What a fabulous week! Perhaps that explains, why so many people were at the farmer’s market this morning. I even ran into several families & couples from St.Paul’s Lutheran Church: Gevers, Wundram, Roos etc. Normally I count myself lucky if I see one of them. Well, if there are so many more people streaming in, there’s a good chance of bumping into more people, you know already. Asking Lilly, why all those people were up so early, she was adamant: “It’s because people wake up in September!” My response, that it was only the end of August didn’t dissuade her one bit. The old parking guard was sure: “Dis mos payday!” Both Joel, the afrikaans sausage man and that friendly milk vendor felt the same. Statistically they were the frontrunners. The Moutons of the flower- and naartjie-stand mused on the warmer weather too: “It’s so warm already, that people get out earlier. It’s like our roses! Normally the bud only mid-September, but now I’ll be cutting them by then. It’s the same with the people at the market.” Willi wondered if it perhaps was “Mission festival”. You see, he’s from one of our Lutheran congregations in Lüneburg, KZN and there only “Missionsfest” would draw more people than the normal home crowd around anyway. I know, some of you might now think for yourself: “You wish!”, but that’s how he explained those many, many people streaming in even before sunrise. Some of the real diehards of the market like my rugby fundi Hendrik, the Portuguese fruitier Parera and the old man, who can’t get out of his chair even if he wanted to were blatantly ignorant: “Don’t know, what’s the matter today. Perhaps it will be a good day!”
Well, the week was good and came to a good end, when we visited the Market Theatre last night to watch “Animal Farm” (George Orwell) in a fantastic adaptation. Just getting to down-town Joburg is quite exiting – and not only driving down the six-lane highway leading past Wits, over the architectural marvel of the Nelson Mandela Bridge and right into down-town Jozi. Following our car’s GPS we landed ok in Breë Street 139 according to Computicket’s directions, but that was just in the middle of busy Friday night traffic and no theatre to be seen, still it was close enough for the GPS to list Market Theater as a first right under “Points of Interest” and that’s how we got to Liliyan Ngoyi Street and safe parking too. Must say there are many people down-town Joburg on a Friday evening – even more than at the Pretoria farmer’s market on a Saturday morning and its quite a different mix too. It was exhilarating to be part of this noisy, exuberant, bustling and partying crowd. We had some time to stroll around, catch a bite and listen to the many street musicians and performers pulling off their little side-shows even before our main attraction started inside the Market Theatre. So by the time this got started, we were right in the mood for this famous production.
Inside the Market Theatre the wonderfully refurbished setting creates a lovely atmosphere. It reminds me a bit of the old photos of Sophiatown, Triomf and Martendale, but the furniture was more like that of the Markgrafen Theater in Erlangen. Curious mix – proudly South African I’d say. Old signage, the lovely seating, diverse and relaxed audience with hats, flyers and whiskey tumblers did it part to make us feel very much at home. Yes, the audience was very much a reflection of the South Africa of our dreams – funny, engaging, vibrant and just so chilled out – and we were right in the middle of it and so much part of it too. The stage was set like an old farm yard – misty, hazy and rather dimly lit, but with the noises of an awakening farmstead: Roosters crowing, ducks quacking, hens clucking away and milk buckets clanging, barn doors opening with squeak. Well, eventually it got going and then it took us right into the unfolding drama, that is so well known and not only because still today all South Africans have this as one of the set-books in English for the matriculation examination. I wonder, what teachers in Umsinga or down in Pofadder make of it? This is a marvellous adaptation. Stunning, what those five actresses did for 2 hours solid and I really like what the director did in contextualising this provocative and frightfully relevant drama. Highly recommendable and not only to the local martriculants, but especially to our own government and specifically the ruling party of fat cats. I don’t want to spoil the plot and call them “pigs” even if they remind me very much of the main characters: Napoleon, Snowball, Boxer, Clover, Squealer. This was very definitely one of the highlights in my week.
Another one, was the fact that Angelika was awarded the prestigious Teaching Excellence Award at the University of Pretoria and will present her paper again on the University’s staff & faculties day. This is extra hard work from her side, but she has never cut corners and will give her utmost every day as I know very well. Once we had dreamt of applying her pedagogical skill to the training program of our Seminary, where we are also teaching students in their 2nd or 3rd languages. I wonder if we will get there one day? At best we’ve still got about 10 years left and if one considers the changing times and fortunes it might be considerably less even. We were very grateful to the lovely response via FB, but also by phone calls and messages from friends and family from afar as Germany and India, congratulating Angelika on her prestigious award and rejoicing with us, that her hard work and professional expertise has been recognised in this manner. She has not only achieved excellence in teaching at the university, but has also enabled our children to be enrolled both at the Germany School (Deutsche Schule Pretoria) and then subsequently at the University of Pretoria. Besides that she has come up with the ways and means to support me do the work at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane from the very beginning and despite of severe challenges all along. Together we are doing Zulu at Tukkies. That’s been 2 years of going about learning another language together. It gives us something to do together and be together during the week even as we go about our daily business. This week we got back another test, where Angelika got another very good mark and I’m just overjoyed that I didn’t flunk it. She will probably never be rewarded adequately in this time and age, but I am positive that these are the kinds of good works that many faithful Christians do at a great personal cost throughout their lives just because they are enabled to do so by their loving, caring and so merciful God. I’m looking forward to visiting the Rector’s concert with Angelika next week and I’m so very glad that she’s opened these doors and windows of opportunity for our family. It is as my uncle, who was diagnosed with colon cancer this week, said all his life: “He does all things very well!” (“Er wird es wohl machen!”
Our son Matzi celebrated his 20th birthday together with his elder brother Deds in Linz, Austria. They had just returned from Hamburg, where they had stayed with their old friend Tobias. Now they were quite exhausted from the good times and looking forward to a few days of peace and quite. If you consider that at that age, my generation was concerned with going to the army, joining the bush or township wars against foreign communists and other terrorists, then you’ll understand my gratitude, that God is reigning and deigning all things well. It is as Karl Barth said: “Es wird regiert!” (It is being governed). Ja, „er sitzt im Regiment und führet alles wohl!“ (He is enthroned and leads all things very well!)
Our eldest is still in Wartburg and is probably missing his brothers very much and would most likely like to be with them so very much. It’s good to have our sons so close to each other and so befriended. It doesn’t go without saying and I’m very grateful for that too, but also that he picked up the sermonette for St. Bartholomew’s Holiday I wrote 2 years ago and which was now part of the daily readings in the “Feste Burg Kalender 2015. Christoph shared an artists impression of this skinned saint, which he had downloaded previously, when we had discussed this Armenian history. Strange, two years ago the atrocities of ISIS were still very much off my radar, but it goes to show that God’s word remains eternally and sheds light on our presence all the days of our life – good and bad. Just as Volker Stolle elaborated in his commentary on St. Mark these past days. I’m ever so grateful that our children share the same faith and trust as Angelika and myself do with our parents too. It does tie us together in a way, that is quite extraordinary and very comforting and even uplifting and invigorating too.
Hearing good stories about our “other children”, “adopted sons and daughters in Christ” has about the same effect. So you can imagine how glad I was to hear that Enoch has submitted his doctoral dissertation. This happened much faster that I would have ever had hoped for and he has really impressed me with his diligence both while teaching and going about his own research. This is a quite significant achievement and not only due to the high speed of his work, but also to the wonderful effectivity of his endeavours. He reminds me a bit of the Praeceptor Germaniae himself – Dr. Luther’s esteemed colleague and right-hand man Dr. Philip Melanchton – Germany’s teacher. Macben not only completed the Fall Intensive Greek Course with Prof. Dr. John Nordling last year, but also taught the 10+ students the Introduction into Greek Grammar plus doing Lectio Continua in this biblical language with the senior students leaving him with at least 6 hours of lecturing every week. Besides this he takes care of his wife and 2 children most amicably and responsibly. He preaches regularly during Vespers and still finds time to play Volley Ball now and again. I’m very impressed by this my young colleague and I wish him the very best as he grows from strength to strength. It is my fervent prayer, that this Seminary will benefit for many years from his hard work, academic judiciousness and confessional faithfulness. May he become a true teacher of Africa and a shining light to many eager students across the continent. He is already a shining example to me and I’m sure to many others too. May the triune God give him grace, mercy and lots of endurance to keep it up and we continue to give praise for him to our good and loving God, who provides such excellent men to his church according to his boundless grace, love and mercy with us poor, miserable sinners, who have deserved far worse and much less too. To understand my gratefulness for hardworking academics like Enoch it might provide a helpful backdrop if you read this passage by Belinda Bozzoli, who is DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education and Training and who highlights the coming crisis in South Africa’s academic universities: http://www.politicsweb.co.za/news-and-analysis/the-looming-crisis-in-academia
Everybody who knows and loves our Seminary will also know the Hoffmeiers in Illinois as well as those up in Michigan from those days, when they would come and visit the Seminary for 3 months at a time and that for some years to get things fixed here and all ready for every year’s new intake of students. Well, last night Pat and Lee wrote the following about Ashenafi Desta Gonemo – another of my sons, who is now far off in the promised land north of Mexico. I am sure, you will rejoice with me about this good news: “Just wanted to send a note to you to tell you that we truly enjoyed Ashenafi’s visit with us last weekend. He did an excellent job with his presentations at our wine tasting event and then at Good Shepherd’s Bible Class the next morning. He had plenty of time to greet and interact with the guests at the wine tasting, and many of them told us how much they enjoyed meeting him. Time was more limited at the Bible Class, but he impressed someone, because we got an unexpected $500 check for LTS from one of the Bible Class attendees. I didn’t hear the presentation at the wine tasting, but the one at the Bible Class was very informative, and the first time I actually understood completely the “bridge” classes. Ashenafi told us that staying with us felt like home, and we were happy he felt that comfortable. One of our friends at church gave him a whirlwind tour of St.Louis, so now I think he understands that, although we often say we are from St. Louis, Maryville, Illinois is really not St. Louis. We hope to see him again at Ft. Wayne sometime in the next months. Thanks for facilitating Ashenafi’s studies at Ft. Wayne. I think he is and will be an asset to growing God’s kingdom wherever he is placed after he finishes his studies here.” So far Pat and Lee Hoffmeier from Good Shepherd LC in Collinsville, IL. Well, it’s really not us facilitating his stay and studies in CTS Ft.Wayne, but Michael and Danielle Grosse from International Adventures in Gunnison, CO. They are the ones, who deserve all credit for facilitating Ashenafi’s studies in the USA. They not only flew him there, but also saw to it, that he could meet people all over the country there to promote the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane and prepare for his MA in Theology there.
You can read yourself what Danielle and Michael wrote last week and which explains a lot, why people like them, but also like Pat and Lee do what they do and why it is so very encouraging for me to work with such dedicated and helpful and motivating people like them: God’s Comfort for Those Who Comfort Others. Obviously that again is a reason to rehearse the hymn I quoted in this mornings FB posting: “Now thank we all our God With hearts and hands and voices, Who wonderous things has done, In whom His world rejoices. Who from our mother’s arms Hast blest us on our ways With countless gifts of love And still is ours today.” (LSB 895)
Like every week here are some recommendations that caught my eye during the last week and which might be interesting. As politics dominated the past postings, I’ve concentrated on other themes a bit more. Hopefully that’s not too much of a fatalistic signal either. I must also excuse the number of German articles, but I profess that the partisan stuff from the US is just too much sometimes. I wonder if they – and that generalization “they” encompasses the broad spectrum of one-sided radicals from left to right and back again in that diverse country – if they can’t just leave out their terrible bias and tell a good story like the German newspapers do?
How a Muslim perceives Christianity: http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/buecher/navid-kermani-unglaeubiges-staunen-ueber-christentum-13760295.html and a newspaper reporter asks, whether our Lord Jesus Christ is still a member of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) or whether it’s but another arm of civil society figuring as an example of political correctness and legal tolerance: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/284852745158688322/
That’s something similar to the pandemic in Germany, but elsewhere too, which has invested so-called “Gutmenschen”. Here is a caricature of their deeds and doings, which they try to have prescribed for all and everybody. A language debate and somewhat provocative article on so-called “good works” was posted with regards to the current flood of refugees and migrants: http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/fraktur/machen-und-tun-fuer-die-fluechtlings-debatte-13762036.html
Another issue, which was put onto my radar by Dr. Armin Wenz last week, was the calamity of the WDR putting of the Talkshow “Hart, aber fair”, because of objections from women’s lib circles concerning the hilarious debate concerning the gender main-streaming issue there last week. Here is a blog highlighting the main debate, http://boess.welt.de/2015/08/22/zensur-im-namen-der-gleichberechtigug/ which can be seen on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXRdt0tG1Fw and here’s another parody from YouTube on language which reminds of Loriot and is quite brilliant really: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mP0hwWEiko
Naturally the issue of ageing is one of concern if you get closer to another birthday as we all do all the time, but here is a good and positive way of dealing with this not so threatening prospect of ageing gracefully: http://www.nzz.ch/meinung/kommentare/zur-kunst-des-alters-1.18600709
I am still rejoicing over the Protea’s victory over the New Zealand team, although the later was running on a seriously empty tank due to all sorts of reasons. The selection of the Springbok team for the upcoming Rugby world cup has left me rather despondent. Old Heinrich Brüssouw from the OFS reflect my mood well with his facial expression caught on the photo: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/284852745158696634/ I sure hope they privatise this state-run enterprise soon, before all our best people run off into the sunset and we’re just left with ruins of better times and people. At least Wayde van Niekerk got us a gold-medal in the 400m sprints. I watched that BBC video about 5 times before I called all others in my family to watch too and I’m just so thrilled about this outstanding performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29q5OEME-44 Yobodwana coming in 3rd in the 200m isn’t so bad either and I’m sure inquisitive, what he had to chirp up to the old Bolt from the USA, who came in first. That was a brilliant shot of the old stalwart and this upcoming youth from South Africa: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/284852745158696871/
Books on my table this week were the superb dissertation by young Peter Beyerhaus from way back in 1956: Die Selbstaendigkeit der jungen Kirchen als missionarisches Problem. This is what a dissertation in Missions should look like. A bit of comfort for me is that he took about 5x as long as I did way back in 2003 and he also had the privilege of working with excellent Missiologists (Sundtkler, Gutmann, Freytag, Hermelink, Warren) and not “just” with a Systematician, who stepped in for the excellent David Bosch, who had passed away so untimeously. At night I am reading Tillmann Prüfer’s “Der Heilige Bruno. Die unglaubliche Geschichte meines Urgrossvaters am Kilimanjaro.“ (Rowohlt 2015) or/and Wendy Doniger’s: The Hindus: An Alternative History (Penguin Press: 2009) and Maria Mayo: The Limits of forgiveness: Case studies in the distortion of a biblical ideal (Fortress Press: 2015)
We watched the film together “Seven years in Tibet” (1997) by Jean-Jaques Annaud starring Brad Pitt and David Thewilis, which not only is a great psychological tour, but also a reminder of communist China’s atrocities against Tibet.
Hopefully you have had a good week too, passing your tests and spending enough time with good friends and your family. This spring time is just so wonderful with all the flowers blooming and birds arriving and doing their thing. Hope you can also enjoy this evening’s full moon and some good music or discussion of your liking. I’m sure going to listen in to some more rugby as there is still some hope and it’s not all just doom and gloom yet. I’ll watch some Bundesliga too even if that’s pretty boring and the Bavarians are way ahead of the rest. That should leave me with the necessary and desired inner-balance to do the last bit of preparations for tomorrows divine service at the Seminary, where I am standing in for brother Mntambo, who is hopefully safe and sound at Concordia Seminary St.Louis by then. Have a very blessed weekend and a very good 13th Sunday after Trinity. I pray your pastor is well prepared and you hear God’s Word preached in clarity and wholesome fullness, gravity and joyful redemption as you look forward to partake in the most holy and precious sacrament of our Lord’s body and blood given & shed for you for the forgiveness of all our sins.