OK, I’m not the countries best political analyst, and doesn’t often write on politics, but had a very interesting conversation last night with my old friend Weber, so let’s share some thoughts.

First, some background. We’ve been friends when on highschool, but I lost contact with almost everyone I were friends with back then when I went to university. By my fourth year I started really wanting to reconnect with everyone, but never got around to it. A short conversation here, and a visit there… but not much. So we took some time to sit and chat. I don’t think Sundowner, a bar in this little town of ours, has ever heard such deep philosophy…

OK, back to politics. Way back then Weber’s dad was into the more conservative Afrikaner politics (not AWB type, he is part of VF), and my dad was the missionary to the Swazi’s. Time has changed little, but maybe more than I thought. Weber is following VF politics, and myself, oh well, can’t say I’m following politics that much, but in conversation I’m always defending the more liberal positions.

How I see it, conservative Afrikaners lost there voice with Apartheid. No one is really taking them seriously, and they live with a lot of baggage. If you have a white-only voice, you basically have no voice at all. But liberals have problems of there own. I saw it in myself and some friends, we really lost the ability to critique the government. The ANC just had to work for us. For myself, liberation came the day when I had some conversations with black students, and I heard them deliviring critique on both Mbeki and Zuma, talking about an alternative, talking about justice…

I remember saying to myself that if they may critique the ANC, then so can I! And a lot need to be said against the current government, although I’ll be the first to admit when they are doing good, because I really want them to succeed.

At some point in our conversation Weber talked about how the ANC were united because of their common enemy, Apartheid. Maybe we can learn from that. I was reading Alan Roxburgh’s The Missionary Congregation, Leadership, & Liminality yesterday (brilliant and short little book, on which I might say some more later). He make the comment that churches of the West in liminality could learn from how black churches thought previoucly, because they were in liminality (or something like that). Many of us are now where the ANC was 30 years ago. I’m not yet sure what the common enemy is. It’s not the black people, many black people have the same problems I have. Maybe it’s a corrupt government we are against!

Can we learn from the ANC, and unite against this common enemy? But then bright political minds in the conservative Afrikaner community need to open themselves up to black voices with which they can take hands. Conservatives need to realize than liberals is able to critique when it is neccesary, and liberals that convervatives is willing to acknowledge mistakes of the past and the good things of the present when neccesary. And in this a new voice might arise.

Is it possible? Well, early on in the conversation Weber said he doens’t really want to talk politics with me. Why? Probably because he thought it’s gonna end up in a bad argument. But we talked politics for about 2 hours, and we found a lot of common ground. Many of it was when talking about postmodernism and new forms of organization which we envision. But still, we found possible ways on talking about a middle ground.

And the church? Well, if we are to be the alternative comminity today then I believe the church need to be the place that provide the example of where this is already happening, where these different groups of people are already taking hands, becoming a united voice against injustice in South Africa!

Didn’t get round to blogging this so far this week. Not exactly sure why. In our church, as I believe churches worldwide might be doing, by the end of our theological education you have a sermon which have to be delivered as a kind of “test” sermon. In all honestly, I think it’s a very stupid idea. I’m preaching on a near-to-weekly basis at the moment, and now I have to do this one service which is supposed to be the ultimate test!

Mine will be this coming Sunday, and you are invited. I’ll be preaching from 1 Kings 21:1-16. It’s the story of how Jezebel killed Naboth, the guy with vineyard. We preach from a lectionary, so my text was pre-determined. However, the context is not pre-determined, which make it somewhat difficult.

Crime is continuing in Kameeldrif and the surrounding area where our congregants live. Woman get raped, men killed, children are traumatized. We’ve been having a lot of meetings on this in the past weeks, meeting with the police and other role players in the community. Last week a number of us shaved our hair in response to violent crimes and got the front-page of the Beeld, as well as articles in a number of other papers (see Beeld). Our congregations also launched an “action plan” against crime (see our congregation blog. Both these links will take you to Afrikaans pages). No, we are not going to start play Rambo (as my one colleague like to remind us), but we are searching for the role of the church within all this.

In this context, I must preach about Jezebel killing Naboth. I’m not comfortable preaching that the criminals will be trailed by God. I don’t see how that will help, and I’, not exactly sure whether that is always the message of the Bible. No, I would rather like to look at why Jezebel was wrong.

You see, within her own context, in her own country, her actions would have seemed normal. But in Israel it was absolutely unacceptable. The prophetic tradition, of which Elia was a part, had a very strong sense of justice, and I think understanding something of the Old Testament concept of justice can help us in understanding how wrong Jezebel and Ahab was within the eyes of Elia.

For the people of the Old Testament, justice was more than just somebody getting punished for a crime, which is what I sometimes feel we have made justice. No, justice meant working for a just society. A society where everyone had their share. A society where those who suffer was helped.

When we are searching for the role of the church in a time like this, then this understanding of justice might help. Yes, we need to find crime. Organized crime is breaking down a just society, and needs to stop. But as church we do more. We also fight the poverty which lead to a violent society. The rich-poor gap which lead to a violent society. We fight against the perception that this is black against white, which it is not.

As a congregation we will be supporting the initiative to put numbers on our plots, because this is a serious problem, the police and ambulances cannot find the plots in the night. But as a congregation we must also go beyond the fight against crime, and change a society which cause crime…

Well, if you’d like to attend church with us on Sunday, attend this test I’m supposed to go through, you’re welcome. Church will start at 9:00, and I’ll be preaching in the church hall.