Category: life


PearlsbeforeKilling

As you all know by now, Pearls Before Swine is my favourite comic strip and if you ever have some time to enrich, you can take a look at a whole bunch of the cartoons i have shared over here. And usually he is just random or clever or biting cynically silly fun, but every now and then he draws a strip which makes you stop and go, “Wo!” and maybe even think for a minute.

i had saved this first strip to comment on some time and then he came up with the second one and i thought they worked quite well together so here they are. Appreciate them. Stop for a second and go, “Wo!” But also take a moment to think about your relationship to meat/killing. Because it is probably something that, unless you’re a vegetarian or more, is something you don’t think all that much about.

i have thought about it a lot more over the last couple of years and think our Americaland experience and some of the people we came into contact there definitely impacted my thinking in a number of ways. But here are three that come to mind:

[1] When it comes to people i am pro life, but perhaps not in the traditional way that that phrase is used. i believe that if you’re pro life you have to be pro all of life, so from babies that are still being formed to old people, from those suffering from disease to those who are going to be born with some kind of disability we have to be pro it all.

i do realise this is a tricky, sticky and potentially controversial opinion to hold. And that sometimes there might be an individual case by case scenario where some tough decisions need to be made. There might be a situation where a doctor has to choose between saving the mother and saving the unborn baby and i think probably the doctor in that scenario is going to be the best person to make that decision after consultation with the husband/father. While i disagree with the terminology [at the very least] of ‘assisted death’ i do think there are situations where we perhaps artificially help people ‘to live’ where it is not really living at all and so i do think we probably could rethink some of our artificial life preserving methods and be okay with allowing people to die when it’s their time to do so, although again i imagine these are really difficult decisions and should be taken situation by situation.

But we should hold life preciously, and the idea that someone would consider killing a child [because that is what it is!] because tests show it might be born blind or disabled or down syndrome actually sickens me. i cannot get my mind around that.

i absolutely believe the death penalty is wrong and don’t understand how so many christians are okay with their thinking that it is right. To kill someone to prove to people that killing is wrong just seems like the most ridiculous thing ever. Much more needs to be said about this.

[2] i came home from our time in Americaland with a greater appreciation of life. Now i have no doubt that i have vegetarian and vegan friends and possibly others who think i am way too far away from where i need to be. But i am definitely better than i was and i really like the change in myself. i have no idea what specifically caused it and again it might be simply from being around a lot more people who thought and lived a certain way.

The way i have seen it manifest is particularly with insects or bugs. Not that i think i would have gone out of my way to kill them before we went to Americaland. But i now have a mindset that says, ‘If i can avoid killing a bug or insect, then i will do that.’ i realised the extent of the change in me the other day when i carefully [this is going to blow too many peoples’ minds] removed a cockroach from my house and set it outside in the road as opposed to killing it. Before i wouldn’t have thought twice about killing a spider and now i will do my best – if it needs to be moved – to get it on a piece of newspaper or in a bag or on my hand and move it to a safer place. i will avoid stepping on ants if i see them – again, a really small mindset shift and a massive one as well.

Mosquitoes? Sorry, the change has not extended there. So maybe there is still some work to do. Or maybe that’s just ok.

The change can probably best be described as don’t go out of your way to hurt or kill a living creature. And if you are able to save/protect/rescue one then go for it. In some situations i probably will still kill ants and cockroaches and possibly even spiders, but i am now leaning more strongly towards avoiding it if possible. So that might not seem particularly significant to anyone, but it feels good to me. Small steps.

[3] Bacon. i imagine this one will seem silly to people on all sides of the spectrum, but i’m okay with that. i enjoy bacon as much as the next person and yet somehow i have gotten this reputation of being the number 1 bacon appreciator of the world. i am aware to some extent how i have helped create this impression and so it’s not completely surprising, but i don’t think it’s true. i mean i really do like bacon, just not THAT much. And one way it has been propogated is that any time anyone sees a t-shirt or a meme or a bacon-salad picture they immediately think of me and post it on my Facebook wall and so it helps build up the picture.

But it’s not particularly true. To be absolutely honest i think i could never eat another piece of bacon again for the rest of my life and be totally okay with that. i wouldn’t particularly choose to, cos like i said i do enjoy it. But it doesn’t feel like a need for me.

The weird point i wanted to make about bacon though is this. i’m not sure when or where it started and don’t even know why. And i don’t particularly do it with any other kind of meat although i do try to be grateful and appreciate all the food we have an eat. But particularly with bacon i started in the last couple of years, taking a moment to stop and be grateful and in a sense thank the pig. To some this will be ridiculous, to others maybe hypocritical and maybe it’s just me cashing in my senility chips earlier or something. But i think it might in some ways be linked to tradition of first nation people of celebrating the life of the animal they kill before they eat it. A real sense of gratitude and appreciation. A moment of stopping to give thanks and thank the pig for its sacrifice that was made, giving me an opportunity to eat. Maybe this means absolutely nothing and makes no difference at all, but for me it is an extra moment of gratitude and appreciation and i think that’s a good step in the right direction.

i imagine most meat eaters don’t take any time whatsoever to think much about their eating of meat. Perhaps if we did there would be more vegetarians among us. So maybe take a moment to think about your meat-eating-ness or not. If you’re happy with it, then by all means keep on. But maybe even within that we can find better ways to do it…

pearlsbeforekill

[For a range of other Pearls before Swine strips, click here]

i have lived [and continue to live] a full life…

The other day i posted about how my wife organised Black Widow and Hulk costumes so that we could watch the new Avengers: Age of Ultron movie dressed up.

i also returned home from my trip to Durban to find that she had discovered an old stack of photos from my life with some really crazy hairstyles and some crazier life moments documented right there before her eyes. Continue reading

easter

When Jesus walked the earth, He called many people to follow Him. And the crowds showed up.

He spoke Truth and Life. He reached out to those at the margins, which in His day included women and children, Samaritans [the foreigner], the diseased and more… He performed miracles… He saved lives people were wanting to kill and He even raised some people from the dead. And the crowds cheered and pushed to get closer to hear His words and touch Him to receive some of that power.

He said, “I have come to show you how it is possible to live a God-following life in its entirety in a way that loves God, loves people and takes care of the earth we live on.” The crowd nodded.

Jesus said, “Follow Me, do what I do, and you will know life to the absolute fullest.” The crowd chanted their approval, waving palm branches and singing songs of worship to the One they had chosen to follow.

Then He died…

[and the crowd silently snuck off into the shadows]

LET HIM WHO IS WITHOUT DOUBT… NOT REALLY REQUIRE FAITH AT ALL…

Today we celebrate one of the biggest days of doubt. Jesus hanging on a cross. This wasn’t how it was meant to be. We were expecting Him to overthrow the Roman government and begin His new kingdom of life and love and peace. And yet for the most part, people looks defeated and watched as His blood and life slowly dripped away…

On the biggest day of doubt, it seemed as if the enemy had won and even Jesus Himself seemed to agree as He gasped out those words, “It. Is. Finished.”

He had also said, “Destroy the temple and in three days I will rebuild it.”

And something about “Your body is the temple of God.”

And on the third day, Easter Sunday to come, we will witness the big miracle, the victory over death and the hope of a better life to come.

Better life for all.

But today, as we look on the cross, we can be okay with our doubt.

James 1 is a hard one for the doubters among us:

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Although one wonders [and hopes] if the bit about “When you ask” is relevant in that piece.

After all, why would anyone need faith, if there was no doubt?

Faith surely indicates the presence of doubt, of questioning, of wrestling, of wondering if we have believed in the right one…

Otherwise it surely would not be needed, right? Then it would simply be belief…

Because Hebrews 1:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

Confidence and assurance. But also ‘what we hope for’ and ‘what we do not see’.

Do i believe in the Jesus story? Absolutely. With everything in me.

Do i have doubt? In the face of all the critics and the church’s chequered history and some of the messed-up-ness in the world and feeling far away from God experientially? Absolutely. A lot.

But i am comforted by Jesus’ interaction with this father who had a demon-possessed son that Jesus was about to set free.

21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

And while Friday is the day to look on the cross and see the hopes and dreams and ideas of what the world could like fading away into nothingness and despair and question and chaos and brokenness and pain…

Sunday is coming…

eastersunday

Interrupt the Rot

NY

It is 2 days to go til 2015.

In some ways, most ways actually, nothing really changes when the clock hand ticks off that final second. As a South African, i can be assured that Australians, New Zealanders and more have been experiencing 2015 for hours, and that it will be another ten hours after i do before my friends in Oakland, where we lived for more than half of this year, will be arriving at their own 2015.

It’s just another day.

But also it’s not.

Mentally, emotionally, maybe even spiritually, there is a whole lot more going on and it is a great opportunity to seize, like the wriggly diem that it is, with both hands and make the absolute most of it.

i call it a life stock take and the end of a year, beginning of a year, is a great time to do it, because in our minds something changes.

It is the opportunity for a fresh start in many ways.

And i am not talking about New Year’s Lie-o-lutions. Altho in the past, i have called them Evolutions, and come up with some great posts on ideas of things you might want to change or put in place.

Don’t make ‘promises’, make plans.

If you’re married, this can be a great activity to do with your person as they can help keep you accountable. And if you’re not, you may want to suggest a good friend joins you and you do this together.

Set an hour or two aside in the next day or so. Look at some different aspects of your life [can use a different page for each one] – good habits you would like to keep up or strengthen, bad habits you would like to remove, how you spend your time, how you spend your money, who are the voices you invite to speak into your life, who are you mentoring, how is your eating or your exercise, your sport or your play, any addictions that need some attention [from smoking or drinking or gambling to things like World of Warcraft, Golf or sport-watching, how is your relationship with God, are you reading books written by people of a different race or culture or perspective than your own, who do you need to forgive or ask forgiveness from.

And probably 100 more. Those are just some ideas to get you going.

The point is to stop for a bit. To interrupt the norm. To create the space to catch things you don’t want to be part of your day to day. To create the foundation for 2015 to be a most excellent year.

i would LOVE to hear how it goes…

‘It is often said that before you die your life passes before your eyes. It is in fact true. It’s called living.’ [Terry Pratchett]

At least be kind.

chr

Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la, la la, screw you!

Something like that, right?

Or maybe more appropriately, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…’

Yesterday i commented on the Book of Faces how amazing it was to be reading through my newsfeed and just reading positive, grateful-sounding stuff. Heck, even a death message to mourn Joe Cocker was made to sound appreciative.

But then i also happened to be two-day-before Christmas shopping…

Pulled into a four-car-park full waterfront to go and pick up something that was only in the one store there [having been at another one all across town] and drove into this enclosed parking lot and decided to just wait in one spot until someone came. Managed to find a parking spot after not too long a wait, although also saw a big guy standing in another parking lot “booking” it for someone else? Rough translation – “I am better than you and deserve special treatment and to jump the line of people wanting to park.” i probably shouldn’t have shouted “Just drive him over” to the guy who got to the parking before his person did…

park

Then as i was leaving the parking lot i was behind another car who i assumed was also leaving as we were heading straight for the boom – a parking space opened up on the right of us and there was a car clearly waiting to go in and suddenly without warning or indication, as the car moved out of the space, this car in front of me just did a smooth little “Voop” [there is not other way to explain it, it was a Voop!] and the car that had been indicating was all like “WHAAT?” i left before i saw the conclusion of the girl from that car’s, ‘Uh excuse me but that was our space.”

But that’s it, right? All friendly and cheery and Christmassy until that moment we’re both reaching for the last bottle of [insert product sold in bottles] or you have three parents bearing down on that last Mauritius Barbie or Guardians of the Galaxy figurine, then it’s every WWE wrestler for themselves.

Maybe it’s just the leave-it-til-the-last-minute late people. Maybe the really nice ones shop early and are hiding out in their homes somewhere sipping on egg nog [i have no real idea what egg nog is, except that it likely contains some amount of egg, but the name has always scared me enough to largely keep my distance] being glad they are not a part of Christmas Max: Thunderdome or something.

But it’s not too late.

We have today, we have tomorrow. Presents still need to be bought. Last minute menu items to be acquired. Someone will have forgotten the [insert forgotten product] and someone else will be heading out for a few more bottles of [you know how this works – bottly thing].

You WILL find a parking space. You will get the thing you need. Or you won’t, but you’ll be fine.

Take a breath. Remember this is a great time to demonstrate loving your fellow man, woman, child and really slow old person driver. [As is every other day of the year to the exact same amount, funnily enough]

For a minute, imagine that other person is another version of you.

A slower, ruder, idiotic driver, pushy in, more aggressive version perhaps, but still…

And at least be kind.

kind

christmas

hey Brett “Fish” [well, this is a little awkward, cos that’s me, why are you writing to yourself weirdo?]

as the end of the year approaches at pace, i thort i’d i’d just drop in [okay, you’re being weird again, you do know this is still you writing, right?] and share some quick thoughts [wait, quick? okay, maybe this isn’t you] and comments so you can end 2014 well.

[1] Don’t stuff your face. 

i know you get excited when you see favourite food types that you don’t normally have and somehow internally feel like you have to eat as much of everything as you can because you may never ever see that food again, but STOPPIT, remember the vow of never gourging yourself ever again [and how often you’ve broken it] – rather slow down and just get a taste of everything and go for appreciation and celebration over preparing yourself for the winter hibernation  [you are not a bear, my friend.] Also, post-Christmas meal bloatedness is not attractive to you or anyone else and it feels horrible, so really, just slow down and go for quality over quantity.

stuffing

 

[2] Don’t hate outwardly on the carols.

We get it, you don’t like Christmas carols [okay so now we’re talking to onesself in the royal we? you’re kinda starting to scare me now] but it’s okay that other people do. So keep your unappreciativeness on the inside so that those who do enjoy them don’t have to feel bad for playing them when they do. There will be an end to the madness. After December 25th i think it’s only fair that they are banned til next year August again.

grinch

 

[3] Christmas on strangers.

Let’s be honest, most of the people you know and love have more than enough stuff and the ability to get more of what they don’t have or want, so don’t let them be your focus [and maybe you can do a little better in 2015 to have some more people in your life who don’t, yeah?] but look out for the opportunities to encourage, spoil and treat those who might be less well off. Good job on finally buying a copy of the Big Issue you’ve been threatening to for months, but now let’s see how you can get a little more lavish on car guards and petrol attendants and others who cross your path. And intentionally look out for a person or a family in and around your life who might just be needing a special boost. God and people have been so generous to you this past year and so really it is the least we can ask for you to be more of the same. Give intentionally.

petrol

 

[4] Stock Take 2014

This has been a bit of a crazy year of transition, which you are still in the middle of [i mean, that should be ‘we’ right? cos you’re still writing to yourself, which is still kinda creepy. JUST SAYING. Also notice how when anyone says, ‘Just saying’, they’re usually not? Ooh, that’s good, you should tweet that one.] and it has been crazy busy since returning from Americaland, so make some time [and do it with that Val girl, she’s pretty hot!] to sit down and look back and write some lists of people and things you are grateful for, of lessons you’ve learnt, of things you don’t want to repeat and maybe finish up with some goals and ideas for 2015. And you know she likes beaches and beautiful things so do it near a beach or a beautiful thing. [She won’t mind if cocktails are included].

reflect

 

[5] Date your wife. 

tbV has worked really hard, especially these last few weeks and so make the few days she gets off really special. You know what she likes [and it’s not sitting at home playing tower defence on your tablet, well she does like that but not as the thing, more as the thing after the thing] and so throw in a little bit of dating and spoilingment and help her finish the year much refreshed and feeling loved. She is a good one that lady.

val

 

[6] And finally, just get that flippin tattoo already. 

Quit whining about not having just the right design and flippin make a plan and get it done. You have birthday money saved up from almost a year ago and so you really just need to get on with it and do it now. Seriously. This is beyond sad.

Oh, but do try and avoid some of these:

pearls 2

i like to call myself ‘The Eternal Optimist’

This is particularly true when it comes to sport, and especially cricket. If it is still mathematically possible, i hold on hope to the very end, even if it looks really likely that we are going to lose. And then get genuinely surprised when we do.

i like to think i am the same with people to a large extent. i want to believe the best of a person. Which is why when someone hurts me or i hurt them, i tend to do whatever i can to make peace, often pursuing long after people think i should move on. And always leaving the door open, on the off chance that person wants to restore relationship.

i also like to think i am someone who doesn’t care what people thinks about me.

Although, having been married for five years to tbV, i know that is not true. The person who means the most to you’s opinion does tend to hold much weight.

And after a few years of having a blog, i have found that hurtful comments can and on occasion do have a deeply hurtful effect. Even when you know they are not true.

THERE IS A TIME TO ANSWER, AND A TIME TO REMAIN SILENT [AND WALK AWAY]

The last two days in particular, for some reason, unknown to me, knocked me a little bit. Part of it is the eternal optimism and the hope that people can and will change if they are just presented with reason [Although i am grateful for other people who jumped into the comment sections like Garth, Nkosi, Michael and Nicole who provided a calmer and more balanced voice of reason than mine] and also caring so deeply about the topic at hand – race and reconciliation, particularly in South Africa.

But these two guys managed to get to me a little, more for their comments and the attitudes that seemed to be prevailing behind them. And these are just two of their many comments that flooded the blog [some that i posted, some that i chose not to]:

”If they breed like flies, they should live like flies.’ [Jim, aka James Marais, who i believe is racist]

‘It is time that black people decided whether to return to the iron age, or to embrace the modern times and give thanks to the Europeans for advancing them out of history. I am tired of always having to work so hard to feed freeloaders who only seem to want to make babies they cannot feed. What if we all just stopped working and expected a handout? Everyone would starve.’ [Chris, aka Chris Thompson, who i believe is a racist]

Both of them are white and privileged and seem to be strongly focused on not having to give up any of their hard-earned money to black people, who in their opinion mostly sit around lazily, begging for money grants or expecting others to look after them, and of course making lots of babies.

They say, ‘Don’t cast your pearls before swine.’ But sometimes, especially when you are an eternal optimist, you only realise that your pearls have been cast before swine, when you see them crushed to fine powder beneath the feet of pigs.

i think one of the biggest reasons it has been a rough few days of ‘conversation’ is because it seems like these guys are talking about issues that they see or imagine. And i am talking about people. i keep thinking to myself, ‘If only these guys could come and have a meal with me and Nkosi and Fezile and a few other mates, then they’d realise what is really going on here.’ But i don’t know that they would. The words they use seem to indicate a deeply entrenched condition.

And so while i will always keep the door for conversation open, in the hope that those who would genuinely engage, despite how differently they may think from me, will take opportunities to share a meal and wrestle with important, significant and transformative things, i do believe there is also a healthy practice to be had in safeguarding the conversation a little bit more. And in not engaging beyond a certain point.

i think that feels like a wise place to head towards, in the same way that asking for this tattoo wasn’t.

stupid

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