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Monthly Archives: May 2012


the real state of democracy, dignity and human rights in our land



… those in authority …  are called ‘friends of the people.’

But that’s not the way it will be with you.

Instead, the greatest among you must become the least,  like a person of lower status, … and the leader like a servant…

(Jesus of Nazareth)


like uniformity,

is neither good nor bad

it simply is.

how one handles it

can make it lean this way or that

any fool can start a conflict,

any fool can force uniformity

only real wisdom can make it good

the biggest challenge our children (and indeed the nation at large) face today is learning civility, moral conduct, sound leadership, basic dignity and respect and even elementary communication skills… without ever seeing any displayed.


the emperors parade naked before us all yet demand respect and submission


(Pawel Kuczynski)

The whole Brett Murray/The Spear (of-the-nation) disturbance in the media of late, whichever way one views it, clearly reveals the power of the creative arts to effect society and bring people to their feet, perhaps even their knees.

It seems to have  provoked people on all sides of the issue to start thinking, expressing those thoughts, debating, engaging and some arguing passionately, even heatedly as they wrestle with their own perspectives and our shared destiny.

As potentially volatile as this all is in light of our extremely immature and uneducated “democracy” here in South Africa I think it is a most wonderful thing and hopefully it will keep us wondering for many decades to come.

Yet still I feel compelled to ask the question:  Why are there so few “Brett Murray’s”?

Why are so many artists seemingly locked into almost exclusively doing commercial drivel; “ABBA” type pop ‘tributes’ or playing “Piano Man” for a essentially drunken society who demand nostalgic memories, or serving a placatory propaganda type role in corporate settings merely to get a monetary handout?

Where are the real “prophets”?

Awaken and live long you  “Brett Murray” types!

(regardless of what side of the fence you sit, or what we think about what you say)


Maybe the poet is gay
But he’ll be heard anyway

Maybe the poet is drugged
But he won’t stay under the rug

Maybe the voice of the spirit
In which case you’d better hear it

Maybe he’s a woman
Who can touch you where you’re human

Male, female slave or free
Peaceful or disorderly
Maybe you and he will not agree
But you need him to show you new ways to see

Don’t let the system fool you
All it wants to do is rule you
Pay attention to the poet
You need him and you know it

Put him up against the wall
Shoot him up with pentothal

Shoot him up with lead
You won’t call back what’s been said
Put him in the ground
But one day you’ll look around

There’ll be a face you don’t know
Voicing thoughts you’ve heard before

Male, female slave or free
Peaceful or disorderly
Maybe you and he will not agree
But you need him to show you new ways to see

Don’t let the system fool you
All it wants to do is rule you
Pay attention to the poet
You need him and you know it

BRUCE COCKBURN  –  “Maybe The Poet”


“maybe with all this rampant technology and almost universal connectivity, have we started to run out of original ideas?” – anonymous

I can’t help thinking if this could be a metaphor for the present day church?




…and then, as a result … I was challenged.

” .. then do something about it ;)”

and I replied,

“I am, … you saw the cartoon, you read it, you’re thinking about it right now… that is wonderful.
I can’t change one person’s mind about anything… but I can attempt in some small way to get them to think… that’s what I do, it’s what I’m doing right now… it’s what I always try to do and that’s all I believe can be done… and maybe your reading and thinking about it right now, even if you disagree with me, even hate me (and I’m sure you don’t ‘hate’ me), will cause you to think about your own thinking and decide for yourself, not for me, or my way of thinking. … and maybe that thinking will result in action, your action, action that you chose, for yourself, by real faith…”

should there be no shout?

should there be no alarm?

has darkness become light

and light become harm?


when the bearers of the light

see nothing

and the messengers have forgotten

even the very message they send

when darkness is the light within

and without there is dark indeed


and in the market place

they call for a song

and the minstrels sing

what their ears want to hear

the market place of the gathering

of those who call themselves holy

and leaders of the blind


who themselves see no evil afoot

who see no need to stamp it out

who see no cause for alarm

who see no need to raise the shout


but they remain not silent

there is indeed a cry


in the sanctuary

the cry of a baby

demanding milk

crying for comfort


and the cry for comfort

is not for those in anguish

or for those lost

nor for those in need

or for the desperate and the dispossessed

nor for those with nothing

but the cry is from those who are in abundance

who possess all things

and who need no thing

except comfort itself

and who comfort themselves

in need alone


the market speaks

and the prophets listen

those called to give


and the name inscribed on their forehead reads


and on their hands it is written



… and of their leader whose feet were dusty

and whose head owned no pillow

who had no place to rest his weary body

and no blanket but the stars


of this leader we still hear much

but not all

not even most

not even half


and the words we hear

are many words

not hallowed words

but hollowed words

words filled with emptiness

overrunning with empty promises

pretty words

hollow words

vain sonnets

odes to the consumer

love songs to the love sick

for those sick in love

in love with sick

odes to themselves

by the people

of the people

for the people


and the market cries out

and the prophets fear

and they fill the air with empty words

that itching ears love to hear


sick words

sick love

love sick


and this word is exalted

even above the name of the Lord God himself

In this short but thought provoking interview legendary “Smashing Pumpkins” guitarist Billy Corgan sits down with Brian Solis to discuss the state of the music industry and why he feels today’s musicians are treated like sex workers.

As powerful as the ideas expressed are, to my mind there is still a very dominant ‘marketing’ drive evident in this discourse.  Is this the only basis from which to evaluate the arts?
The present capitalist economic/advertising/self-promotion market system is the only context we have at present, but could it be seen as being similar to a picture of condemned prisoners on death row squabbling over who gets the best cell with regards to proximity to the exit door leading to the inevitable gallows?  Is there not another way?
Should artists be like common disposable commodity hawkers? … going around with cap in hand, desperately peddling their art as commercial wares almost exclusively to the demands of the mostly uneducated and consumer driven masses, usually at minimum rates just to fill our stomachs?

Another angle is whether musicians and artists are themselves not selling their own souls to the “pimps” who offer the promise of sustenance  or “fame?”  Many musicians perform under the false allure of “exposure”. .. not unlike the sex worker on street corners selling themselves in hope for a fee essentially determined by the buyer.  Are musicians and artists themselves not living lives just like sex workers when they participate in this type of seedy transaction?

Personally I am very concerned at the toll this is taking on the arts and culture on a deep level.  Perhaps the desperation for survival, scratching out an existence, is only adding to the degradation of society and humanity as we see it in our day?

For me this is no more glaring and disturbing as in the Christian music and specifically the so called “Worship” industry today.

Music and the arts in the spiritual realm of human consciousness is an expression of the ethereal in the most powerful way.  Through it we are able to explore new dimensions of meaning, new frontiers of communication and understanding.  The arts were there long before we ordered and symbolized our means of communication in symbols and cognitive speech and thought patterns.  The example a Christ reveals how he chose the metaphor in parables and the mysteries of “supernatural” demonstrations in word and deed to convey deep and challenging ideas to a culture essentially stuck and locked in to superficial memes and limited  two dimensional language.

To harness the creative arts and bring it under the power and control of popular culture and the  surface tension of linear thought and communication is to place a lid on spirituality.

In  the New Testament writings we are challenged not to conform to the patterns of the world but instead to be transformed by the renewing of our minds in order that we might test and approve the perfect will of God for our lives and for our times.  But at least to my mind it is blatantly clear that in churches world wide we seem mostly if not exclusively to follow trends and popularity stakes.  We follow ‘feel-good’ consumerist systems in our ‘worship.”  And the standards of this interaction are determined and set by the Christian worship industry and the “pop stars” who parade as its front, its representatives.  Our “worship leaders'” and Christian “Pop Stars” do not seem to operate from a platform of a biblically renewed minds but rather seem blatantly to conform to the patterns of popularity and the success it offers in the world today – looking, speaking and sounding exactly like the regular music industry celebrities.  Relevancy and spiritual accuracy and authority is measured by popularity and accessibility to the common ground of  consumer sentiment.

In our churches we seem only willing to play that which we are led to believe has been tried and tested by the Christian worship industry as if it has the divine anointing and authority with respect to the sounds of the Kingdom of God but which is instead almost exclusively run on aggressive capitalistic, strictly profit based, manipulative economic strategies, – methods copied verbatim from the successfully implemented patterns of a greedy and an undeniably profit motivated secular music industry.   After all, it’s pure business, right?

I have asked as many pastors of churches as I can if they would feel happy if instructed not to preach from their own individual heart  perspective but instead to copy a great audio or DVD teaching by one of the great present day popular Christian preachers as their regular congregational church sermon, … following each word exactly (or as best they can) , using the same analogies, the exact same visual prompts and effects.  The answer I received each time, even though the “popular Christian preacher” was deemed acceptable and even highly regarded and embraced as theologically sound and “anointed by God” was always, “no.”

Yet amazingly those same pastors instruct their worship leaders and musicians to copy verbatim (or as best as they possibly can) what is popular and selling in the Christian retail outlets worship CD and worship DVD racks.

If we believe that there is a “Holy Spirit” amongst us who dwells in each believer and leads each believer into all truth, taking what belongs to Jesus and making it know to each as the bible says, … why do we only permit the singing of songs by the industry backed and promoted superstars?

What is this repetitious sensual liturgy amongst us?

Where are the “new songs” expressed in and from the hearts of the local  redeemed of the Lord?

Sometimes it even feels like God lives exclusively in USA or Australia these days.

I also ask the question, “why are today’s Christian musicians and creative artists being treated like sex workers?”

And why are we letting it happen?

the ironing board is skew
yet the folds in my pants fit it perfectly
the weight of the iron strains between gravity and fold
the heat threatens a scorching
as creases resist defiantly

the pleats of life
raise their voice

as life pleats on

and then
if we get it right
perhaps just for a day

even just part of the day
a simple wearing
a light walk around the block
a mild rubbing
perhaps only an unexpected scuffling
even a spot of moisture…
that’s all it takes

flesh sharpens fabric
and the skewness returns
the creases spring back

to press on is like ironing

only different