Category: Life


Vertaal vanaf Ash Wednesday (Jim Burklo)

Op my voorkop

‘n Teken van die kruis

Gesmeer in as vanuit die vuur

Wat my hubris-paleis afgebrand het

 

En, saam met dit,

Die geld wat ek weg moes gee,

Die TV wat ek as sintuigverdower gebruik het,

Die tapyt waarop ek veronderstel was

om op te verskyn,

Die deure wat ek vir veronderstel was

om vir ander oop te maak,

Die koeverte wat ek veronderstel was

om vir liefdesbriewe te gebruik

Die wyse boeke wat ek so oop en bloot uitstal,

om die illusie te skep dat ek dit gelees het,

Die lee spasies in my fotoalbums,

waar my donkerder, swaarder, seerder oomblikke onthou moes word,

Die kalenders waar besoeke aan die wat dit die meeste nodig gehad het,

geskeduleer moes word,

Die rusbank van my verlamende oorgerustheid,

Die gemakstoel van my luiheid,

Die hemde wat ek volgestop het met my eie trots,

Die skoene wat ek met ander moes ruil,

sodat ons gereisde myle kon deel.

Op my voorkop

‘n Teken van die kruispad,

Waar ek kan wegdraai van die pad van verderf,

Na die Weg van die Lewe.

(vertaling deur Hanno Langenhoven)

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Verwerk vanaf Ash Wednesday (Jim Burklo)

 

Liturg:            Op my voorkop

Gemeente:    ‘n Teken van die kruis

 

Liturg:            Gesmeer in vuur-verteerde as

Gemeente:    My afgebrande hubris-paleis

 

Liturg:            En ook veras, die geld

Gemeente:    Wat ek weg moes gee,

 

Liturg:            Die TV

Gemeente:    My keuse vir sintuigverdowing,

 

Liturg:            Die tapyt

Gemeente:    Waarop ek eintlik moes verskyn,

 

Liturg:            Die deure

Gemeente:    Wat ek eintlik vir ander  moes oop maak,

 

Liturg:            Die koeverte

Gemeente:    Wat ek eintlik vir liefdesbriewe moes gebruik het

 

Liturg:            Die uitgestalde boeke

Gemeente:    My gefeinsde aanspraak op insig

 

Liturg:            Die ongebalanseerde fotoalbums,

Gemeente:    My vergete oomblikke van swaarkry en mislukking

 

Liturg:            Die leë kalenders

Gemeente:    My versuimde afsprake aan die in nood

 

Liturg:            Die rusbank

Gemeente:    Van my verlamende oorgerustheid,

 

Liturg:            Die gemakstoel

Gemeente:    Van my luiheid,

 

Liturg:            Die hemde

Gemeente:    Persoonlik volgestop met eie trots,

 

Liturg:            Die ongeruilde skoene

Gemeente:    en ongedeelde reise saam met ander.

 

Liturg:            Op my voorkop

Gemeente:    ‘n Teken van die kruispad,

 

Liturg:            Waar ek kan wegdraai

Gemeente:    van die pad van verderf,

Gemeente:    Na die Weg van die Lewe.

 

(verwerking deur Hanno Langenhoven)

Author: Seth Godin

Don’t teach your students as if they are a monolithic population of learners. They learn differently, they have different goals, different skills, different backgrounds.

Don’t sell to your customers as if they are a fungible commodity, a walking ATM waiting for you to punch. Six of one are not like half a dozen of the other. They tell themselves different stories, have different needs and demand something different from you.

Different voters, different donors, different employees–we have the choice to treat them as individuals. Not only do they need different things, but they offer differing amounts of value to you and to your project. The moment your policy interferes with their uniqueness, the policy has cost you something.

We used to have no choice. There was only one set of data for the student body, one way to put things on the shelf of the local market, one opportunity to talk to the entire audience…

One of the biggest unfilled promises of the digital age is the opportunity to go beyond demographics and census data. Personalization wasn’t supposed to be a cleverly veiled way to chase prospects around the web, showing them the same spammy ad for the same lame stuff as everyone else sees. No, it is a chance to differentiate at a human scale, to use behavior as the most important clue about what people want and more important, what they need.

It’s a no-brainer to treat the quarterback of the football team differently from the head of the chess club. We treat our bank’s biggest investor with more care than someone who merely wants to trade in a bag of pennies. Instead of reserving this special treatment for a few outliers, though, we ought to consider what happens if we offer it to all of those we value.

The long tail of everything means that there’s something for everyone–a blog to read, a charity to donate to, a skill to learn. When you send everyone the same email, demand everyone learn from the same lesson plan or try to sell everyone the same service, you’ve missed it.

A very long time ago, shoe salespeople realized that shoes that don’t fit are difficult to sell, regardless of what you’ve got in stock. Today, the people you serve are coming to realize that like their shoe size, their needs are different, regardless of what your urgent agenda might be.

Originally posted on Seth’s blog

Die laaste jaar of wat was, en hou aan om te wees, moeilik. Ek is diep oortuig van my roeping om vir God in die kerk te werk. Ten einde om te antwoord op die roeping het ek oor die laaste dekade van my lewe honderde duisende rande spandeer en baie uur opgeoffer. Elke sent en elke minuut was, en is, die moeite werd. Nou wag ek vir ‘n geleentheid om my roeping, passie, en gawes uit te leef, al meer as twaalf maande lank.

 Elke tweede week wag ek vir die Kerkbode om te sien waar nuwe poste oopgaan, elke tweede week doen ek aansoek vir poste in Gauteng, in die Kaap, in die stad, op die platteland, in Suid-Afrika, in Namibië, vir vol poste, kontrakposte, en jeugwerkposte. Saam met elke dekbrief wat geskryf word en elke CV wat by ‘n epos aangeheg word, ontstaan daar die hoop dat dit dalk die plek is waar ek en my vrou op ‘n besonderse manier deel van ‘n gemeenskap kan raak.

 En dan kom die ontnugtering. Meeste van die tyd word die aansoek nie eers erken nie, so 10 – 15% van gemeentes antwoord op die aansoek, en uiteindelik; die teleurstelling van ‘n onsuksesvolle aansoek. Weereens word dit in min gevalle gekommunikeer en moet ‘n mens maar in die Kerkbode lees dat die pos gevul is. Daar waar die “jammer-jy-is-onseksusvol-maar-die-Here-weet-waar-Hy-jou-wil-gebruik-briefie-seen-vir-jou-bediening-brief” wel kom verpletter die hoop van dalk-die-keer verpletter in ‘n jammer-jy-is-nie-goed-genoeg nie.

 En ja, ons almal verstaan dat baie mense aansoek doen, en ja dat elkeen nie noodwendig die regte fit is nie, maar dit is moeilik om dit nie persoonlik op te neem nie. Roeping en teologie is nie iets wat apart staan van ‘n persoon se diepste kern nie, altans nie vir my nie. My teologie kom vanuit my diepste oortuiging, my roeping is deel van my kern identiteit, en wie ek is en wat ek doen is die resultaat van my geloof in Christus en Sy werk in my lewe. So na ‘n jaar se onsuksesvol-briewe en geen antwoorde is dit baie moeilik om aansoek te doen vir nóg ‘n pos met die wete dat dit dalk kan einde in nóg ‘n nee.

 En dan die bemoedigende woordjies, “hou net aan hoop”, “hou net aan glo”, “die Here laat alles ten goede mee werk” ensovoorts. Dit help nie, dit werk nie. Na studieskuld en lewensonkoste en ‘n gebrek aan ander werk, as deel van die werklose statistiek, is ek finansieel kniediep in die moeilikheid en die uurglas se sandjies baie laag. Moed hou, aan hou glo ten midde van ‘n oenskynlik onafwendbare krisis, skuldgat, en op straat sit, en 62 siklusse van hoop en verpletterde hoop is ‘n baie waterige soppie.

 En natuurlik is daar die ander klompie stemme. “Dit is jou eie skuld”, “jy is nie betrokke by ‘n gemeente nie”, “gaan plant ‘n kerk”, “doen iets anders”, “gaan na jou ouerhuis toe en raak betrokke by jou tuisgemeente”, “proponent is te kieskeurig” en “jy wil nie werklik werk nie”, en “dit is nou maar hoe dit is, dit is die lewe” ensovoorts. Hoe genadeloos, sonder liefde, en arrogant kan ‘n mens raak. Niemand praat van proponent, soos myself, wat aansoek doen vir kelner werk, koffie rep werk, bel sentrum werk, HR posisies en vele meer nie. Niemand dink aan die proponent wat elke geleentheid om te werk aangryp nie, al is dit soos in my geval om, op ‘n maand kontrak, in ‘n industriele wassery te werk. Die vraag is uiteindelik wat is ek, en ander proponente bereid om te doen?

 Die antwoord is redeilk maklik, ons is bereid om enige iets te doen, om selfs uitgebuit te word. Ons wil dien, ons wil werk, ons wil antwoord op ons roeping. Ek byvoorbeeld, en ek is seker baie ander proponent, is bereid om as ‘n jeugwerker te werk teen ‘n klein salaries. Ek is nie ‘n student nie, ek het bietjie meer opleiding as hulle en selfs ‘n bietjie meer lewenservaring, maar nietemin is ek bereid om te werk teen ‘n student se salaries, want dit gee aan my ‘n stukkie menswardigheid terug. Ek is bereid om in gemeentes te werk teen ‘n kwart of ‘n derde salaries en nogsteeds ‘n voldag in te sit. Hoekom, dit help dit gemeente, dit gee my ‘n plek om my roeping uit te leef en te dien, dit gee ook ‘n stukkie menswardigheid terug. Ek is bereid om in ‘n kerkkantoor te werk, die vaktotum te wees wat so af en toe preek, ek is bereid om die dominee of dominees van die gemeente te ondersteun, ek is bereid om meer as een gemeente te dien wat nie ‘n dominee kan bekostig nie. Ons moet ook eet, maar geld is was nog nooit die oorweging vir dien nie. En as ek nie in die kerk werk kry nie, is ek bereid om enige iets te doen wat ‘n salarissie verdien, om in die eerste plek te dien in my familie, om te sorg dat my vrou en kind(ers) versorg is, om my roeping ten volle uit te leef in die kleinste en intiemste vorm van kerk.

 En dit is dalk die grootste frustrasie om te weet wat die diepte van my bereidheid is, om my tyd en energie selfs gratis aan te bied (wat ek en ander proponent al gedoen het), en nogsteeds nie ‘n geleentheid te kry nie. En na die soveelste onsuksesvolle aansoek kom die gedagte; dalk is die enigste uitweg die keuse is tussen selfmoord of die moord van roeping. Tog is selfmoord nooit ‘n opsie nie, en hoe vermoor ‘n mens ‘n roeping sonder om selfmoord te pleeg? En dan staan ‘n mens maar op in die oggend, struikel voort in die woestyn, en gaan slaap aan die einde van die dag met ‘n terugblik wat nog ‘n dag van genade en hoop openbaar. Maranatha

I am here, because God is.

I don’t always know what the latter means,

But I believe that, somehow,

It says that God is involved

With me

With my community

With the community at large

And ultimately with the community we call Earth.

Now, yesterday, and tomorrow.

 

I am here, because I belief that I can only know God because of God’s revelation

Especially in community

I confess that Jesus, the Christ

Is the pinnacle of this revelation

That in him God’s compassion,

Love,

And self-sacrifice is absolutely present.

 

I am here, because, even though Christ is not physically with us anymore,

His Spirit,

The absolute presence of God’s compassion,

Love,

And self-sacrifice is with us

Through the gift that is the Holy Spirit.

It seems that the one constant on internet forums, at least as far as religious dialogues go, is intolerance for the other opinion. Believers don’t gladly suffer non-believers and vice versa, Christians versus Atheists, Muslims and even other Christians, and again vice versa.

Christians so often take a type of spiritual high ground, claiming to know something or at least someone that the others don’t. Sometimes they even claim to know something of someone which other Christians don’t. A subjective understanding is mistaken for an absolute acquaintance and intimate knowledge of the ultimate mystery. It seems the humbleness of the Rabbi is forgotten.

Non-believers, on the other hand, often retreat into the bastion of reason. From here they lob high-handed pronouncements, often in the form of insults, to the so called dim-witted, superstitious believers who hold on, according to them, to worldviews and other opinions that was already thrown out with yesterday’s trash.

Why is it that these forums are so often riddled by an intolerant few? I would like to venture two reasons although I am certain there are many more that can be considered. Firstly, it seems that any chest-beating is accompanied by a certain sense of insecurity, that 0.0001% of doubt that creeps in during the quiet of the night. A sense that maybe, just maybe, we are not quite as right, quite as absolute as we would like to be; a nagging sense that there might be more to the universe, the world, and even transcended, at least other, realities to my own. With all the data we are bombarded with every day, it is almost impossible not to acknowledge that the model we build and the narratives we construct does not 100% reflect Reality nor Narrative. This begs the question, is there such a thing as Reality or Narrative and, if there is, can we have objective, maybe even subjective, access to it?

It does however seem that the more and louder the chest-beating seems to be, the louder and challenging our own insecurities is, at least as far as the way we build our models and narrate our stories.

Secondly, it seems that we suffer from a good dose, maybe a severe overdose, of arrogance. We simply know. Contrary to the postulation that we might not have the free access to the Reality that we think we have, we construct from the perspective that we do not only have access to Reality but that we have unbridled, objective, and absolute access. It seems that we think that we can transcend ourselves in order to be completely objective and have the language ability to formulate the exactness of the Reality without limiting it. Of course only the I and those who agree exactly with the I has this ability. What is interesting is the assumption that we can transcend our own subjectivity at will, but that something Transcendent can’t exist.

Thus, maybe it is time we should all heed the call of the ancients and the contemporaries, from Confucius, The Buddha, Jesus Christ, Florence Nightingale, Dorothy Day, Karen Armstrong, and The Dalai Lama that the mark of an adult person who lives with happiness and contentment in his/her skin, one would be able to argue, in her/his own faith, is the ability to live with the Golden Rule, with compassion. And if you are wondering what this rule is, here it is in its positive form: Do onto others as you would like them do onto you, this might just lead to dialogues where we listen to others and really hear them, rather than construct what they are saying from our own preconceived ideas.

The new Pope urged the faithful to translate the sacraments they received into their daily life. It seems this is a message that all of us, at least those of us who think of ourselves as followers of The Way, need to heed. The one criticism of the Church, both the institution and the believers who form it, that cannot be ignored is the way that confession and lifestyle seems to be two different things.

It seems that the majority of the Church’s energy is spent on getting members to belief in a certain way and justifying to others, believers and non-believers, why their way is the correct way. In this system formulation, the correct words, standard creeds, finely crafted dogma, and traditional confessions are of the utmost importance. The mind and reason becomes, not only the home, but the fortress of belief and the power structures of the church; the stewards of the fortress. The sad part is that the verbal-war, that is constant waging between every possible tag you can imagine, has grown toxically stale.

A world, in the midst of severe suffering, complex trauma, losing every last shred of hope, is in desperate need of the faithful making real the very essence of their faith; G-d who so love the world, that had so much compassion, that G-d-self became part of the suffering. It is where the faithful starts to venture out of the fortress of belief into a thirsty and hungry world, urged by the core of the sacraments to live according to faith, that the verbal-war becomes an irrelevant nuisance. It is where honest pilgrims daily live from the source that ground them in the reality of G-d, that a glimmer of hope breaks through and differences in dogma and creed is transcended.

It is long overdue that the faithful realize that living out a confessed faith is much more important than confessing it absolutely right.

A small part of the South African cyber space, the religious corner, is abuzz. Usually some or other dominee (minister in the Dutch Reformed Church) or other religious leader creates this type of hype by sharing a thought (via Facebook or Twitter), sermon, or book that can be labelled “liberal”. Think of, amongst others, the recent sacking of Jean Oosthuizen or “Om te mag twyfel” written by Julian Muller. This time it seems the table is turned. A dominee, Stefaan de Jager, whom can be described as more conservative shared a thought on Facebook which simply got the blood boiling. I quote (via Kletskerk):

“Dit moet tragies wees as jy `n ateis is en jou kind deur die dood verloor. Jou kind is so dood soos `n hond. Niks meer en niks minder nie. Troosteloos.” and “lyk my as jy `n ateis is is dit dan dalk nie so `n slegte plan om jou kind te laat uitsit as hy/sy ly nie. Daar is immers ten diepste mos nie vir hulle `n verskil tussen mens en dier nie. Albei bloot biologiese wesens. Huil dan na die tyd so `n bietjie oor jou kind soos oor jou dooie hondjie en kom dan daaroor en kry `n ander kind.”

(Short paraphrase: If you are atheist then it seems that your children and dogs (pets) should be equated to each other, if a child suffers, put him/her down like a pet and get a new one, as the child is merely a biological being.).

As Christians we should shudder at the callousness with which anyone, let alone a spiritual leader, can throw stereotypes and generalizations about with so much sincerity and conviction. This seems to fly in the face everything Jesus stood for and commanded his followers to be, a group of people who reaching out to the marginalized in care, understanding, and love.

It seems that Ds de Jager forgot that the loss of any life is tragic, be that the life of a child or the life of an elderly person, the life of a woman or the life of a man, the life of a Atheist, a Muslim, or a Christian, the life of a human being or the life of an animal, domesticated or wild, the life of an individual or the life of a species. The loss of life is always tragic. However, death is indeed a natural process; living, by definition, means that we will die. And with every death something, at least in this reality, is lost of the image of G-d, not the complete image but a certain snapshot of G-d’s image. Indeed we are all created in the image of G-d; we are all creature-ly.

At the same time I must wonder about the way that Ds de Jager uses the term “atheist”. The origin of the word, in Greek atheos [a- not + theos – god], can be translated “without god”, a translation that opens a number of possibilities, which I don’t think Ds de Jager entertained.

Firstly, if we translate atheos as “without god” is it not possible to say that there was and always will be only one true atheist, namely Jesus Christ; although only for a short time on Good Friday. Do we as Christians not hold that only Christ was truly G-d-forsaken in order for us, and all of creation, to live? Do we not profess that it is only by the care of G-d, through G-d’s own breath that creation is sustained?

Secondly, if you do not want to go that far and translate the Greek as god-not-existing; does the word not refer to a very specific understanding of G-d? Specifically a theistic understanding of G-d, a G-d that lives somewhere above, but close to our known Earth/Solar system/Universe and that has direct control every aspect of our daily lives, that can see, hear, and known everything at the same time whilst simultaneously be everywhere. It seems that, if this is Ds de Jager’s approach, everyone that does not believe in G-d or understand G-d like he does, is included in his pronouncement. The conviction thus, believe like I do or get over the death of your child, even more so, put them down when they suffer and get a new one.

Thirdly, is it not possible that by using the term atheist Ds de Jager forgets his own history? Can it not be argued that the first Christians were some of the world’s first atheists? Indeed, they did not believe in god as described by Judaism nor did they hold to the understanding of the Greeks and Romans with their plethora of gods. From the perspective of the Jews and the Romans the early Christians could indeed be classified as atheists, today Christians might be classified as the same by any pantheist, still by the Jews as well as the Muslims.

However, the statement is not only problematic because it only contributes sanctity to the lives of those who believe like Ds de Jager and the dubious use of the term atheist, it also puts on the table the importance of making public statements in the social media-sphere. Some commentators on the Kletskerk-post would like us to believe that Ds de Jager was justified in making this statement as a summary of the opinion of atheists themselves (Henk Zeeman and Mauritz Coetzee amongst others). The trouble is that, firstly, it is quite arrogant to turn the argument of another into a caricature like this and, secondly, social media hardly every respects context. The way that Ds de Jager formulated his response in conversation with others exposes something of his underlying worldview and intolerance to those who believe or not-believe differently than he does. I would like to argue that such a position flies in the face of the compassion that is the heart of G-d’s love for us, creation as a whole, and our mandate as Christians to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world.

Over above the theological implications of this statement and the responses it generated on the Kletskerk Facebook wall, is my personal reaction to it. Week after week I, together with a number of other young, unemployed theologians, send in application after application for jobs in the church. It so often happens that it is the Ds De Jagers of this world that receive our applications and CV’s. The result; we are lucky to make it though the first, brief evaluation onto any kind of a short list where we are bound to come face to face with an early judgement if we do not toe the party, read conservative, line.

It seems what we believe is still more important than the faith that stokes the fires of our core, it seems we are still holding on to precise dogma, whilst we are failing to realize our own brokenness and the call to be the healing to others which we so desperately seek. The time has come to realize that a believing and non-believing world are not interested in our pseudo-philosophical, metaphysical, and religious speculation but are hungry and thirsty for those who profess any kind of faith to start living accordingly.

I wish I could promise you prosperity, wealth, and health. This, however, is not my privilege. What I can promise you is more fragile, more vulnerable, more humanish.

I promise you, my Love, that I will always be human with you.

That when things are going well, I’ll laugh with you.

When things are going not so great, I’ll cry with you.

When you feel alone, I’ll hold you.

When you need space, I’ll grant you as much as you need.

When you need support, I’ll be there to cheer you on every step of the way.

When we experience the dizzy heights of life, I’ll celebrate it with you

And when we struggle through the valleys, I’ll hold your hand no matter what.

I promise you, most beautiful of woman, to make you part of every part of my being.

My strengths and my weaknesses.

My fears and my hopes.

My joys and my hurts.

My tears of sorrow and tears of joy.

Ultimately the only thing I can promise you is a lifetime’s journey together with you.

I promise that I will undertake this journey with you with honesty, authenticity, integrity, compassion, and love.

 

In the original Afrikaans

Aan Maretha: ‘n Troubelofte

Ek wens ek kon die volgende belowe, voorspoed, welvaart, en gesondheid. Dit is my egter nie beskore nie. Dit wat ek jou kan belowe is meer broos, meer weerloos, meer mensig.

 

Ek belowe jou Meisiemens, dat ek saam met  jou altyd mens sal wees.

Dat wanneer dit goed gaan, ek saam met jou sal lag.

Wanneer dit sleg gaan, ek saam met jou sal huil.

Wanneer jy alleen voel, ek jou sal vashou.

Wanneer jy ruimte nodig het, ek dit jou sal gun.

Wanneer jy ondersteuning nodig het, ek jou elke oomblik sal aanspoor.

Wanneer ons hoogtes beleef, ek dit saam met jou sal vier.

En wanneer ons valleie deur worstel, ek heeltyd jou hand sal vashou.

 

Ek belowe jou, mooiste mens, om jou deel te maak van elke deel van my wese;

My sterkpunte en my swakpunte,

My vrese en my hoop,

My vreugdes en my seerkry,

Van my trane en my lag.

 

Uiteindelik is al wat ek kan belowe ‘n leeftyd se reis saam met jou.

Ek belowe dat ek die reis met eerlikheid, opregtheid,  integriteit, deernis en liefde saam met jou sal reis.