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I have been told I have an unusual mind, a unique way of looking at the world.  In fact, I get told this often.  At times some have been less than encouraging in their descriptiveness about my apparent unique or unusual take on things.  At first it wasn’t always so, but these days I don’t blame them at all anymore.   Actually, I feel very much the same – about myself and about most others around me.   It’s not an easy thing to gradually come to this understanding but I think it is a good thing, even a most wonderful thing.

There’s this passage in the Psalms that goes something like blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.  A song I have heard often sung exchanges ‘pilgrimage’ with ‘always moving on.’  I like that.  It sounds more practical to me.  Blessed are those who have found strength in who made them and how they have been made and because of that are always moving on.

I have found that the more honest I can be the more I am at peace with myself and the more I can be a positive contribution to my environment.  However, I have also found that the more I am honest the less at peace I can be within myself and my environment.  A lot of the time the longer I hang around or ‘overstay my welcome’ the more trouble seems to start settling in – for me and my environment.

So, after decades of bashing my own head and having others kindly return the favour it seems good to me to always try to keep my mind focused on moving on.  And this surprisingly is not a bad thing at all.  In fact it’s quite sensible and very rewarding all round.

Sometimes this may mean a physical move and other times it means a less physical move.  Believe it or not I have found that the attitudinal or less physical shifts are by far the most difficult – mainly perhaps because it usually means staying in the same context and consciously shifting within myself.  And this is usually an extremely difficult thing to do (well, at least for me it is).

My unusual or unique angle on this; I think we all have a unique way of looking at things.  Also that perhaps it is those who consciously or unconsciously choose to forsake and align their unique perspective to those around them who are ‘unusual’ in the less encouraging understanding of that word?  One cannot be two or more people at the same time (some would even go so far as to classify this as a form of insanity).

However, mostly we all tend to seek a safe place for ourselves and often this requires us fitting in with what others think and feel.  We can even feel like this is the best way and a way that gives us the most peace.  We have learned this from our environment and from our parents to our peers to our politicians, the majority by far even stress the importance of conformity.  Personally I have found the opposite to be true.  To add to this I am also aware that we are firmly encouraged not to conform to the patterns around us but to be transformed in the renewal of our own minds.

Perhaps if our individual strength is really in the one who created us and watches over us, the one who caused us to be unique in so many ways, if not every way – from our fingerprints to our DNA to the way we perceive all things – we would have less need to find our strength in those around us?  Perhaps we would then be more relaxed with ourselves and our environment and more in tune with our unique role in this experience we call life.

And that’s it for me so far I suppose.  I have come to realise for myself that perhaps the secret of it all is that we must somehow come to really try to understand who we are personally and then as best we can, assess our realistic impact on our immediate environment.  We need to soberly assess both the positive and the negative part we play in the world around us.

I have also found that if we set up camp anywhere, in our thinking, our culture, our theology, even our understanding about ourselves and others around us, things can slowly become quite toxic.  On top of this if we set up camp in any way we obviously stop moving.  We cannot please everyone all the time and we ourselves cannot be pleased all the time by others.

But we can give each other space.  Space to be themselves.  Space to express their own unique, unusual perspective.  We can also give ourselves space.  Space to move, to grow and to explore.

Agreement is very important.  But harmony is never the same note played together in unison.  Harmony is different notes sounding at the same time and in the same space which collectively make a rich chord.  Many chords make up a symphony.

Many unique, unusual sounds make up a soothing waterfall. …. but the water droplets need to keep moving on for the waterfall to be a reality.


so, how does it feel?

maybe the only real path ahead is a drive back to real community?

real relationships, real interaction, real honour, respect, really extending dignity to others – especially strangers, the strange, the cast-outs, the rejected, those who are simply different to us.
maybe the greatest command really is to love one another? … and maybe it starts with you and me .. one on one … one at a time?

can we see that we are living lives of alienation and that we are effectively herded into smaller and smaller compartments?

can we begin to entertain the possibility that we are effectively being conned (by everything around us and even ourselves) into believing we are each specialists and even now led to believe that we are connected intimately through technology and our sophisticated political and social post-modern environments?

maybe we’ve been herded into pseudo communities of all forms; political, religious, social, churches, economic sectors, mosques, synagogues, causes, temples, ‘secret’ societies, sports clubs, environmental action groups,  … whatever?

maybe we have begun to believe that these bring us together and keep us together – perhaps they are what’s keeping us apart?

maybe we’ve begun to even lie to ourselves?

what about it?

could we begin to conceive of authentic community again?

I am a father and I know a lot of fathers just like me. Sadly some of us are somewhat socially inappropriate – as men and as fathers. Many are hard business men, aggressive negotiators, strong deal makers, blunt communicators, many even unable to interact with our own peers in an appropriately civil manner.
Nevertheless I am constantly amazed at how these hardened men can often so easily and so naturally be softened and drawn into the humble, lowly realm of the infant child – even to the extent of often willingly engaging with them in the usual “gah-gah, goo-goo” babbling language of the child even delighting in their infantile world view however irrational or even “incorrect.”
Now we view God as our father. Heavenly father yes, but even by God’s own initiative and admission he is declared as our father.
So why doesn’t God speak to us in baby talk?
Or does he?

There is something called the Large Hadron Collider which is situated in Europe somewhere near Geneva.  It is the world’s largest and highest energy particle accelerator.

Now hadron is not a place but rather a term physicists use to refer to atomic particles composed of quarks  – which in turn are believed to be the fundamental sub-atomic units and building blocks of all matter in the universe.  These quarks are extremely illusive little things so it is not difficult to imagine that to get your hands on one is not an easy task.  On a slightly humorous and somewhat less sophisticated (but no less significant) culinary level, a quark is also known as a soft creamy acid-cured cheese made from whole milk.

Anyway, the whole idea of the Hadron Colliderquark  bashing experiment is to create an environment that would facilitate a process that will cause opposing particle beams to collide at extremely high energy in order for physicists to observe what happens and capture and collate data.  The hopeful expectation of all this robust activity is to address and possibly even answer some of the most fundamental questions of life, advancing our understanding of the deepest and most mysterious laws of nature.


Sounds pretty much like a charismatic prayer meeting to me.

Yes, I concede, – a whole lot more sophisticated perhaps, but except for the white coats, almost exactly the same …


( … on second thoughts, perhaps we could also scrap the ‘white coats’ exception)

One of the things that impacts me greatly when I read the gospel accounts is the way Jesus dialogued with those around him.  I use the word dialogue specifically here in contrast to the word monologue which is almost exclusively what we see and hear in our present religious settings.

What I see is that  Jesus asked a lot of questions and engaged intimately and personally with people in many different ways that suggests to me that he was more than just interested in their individual world view but that he even respected it and asked them for clarity on their way of seeing things.

In the gospel of John he goes into quite some detail about the intent of God in his being there and what this was really all about.  In it all there is rich evidence of what I see as God’s desire to engage with us as friends and not as slaves or even servants.  To my mind there is far less emphasis on a heavy, top-down relationship where mankind needs to cower and tip-toe around an angry, hostile, difficult to please master.   Instead I see a completely different picture, that of a great creator of all things, a supreme intelligence, wanting to enter in and explore a mutual relationship that is based on dialogue, friendship, agreement, even open and flexible negotiation.

What also stands out for me is that this was not as a result of any request on our side, prayerful or other.  As far as I can make out there is no record of anyone asking God to make it easier or to relax with all the heavy commandments and tough expectations.  Sure, some prophets lamented quite passionately from time to time but not a lot is recorded as saying, “Hey God, what’s your problem?” “Give us a break will you?”  … “What’s with all these impossible demands?”  “Cut us some slack here – we’re only human after all!”  Instead it appears overwhelmingly so that God’s kindness and open handed acceptance is an entirely unprovoked initiative from God himself.   In fact, even to this day there is more evidence to point to the fact that we still expect a bolt of burning sulphur like anger to descend on our heads at any moment … and this is what we tend to preach.  Yet this kindness, acceptance, unmerited embracing, … it’s all God’s idea.  Even salvation itself is penned as being for God’s sake, not exclusively ours.

Doesn’t that surprise you?  It totally caught the religious intelligentsia in Jesus’ day with their pants down and even with our sense of present time revelation and the ‘new testament’ of unmerited grace and forgiveness I think it still catches us as well.  I see this strange initiative of God as pointing quite convincingly to a desired relationship based on mutual respect and trust and as I said, this comes from God and not us.  For me this is amazing.  Talk about signs and wonders … this is BOTH!

And I don’t see God making a brazen demand for total conformity to a stronger, exacting, legalistically demanding, higher conduct but almost directly the opposite.   To me it presents a picture of the almighty creator descending down to what is obviously a lower order of life specifically to engage and not even exclusively on what is a higher demanding standard, but almost a mutual interaction, a dialogue not a monologue.   For me it’s sort of like, “Listen guys,  we got a huge problem here, sure, but I have a solution … and here’s what I have done about it …”   And if any changes are needing to be made it is God himself who makes it happen before we even know we could or should ask for it.

Equally strangely to me is that we seem to demand these ‘changes’ of ourselves and especially of others, it’s not God who makes these demands.  I mean, the offer was made to us before we even knew we were in need and we were accepted while still unimaginably smelly so why after being accepted with such open handed embrace would there need to be changes made in order to be more accepted?  Yet we expect people to conform to this kind of  stuff.  In fact we demand it.  Stuff like – don’t do this, stop doing that, start doing that, start doing the other thing, think this way and not that way, etc.   It looks to me like this solution we’ve been presented with in scripture is clearly a call for intimacy of a kind that is even in this so-called ‘enlightened’ day strikingly unusual.

“Terms and conditions apply!” – I hear this everyday in the media, but I struggle to see it in the sacred texts.  Yet it is heard from the pulpit all the time and is transferred through social censure and religious internal politics.  In fact, the way it reads to me is that if there are any terms and conditions they are met before we even know they are needing to be met.  As a consequence it really impacts me severely just seeing and experiencing the hierarchical and formal nature of even the most so called ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’ of modern church systems.

The way I understand it the offer is to all, even the most anti-whatever, including the worst of the worst.   People who are so off, and I mean OFF! … WAY off – are freely accepted – totally embraced by this crazy, extravagant, generous, open hearted, open handed God.  But with us, if someone has even a slightly different idea on what or who God is or even a slightly different way they do something, they are cut off and rejected, even publicly insulted and humiliated, muscled out to the peripheral courts of the untouchable heathens – those blemishes in the community, the black sheep of the flock.
I cannot help but conclude for myself that this could very easily suggest that we have possibly not ever really understood anything of the intent and practical outworking of Jesus’ words on the matter even though we brandish about the term “The Father’s Heart” with great abandon.

I wonder what might happen if the penny dropped one day?

A meme is a unit of cultural information.  It’s an idea which is usually expressed in some culturally defined action. Meme’s are transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.  Meme’s are shared meaning endorsed and entrenched over time.

An interesting example of a meme is found in the ancient sacred texts of the Hebrews.  They were instructed to never forget and even to repeat the words of the law of God given through Moses all the time.  They were instructed to never let them depart from their mouths and even to write them on their foreheads and their hands (I can’t imagine that this was to be done literally but nevertheless the idea seems to me to be clearly that in every practical area of their lives the laws or sayings of God were to be the filter).

But then along came a man named Jesus who never rejected the ancient memes, he just introduced such a revolutionary interpretation of them that it caused all manner of disturbance.  He presented such a radical shift in the cultural thinking of the day that it eventually led to his death.

One way of looking at this is that it revealed that hundreds of years of memetic culture was challenged and for two thousand years now we have seen and lived with the effects of this.

New doctrine was scripted to document and interpret these events and in these texts new patterns of understanding were introduced that amongst other things indicated that the ancient Hebrews seemed to miss the real meaning of the teachings of Moses and the prophets.  The doctrine of the so called New Testament reveals that the memes of the ancients were somehow lost in translation, that they we not mixed with faith but instead clogged with meaningless religious ritual and cultural and political bias.

Now I am sure there are many different interpretations of this process of events but the one that really impacts my thinking is that this same Jesus was recorded as saying that he would return again.  He also cautioned and directly questioned whether when he did return he would find faith on earth.

Could it be that one set of memes was replaced by another and that the same disturbance might be repeated?  Only this time on those who for two thousand years have believed that they have direct access to the Living God and as a consequence the keys to knowledge and truth … just like the ancient Hebrews themselves believed of their belief systems in their day?  The New Testament scriptures reveal that the Hebrews could not and even would not accept this and as a result the life and truth of God was snatched from them (at least for a time, depending on one’s theology) because of their offense.

Now no one knows when or how Jesus will return, but when he does I wonder how we who believe we have the full truth might react when we see him as he really is?

There is an imported Motorcycle manufacturer which produces high end motorcycles for worldwide distribution.  They manufacture their luxury motorbikes with a built in alarm system as a standard feature.  The alarm is a fairly hi-tech device that needs to be enabled upon delivery if the new owner so desires and most choose this option for obvious reasons when they take delivery.  Because the motorcycles are very attractive a real problem exists wherein the public seem to be overwhelmingly drawn to touch and even sit on the bikes if they are seen parked unattended in some public place.  Passing people have been known to touch & even fondle the bikes from time to time, running their hands caressingly over the chrome fittings and also over the immaculate paint work on the tank and fenders. Many onlookers at times are seemingly very  attracted to these bikes and appear to also sometimes have the urgent need to be photographed whilst sitting or languishing on the parked vehicle often times with a “Tom Cruise – Top Gun” attempted look-a-like facial expression on their mesmerized faces.  Sometimes they even have their girlfriends, mothers, grandparents, pets and kids on their laps with their cute, buckled shoes and sticky ice cream sodden hands smearing their apparent love, respect and affection everywhere.

One of the benefits of the standard alarm system on these imported motorcycles is a “tampering device.”  It is a clever motion detector device that activates itself and gives an initial warning when anyone touches the bike or tries to lift it up off its stand or turns the ignition switch.  It initially gives off a shrill screech to warn off the would be intruder but if the intruder persists it fully activates and the siren blasts an ear-chilling barrage of squeals and the bike shuts all its systems down rendering it unstealable (short of being winched up onto the back of some flat-bed truck and driven off).

This nifty device has a few short-comings though. One of which is that the motion detector would howl incessantly if the bike was towed on a trailer and eventually the bike battery would discharge if the eardrums didn’t burst first.  A simple, clever process can be employed to disengage the motion detecting aspect of the alarm so that the bike can be transported securely and without any alarm going off all the time.  This is called the “transport Mode.”

Any real biker will tell you that bikes are for riding and not for being towed on a trailer.  Bikes were never built to be towed in transport mode from one place to another with the motor off and sensory alarm disengaged.  They were built to be ridden and enjoyed and a big part of this enjoyment is full contact with the road and the wind literally full in the face and the deep throated growl of a powerful engine propelling one forward.

I cannot help wondering with the elections coming up in a few days just how many of us have our hearts and minds active and engaged with the fullness of life and how many are up on some political spin-doctors trailer with their motors off, being towed along with wheels firmly locked down and their sensory system in “Transport Mode?”

As a metaphor the relationship between light and darkness is an interesting excursion (as is the relationship between love and hate, good and bad, sin and righteousness, life and death, and so on …)

Where do these polarities originate from? Which came first?  Was one the bedrock for the other?  Did love spring to life as an antidote to hatred and death?

Or was it the other way around?

… and if they somehow all came on the scene at the same time who made them? .. and why?   … and if someone or something did make them what kind of a something or person could it be that would do such a thing?

Many believe in a loving, embracing, receptive God who created all that there is.  I am one of them.  However, if we are correct how did evil come to be in the stew pot?  Did our loving, kind, benevolent God also create evil, hatred, sin and death?   … doesn’t make sense does it?  … but did this happen?

If we are not correct and these polarities are some impersonal force, which is the stronger?  Which of them will prevail? … or will they eventually simply destroy each other, … along with all of us?

Does what we regard as being good, bad, darkness, light, love, hate, sin, righteousness, life or death, and so on really reflect accurately on these concepts?  To what extent are these things, these polarities, independent forces?  … perhaps even culturally defined constructs?  To what extent might they be abstract concepts we have ourselves created and adopted in order to try make sense of the world that seems to rage inside of us all?   … and around us all?  And if so, are they just impersonal conceptual constructs of our collective imagination or are they personified? … or are they both?  Are they spiritual beings much like the ancient Greek mythological deities, or simply impersonal natural forces much like gravity, electricity or magnetism?

If impersonal then maybe these things are just like instruments we have made that can be used one way or another, objects that are impersonal with neither intent nor conscience – perhaps like a knife, a finely crafted blade with an ornate handle, precisely designed and manufactured with great care and skill.  Hand made and handed down from generation to generation.  A product of excellence and proud tradition. Indeed, in the eyes of some a work of art, beautiful, desirous and in the eyes of others an instrument of horror and death. With a knife we can cut foliage and trees down and build shelter to protect our loved ones, caring for them through bitter and harsh weather conditions.  We can defend them and ourselves from predators or go hunting and use it to fill the pot so that many can eat and prosper.

… Yet with that same knife we can also cut down another human being, ending life, consequently devastating hundreds, even thousands of intimate family members and friends and possibly plunging generations into mortal tribal conflict.

Amongst those who have a declared belief in a loving God I have many times heard people wrestling over the origins of evil. Interestingly enough though, from my own, albeit limited experience I have seldom heard a lot of debate over the origins of good or God. Why would this be?  Could it be that we have an assumed bias towards good, love, righteousness, life, etc.?  Perhaps I am an incurable sceptic and a cynic to boot, but a cursory look around would appear to contradict this conclusively.  Do we believe in the nature of good because we have to or need to?  Is our bias towards good equally a culturally defined construct of convenience?  … perhaps rooted in insecurity and self-preservation?

Can we ask ourselves this question? …  are we able to ask if our own present theology is similarly constructed?   … and if it is difficult or perhaps impossible to do so,  – what are we afraid of?  Why do we not feel at liberty to ask the same questions of a good God that we ask of the presence of evil?  Are we fearful that the good of our good God is not good enough to accept our honesty?

The ancient Hebrew scriptures say that “the secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever.” (Dt 29:29).  … and maybe it is dangerous ground I walk on but I cannot keep quiet.  I must ask these questions.  So perhaps it might be wise for you to keep an eye on me and if I suddenly … well,  that might just be a lesson you can learn from. …

But as for me, I am a prisoner of hope.  I have been touched.  Maybe I haven’t? …  but nevertheless, somehow, from somewhere, something says, “come on in, the water is fine.”

Shall we swim?


Kids at kindergarten age or thereabouts are at an appropriate developmental stage. The world for them is an exciting place filled with new adventures at every turn. They explore every facet of the world around them with explosive abandon. We not only allow them to operate at this level, we actively celebrate it with them.
Childhood can be an interesting and even a delightful space – for the child as well as the watching adult. A child’s fantastic story can  fill us with wonder and amazement.

We marvel at the fluency of seemingly random unassociated associations as tales weave in and out of almost seamless fictitious wordscapes which often seem to have their origins in far away realms clearly never previously explored. The adventurous, primitive rendition of these fantasy worlds in artwork delights us as we watch them engaging with new and wonderful concepts. Stick drawings or the bold simple shapes of a landscape are received with joy and praised. We ask the child what they have drawn or painted (often because it can be somewhat indiscernible to us) and when they tell us we can be overwhelmed and we rejoice in their creation. We make them feel safe and adventurous in their creativity. It is not a difficult thing for us to do. We seem to instinctively know that it is good to let them explore creatively and without restraint. We even encourage them to continue and even to increase in their activities. Bold attempts are applauded, failures are down-played. Experimental abstract expressionism is received delightfully and we enter into the joy of the fertility of their imagination even when we cannot really make head or tail of what we are looking at for ourselves.

We delight in the fantastic stories they create. We are overjoyed with the interpretations they make and the stories they come up with. Even their grammar and pronunciation is enjoyed by almost all who hear even a jumbled rendition of something. Even a speech impediment sounds delightful, cute, even adorable to us. We go home and repeat the joy of our experience to our family members and peers and they too can easily enter into the deep richness of the event.

But then something happens.

Before we know it they stop.

Perhaps they are stopped?

… and soon, they become like us.

We seem to all but lose the ability to rejoice in dreams and be spontaneously creative. Perhaps something inside dies? Perhaps our thoughts become too tightly formed that we become perplexed by any dream or idea that strays even slightly from our norms, from our agreed upon patterns of the reality that we share?

We get very serious. We become sensible. We seem to lose the ability to rejoice in the creativity of others. Instead of opening up, we instead close down free thinking.

Yes, there is a difference between childlike and childish, but there’s also a difference between cleaning the baby and losing the baby down the bath drain pipe.
When did we get so restrictive? How did it happen? What did we do, or not do, that freed us up to be so imprisoned?
In the biblical narrative it is said that unless we become as little children we will not be able to enter into the kingdom of God.

What will it take to get back?

Can we afford not to pay the price, even if it costs us our very lives?

Consciously or unconsciously I think we all seek after significance. I’m pretty confident that there is no one who doesn’t want their lives to count, to make an impact, to have some relevance. I think we all need to feel like we are making a difference and that we will leave behind some significant mark, some impact. Hopefully this will be positive and constructive and hopefully we will be missed (in the nicest way). I’m also pretty sure that for most of us, even the most ‘normal’ of us, being just a normal person is simply not enough. The big questions are with us all even if we don’t think they are. Directly or indirectly we all try to answer them; What is life all about? What is the meaning for my existence? What am I here for? Where am I going?

We are by no means alone in this. Perhaps one of the untruths about significance is that it is an individual thing. I think that significance is never in isolation. It is at least linear and very possibly multi-dimensional. Perhaps to really begin to understand this increases our potential to be significant.

Significance speaks of a sign, something that point somewhere, to someone or to something.

sig·nif·i·cance (13th century)

1 a : something that is conveyed as a meaning often obscurely or indirectly

b : the quality of conveying or implying

2 a : the quality of being important : moment

b : the quality of being statistically significant

synonymy see importance (Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, (Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, Incorporated) 1993)

We may not all be important in terms of national, let alone international or global impact, but we all are important to at least one or two close to us. And in turn those whom we have been significant to or for will in turn extend that significance forward, to other people, other places, other ideas. There are no great people who have not in some way stood on the shoulders of some other person or situation in order to make their point.

For me, a sign points to something. A sign is not the thing it points to. This might sound obvious, but if we consider a sign board that points to a destination, for e.g., a sign on the highway that points to the city of Capetown, this sign board would probably also have markers or symbols indicating direction and possibly even distance to the city of Capetown. Now we would agree that the sign is not Capetown but merely points to the place called Capetown. The sign conveys the existence of an actual place yet it is not the place itself. Even in the centre of the city a sign declaring Capetown is not Capetown. Capetown is much more than the sign even though the sign might very well be accurate in its placement and context.

Perhaps in our overly self-centred, self-promoting, marketing dominant, modern societal systems we might tend to forget this? Are we aware that we are pointing away from ourselves even in our significance, pointing away and off, possibly into other time zones and spatial contexts, towards another destination that calls for change before it can be reached?

Significance is rarely if ever about us. In understanding this we might well become so much more significant in our part of the journey.