Thursday, May 29, 2008
Balaam learned from his donkey.
I am learning from our puppy.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
One of the outcomes of Kairos is that they move on a journey from mistrust to trust through being formed, from the beginning of the weekend, into families (each with the name of a significant woman of the bible, like Lydia, Elizabeth, Hannah etc). these 'families' become prayer and share groups (in the outside world we call them cell-groups!!) and the residents begin supporting and caring for each other in a way that was not there previously.
Not everyone, of course, fully participates but there is always a change. One of the ladies that I 'sponsored' (i.e. welcomed to the weekend, paid special attention to, and kept checking how they were doing through the weekend) was quite open with me about how she isolated herself and would continue to do that - she gets up, when the cells are unlocked she goes to the library where she attends to her studies through Unisa, and at lock-up time retires to her bed and keeps to herself. She is intent on keeping a low profile and not causing any disruption in the hopes of an early parole. I really don't know if I could envision a sentence of say 10 years doing that. My prayer is that she will see the value of fellow Christian support and be a human amongst humans. Isn't that what being human is all about? - communication and community?
I pray that I have added value to that community beyond my ordinary labour.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Zimbabwe's Rulers Unleash Police on Anglicans
JOHANNESBURG — The parishioners were lined up for Holy Communion on Sunday when the riot police stormed the stately St. Francis Anglican Church in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital. Helmeted, black-booted officers banged on the pews with their batons as terrified members of the congregation stampeded for the doors, witnesses said.
A policeman swung his stick in vicious arcs, striking matrons, a girl and a grandmother who had bent over to pick up a Bible dropped in the melee. A lone housewife began singing from a hymn in Shona, "We will keep worshiping no matter the trials!" Hundreds of women, many dressed in the Anglican Mothers' Union uniform of black skirt, white shirt and blue headdress, lifted their voices to join hers.
Beneath their defiance, though, lay raw fear as the country's ruling party stepped up its campaign of intimidation ahead of a presidential runoff. In a conflict that has penetrated ever deeper into Zimbabwe's social fabric, the party has focused on a growing roster of groups that elude its direct control — a list that includes the Anglican diocese of Harare, as well as charitable and civic organizations, trade unions, teachers, independent election monitors and the political opposition.
Anglican leaders and parishioners said in interviews that the church was not concerned with politics and that it counted people from both the ruling party and the opposition in its congregations. Yet the ruling party appears to have decided that only Anglicans who follow Nolbert Kunonga — a renegade bishop in Harare who is a staunch ally of President Robert Mugabe — are allowed to hold services.
Over the past three Sundays, the police have interrogated Anglican priests and lay leaders, arrested and beaten parishioners and locked thousands of worshipers out of dozens of churches.
"As a theologian who has read a lot about the persecution of the early Christians, I'm really feeling connected to that history," said Bishop Sebastian Bakare, 66, who came out of retirement to replace Mr. Kunonga. "We are being persecuted."
Church leaders say the struggle in the Anglican diocese of Harare is not only over its extensive, valuable properties, but also over who controls the church itself in a society riven by political divisions, especially since the disputed elections of March 29.
Mr. Kunonga, who broke with the church hierarchy late last year and recently called Mr. Mugabe "a prophet of God," is known in Zimbabwe as an avid supporter of the ruling party and a proponent of its seizures of white-owned commercial farms, often accomplished violently. In fact, he appears to have benefited richly from the policy himself.
While such strong allegiances have clearly played a role in the attacks on parishioners, Anglicans beyond Zimbabwe have also taken steps likely to have enraged Mr. Mugabe and the ruling party, known as ZANU-PF.
The worldwide Anglican Communion issued a statement in January expressing "deep concern" about Mr. Kunonga's close ties to Mr. Mugabe. Then on April 21, amid the postelection intimidation of opposition supporters, the communion called on all Christians to pray for Zimbabwe's rescue "from violence, the concealing and juggling of election results, deceit, oppression and corruption."
And three weeks ago, an Anglican bishop in South Africa persuaded a judge there to halt the delivery of Chinese-made ammunition to Zimbabwe's military — bullets the bishop warned could be used to repress Zimbabweans.
This is not the first time that a church has felt the ruling party's fury. Last year, state-controlled television showed photos of one of Mr. Mugabe's most ferocious critics, Archbishop Pius Ncube, a Roman Catholic, in bed with a married woman, effectively neutralizing him as the leader of the clerical opposition to Mr. Mugabe's rule. This month, the state-run newspaper, The Herald, reported that the woman had died "lonely and miserable after being abandoned by Ncube."
Now Bishop Bakare's followers, who include most of the city's Anglicans, say that Mr. Kunonga has falsely told the government that they are politically aligned with the opposition — an accusation the ruling party seems to be taking seriously.
Despite a High Court order requiring that Anglican churches be shared among the worshipers, church officials say that only people who attend services led by priests allied with Mr. Kunonga have been allowed to pray in peace.
This week, the Supreme Court dismissed Mr. Kunonga's appeal of the sharing order, but church leaders say they are far from sure that the law will be enforced.
A widowed mother of five who sings with the choir at St. Francis Church in Waterfalls — and who was too frightened to be quoted by name — asked despairingly this week where she could seek solace now that her church was no longer sacrosanct.
Neither Mr. Kunonga nor his spokesman, the Rev. Morris Brown Gwedegwe, has returned repeated calls seeking comment.
When Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka, a police spokesman, was asked about police assaults on Anglican parishioners, he said he was unaware of such episodes and asked for the names of those complaining. "Give me names, because without those I will not comment," he said. "Thank you and bye." Then he hung up.
At the heart of the conflict with Mr. Kunonga is more than property and power, but also some of the church's core values. Mr. Kunonga told Anglican officials last year that he was withdrawing from the mother church because of its sympathy toward homosexuals, they said. By October, the Anglican Province of Central Africa said Mr. Kunonga had "severed" his relationship with the church.
Bishop Bakare said Mr. Kunonga had preached hatred of gays and lesbians, contrary to the Harare diocese's stand. "We believe in a church that is inclusive, a church that accepts all people," Bishop Bakare said.
But even a spokesman for an alliance of conservative bishops who oppose "the ordination of practicing homosexuals as priests," distanced them from Mr. Kunonga. Arne H. Fjeldstad, head of communications for the alliance, the Global Anglican Future Conference, said in an e-mail message that Mr. Kunonga was not part of the conference, but "rather that he's one of Mugabe's henchmen."
Mr. Kunonga appears to have gained much from that loyalty. In 2003, the government gave Mr. Kunonga a 1,630-acre farm outside Harare and a seven-bedroom house that sits on it, according to Marcus Hale, who said the farm, bought by his family in 1990 for $2 million, was confiscated without payment.
Mr. Kunonga's influence has been felt in church after church in recent weeks as well. Anglican parishioners said they found themselves shut out or driven out by police officers who claimed to be acting on orders from their superiors to allow only Mr. Kunonga's priests to preside.
At St. Paul's Church in the Highfield suburb of Harare, the congregation refused to budge and kept singing "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" when a dozen policemen entered the church on May 4. But the commander radioed for backup, and soon more than 50 riot police officers arrived, the church's wardens said.
Hundreds of parishioners were then drummed out of the church to the deafening beat of baton sticks banging on pews. People began taking out their cellphones to photograph the policemen who had forced them out.
The officers then charged into the scattering crowd, batons swinging. "Even myself, they hit my hand," said a stunned seamstress. "They said, 'Go back to your homes. You are not supposed to be here.' "
A journalist in Harare, Zimbabwe, contributed reporting.
Monday, May 12, 2008
- Doing the washing and hanging it out to dry (there being no rain, that is - otherwise it gets spread around the house to dry)
- Going to the gym
- Doing the weekly grocery shopping
- Running other errands - like fetching the post
- Watching a movie - if there is one that appeals to me
- Answering emails
- Fielding phone calls - especially if I've forgotten to switch off my work phone
- Reading the newspaper
- Bringing in the dry washing and folding that which does not get ironed
- Advising the cook of the day about what to prepare for supper
- Checking out facebook and my blog
- Putting my feet up with a book - preferably a novel, otherwise something work related that is grabbing my attention or interest
- Tidying up my messy, crisis-laden desk
- Visiting a friend while Ned practises with Ma's Boys (the barber-shop singing group that he is a part of)
- Going to bed too late!
Sunday, May 11, 2008
I am truly blessed!!
Another sms from Allan on his way to visit friends in Potch. I didn't see him today because he was still sleeping when I left for church, and he was on his way before I got home. But there was his message.
After returning from lunch with our Society Stewards and Themba Mntambo, the minister who will be joining our team at the end of this year, I discovered that Richard and Paul had been baking. There was a gingerbread man baked specially for me!
When I see my sons doing for me what I did for them when they were younger, I just know that they will be great husbands and fathers!!
I was blessed by receiving an sms from Ian and Juliette in Bali where they are honeymooning. Didn't know it was possible to sms here from there - just goes to show how un-techno-savvy I am!! Our Women's Auxilliary handed out bookmarks with a poem about the virtues of mothers, and we thanked God for mothers (and mothers-in-law!) - but apart from that our services were a celebration of the fulfilled promise of God in sending the Holy Spirit to dwell with and in us - to enliven and equip us for God's work in the world.
Come, Holy Spirit. Amen.
Not only does he have deep insight and knowledge about physics (nuclear physics in particular) and molecular biology, but he has a firm grasp of Hebrew and the Hebrew scriptures - which he refers to authoritatively in his writing. What struck me a few times in his books, is the translation of the scriptures that he refers to - and which shows how inadequate translation from the Hebrew via Greek Septuagint via Latin Vulgate to eventually English has led us to think along lines that are not exactly accurate. One that I marvel at is what he writes about Genesis 1:1, and I quote from The Hidden Face of God: Touchstone 2001, pg.49:
The opening word, usually translated as 'in the beginning,' is Be'reasheet. Be'aresheet can mean 'in the beginning of', but not 'in the beginning'. The difficulty with the preposition 'of' is that its object is absent from the sentence; thus the King James translation merely drops it. But the 2100-year-old Jerusalem translation of Genesis into Aramaic takes a different approach, realizing that Be'aresheet is a compound word: the prefix Be', 'with', and reasheet, a 'first wisdom'. The Aramaic translation is thus "\with wisdom God created the heavens and the earth". The idea is paralleled repeated in Psalms: "With the word of God the heavens were formed"(Ps.33:6). "How manifold are Your works, Eternal, You made them all with wisdom" (Ps.104:24). Wisdom is the fundamental building block of the universe, and it is inherent in all parts. In the processes of life it finds its most complex revelation.
Widsom, information, an idea, is the link between the metaphysical Creator and the physical creation. It is the hidden face of God"
The question that arises for me is - if more accurate translations are available of words and phrases - why are they not being incorporated into the many 'new' translations and editions of our scriptures? Greater accuracy leads to deeper understanding.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Cousins: Lara Fath (Andrew's wife), Paul Donkin, Derek Donkin, Richard Donkin, Liesel(Richard's girlfriend), Allan Donkin, Stuart Fath, Andrew Fath - behind Ian and Juliette Table centre flower arrangement
Friday, May 2, 2008
In the afternoon we had the rehearsal at the venue. Our friend Gwen had already been there for quite a long time, with her helpers (husband Jan, and friend Claudette), arranging the flowers and table centres. What a blessing that it was a public holiday - takes the stress and rush away from the wedding day. It was all looking beautiful already. Then the sound equipment for the worship team was checked in the chapel, and the procedure practised and final adjustments to the programme made. I took some photos with my cell-phone, but the trick is how to get them from my phone into a computer - any computer!
Ned rushed off to his brothers and nephew to practise the songs they'll be singing at the reception, and took the borrowed keyboard to set it up and see how it worked - unsuccessfully!
While he was off there, the rest of us had supper - the young men were rather hungry! Allan opened a bottle of wine that was left from his friend's wedding a few weeks ago - and a chatty time was held around the table. Ned came home, ate, and then Alec - the owner of the keyboard - came to show us all how to set it up.
Ian, Allan, Ned, and Paul spent a fair amount of time working on their speeches for The Day, and Ian was also busy with emails. Richard seemed to be busy with varsity work. Cameras were all put on charge. I glanced through the mind-map that I had drawn up for Sunday night's sermon - but was not in a frame of mind to concentrate on it! Some of us sat and watched a mindless comedy on TV, and then started drifting off to bed.