Thursday, September 29, 2011

National Planning Commission

This is an opportunity for people who want to make a difference to the way the SA government thinks. Some of the links from the letter below probably won't work unless you register, but it gives an idea of what is happening. This is on for another couple of days, I think. Trevor Manuel is someone who has his head screwed on right!

Dear NPC Jammer

The NPC Jam is now well into its second day. Do you have a simple, pragmatic idea that may stimulate thought? Given the current realities of South Africa, it's not surprising that job creation and unemployment are key themes in the Jam. Below you will find three examples of some simple ideas that may spark bigger ones. What are your thoughts regarding these topics? What specific experiences can you share to help stimulate further discussion? Consider joining any of the conversations below or start your own.

Another Day, Another Opportunity: Community pilot program to offer Internet access

Sustainable jobs: Cleaning contracts?

Institutionalising necessary social/community work

To log in, go to:

Finally, please, forward this email to your colleagues, family and friends and encourage them to join the NPC Jam. They can register here:

We look forward to Jamming with you!

Quo vadis?

The annual Methodist Conference has been and gone and our stations for next year have been confirmed. We will be packing up and moving to da-da-da-daaa Mitchell's Plain, which is near (in) Cape Town. It is a Coloured community and I don't know much else at this stage!
I am looking forward to being there - but before that there is a lot to be done. My husband needs to find a job, my boys need schools and my daughters need to decide where they are going to live. The younger has only done year at UKZN, so she could move with us. The other needs to stay in Pietermaritzburg to complete. And then we must pack boxes and move the household about 2000km.
So, exciting times, but somewhat tempered by the realities of family and moving.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Google Plus

I am experimenting with Google+ and hoping that it will turn out to be a bit more discreet than Facebook. I think many of us struggle with the way that one can chance upon a Facebook discussion that is busy totally destroying a person's or an organisation's reputation. Or you read a comment by someone and you are pretty sure that they wouldn't have written that if they thought you would see it - but basically they forgot how many people get to see what happens on Facebook.
Google+ with its circles and limited publishing should be more discreet - but I suspect that it very much depends on the user. And, unfortunately, I think that many people are drawn by the freedom, interconnectedness (access to friends of friends of friends) and lack of accountability on Facebook.

You can find stats about Google+ at So, if you believe it, the person with the most Google+ followers IS Mark Zuckerberg.
And two thirds of Google+'ers are male and one third female. Somehow, I think I ought to feel guilty about that ?!?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dead Sea Scrolls and Google

Google has got it right to digitise some of the Dead Sea Scrolls. You can check it out here. It's part of a project with The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Of course, it helps to be able to read Hebrew - but if you can, you can read for yourself. There is also translation and stacks of useful information. Looks like fun!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Being righteous in Greek

There is a new post on my Greek blog - mostly I wanted to do something with an assignment I wrote!
You can click here.

Music Connection

Ok, this post is a 'good service' award for a shop that really made it happen. It is also probably my sound tech husband's favourite shop. This same husband bought me a guitar (at Music Connection) when we were in Johannesburg in July - not exactly because he was tired of me borrowing his, but it was getting a bit complicated trying to juggle who he was lending it to when! It was a nice guitar - much envied and there were threats that it would be run away with . . . But the neck started to come away from the main box of the thing. A nuisance - seeing as it was bought in Jhb and we live in Pietermaritzburg. But many noddy points to Music Connection - we sent them photographs so that they could see what was happening and next thing they couriered down a replacement and we sent back the sad guitar.
So here's a plug for Music Connection

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


There is a new post on Singukukhanya. (It is interesting to try to write on the Beatitudes in Zulu when I have just studied them in Greek!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fun with Technorati

I have always wanted to do this, and then I did it by accident. (This is about blog stats - please feel free to skip if you are not a techie!)
Technorati provide blog ranking stats ( It's a bit of a mission to find out the rankings of the South African religion blogs that I am interested in, but there are a few that I check once in a blue moon. Blog rankings are based on what Technorati calls authority. Authority is calculated from number of hits to the blog, how often posts are created and links from other posts - I'm not sure if they use anything else. This works quite well because it stops inactive blogs topping the ranking. You also can't manipulate it with 'link farms' because links must be current.
All the South African blogs were sitting at around authority 100. Then Steve Hayes linked to me from his Notes From Underground Blog. I started checking Technorati - yes! My blog went up to authority 408. Then I happened to link back to Steve's Khanya blog. He linked to Cobus van Wyngaard from Khanya and I also linked to Cobus. Now Steve's Khanya blog and Cobus's blog are both around 400. And I've just linked to them again, so let's see what happens.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Remembering Black Consciousness

This is the month Steve Biko died, quite a few years ago now. I have also been writing a section on Black Theology for my thesis (limit 1500 words, eish!) So I have many thoughts churning around my head about black consciousness. Perhaps this is a cop out - but here is some stuff that is relevant because it's recent, or because it has stuck with me over a few months.
First a quote from Antjie Krog in 'Country of My Skull' as I have put it in my thesis:

Antjie Krog reports on an interview with an unnamed black author which gives life to the concept of black solidarity. She was asking him about a part of his book where a murder has occurred and someone has reported the murderers.

“Why does your main character condemn the splitter and not the murderers?”
“Because black people must always stick together.”
“But the woman who saw a white man running away from Chris Hani’s dead body didn’t say, ‘He was white, so I’ll shut up.’ She said, ‘The deed is wrong, so I’ll speak out.’”
He looks at me. “No one can destroy whites – they have survival in their bones. But for us, if we don’t stand together no matter what, we’ll be wiped out.” (2009: 12)

Second, an article by Khaya Dlanga. He doesn't call it black consciousness - but this strikes me as a from the heart explanation that I can identify with (even if my skin colour is all wrong!)
Why Black Folk Don't Vote DA

The real reason most black people won’t vote for the DA is because they want to fix their problems for themselves. They don’t want to feel like they need a white person to solve their problems for them. If they allow the DA to take over, this is what it will feel like, “We can’t do it for ourselves, let’s let the white people fix this for us.”
Third an article by a young student, Zama Ndlovu, who is discovering black consciousness. I feel she is confused - many white people are educated and successful, but that doesn't mean that education and success are 'white things'. But perhaps I misunderstand.
My Consciousness is Not Up For Discussion

Another young person, fellow blogger Cobus van Wyngaard has challenges as a young Afrikaner trying to 'live' black consciousness. I identify with his struggles.
How Good White People Keep White Superiority in It's Place.
Roger Saner has had similar posts, but I couldn't find the one I had in mind.

Another blogger Steve Hayes - shares my views on the virtues of non-racial thinking.  Whiteness, Whiteliness and White Studies.

. . . might be funny, but it also shows that “white liberal” has become a racist stereotype like “lazy kaffir” and “devious coolie”, and I’m not sure that racist stereotypes are all that funny in a society where too many people still take them seriously and believe them.
And just to mention Tinyiko Maluleke's level-headed approach from his post today.

Closing with words from Black Theologian Simon Maimela (also in my thesis):

Black Theology contends that it is as people candidly face the racial factors that breed alienation and conflict that they will be open to the transformative power of the gospel, which will lead whites and blacks to acquire qualitatively new ways of becoming human in their relationships to one another.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Tekiah, Shevarim, Teruah and Tekiah Gedolah - those are the names of the blasts played on the Shofar on Jewish special days. Listen to them on the video below. I didn't know that I knew so little about the shofar - until I read all of this!
The shofar is made from a ram's horn and has been used since Biblical days. It is played especially at Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
The Tekiah is a long sustained blast.
The Shevarim consists of three broken blasts (shevarim means broken).
The Teruah sounds the alarm and is at least 9 quick short notes.
The Tekiah Gedolah is a VERY long sustained blast.
There is some uncertainty about which of the Shevarim and Teruah are supposed to be played at festivals, so generally both are used.
Listen to them on the video below - way more musical than a vuvuzela!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kentridge and Biko 2011

I've said it before and I'm saying it again - I think that Steve Biko is going to be an extremely influential figure in the 'new' South Africa. While he has been, and is, an icon of Black Consciousness, what he stood for was far more fundamental than skin colour politics. He had a deep sense of justice - which in his context was enraged by the demeaning and dehumanising of black people. We are mistaken if we believe that he only stood for black rights - he stood for justice and for human rights. And he didn't just talk - he stood for them - political oratory is one thing, being willing to die for your beliefs about justice is quite another.
Rebecca Davis writing for the Daily Maverick reports on the recent annual Steve Biko memorial lectures and I quote part of what she has to say about Sydney Kentridge's (Biko's lawyer) address:

And despite Kentridge’s efforts, the inquest's verdict found nobody was to blame for Biko’s death. The reason for the sham verdict, Kentridge reminded us, was that the independence of the apartheid judiciary was undermined by biased judges appointed by the state. At this point there was an almost audible intake of breath from the audience seemingly putting two and two together about recent events around the appointment of the Chief Justice. 

Read the whole article to get it in context here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A nice long stretch

Today was satisfying. A nice long stretch of time that I could dedicate to academic pursuits. I started by rearranging my workspace. Away with my cramped setup - I now have space for books and papers and my laptop and external monitor - much, much better!
And I am now in a position to start crunching away at my thesis. The proposal is still not complete, but I don't think that any modifications which are called for will change the structure or nature of the thesis. So, starting today it's 500 words a day, minimum! I've started, it's slow, but it's flowing!
I also started work on my assignment for the Greek exegesis class. That is a bit of a sidetrack, but the discipline of doing a set paper is worth the effort.
So, a different day, a different pace, but satisfying! God has been kind to me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Academic Ranking of World Universities 2011

Last month Shanghai Jiao Tong University published the annual rankings of universities around the world. South Africa has three universities in the top 500. They are the University of Cape Town which is ranked between 201 and 300, the University of Witwatersrand which is ranked between 301 and 400 and the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (where I am studying!) which is ranked between 401 and 500.
I'm not sure if Departments of Theology are used at all as an academic indicators, though!
South Africa does not seem to have made it into the top 100 in any particular field.
The top 3 universities in the world : Harvard, Stanford and MIT.

Come on South Africa - we can build on this!

The full list of the top 500 universities.
The list of South African universities in the top 500.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Church, State and Service Delivery

I am doing a course on Greek Exegesis at UKZN and the part of scripture under study is Matthew's gospel. There are just three of us in the class with Prof Jonathan Draper so there is some space for discussion, which is fun. I can't think how it related to Matthew, but we were talking about 'the believers having all things in common' and the way the context has changed from then to now. As Prof Draper pointed out, the early Christians were building a community that was pretty much independent of the outside world. Nowadays, we are economically part of the state community that levies taxes and redistributes wealth in that way.
One of my mentors last year spoke of how the church's job was to force the state to provide the educational facilities it was constitutionally obliged to offer.
I guess people have been talking about this and I just haven't grasped it - but what does a church community look like in our cultural context - bearing in mind taxes and social welfare? We talk about separation of church and state - and that is fine, but how do we cooperate meaningfully?
Some stuff to think about!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


For some reason, the passing away of Rev Angela Shier-Jones, in the UK, has touched me. She was a minister in the Methodist Church in Britain and was recently diagnosed with cancer. I didn't know her, or read her blog - but heard of her passing from a twitter friend. I still don't feel I know too much about her - but somehow I am inspired by her. I think it might be from the way she is described as being angry with her church, because she loves it so much. I can identify with that.
Her blog is here. 
A tribute to her is here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Making Heroes

I enjoyed reading Tinyiko Maluleke's post about who our real heroes are. You can find it here (you have to scroll down quite a bit to get to the post). He writes about the South African university academics who were being acknowledged by the international community for their achievement - and about how the South African media was talking about Julius Malema. Seriously - why aren't we celebrating the people of whom we are proud and making them media icons? Why don't we hold up these awesome scholars and innovators to our young people as examples? I'm grateful to Tinyiko Maluleke for showing the way.
And as an aspirant church minister - I hope to do the right thing by the congregations in which I work and to lift up the true heroes.