29 May 2006

Elizaphanian: Notes on atonement

I'm still looking for material on peace and reconciliation from a theological point of view, but keep getting sidetracked into other things, like the theology of the atonement. I've blogged them for future reference.

I broadly agree with what is said in this post

Elizaphanian: Notes on atonement

and my view has been that one of the most significant obstacles to the healing of the East-Wast schism of the 11th century was the publication of Anselm of Canterbury's Cur Deus homo? shortly after the schism occurred. This spread rapidly through the West, but because of the schism, had little influence in the East. But because it was not one of the issues that led to the schism, it wasn't on the agenda for meetings to try to heal the breach, but it just meant that the basic assumptions of both sides drifted further apart as time went by.

But then I found this in another blog on Rereading Anselm on the atonement, which says, among other things:

While recent theologians such as John Milbank and Hans Boersma have defended aspects of Anselm's atonement theology, one of the most interesting recoveries of Anselm's thought is that of Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart in his essay "A Gift Exceeding Every Debt: An Eastern Orthodox Appreciation of Anselm's Cur Deus Homo," (in Pro Ecclesia, Vol. VII, No. 3, pp. 333-348).

Hart argues that there is a real continuity between the thought of the church Fathers, including the Eastern Fathers, and the thought of Anselm, so that his Cur Deus Homo does not fix any definitive breach between the theological outlooks of East and West. Rather, Hart suggests, the change marked by Anselm is merely one of "accent."

I'll definitely have to see if I can find that reference in the library!

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theos (god) discussion (logos) = theology: Modern Humpty Dumpty and the Eastern Orthodox Way of Salvation

I've been asked by my bishop to prepare him some resource material for a conference he is to attend as a "resource person", on peace and reconciliation from a theological point of view. So I went searching blogs to see what has been written and this one came up. It looks interesting, but small grey letters on a black background makes it hard to read.

theos (god) discussion (logos) = theology: Modern Humpty Dumpty and the Eastern Orthodox Way of Salvation

But I'm not sure that it's really what I'm looking for.

28 May 2006

Liberal Party of South Africa

Well, I've found a new host for the web pages on the Liberal Party of South Africa, and the banning of opponents of apartheid, which were removed by Yahoo! a couple of weeks ago. I hope the new host proves more reliable than Yahoo! did, But I think the story needs to be told and available somewhere.

You'll find most of our pages on the new site:


and I hope the rest will be there in the next couple of days.

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25 May 2006

Passengers must please refrain from...

MetroRail, which runs the Thatcherised suburban commuter trains in South Africa, is having a problem with passengers who toss other passengers off the trains, and is thinking of calling in the army to keep order on trains.

Perhaps they need to look at a couple of remedies closer to home. For one thing, I think the MetroRail trains must be the only ones in the world that run with most of the doors open, and passengers leaning out of the doors, and even climbing on the roof to go surfing. Most commuter trains have a traction interlock switch to ensure that if the doors are open, the train stays put. If MetroRail checked the safety devices on their own trains, they might go a long way towards solving the problem.

But what started the rot was probably the amalgamation of the Railway Police with the South African Police that took place long ago, while the Nats were still in power. Ever since then, saftey on the trains has deteriorated, until we have now reached the stage where nearly every week we hear about kids being killed because they were "surfing" the trains -- riding on the roof, or passengers are being thrown off because they are foreigners, or scabs, or something.

19 May 2006

MediaCitizen: Telcos Seek to Deceive Bloggers with Cartoon

My recent experience with Yahoo! suggests that big internet companies are seeking to restrict free speech.

This blog suggests that it's happening in more ways than one:

MediaCitizen: Telcos Seek to Deceive Bloggers with Cartoon

18 May 2006

The Liberal Party of South Africa

The following article used to be on the web page
but was arbitrarily removed by Yahoo! for reasons best known to themselves. Since there is very little accurate information on the Liberal Party of South Africa on the Web, I'm putting it here as a temporary measure, until it can find a more reliable home.

The Liberal Party of South Africa

The Liberal Party of South Africa was formed in 1953, and fifteen years later was forced to close when the National Party governnment passed the Prohibition of Improper Interference Act, which made non-racial political parties illegal. Another 26 years were to pass before South Africa became, at least on paper, the kind of society the Liberal Party had struggled for, with non-racial free elections, a democratic constitution that entrenched the rule of law, and a bill of rights.

The definitive history of the role of the Liberal Party in the struggle against apartheid is probably Randolph Vigne's Liberals against apartheid (London, MacMillan, 1997, ISBN 0-333-71355-9), but there doesn't seem to be any web page dealing with this topic, so I hope this helps to fill the gap. What follows is something of a personal memoir. I was a member of the Liberal Party towards the end of its life, in Natal, and I write from that point of view. I hope that eventually others will contribute to this story.


On 9 May 1953 the Liberal Party of South Africa was formed at a meeting in Cape Town. The meeting was of the South African Liberal Association, which had been formed earlier from diverse groups that had gathered in different centres in South Africa (Vigne 1997:20-21). The National Party had just won its second term of office with an increased majority, which it took as a mandate to press ahead with its policy of apartheid. It set about removing coloured voters from the comon roll, and abolishing the separate representation that the few African voters had had since they had been removed from the common voters' roll in 1936. The Communist Party of South Africa had been banned, and civil liberties had been eroded as the National Party sought to suppress opposition to its policies.

The main centres of the Liberal Party - Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg and Durban - in many ways represented different philosophies, outlooks, views of what was wrong in South Africa, and what needed to be done about it. Vigne (1997) concentrates mainly on the Liberal Party at the national level, and in the old Cape Province. Natal liberalism, however, was somewhat different. The bulk of the party membership was among Zulu-speaking people in the rural areas.
The history of the Liberal Party is divided into two almost equal periods -- 1953-1960, and 1960-1968. Nineteen-sixty was a watershed year for South Africa. The Sharpeville massacre in March 1960 was followed by the banning of the African National Congress (ANC), the Pan-African Congress (PAC), and several other political organisations, a State of Emergency (during which several members of the Liberal Party, as well as those of other organisations, were detained), and a referendum among white voters on whether South Africa should become a republic. The formation of the Progressive Party of South Africa in 1959, with its policy of a qualified franchise, siphoned off the more right-wing white supporters of the Liberal Party, and thereafter the Liberal Party was unequivocal in its electoral policy of "one man, one vote."

What is liberalism? What are liberals?

"Liberal" was, and to some extent still is, something of a dirty word in South Africa. It most frequently appears with the epithet "white", and the stereotype of the "white liberal" is often propagated in the news media. See, for example:

Such articles are misleading, however. Though most of those at the founding meeting were white, within a few years of its founding most of the members of the Liberal Party were black. For the first few years white members were the dominant influence in the party, mainly because the proceedings at national congresses were in English. But when simultaneous translation equipment began to be used, and conference delegates could speak their minds in whatever language they were most fluent in, this changed.

The main aim of the Liberal Party was to establish a free and democratic non-racial society in South Africa. A free society is one in which people are free from excessive government control. The Liberal Party was explicitly opposed to "all forms of totalitarianism, such as fascism and communism". It was therefore strongly opposed to the oppressive aspects of Nationalist rule, such as detention and banning without trial, and people being deprived of their property of ideological reasons, as when people were deprived of land and houses in the name of apartheid. Pass laws, influx control and similar laws were oppressive and unjust, and represented undesirable government interference in the lives of ordinary citizens.
In a peculiar twist of the meanings of words, many people nowadays, especially in the USA, seem to associate liberalism with "big government". This, however, is the reverse of the truth, and was certainly the opposite of the truth in South Africa. In South Africa the National Party arrogated more and more power to the government and its officials, and systematically removed the legal rights that protected ordinary citizens from the arbitrary abuse of power by officials. It has been rightly said that one of the principles of liberalism is that "the government governs best that governs least". But the Nationalist government in South Africa wanted to govern more and more. New laws kept appearing to remove from the courts the power to question the validity of laws, or to pronounce on the validity of actions that government officials took when using the growing powers that the laws granted them.

Peter Brown, one of the founders of the Liberal Party, and for many years its national chairman, died in June 2004 at the age of 79. The following obituaries have more information:

The archives of the Liberal Party are kept at the Alan Paton Centre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg http://www.library.unp.ac.za/paton

13 May 2006

Yahoo pulls the plug

About 10 years ago I started a personal Web page at Geocities. The site grew as I shared information with other people. Eventually Geocities was taken over by Yahoo, and today, suddenly and without warning, Yahoo blocked access to my web pages, and to my e-mail address (hayesstw@yahoo.com)and everything else linked to that Yahoo ID.

The implication is that I had somehow violated their terms of service. I'm not sure how I might have done that, but the only thing I can think of is that someone sent me one of those address update thingies, through a web site called Plaxo. I thought I would try out the Plaxo thing -- it's a sort of on-line address book, like the one Yahoo has, but with automatic updating. It had an option to import my Yahoo address book, so I did that, and the next thing I knew was that my Yahoo membership was terminated.

So the problem seems to be one of these turf wars between Internet companies. I can't think of what else it might be.

The biggest problem, however, is that a few months ago I moved some academic research discussion forums, and a couple of fun ones, from the FamilyNet BBS network to YahooGroups, in the mistaken belief that they would be more versatile and reliable. Boy, was I mistaken! My BBS computer died, and I thought it wasn't worth repairing it, and gatting the discussion forums between BBS echoes, E-mail lists and newsgroups. But perhaps BBSs are still better, even though the technology has not been updated for a long time. At least each BBS was under the control of its sysop, and the whole network was not at the mercy of a big company which could punish people arbitrarily if they were seen as somehow being unsupportive in their turf wars. Shades of Mr Vorster's bannings and detentions in the "old South Africa". Why were you banned? "The Minister in his wisdom sees fit."

The discussion forum on African Independent Churches was quite small, but it was a useful contact medium for researchers. But I can no longer maintain it, or even hand it over to anyone else to maintain. Gone! Same with the New Religious Movements forum, which started on a university server in Canada, was gated to FamilyNet, then moved to YahooGroups. Gone.

And so on with all the others.

A blog is a poor substitute.

11 May 2006

Ballots, Balls and Bikes

Encouraging news of the Brit local elections

Ballots, Balls and Bikes

Hope the belligerent Mr Blair will soon be on his bicycle.

Reconciliation, peace and the radical outsider

Jim Forest of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship delivered the Fr Sergei Hackel Memorial lecture on Reconciliation, peace, and the radical outsider in Orthodox spirituality

As Jim shows, Fr Sergei was one of the radical outsiders, but he mentions several more.

The Eagle's Nest: Following Jesus - 2

Here is some more information about the Following Jesus document from Australia.

The Eagle's Nest: Following Jesus - 2

It was nearly called "The Barton Declaration", and was similar in ethos to A Message to the People of South Africa published by the South African Council of Churches in 1968.

This has led to some discussion in the Christianity and Society forum about compiling a collection of such documents, which might be useful to church historians, and also to Christians facing conditions in society that call for a Christian response. We already have The Belhar Confession, and are looking for an English translation of The Barmen Declaration pf the Confessing Church in Germany.

10 May 2006


You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative
















What is Your World View? (updated)
created with QuizFarm.com

Jacob Zuma found not guilty of rape

Jacob Zuma has been found not guilty of rape.
  • Zuma poised for a comeback
  • Outcome a setback for women, say activists
  • Daughter's testimony saves the day
  • President Mbeki, political parties accept verdict
  • Supporters celebrate as Zuma is acquitted
  • 1000 celebrate with him at his Forest Town home
  • Acquittal doesn't mean the battle is over yet
  • Drama of the Zuma camp versus the Mbeki camp has not been fully played out
So read the headlines.

And the editorial and op-ed pages:
  • Judge did a fine job in Zuma trial
  • Not guilty, but not fit to lead
No, he wasn't guilty of rape. But he was guilty of adultery.

I've skipped reading most of the press reporting of the trial, which has often meant starting the newspaper on page 5. The bits I did see didn't seem very edifying. When the accusation first appeared, it seemed like a put-up job, coming soon after the decision to prosecute him as a spin-off of the Shaik trial.

So he wasn't guilty of rape. But neither was Profumo, who died recently. Neither was John Prescott, whose behaviour was similar, and led to similar consequences. Should Prescott and Profumo have been reinstated since they were not found guilty of rape?

Zuma was guilty of adultery, but Jesus said of a woman caught in adultery, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."

Many still condemn Zuma, even though he was found not guilty of rape. But how many people can truthfully claim to be absolutely blameless of any sexual misconduct?

Judge Willem van der Merwe confined his moralising to a Kiplingesque comment, "If you can control your body and your sexual urges, then you're a man, my son."

But it might be worth going back a bit earlier in Kipling's poem, "If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you..."

The fact is that we live in a society in which controlling sexual urges is, with a few exceptions, seen as unfashionable, and many seem to argue that it is cruel even to think such a thing. Among the exceptions are those who say that the outcome is a "setback for women". This seems tantamount to saying that any woman who makes false accusations should be believed.

We live in a society in which sexual morality has become increasingly contradictory, with increasinly harsh penalties demanded for an ever-narrowing range of offences. If you can control your sexual urges when all about you are losing all control, and urge that you do too... you'll be a freak.

And Jacob Zuma headed up the Moral Regeneration Movement. So what is moral regeneration? Committing adultery and saying that that's cool, as long as it's consensual and you have a shower afterwards to prevent Aids?

We may not all be able to control our sexual urges all the time. But the biggest failure is not having a sense of failure when we do fail to control them. Moral regeneration surely starts with repentance -- confessing our failure and recognising that it is a failure.

08 May 2006

The Eagle's Nest: Following Jesus

This reminds me of the Message to the people of South Africa, published in 1968.

The Eagle's Nest: Following Jesus

It's worth reading, and perhaps disseminating. I would also be interested in a source.

07 May 2006

British foreign ministers appointed by the White House?

Tony Grist writes in his LiveJournal:

Jack Straw got bumped from the Foreign Office because he believes it would be "nuts" to go to war with Iran.

Bush rang Blair and asked him (queruously) what his boy Jack was on.

British Foreign Secretaries are appointed in the White House.

I hadn't seen anything about this in the media, but wondered it it had anything to do with this piece in The Scotsman where fellow MP George Pope said:

He has shown Miss Rice at first hand the strength of opinion against the war in Iraq and the division it has caused in his own back yard. When she goes back to Washington to discuss what happened about Iran, she can tell President Bush there is no way that the British can be expected to take part in view of domestic public opinion.

It has also very clearly shown Jack as a world statesman in his own right. Here was Condoleezza Rice coming to his constituency and then flying out to Baghdad with him to try to persuade the parties there to form a government. This was Jack Straw as a player on the world stage on his own, not in the shadow of Tony Blair as the Prime Minister's gopher.

That would seem calculated to annoy the belligerent pair, Bush and Blair.

06 May 2006

Disruptive Theology: Easter thoughts 2006

I found some interesting comments on the difficulty of communicating across cultures here:

Disruptive Theology: Easter thoughts 2006

It puts me in mind of two things: first, the difficulty of communicating with people who see the world from the framework of a modern economic ideology and believe that it takes precedence over Christian values (see previous post).

And secondly, the rise of African Independent Churches, where missionaries, particularly Protestant ones, from the West translated the Bible into many African languages, but their own theology was contextualised for post-Englishtenment modernity. The Africans understood the Bible much better than they did, because the Bible is a premodern book.

04 May 2006

Paying a living wage is "anti-Christian"?

Over the last couple of days I've been engaged in an extraordinary discussion on the alt.religion.christian.east-orthodox newsgroup. Someone had posted an article about a living wage being anti-Christian. It struck me as extremely odd that any Christian could say that, much less Orthodox ones, who have the teachings of the Fathers.

Part of the article was about some proposed US legislation, and as I don't live in the US, I did not discuss the merits of the proposed legislation, but rather the title of the article, which was simply a blanket statement that a living wage was anti-Christian. Whatever the policies or their implementation, the title, which seemed to be the conclusion, was a lie.

But three Americans on the newsgroup vehemently defended the the proposition that a living wage is "anti-Christian", using secular economic theories, and no theological arguments at all.

They said that a living wage was wrong because it was "artificial", but that did not explain why they thought it was anti-Christian, and anyway their economic theories seemed far more artificial. At first I thought we could discuss it from the common ground of the Orthodox faith, but they seemed to shy away from that, and would not come near, clinging rather to the security of their economic thories.

At first I thought they were just being obtuse, and perhaps wilfully ignorant, in a sort of ironic way, that their arguments were tongue in cheek

Then as the discussion went on, it appeared that they were deadly serious. They really believed the sort of things that they were saying. Perhaps it was a cultural difference: growing up in American culture they just absorbed these values with their mother's milk, and could not communicate with people from a different culture. But not all Americans are like that. I've met plenty of Americans that I've had no difficulty in communicating with, so perhaps it is some sort of sub-culture there.

But then it began to look more and more like idolatry. They really did think that their secular economic theories trumped Christian ethics. Though the economic theories themselves may be secular, these people were turning them into a religion. It seemed a bit like what the Russians called dvoeverie, double-mindedness -- trying to worship both God and Mammon, but as they wnt on, it seemed that God didn't get a look in -- it was Mammon all the way.

The latest phase, however, seems to have degenerated into raving lunacy. Two of them accused me of committing armed robbery. They seemed to imagine that I had accused them of all sorts of crimes: I hadn't. I simply questioned the idea that paying a living wage was anti-Christian. And this seems to have sparked off these bizarre fantasies that I had committed armed robbery.


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