Tag Archive: tbv


i have just started reading a book called ‘With Justice for All’ by John Perkins, who was very much involved in the American Civil Rights movement and who i got to listen to at a CCDA conference when we were in Americaland.

justice

This first passage, although speaking about his country, resonated with much of what we see, feel and experience in South Africa. His definition of poverty is one i wish all of those who still struggle with the idea of ‘white privilege’ could hear and really reflect upon:

‘”We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” With these words the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America holds out the noble promise of justice for all. Yet the very signing of this landmark of human freedom betrayed its own promise. For among its signers stood men who at that very moment owned other men. Justice for all didn’t really mean justice for all; it meant justice for some. The “inalienable” right of liberty belonged only to the privileged.

To this day our nation has not lived up to its goal of justice for all. Would anyone claim that a child trapped in the ghetto [for South Africa, read township – brett] has equal access to quality education as his suburban counterpart? Would anyone claim that the teenage girl in the ghetto has the same chance of getting a summer job as the girl from an affluent family? Or that the ethnic young adult, deprived of good education and job experience, has an equal chance of making it in the American job market?

Poverty, you see, is much more than lack of money: poverty is the lack of options. For millions in our land there is not justice. For them, “equal opportunity” is at best an elusive dream: at worst a cruel taunt. ‘

tbV still works for Common Change, which is an online platform that helps groups of friends to pool money together and then meet needs of people who they know and care about. i was working with them when i was in Americaland as well and one of the stories our boss, Darin, shared with us that was part of the founding of what became Common Change was the following:

When Darin was in Cuba, one day he was sitting with a friend on the sidewalk and they were trying to figure out a definition of poverty. His friend turned to him and said, “Imagine if your bank account was completely cleaned out, you lost your job and your house all in the same day. How long before you get your first meal? How long before you have a place to sleep? And how long before you have a new job?

Darin thought for a minute and then responded, “I would not miss a meal. I would have a place to sleep by tonight. And depending on the economy and the possibilities I would more than likely have a new job in a couple of weeks.” His friend looked at him and asked, “How did this happen?” Darin responded, “I called someone.”

They decided on one possible definition [which I think falls nicely alongside John Perkins’ one] of Poverty as being: When you have no-one to call. The idea of economic and social isolation. 

Both of those probably help us have a better grasp of the limitation of poverty. But what about the responsibility for those of us who are not there? This second passage from John’s book helps me with that, especially as a follower of Jesus. In this passage, John is speaking about a community he moved to that had some strong racial issues:

Medenhall was overrun with the very kinds of needs the church was so strategically positioned to meet. The people had become resigned to their plight: the church could inspire hope. The promising young people were leaving the community while only the unmotivated were staying: the church was in a position to train young leaders. The public schools were struggling to provide an adequate education: the church could create a tutoring program or a pre-school. About the only recreational facilities for youth in Medenhall were the honky-tonks: the church could plan wholesome youth activities.

That was just the beginning. Our people desperately needed better nutrition, housing, child care, employment, and more. Creative, visionary leadership from the church could mobilise the people to tackle each of these problems head on.

To bring true freedom though, church leaders would not only have to be strong and creative, they would also have to be true to the gospel. They would have to stand not for some form of reactionary separatism but for reconciliation with our white brothers and sisters. Howard Snyder is right on target when he asserts:

‘Reconciliation with God must be demonstrated by genuine reconciliation within the Christian community and by a continuing ministry of reconciliation in the world. This means that in each local Christian assembly reconciliation must be more than a theory and more than an invisible spiritual transaction. Reconciliation must be real and visible. Racial and economic exploitation and all forms of elitism… must be challenged biblically. Unholy divisions in the body of Christ must be seen as sin and worldliness (1 Cor. 3.3-4)’

A local church fellowship living out a gospel which burns through racial barriers could bring freedom to blacks and whites alike. With the Spirit’s power and the wholehearted cooperation of the people, our faith could make Mendenhall a different place.’

Nelson Mandela poverty quote

Perhaps the biggest problem with poverty is that it doesn’t affect me. And so it’s not my problem. It’s easy enough for me to look the other way. To pretend i don’t see the man at the traffic light. To choose not to drive past the shacks. To hide behind my walls and my security and indulge in whatever aspect of the-wealth-i-refuse-to-name-as-wealth is my particular comfort and luxury. If i can do it with other people, all the better because surely if it’s not a pressing issue for them it’s not an issue for me.

Unless overcoming poverty is not a task of charity [a bonus act] but a an act of justice [a necessary task]. Unless it is not natural and was actually perpetrated on certain people and not on others. Unless it can be eradicated by the actions of human beings. Perhaps in that case i am part of the generation that is being called to be great.

And so are you.

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Because Bloggers Play Tag

brett

Greetings Bloglings [Wait, we’re calling you that now, right?] and welcome to a very different post from normal, but i was tagged in a 21 question challenge by a new friend, Rashieda, whose challenge you can visit over here, and loving the opportunity to reveal deep and dark secrets about myself [as if!] i thought i would give it a go…

1. What is your current fashion obsession?

i don’t feel like i get very fashion obsessed, but my cool blue jersey from Majash’s wedding [see above] is what i have been wearing pretty much ALL THE TIME since the big day. i wasn’t after all allowed to keep the kilt.

2. What are you wearing today?

Today i m blogging at home alone and so i intentionally chose my Batman shirt because, Man Cave and all. i am currently wearing a raincoat cos it is mad, crazy, rain winding outside and i have to go and rescue our rubbish bin before someone adopts it for good [again! have lost two already] and so i’m ready for action. Grey pants, no shoes slash slipslops at the ready but generally happier in barefeet. And not the Majash wedding jersey [hypocrite!] cos i can’t remember where i put it [unless tbV snuck it out for the wash!]

3. Hair?

Yes. There is hair. It is a little crazy at the moment and up-sticky in general and only really has two good dry looks but one of them kinda makes me look like a German dictator so typically wet slightly and hand brushed forwards which makes me look a lot like my Erik [with a K] alter ego so don’t confuse me with him. Which reminds me i MUST find a video-taking program i can use so i can record Erik [with a K’s] outstanding poem! i should get it cut again soon probably.

4. Do you nap a lot?

Oh wow, so you missed the sound of me L’ing. That’s like LOL’ing except it wasn’t Out Loud, so just the L then. But no, i guess you could say i don’t nap a lot. Or sleep a lot. Or sleep much at all. i say this half-jokingly but i kinda believe it a little bit deep inside, but i believe that i have a God-given gift of no-sleep and many people who know me will testify to that cos i really don’t seem to need as much sleep as the next person. “But it will catch up to you.” Maybe it will, but 20 years later i am still waiting. The other theory is that in matric [grade 12] my parents did make me go to bed at 8 o’ clock and so perhaps it is all just stored up no-sleep since those days. But i am confident that i could pull a two week stretch of two hours a night and still be on full power for whatever needed to be done during the day. However, since getting married 6 years ago i did make a decision to go to bed when tbV [the beautiful Val] goes to bed, for the most part anyways, and since then i have started waking up at 5am on average, so a few more hours than before. Although Winter has been severely testing that strategy.

5. Why is today special?

Every day is a new opportunity and as horribly greeting card as that sounds, i really believe it. No matter how much i screwed up yesterday, today is a day to get it right. Or more right. So much opportunity to encourage someone or try something new or share a joke or get creative or start building something or influence 1000 people or hear a new catchy song or make my wife smile or eat fudge. Today is special because it’s all we’ve got. Tomorrow just becomes a different today. Now THAT you can put on a greeting card.

6. What would you like to learn to do?

i would like to learn to speak Xhosa fluently. And i have just recently started on a plan to do just that. It feels criminal to me that i expect everyone else to learn my language while i am not prepared to learn theirs. This scares me so much cos i feel like it is so important and yet at 41 i am an old dog attempting to set out and learn a new trick. Flippin scary. But oh so necessary. Is anyone going to join me?

7. What’s for dinner today?

i will be starting the Shepherd’s Pie preparation and then tbV may finish it. She has a work call and i am going out to watch Antman with my buddy Reegs but in between those i believe Shepherd’s pie will happen, and it will be good.

8. What are you listening to right now?

Derek Webb’s album, ‘I was wrong, I’m sorry and I love you’ – have not listened to music for a while on my computer and started again yesterday. Have a lot of FREE stuff from Noisetrade which is a great place to discover new music. And Derek and i vibed a bit on the Twitterer a couple of years ago when we were in the States so i kinda feel like i kinda know him. But i dig his music and it’s been great firing it up again.

9. What is your favorite weather?

i LOVE when it rains and is stormy and cold, as long as i am inside. i am not a big fan of being cold or out in the rain and then it makes me sad to think that so many people are [which causes me to love it a little less] but if it was just about me then raging storms outside [especially Johannesburg Thunder and Lightning storms] with me inside close to tbV watching a movie and sipping a glass of wine.

10. What’s the last thing you bought?

Hm, probably not the last thing i bought but i brought back a Vinyl Bobblehead Hulk and a Vinyl Jack Sparrow from Americaland for my Man Cave office and they make me happy.

11. What are your essentials when traveling?

i have a newish tiny purple [favourite colour] notepad which has become my travelling companion even when i’m just heading out somewhere for a short while. i have been attempting to write Micropoetry and so having the book ready to jot down thoughts, words and ideas is helpful. If i’m going to do a talk then the world’s most famous stuffed dolphin, No_bob, typically accompanies me and we have a few of my recently published book, ‘i, church’ sitting in the car just in case. Oh and Tic Tacs [green and white] cos, you know.

12. What’s your style?

in a word, different. But not Different-for-The-Sake-Of-Being-Different although a lot of people would put it down to that. But it’s not. It’s very intentionally Brett-different. Within Brett-different i would imagine there are a lot of ideas and styles that have been grabbed and adapted and altered from other people and then encapsulated in my own fairly unique style. A combination of things that i enjoy but don’t necessarily feel [[to others] like they belong together but by putting them together sometimes you create that new dynamic. i love that. i would love to be able to answer ‘Edgy’ to this but i don’t think i’m there, but hopefully not ‘The Crowd’ either… somewhere betwixt those…

13. What is your most challenging goal right now?

Probably the Xhosa. i have located a course and just need to figure out with tbV what that looks like but i am super amped to get going and if i can get to a place where i can communicate semi-well [“fluently” earlier was definitely an over-reach] then that will make me happy. And trying to get everything together to renew my British passport [i’m bi-passportal] which i feel like i am finally on track to do.

Oh and actually getting decent manageable sufficient internet happening in this house that doesn’t cripple us, but that seems kinda like an impossibility at the moment. Urgh.

14. If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be?

Right here, right now. We are where we both want to be and we absolutely love our house. It would be great if we owned it rather than rented or had the assurance that we could stay here for the next three to five years, but in the absence of that, we are simply happy in this space and hoping to use it the best we can to serve the greater good.

15. Favorite vacation spot?

i struggle with this because my values and daily wrestles with questions of poverty and race and equality in this country mean that the idea of saving up a pile of money and going somewhere feels out of sync with a lot of that. Having had our recent Americaland trip paid for [in terms of my ticket] to go and speak at a camp made that an easier vacation. But if all things in the world were equal and it was simply a case of ‘Go anywhere for free’ then i would love to be at one of those islands where the huts are a little way out into the ocean or lake and the water is completely clear blue. i have no idea where those are. Bahamas?

Having said all that, my younger sister and family and a whole bunch of my best mates [including Dreadlock Mike] live in KZN so any chance i get to go there is snatched up, so that is probably my favourite realistic vacation spot.

16. Name the things you cannot live without?

A personal relationship with a Loving God who gives me purpose, vision and urgency in life. i really think that without Jesus in my life i’d be a selfish hedonistic git [i imagine a bunch of people already think i am so work to be done] and i love the life-to-the-fullness that i am inspired to which is connected to Him. That’s probably it, because everything else if you had to live without it, you would totally adjust and just make it happen, i guess. But there are certainly things you would choose not to live without.

My love and partner in crime [not real crime, metaphorical crime] Valerie aka tbV. Life is so complicated sometimes with us together but at the same time the pull towards living lives of significance i feel is so much equally fuelled by her, which is so great. Being connected to someone who refuses to settle for okay and watch injustice carry on unchallenged is life-giving and soul-massaging. Not to mention her laugh which is the most expensive one in town. She claims not to laugh at all my jokes just because she knows i can do better,and so when i get a laugh out of tbV it is well earned. That empowers me!

If  i started mention names of friends this would get silly cos there are so many important people in and around my life, some who are related and many who are not. But the community of people i get to do life with [both near and far] are one of the biggest boosts to me.

That’s about it although i do really dig my Marvin the Martian mug [which sadly just got a small chip in it] and my dirty yellow-and-white stuffed dolphin and my ‘I am Groot’ t-shirt which Dave HorseDawg gave me.

And the world would be a much sadder place without melted chocolate and mashed potato…

17. How was your childhood?

There were a ‘undred and fifty of us livin’ in a septic tank! Okay not quite but my childhood memories are well sparked off by the Monty Python Four Yorkshiremen skit…

i think it was pretty great. i remember a lot of fun mixed with some disappointment and challenges and life lessons but for the most part i think it was pretty decent. Kissing catchers and painting a church in Soweto during the height of apartheid and doing street ministry as a lightie on the streets of Hillbrow and Rhodes park excursions with plastic bags to catch tadpoles and climbing on walls and trees and roofs in the amazing church grounds we lived next to and accidentally shooting a friend with a bow and arrow in his leg? You can’t make that stuff up.

18. What would you like to have in your hands right now?

Some type of food. It’s way past lunchtime and i can’t remember having breakfast. Apparently a teaspoon of peanut butter doesn’t count. So i should get on to that.

19. What are you most excited for?

Ooh, so many things. Training on Wednesday for the writing job i am about to start, getting everything sorted and moving my blog over to an official website, the possibility of Race Conversation Workshops with my friend Megan once her life slows down, the hope of a bunch of Deep Dive Conversation Dinners happening in the next six or so weeks, Wed night speak about my book and church panel, watching Antman with my buddy Reegs tonight [love me some Paul Rudd] and a few other speaking opportunities coming my way soon, and of course learning Xhosa!

20. If you could go anywhere in the next hour, where would you go?

i would stay here. Too cold, windery and rainy outside.

21. Which countries have you visited?

Wow, i have been privileged. Malawi. Botswana. Namibia.The United Kingdom and the United States of Americaland. Canada. Malaysia. Holland. [drove through France and Belgium on a bus to get there]. United Arab Emirates [kinda, plane layover]. tbV and i would LOVE the chance to go visit South America…

Malaysia Towers

Malaysia Towers

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

i tag:

Original Dante, because although he is a busy man, he tagged me in the ‘Write Without Using the Letter E’ challenge and so it’s his turn, but also because he has become a recent friend and mentor in the art of Micropoetry and i think he has an absolute gift you should go and see at https://originaldante.wordpress.com/2015/07/19/the-weathers-intervention

My friend Candice Fourie because it has been way too long since she blogged and she writes in a way that invites the reader in to vulnerable spaces with power and honesty. Even if this is just for more people to discover this post where she bares her soul, it will be worth the journey: https://momentswithamom.wordpress.com

Also Miss Cass Lee who i am going to be working alongside soon, and her stunning looking blog with this heart-breaking and inspiring poem heading it up today. http://misscasslee.com/i-see-you-girl

i seem to have picked completely ridiculously busy people who most likely won’t have the time to respond to the challenge, but who i completely believe are worth checking out and following as they produce some amazing work and life…

Thank you for stopping by… If you had a 22nd question to ask me, what would it be?

So one of my new favourite virtual [for now] friends, Dante, whose incredible Micropoetry can be found over at Original Dante, challenged me to a duel [well kinda, cos he already pulled his trigger in his own fight] which i had already kinda done in someone’s comment section, but there is no verifiable proof, so i decided to take him up on it…

OD is the reason i got interested in, and brave enough to try, Micropoetry and even though i still suspect my Micropoems are not short enough, they are WAAAY shorter than my regular poems [and getting there] so hopefully there is hope [ha ha, yes that!]. so how could i resist? And he already has a way too ridiculously nice nickname for me which also helps me to believe…

Step Away From The ‘E’

And the Rules to this No-Letter-That-Precedes-F-Or-Follow-D challenge are these:

The rules:

  1. Write a whole paragraph.
  2. Without any word containing the letter “e”.
  3. By reading this you are already signed up.
  4. Challenge at least five bloggers to do the challenge.

You should totally jump across the virtualness of space and go and check out OD’s submission, which was flawless.

But in the m antim , h r  is min :

Staring at cracks on a part of my wall I had not paid much mind to until this occasion, I thought about how much intoxication it might bring to a tiny ant, struggling to carry a biscuit crumb across its cliff-like contours. What quantity of obstruction would it vanquish or would this straightforward [from my outlook] provocation snap its will in two? In an instant though, I was shown that my lack of faith in my microscopic companion was without foundation, as it [I could not confirm if this was a boy or girl at this point] took aim and simply slid down a portion of flaking paint that I had hardly known was an option. As I was busy watching all this, my mug of Chai had grown significantly cold.

i would love to see the following people give it a try, just because i know they will totally own the challenge:

Megan Furniss

Dave Luis

Catherine Jenkin

Nick Frost

Valerie Anderson aka tbV

And she is probably way too busy for this nonsense but i would love to read the piece Jamie The Very Worst Missionary comes up with, and since she missed my book launch recently, i’m sure that this would be about fair, right?

Apologies If you’ve already been nominated before, otherwise If you haven’t, I hope you accept. Looking forward to reading your posts!

My lovely wife Val was of course the hostess for Friday's dinner and deep dive into Race, Boundary and Location conversation that i wrote about over here, and she shares some of her thoughts from the evening:

booklaunchvovotelohotwoman
The idea is simple: gather good people around good food and good discussion and see what happens. So we did. We turned off technology and tuned in to people. It was messy and it was chaotic, it was painful and it was personal and it was powerful. It was raw and it was redemptive. Some of us ate spaghetti with a spoon cos we ran out of cutlery. We sat on the floor and on stools and really close to each other – three people thigh to thigh on a chair made for two. We talked and told stories, argued and challenged, wrestled and sat in silence – the good kind and the uncomfortable kind. We left with heads and hearts aching, but full.

Here’s some of what I learnt:

1. White privilege is less about access to “stuff” and more about access to choices or, in Sen’s theorizing, capabilities – the real opportunities of being and doing available to attain well-being. Here’s an example: consider a priest who is fasting and a man in a famine-stricken country who is starving. The key element in determining a person’s well-being here is not whether both are experiencing hunger, but whether the person has access to food and is choosing not to eat. The functioning is starving but the capability to obtain an adequate amount of food is the key element in evaluating well-being between these two individuals. Having a lifestyle is not the same as choosing it; well-being depends on how that lifestyle came to be.

Here’s another example. Consider a bike as a commodity which enables the functioning of mobility. Personal, social and environmental conversion factors impact an individual’s ability to convert the commodity (the bike) into functioning (getting from A to B).  If a person is physically disabled, never learnt to ride a bike, if women are not allowed to ride bikes, or if there are no roads, then a person’s capacity to convert the potential of the bike into movement is limited. It’s not enough to give someone a bike if they don’t have the ability, the capacity, the enabling conditions to ride it in a way that moves them forward (or if they don’t have access to a pump, if they cannot take the bike out without being physically threatened by a mugging, etc)

2. In a post-industrial/post-agricultural world, we believe that we too are living in the Information Age, where the primary means of production is Knowledge and the accumulation of knowledge (i.e. education) is the means by which individuals access livelihood, opportunity, resource, jobs etc. I simply don’t believe this is true in South Africa. I wonder if perhaps we are actually in the Age of Connection. Knowledge might be power, but it’s less about what you know and more about who you know. The primary means of production might be Social Capital – the contacts and connections which enable us to network, navigate and negotiate the economic landscape. Perhaps education is the capability, but the functioning is all about social capital – it’s the people we know, the professional contacts, the personal networks that enable us to actualize opportunity. White privilege is at its core all about social capital.

3. While I can sympathize with the pain and anger of black friends, I don’t think I can actually empathize. I can show compassion for, seek to understand, commiserate with, experience anger on behalf of but I can never really experience “from within another’s frame of reference”. As one of our guests so rightly pointed out “We do not and cannot experience EQUAL frustration. You had a choice.”

4. I need to shut up more. Perhaps one of our greatest failings as white people in South Africa is our inability to sit in silence. When we listen to the voices of our black brothers/sisters expressing pain, anger, frustration, or simply sharing their experience, we want to immediately question, clarify, push-back, argue, dissect, debate, wrestle, show the other side, point out the discrepancies or inconsistencies, locate within the “larger picture”, propose solutions, and find “action steps”. We don’t know how to sit – just SIT – with a rage that fills a room, sucks all the air from it, and leaves our friends shaking. We have ears but do not hear, and eyes but do not see.

5. Reconciliation is not the path towards Justice but rather Justice is the path towards Reconciliation. Until and unless Justice has been enacted we can not experience right relationship. (Thanks, Nkosi!)

[To read more reflections from the other guests, click here]

[For more from tbV, like this piece explaining her tattoo, click here]

Every now and then i will post a status on Facebook or the Twitterer that starts with the words ‘Sometimes love looks like…’

Which will then go on to mention something [large or small] that my wife, tbV [the beautiful Val, yes folks the ‘b’ does not stand for ‘lovely’!] has done for me as a way of celebrating her more publicly.

The latest one looked a little something like this:

Sometimes love is walking into your bedroom two hours before you go watch the new Avengers movie with your wife and friend and finding a Hulk and Black Widow suit layed out on the bed ready to go…

Because largely of this:

HulkAndBlackWidow

Black Widow and the Hulk

The best part of it for me was that she thought it up spontaneously on the day at work and then went to find a place she could hire marvel suits from. And when i walked into our bedroom two hours before the film, both costumes were laid out on the bed without a word being said.

We don’t typically dress up as Marvel superheroes and go out in public. But this ended up being a hugely fun night with our buddy Regan and we made a whole lot of peoples’ days at Blue Route Mall [and in the car on the way there] including the two [grown-up] people who asked to have their photo taken with me [possibly not so much the Kauai lady who refused to come out of the back initially].

A couple of points from this:

# We need stories – fun, crazy, inspirational, risky, weird, touching – every now and then just step out of the ordinary and create a story that you can hold on to for the rest of your lives – one that you do with someone you really love or even a group of people as it becomes your story…

# Take time to celebrate the people in your life. No-one wants to hear gushy ‘my wife is the best wife in the world’ statements all over your social media every day, but just every now and then highlight a person you care about – your person, a good friend, family member – with a public one liner every now and then you can really make someone’s day. Or moment. Or hour.

# People are always watching [especially if your face is pastelled green and you are wearing a Hulk suit] – that argument you are having on someone else’s wall on Facebook, that blog comment you are pouring your heart into, that piece of paper you are casually tossing out of your car window, the way you look at and speak to the beggar lying in the street… there is almost always an audience and you will often not know who they are – which is why we are called to live well because we are constantly mentoring or discipling people by our attitudes, our words, and our actions, even though we didn’t particularly choose to.

Often i will be engaging with someone on Facebook or in the comments section of my blog and it seems obvious to everyone that this person’s mind is not going to change and people are urging me to stop engaging because it’s a waste of time. And largely i agree. But my response is always that my engagement is not primarily about them – there are always more people watching and not commenting who will hopefully [on a good day] see my attitude and way of dealing with the person or else be taking in the words of the argument and be chewing on those – it is seldom about the actual person in a situation where you can see they are not likely to change – so i still give them the opportunity to change, but more often than not it’s because i know people are watching. This might be something helpful to them.

# And lastly there is that well-known saying – ‘Always be yourself, unless you can be the Hulk, and then be the Hulk.’ 

What story are you going to be a part of this week? And who are you going to celebrate out loud?

So i was nominated for this Spread Love Challenge by TheFabLetters which is this super interesting blog i stumbled on a short while ago where two women write letters to each other which become the premise of the blog posts. Some really good stuff there.

The Rules:

Write ten four word sentences about what love means to you.
Share your favorite quote on love.
Nominate ten other bloggers for the same.

Now normally i wouldn’t be down for this type of thing, but the opportunity of misdirecting with a classic Jack Handey quote:

loveAnd then writing some stuff on love and highlighting some bloggers i think you should check out [altho doubt i will come close to ten] makes it feel worthwhile…

TEN FOUR WORDS SENTENCES ON WHAT LOVE MEANS TO ME

Let’s be honest, that concept was clearly drawn up by someone in the bath reading a romance novel – can anyone come up with ten four word sentences that do love any justice at all?

i tried…

Love is messy. [Too few]

Love is a messy. [Too clunky]

Love requires work. [Too few]

Love is incredible. [Too few]

Love is really incredible. [Feels like the word ‘really’ got thrown in there just for word limit]

and so on…

The point being that you can’t adequately sum up love into sentences of four words or less. In this microwavic instant gratification culture and society most of us live in today, it is easy to be fooled by the idea that everything can be squeezed into 140 character or less Twitterial moments, but the truth is they can’t. Not adequately anyway. Which is the second time i have used the word ‘adequately’ in this paragraph, making it now three times too many…

Relationships cannot be jammed into tweets or even blog posts. They can’t be summed up in a song or even fully contained in a book. We can give hints and whiffs and ideas and metaphors and the audience can feel like they ‘get it’ but they never really do. Love has to be experienced and lived out and figured out and patched up and chased after and clung to and only those love-ing will ever really truly ‘get it’. Get it?

So we can make four words bumper stickers on the ‘Love is…’ theme but they will be completely and ridiculously inadequate.

‘Love is messy’, comes close but behind those three words lie ten thousand more. Experiences and moments and glances and sorrys and frustrations and make-ups and silences and ballads and bad movies and walks on the beach and sunsets and great meals and hard decisions and money issues and commitments and single tears and out of control laughter and… did i reach my word limit yet?

Jack Handey has it close enough. Love is liking someone a lot and choosing to do life with them in all its beautiful, painful and messy ways and not letting any of those categories be too much to continue on with the commitment you have made. Whether we are talking marriage or friendship or family. Love is saying, ‘i will see you again tomorrow.’

And so much more. [Ooh, ooh, four words]

There are a bunch of bloggers who i appreciate but the big ones like Sarah Bessey, Nate Pyle and Jamie the Very Worst Missionary are way too big and important to use their valuable time compiling Spread Love Challenge challenges…

But some lesser known types who i enjoy and would love to see tackle this [in a legitimate way, not in the cheatery way i did] are Bek Curtis whose blog Perfectly Flawed says it like it is… Lily Ellyn who, when she is not pushing out articles on Relevant magazine, has an eclectic collection of different thoughts and words called Such Small Hands… and of course my beautiful wife Val, aka tbV, who i would just love to see blog on anything as she is ridiculously talented, as you can see in On Afternoons and Coffeespoons, but rarely makes the time to do so… [there’s something worth starting a petition about] and also Candice Fourie and her most excellent Moments with a Mom is another one who writes powerfully but too infrequently…

i will finish this off with one of my favourite quotes about love in the guise of being a quote about being real and it is from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams:

real

[For a post titled ‘You Will Be Known by the Love’ click here]

[For a piece looking at Ten creative Ways to Love, click here]

Well, today is book launch day.

realbooks

This has been a long time coming. And then suddenly over the last few months and then especially the last four weeks, someone cranked up the speed and there was a loud WHOOSH and now it is here.

And tonite i will get to celebrate with largely friends and family [and perhaps some new friends i haven’t met yet]

Today is not really the moment-of-truth day – people who love you will buy and read your book. That’s the easy part. It’s getting people who don’t know you and love you to decide that they want to read your book that is the real challenge.

But tonight is largely about celebrating, and it feels in some way like the build up to a wedding – far too many people i want to get to hang with [Dreadlock Mike is coming! All the way from Durban! Super stoked!] all in a room for far too short a time and probably just enough time for a lot of hugs. And some reflection and sharing and introducing my ‘baby’ to the room.

In a room full of legends tonight, four people stand out for special mention in terms of helping get this ‘baby’ happening:

Kirsten Sims: My old friend, who is not actually old, jumped in during one of the most busiest thesis-finishing degree-completing times of her life to produce this more than incredible book cover which people are in love with and which really just adds some heart and soul and simplicity [which is what the book is all about] to ‘i, church’ – i cannot thank her enough but you can take a look at her site and some more of her incredible artwork and show all your friends: http://kirstensims.blogspot.com

Linda Martindale: An older friend in terms of how long i have known her, Linda was one of the two women [Heather Bailey in the UK who i know would be here if she could] who said to me, “Let’s do this thing!” and actually meant it. Linda is one of the most passionate and authentic people i know, with a huge heart for reconciliation and kingdom and without her jumping in i don’t know how this whole process would have gotten started. She has edited me for many years for Closer to God publications and did a final read through and helped catch a lot of stuff as we got closer to B day.

Susan Minne [nee Anderson]: It is such a bonus for me to have my older secret sister [as in most of my friends in Cape Town knew my younger sister Dawn growing up, but Sue left early and was often a cause for “Oh, i didn’t know you had an older sister” when i mentioned her] at the book launch during her short visit from Texas where she and her family live. Sue jumped in at close to the last minute, when a proofreader pulled out, to help with the final edit and proofread and after a speed course in ‘Understanding Fishwrite’ where she learnt the difference between intentional and unintentional mauling of the English language, she dived in and worked some hard and quick hours to make the book you are going to read a lot better and tighter than the one i gave her.

Finally, and by no means leastly, tbV, the beautiful Val, my wife and life companion who was insistent on creating space for me both before we left for Americaland and since coming back to get this thing finished and out there. She has also largely been the driving force for how tonight is going to look and feel and i am very excited to see and experience all of that. i love that i have a wife that thinks about things eeply, that wrestles with the kind of easy answers that are often spewed out and who is up to fighting for things that are real and count and will make a difference. i am proud that she will be standing alongside me tonite.

There are definitely many more legends who will be in the room tonite, but these are four that deserved special mention. It seriously does take a village to raise a book and from people who gave me quotes about church, to people who journeyed with me through different expressions and understandings of church, to the many people who volunteered to read and comment on early drafts of ‘i, church’ and everyone who is helping out with today, Saturday and Tuesday [and any book launches that may follow] i am so very grateful.

Thank you for allowing this to happen. My prayer is that the words of this book will make a difference. Will cause people to think more deeply and challenge inherited understandings and practices, and more than anything to chase after being the kind of church that God calls us to be. Which is a body of people who are used in transforming the world through lived out love.

Let the games begin…

valbook

[For more information about the various book launches that we have going in the next few days, click here]

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