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 ( 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


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


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


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 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


I'm trying out 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 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!