The Arimathians

For a famous book the Bible isn’t very well read today and I include myself. Even the easy or user-friendly New Testament is neither scrutinised nor memorised in the way the Jews familiarised themselves with their writings. How many modern Christians for example are familiar with the young man that ran away naked, leaving the guards holding his bed sheet? Why is he even mentioned? If he was mentioned as a witness, why no name? Was he perhaps mentioned for comic relief, in such a serious moment? Or was he a shadow of another young man who would soon be left naked with guards holding onto his garments? I have my own issues with the Bible (and it’s people), but I also discover and rediscover inspiration at unlikely times an in unlikely sections. I struggle to fathom that something smart was written so long ago.

I am sitting in rural Mozambique, in a hut where a rat kept us up the whole night. We are inside Parque Naçional do Limpopo (PNL), an extension of Kruger. Rural Moz, sometimes seems to be 100 years behind South Africa. 100 years is a long time, so the effects of 2000 years on a story, context or concept seems beyond my grasp. This morning I am intrigued by another marginal figure on the periphery of the Gospels. The periphery of the Good News being an interesting concept in it’s own right. We all drift in and out of the story. Peter for example, who got the revelation of the Kingdom and cut of ears is the same guy that ‘followed at a safe distance’, same guy that denied and wept. Even the Kingdom heroes seem tainted or fake. But let’s get back to the peripheral figure that grabbed my attention this morning…

At school, I was good and naïve; assuming that is possible. In Grade 12, when I was head-boy I cared deeply about my ‘job’ and I can remember how often in anger and disillusionment I wanted to ‘give in my badge’. I often fantasised about the moral integrity of quitting from an unjust system or walking away from a group without integrity. And indeed I’ve ‘given in my badge’ on many occasions in my life, at times it is what we have to do; especially when our minds have not caught up with our hearts. I have walked away from jobs and out of conversations many times. But indignation and statements in abstract solidarity does not always bring the peace and justice we imagine. I think it is easier to train the mind than it is to train the heart, so I will never be harsh on anyone who needs to ‘run from a lion’ or create space between their aspirations and temptations. We have to protect our convictions while we have them I guess.

When reading about Jesus’ last days in Mark, we quickly see how shit the religious leaders of the day were. Allow me the grace to infuse my contempt with a bit of Mzansi flavour: It’s easy to note the conniving, spiteful and useless batch of Gupta-like, EFF behaving, Zuma-led and apartheid inspired Jewish Council (Sanhedrin). I mention all the associations South Afrians won’t like in 2017 to highlight what a bunch of bad apples this little broederbond was. They bloody killed God’s Son! How bad do you have to be to take out the ‘94 Madiba in such a public and disrespectful manner? If I was member of the Jewish Council I would have handed in my badge a long time ago. At worst I would have walked out when I realised they were about to kill the King.

2000 years ago however, I was not even in Heerde, Holland yet. There was no Schalk, nobody to hand in a badge. Who was there though, was a guy called Joseph. Not the famous Joseph who got a kid without getting lucky; another Joseph. Joseph of Arimathia. A peripheral figure in the Gospel story. Obviously important in that his request ensured a verification of the death of Christ, fulfilled a prophecy about the Messiah’s tomb and important for giving a dignified burial to the person who deserved it more than anyone else.

Joseph of Arimathia, like the book of Mark in general makes a quick, strong statement. Plain and simple: a bit of info, a bit of action and a bit of effect. I take encouragement form Joseph of Arimathia, and if I were to ever establish an order of The Arimathians I would base five founding principles on this short account in Mark 15 (also considering the other Gospel variations).

1. Sacrifice: Joseph not only used his money to buy a linen shroud, he gave his own grave. He gave time to attend the body of the dead. Without giving time and things nobody can be part of any story. Joseph had bucks, apparently, but Joseph knew about sacrificial giving.
2. Living expectantly awaiting the Kingdom of God: He did not sulk and blame when JC died, when things didn’t pan out the way everyone expected, his convictions were activated and his expectation transformed into duty. His expectation made him courageous and he included others like his chommie Nic. We cannot expect the KoG as a one man show.
3. Respected amidst the rot: Pravin Gordhan was fired, he did not walk out. We now know how big the gap between him and JZ was, but Pravin stayed and served the country amidst a box of rotten apples. Joseph of Arimathia stayed in the Jewish Council, although it must have driven him up the walls. Not only did he stay, he was respected.
4. Secrecy: Joseph of Arimathea did not perform and talk on the public platform when Barabas was released. Joseph’s contribution was done behind the scenes, he contributed to the unspectacular, away from the stage and attention. He bought burial cloths and no PR company was hired to profile his good deed. (Yet here I sit in PNL 200 years later blogging about him)
5. Joseph of Arimathea (J.A.) cared for Jesus’s body. An Order of Arimatheans would care for the body of Christ. Today, the body of Christ is the church. Not only did Jay Ay (J.A.) stay in the Jewish Council, he cared for the body of Christ. It is plain to see how I make the link between the actions of Jay Ay, and me (or us) faced with a decision to stay in or get in the NGK and FGK in particular.

Today the Jewish Council and the Body of Christ is often the same thing- a thing in desperate need of Arimatheans willing to care in sacrifice, secrecy, expectation and resilience.

I am left with the question: is caring for the Body of Jesus a calling or a duty?

Two Faced

I was raised in a binary society, characterised by polarity, dualism and dichotomy.

We weren’t taught these big English words, because they would have threatened our aspirations towards a specific grand narrative, belief in absolute truths that white or black and it would have opened a door to a cultural relativism and nuanced insights that are more often grey than white or black.

To grasp the grey areas of understanding requires evolving grey matter and to suspend judgement in favour of paradoxical complexity requires not IQ but EQ.

I catch myself daily falling back into predictable paths of paralysis and I need grace and a diversity of friends that can help me to embrace the tormenting uncertainty that comes with the vulnerability an open-mindedness brings.

It is so much easier to be sure, certain and able to shut out, resist and fight all the wrongs that look different from the pictures in my head.  But my pictures are not instinctive, they are not Inspired: my pictures were formed, they can become deformed and they can become reformed.

JC@M13

Dit was so funny, ek was by ‘n fancy partytjie op ‘n wynplaas. Almal was op die grasperk en het daai cheap disposable koffiebekertjies gebruik, die van karton- soos ‘n Seattle take-away.

Toe kom die eienaar van die wynplaas met wat hy noem sy beste wyn ooit; ek dink dit kos R3500 per bottel. Hy’t toe 4 mense gekies wat elkeen ‘n glas mag kry.

Die eerste haas stap toe vorentoe en was al so gekuier dat hy sy dekseltjie op sy bekertjie los en niks van die wyn kon in nie! Die tweede dude se kind het met sy koppie gespeel en onder vol gate gedruk met ‘n stokkie, soos die wyn ingeskink word loop dit toe deur en toe die ou wou drink, toe’s die glas leeg. Die derde persoon was ‘n meisie wat verskriklik baie hou van goeie wyn, sy kom van Stellenbosch af. Sy’t opgestap om te ontvang, maar haar koppie was actually nog propvol met die duur Kanonkop wat sy by ‘n kontak gekry het. Needless to say daar was nie plek vir die nuwe wyn nie. Laaste stap ‘n jong tiener meisie vorentoe, haar koppie was oop, haar koppie was heel en sy’t plek gehad in haar koppie. Sy was op die ou end die enigste een wat toe van die eienaar se spesiale wyn kon drink.

Om drama en suspense te spaar: een persoon was toe, dalk nie dom nie maar geslote, afgestomp. ‘n Ander persoon was vlak en gebreek. ‘n Derde was te suksesvol en konnie prioritiseer nie. Net een was oop, gesond, wys en het ontvang.

Die groot vraag in die oorbekende storie is: wat is die wyn? Wie is die wyn… En dan natuurlik, hoe desperate is ek vir die wyn, hoe gereed is ek vir die wyn? Hoeveel stories moet ek nog hoor voor ek lus en gereed raak?

Of dalk vrek ek met ‘n mix van Oros, Tassies en Vergelegen in die hand.

As God My Vasvat

Soms is ek laf

simpel en halfgesout.

Ek het my Skepper se ingryp nodig

‘n ingryp om my uit te haal.

Waar ek vasgevang is in dinges en dinge

bid ek ‘n verlossing en losmaak.

Voor ek leer vra: “Vat my”

leer vra ek: “Vat myne”.

Vat my goeter, vat my goed

maak my goed.

U vasvat ruk my reg, ruk my raak

U vat vas, maar U hou ook vas.

U hou vas – aan my

U hou van – my.

(en dis ‘n heel ander sagte vasvat as wat mens sou dink na jy die titel gelees het)

 

 

 

Jou Plakker

Ons Boere is baie vining om polêre teenstrydighede te skep
Inderdaad is die doel van ‘n teenstrydigheid ‘n teenstryerigheid
Links teenoor regs
Liberaal teenoor konserwatief
Progresief teen… Regresief
Die wat laer trek en die wat voort trek

Almal noem my liberaal omdat ek
uithang en werk en veg saam swart Afrikane…
maar ek weier om as ‘n liberalis beplakker te word
Ek is konserwatief. Ek is radikaal in die sin dat ek staan vir
‘n terugkeer na ons wortels.
Wortels wat my anker in waar ek vandaankom en hoe
ek grootgemaak is.
Ek is konserwatief omdat ek glo in konserwatiewe waardes:
Christelike naasteliefde
Wat is ‘n Afrikaner sonder Christelike naasteliefde?
My oortuiging dat my medemens ten spyte van velkleur
Ten spyte van opvoeding of behuising, ten spyte van aksent
my broer is… is in lyn met Jesus se vertel van die Samaritaan
Hierdie is old school waardes.

Dis konserwatief vir ‘n Afrikaner om nie ‘n selfsugtige poephol te wees nie
maar om jou speelgoed te deel met ander
Dis konserwatief of nie geldgierig te wees en mammon na te streef nie
Dis konserwatief om nie ‘n materialis te wees nie
Dis konserwatief om nie af te show met die blinkste kar wat jy op skuld koop nie
So baie van ons dink ons is boere, maar ons is eintlik klein Trumps in kakie…

Ek laat my nie mislei en verlei met liberale sienings
gegrond in humanistiese individualisme nie
‘n Goeie boer kan nooit een wees wat vir gemak en self leef, bo sy pligte tot die samelewing en gemeenskap nie
‘n Konserwatiewe Afrikaner is braaf en nie bang nie
Ek laat my nie mislei en verlei deur byderwetse tendense om myself as slagoffer te bestempel nie
Ek kla nie oor my elke dag en uitdagings nie
Ek pak die bul by die horings

Ek glo in konserwatiewe waardes soos dankbaarheid, ek kyk na wat ek het
Ek fokus nie op die behoud van my regte nie, maar die deel van my voorregte
Afrikaner gasvryheid- vir almal.
Vir my is ‘n goeie Afrikaner een wat glo in waardes,
waardes wat ons nie altyd uitgeleef het nie
maar waardes wat ons opgehou het en aan ons kinders probeer leer het.
Ek glo leë blikke maak die meeste geraas, ek glo in werk voor plesier
Ek glo in een drag maak mag en ek glo in aanhouer wen
Nie konserwatief nie? Se gat

So los my plakker uit
As jy wil plakkers uitdeel, beplak jouself
En vat sommer die liberale plakker
Moenie my probeer plak
omdat jy te slapgat en halfhartig is
om verby jou gemak en klein homogene groepie te kyk nie
As ons van Europa kon trek Kaapstad toe en van Kaapstad af Transvaal toe
Kan ons waaragtig nou in die Nuwe Suid Afrika intrek
En ophou bang en grumpy wees omdat ons nie meer baas genoem word nie.
Die wortels van die Afrikaner is wortels van werk,
nie van baas speel en baasspelerig wees nie

Ek is seker nie reg of regs nie, maar ek’s ook nie links of verkeerd nie.
Ek’s geanker en vooruitstrewend. Eks inklusief en lief.

Daar’s vir jou ’n plakker.

Pot Stront

South Africans have started to dismiss the vision of a Rainbow Nation, a phrase coined by our national treasure: Desmond Tutu.

Not only are we dismissing heroes like Nobel prize winners Tutu and Mandela, we are dismissing the idea of the Rainbow Nation. I’ve explained elsewhere how the rainbow was a rallying cry and metaphor supposed to pull us forward, inspired to learn and sacrifice. Black elites and white ‘ethnic realists’ have different reasons for their rainbow aversions.

Those who dismiss the rainbow seem to say: I don’t believe in the Rainbow because it does not exist. I won’t fight or work for it because I don’t see it.

What I’m observing, in a week of cabinet reshuffles, made me think of the rainbow again: South Africans searched for the rainbow, but at the end (or start) of the rainbow we discovered the pot of gold, and ever since the discovery of the pot of gold, we became blind to the miracle of the rainbow. And I’m not just talking about elite politicians who forsake the dream for gold dust; common citizens have given up on their civil duty and our national project in exchange for financial security and exaggerated consumerism that embody a show-off culture built on image and branded projections.

So al die tyd, kruip die klein kak Mammon toe weg binne ‘n potjie goud, langs ons kosbare reënboog. Nou vreet almal hulle dik aan goudpap, en het dan nog die arrogansie van fake intelektualisme om die Reënboog te verkleineer en die Reënboogmaker te bedroef.

My fok.

Our Common Goal

“Now it is our contention that true democracy can be established in South Africa and on the continent as a whole, only when white supremacy has been destroyed.”  –  Robert M Sobukwe (2010:23)

This call from the Seventies should still be our rallying cry today. Not to say we have not made radical progress, but the call to end white supremacy is still a helpful one. White supremacy, or so-called white supremacy looked different in the seventies where whites literally ran everything, had all and exclusive access and where black people were exploited and humiliated. White supremacy, or so-called white supremacy lingers on today, stubbornly in the minds of South Africans, both white and black. This is our joint disease that affects our national health. Back then the supremacy was justified by so-called biological differences, a nonsense that has been mostly debunked.

The two notions that still plague us are, the idea of cultural superiority and the idea that material wealth and education is linked to intrinsic qualities. You just need to look at a useless corrupt fat cat today, driving a Bentley and realise that theft buys fancy suits and expensive whiskey. It is not classy, it is material profanity built on theft. When the spoilt little kids of this fat cat goes to expensive private schools, how dare they look down on and make fun of struggling kids from hard-working honest parents?

In my description of an exploitative class in the paragraph above, did you imagine a white or a black person? The answer is very important. Whichever picture you had in your head, might point you to your blind spot, whereby you need to learn to see the other side.

Today, for someone living in a shack, notions of white supremacy are real when every day, you walk past a white family in a Prado, going on holiday, getting Christmas gifts, practicing public speaking, discussing books. White wealth is a legacy of white privilege which is a legacy of white oppression and exploitation. Privilege allows certain cultures to develop and flourish. Privilege allows certain cultures to be trampled on and deteriorate. This applies to ethnic cultures, but also the specific culture in a home or in a neighbourhood. Kids growing up surrounded by gangs, surrounded by rapes or violence, they grow up in a new culture. Hatred can infiltrate any culture and hurt can become a culture of rebellion. Culture is not about cutlery and clothing; it is about shared values. Shared values and ethics that put you on a productive and developmental path is a privilege.

Sobukwe speaks of the myth of race that is used to build a myth of cultural superiority linked to colour. Nobody can deny that in todays world certain cultural traits will help members of a clan and certain cultural traits will disadvantage members of a clan; any clan. I hold that our culture should serve us and we should not serve our culture. We live in radically changing times, our groups are not geographically isolated any longer and that which used to make a sub-grouping of humans stronger and safe can today make a sub grouping stupid and dangerous. We need to change.

Our most pressing challenge is that of moving away from race, moving away from ethnicity; towards a shared humanity. This is not contradictory, as long as the notions are prioritised. Sub cultures can be used in service of a unified culture. Tribes can use their tribal heritage to serve the common good. A practical example can be the coming together of Afrikaners in a church with the vision and calling to eradicate white supremacy. That will have two legs, one being the extension of opportunity to blacks and the other being the deconstruction of internal and habitual stupidities that perpetuate racism. A black man or women who becomes successful through excellence and goodness should be top priority and something whites cherish. It would be a privilege to be part of such stories.

A tricky question in the discussion on dismantling white supremacy is that of white suffering. In theory nobody should suffer. In reality, in an equal South Africa, white poverty has to grow. That will be normal and even healthy. Whites should live in shacks, as long as blacks are living in shacks. White people passionate about uplifting ‘their own’ in a context of exploitative racial oppression need to do very serious soul searching. Let blacks look after poor whites. We have a historical burden, we have restitution as prerequisite for reconciliation; or at least the two needs to be implemented in unison.

Whites and blacks need to go about dismantling so called white supremacy in two different ways. Im not going to be PC and Im not going to be rude, but every honest South African knows that blacks and whites have different nuances and narrative we need to voice and advocate in order for our country to be equal and free. Democracy is impossible without the dismantling of so-called white supremacy- it is our call in this day and age to fight towards this same, unifying goal.

It can only be achieved if we work together. Other countries have shown that it is not something that is automatically fixed over time. We need a concerted effort, a brave leadership and a sacrificial life-style in order to be counter cultural and show the world that indeed we belong firstly to a human race.

To give up, is to have failed.

To give up is to have caused the thing you were supposed to fight.

Afrikaans

The debate is not a legal one. The dilemma is a moral one.

For Afrikaners, discussions about mother tongue education and self-expression can never be discussions about language and culture per se. Our history of exploitation and dominance took away the luxury of chatting about language and culture without speaking of privilege and access.

The first question is whether government funds should be used to fund Afrikaans activities, e.g. education? Personally, I think it should not. Afrikaans has been historically advantaged by the Apartheid regime. Our other indigenous languages were neglected. Today state funds should go to education that is accessible to all and particularly the poor. That might entail primary and secondary education in Sotho, Zulu or Tswana; if that is an expressed need.

Afrikaans in Stellenbosch? If the coloured population has primary access to study in Stellenbosch then the Western Cape could indeed be an exception. Is Stellenbosch a university where white folk from all parts of South Africa go? Is Afrikaans classes a tool to keep the culture white? Even if it aint the intent, it is the consequence.

Second question: Are Afrikaners entitled to use their own money (after paying tax) to build and run their own Afrikaans-Christian residences or their own Afrikaans schools and universities? Legally, they might have the right, but is it morally right? Afrikaners already has the best access to education, and creating hubs of excellence in Afrikaans will de facto be exclusionary, simply due to demographics.

So if Afrikaners want to make excellent schools and universities in Arikaans, they better have big budgets for accessibility and scholorships, fighting to give coloured and African students a chance to join, if they can speak Afrikaans. It might sound colonial, to demand Afrikaans, but if private individuals pay for Afrikaans education, then invitation extended to blacks, will obviously have Afrikaans as prerequisite. The same principle applies to private Christian schools.

So, for every Afrikaans creche, Afrikaners should build a Tswana or Tsonga creche, in full partnership with equal tools and offerings. In this sense, we literally buy our right to self-expression. Education is such a basic and dire need, that it seems unproblematic. But the same moral imperative could hold for Afrikaans cultural festivals. KKNK might need to empower other cultures and languages as part of their costs and operations, so that the stance and positioning is one of humility and not a middle finger of insensitivity. To point to black multi-millionaires and demand that they sponsor Pedi or Venda festivals, might be very poignant, but it does not absolve Afrikaners from their responsibility, as beneficiaries of past privilege.

All the above inevitable will creep up onto and into our churches. Are Afrikaners entitled to sit in cosy white spaces of homogenous comfort? By holding Afrikaans services in Joburg, you are assured a massive white majority. The NG Kerk seems to be the final pocket of apartheid, untouched by the democratisation, decolonising and restitution of post-94 South Africa. Under which conditions will a NG Kerk be allowed to hold Sunday services in Afrikaans, without automatic labels of racism?

Sometimes we have to suspend and sacrifice our language. Sometimes we might keep (koester) our language, but the attitude by which we express this desire and need of mother tongue worship should be an apologetic one, a positioning of humility and conditionality. White churches should embrace and befriend black churches, sharing money and assets, sharing events, being friends and doing life together. That implies the staff and gemeenteraad being mixed, even overwhelmingly black. Then the Afrikaans sermon becomes a small element of a healthy church.

As Afrikaners, we need to start earning our privilege, even if that privilege feels like a human right.

Reënboog Aversie

Die wêreld trek laer. Soort soek soort as natuurlike dier-drang. Mense gee op en kyk af, hulle kyk in. Die reaksie om onder stres arbitrêre raakpunte en gemeenskaplike vyandighede te skep is oeroud en oorbekend. Ons maak ‘n ‘ander’ om ons eenersheid te kweek. Die ironie is dat die ander ook eenders is. Daar’s soveel meer menslikheid wat ons band bind eerder as buig, wat ons verhoudings brug eerder as breek. Party mense gee eerlik en openlik op, party mense kyk na en lag vir die haan wat kraai terwyl hulle kies om dit wat hulle aan die lewe hou te laat doodgaan. Party mense sê hulle het nie tyd vir die sentimentele of emosionele nie, maar daai standpunt, of knielpunt, is die mees emosionele van als, want dis ‘n hartsbesluit om ‘n ego te beskerm van pyn en ‘n verstand te beskerm teen harde werk. Mense lag die reënboog uit, asof ons dit reeds probeer en gekry het, asof die pot goud ‘n pot kak was. Maar die pot stront is ons halfhartige, wanhopige poging om saam te soek na die begin, never mind die einde van die reënboog.

Pragmatic

My word for the new year is PRAGMATIC, or pragmatism.

In Afrikaans it is also simply called ‘pragmaties’. Pragmatic has a preference for the practical, as opposed to the theoretical or emotional. In short it asks: “What works?”

So where 2016 saw my clinging on to a value-based philosophical approach against the onslaught of nihilistic pessimism, 2017 will see me save my energy for practical and efficient actions in response to opportunities and challenges. I will try my best to act with discipline and wisdom.

I will try to be realistic in my actions to achieve certain goals. Less idealism and more ‘make the most’.  I won’t care as much what I like or what I don’t like, I will simply try to get the most out of each situation.

One thing I need to do more is plan. I need to list my priorities and allocate time to the things that will have the most actual impact or effect in terms of intended outcomes. I need to be strategic with my time management. That includes being aware of why I do what.

Less emotion, more abandonment: I will try to simply do what is needed and be outcome-based.

What will I have to show for 2017?

Vamos ver.