Parenthood

Parenthood

June 21, 2015  |  Ordinary Days of the Spirit, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Parenthood

Grace and peace to you …

I went to the Book launch of 21 at 21 The Coming of Age of a Nation on Thursday evening. Written by Melanie Verwoerd and Sonwabiso Ngcowa who travelled across the country collecting the life stories of people born in 1994 — the year of our Democracy. At the launch it was mentioned that so many of the young people interviewed had mentioned their ambition to be a “good parent one day”.

One chapter in the book is entitled: I want to be a good dad one day — the life of Marcellino Fillies. Here is some of his story:

“Ja, it was a bit tough when I was young,” he says. “We moved around a lot. I was born in Mitchells Plain, then we moved to Lentegeur, then to Delft, then back to Lentegeur, then to Strandfontein, and then … back to Lentegeur and then to Heideveld.” “Why did you move so often?” He shakes his head and his broad smile disappears. “My dad died when I was three.” “What happened?” I ask gently. “Well, my father also did not grow up with his dad. He had a stepdad. I recently went to see my dad’s stepdad and he told me that my dad was on the boats — fishing, you know — and there was a fight between him and another man. They fought, and then someone threw my dad overboard … they found his clothes a long time afterwards, but not his body. The fish had eaten his body.” I look slightly horrified; he responds quickly, “So I never knew him. You know, I have no memory. I don’t even have any photos.”

[He then shares briefly about his stepfather and the subsequent breakup between his mom and stepfather.]

“That time was very, very tough. My brother was about three or four years old and I was about seven. My mum had to work to provide for us. She would go into Cape Town every day and only come home very late at night. So I had to look after Ethan. After school at around five o’clock, I would go and fetch him at his crèche. We would walk home. I would make him supper, wash him, play with him, and then put him to bed. In between, I would try and do my homework. Then after eight o’clock, my mum would come home.”

As Melanie so insightfully pointed out at the launch — Marcellino who wants to be a good dad one day — has already been a good dad. He was a good dad at age 7.

On this Father’s Day we pray for the children who themselves are fathers to their siblings in countless child-headed homes.

Grace and peace, Alan


MenCare: Involved fatherhood leads to gender equality and child development, 16 June 2015, Nairobi.

Encouraging and supporting fathers to play bigger roles in the lives of their children through innovative global health and social initiatives is vital if real gender equality is to be achieved, finds a new MenCare report, State of the World’s Fathers (SOWF).

“Despite the fact that around 80% of the world’s men and boys will become fathers in their lifetime, engaging men in caregiving is only just beginning to find its way onto the global gender equality agenda,” says Wessel van den Berg, Child Rights and Positive Parenting, Sonke Gender Justice.

The SOWF report reveals long-lasting disparities in Africa where women do more unpaid care work than men, which negatively affects women and girls. However, 55 percent of African countries do provide paternity leave, which is higher than the global percentage (47 percent), but the uptake falls short.

The landmark SOWF report reveals that women continue to spend between twice and 10 times longer than men caring for a child or elderly person. These inequalities persist despite the fact that women today make up 40% of the formal global workforce and half of the world’s food producers. While improving year on year, men’s caregiving has not kept pace with women’s overall participation in the job market, and caregiving dynamics across Africa reflect this imbalance. Men’s presence at prenatal care also ranges vastly – from 14 to 86 percent.

One woman dies every 2 minutes from complications associated with pregnancy and childbirth. Across the globe, 34 of 1,000 babies alive at birth, die before the age of 1, and 46 of 1,000 die before the age of 5.

The involvement of fathers before, during, and after the birth of a child has been shown to have positive effects on maternal health behaviors, women’s use of maternal and newborn health services, and fathers’ longer-term support and involvement in the lives of their children.”

A recent analysis of research from low- and middle-income countries found that male involvement was significantly associated with improved skilled birth attendance, utilization of post-natal care, and fewer women dying in childbirth.”

For more information see Sonke Gender Justice: www.genderjustice.org.za

Jesus stood with the outcast

Jesus stood with the outcast

June 14, 2015  |  Ordinary Days of the Spirit, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Jesus stood with the outcast

Grace and Peace to you …

Gregory Boyle is a Jesuit Priest and the founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries – a gang intervention programme in L.A. In his book, “Tattoos on the Heart” he shares his twenty years of experience with us. I highly recommend you get hold of it. Here is an extract from the book, enjoy …

“Success and failure, ultimately, have little to do with living the gospel. Jesus just stood with the outcasts until they were welcomed or until he was crucified — whichever came first.

The American poet Jack Gilbert writes, “The pregnant heart is driven to hopes that are the wrong size for this world.” The strategy and stance of Jesus was consistent in that it was always out of step with the world. Jesus defied all the categories upon which the world insisted: good-evil, success-failure, pure-impure. Surely, He was an equal-opportunity “pisser off-er” in this regard.

The Right wing would stare at Him and question where He chose to stand. They hated that He aligned Himself with the unclean, those outside — those folks you ought neither to touch nor be near. He hobnobbed with the leper, shared table fellowship with the sinner, and rendered Himself ritually impure in the process. They found it offensive that, to boot, Jesus had no regard for their wedge issues, their constitutional amendments or their culture wars.

The Left was equally annoyed. They wanted to see the ten-point plan, the revolution in high gear, the toppling of sinful social structures. They were impatient with His brand of solidarity. They wanted to see Him taking the right stand on issues, not just standing in the right place.

But Jesus just stood with the outcast. The Left screamed: “Don’t just stand there, do something.” And the Right maintained: “Don’t stand with those folks at all.” Both sides, seeing Jesus as the wrong size for this world, came to their own reasons for wanting Him dead.”

Grace and peace, Alan


Self Portrait

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong

or feel abandoned.
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need to change you.

If you can look back with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand.

I want to know if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
falling toward the center of your longing.

I want to know if you are willing to live,
day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace,
Even the gods speak of God.

~ David Whyte from Fire in the Earth
©1992 Many Rivers Press

 

 


The Hierarchy of Disagreement

The Hierarchy of Disagreement

June 7, 2015  |  Ordinary Days of the Spirit, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on The Hierarchy of Disagreement

The Hierarchy of Disagreement by Paul Graham


“Religious liberty might be supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion. In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it.”

“Dear Sir: Regarding your article ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ I am. Yours truly,”

“People wonder why the novel is the most popular form of literature; people wonder why it is read more than books of science or books of metaphysics. The reason is very simple; it is merely that the novel is more true than they are.”

“Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.”

“The word “good” has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.”

“Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”

“The Bible tells us to love our neighbours, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.”

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

“There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.”

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”

“To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.”

“Music with dinner is an insult both to the cook and the violinist.”

Grace and peace, Alan