Thursday, December 31, 2009

Too Holy?

Someone became embarrassed, I think, when telling me that his brother had moved in with his girlfriend. I suppose realising that I am a M*I*N*I*S*T*E*R now. I don't want to say to him, don't worry it's ok, God doesn't mind, because I don't think that is true. But I do want to say to him God still loves you and your brother and so do I. But the chance wasn't there.
I feel embarrassed by some of the things my 'friends' post on Facebook - more so my Grahamstown friends than Jhb. People tend to invite me to be a friend, not thinking that I then have access to all the nonsense that they put on Facebook. Mostly it is just nonsense, but once or twice I have been tempted to put in a comment reflecting my take on their behaviour.
This is so mega-difficult! I am fairly accepting of a wide range of behaviour and and don't expect ascetism from anyone. I certainly don't want people to cut me off because I am seen as interfering or judgemental. And I count it a real privilege to be invited into certain people's lives in this way.
I suppose the problem, in both cases I have mentioned, is that the relationships are somewhat distant. Facebook is very superficial. If people know me, then it is more important to them who I am than what I am!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Deep Theology

I feel a bit lost to the realm of theological reflection due to moving home. They do say that moving home is one of the highest stress factors and it has been fairly tiring.
But while I may not have had time to formulate my theological thinking for a blog post, I am aware of how much God is active and part of our move. I am grateful to him that we travelled down safely with two cars, children, dogs, budgie and tons of 'stuff'. This house is great. The children are happy and my husband and I are no more at odds with each other than could be expected!
So, my new location for 2010 is Pietermaritzburg.

Monday, December 28, 2009

And now . . .

Christmas was good - even without furniture! The biggest problem was the lack of a fridge. I've had time to catch up with friends and reset a little. I think I am more ready for next year than I was before.
The kitchen floor of our 'old house' is now tiled, several rooms have been repainted and the house is in somewhat of a better condition for possible tenants. Final packing today and we will make the final move to Pietermaritzburg tomorrow - where hopefully we will find our house and possessions intact.
It is going to take time to adjust to our new surroundings and new life. I am still not really looking forward to college, but I'm trying to be positive. New experiences are good!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

How Small?

I received this in an email I subscribe to:

It’s a gift to joyfully recognize and accept our own smallness and ordinariness. Then you are free with nothing to live up to, nothing to prove, and nothing to protect. Such freedom is my best description of Christian maturity, because once you know that your “I” is great and one with God, you can ironically be quite content with a small and ordinary “I.” No grandstanding is necessary. Any question of your own importance or dignity has already been resolved once and for all and forever.

So, does one 'sell oneself' or does one accept one's smallness and ordinariness?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Doctoral Thinking

Today I am going to order books. I did the same thing about this time last year. I ordered several books through Loot (www.loot.co.za) which I would need for my Masters and timed it so that they would arrive in Grahamstown shortly after I did. I hoped that this would give me a bit of a push to keep working at my Masters - which it did.
I'm still thinking quite broadly about my doctorate, but I am almost certain that it will involve systems theory, so today I will order at least one book that I have in mind to start with and it should arrive at SMMS (Seth Mokotimi Methodist Seminary) in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sacrifice

I know this is really obvious and basic, but seeing as it is holidays let me say it anyway. Christianity is all about sacrifice. It is about the son of God walking human roads, rather than living in a palace.
But I don't believe that Christianity is about poverty and degradation. Jesus was humble, but not demeaned. He had dignity and I should think a measure of success that demanded respect.
So, where a mega-church (or any church) tries to appeal by providing luxurious surroundings it needs to be careful that it is not denying the need for sacrifice. On the other hand, neglecting church property or not looking to the comfort of staff or congregation also misses the point.
Somewhere there is a balance.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Crashed

I feel ridiculously human in that I think I have reached the limit of my resilience. I am just tired and demotivated and struggling to hear God at all. My head tells me that I am just tired. I'm ok enough this morning to be able to work through all the things that are discouraging me and realise that they are real, but that I am over-reacting. I realised last night that a month ago I was still in Grahamstown. In the course of that month I have had to readjust to Jhb, being with family and then to the move to Pietermaritzburg.
I am physically tired from packing and unpacking. I'm emotionally tired from adjusting to being with family again - constantly (this is a good adjustment, but it still takes effort). And I am struggling with a sense of belonging nowhere and having no roots.
And it doesn't help to know that what I am experiencing is common to all human beings! I want to feel sorry for myself and dump the burden onto someone else or perhaps run away from it all.
But I've just got to keep at it and trust that God will see me through.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A New Home

I suppose a Methodist minister needs to get good at moving house and learning a new environment. In fact, I guess that I said something similar at the beginning of this year when I moved to Grahamstown. So now I am trying to get a hold on Pietermaritzburg.
The day has been hectic. The movers brought our stuff. The plumbers came to replace the geyser and fix a few other things. The carpet cleaners keep coming to clean up the mess from the geyser, but find others in the way. There have been strangers in the house all day. This is not a good formula to make me happy! I'm glad things are being sorted out, but I've had no 'space'.
On the other hand, the kids are very happy with the house and the park next door - they have their own bedrooms, even though one is very small and one is converted servant's quarters and separate from the main house. The park has a stream and bamboo forests and their imaginations are soaring. They don't want to go back to Jhb, not even just for Christmas.
I am finding Pietermaritzburg far more like Johannesburg than Grahamstown - the roads are busy and the shops are busy. But I hope that means that the churches are buzzing too - we will find out about that later on.
Of course, this house will be where I sleep only on weekends. I am going to find that a lot harder than I thought I would. But I still have a month full time with my family.
I'm tired. It's raining (no surprise there). But - the people around me are coping, I'm reconnecting with them and God is looking after us.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pietermaritzburg!

I am sitting on the floor of the dining room in the house that we are renting in Pietermaritzburg. My teenage daughters are also here sitting on their sleeping bags, waiting for supper to cook. This is going to be quite interesting!
The removal truck came and fetched our furniture today. The girls and I left for Pmb at about noon. My husband and boys left Jhb after the truck finished and should be here in an hour or so.
The house is pretty much like it looked in the photos. But it is not in pristine condition. There are a few cracked cottage pane windows. There is marsh on the inside of the front door - for some reason the carpet is sopping wet. This is probably related to the geyser that is leaking - although the water doesn't appear to come through the ceiling.
There is a ginger cat who seems to think that he lives here - in a couple of weeks he will meet our border collies!
The garden is beautiful, but overgrown with weeds.
I'm sure that it will work out ok, but I am wondering what the agents have been doing to earn their fee!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Busy Packing

Some scattered thoughts - because I have been pretty flat out packing stuff in boxes and labelling furniture. Well, sometimes I have been supervising an army of teenagers who have been doing most of the work. My kids are great!
I've been trying to read and am trying to update my reading blog again. The links are under 'Reading happening' on the right hand side.
I read another article that says that books only sell if the author sells them into their own community (thanks to John Scheepers). I'm not sure if a book is the right way to get ideas 'out there'. I need to think about that some more.
I am becoming more and more sure that a theology that begins to do away with the need for the Bible as a foundational source is suspect. I know that taking the Bible as the 'word of God' can be seen as a bit arbitrary in certain lights, but it works for me. [This comes from a year listening to teachers telling me that the Bible is flawed in some areas and needs to be read with circumspection. Well, I have heard and I have thought and while I believe it does need to be read carefully and with insight, I reckon it is close to the word of God as we are going to find.]
We move our household tomorrow - the day and time has been moved several times in the last couple of days - but it looks like it will happen tomorrow. We are looking forward to it, although it is obviously hard for all of us to break with friends and family in Jhb. We will come back for a week or so over Christmas to tidy up the house and finish up here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

If I wasn't a Christian - tagged again

This is a response to a tag from Steve Hayes who asks what religions you find interesting. I'm not really a great one for religions, but I'll say what is true about me!
Firstly, I am a Christian. I think I'll explain why as part of number two.
The 'religion' that I would follow if I wasn't a Christian would probably be atheism. My natural wiring is towards logic and reduction and understanding everything in terms of things that I can fully conceive. I don't like being told what to do if I can't see the meaning behind it. I don't like things that I see as irrational. However, I cannot escape the reality of my Christian experience and the very high likelihood that Jesus is who he says he is. Even if I should be convinced that my experience of God is delusional, it would still make sense for me to live as if that was true in order to avoid 'unfixable' inconsistency in my understanding of reality.
My third option would be a sort of esoteric mysticism. This is really an extension of atheism and would be a rebellion against the impossibility of fully understanding the nature of reality -where I create my own reality.
BUT - I am so very, very glad that God broke into what could be a cold and meaningless existence and showed me that life is not like that. He makes sense to me rationally and gives warmth to me spiritually. God is good!
Anyone else want to pick up the tag?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Back Again

Our holiday in the Kruger Park was really good. The Park was quiet - it seems that we caught a lull period - which meant that we could stop and look at odd things without traffic banking up behind us. Odd things being birds, tadpoles, holes, clouds and so on.
It was a good time to get to know my kids again. And also to disconnect from the 'real world'.
I also managed to get some sense of what my 'call' is all about again. More about that later.
Now I need to print labels and pack boxes for our move to Pietermaritzburg later this week!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Camping with nerds

We are camping - it is beautiful in the Kruger Park and so quiet where we are! My kids are stars - set up camp with very little help. My husband emptied out a bag of tent pegs - they were prettly mangled - looked like a Chinese puzzle. My youngest's reaction - picks up one - 'look a J-PEG'.
Groan. (my husband's comment - 'camping with nerds')

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Full of Ideas

I'm starting today full of ideas. Ideas for my book. Ideas for college next year.
But mostly about my book - and today is going to be busy, so I probably won't have time to work on them!
Questions I need to answer.
How long should the book be? I'm pretty sure it should be between 150 and 200 pages.
How do I break it up? I think about ten pages a chapter making about 15 chapters. But I may not use conventional chapters.
Who am I aiming at? Who do I want to buy this book? That is a good question and affects every further thought on the writing. It is a book for Christian leaders. It has academic content - but this cannot dominate. To make it viable I need more people to be interested than just academics. I need to think about this.
What will the style be? Conversational? Instructive? Personal? Rigourous?
Actually my ideas today are all about content - but I need to work within a structure.
I need to find a name to use as a tag for these posts!

I'll be away in the Kruger Park for some of next week - posting may be slow.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Jesus Christ Superstar

It is interesting to read this article from BoingBoing. Most Christians are nervous about Jesus Christ Superstar - as far as I know, mostly because of the relationship it paints between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. I haven't seen it, but I think I need to.

Paul Spinrad says
JCS taught me the story of Jesus, which as a jewish boy in Los Angeles, I never knew. It had a huge impact on me. Ever since, I've looked at the world in terms of Jesus vs. Rome, righteous rebellion vs. institutional power, hippie values vs. capitalist values, love vs. control. As far as I'm concerned, the "hippie Jesus" of the 1960s and early 1970s is the true Jesus (and centuries of art bear me out on this, at least superficially).

Read the whole article!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Unwinding

Unwinding can be difficult and painful! I know that I need to slow down, let go and allow God to fill me again. But letting go of busy-ness is like letting go of an addiction. I really do go through a cold turkey process.
And so I pick up things, and put them down again. Sit, stand up, sit down again. Restless. Bored. But still a bit stressed - about? Nothing much. Got to break it to rest. To get strong again.
But I am still thinking about projects. Planning books and dissertations. Still trying to read. Doing bits and pieces with the kids. But these projects don't own me.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Aggregators

I'm trying out www.blogged.com. I got a hit from them this week - I'm not sure how they got my blog into their system. Anyway, I registered, so we'll see.
They had my blog categorised under 'Shopping' - because of the word 'shoes' in the title! I've asked them to change it. Again, we'll see!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Moving House

We are packing. Things into boxes. Mostly books. We have lived in this house for very nearly 21 years, so there is a lot of stuff to sort through. We've been doing it all week and the kids are full of beans and high spirits - that makes it so much easier.
Next week we go away. I wasn't sure if we would be able to, but we need time out!!
And then the removal truck comes.
Then Christmas.
Then Pietermaritzburg.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Secular Humanism

In response to my posts on humanism and morality, someone sent me this link www.secularhumanism.org. I haven't looked at everything on the pages, but the two observations that come to mind are that 1. People have a lot of confusion and anger inside of themselves and 2. I have said before that I think that we should be looking at the difference between postmodern philosophies that are extensions of modernism (such as secular humanism) and those that are countermodernizing and backtrack on some of what modernism had to say.
In extensions to modernism we see the sort of hyper-individualism that is seen on the secular humanism web page and a disregard for anything spiritual or supernatural. Many theologians also fit into this category (ha, ha do you really believe that God would send a fish to swallow a prophet?) And other characteristics.
In countermodernising philosophies (especially the sort that I embrace) we see a compromise on individualism and community. We reject the reduction of all things to mere cause and effect on a natural scale. And we believe in a supernatural world that is probably beyond our understanding. (So, as a theological thinker, I can't be sure whether Jonah was swallowed by a fish or not, but I am 100% convinced that if it suited God to organise this, he could do so.) And other characteristics!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday

Today would have been my day off in Grahamstown and I would have been going to the beach. Of course, the weather here in Jo'burg is perfect for the beach, whereas the Eastern Cape didn't necessarily oblige. But I am very glad to be home and with family. It is as if I can feel the blood flowing back into my veins.
It was interesting to monitor my feelings at church yesterday. I was very happy to be - almost a spectator. But I can feel that I am stronger. Stronger for phase 1. And stronger for being back home. Hopefully the future will hold both family and ministry together.
I am happy - but trying to tone it down for those around me who are still working and stressing!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Being Home . . .

Being home means playing 'Mozart easy duets for 2 violins' - with me on an electric guitar and my husband playing his flute. Crazy, but fun, and my fingers are cramping!

The Bible in a Few Words

I was tagged by Steve Hayes for this challenge. Put the message of the Bible in five lines. The first must have one word, the second two and so on.
I have been intentionally a bit alternative. I'm not sure if it really works if you don't already know the message and symbolism of the Bible!

God
God's BHAG
Jesus the Light
Christians, agents of Light
An everlasting victory in awesomeness

(A BHAG is a big hairy audacious goal - I don't know who originally coined it. I read it in a book by Bill Hybels)

I tag Thomas, Mark, Steven Jones and Charli.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Selling Myself

I have to make a decision. It's been coming a while and I've been avoiding it. Because I am afraid. But I really have to make a choice.
If I want to write books, I need to be willing to sell myself in order to sell my books. And I am not good at selling myself at all. "Hello, how are you? Would you like to buy my book?" That sounds extreme, but it is only extreme by a hair breadth. If one wants to sell, one almost has to live to sell.
I've been toying with the idea of getting a book out of my Masters dissertation. At times I am passionate about the concepts, at others I feel that they are too superficial. Can I believe in them enough to sell them?
They gave me an award for my Masters. For the dissertation with the most significance for the local church. Normally, I tell nobody (except my husband) if I get an award. So I've already broken through - I have told you (dear reader). But the award tells me that I achieved my aim for my Masters (to be relevant). But now, what good if it lies in a college library? Do I believe in it enough to publish it? Do I have the mental and emotional toughness to put it out into the world and then sell it?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Graduation

Last night was my graduation for my Masters degree from the Baptist Theological College. It was held at Rosebank Union Church in Sandton and was a really good evening. The worship time, led by the college band, was all that I could have asked for. The speakers were generally good and not too long! And I felt really special, which I suppose is what it is all about.
The vibrancy and passion and enthusiasm were infectious.
I can't say what I want to say, but let me just say that it contrasts with the general attitude within my own denomination.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Terry Pratchett on Religion

This is what Granny Weatherwax has to say about religion. It is from 'Carpe Jugulum' by Terry Pratchett.

'Right. Right. That's people for you. Now if I'd seen him, really there, really alive, it'd be in me like a fever. If I thought that there was some god who really did care two hoots about people, who watched 'em like a father and cared for 'em like a mother . . . well, you wouldn't catch me sayin' things like "There are two sides to every question," and "We must respect other people's beliefs." You wouldn't find me just being gen'rally nice in the hope that it'd turn out right in the end, not if that flame was burning in me like an unforgivin' sword. And I did say burnin', Mister Oats, 'cos that's what it'd be. You say that you people don't burn folk and sacrifice people any more, but that's what true faith would mean, y'see? Sacrificin' your own life, one day at a time, to the flame, declarin' the truth of it, workin' for it, breathin' the soul of it. That's religion. Anything else is just . . . is just bein' nice. And a way of keepin' in touch with the neighbours.'

I think she's got a point.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Taking Control

Now, I have no choice but to start sorting out all the things that have just had to wait! We need to pack our stuff into boxes to move to Pietermaritzburg. That means my hording kids need to throw stuff away! And I need to sort through my email which has got into a mess of disorganisation and sometimes unanswered emails. And we need to form a new routine at home that includes 'Mother'.
Putting our lives into boxes leads to some quite philosophical thoughts. Certain postmodern thinking rejects boxes and systematic reduction. They say this takes modern thinking too far. But I don't know how to move house without the boxes. But now . . . how do we pack?
We could put all the books in book boxes and toys in toy boxes and crockery in crockery boxes and so on.
Or we could think in systems. Then I would put all my guitar stuff in one box - books, cables, gadgets and all. Pots, pans, cookery books and flour in another box.
Or we could categorise systematically in another way. We could put all the blue things in one box - the blue curtains, blue books and blue cups.
We could do it without any order whatsoever and enjoy the surprising arrangements that result!
The reason that I am 'postmodern' is that I love to look for these different options and sometimes see far more clearly by looking from a different perspective. One can do theology in the same way.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

End of the Journey

Today finished my journey at Shaw Memorial Methodist in Grahamstown. Tomorrow I drive back to Johannesburg. We had an enormous farewell service this morning/ afternoon and I feel quite overwhelmed. There are many, many good people here at Shaw and I am going to miss them. It has undoubtedly been a hard journey, but Jesus has been part of it and somehow he has made it work. I know that there is a lot that I could have done better. I know that I have learnt more than I have been able to give. But I think somehow, in spite of that, Jesus has used me.
I have my husband with me - life feels so different when you are not alone!
Thank you to all my internet and blog buddies . . . you helped me keep going!
Now, a bit of a holiday and then the move to Pietermaritzburg. Stay tuned.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wesley Guild Executive Committee

This is our Wesley Guild Executive Committee in the Grahamstown Circuit. We had our last official meeting for the year at the Wimpy. Although the year has been hard for us in many ways we all learnt a lot. I am glad that I have this photo to remember them by.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Struggles around morality

Inclusive or exclusive? Is there an absolute right and wrong? Shouldn't we as Christians be making a stand against 'free sex' or sex outside of marriage? What about homosexual people? How do we handle difficulties around cultural differences regarding nudity? Does the church have a 'prophetic voice'? Should it?
In the last two Saturday sermons that I preached I challenged people to see that being a Christian meant acting like a Christian, not just saying words. I nearly always do this, but these last two times, instead of giving them examples of wrong and right I told them to look into their own hearts and see what God was telling them. I said that they were the ones who should know what is right or wrong. They received this quite well.
The 'problem' with the church and 'prophetic voice' and 'moral stands' is that we think that by making rules we are going to make Christians or ultimately change society. But Christians are made by God and society will change when individuals or communities are convicted from within themselves (by the Holy Spirit) that they themselves should change.
CS Lewis reckoned that we could know that God exists because of our inbuilt sense of right and wrong. I wish that CS Lewis could be here now and help me to understand this in an African context. Sometimes right and wrong differ from culture to culture. But I do believe that God will lay a fairly consistent sense of right and wrong on the hearts of people, regardless of our culture.
The question is, 'will we subject ourselves to God and be prepared to sacrifice our own pleasures to a greater good?'

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Comrades

My vague aspirations to run the Comrades next year have been dashed by the discovery that they received their 5000 novice entries within 27 hours of opening on 1 November! Still, I think I will try to join a club in Pietermaritzburg next year and take running seriously. I am looking forward to the Pietermaritzburg adventure.

Listening Carefully

I suppose that there is always the danger when writing in public forum that one will be misunderstood. The fact is that whatever one writes, it is read from the perspective of the reader's own context. The same thing when one preaches. I know that I have sometimes put so much thought into making sure that I've covered all the possible areas where I may be misunderstood that I don't have time for the meat of the message. So I don't belabour possible areas of misunderstanding and trust that God will let people hear what he wants them to hear.
So, someone took my previous post to mean (I'm putting it a bit strongly) that I thought that I was ineffective as a minister and that my congregation was intransigent. Which isn't what I meant at all. It implies a sort of arrogance to me that I am not comfortable accepting, but quite possibly I did not express myself well. My reaction is to want to rush around putting comments clarifying what I meant, but I know that the comments won't necessarily be read. However, anyone reading my post, following that particular link, will see it in the light of that frustrated arrogance. Which just isn't fair to me - or for that matter to this congregation.
On the other hand, I read an article referred to by another blog which I found interesting. Then the writer said we should 'encourage our brother bloggers'. For some reason (because I'm not much of a feminist) that caught my attention and I felt excluded. And I don't want to take a deep breath and remember that this author is writing from a very different context to mine. Because it's nice to get uptight - get all those chemicals flowing. But I do anyway. And I am reminded that I am also human and can misunderstand people.
Which all goes to say that we need to listen to each other very carefully!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Disturbance

In some ways doing church in the black African way is very different to the English-speaking churches.
In the church where I was leading on Sunday there is a birds' nest. There is a broken window, which has been there ever since I landed in Grahamstown and this pair of red-winged starlings has made itself at home. I think the congregation is used to having the birds swooping over them during services and meetings. This Sunday a little sparrow creature got in. It hopped up onto the pulpit to say hello to me and then fluttered off to the roof beams. Eventually the starlings spotted it and then there was war. They chased the poor thing all around the church until it crashed into the ornamental hangings behind the pulpit and hopped off under a table in temporary safety.
I can't really understand the lack of interest in church that means this sort of thing happens. Does no one care to fix the window? Whose fault is this? The congregation's? The ministers', who have come and gone over the years? God's? This is one of many symptoms of a church society that doesn't have any real roots.
Apparently one of the church stewards (like an elder) was there at the beginning of the service, but decided to go home. No one is quite sure why.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Saturday or Sunday Church?

Yesterday I took a Sunday Service in the Grahamstown township. Previously I have preached at combined services where several societies had been brought together. This was the first time I preached to only one society. (I wish I could have done it a whole lot more, we had a strange action plan this year!) There were about 100 people there - most of them not very young.
On Saturday I preached at a funeral in the same church and the church was nearly full - I guess about 500 people.
There is no question in my mind - funerals need to be taken seriously as an avenue of ministry. I would use funerals as outreach events (explain Jesus, do evangelism - the ultimate words of comfort) and Sunday services for teaching and encouraging. If the people had solid teaching every Sunday I believe that they would start coming to church.
I have a vision for Shaw section in Grahamstown, but I just don't have the language skills.

Bongani Mkhize

This story from Independent Online is really frightening. I wonder what the other side of the story is?

"One by one they die - thugs pay the price for cop's murder," read the headlines in a Daily Sun article dated October 18 last year and included in Mhkize's High Court application. "When a top cop (Chonco) was shot dead in an ambush, his angry colleagues vowed to avenge his death. And this is what's happening. Today the seventh suspect in the murder lies dead, riddled with bullets."

They apparently shut the Chonco shooting case because all the suspects had been killed by police.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I did it!

I did it. I ran 5km this evening. I reckon I can keep running through the pain of anything that comes my way. My God is SO big.

Theme Song

Tired. That's my theme song for the past few weeks. I was exhausted yesterday, had a good night's sleep and I'm still exhausted. I think that has been the most difficult thing this year.
The thing with church work is the energy has to come from somewhere. I guess the other thing with church work is that God always takes you through that last bit when you just think that you can't anymore.
I don't want to spend my last week half asleep. I will be stronger tomorrow!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Leadership

One of my circuit stewards was sounding off to me in the car yesterday. She knows we think alike, so it's ok. One of the things she said was about leaders - people must know that if you are a leader some people will like you and some people won't like you. That will never change. The important thing is that you do what is right.
Something like that makes me feel good. But also I know that it is not a popular idea in many arenas. After all, who am I to say that I am right? Are there not many truths and many rights? And then I just want to go into a mush of 'I am a victim, help me,' screams into the distance. I sometimes feel that if I am leading a meeting and there are two opposing ideas and I have a third, then somehow both of the other ideas are right (even if they are opposites) and mine is wrong, by definition.
Fortunately, this is all just happens inside my head, and, without too much trauma, I do what I think is right - which of course might be adopting someone else's idea!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Persian Bones

This is a very cool story. Apparently there are historical accounts of a Persian army lost in Northern Africa about 500BC. Archaeologists think that they may have found their bones. 2500 years later! That blows my mind.
This would have been right around the time of the exile of the Jews in Babylon. The Persian king concerned (Cambyses) had both father and son called Cyrus and my history isn't good enough to know which Cyrus ordered the return of the Jews to Jerusalem.
I have some Googling to do! (Story originally found at Boingboing.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Competitiveness, Jealousy and Invincibility

So, yesterday wasn't such a good day. I drove in to PE to visit some people. The Methodist Church where we had our phase 1 college was robbed of the Sunday collection on Monday morning while the admin lady was counting it. The bishop's secretary hauls out a newspaper and says 'did you see this?' An Anglican priest has been murdered at the college in Grahamstown (the town where I stay). I go to the Christian bookshop - 'we had all our takings stolen this morning'. The bishop's secretary says there is just a feeling of oppression around.
So, I got five hours sleep last night and woke up feeling grumpy and bad tempered. At least I knew it would be a busy day, so I would cope. Spent three and half hours in 30 degree heat driving around the township taking communion to the elderly. I don't mind doing this, but by the time I was saying the communion liturgy for about the fifteenth time my mind was wandering all over and I felt I was letting the people down. My husband smses to say that we lost the option to rent a house in Pietermaritzburg that the family was hoping to stay in.
I guess I was feeling pretty flat by this time. Get home, check in to the internet. Load Facebook and there are the chirpy doings of my less busy, higher achieving friends. I just wanted to give up and go home. I hated them for a moment. There is some competitiveness in me that I see when I am at my weakest. You can't beat me. You may not do better than me. You can't have more friends than me or more blog readers than me or a better ministry than me. So there! I know that competetiveness is always there, but usually it is controlled (not always in the best way, but that's another story . . .) It frightened me to see it so near the surface at that moment when I felt so insecure.
I've got a Learning Partnership meeting tonight. I didn't want to go feeling like this. The heat is oppressive. It physically drains me. But it's 5 o'clock and I'm going to run. I'm going to do my longer route. I've gone 200m and I feel the life pour back in. I am invincible. I can run forever. And I do. There's a male runner pounding it out ahead of me. Wow, he's going. I'm not that good. But check out that stomach - I guess running doesn't help you lose weight. There it is again. Can't let anyone beat me. I catch up with him a little way on. He's walking now. Everyone's walking now, except me. The route that took me twenty minutes last time took me fifteen today.
What am I doing with my life? What is God doing?

Mysteries of God's Revelation

How do we know about God?

Through natural revelation? Through what we can see in nature?
But then is God seen in the warm sunshine and gentle breeze or in the desert heat and the hurricane? Is he seen in sweet puppies and kittens and new-born children or in AIDS and cancer and polio?

In the Bible?
But then is God the God of the Old Testament, of Jesus, of Paul? How do we read the Bible? Literally, allegorically, contextually, reductively (by which I mean in a way that produces a systematic theology) or deconstructively (by which I mean that the meaning is determined by the reader's understanding and not the writer's intention)?

Surely God is also revealed in the church - in his people?
Is he the God of the Crusades? Of the first choir to sing Handel's Messiah? Of the early martyrs? Of the Benedictine monks? Is he God of the Roman Catholics, the proponents of the prosperity gospel, the Muslims, the Methodists?

And in individual believers?
Is he God of the self-righteous Christian who mocks and sneers at Christians who do not want to bless homosexual marriages? Of the Christian who believes that the Bible encourages racism? Of those Christians whose beliefs waver according to the person they are speaking to? Of the one who kills a doctor who does abortions? Of the quiet Christian who spends his life alleviating the poverty found in one small family? Of the arrogant and the afraid and the contented and the dissatisfied, of the greedy and those who seek poverty?

'Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.' 1 Corinthians 13:12.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Amatomu

I see that Amatomu have put a message up. They are trying to sell the site. If they can't sell it they want to give it to the community to run. I wonder how that would work?
Apart from the fact that Afrigator is a bit 'buggy' I'm finding it interesting to visit a different set of blogs.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Humanism

I am beginning to think that the struggles I have with many theological thinkers is that their philosophies are humanist rather than Christian. I'm probably getting the words wrong in a technical sense, but I want to get my thoughts out before I get confused! By humanist I mean that, loosely speaking, they believe that we should all live for the greater good of humanity. Now, apart from those who clearly only live for themselves, is this not the only sane philosophy for any human being? As Christians we are gung-ho, talking about transformation of the world. Is that humanist or Christian or both? Where does the difference come in?
I think that maybe the difference is in where we see that the repository of wisdom lives. Does it live in human experience and human rationalising? Or does it live in the revelation that God gives us about himself? Of course, this opens up a whole new can of worms - does God's revelation exist outside the realm of human experience? But the difficulties in answering the second question shouldn't stop us honestly answering the first.
On another tack, I am now realising that there are people who say that animal rights are just as important as human rights - and for this reason we do not live for the greater good of humanity, but rather the greater good of all 'creation'. In other words, medical advance (such as the discovery of insulin) which leads to the saving of human lives does not justify experiments on animals. How does this fit into Christian thinking? Humanist thinking?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

It's all about running

It's odd, but I'm living for my running at the moment. I almost count the minutes until 5.30 when I reckon it is cool enough to hit the streets. I took the car and measured the distance I have been running - a bit further than I thought, 1.6km. The last time I ran it I did it in 9 minutes, which isn't bad seeing as I've been running just over a week. I missed three days because of the retreat and then couldn't run yesterday because I was out all day and back after dark. Today I ran further and I would guess that I did 2.5km in 20 minutes. I think my body might still be up to the Comrades. If only it was towards the end of next year it would make an ideal focus for the year. But it's too early for me to get fit and too early to 'live for'.
I am really tempted to just work at getting fit over the next few weeks. I am pouring energy into my church work because I feel I'm doing wrong if I don't, but it is like pouring water down a drain. I am too embarrassed to even say what I am wasting effort in, I feel such an idiot. I really was more of what I think a minister should be for the five or six years before this one, than I have been this year. So I feel frustrated. But I also know that I have learnt a lot and this knowledge is worth its weight in gold. I don't know how I am going to cope without being in meaningful ministry next year. But I guess there are many things to learn.
If I can run 10km before the end of the month, maybe I will enter the Comrades if there is still space.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Feeling Loved

I did a funeral in Grahamstown this morning. Sometimes I feel so loved by the people in my congregations and I am so grateful to God for them. I am able to do so little for them and yet they are so welcoming of me.
Today my soul needed a bit of restoring and God sent the people to do it.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Last Stretch

I am on the last stretch of my time in Grahamstown. The retreat that I have just been on was the last activity outside of the circuit and I now have just over two weeks to complete. I feel quite a lot better now that there is some pressure on me! I have only two weeks to finish various tasks. Most of these are related to financial reporting and don't exactly inspire me, but they must be done. I have a busy weekend with a funeral tomorrow morning (I think!) and a Local Preachers meeting in the afternoon. These tend to last around four hours and are conducted in Xhosa, but I think I will get through it. Then Sunday is a Communion Service and election of society stewards in one of the Grahamstown churches. After that I'd like to go to the farewell service of one of the ministers in Port Elizabeth, but I will have to see what the time is when my church service is done. I am happy to be busy! Even though that means I will have to spend Friday evening preparing sermons.

I am also experimenting with linking my blog to Facebook. I've avoided doing that because my Facebook friends tend to be very distinct from my blog friends. I'm not sure how many of them would be interested in my blog or if it will change what I write. We will see.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Mysterious Monks

I really enjoyed our retreat at the monastery just outside Grahamstown. It was a 'real' retreat with times for silence and meditation and listening. Although, I must admit that I am too tired to relax. I am very grateful that I have the whole of December off (except for moving home of course!)
We joined the monks (three of them were around) for the daily offices - Vigil, Lauds, Midday, Vespers and Compline. I can't remember if the midday one had another name! It was a new experience for me to participate in English sung liturgy. I couldn't do this all the time, but I'd like to take part in this sort of thing more often.
It was also a very good way to end off our college year. The group came together very nicely and I think we enjoyed each other's company. We are set for a positive start to our seminary experience next year.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Monastery

Today the Phase 1 student ministers are heading for the monastery just outside Grahamstown. For once it is the people from Port Elizabeth who must travel, while I am nearby! I am looking forward to this. We will stay there two nights. I don't know what to expect, except that we have been told that there will be something about dreams . . .
Two challenges for me: 1. to see if I can continue with my discipline of running in a different place and a different routine; 2. to see if I can manage to promote my booklet without apologising for it. I am my own worst enemy sometimes!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Afrigator and MyBlogLog

I linked up with Afrigator quite a while ago and I have been getting about one hit a month from there. But I could never find my blog on the site. So, with my new determination to investigate blog statistics, I went seeking. My old embed code must have been hopelessly outdated, because when I put in the new code the badge came back and I could find my blog on the religion tab. So far I am finding Afrigator useful - there are some new blogs there that I haven't seen before. Unfortunately, like sitemeter, they don't seem to be able to eliminate hits from web accelerators so my stats are inflated when my 'sleeping beauty' post goes through an upswing (as it has just now).
MyBlogLog doesn't seem to be helping much. My husband really didn't like the badge, so it got moved to the bottom. I haven't really got to grips with understanding their way of doing stats, but they do seem to eliminate the web accelerator hits - even better than google analytics does. or maybe I just don't properly understand.
And Amatomu still seems to be broken - yet I got two hits from there yesterday or the day before??

Running through the pain

Yesterday I ran in a fairly solid drizzle - or perhaps a light mist. I couldn't see the other side of the valley, or the towers of the buildings in the Grahamstown valley. It occurred to me that that I have run in all sorts of weather, but not mist before. And it struck me that the old disciplines of training are coming back quite easily in spite of a break from road running of years. And as I ran up the long hill that makes up half of my run I thought about how I can force myself to run through the pain because I know what is on the other side (fitness!) And then I wondered why I can't apply the same discipline to other parts of my life.
I know that I have areas of weakness. I am trying to strengthen them, but it is an ongoing struggle and I give up again and again.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Paterson

I did a Communion service out at Paterson this morning. This is a little settlement about 70km outside Grahamstown towards Port Elizabeth. This was probably the last Communion service that they will have as part of the Grahamstown Circuit. Next year they will be part of the newly formed Addo Circuit. This is a small church but their passion and commitment is way out of proportion to their size. I really enjoy being part of them. I have only actually taken a Sunday service in their church once before. On that occasion I managed to put my foot through a broken board on the platform. I knew to be a bit more careful this time!
The people take Communion kneeling at a rail on the edge of this platform. This makes them very low! Some of the children are small - so they are even lower. I felt like an old age pensioner getting down to the children's level to talk to them. However, this is an effect of my sudden interest in trying to get fit and the stiffness in my legs, so hopefully it will pass!
I left home at 8am and got back at 3pm. That is fairly standard for a Sunday and often for a Saturday too. I don't mind, although I am fighting what could be a bad headache as a result. Somehow this is what ministry is all about. We felt the Spirit after the preaching, even though I felt my sermon didn't work so well. It's all about Jesus and what he wants to do with people.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pleased With Myself

I am feeling pleased with myself. I ran for about 15 minutes yesterday - I'm not sure how far, but it is about a year since I played my last hockey game and I've pretty much vegetated since. I ran again today - the same distance in ten and I was tempted to do it again! There is hope for me yet. But I guess I won't quite manage the Comrades in seven months.
I'm also keeping up with watching a bit of tv and watched a bit of the Pirates/ Chiefs game and will shortly watch at least part of the rugby.
I think that I have found myself again - even though I didn't know I was lost!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Head, Heart and Hand


I'm not very good at selling myself and generally would prefer to go and hide in a corner, but . . . The picture above is the printer's proof for my mini-book which arrived from the printers yesterday. I hope you can enlarge the picture enough to read the description on the back (Click on it to enlarge)! I haven't actually seen it yet (it is in Jhb), but it should be about 65 pages and will be selling for the princely sum of R70. If you are interested and not near enough to me or my base in Jhb to be nagged to buy the book, please email info@cobblecrab.co.za. You can also email this address if you have a book lurking inside of you that you'd like to write, but feel that you don't want to have to convince a big publisher that your book is meaningful - or if you are nervous about having to do initial print runs in the thousands! John is trying to make a space for small writers to be published.

From the introduction:
Welcome to a handful of adventures in the Biblical meta-narrative! To some people the idea of ‘head, heart and hand’ will be very familiar, but for others . . .

Why Head?
This is inspired partly by John Wesley who formed a Bible Study club at Oxford. He and his friends were determined to start taking the Bible more seriously and to wrestle with it and to understand it themselves. Nowadays, too many people don’t even read the Bible, let alone wrestle with it. This is a call for all of us to start taking the Bible seriously again.

Why Heart?
Studying the Bible can become an academic exercise which has as much relevance to our lives as our least favourite subject at school. Reading the Bible is not supposed to be dry and boring, but rather fascinating and life-changing. As the Holy Spirit helps us to read the Bible he will always use it to transform those who have committed themselves to Jesus. Without Jesus, the Bible can seem dry and irrelevant.
This transformation comes about in our attitudes – our attitude towards God, our attitude towards others and our attitude towards ourselves. There are times when reading the Bible can seem to leave us untouched, but we continue to read and study in faith that God will bring us those awesome moments of revelation that make daily discipline worthwhile.

Why Hand?
Sometimes people think that being a Christian is just about what they believe. Or they may think that it concerns only themselves and is a private thing. While there is truth in these, there is more than that to being a Christian. Our Bible reading needs to lead us to action. We may need to change the way that we live our daily lives. We may need to speak out against injustice and abuse. We may need to refocus on our relationships, and so on.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jesus Understands

I spent some time yesterday taking Communion to elderly people in the township. We randomly allocate areas to myself and my supervising minister and I don't remember doing this particular area before. It was a very much poorer area than most I've been to. For some reason our system of letting people know that we were coming didn't seem to work and we were getting many old people out of bed. In one of the last houses the granny was asleep with someone else beside her. The granny came through, but the other person seemed to stay asleep. As we got going this other person woke up and it turned out to be a girl in her twenties who was quite badly disabled - I would guess cerebral palsy. She eventually came through to us walking on her knees and making talking noises. The noises she made were quite frightening, but she seemed to be very good-natured. When we gave out the elements of Communion I gave her a wafer. She was elated, but eating the thing was quite a performance. She didn't notice when I didn't give her a little glass of communion grapejuice. In the midst of all this chaos and noise the steward with me said quietly to me, 'Jesus understands'.
I was so pleased - it was something that I said to him on the first day that we did communions together. There is usually a lot of ceremony and the people wait for the minister wearing their church uniforms. But I said if the people were bed-ridden they could take communion in their beds. If the people were too fast asleep or too sick, I said that Jesus would understand if we just prayed for them and didn't give them communion. I was so chuffed that this simple guy who doesn't manage much English had owned the concept. And reminded me of it!

Television

For a very long time I have watched very little television - where to be honest, very little equals zero. This isn't out of any conviction of any kind, just that I struggle to sit and just watch and I get bored. About 5 years ago I chose to watch some programmes aimed at youth to help with an assignment I was doing for my BTh. As a result of that I decided to watch TV every day that week from 6pm to 10pm. It was a very good exercise -although I was grateful that I had church activities most evenings so I didn't have to watch the full four hours. The biggest problem was my four year old who could not understand that his mother couldn't be interrupted in case she missed something on the screen!
Since then I've had a vague determination to try to watch more television - because I ought to know what everybody else is watching and knowing.
I thought that this year would be an ideal opportunity. I'm away from my kids, I was likely to be bored and lonely. I plugged the TV in, in about August, but couldn't get into it. But I think that my problem has been that I've tried to watch the soapies. I stuck the TV on on Tuesday night and watched the news and a bit of other stuff. Same thing last night. I might be winning!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Getting Higher and 350

I've just realised how many of my last posts have sounded flat. Got to make a plan to get some interest in life!
So I am playing with MyBlogLog to see what that does with stats and whatever.
I ought to go running, having made the connection that I will be in Pietermaritzburg for the next year or two - Comrades world!
Here's what I think is a good idea. Many people have heard the eco-guys pushing 350 day on 24 October. At least one Methodist Church in SA sent in a photograph. It's such a good way of raising awareness in the congregation and also being something of a prophetic voice.

Feeling Grumpy

I am still feeling out of sorts and I am so angry with myself for feeling like this! Writing in my prayer journal this morning was line after line saying thank you to God for stuff he has done. While I might be struggling with my call, God just seems to be answering questions and sorting things out. It's not all sorted - still a couple of big issues - but I can't deny the hand of God in proceedings.
I wonder if, apart from all my usual idiosyncrasies, I am suffering from not talking this stuff out? The church tries very intentionally to put support structures in place for us, but they don't replace relationships that have been built up over time. When I am back in Jhb in December I think I will make a point of following that up.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Feelings

Again I am in a place where things seem to just boil down to feelings. I am in PE but will leave for Grahamstown in a few minutes. We had an exciting flight last night with a landing in 100km/h wind. There were suddenly a lot of Christians on the plane!
But now I have just under four weeks left in Grahamstown. I still feel tired. What happened to that restoration that I was looking for? I'm struggling with a sense of future or vision perhaps. Next year will be good. A new town. My family with me. But I am struggling with the lack of control that I have over my life.
I just feel like moaning!!!
I guess that God will see me through this too.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Grace

I said something stupid that hurt someone. My internal reaction when they were upset, 'Can't you show me some grace? I didn't mean it like you heard it. I didn't want to hurt you.' But when we start demanding grace from others we are on a slippery slope. Especially when we demand it from God. Grace is something that is freely given and is not a right. It does become complicated because God does expect grace from us and so in a sense we have the right to expect grace from others. But actually it's God's right, not ours.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cleaning Up

I spent most of yesterday digging through the layes of chaos on my boys' bedroom floor and other flat surfaces. This does not count as fun in my book - so I had to ask myself, which is more fun being a phase 1 minister or being a mother? The fact is that everything has good and not good aspects. But sometimes we accept the not fun aspects as a 'necessary evil' and at other times we are dragged screaming and kicking through them. I hope that I can learn to distinguish between necessary struggles and unnecessary struggles!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Good to be home

I'm home again! And I am reminded once more of how much my husband and kids have to do in order to enable me to be in Grahamstown learning how to be a minister. Although my year has been tough, theirs has not been easy either.
But good to be home. My bed is more comfortable. The climate somehow more familiar and the rooms somehow lighter than those in Grahamstown.
Already my soul is expanding.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Restoration

I want to write something profound, but I am flying home for a long weekend tonight and that is what is on my mind! I have already started relaxing - even my day off on Monday was better. I suppose it is because I am not planning things for church for the rest of this week. You can't really stop yourself thinking about stuff, even if it is your day off. Yesterday and today are college days, but they have been devoted to panel interviews and farewell functions, with a lot of space.
Hopefully by this time next week I will be full of renewed energy!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Evaluation

Today we have panel interviews to help decide whether we advance in ministerial training or not. Well, actually I've already had mine, but I didn't get a chance to write this before.
It is very hard to say how I feel about phase 1. Was it good or was it bad? What is the bottom line about my experiences? There have been some very difficult times this year. It is hard to know whether I could have learnt what I have learnt through another avenue. But I have learnt so much. And I certainly feel stronger now and in some ways more confident. I guess I am - maybe even proud of myself for getting through the year.
How does one train a group of potential leaders who all have strong ideas, but have different gifts and different backgrounds? How do you teach them to conform to the ethos of the Methodist church, but retain their creativity and enthusiasm?
It isn't easy.
(By the way, my interview went well, so I am not stressed.)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Identity Crisis

Something that's been troubling me on and off for the last few weeks is that, very soon, I won't be a 'phase 1' anymore. It might sound odd that it is troubling me, but this has been an important part of my identity this year. Who am I? I am a phase 1 student minister in the Methodist Church. Our group that meets in PE has quite a strong group identity as well. Next year? I am a student in seminary. I guess something new will start.
Today, though, I let go of phase 1 in a good way. I was part of a group of ministers celebrating someone from my circuit starting the training journey. Next year he will be a phase 1. And instead of sitting in the pews watching, I was part of the group sending him on his way. It was kind of special.
I'm not a baby at the bottom of the ladder anymore.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Inclusivity

These are 'starter thoughts', because I'm not sure where they are going. Today I received another email from someone extolling the virtue of inclusivity and saying that it was one of the most important things that Jesus stood for.
I'm not really 'getting' this inclusivity thing. To me one of the great things about Jesus is not that he included everyone, but that he stepped aside and put himself with the excluded. He loved them and walked with them to a point of inclusion, if they so chose.
Two things bother me about inclusivity. They are probably two sides of the same coin. The one is that (and I see this in 'Exclusion and Embrace) 'I' is the centre of inclusion. Others need to be included with 'me'. What makes me so special that I should be the centre of inclusion?
The second is that it denies people the right to choose to be excluded. Maybe I don't want to be part of your central 'I'. Although I am willing that you join me in my central 'I'. Or maybe, like Jesus, I will choose to be excluded from the power 'I's'.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Illogical?

I have been very confused in meetings this year. Mostly because I don't understand the language (Xhosa). In particular, I sometimes watch people responding to something that I have suggested and from their body language I am convinced that they are disagreeing with me. Then when my interpreter catches up, I discover that actually they are supporting me. The one thing is that the Xhosa-speakers don't seem to smile as much as native English-speakers do when agreeing. The other thing is the illogic of the body language - and language of English. Specifically in this sort of situation. "So you mean that it doesn't come in a smaller size?" The English-speaker shakes his or her head and says, "No, it doesn't." The Xhosa-speaker nods his or head and says, "Yes, it doesn't." Or I might says, "you won't write any cash cheques?" and the Xhosa-speaker nods and says, "Yes, I won't." When you don't get the language, the body language is very confusing!
Someone said to me the other day, "we are just coping." To me that means that they are struggling. To him it meant that they are having no problems, they are only coping.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

400th Post

This is blog entry #400. It seems like it should be a momentous occasion.
Date 13 October 2009. It is my second daughter's 16th birthday today - she is in Johannesburg.
It is raining in Grahamstown.
Today is Tuesday and would normally be a college day for me, but only those writing TEEC exams have needed to go to Port Elizabeth. I will be working in circuit today and tomorrow. I believe that we will be preparing the budget. Working out next year's expenses will be fairly easy. Working out how we/ they are going to pay for them is quite another story.
If the weather clears up I might be able to play tennis in the latter part of the afternoon. I seldom get a chance to play.
As tends to happen when a weekend home is coming up, I am finding it very hard to think of anything except family and home.
I want to hear what is happening with my 'mini book'. I am afraid that a window of opportunity is closing!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Unmotivated

I am finding it difficult to express how I feel right now. But I want to, because I want to remember this.
We received the questions for our 'exit interviews' that will be held next Tuesday. They are good questions. Reflective questions. At least, I think that it helps me to answer them for myself, I'm not sure how confident I will be about answering them for a panel. How has God used me this year? Talk about a conflict that I have experienced. There are 18 questions. The reality is that we will all pretend to some extent in answering those questions. I am so tired of pretending. But I am so hard to understand that if I am just myself people will be confused. The honest answer to some of these questions is that I don't believe that I have been a raging success this year. It is very much a classical case of 'the church has survived in spite of me, not because of me'. But if I project that to a committee, what will they hear? A lack of confidence? A lack of belief in myself? A lack of competence? The bottom line is that I have not had fun this year. I would not choose to do this for the rest of my life. Does this mean that I am not called by God to the ministry? That I am not called to work cross-culturally? That I am a racist? How will a committee hear that?
I go to seminary next year. To learn how to be a transformational leader. I wonder if they know more about transformational leadership than I do? I wonder if they can be as creative in church things as I can be? Have they thought about and struggled with the essence of church, community and leadership as much as I have? What do they know about the use of technology? Will they teach us?
I look at my face and I see how much this year has aged me. And I become angry with the sense of futility that I feel. What is it all for?
I am not without hope. I pray that seminary will be inspirational and challenging. I know that I have much to learn, if only they can and will teach me.

Friday, October 09, 2009

I need a project

Six weeks left in Grahamstown. My Masters is done. I've got a mini-book sitting with the printer, seemingly in limbo. I need something to do for the next while.
The trouble is that I am tired! I think I'll find something . . . I need to.

Keeping everybody happy

My thinking in the previous post regarding representation stems partly from the large group (plenary, I suppose) meetings that I have been part of in the last little while. I have always struggled with the idea that English speaking churches should sing a hymn or a song in an African language in every worship service in order to make 'black' people feel welcome. I couldn't really believe that people would tolerate a service that they didn't otherwise enjoy just because it had one African language song. But I can see the idea that it does show some desire to include.
What I see happening in MCSA meetings is the thought that if 75% of the meeting are 'black' then 75% of the worship should be from the black tradition or sometimes that 75% of the meeting should be conducted in an African language. I really can see the justice in this (and especially as we are sensitive to the fact that in the 'old days' there was little recognition given to traditional African worship styles). The problem is that the minority groups become uncomfortable with only 25% with which they can identify. So they stop participating and as they withdraw the percentage of the dominant group becomes larger, the remaining minority becomes even less comfortable, and you are left with a tiny group of diehards who would probably give their lives for Jesus.
I see this in my circuit. It has (roughly) 8 Xhosa-speaking churches, 2 Afrikaans-speaking and 2 English-speaking. As a result the quarterly leaders meetings have a strong Xhosa flavour and there is often virtually no English or Afrikaans spoken. And - the Afrikaans and English speaking people stop attending. I don't think that this is unique and in some cases it is African language speakers who are marginalised by English speakers.
It would be so much better if we struggled with this and found enough common ground that all parties could be happy at least 80% of the time.
I know this sounds critical. And there are many places where I think that common ground is found. I believe that all of us in the MCSA are on a journey to try to make this thing work.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Representation

I've been thinking for a while about this idea of 'having a woman on the committee so that we get the women's point of view' - this is from the church context (I'm not sure if my thoughts would apply to government). The thing is that if there is a committee with five men and one woman, operating in a democratic climate, is that woman really a voice? Because she is in a minority on the committee, and because she is likely to be less forceful than the men, it is really unlikely that her voice is going to be heard. So I have been thinking that if you are serious about the women's voice, you need to have the committee 50/50.
But now there are other voices that need to be heard. The major voices are those that are racially described. Because gender is a 50/50 thing, we can put 50/50 on a committee without too much trauma. But race is not a 50/50 thing. Even just simplifying the issue to black and white - white people, at least in the leadership structures of the Methodist Church, are way in the minority. And the question needs to be asked - what should be done to keep hearing the white voice? (Assuming of course that one wants to do that!) At the moment, many white people still have the advantage of a superior education and they make their voice heard, but that advantage will hopefully fade away as all people are better educated (again hopefully!)
In a local church society that is predominantly white, but wants to hear the black voice, how is this done? I really don't think that having a black person on the committee is going to do the trick.
I believe that we need to come to understand that a voice will be only heard when it has equal representation to the other voices - otherwise the majority will tend to rule.
So we need to determine the voices that we want to hear. Gender, yes. Race, yes. Age (both young and old -say 50/50 under and over 40 years). But which races? And do we include ethnicity? What about liturgical preference?
This is a challenge, but I believe that we would do best to have all committees 50/50 on gender. Equal split between black/white/coloured depending on the area and equal split between over and under 40 years. I think that would be a very interesting thing to do!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

John Wesley's Journals

This John Wesley blog is run by a Methodist minister in South Africa (Cedric Poole). Everyday he posts an entry from one of John Wesley's journals for the corresponding day. It's like reading a blog that John Wesley might have written.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Blog Stats

My blog has had another attack of interest in Sleeping Beauty images - which has resulted in it climbing to number 7 in the Amatomu rankings! The number of hits has started falling off again, so we will see what happens with the ranking.
I am fascinated by the algorithms used by google and co. If I was younger, maybe I would choose to study that sort of thing!

Confirmation

We had a Confirmation at Shaw on Sunday - well actually at the Leslie Hewson church, which is part of the Shaw Section. It was different to the English speaking churches. There was only one question asked of the group and there was no individual confirmation or prayer. It certainly made the service faster - it took four hours anyway.
One old lady - she could hardly walk - was baptised and confirmed. She cried and cried during the baptism part.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Unfriendly Meeting

I had a meeting on Saturday that left me feeling very discouraged. There was a lot of antagonism of people towards each other, tears and what looked like caucusing and hidden agendas. I left thinking, "well if that is the church and those are Christians, I want nothing to do with them." It is so hard to know whether people are acting out of slyness, or if this whole thing is just a product of . . . what? Maybe of people not being very sophisticated? But it is not pretty.
I am, however, starting to get a handle on what is 'culture' and what is just people trying to manipulate others. I am glad to have reached a milestone on that journey.
It's taken me a couple of days to emerge from quite a lot of unhappiness about this indication of the state of the church.
But, while I was busy with this meeting, my supervising minister was on an overnight retreat with the confirmation class and they seemed to have a very good time and it is great to see the relationships that he has built with them. It is not all bad!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Hooray!

So, I've passed my Masters degree. I did not think for one moment when I started that I would be finished by now. But God knew.
I don't feel any different. Shouldn't I feel brainier?
But I am happy. And I believe even more strongly that God is there watching over me.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Funerals and Salt

I've noticed that the food we eat at funerals is not cooked with salt. One of my colleagues from Soweto says that this seems to be a Xhosa custom. But I think that the other meals that I have had are also without salt. I can't find anything on the internet. Exploration needed!

Xhosa word for the week. I know that Kulungile means 'it is good'. I asked someone how to say 'it is better'. He thought for a while and then was embarrassed and said that they sometimes borrow from the English and he couldn't think of a 'proper' Xhosa phrase. So the answer is 'kubettele'.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Preaching revisited

This Sunday I did a church service as a practical component of one of my TEE College courses. It's interesting because eight congregation members and a minister need to fill in observation forms. Basically it went well. Three things that I learnt, or challenged me.
The first is my own observation and is that I have become more confident in my preaching and don't stress so much in preparation.
The second was from someone who put on their form - very tentatively - that she thought I made the congregation laugh too much. It's interesting to realise how conservative some people still are.
The third was that there was a sense that the congregation was a bit disappointed that I didn't bring a 'new thing' with me. This was the fourth time that I have preached there and I have done multimedia stuff previously, but this time I didn't. Partly because it was college service, but mostly I think, because I am tired! Pushing the boundaries is hard work at the best of times. But when I saw that people welcomed the push I was sorry that I didn't do more!

By the way, the response from all concerned was very positive - the observations above were not put negatively by the people.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pietermaritzburg

My husband and kids are in Pietermaritzburg for two days to have a look around. They are sleeping in an empty flat at Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary. So far, they say SMMS looks very nice!
The kids will be looking at their future schools (and university). My matric daughter has an interview at her prospective new school. Grant will be looking around Maritzburg Christian School who will be offering him a job. They also want to see the Scout Hall and maybe look at some houses that are to let.
Everyone is enjoying the adventure at this point!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Church Decorating

Funerals vary - I think according to the funeral policy taken out. Some have very fancy decorations in the church and programmes printed in colour and so on. Others are more plain. On Saturday I was part of a funeral service at a farm society called Blikana. On this occasion there were no fancy decorations, but the family had repainted the inside of the church - just whitewash, but it looked good. They had also washed the windows until they were invisible. I like that sort of thinking.

Festive!

These pictures show our Grahamstown congregation members at 'the closing of Rhona'. They came dressed in traditional clothes and were really beautiful. The spirit was festive and joyful and I enjoyed the vibe very much! (Rhona is sort of a fund-raising season.)
The two people in the front of this photo are two of the circuit stewards and they are two of my best friends in Grahamstown.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Lessons from Confirmation

I have this kid in my confirmation class whose knee keeps popping out of joint. She can't walk if it pops out, but anyone can help her pop it back in. It makes the most distressing sound and causes her an enormous amount of pain. It has popped out at least once in every class except the last two. We always pray about it, even though part of me would rather not - because you pray and then you can see that she is still in pain and it seems like God is not interested. But yesterday I heard that they have found a doctor who can fix her with a minimally invasive op. To me it seems like a miracle, she has suffered for so long and the fix seems to be so easy. Well, we did pray . . .
My classes are finished now. I like working with the young people, but it has not been easy. It has been like trying to teach calculus to people who don't know arithmetic. Parents and children's ministry leaders - your job is so important!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Or Are You Just?

One of my phase 1 colleagues shared that someone, given the task of helping him to discern his call, had asked him, "Are you called, or are you just fluent in English?" He felt that the question was unkind, and maybe it was, but it has got me thinking. Our ability to do something may be an indication as to whether we are called to do that thing or not - because God equips us if he calls us. So if we can't do something, we are probably not called to it. But it doesn't necessarily work the other way around. If we have the ability to do something we are not necessarily called to it.
So now I keep asking myself, am I called or am I just . . .
It's a good question to ask.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Satyrs and Fauns

I'm mostly showing off here. My 11 year old made this little video as a homeschool project. He made the figures, took the animation photos, typed in the music and put it together in moviemaker. It doesn't look too good if you make it fullscreen, but it's only 3.5 Mb. Watch the mushrooms sprout up (and you don't have to watch ALL the credits!)

video

Virus Wars

I met the worst virus of my experience on a colleague's pc yesterday. But I had a lot of fun trying to catch it - exacerbated by the fact that it wouldn't allow me to install an anti-virus program and kept shutting down.
A couple of years ago I did quite a bit of virus troubleshooting and found the internet a great resource of info on how to get rid of the things. I find, recently, that if I search with Google I can get a whole lot of stuff that mentions the virus but is not helpful. It's the same if you search for a person's name and you get Facebook and Linkedln and whatever as results, which are not useful! I guess we need to find a way of separating useful info from the mass of stuff out there.
I had so much fun - should I be doing this minister thing? Why don't I get a job playing with pc's? I might even get rich!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Where are we with Volf?

"Adequate reflection on exclusion must satisfy two conditions: (1) It must help to name exclusion as evil with confidence because it enables us to imagine nonexclusionary boundaries that map nonexclusionary identities; at the same time (2) it must not dull our ability to detect the exclusionary tendencies in our own judgements and practices." (pg 64)
I suppose the idea of nonexclusionary boundaries was and is a necessary arrival point, but it will be interesting to see what Volf does with them.
I am enjoying his ideas - the writing is very rich (full of concepts). And I always like it when an author writes something that supports something I've said, but couldn't get people to understand.
I don't agree with everything, but I am enjoying a very interesting journey.

Monday, September 21, 2009

An Update on Cows

It would seem that, at last, the cows are coming out of hibernation. I didn't realise that cows hibernate, but there definitely has been a lack of them on the Eastern Cape roads out of Grahamstown over the last few months.
I saw a beautiful big herd on the way to Kenton this morning. Mostly they were brown, but a number of smaller, white ones. I thought that they might be sheep, but they were cow-luminous and too far away to be certain.
I am now watching for white cows. Are they brown cows taking on breeding plumage? Perhaps the young, born in the spring.
Tomorrow, on the road to PE, the investigation will continue.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Boomslang

My experience of snakes, in the wild, has been limited to small brown, dozy-looking things, which I have not found very terrifying. Since I have been in Grahamstown I have heard stories of preachers refusing to go into pulpits (understandably!) because of the presence of a snake. This morning I was out at one of the farm societies and had my own snake experience. It wasn't actually very dramatic, but did make me realise that snakes are a bit scary!
It was right at the end of the service, after doing Communion. The stewards had unintentionally blocked the way back to the pulpit with the Communion table and I was quite happy just to finish the service from the front. Then suddenly the people sitting in the choir section started shrieking and pointing at the pulpit, into which they were convinced a snake had just made its way. I was quite happy to let the snake have the pulpit and we continued with the notices - then the snake was spotted in the roof. A creepy looking sinuous green-yellow beasty. I thought I was ok with snakes, but this one I didn't like. It appeared on and off between the corrugated iron sheets over the next hour or so. The people shrieked and laughed after the service.
One of the congregation who either works for a vet or has a friend who does (I couldn't quite get which) said that it was a boomslang. Apparently dogs are often bitten and there is nothing that they can do for them. But we all stayed in the building and ate a meal, although some were seen to be watching constantly and one old lady refused to sit down at all.
So I learnt something. And life goes on, even when faced with a real danger!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Evening Thoughts on Volf

So far, I love this book. "All sufferers can find comfort in the solidarity of the Crucified; but only those who struggle against evil by following the example of the Crucified will discover him at their side" (pg 24 in my copy).
And, "Many women tend to give so much of themselves that they are in danger of being left literally without a self" (pg 26).
This guy lives in the world that I know and recognise. I am looking forward to the rest of the journey, challenging as it might be.

Barry Marshall again

I prefer not to think about Barry. I'm glad that time has stopped thoughts of him being the constant backdrop to my mind. I know others have had the same experience. But I am constantly reminded of him in an odd and almost profane manner. Because he comes up in my blog statistics - my posts about him have taken many more direct hits than any other of my recent posts.
And it has got me thinking. Barry was very well-known, but I don't think that he had any desire to be famous. I don't know, but I don't think he had that insecure need that many of us have to cement our place in history. His wife said at his funeral that he just wanted God to remember him.
I wonder if part of the power of Barry was his ability to live passionately in the 'now'? Most of us distribute our energies almost randomly in the past, present and future. Worrying about what has been or will be. How much more could we be if truly lived in the 'now'? I think that I will take that as my legacy from Barry. To put as much passion and energy into now as I possibly can.
This was my original post.

Intimidation

I take two my (black) colleagues back to Grahamstown with me after college in PE. From Grahamstown they get taxis or hitchhike to Alice and to Bedford. This last week one of them needed to drop something off at Motherwell and we pulled off the highway and met his friend on the onramp on the other side. There were two or three men standing nearby and after we stopped they ambled by - and ambled off a little faster when they saw the colour of my skin (I guess).
My colleagues tell me that they were taxi drivers. They wait at points where people hitchhike and intimidate them and the drivers who stop for them. Jawellnofine.

***
Thought for the morning from 'Exclusion and Embrace'. Volf is talking about people's perceptions of loyalty and he says, "I must be a Croat through and through, or I was not a good Croat."

***
Xhosa phrase for the week, 'thatha le buck' - literally 'take up this buck' aka 'the buck stops here'.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Exclusion and Embrace

I have set myself a goal of reading Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Valf by the end of Tuesday. Or if not then, by next weekend!
I like it already. From the preface, "How does one remain loyal both to the demand of the oppressed for justice and to the gift of forgiveness that the Crucified offered to the perpetrators?"
I've seen this book quoted so many times! Now I WILL read it!

Pretence?

On Thursdays I am tired! I am realising that I am finding Tuesdays and Wednesdays at college increasingly taxing. Partly, I am not sleeping well and this is worse at college. Partly it is something to do with some sort of mask that I wear at college. I am trying to understand this. I don't suppose that we often consciously decide to wear a mask or to hide ourselves, and for me now it is not intentional. I started to realise this last week when talking to Ross Olivier about seminary next year. I realised that I wear this mask and that there is no ways that I want to keep on wearing it next year, for the whole year. It's not that I lie. I feel real when I talk to people. But something is keeping me stressed! It might be something to do with the smallness of the group.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Coming Together

Plans for moving to Pietermaritzburg next year are coming together. We almost certainly have a school for my to-be-in-matric daughter. It will be expensive, but it will be worth it - the school offers exactly the right matric subjects for her.
My husband has an almost firm job offer and places in the same school for our boys. We are not going to get rich, but it looks as if we will be ok.
My eldest daughter has been accepted by UKZN - she's not sure what for, but something!
I still need to hear confirmation after the Connexional Executive meeting over the last two days, that the church will be sending me to seminary in Pietermaritzburg, but it seems very likely.
God is good!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ups and Downs

This weekend:

My second daughter was patrol leader of her scout crew at the Chairman's Challenge raft event this weekend. This is for the top crews from Kontiki in Gauteng and they came 5th out of 15 this weekend.

I reread 'The Railway Children' and it made me cry!

I've done too much thinking about culture, identity, race, community, individualism and church. The answer to the questions can't be thought out, they can only be lived out. It is going to require a lot of grace on all sides.

A friend of mine is graduating with his doctorate in theology tonight. I am so pleased for him.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cool Music Video

Songwriter John van der Laar has put a video that he made of one of his songs up on YouTube. It's definitely worth checking out. Click here.
(You Are, from the album Every God-Beloved Life.)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Two Thousand Kilometres

I took my new Honda Jazz for its first service on Tuesday. It was supposed to be a 15 000km service but the milage had crept up to 17 700km.
I bought the car at the beginning of December. It is now about the beginning of September and it has done nearly 18 000km. That means that I have been averaging 2 000km per month!
I do just over 1 000km because of my weekly trips to Port Elizabeth. The rest is in bits and pieces. The car is also still managing a steady 6 litres/100km. I am happy with it!

Driving to PE on Tuesday, it struck me that the thing I will miss most when I leave Grahamstown is my weekly drive to PE. Am I odd? I think I might be!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Seeing Me

I have been avoiding putting together the video of our college plunge because I suddenly realised that I was going to have to watch large quantites of myself on video. I know it is supposed to be good for you to watch videos or listen to tapes of yourself, but I haven't been able to do it. Anyway, I have now put the video together - while managing to fast forward through most of 'me'.
The main thing that I learnt is how much I use my hands when I speak. I had no idea that I move them around so much!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Techie Stuff

I'm busy with putting together a video of our college 'plunge' that we did in August. My netbook is doing fine with this, but the screen is a little small!

I occasionaly sanitise colleagues pc's and memory sticks (run an antivirus on them). Yesterday I was given a stick with 136 viruses! That is a record.

Today is Barry's memorial service. One in PE and one in Edenvale. It's raining.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Discovery

I discovered a new thing today. It happens quite often that people in the Bible are described by the ancestry of their mothers. Three of King David's best friends and soldiers were the 'sons of Zeruiah'. I realised today that Zeruiah was David's sister. So Joab and co were David's nephews. That puts a bit of a different spin on understanding some of the events in David's life.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Feeling Stupid

Chairing a meeting when I am the only English speaking person in a room of Xhosa speakers is NOT FUN. This afternoon I had what I thought would be a fairly straight-forward meeting, but which grew in complication. In the end everything went ok, but so much of the meeting was only in Xhosa that I really might as well not have been there. I could have insisted - but it would have meant embarrassing other church leaders, which I didn't feel was necessary. But the unconscious message given by the Xhosa speakers was, 'you might be one of our ministers, but it doesn't really matter whether you understand or not, because we are pretty sure that you don't have a contribution to make anyway'.
I know that it is not intentional. I believe that in other circumstances I could cope, even in spite of the language difficulties. But at the end of the day I am left seriously doubting my competence. And acknowledging that what really bothers me is that I feel stupid.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Amatomu Tracking Code

I eventually got around to exploring the beta version of Amatomu. For those who don't know, there is new embed code for their tracking. I noticed that my posts weren't being picked up in the left hand panel and the new code seems to fix that.
I've had quite a few hits from that left panel since fixing it, so it's worth it!

I'm going to do a funeral in Alicedale today. I like the Alicedale community and I don't mind doing the 50km drive. I'll spend about 6 hours on the funeral event (including travelling and a meal) and actively participate in about twenty to thirty minutes of it.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Thursday, September 03, 2009

A New First

A very sad first time. The first time that I must delete a blog feed because the author has passed on. I've known Barry for a long time through his blog, but only met him this year. He was bright and energetic and maybe arrogant - but I didn't know him that well.
Oh Barry, I really had hoped to know you better. There was so much I felt that I could learn from you. So much that I wanted to argue with you about.
And this silly post says so little about how I really feel. But now you know the answers to all those questions that Methodists ask. Now you know for sure.

Siyabangena

I am back in Grahamstown and feeling far better about it than I thought I would! Spring is in the air - not as much as in Johannesburg, but it is there. The sun comes into my flat now and my winter depression is lifting. I had a brilliant weekend at home. I finished another assignment yesterday so that I only have two to go - but now that I'm into them I should be on a roll. I still feel like an ant on a soccer ball as far as church work goes, but I think I can see my way through to the end.
As they say in the classics, 'Siyabangena'!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Methodist Ministers Training

Steve Hayes asked, in a comment on a previous post, what the training programme for Methodist Ministers looks like, and it is a good question! I don't think many Methodists know either.
For the last fifteen years or so the church has used the 'Three phase system', which is nothing to do with electricity! It was intended to be an internship programme that would produce better ministers than a residential college or seminary education. This system is now being changed again and there is some uncertainty as to how it will look.

I am now in Phase 1. This is a one year programme that places student ministers in a cross-cultural setting. Ideally the student works with a strong mentor and is taught and guided by them. The student also attends 'college' for two days and one night of every week. This deals with academic stuff and 'spiritual formation' and reflective thinking about ministry. The problem has been that much of this doesn't really happen. Mentorship particularly tends to be lacking.

After achieving certain goals the student is promoted to phase 2. He or she then spends about three years in a church or different churches being mentored and trained while completing academic studies part time.

The year before ordination is phase 3 and the training is a little more intensive in preparation for ordination. The student is still placed in a church, but is now open for 'invitation' so that this particular church can invite the student to stay there for five years if all is going well.
So after 5 years of 'probation' the student will be ordained and be fully recognised as a minister (or presbyter) in the Methodist Church.

The whole system is being changed to revert back to three years of seminary education - with an emphasis on spiritual formation. From an educational theory point of view the three phase system was excellent. The problems came in the implementation and the need to trust the process (and students) to people who didn't really understand the system (much like is happening in SA schools with OBE). There are some really good mentoring people out there, but sometimes ministers are overloaded already, or simply not cut out to be mentors.

For better or for worse I am in the middle of a changing system - which I think is flexible enough that eventually it will accomodate the needs - educational and otherwise - of ministerial students.
And to Steve's question - yes we are all sent far from home. I think the idea is to be fair to people from outlying areas who have no choice but to be sent far from home. I guess it does make us strong. Whether it is fair to those of us with families, I am not sure.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Checkers in a Classic World

We were driving to the airport yesterday and my husband had Classic FM on for the traffic reports. He remarked on the Checkers ad which played and was jangly and hyped and didn't fit with the classical tenor - there was nothing 'wrong' with the ad, but it didn't fit with the mood of the station.
It made me wonder about my preaching. Nearly all of my colleagues in phase 1 are more conservative and traditional than I am and I don't think they quite know what to make of me. I think, to their ears, I might be like a Checkers ad on Classic FM - and I guess that I jar a bit. This has caused me quite a lot of struggle because I think I am more culturally conditioned to be Classic FM. But people seem to respond to my preaching - even in more traditional churches - and I can't bring myself to preach as I used to do 20 years ago.
I think the problem is that we are doing 'Classic FM' church in a world that is watching 7de Laan and Generations every day. So I guess I might jar my colleagues for a bit longer.
(And I actually do listen to Classic FM! But not in Grahamstown, being a bit distant.)