Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cressida City

My friend Ernest has just lost his car. He had nursed it through 200 000km. He had serviced it regularly, polished it lovingly, and treasured its spacious interior. His family had spent many happy hours being transported to school/church/sport/sight-seeing trips. And then some thieving opportunist claimed it for his/her own. And he is heartbroken. Well Ernest, I know where it is. It is in Cressida City.

Because Gugulethu, just opposite the Cape Town Airport, is home to the Toyota Cressida. There are hundreds of them. They come in every colour and in varying states of disrepair.. They populate the car wash entrepreneurs, idle alongside the roads, and park in every conceivable driveway and open space. Their drivers create their own set of road rules. They crawl the curbs, climb the sidewalks, speed through red traffic lights, and stop without warning.

I was in Gugulethu today, and found myself out of my depth. Because I stopped for a red traffic light, and discovered cars (Cressidas) hooting at me to move along. I indicated a turn and had to avoid cars (Cressidas) overtaking me on the inside lane. I politely waited for the vehicle ahead of me to move forward in the queue, and was overtaken by a car (ok C…) who thought it quicker to cross the barrier line and both myself and the cars ahead of me and push in further ahead.

So I have had an epiphany. To get ahead I need a Toyota Cressida!
Now my father has one locked in his garage in Silvermine Village. Perhaps….

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I lift up my eyes to the hills

Psalm 121 tells of the futility of looking for help in the hills. Well the Psalmist is right – because I was in the hills this past weekend and I had to help myself.
The family left Cape Town on Saturday morning for Greyton, a small village at the foot of the Riviersonderend Mountains. We planned to walk the 14km Boesmanskloof trail to McGregor on the opposite side of the mountain range. The trail is the only direct connection between these two villages. The other alternative is a 200km road trip. (A friend of mine suggested that this was a more logical alternative to the one we proposed).

We set off on the steep 400m climb to breakfast rock, where we were rewarded by a panoramic view of the village below. At this stage only Jenny and I appreciated the view. My daughters were seriously reconsidering their commitment to the walk. I lied to them that the worst was over, and they cheered up. After two hours of trailing through the high mountain valley we were rewarded by a series of pools and waterfalls known as Oakes falls. A very relaxing hour in and around the water gave us the courage to finish the day’s walk. The girls found out my lie as we toiled up the steep ascent to the gate at the trail’s end. A phone call to Fanie of Whipstock farm, and we were transported to our night’s accommodation. A hot shower, Amanda’s farm food, and a comfortable bed were the just reward for the day’s walking.

The walk back to Greyton on Sunday was brightened by Jenny skinny-dipping in the waterfall, and pancakes under the cool oak trees in Greyton.

Oh yes – the bit about looking to the hills for help?
Well, there is no help going uphill. But the view from the top is great.
And two days spent in the mountains is a great way to remember that “my help comes from the Lord who has made heaven and earth”.

Monday, February 12, 2007

a funny god

It's funny hey, how there is a god who will stop the rain for a church fete or Sunday School outing, yet will do nothing to stop a mudslide down a hill in the Phillipines killing whole villages.

It's also funny that this god will heal a believers bad back, yet sit by and watch 500,000 children die of aids each year in Africa.

It's funny as well, how he turns a blind eye to jealousy, envy, greed and selfishness, yet becomes all smiteful when dealing with homosexuals and cohabitees.

It's funny how he tells people to love one another, yet still blesses those who kick the crap out of their enemies.

It's funny how for one day of the year he is peace and goodwill to all men, yet for the other 364 is all wrath and judgment.

I'm glad that the world and religion have this dualistic god, a god who seems to randomly bless and curse on a whim; I'm glad because it reminds just how different Jesus is, that he is none of the above.
Yet I am sad; I am sad because most religious people, especially church people seem to serve a Bruce Almighty; I'm sad because they miss so much, and I am sad because they misrepresent Jesus.
"These are the days of Elijah" or so the song goes. Maybe now's the time to take a few false prophets down to the brook and behead them. That's my prayer for today. That those who would misrepresent Jesus would have their heads chopped off (metaphorically of course.

I am indebted to Dave Lynch who lives in Dingwall (Scotland) and posted this on his blog on Wednesday, December 06, 2006.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


I hate church leaders. I have just returned from a Circuit Quarterly Meeting. (Four times a year the leaders from five local churches from my denomination get together to discuss common needs and interests). Tonight these leaders debated whether they would allow people of the same gender to marry in our Circuit’s churches. “They are welcome to worship with us” was hastily added on to the condemnatory comments of each speaker. The devious dishonesty of this “welcome” was neatly summarised when one speaker noted that they need to come and worship with us "so that they can be convicted of their sin".

Shit – who says that gay people even want to be blessed in church! We have made it abundantly clear that they are sinners, and will not be blessed by us. Gay people understand the message: “In the name of the God of love – be gone!”

This has nothing to do with Grace, and God, and the things of Jesus, and everything to do with judgement, and self-righteousness, and spiritual pride. Gluttons, and bigots, and all manner of other sinners can come and be blessed - just not gay people.
I do not fit into this organization
Pray for me.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

"Everyone is Doing It"

It was lying in little packets strewn across the road. The truck had taken the corner too sharply and shifted its load. And the driver stood forlornly looking at the pile of packets in the road.

But not for long. I was on top of the bridge looking down on the scene. And from my vantage could see people converging on the scene. Not to help the driver – but to help themselves! Like ants they scurried off the pavement into the road, before running away haphazardly through the traffic clutching white packets of sugar. One man climbed out of his car and grabbed at the packets, then climbed back into the car and drove off. Another piled his partner’s arms high with packets before they scurried off. And the hapless driver tried in vain to prevent his stock from disappearing. Within minutes the road was empty of sugar packets.

And I wondered at how ‘normal’ everyday people could turn into avaricious looters. How was it possible for people to hurry over to claim something that never was theirs to take. These were not tattood gangsters; neither were they involved in an elaborate criminal plot. They were random shoppers/business people/house wives/taxi drivers. The same people who deplore the crime in our country; people who call for the police to do something about the criminals; people who long for a crime-free society. And they thought nothing of stealing the property of another. A crowd of thieves.

Probably this is the key: “Everyone is doing it”. When everyone does it then it feels better. It is this that allows space for mob justice in township streets. It is this that allows company directors to award themselves obscene financial benefits at company expense. It is this that allows people like me – and you – to pick up a few bags of sugar in the road. And it is this that creates the criminal culture in our society.

Our culture changes when I refuse to enrich myself at the expense of another person….in fact our culture changes only when I learn to live with what I have without lusting for the possessions of another.

Now will someone please pass the sugar……