Category: adventures


wrestle

Too often, it has been the arrival of the question that has instantly muted the conversation.

As i have sought to write [and invite others to] about topics such as Race and Reconciliation, the Church, Relationships and more, it has been disappointing to me how often a term [White Privilege] or phrase [We aren’t currently part of a local church congregation] or idea [No sex before marriage] has sent people scurrying off back to where people scurry to, before there has even been a chance to engage with why they disagree or think differently, and without them seizing the opportunity of looking at something they have a strong opinion on, from a different point of view.

christians tend, on occasion, to be even worse, often throwing out the line, ‘But the bible says so’ as if that phrase in itself is an adequate defence. They often don’t feel the need to back that up with where they believe the bible might be saying it is so, or being willing to engage in conversations on context and meaning within the wider story of the bible [misquoted or out-of-context single verses being typical to this kind of conversation].

AT THE VERY LEAST ASK THE QUESTION

i believe that is such a great start. Simply acknowledging that someone else thinks very differently on a matter than you do, and that it might be helpful to at least ask the question – What if they are right?

Especially if this is something you hold to strongly. If they are wrong and you are right, then asking the question and engaging a little bit more deeply on why they believe differently can only surely strengthen your belief and resolve.

Sometimes people run away from a conversation [or dive in and argue defensively] in which they have not even properly heard what the other person is really saying, and instead are responding to what they thought the person was saying. This calls for more listening and i started to address this last year in a series titled, I’m not sure you’re against that thing you think you’re against, where i looked at Rape Culture and White Privilege as two examples of this. Both of these are such important ongoing conversations to be having and yet so many people refuse to engage or come in swinging without really taking time to properly hear what the conversation is actually about.

i hope in 2015, at the very least, to discover ways to get more people to at least ask the questions – specifically in areas such as race, reconciliation and a unified South Africa; on what being a part of the church really means and how that can best be lived out; on the way men treat women in general and looking towards the hope that we can do better; and in areas of money, giving and poverty. Others may come up along the way, but those are some key areas to me right now, which i feel can use some attention.

One way to improve yourself in this area is to work on your listening. When someone is talking to you, do they have your full attention, or are you already working on your response to them? Take time to listen and then let your response follow.

A second way is to invite different voices to speak to you – we tend to listen [both in terms of who we read or follow online and in terms of who we invite to speak to us] to people who look largely like us [for me that would be christian, white, male, middle class men] and so diversify the information and the stories you take in. From using different news sources, to following bloggers of different race or culture, to reading books written by people with strongly different opinions than yours, start creating opportunities to listen well and maybe even learn. After all, if you only ever listen to voices you agree with, you are less likely to learn new things.

Let’s make 2015 a year of dipping our feet into the deep end and seeing what happens…

listen

From Worst Christian Book covers of 2014 to how to respond to Trolls or other people online you disagree strongly with, to a whole bunch of really helpful, insightful and great articles on race-related things and some reflections on our time at Robben Island, this has been another crazy  week of much to read, watch and ingest, and i would hate for you to miss any of it and so i have compiled this Don’t-Miss-Out summary of some of the greatest and lamest and most interesting moments from the web this past week.

Catch up on some of the gems you missed and share them with your friends:

 

MOST UNLIKELY CHRISTMAS GIFTS: If you haven’t finalised your Christmas Shopping yet, there will most likely still be time to order any of these, which i imagine will be sticking firmly to the shelves:

 

Worst Christian Book covers of 2014/2015

 
 

MOST HELPFUL.INSIGHTFUL IN THE ONGOING RACE CONVERSATION: i have continued to read a LOT around this topic and keep on finding SO MANY POSTS that are just so good. i took three of the best of them and stuck them together in this blog post:

 

The Wisdom of Others in Talking about Race
But then immediately found this interview with Christian Rapper Propaganda which made some of the aspects of it even clearer and it is worth reading the whole thing on Relevant Magazine, but at the very least part 2:

 

Interview With Propaganda by Relevant Magazine, Part II
 
 
MOST HELPFUL ADVICE WITH REGARD TO TROLLS AND OTHERS IN STRONG DISAGREEMENT: 

 

Why I run with Trolls: While a lot of people think that engagement with people who are strongly opposed to an idea you might be discussing is a waste of time, i give some ideas on why it might not be.

 
 

MOST HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT:

 

Journey to Robben Island series: Last weekend i was privileged to go with tbV and a group of about twenty young up and coming Christian leaders to spend the weekend at Robben Island and i posted some snapshots into that experience.

 
 

MOST INSPIRATIONAL:

 

18 Badass women you probably didn’t hear about in 2014: Suggested by my friend Lindsay Brown, here is a remarkable list of some stories that didn’t get as much noise as they could have this last year.

 
 

CLASSIC PHOTO MOMENT OF THE WEEK: Go and order some Thai food for my wife and this is the Customer name they assign to me:

 

dreads

 
 

MOST EPIC USA MEETS SA VIDEO: With over 200 shares just from my Facebook blog page, i imagine you have probably seen this already, but if not then watch how Trevor Noah takes on the might of Americaland in this clip from The Daily Show:

 

 
 

MOST INSPIRING SONG: Absolutely love Asumbonanga by Johnny Clegg and he released a new version of it to coincide with the one year remembering of Nelson Mandela’s death:

 

 
 

MOST CRINGEWORTHY MOMENT:

 

Watching The Ellen Show where Ellen is chatting to her ‘Most amazing teacher of the year’ who is this white lady working with mostly Asian kids and the moment in the video where the teacher says, “Some of them don’t even have English names yet.”

 
 
FROM THE TWITTERER:
 

“A movement starts when the founder really knows Jesus. You know how a movement dies? When the followers only know the founder.” Francis Chan @crazylove

“There is no point being in the right place at the right time if you are not then willing to do the right thing.” Mike Pilavachi @MikePilav

“Convictions don’t change the world. Rather, people who faithfully and tenaciously pursue and live out their convictions change the world.” Eugene Cho @EugeneCho

 
 
Analogies are like sandwiches; I’m making one right now.  @Benjamin_G_Lund

Assistant measured my feet and said “You’re an eight” I couldn’t.  @FemmeDomestique
 
 
Hashtag Game suggestions i’ve submitted:

When Harry met Slalom

Lacrosse and the Switchblade

The Good, The Badminton and the Ugly

And now for something completely discus
 
 
CELEB TWEET LOVE
 

Brought my Celeb Tweet love up to 4 with this Retweet from Parks and Rec’s own John Ralphio:

Jean Ralphio favorited your Tweet

Dec 11@rejectedjokes Oh no. Love us some Jean-Ralphio. Well played dude. So. Much. Fun. #ParksAndRec
 
 
What about you? What blog posts or articles caught your eye this week? What has been making you think or laugh or be challenged or go, ‘Wo!’? What have you written on your blog that is worth taking a look at?

Leave us a link in the comments for our weekendentertainment…

 
 
Christ

cave

i flew to durban with four main purposes in mind:

The first was to visit and surprise my younger sister Dawn and spend some time with her Glen and my nephew Josh [i am Uncle Fish and i am cool] and some of my really great friends from years and years.

The second was to do some networking for The Youth Hub which is my two-day-per-week job, writing 100 words or less youth resources and sending them to the phones of young people via Whatsapp, BBM, Facebook, Twitter, Mxit and our new phone app that has just launched. So meeting up with youth leaders and sharing what we’re about and giving them ways of getting connected well.

To connect with my friends at Westville Basptist Church and preach a preach on ‘How Friends can Wreck us’ and also meet up with their leadership, many of whom are good friends of mine as well.

Then to hide in a cave and spend four days finishing the book i started way too many years ago and revised and renamed a total of four times, which i am hoping to get ready for self-publication by the end of the year. Too many people who i told that to, thought i was talking about an actual cave [like where am i going to plug my laptop into?] whereas it is clearly a metephorical one in the form of a Bed and Breakfast [well two bed and breakfasts to be precise – staying here in exchange for scribing some reviews]. But to be cut off and disconnect and unplugged for the most part and have focused distraction-free time to work through the book as a whole and tweak and finalise and hopefully finally bring this thing to readiness.

GETTING BOOKY WITH IT

i am staying at quite a stunning place with a great work desk station and a lovely little balcony vibe with a table and chairs and i spent a few minutes outside, taking in nature and praying about the task that follows. The hope and the ask is that God will take this book which i have, which i think is pretty good, and help me in four days to get it to a place of being pretty great. i am not wanting to produce just another book that people will read and nod their head at and then leave on their shelf. And forget. i am hoping that God will use this book to get people to wrestle and be challenged and inspired and bring out their creativity and to risk and dream and live more fully when it comes to this thing called church. The book is titled, ‘i, church’ and will hopefully be available before too long.

as i sat outside i asked God for a passage to encourage me or give me some direction as i committed these next few days to Him – my mind went to Isaiah 46 and so i turned there…

to be honest when i flipped it open and the title read, ‘Gods of Babylon’ i was not feeling too anticipationary…  but i read it and was greatly encouraged and thought i would share it with all of you, before i got going…

Gods of Babylon

46 Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low;
    their idols are borne by beasts of burden.
The images that are carried about are burdensome,
    a burden for the weary.
They stoop and bow down together;
    unable to rescue the burden,
    they themselves go off into captivity.

“Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob,
    all the remnant of the people of Israel,
you whom I have upheld since your birth,
    and have carried since you were born.
Even to your old age and gray hairs
    I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
    I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

“With whom will you compare me or count me equal?
    To whom will you liken me that we may be compared?
Some pour out gold from their bags
    and weigh out silver on the scales;
they hire a goldsmith to make it into a god,
    and they bow down and worship it.
They lift it to their shoulders and carry it;
    they set it up in its place, and there it stands.
    From that spot it cannot move.
Even though someone cries out to it, it cannot answer;
    it cannot save them from their troubles.

“Remember this, keep it in mind,
    take it to heart, you rebels.
Remember the former things, those of long ago;
    I am God, and there is no other;
    I am God, and there is none like me.
10 I make known the end from the beginning,
    from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
    and I will do all that I please.’
11 From the east I summon a bird of prey;
    from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.
What I have said, that I will bring about;
    what I have planned, that I will do.
12 Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted,
    you who are now far from my righteousness.
13 I am bringing my righteousness near,
    it is not far away;
    and my salvation will not be delayed.
I will grant salvation to Zion,
    my splendor to Israel.

Powerful piece of writing and the part my eyes were drawn to was verse 5 and 6:

Even to your old age and gray hairs
    I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
    I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

“With whom will you compare me or count me equal?
    To whom will you liken me that we may be compared?

and then also verse 9 and 10:

Remember the former things, those of long ago;
    I am God, and there is no other;
    I am God, and there is none like me.
10 I make known the end from the beginning,
    from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
    and I will do all that I please.’

We serve a big God. He is able to make His will come to pass.

My prayer is that He will do so with this book. That this was something He gave me to do.

And that together we will bring it to the place of readiness and completion.

This is my prayer…

To the Brett Cave…

livingwithintents

tents

“Where are you going to be living?”

Having just returned from 3 years of living in Americaland, this is one of the more regular questions we have been faced with, after ‘So how long are you here for?’ and ‘What are you going to be doing?’ or ‘So what church are you going to?’ [as if you could ‘go to a church’, but that’s another series of blogs]

And the ‘Where are you going to be living?’ question is a big one for us.

KENSINGTON

philly

When we moved to Americaland in 2011 to work with ‘The Simple Way,’ we moved into a neighborhood called Kensington [the irony, as i grew up in a place called Kensington in Johannesburg in South Africa so in one way it was like returning home] which was a lower economy area than we are used to, with rowhouses so people living right on top of each other with a lot of life [both positive and negative] happening on the street in each others spaces and a real sense of community in different ways.

Kensington was a more violent area than i had ever lived in, but at the same time i, for the most part, felt safer than i had felt sometimes in South Africa as the violence was always intentional [so you pissed off this drug dealer or your family was fighting this family] and so that was an interesting dynamic to have going around us.

On the other hand, it was so great walking into 15 years of intentional relationship as the people we were working with had been there for so long and so there was a definite sense of trust that had been built up with many of the local residents.

Val and i both loved Philly and we also both enjoyed our time in Kensington in many ways. Definitely lots of stares and question marks when we were in the city and people asked where we were living in the Why-Would-Anyone-Choose-To-Live-There frame of reference. But met a lot of lovely people and some amazing children and were glad to be a part of their lives for the time we had.

OAKLAND

oakland

When we moved to Oakland [San Francisco] to help oversee the transition of Relational Tithe into the non-profit that Val continues to work for known as Common Change, we also moved into a lower economy area, but one that was quite different to Kensington. We lived in 61st Avenue and i would say it was closer to 80th to 100th avenues where it got a lot more violent and crime ridden. Although we did have our almost nightly game of Identify-The-Loud-Bang with me tending towards “Firework” and Val usually going for “Gunshot” and i’m sure both of us being wrong on multiple occasions.

We lived in a four apartment complex surrounded mostly by houses [with gardens and fences] and one very charismatic pentecostal church service right next to us which served as Val’s alarm clock on a Sunday morning [and not in a good way!]. Most of the people living around us were Hispanic, so while we had friendly neighbourly greeting type relationship with some of them, it was a lot more difficult to have conversations and enter into more meaningful conversation. We knew and loved our neighbour Will from downstairs and his two adorable children, as well as the boyfriends of the other women who lived in our complex.  Had we lived there longer, we would have definitely made an effort to learn Spanish so that we could have better connection with the people living around us. And for 6 months we had a really great couple living with us, and shared community in that way.

One incredible way Val connected with our neighbours was through flowers. She transformed the dry dirt patch beneath our apartment into a flower bed and added some barrels and drawers and pots with various plants in them to add some much needed life and colour to the complex. Also she wrote letters to the owners of the five most well looked after gardens that we passed on our cycle to work to thank them for the beauty they had created.

SOUTH AFRICA, CAPE TOWN, ???

And now we’re back and ready for a new season and exciting journey. And we are looking to be intentional about where we land. We want the place we choose to stay in be a more conscious decision than simply one we can afford or one we like or even simply where a place was available.

We are thinking lower income and definitely with a strong sense of diversity. Hopefully a place where people we know are already doing something or involved in some kind of intentional living into the community. And when i put a call out on Facebook the other day, we were given a long list of options, some that we are strongly considering. Places like Obs and Lower Woodstock and Manenberg. Also Muizenberg and Salt River are on that list. Places like Constantia, Meadowridge and Tokai are not so much.

What about you?? Are you living in the place you are living for any specific intentional reason? Or was it just because a place opened up in that area in the time that you needed it.

i am NOT suggesting for a minute that we are better cos we are choosing intentionally and you aren’t because you didn’t. What i am hoping to get some more people thinking about is the idea of choosing to move into an area for a specific reason [and many people do for a variety of different reasons] as opposed to simply moving somewhere because there is an opening. So the next time you move house/apartment what questions might you be asking?

i was probably 33 before i made my first location move for intentional reasons, when i moved into Kayamandi [aka ‘The K’] just outside Stellenbosch, eighteen months before tbV and i got married. Just because i had never even thought of doing that before. Up til then it was let me find a place that works for me and go there.

Now that i have met some other people who have made intentional decisions like this – the Viviers who i stayed with at first when i moved into the K, Nigel Branken and his family who moved into Hillbrow [who you can read some more about here] and Pete and Sarah Portal [whose story is going to be shared tomorrow] – i can see just how powerful the decision can be.

i believe that as a Christ follower, my decisions in life need to be more intentional. Not that God will necessary lead me into every decision i make [sometimes there are five good areas i could be living in and He just wants me to pick one and live well there] but i believe it is important to include Him in the decision making and say the prayer, ‘God if there is a specific place you want me to live, please let me know.’

 WHAT ABOUT ME?

What DOES this mean for you?

Really about Living With Intents [or for some of you i guess it could literally end up as Living Within Tents?]

For some of you who might be about to move to a different place, hopefully this will cause you to think a little more intentionally. Choose to live in an area for some reason and not simply because it was the one available to you or more cheap or less dangerous. Ask the question and see if God might want to lead you to a specific area, because He has a plan for you in that place.

For some of you it may even mean right now deciding that you need to make a move in the next three months or something like that.

For others it could mean simply looking around where you already live and seeing if there is some aspect of your community God wants you to be more intentional about. Have you met your neighbours? Have you had them around for a meal? What about that old lady that stays by herself – is it possible she has a room that needs painting or a lawn that could use a mow. Is there a family who could seriously use an anonymous envelope with some cash in it inviting them to go on a date night? Could it be getting involved in the local neighbourhood watch? Or writing a letter to the owners of the fife best gardens that make you happy and thanking them for the work and effort they put into them?

And a hundred other possibilities.

This is not something that is only for Christ followers so if you don’t believe in God i think it is still helpful and great if you are intentional in where you live, but for those who are it should really be a part of our DNA – living intentionally. Inviting God to direct and lead. Asking Him for inspiration. Loving our neighbours as we love ourselves.

I would love to hear from you in the comments section. Why do you live where you live? 

as a p.s. i guess the decision is made somewhat easier as wherever we live in Cape Town, we are likely to have some kind of a view of this beauty:

table[To read the story of Pete and Sarah Portal and some of why they chose to move into Manenberg, click here]

Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And everything you do,
Yeah, they were all yellow.

tbV and i have been home [back to South Africa after a three year journey in Americaland starting in Philadelphia and ending up in Oakland, outside San Francisco] for just over a week now.

after a really frustrating trip involving two and  half hours of fighting to try and get me on to the plane i had a ticket for, having to leave a box of paintings behind in SF, having the airline leave a bag of ours behind in Washington, losing movie capability for the last 8 hour flight after the refuel in Dakar…

and after a fairly frustrating week of disconnection in terms of trying to get phones and internet unlocked and set up and working [which we still largely haven’t, besides my dad’s old doesn’t-even-have-predictive-text-capacity Nokia which we have managed to get some air time on]…

we had the most excellent 5 year anniversary celebration at a place called Monkey Valley, which looks something like this:

but even more specifically, something like this [containing my very special someone]:

mv3

while there was both good and bad [and fun and difficult and crazy and amazing and ridiculous] about our time in Americaland, one interesting thing that stood out to me in both Philly and Oakland was the lack of stars… now i’m sure Americaland has stars [and i DEFINITELY got to see them in boatloadsfull on the houseboat trip i got to do on Lake Shasta] but i remember every time i came back to South Africa [which was twice during our stay] it was the biggest thing that stood out to me [besides the edible and tasty mayo, of course] – the fact that i could see a whole lot more stars than when i was over there.

i imagine it had something specific to do with the two places in Americaland we ended up staying, but it was one of the things that i remembered missing a lot when we were over there. and so it is so good to be back – and this weekend was ridiculous because we were high up on a hill and had a huge window next to our bed and so could lie in bed and see an amazing array of stars.

i have my own star constellation called ‘The Horse’ [because it looks like a horse, duh!] which a few of us discovered about 15 years ago on a youth camp [beyond ‘The Horse’ i seriously know Orion, the Southern Cross and on a good day can maybe point out the Big Dipper so not big on the constellations] and as we arrived back from our meal Friday night to the house we were staying in, i looked up and immediately saw it, and even better, the beautiful Val [tbV] looked up and spotted it straight away too.

just so good to be back. still not connected or plugged in or properly transported. and those things might take a while to get right. and missing a lot of people from Americaland for sure. but the stars are back. and so everything seems just a little bit more alright.

It’s true,
Look how they shine for you,
Look how they shine for you,
Look how they shine for,
Look how they shine for you,
Look how they shine for you,
Look how they shine.

Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And all the things that you do.

 

So assuming i got the right aircraft and these aren’t just for the first class toffs [so fine if anyone wants to bucketlist bump us up to a different class for fun] this is the selection of movies i have available for our first flight to Washington D.C. in which i can watch 2 to 3 movies if i work it right. What would you watch? Hoping to get enough votes so that i can compose a top 3 out of movies i have not seen yet so try and factor that in if you can… What would your top five be from this list… excuse the squinting – this is the best i could do… and GO!

watch4

 

Minus 200 points for even suggesting Anchorman 2 – STOPPIT!

UPDATE: So this was kind of a non-starter with the list NOT being the list of movies available on our first flight where we got a sum total of ZERO movies offered and no food and then on the big international flight i watched MILLION DOLLAR ARM [So Great!] and NOAH [What a load of bollockses] and half of Monuments Men [yawn!] before we landed in Dakar to refuel after which, for the longest section [8 hours] of our flight, tbV and myself and maybe two other people had no working tvs/movies at all so SAD FACE United/SAA – thumbs down… have been looking forward to the movie part of the transition for a while now and you let me down completely [and still have one of my bags, but that’s another post]

 

in that i’ve been a little hoarse…

my wife tbV [aka the beautiful Val] and myself have been living in Americaland and working with two different non-profits [The Simple Way and Common Change] for over three years now and are in the process of heading home.

to Africa [the continent]… and more specifically to South Africa.

and what i’ve been telling people of late to sum up the feeling is that i am really looking forward to being back home, but not so much to leaving.

the leaving part is almost completely people related [and maybe icing/frosting in a can cos come on South Africa!] and especially the church community at Re:Gen and some of the friendships we have made there as well as opportunities to preach and run youth and teach Improv classes [oh and also the field hockey with the Eagles – Caw! – i have really enjoyed that, although there will hopefully be hockey back home too].

but the whole leaving and transition thing has felt a LOTtle bit like a rollercoaster, and from two months ago already…

and when i say rollercoaster… i am not so much talking about this:

lame roller

 

as much as i mean this:

 

it has been a wild fast crazy ride which included among other things, speaking on a week long houseboat camp on Lake Shasta, a three day visit from my parentals, taking part in a Sikh field hockey tournament and a three week preaching stint at Re:Gen plus work, figuring out packing and trying to set up some things for back home [sorted: place to stay and phone, still needed: transportation, work for me]

so back to this blog and the hoarseness thereof [a word i played in Words with Friends last night although to be fair i just added a ‘T’ onto the ‘Hereof’ someone else had played… HEREOF? Yes, he is one of those…] it feels like for the longest time i have been sharing other peoples thoughts [on relationships and race-related things] as well as Pearls before Swine cartoon strips that i enjoy and i am REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO returning to the blog properly and writing some heart stuff and i imagine that will only really happen properly when i get home and have settled in a little bit [although i do have some exciting thoughts from other people to share in the meantime so that is good] but just wanted to send a shout out to all my readers and if anyone had noticed this trend and was hoping for some more me-thought it. is. on. the. way.

so hang in there and enjoy what delicacies i have in store for you over here in the meantime – but know that i have a post on ‘white privilege’ that is long overdue and probably [finally] some musings on our time at the Simply Way [that might get hot!] and in Americaland in general.

very much looking forward to this space sounding like my voice again. hope some of you are still around when it does. thankx for being patient.

 

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