a photo of the make-shift camp set up by the Tshwane council. Drainage is terrible, the place smells and people sit despondent.

I am not pretending as if there are no issues attached to this situation. But before issues become more important than people, perhaps take the time to walk through one of these camps, listen, pray, be present.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Stressed, so I got creative in the kitchen

I made a killer-stew last night. If you don't believe me, then try it yourself.


Olive oil
About 600g chuck
4 Tablespoons Ina Paarman's beef stock (dissolved in about 2l of water)
2/3 bottle of Shiraz
Basmati Rice
3 Large Carrots
4 Large Potatoes
4/5 baby onion
DO NOT ADD SALT! (The stock has enough to flavour the food)


Heat the olive oil in a pot. Cut the chuck off the bone and cut it into about 2cm blocks. Peel the carrots and potatoes and cut into similar sized blocks. Place a few pieces of chuck in the pot. Allow to brown and turn over to brown on the other side. If it sticks, leave it for a few seconds, it will come away by itself. Once the chuck is browned on all sides, remove from the pot and brown the other pieces. Remember to place the browned chuck in a dish, because the oil and some of the fluid in the meat will settle. You will see that the oil browns a bit. That will add to the flavour. COOK THE STEW IN THE SAME POT IN THE OIL THAT's LEFT)

When all the meat is browned, place it back in the pot, including the oil and liquid. Add the wine. Add the stock. swirl it around a bit. Add 2/3 of the carrots and potatoes. Turn the heat down and allow to simmer for about an hour.

While you make the basmati rice, you can put in the rest of the veggies - carrots, potatoes and now the onions (Peeled, but whole) (The first lot is to thicken the sauce a bit, while the second lot should be ready by the time you dish up.)

Way to make basmati rice: I usually use 1 and 1/2 cups of rice (For 2 adults and 1 child). Place rice in a dish. Add cold water and allow to stand for about 10 min. Drain water, place rice in a pot with 3X the amount of water than the amount of rice. Add a pinch of salt and boil away. Once the rice is cooked (should be ready just before it is completely soft), drain the water and add a bit of butter.

By now the stew should be ready.

Tell me what you think.

ps. Steam a bit of broccoli so that you get something green as well.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Everything must change.

Download this article here.

'The poor are becoming impatient'
Carol Hills | Johannesburg, South Africa
29 May 2008 07:24
The border between South Africa and Zimbabwe should be "comprehensively" abolished, Methodist Bishop Paul Verryn told academics at the University of the Witwatersrand on Wednesday.

"In exactly the same way we pulled down the fences in 1994 and found that instead of restricting, it enabled. Instead of closing the economy, it opened up much wider trust in the economy," Verryn told a colloquium on violence and xenophobia.

He said foundation for what had gone wrong lay in the labelling of vulnerable people as "illegal aliens" and their criminalisation.

He pointed out that the xenophobic attacks were not on the rich Zimbabweans, but the poor Zimbabweans, "the ones in the shacks, the ones in the streets ...".

The attacks were a warning to the community about what it did with its resources, said Verryn.

"Resources in this country belong to the entire nation and need to be shared in a way that ensures that every human being knows that they are of value and they have human dignity that cannot be alienated from them.

"And so you have this phenomenon [xenophobia] having wind in our community because the poor are becoming recklessly impatient."

While the first xenophobic attack he experienced was in Braamfontein three years ago, the government had known of the problem for at least four years.

Each and every South African had to "scrutinise profoundly" the attitude that "breeds such vicious violence", said Verryn.

The system of values at play was inconsistent with the country's Constitution, many of whose words, he believed, were "written from personal experience of alienation in your motherland, of humiliation by people over and over again".

Other academics speaking at the meeting said inequality was at the heart of the xenophobia sweeping the country.

The government claimed to have done more to address poverty since 1994 than any other developing country and indeed had, said economics Professor Stephen Gelb

"Poverty and inequality are not the same thing and cannot be treated by politicians as if they are," he said.

The problem of poverty was extremely deep and intractable.

"The problem of inequality is equally deep and intractable."

While it was clear that the government had addressed poverty, it was "equally clear inequality has not been addressed at all".

Inequality was "extreme" and had actually worsened since 1994, Gelb pointed out.

Inequality could only be addressed by the transfer and building of assets such as education, skills, land and houses.

Only asset ownership would persuade people they had prospects and hope for the future.

"The government hasn't succeeded at all in asset building and transfer."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A meditation

Margie Orford wrote the following. It was read on 702 and I think is one of the best descriptions of what people are feeling.


If being a South African means beating on the red door of a shack and demanding to see a green identity book – the dompas of citizenship, then I am a foreigner.

If being a South African means dragging a woman into the road to push up her skirt and drive my boot between her legs, then I am a foreigner.

If being a South African means sharpening my machete to split the skull of a man returning home from work, then I am a foreigner.

If being a South African means ripping an infant from the swaddling on its mother’s back to spit in its face wizened by terror, then I am a foreigner.

If being a South African means dropping concrete blocks on that mother’s head until it bursts like a ripe watermelon on the dry dust of my street, then I am a foreigner.

If being a South African means arrogating the roles of policeman, prosecutor, judge and executioner, then I am a foreigner.

If being a South African means hanging over my garden fence and watching the smooth skin of a man blister as he burns a live, then I am a foreigner.

For that skin was an infant’s once, caressed by a mother’s marvelling hand.

That skins is a man’s, and a lover’s hand passed over it, marvelling at its smoothness. That skin is a father’s, reached for in the night by a child afraid of the dark.

That burning skin was a man’s and if being a South African means I cannot feel that skin as my own

Then I am a foreigner.


An update on my last post:

Forgiveness is taking place, the road to recovery has started. It is proving to be a painful and demanding road, so please continue praying for my family. My dad will still go to the coast for 6 weeks, but he seems adamant to make a change.

Thanks for your prayers.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

She's had enough.

She shouted, packed her things and left. After 33 years of dealing with alcohol abuse, my mom decided that she could not take my dad's violence any more. No, he did not physically attacked her, but the emotional scars are there for all to see.

All about a plug.

This happened over Friday and Saturday. Since then he has "stopped drinking", apologized and promised to change his ways. Too little too late. They agreed to separate for six weeks and not to make contact. After that they'll reassess the situation.

Why am I hanging this dirty washing on the line for all to see? Well, because it hurts. Pain that is hidden hurts more. It festers.

Strangely, I feel extremely sorry for my dad. No, I don't think that is accurate. I feel compassion, grace, love and that feeling when you know that a tight hug will change a life.

I pray that during these next few weeks, both my mom and dad will meet Mr. Jesus in a new way, a way that is reVITALizing.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Synod 2008

Well, I'm sick in bed with a tummy bug and so, instead of being at Synod, I'm nice and snug and able to update my blog.

Our district synod is being hosted by Willows Methodist Church in Pretoria, and I must say, it has been run very efficiently. Bishop Gavin Taylor was re-elected as our district Bishop, much to the delight of the whole Synod. We heard testimonies of thanks for the ministers in our district who will retire at the end of this year. It just so happened that both are colleagues in our circuit, David Buwalda and Paul Bester.

Last night we dealt with some resolutions. Our circuit put 2 resolutions on the table, one asking Conference to rescind a decision to take part of the minister's pension fund to build... ok, let's not go down that road, and one tightening legislation in the Laws and Disciplines in our church which would "force" ministers who occupy party-political posts to resign from the ministry. As you can imagine, both these issues sparked debate, but at the end of the day received overwhelming support from Synod.

That was the last I saw of Synod. I am now going to finish my chapter for a UNISA textbook and then mark some assignments.

Please pray for the family of Kevin Rheeder. Kevin is one of our congregation's young people who was in an accident last night. He is not doing at all well.

Please pray for my mom, dad, sister, her husband and children as alcohol has once again caused a lot of pain in our family.

Please pray for me. I feel overwhelmed by all this pain and suffering and sometimes wonder if there is a different way.

Monday, May 19, 2008

"It is good"?

The creation story in Genesis 1 was probably written after Judah's return from exile. They had reason to hate their oppressors and to distrust any people other than their own.

But they then tell this story, not one which explains how God created, but that God created. It is a story of unison, fellowship, interaction. As things work together in creation, things that are completely different but essential for the smooth running of God's order, so God looks at creation and says "It is good".

I wonder what God is saying when God sees Alexandra? I wonder what God must be thinking when a continent which prides itself to be the bastion of social cohesion - Ubuntu - displays everything but respect for human life?

Paul writes to a congregation in Corinth, segregated by doctrinal emphases, and states: "I plead with in peace."

God bless Africa
Guard her children
Guide her leaders
Give her peace.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Link is fixed

Hi all,
Our book has arrived and is ready to be shipped to you. All you need to do is place an order by clicking on the link to the right, downloading the pdf and faxing or e-mailing it to Upper Room.
I realized that the link didn't work because my Yahoo account does not permit people who are not members of my group to download files. I now created my own webpage (being an mweb customer I get 20 Mb webspace) and ftp'd it to my space. blah-blah, just click next door and if it doesn't work, let me know.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


The Outsider

"Any man who does not cry at his mother's funeral should be condemned to death."

This is how Albert Camus summarizes his book "The Outsider". I have just finished this book and must say that it has been the most moving and thought provoking novel that I have ever read.

It is only about 100 pages long and costs about R60 (less that $10) at Exclusive books, but what a read! I was introduced to the work of Albert Camus by Prof. George Hunsinger, who used Camus' work "The Plague" to describe the relevance/irrelevance of faith from an existentialist worldview. I started reading The Plague, must must honestly say that it didn't really grab me.

If you want something good to read, click on the link on the right and get this book! Tell me what you think.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


You may recall that a couple of weeks ago I blogged something about counseling . I saw this lady who was mainly looking for sympathy and a quick handout. When I asked her if I could pray with her she responded by saying: "Well, if money is going to fall out the sky...". I then told her that I would not pray with her. She was a bit taken aback by this and we proceeded to chat until we got to a place where she invited me to pray with her.

On Saturday evening I got the following SMS from her: "Your God answered your prayers, but He gave me secondhand stuff!"

I wanted to get upset, but rather decided to smile, turn over in bed and fall asleep.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Shake, rattle and roll...what happens to idols.

This story was published by The Citizen

Zuma’s God talk condemned.


JOHANNESBURG - ANC president Jacob Zuma has invoked the wrath of political opponents for claiming God’s backing for eternal ANC rule.

In his most recent utterances during a party rally in Khayelitsha on Sunday, Zuma said: “Even God expects us to rule this country because we are the only organization which was blessed by pastors when it was formed. It is even blessed in heaven. That is why we will rule until Jesus comes back.

“We should not allow anyone to govern our city (Cape Town) when we are ruling the country.”

Reacting, Ryan Coetzee MP and CEO of the Democratic Alliance (DA), said Zuma’s statements displayed the anti-democratic attitude of an absolute monarch, and as such the DA condemned them.

“Clearly Sunday’s performance in Khayelitsha was no aberration – Mr Zuma consciously and repeatedly invokes God to justify eternal ANC rule and demonise its political opponents,” Coetzee said.

According to the DA, Zuma first made the claim that the African National Congress would rule “until Jesus comes back” during the 2004 election.

Last October he repeated it, saying: “We believe it (the ANC) will be in power forever until the Son of Man comes back.”

Coetzee warned: “As tempting as it is to dismiss this kind of statement as eccentric, or amusing, it is actually very dangerous, because to oppose a government backed by God is to oppose God. To oppose governments that rule by divine right is to be a traitor; to attempt to dislodge them, even through the ballot box, is a declaration of war.

“In short, opposition to the ANC is rendered utterly illegitimate.”

A fuming president of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) Kenneth Meshoe said yesterday: “The ANC president Jacob Zuma will see with his own eyes what is happening to Zanu-PF will happen to the ANC.

“His statements are arrogance of the worst kind. God it not pleased with ANC immorality that kills thousands of babies through abortion (and) that generally disregards God’s laws.

“Anybody who’s rebellious must read the Bible. God blesses obedience not rebellion, as displayed by the ANC. The ANC Titanic is going to sink. Its call for unity will not materialise, as the cracks and divisions are going to increase.

“Zuma (will) one day ask me to pray for him when the ANC Titanic sinks forever.”

ANC spokesman Jessie Duarte was not available for comment.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

So much for war

"I'm a pacifist because I'm a violent son of a bitch." - Stanley Hauerwas

Thursday, May 01, 2008

What is left...

My colleague, Beryl, said something the other day that struck me very deeply. She said: "Religion is what is left when God has moved on."

This resonates with my spirit. I took this phrase to my Bible Study and we discussed it more. Rene, a good friend, responded by saying that it is very similar to the place which defines a building and a home. A building with all its structures is necessary, but without the people inside, it will never be a home. When families move from buildings, all that remains is a building.

Karl Barth endorsed this view. He described religion as "Religie als Unglaube" - "Religion as faithlessness/unbelief". Religion per se can do nothing more than be the "crutch" that Freud saw it to be, or the destructive cohesiveness that Dawkins describes.

I am challenged by this and I hope that our congregation is too. What is left when people leave the church building on a Sunday? Is there a difference? Does the building cry out for that time when the church will meet again? Does the community "outside" long for our being?

Just some thoughts.

Religion is what is left when God has moved on.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Matthew goes to Scottburgh

Matthew, Thealise and Betty left for Durban on Thursday evening. Thealize and Betty have never flown before and that left Matthew as the only experienced air-traveler in this party.

I must admit, it was quite nerve-wrecking letting these three go through the boarding gates, knowing that now there was no turning back. Betty can barely read, so this exercise was especially stressful for her. But instead of Betty going along to help the kids, Matthew took charge at the airport and told them exactly where to go, where to sit, how to put their safety belts on, where to get the suitcases... He was an absolute star!

They will be flying back next Friday. Then I'll stress again until I can see them walking through the "arrivals" gates, but for now, I'm getting to know our other son a bit better. What a charmer!

Friday, April 25, 2008


Our church secretaries informed me that some Eskom technicians arrived at the church yesterday. They told the secretaries that the church's electricity meter wasn't functioning and that it needed to be replaced. Their words were not cold when wonder above wonder the electricity came back on. Surprisingly our meter also started working. They left without greeting.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Lecture on the Truth and the Word of God

We spent this weekend with the good folk at Randpark Ridge United Church. They put together a series on the Bible with an excellent exhibition in the church. The hospitality of this congregation is unbelievable and I would encourage anyone looking for a welcoming community in Johannesburg to give this congregation a visit. Below is a picture of the staff at RRU Church. From the left is Rev. Quentin Smith, Rev. Les Green and in front is Pastor Brendan Asch.

My good friend, Dr. Neill Oosthuizen, gave a talk on the Old Testament earlier during the week, a lecture that was received very well.

Here's an action shot of me giving the talk on the Truth and the Word of God. This lecture was based on the chapter in Dion and my book soon to be published, entitled "What are we thinking?". Now, many people knock us academics by asking "How many people have ever come to faith as a result of a lecture?". Well, I'm pleased to say, at least one. An elderly lady came to me after the lecture and told me that her friend felt God speaking to her during the talk and that she has returned to faith. God can truly make good what we do badly! Praise the Lord!

On Sunday I led all three services. I think I'll stick to lecturing.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bon appetite!

Freshly chopped basil. Garlic. Fried aubergine. Chopped Roma tomatoes. Balsamic vinegar. Red wine. A symphony of flavours. An opera of smell.
There is only one person who can make Penne Rigate with sweet tomatoes, aubergine and mozzerella. Me. Okay, and Jamie Oliver.

But what a wonderful feeling when the boys are quiet and my wife walks into the kitchen speaking Italian (not swearing, because I know those words and phrases).

Bon appetite!

ps. For the recipe, buy Jamie Oliver's "Jamies dinners". It's a winner!