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Christ, not the West

I have just read a tweet about an albino boy’s hand being hacked off in Tanzania, for witchcraft purposes. Multiple responses are possible, where I come from, to this piece of news. If I had to share it with family members, one immediate reaction would be: “Ignorance and superstition” (my husband). Other family members, on my mother’s side, would nod sagely and say that that sort of behaviour is EXACTLY why they will not, under any circumstances, identify with black people and integrate into the new South Africa. On my father’s side some would say: that is why we emigrated for more civilised pastures, and others (notably my father) would just nod, shake their heads and smile secretly. One would then be reminded that my grandfather was a great admirer of Hitler. A moderate Muslim acquaintance years ago said about something similar: It is because they have no RELIGION (meaning a religion of the Book).

My only and shortish response is: the Church has failed the world. It is very late, but not quite TOO late, to rectify that.  In Africa, specifically, the real, live church will have to separate itself publicly from identification with Western values. Through spreading Western lifestyle along with the Gospel, we have failed to meet the deepest needs of the continent, namely freedom from slavery to dark forces. Some have embraced the Gospel with understanding and subsequent release from these things, but for others the overtly foreign and imperialist associations have been a barrier to this freedom.

This is not a new thought. But what is the church doing, TODAY, to combat our mistakes of the past? Any ideas of how we should go about this? How do we cancel out the associations? How do we speak to the boy with the hand missing, and to those that hacked off the hand? Do we have the power to put the forces that demand hacking off of hands in their place, and if we do, why are we not doing it?




Yesterday, after years of not thinking about an old flame, I looked him up on Facebook, and came across a recent album of many members of his family having dinner together. His father was there, but his mother notably absent. Intrigued, for reasons that will soon become clear, I googled her and came across two death notices in Irish newspapers. 

My first reaction to my husband was: Good. She deserves to be dead. I confess this humbly, not because I still think she deserves to be dead. The reaction, thank God, soon felt really wrong to me, and in a quiet moment away from the family I fell on my bed, saying sorry Lord, I am so sorry, I am so primitive, please forgive me for this terribly shallow and flesh-like reaction. Please renew my thinking, please make it possible for me to wish this woman peace, at least, as in my experience she did not feel very peaceful most of the time I knew her.

And He did. As always when we ask for the right things, the answer was immediate. When I went to bed, I re-lived all the times she went out of her way to make me feel stupid, wrong, or clumsy, and I wasn’t angry or bitter any more. I remembered how she often went into her potter’s studio in a “mood”, or retreated to her bedroom for long periods of time with a headache. I remembered how scathing she could be, particularly about Protestant “reverends” on morning radio devotions. Did she die as staunch a Catholic as she appeared to me? I think not, as there was no funeral. I just wished, and with this I finally fell asleep peacefully myself, that she had found peace in the end, and that her afterlife is somehow positive. Maybe not theologically clear to conservative Christians, but seeing that not one of us is in a position to judge, that was, in broad terms, what I wished her.


I was reminded that I don’t need to take people’s hostility personally. That, as in her case, people have to cope with a great many things, and most of us buckle under the strain at least some of the time. So the next thing I am praying for is a constant awareness of this fact, and an active and immediate compassion when it happens to me again – no, it doesn’t come naturally yet, but I believe that as I am transformed gradually, it WILL come – and I hope to be able to respond to everyone with equanimity and understanding.


How not to be a Christian 2

Again, I am finding myself in a situation where the lack of information, lack of frame of reference and lack of common sense force distance between myself and people that I may normally identify with, even if only because they are family. And once again the issue is not in English and the mere thought of having to translate paranoid hogwash to make a point fills me with dread and desperation. So, I will summarise for the sake of my own mental health (etc):

A new Afrikaans translation of the Bible is planned for 2016. My own opinion is that the translations of the past few attempts have been clumsy and have not found a satisfactory middle way between devotional “high” language and accessibility. They have either come out sounding plain funny or too “common”. Obviously, others also think so, thus the Bible Society was approached for new translation, directly from source texts, to fill the need for a widely accepted version.

But even in Afrikaans we have those who swear by the oldest translation of all, the Afrikaans King James version, so to speak: the 1933 translation. The reason? An aversion to change and progress and new things that is not unique to Afrikaners, just embodied in a very special way…So out jump the Boere-avatars of the “what was good enough for St Paul is good enough for me”-attitude – do you know that someone actually SAID that to me once about the King James version? He was a Mennonite convert, an American hanging around Serbia at the time. Anyway, back to the old Transvaal:  I get this petition emailed, being back in the communication loop with the relatives across the river after some years of bashing heads with Zulus (I like Zulu people! Just had quite a hard time trying to get them not to be like Afrikaners (I am one) in their resistance to change…).

The petition, to stick to the point, goes something like this: please express your horror and aversion to the proposed 2016 translation of the Bible to Afrikaans, and insist on reverting to the 1933/1953 translations. Reason being that the new translation, according to the petition, is hell-bent on denying the deity of Christ, will present the Godhead in lower case instead of capital letters, and is therefore a plot of the New Age to bring God down to its level. The full content of the petition is available in Afrikaans (I refuse to translate this!) for those who can read it.

A few glances at the petition confirmed my initial suspicion – you just know when you get these emails – that it was a load of pooh (this is a Christian blog and I will avoid stronger expressions) and based on a load of pooh. 1. Why would the Bible Society do such things? 2. Why would the Bible Society do such things? 3. Why would the Bible Society… 4. Why did everybody who signed the petition not ask themselves that question/those questions before signing the petition in the crudest expression of disinformation and ignorance I have almost been pulled into in a long time? Why do people – staunch and concerned “Christians” in this case, insist on believing POOH before checking the facts? Why do Afrikaners, particularly, rise to the occasion when POOH is at stake instead of spending that righteously indignant energy to rectify the huge problems in their own society and attitudes?

Fortunately, thank Google, I was able to track the issue on the net and immediately came across the RATIONAL rebuttal of the petition by the Bible Society. Which I replied with to the person who sent me the petition, imploring: “Can we please be rational and not take part in malicious lies?” I don’t know whether the reply was forwarded to all the people the petition was sent to, but one can hope.

The issue on which the paranoid petition was based was the following: one matter that is always the subject of serious deliberation when doing a Bible translation from source documents is whether to translate the Old Testament in the light of the knowledge provided by the New Testament, or whether to translate it as Jews would read it, which would be the original way. In other words, even though CHRISTIANS know that the Messianic prophecies, notable of Isaiah 53, for example, were fulfilled by Jesus, and thus READ INTO THEM THE DEITY of the suffering servant, for instance, should we translate the passages from the Old Testament as if that knowledge were available at the time of the prophecy, and thus use capital letters for the Servant (e.g.), or not?

As the Bible Society pointed out in its explanation, different theologies – and Afrikaans churches in South Africa are not all birds of a feather on these issues – have different approaches to this issue and all are expecting the Bible Society to present things in THEIR preferred light. Also, as the Bible Society pointed out, in the original Hebrew their ARE no capital letters, so a literally true translation wouldn’t have them.

Who got the tail end of this issue? Or, as my mother would have said: Who got the bull by the teat? And why did it escalate into a full-blown storm with red-faced farmers blowing murder and mayhem and New Age and insisting on going back to translations that just don’t speak to most people any more? The basic question here: Why do Christians, ANY Christians, EVER react in paranoid and uninformed ways?

If we are indeed the crown of creation, we should also have the wisdom and refinement and tolerance and and and…that correspond to the crown of creation. Willful ignorance, crude expressions of indignation, and deliberate disinformation are not worthy of such a status. That is HOW NOT TO BE A CHRISTIAN.

Through a rapist’s eyes: a re-blog

Through a rapist’s eyes. A group of rapists and date rapists in prison were interviewed on what they look for in a potential victim and here are some interesting facts:

1] The first thing men look for in a potential victim is hairstyle. They are most likely to go after a woman with a ponytail, bun! , braid, or other hairstyle that can easily be grabbed. They are also likely to go after a woman with long hair. Women with short hair are not common targets.

2] The second thing men look for is clothing. They will look for women who’s clothing is easy to remove quickly. Many of them carry scissors around to cut clothing.

3] They also look for women using their cell phone, searching through their purse or doing other activities while walking because they are off guard and can be easily overpowered.

4] The number one place women are abducted from / attacked at is grocery store parking lots.

5] Number two is office parking lots/garages.

6] Number three is public restrooms.

7] The thing about these men is that they are looking to grab a woman and quickly move her to a second location where they don’t have to worry about getting caught.

8] If you put up any kind of a fight at all, they get discouraged because it only takes a minute or two for them to realize that going after you isn’t worth it because it will be time-consuming.

9] These men said they would not pick on women who have umbrellas,or other similar objects that can be used from a distance, in their hands.

10] Keys are not a deterrent because you have to get really close to the attacker to use them as a weapon. So, the idea is to convince these guys you’re not worth it.


1] If someone is following behind you on a street or in a garage or with you in an elevator or stairwell, look them in the face and ask them a question, like what time is it, or make general small talk: can’t believe it is so cold out here, we’re in for a bad winter. Now that you’ve seen their faces and could identify them in a line- up, you lose appeal as a target.

2] If someone is coming toward you, hold out your hands in front of you and yell Stop or Stay back! Most of the rapists this man talked to said they’d leave a woman alone if she yelled or showed that she would not be afraid to fight back. Again, they are looking for an EASY target.

3] If you carry pepper spray (this instructor was a huge advocate of it and carries it with him wherever he goes,) yelling I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY and holding it out will be a deterrent.

4] If someone grabs you, you can’t beat them with strength but you can do it by outsmarting them. If you are grabbed around the waist from behind, pinch the attacker either under the arm between the elbow and armpit or in the upper inner thigh – HARD. One woman in a class this guy taught told him she used the underarm pinch on a guy who was trying to date rape her and was so upset she broke through the skin and tore out muscle strands the guy needed stitches. Try pinching yourself in those places as hard as you can stand it; it really hurts.

5] After the initial hit, always go for the groin. I know from a particularly unfortunate experience that if you slap a guy’s parts it is extremely painful. You might think that you’ll anger the guy and make him want to hurt you more, but the thing these rapists told our instructor is that they want a woman who will not cause him a lot of trouble. Start causing trouble, and he’s out of there.

6] When the guy puts his hands up to you, grab his first two fingers and bend them back as far as possible with as much pressure pushing down on them as possible. The instructor did it to me without using much pressure, and I ended up on my knees and both knuckles cracked audibly.

7] Of course the things we always hear still apply. Always be aware of your surroundings, take someone with you if you can and if you see any odd behavior, don’t dismiss it, go with your instincts. You may feel little silly at the time, but you’d feel much worse if the guy really was trouble.


1. Tip from Tae Kwon Do: The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do it.

2. Learned this from a tourist guide to New Orleans : if a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you…. chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse than you and he will go for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!

3. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car: Kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won’t see you but everybody else will. This has saved lives.

4. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping,eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc. DON’T DO THIS! The predator will be watching you, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side,put a gun to your head, and tell you where to go. AS SOON AS YOU CLOSE the DOORS , LEAVE.

5. A few notes about getting into your car in a parking lot, or parking garage:

a. Be aware: look around your car as someone may be hiding at the passenger side , peek into your car, inside the passenger side floor, and in the back seat. ( DO THIS TOO BEFORE RIDING A TAXI CAB) .

b. If you are parked next to a big van, enter your car from the passenger door. Most serial killers attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.

c. Look at the car parked on the driver’s side of your vehicle, and the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, or work, and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead.)

6. ALWAYS take the elevator instead of the stairs. (Stairwells are horrible places to be alone and the perfect crime spot).

7. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; And even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN!

8. As women, we are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP IT! It may get you raped, or killed. Ted Bundy, the serial killer, was a good-looking, well educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He walked with a cane, or a limp, and often asked “for help” into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.

Send this to any woman you know that may need to be reminded that the world we live in has a lot of crazies in it and it’s better safe than sorry.

If u have compassion reblog this post.
‘Helping hands are better than Praying Lips’ – give us your helping hand.

So please reblog this….Your one reblog can Help to spread this information.
I hope you all will Reblog. Lets See how many of you really care for this. 



How not to be a Christian 1 (cont.)

I promised, weeks ago now, to translate the critique of the Earth Charter published in the evangelical magazine ARBIL in Spanish. OK, bad of me to promise and not do it, but the fact of the matter is that I got SO depressed reading and re-reading the article that I decline to translate the whole piece in the end. Just now someone thinks I wrote it! But a few comments will hopefully suffice to get the point across:


1. Christians should not be uninformed. How the evangelical community let this article slip through and even endorsed it is very worrying. Salahuja, in criticising the Earth charter, shows great ignorance of the CONtent and INtent of the Charter, as well as the thinking of its supporters. He is clearly not well-read and even worse, doesn’t understand the stuff that he HAD read in the greater context of where it came from. So, in response he becomes and expresses himself in such a manner that leads to the next point:

2. Christians should not be irrational.  When debating issues that are of importance or concern to us, we must always be seen to LISTEN and UNDERSTAND what the other person is saying and where s/he is coming from, and not lash out, taking the opportunity to unleash all our feelings of mistrust and suspicion, which we shouldn’thave anyway to begin with. That leads to the following:


3. Christians should not be fearful or paranoid. All of the above points to only one thing, which Salahuja makes himself, and those who endorse the article, guilty of: paranoia. The suspicion that everyone out there is out to hurt us, belittle us, marginalise us.

But all this happens because of lack of awareness. So, ultimately, (4.) Christians should not be so unaware. Why do we always seem to be the last to catch on to what is happening in the world? Why do we insist on REACTING to what people think instead of SETTING the trend? The world is grappling with issues which Christianity should have solved a long time ago, had its followers – and I am one! – been alert and responsive and not wrapped up in themselves and their perceived superiority.

Instead of exporting Western culture, Christians should have been, for the past century or so, at the forefront of innovation, rectifying social ills, CARING FOR THE EARTH. I can go on about this, and say some very unkind things about the sleeping church. But let me stop here, and exhort: please, church, can we wake up and take the lead rather than be the sorry stragglers always? And please, someone, can you silence Salahuja and educate the people who think he is clever?

Grow Food, not Lawns 3 (I think)

Iniquitous, these long pauses between blog posts, and in this particular case, in between doing stuff on the raised bed. But under current circumstances I am a bit dependent on material hand-outs, and the timber for making the fences of the raised bed only arrived the day before yesterday.


SO! Progress has been made in the following way:




The flat pieces of pine I received have been hammered into the sandy areas made previously by killing the grass and clearing it. In the sandy soil of the Western Cape hammering the little uprights in was not difficult, but I need and will get, twice again as many to finish the whole design. In the mean time newspaper has been put down as the bottom-most layer of the organic matter that will fill up between the fences. This was followed by all the sticks, branches, reeds and other pieces of unfortunate plant that has been lying in the sun for weeks and no doubt causing the kind neighbours an eyesore…sorry!



It is a rainy morning – hallelujah! shout the plants and I…- so the colours are all a bit muted but hopefully it is clear what is happening. As soon as the rest of the pine arrives I will be wielding the four-pound hammer again and filling the rest of the pattern up, after which I will need a LOT of manure of different kinds, so if you have bags full, please let me know!

Hopefully by next weekend there will be much more to report.

How not to be a Christian 1 (English and Spanish)

Unfortunately, it seems that Christians are always the last to catch on to anything current. We have certainly been the last to express any concern about the environment and matters related to it. This will be a little series on blunders Christians make, sometimes refuted with clear biblical directives. To start off with, I publish the original Spanish text of a criticism of the Earth Charter – the English translation will follow today! This dude exemplifies that attitude and reasoning power that make Christians look like the dunces of the earth. So watch out for the English version and commentary – this is just an introduction. Bring you own thoughts to the reading!

Desgraciadamente los cristianos (evangelicos en mi caso) somos muchas veces los ultimos para opinar sobre asuntos actuales. Desde luego hemos sido los ultimos para expresarnos sobre asuntos relacionados al medio ambiente. Este serie (en ingles y a veces castellano) trata de las estupideces cometidas y expresadas por cristianos, con refutaciones biblicas claras. Comienzo con el texto original en castellano de una critica de la Carta de la Tierra. La manera de argumentar y expresarse es, para mi, tipica de como muchos cristianos lo hacen y no lo deben hacer. (No tengo acentos en este ordenador) 

El texto se puede encontrar aqui:

La traduccion al ingles se encontrara aqui mas tarde hoy.