Saturday, November 21, 2009

10 Common myths about suicide..


Many would say that we are entering the season of suicides. This popular perception however hides the deeper reality, which need to be faced head on if we want to make a change. Carolyn Friedman posted a highly relevant and lucid article on her blog, which can help us dealing with this epidemic. Her information comes from pshychological research and even though it is written from in a US, it has relevance for other communities, as well

You can read the whole article under the title, 10 Common Myths About Suicide, which says it all; this great article says even more.

Monday, November 16, 2009

LIBERATION THEOLOGY IS ALIVE AND WELL


Interesting post, today from the desk of the World Council of churches, written by Walter Altman. As I sat in on some oral examinations on 'Third World Theologies', it struck me how fascinated theology students are with the basic tennets of liberation theology. They've done well, so congrats to their teachers, but of course, the key question remain: is Liberation Theology still relevant today. In particular the writings of Nestor Paz, seems to have struck a cord of sorts, amongst these young people.

It is therefore significant that I recieved this little writing, today, by Brazilian, Walter Altman. He writes,

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, twenty years ago, many critics have been quick to sign liberation theology's death certificate. Most of them did so because they understood it to be an apology of bygone Soviet-style socialism. It seems, though, that this death certificate has been issued prematurely.

It is true that liberation theologians – some more than others – used Marxist categories for socioeconomic analysis and for a critique of capitalism's evils. However, the core of liberation theology has never been Marxism.

It is rather the compassionate identification with the poor and their struggle for justice, inspired by the life and teachings of Jesus himself, which is at its heart. Instead of on social analysis, which was seen as a methodological tool, from the outset liberation theology placed greater emphasis on the crucial role of God's people committed praxis – or, in other words, the Christian communities' action inspired by faith and informed by theological reflection.

Liberation theology is spiritually grounded on – and gets its motivation from – the life changing encounter with Christ as liberator and with our neighbours in need. Their suffering is not a result of fate but of systemic injustices and oppression, which can be overcome by transformative action.

If we look at our reality today, we are reminded that poverty has by no means been overcome in the world yet. On the contrary, the recent international financial crisis, produced by unrestrained capitalist forces governed by greed and private and corporate interests, has increased the number of the poor – or rather, the impoverished – in the world by hundreds of millions.

Liberation theology emerged in the late 1960s in Latin America. The ground had been prepared in the 1950s by Christian base community movements aiming for social, political and economic reforms in society, and for the active participation of laypeople in pastoral activities within the church.

Latin America being predominantly a "Catholic" continent, the new theological approach was widely linked with pastoral and theological developments within the Roman Catholic Church, although it was from the very beginning an ecumenical endeavour. The very term "liberation theology" was proposed almost simultaneously by the Roman Catholic priest Gustavo Gutiérrez, from Peru, and the Presbyterian theologian Rubem Alves, from Brazil.

It is then no surprise that in the seventies and eighties liberation theology had a strong influence on the ecumenical movement, including the World Council of Churches (WCC). The relevancy of its actions in supporting struggles for human rights under military dictatorships in Latin America, in developing effective methods of overcoming illiteracy (as did the exiled Brazilian pedagogue and WCC education adviser Paulo Freire), and in combating racism, mainly in Southern Africa, has been widely recognized.

As a contextual approach, aimed at critically reflecting on the praxis of God's people, liberation theology was never intended to become a static, dogmatic theoretical construction. Its intention was not to highlight a neglected theological theme, but rather to propose a new way of doing theology. It naturally underwent changes over the decades. At the outset it focused on the living conditions of the poor, later on it incorporated other issues, like indigenous peoples, racism, gender inequalities and ecology.

Nowadays liberation theology deals as well with the interpretation of cultures and with anthropological questions, for example the temptation of power. The goal of striving towards a more just society where there is "room for all" persists, yet the way of achieving it has shifted towards civil society action.

The influence of liberation theology goes way beyond the realm of the churches. Its contribution towards overcoming military dictatorships in Latin America and apartheid in Southern Africa has already been hinted at. Today it helps shape Latin American political efforts towards a model of democracy that overcomes poverty and social injustices. Several Latin American presidents – Lula da Silva in Brazil, Morales in Bolivia, Correa in Ecuador, Ortega in Nicaragua and Lugo in Paraguay - have all in different ways had close contact with Christian base communities and liberation theologians.

But, above all, liberation theology continues to be very much alive and well within civil society movements and Christian base communities.


The Rev. Dr Walter Altmann is the president of the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil and the moderator of the World Council of Churches Central Committee.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Oggendmeditasie: Geestelike lewe

Waar pas geestelikheid nou by my daaglikse werk, of my dagtake in ? Is dit genoeg om bloot ‘n gebed op te sê voor ek uitstap, en later in die dag dankie te sê. Natuurlik help dit om ons te herinner dat God met ons is deur die dag. Om egter my ‘geestelike lewe’ en my daaglikse lewe te skei van mekaar nie is egter nie net gevaarlik nie, maar dodelik.

Een die skerpste temas wat deur die profete optredes weerklink, is die gedagte dat God erns maak met al ons gewone, daaglikse optredes. God maak erns met die industrie, die landbou, ons skoolwerk.. God maak erns met ons daaglikse lewe by die huis of waar ons beweeg..Daarom is die profete gewone mense, soos ons baie keer hoor ‘ die gewone person in die straat’

Nehemia, sou nie deur baie as ‘n klassieke profeet beskou word nie. Sy optrede en omgang met die volk Israel het egter die trekke van iemand wat die onder God se leiding staan en wat as sodanig optree. In sy openingsgebed, (kom ons noem dit sy roepingsstorie), sien ons hoedat hy, soos die ander profete, geen skeiding maak tussen geestelike en daaglike ( sekulere sake) nie. Tydens sy broers se besoek aan hom in Persie, vra hy uit na die welstand van die bekendes. Hulle vertel hom toe van die benarde toestand van die mure van die Jerusalem. Hy beskryf, in sy dagboek, sy reaksie in Neh 1:4:
By die aanhoor van hierdie woorde het ek gaan sit en gehuil en dae lank getreur. Ek het gevas en tot die God van die hemel gebid…”Ag Here, God van die hemel groot en ontsagwekkende God wat u verbond en u troue liefde handhaaf teenoor die wat vir u liefhet en u gebooie gehoorsaam, luister tog, gee tog ag die gebed wat ek u dienaar, sonder ophou tot U bid.

Nehemia is duidelik besig om die situasie van die stad, die dinge soos mure en hekke, paaie en ander bouwerk en, kom ons sê maar infrastruktuur.. harde dinge en toestande te lees in die lig van sy geloof in God. Sy geloof in God werp lig op die toestande in die land, sy land en sy gebed is ineengeweef met sy analise van die situasie. In die res van die boek beskryf hy hoedat hy beplanning doen, onderhandelings voer, veiligheidsmaatreels instel, en terselfdertyd, biddend is, die Heillige Skrifte ondersoek en die volk nader na God bring. Vir hom is daar nie onderskeid nie.

Dit herinner aan ‘n legende wat Ferdinant Deist vertel van die bekende skrywer Tolstoi oor die twee monikke in ‘n eensame kloosterwat gehoor het dat daar iewers op aarde ‘n toring is met ‘n groot deur wat reguit na die hemel lei. Albei het toe besluit om na die wonderlike toring en die deur te gaan soek sodat hulle reguit na die hemel toe kon gaan. Hulle het geloop en geloop en geen moeite ontsien nie; hulle het hitte en koue verdra.
Na baie jare bereik hulle die toring. Hulle was baie bly en toe hulle na die deur toe stap, en dit oopmaak…het hulle in hul eie kloostersel gestaan (waar hulle begin het)
Deist sluit af met die woorde:
Wie hemel of aarde, geloof en lewe, Sondag en werksdag van mekaar skei: doen albei skade aan, want hulle hoort by mekaar.

Gebed:
Here, gee ons die genade om rondom ons te kyk, na ons dorp, ons huise, ons werksplekke, ons land, deur u oë. Gee genade dat ons, in alles, vir u sal sien.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Oggendmeditasie: God is by ons

Speel vir ‘n oomblik die stemme en gebeure van die dag oor in jou gemoed. ‘n Tipe van ‘n ‘stadige aksie, kyk-weer’.. (stilte).. wie se stemme is prominent ? Vir wie hoor jy praat en op wie reageer jy ? Luister nou na die toon van die stemme… (stilte)… Is dit vol energie of bloot leë blikke? Is dit hopeloos, gefrustreerd OF is dit swanger aan hoop, vol lewe ?
As dit so is dat God sy stem laat hoor, in ons normale, menslike situasies, in normale mense se stemtoon; as dit so is dat God se profete gewone mense is, soos ek en jy… dan was hulle heel waarskynlik daar, tussen hierdie stemme en gebeure. Hulle is daar, maar meer nog, God is daar. Maar waar is God se stem hoorbaar…is dit in die wat oenskynlik wen, wat die meeste praat, wat kan groot praat ?
Elia, was ‘n interresante profeet in die Bybel. Hy het die magtiges van sy tyd striemend gelooi met die tong, selfs valse godsdienstiges terreggestel… maar in 1 Konings 19 lees ons hoedat hy in die hitte van die stryd, God se stem gehoor het. God verduidelik vooraf dat hy daar by die berg waar Elia skuil, aan hom sou verskyn. Die storie gaan verder,
‘Skielik was daar ‘n sterk wind wat die berg stukkend geruk en die rotse gebreek het vir die Here. Maar in die wind was die Here nie. Na die wind was daar ‘n aardbewing. Maar in die aardbewing was die here nie. Na die aarbewing was daar ‘n vuur. Maar in die vuur was die Here nie. En na die vuur was daar ‘n fluistering in die windstilte. Toe Elia dit hoor het hy sy gesig met sy mantel toegemaak en by die bek van die grot gaan staan. Toe hoor hy ‘n stem wat vir hom se: ‘wat maak jy hier Elia’?
Dis juis in die ‘fluistering in die windstilte’ in die stiltes, of beter die stemme van die gestildes, waar ons God se stem hoor….onsigbares wat daar tussen ons is, en tog met ons praat. Joan Osborne het ‘n lied gesing, wat mens iets laat verstaan oor hoekom ons nie soms met die title: ‘what if God was one of us’. Die lied is ook die temamusiek vir ‘n TV reeks Joan of Arcadia, waar ‘n gewone skooldogter op verskeie wyses God se stem hoor en mense bystaan Osborne sing,

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make his way home

If God had a face what would it look like?
And would you want to see
If seeing meant that
you would have to believe
in things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints
and all the prophets (*)

Die verassende is dat God wel tussen ons is...

Gebed:
Ons hoor u vele keer, in die stemme van die onsigbares. Ons sluit vele kere ons ore vir u fluistering in die windstiltes.. Vergewe ons Heer en dankie dat u nogsteeds daar is.
Amen

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Sign the Climate change document here


How can we support actions to deal with the challenge of climate change. Here's a way to join the movement towards sustainable lifestyle, economicpolicy and social transformation. First read the Climate Change Document, released by SACC

Ernst Conradie, who is deeply involve in the process writes the following:
'I have told my children (aged 9 and 6) that their future may well be decided upon this December (in Copenhagen). The matter is that important and this is indeed a crucial moment in human history. As Christians in South Africa we need to discern how we should express a vision of Christian hope in such a context. The very purpose of this document is to invite discussion on this amongst churches in South Africa. The process of endorsing the document may serve as an opportunity to stimulate such discussion.'


ENDORSEMENT FOR CLIMATE CHANGE DOCUMENT

Please complete appropriate section (1 or 2)

Section 1
Name of church structure:……………………………………………………………..

Denominational or ecumenical context (if applicable):……………………………….

Town:………………………………………………………………………………….

Completed by (title and name and surname):

…………………………………………………………………………

Signature……………………………………………………………..


>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Section 2
(to be completed by individuals)

Title, Name & Surname:………………………………………………………………,

Church affiliation:………………………………………………………………………

Town:…………………………………………………………………………………..

Signature:………………………………………………………….


Please mail completed form to SACC or Deon Snyman or fax to 011 492 1448/9 before 30 November 2009.

Thanks for your endorsement.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

SACC Media Statement on the situation at Central Methodist Church

I support the SACC, in standing with Central Methodist Mission, in Johannesburg. The statement is clear in stating the role of the church. It reads as follows:

The Central Methodist Church (CMC) in the Johannesburg city centre received an unexpected and unannounced visit last Friday, not the first of this kind. Members of the Portfolio Committee on Health and Social Development from the Gauteng Legislature expressed moral outrage – understandable, yet rather late – at the living conditions of the refugees seeking shelter in the church.

The South African Council of Churches (SACC) wishes to add the following observations to a matter that has long been brewing and not been taken up satisfactorily by the structures responsible:

It is well known that the living conditions of the refugees at the CMC are poor and often appalling. No one wants to live in an over-crowded situation where there is no privacy, few sanitation facilities, etc. People are not living in these conditions out of choice. They are not living there because Bishop Paul Verryn and the staff at CMC have invited and encouraged them to live there. Nor is this the reason for Medicins Sans Frontier (MSF) camping at the CMC. The people have moved into CMC because it responded to a humanitarian crisis – to which few other people, including the local, provincial and national government responded. It is the calling of the church to provide care and refuge to the destitute and the vulnerable.

While it is easy to turn CMC into a villain in this scenario, SACC warns against jumping to that conclusion. The primary villain, if there is one, first and foremost are such governments as that of Zimbabwe and of those African countries whose nationals live at the church. Within South Africa the primary villain is government; and not the Central Methodist Church.

SACC acknowledges, that it is within the rights and competence of the health and social development portfolio committees, as part of their oversight functions, to engage in so-called oversight visits in order to carry out certain investigations. It needs to be noted that the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA) at its recent conference held in Pietermaritzburg, admitted in a statement that allegations relating to the abuse of women and children had been brought to its leadership. To this end the church constituted a Public Concern Committee which has been interacting quite voluntarily and openly with relevant government departments. Neither the MCSA, the CMC nor the SACC will condone the alleged abuse of women and children at the CMC – which is why the church has been cooperating with government departments and with the NPA.

SACC is concerned that:

* to conduct such a visit without consulting the local (and national) leadership of the church, given the already established communication channels.
* to bring a substantial number of police and visiting at the time that they did, gave the whole event the feel of a raid rather than a cordial oversight and investigative visit.
* surely the Province has known about the plight of the refugees for long – what concrete alternatives have they put forward that justify the moral outrage and sudden feelings of care for the people living in the church?
* some of the statements already attributed to members of the committee appear to prejudge the matter, threatening to turn the visit into a pretext for predetermined, premeditated and unilateral decisions. A few hours’ visit at the CMC is not enough of an investigation for members of the committee to be issuing authoritative statements to the media already. Proper investigations produce proper formal reports and only thereafter media statements.
* the ‘closure of the CMC’ as threatened may satisfy the interests of those who want the sight of poor and destitute people removed from the centre of their beloved city – especially now that the FIFA 2010 World Cup is coming. But unless a lasting and humanitarian solution is found, all that will happen is that the inhabitants of the CMC will be poured into the streets of Johannesburg to fend for themselves by any means necessary, day and night.
* The Department of Home Affairs fails to develop policies and processes dealing with the influx of refugees in a humane manner.

As SACC we do not see the need for the Portfolio Committee to resort to strong arm tactics. We do not see the need to criminalise the CMC. This church has tried to do what government should have done, what every South African should do, what every other church should do, i.e. welcome the destitute, provide care for the sick, provide shelter to the homeless, tend to the souls of the battered and the suffering. That is the calling of every Christian. That is the calling of every religious person. We do not see the need to issue a legal summons to the CMC and its leadership to appear before any court or committee. The leadership of the CMC are not on the run, they are not about to flee the country.

Instead, SACC calls for the Gauteng legislature to engage the national and local leadership of the MCSA. Above all, we call on the Portfolio Committee to put the interest of the destitute living at the CMC above political point scoring. We urge the committee to exercise its oversight role with diligence, courtesy and with compassion.

For further information please contact
Prof Tinyiko Maluleke, SACC President 082 925 5232
Mr Eddie Makue, SACC General Secretary 082 853 8781

Musings.....