Tag Archive: pearls before swine


It started out as an apology of sorts…

pull

So, as you may know if you are someone who follows this blog, this last week has been a little rugby-enduced fighty on the Facebook.

i had two people in particular who pointed out to me the problem [me] which seemed to somehow be linked to my having too much opinion on too many things on Facebook:

I’m troubled by the fact that you have an opinion about everyone and everything

Brett, you do seem to have a lot to say on Facebook.

So i was in two minds about what to post here. Part of me wanted to write something about why it’s okay that i have a lot of opinions about lots of things and a response of “You have an unfollow button at your disposal” [what they call a win-win] to those people…

Meanwhile i also had the idea of sending out a call to more people to have opinions on matters of importance [race, reconciliation, poverty…] so i wouldn’t have to have as many…

But then i kind of got distracted by a search for this Far Side cartoon strip which would have been far more appropriate for my train of thinking if it said “Stupid People” rather than “Jerks”

jerks

Because they really do abound on the internetwebs, and i do so often feel like i am also forced to respond in some way, almost as a means of civic duty to the world.

pbs

And then i stumbled upon this one which is ABSOLUTELY true to life for me that if such a society did in fact exist, that would by all means be one of the first questions asked:

stupid

And so i ended up not writing on any of those topics at all, but rather searching the house for a really large cardboard box:

pbs2

Mark Twain might have been on the right track…

smartpeoplecover

And as i looked back on the two comments from the people who decided i was too Facebook opinionated, i was pleasantly surprised to see that one of them [who i have since made peace with] wrote this absolutely amazing thing which i didn’t notice the first time around:

I think you could also be bit less ‘rude’

Which of course only made me think of this, my favourite Friends clip ever… i hope you “like” it.

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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]

No_bob

Many of you will know of No_bob, the world’s most famous stuffed dolphin. But you may not know the story.

In 2000 i flew to the UK to earn some money teaching [due to an unfortunate police clearance incident i only ended up doing five days of actual teaching which was a high-or-low-light of itself and mostly looked after old people or University professors, who were about equally competent] so that i could join Youth With A Mission in Holland and go and save the world, or something. Continue reading

As many of you know i am a big Pearls before Swine fan and own all the books and am constantly inviting [slash harrassing] PBS creator Stephan Pastis to include the world’s most famous stuffed dolphin in his strip.

Usually just for laughs, but every now and then, Pastis nails something on the so-serious-it-punches-you-in-the-gut side of things and so when he tackles a pet peeve of mine, you know it’s going to be good:

pearlsbeforephone

As much as i believe we need to UNLEARN and RELEARN a lot of the information, communication forms and habits in life, i have a strong feeling that living a good life is going to consist of a lot more of UNTECHNOLOGISING which is a huge challenge for parents [let’s be honest, a tv or tablet is an easy babysitting option for a few minutes slash hours] but also for the rest of us.

So much so that my wife and i came up with this challenge, which we have done twice, and have chosen to make a regular happening with meals at our home [be prepared!] and i would love to hear of more people giving it a try and reporting back on results.

It has inspired poetry from me like this one i wrote a few years ago called Celling Your Soul aka Sign on the dotted line

And from a Christ-followers perspective a piece on worship and cellphone use.

There is so much more to be said. i am a huge appreciator of technology and the internet and how it can connect us and give us space to engage with each other and rally support and share information, but there does need to be good usage of it and finding ways and spaces to creatively put down the gadget and switch off the machine are going to be life-to-the-full saving in the long run.

What are your thoughts when it comes to cellphone usage and community?

pearls phone 1

[For some less serious Pearls cartoon strips, click here]

This is a classic from Stephan Pastis and i am posting it in honour of all my Americanese friends over there [and some crazy South Africans and Americans over here] who will be completely glued to their television sets in a few hours time, for a few hours time…

On the one hand it is so much of completely true:

pearls before superbowl

And on the other hand, it’s going to be pretty much the same from my side [and others around the world] in just a few weeks time when MY South African Proteas cricket team [you know, the one i own] beats all the other countries in Australia/New Zealand and brings home the world cup…

So your chance today, but know that mine is coming. May the right team win.

[For more fun Pearls before Swine strips, head on over here]

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

accountability

I’m not sure how many people feel as strongly as i do about cellphones sometimes, although i sense ‘Pearls before Swine’ creator, Stephan Pastis, might have some idea.

pearlsphone1People driving while texting or speaking on their phones lately has really caused me an out of proportional rage reaction [or maybe not. maybe exactly the right amount of proportion. but it does tend to be the only time i swear loudly and aggressively, to myself, when i am alone in my car at least] especially cos i am still working on never doing the texting myself.

In movies as well. Man, if you open up your phone and it radiates laser beam light to the heavens while i am watching a film in the cinema, then i don’t have a lot of grace for you. And i had better not be holding something small, inconsequential to me and throwable.

i do enjoy the ability cellphones give us to contact someone in an emergency or to help us with directions or to send a quick message of ‘I’m going to be a little bit lateness’, but i think i would not be too distraught if they were somehow outlawed and we had to go back to only having phones in our homes. Yes, i’m going to be one of those generation of cranky old folks who mutter, ‘When i grew up we didn’t even have cellphones while walking three miles in the snow barefoot to pick up our milk.’ Or something.

However, i also really like the concept of taking something bad [like raiSINs] and finding a way to use it for good [throwing a bag of them in the trash. okay bad example]

HOW DOES ONE REDEEM A CELLPHONE?

phone

i think i have found one way.

One of the biggest failings in many areas of the church has been the lack of older people intentionally mentoring younger people.

This is something that also happens unknowingly in a lot of friendships. Not necessarily doing a bad thing. But missing out on the good thing one might have been able to do.

A few years ago, there was a friend of mine who was struggling with the temptation to cut herself. She shared this with me, that she had not actually done it yet, but that there were various times when the temptation became strong.

We came up with this simple but effective plan. Any time she felt the temptation, she would send me a text message and i would commit to praying for her. What i did on top of that was try to text her back immediately after every time she texted me. So whenever she was tempted she would send me a text. I would pray for her but i would also send her a message of encouragement, a helpful Bible verse, a simple message of ‘I’ve got your back. You have this.’

So simple really. I think that went on for something like 18 months to two years, and as far as i know, she never actually cut herself. Often simply the act of reaching for her phone and sending a message to someone she knew cared for her, was enough.

THIS IS SO RIDICULOUSLY EASY AND CHEAP AND HELPFUL. Why are more people not doing it?

Around the same time, i had another friend who was really struggling with watching porn and so we worked out the same deal. Any time he was tempted, he would send me a text and i would try and reply immediately. Same vibe. And i feel like that might have been during the time when i was struggling with it as well and so it was a mutual thing. At any time either of us were tempted, we could text the other person and know that someone was praying for us and going to love us enough to send us back a text of encouragement, scripture or strength-enducing friendship vibes. That was largely successful as well.

And today I have a similar deal going on with one of my mates. He has been struggling with drinking and asked me to help keep him accountable to the commitment he has made for the following month. So i try and Whatsapp him in the morning and the evening and every night before he goes to bed he sends me a thumbs up to let me know he made it through another day. He actually just texted me now to say that he would have caved [given in] without our simple arrangement.

phonerescue

As it would say in the book of Proverbs, were that book written in these times, ‘As rice to a waterlogged cellphone, is a friendly accountability text to a friend in need.’

Is there someone in your life who could use this service?

Or is there maybe an issue that you are struggling with at the moment, that setting up some kind of accountatextability could be the most helpful thing for? Who is someone you trust who you think would love to be invited into this kind of deal with you?

All you need to do is ask.

Send that text!

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