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Methodius Hayes [userpic]

Back again...

March 28th, 2014 (10:11 am)

I can't remember when I was last on LiveJournal. Our phone was out of order for 6 weeks, but it's been longer than that, so that isn't a real excuse, Most of my LJ friends seem to have stopped posting anyway, and the only ones I see regularly are seraphimsigrist, meadowskete and poliphilo, and they've probably given up on me anyway.

If anyone is interested, you can read about our return to the Dark Ages here, and some reflections on recent events in Ukraine here, since I seem to be doing most of my writing about things in other places than here.

Methodius Hayes [userpic]

New web address

January 16th, 2014 (08:43 pm)
current location:

I've now found a new home for my web pages, which you can see at

http://www.khanya.org.za/stevesig.htm

I used to keep my web pages on Bravenet, which, however, went belly-up about 18 months ago. I hope the new host will provwe more reliable.

Methodius Hayes [userpic]

Spring is here

October 28th, 2013 (11:18 pm)

We’ve had a few rainy days in the last couple of weeks, and on Sunday last week my wife Val bought some Barberton daisies in various colours to plant outside out bedroom window.

Barberton daisies

Barberton daisies

They are planted around a bush with pink flowers that seen to flower several times a year. We are not sure what it is called. A friend on Facebook, where we also posted the picture, suggested that it was a “pink bottlebrush”, but I’m not sure if that is correwct — does anyone know?

Pink bottlebrush?

Pink bottlebrush?

Here is a close-up picture of one of the flowers:

Pink bottlebrush?

Pink bottlebrush?

We like it, because we used to have such a bush in the garden in Melmoth in Zululand, where we lived 30 years ago, and so it reminds us of home.

And when we were driving to Johannesburg last Saturday evening for Vespers at St Nicholas Church, there were rain clouds all over, with a hole in the sky through which the sun was shining, just when we got to church.

St Nicholas Church, Brixton, Johannesburg - clouds at Vespers

St Nicholas Church, Brixton, Johannesburg – clouds at Vespers

So spring showers bring pretty flowers.

Methodius Hayes [userpic]

A memorable journey through Namibia and Botswana

June 20th, 2013 (05:20 pm)

In May 2013 we, Steve & Val Hayes, went on a three week holiday in Namibia and Botswana, which we have chronicled, with photos in a series of blog posts. I didn't write any of them on LJ, because putting photos in is a bit of a schlepp, but here's a list of links to the various posts, in case anyone is interested.

One purpose of the journey was to meet old friends, some of whom I had not seen for 40 years or more. I knew them when I worked for the Anglican Church in Namibia from 1969 to 1972 (when I was deported by the South West African Administration, acting under orders from the South African Security Police). We also visited some of Val’s cousins who were living in Windhoek, Namibia, and did some family history in the archives and church records. For part of our journey we followed in the footsteps of Val’s great-great-grandfather Fred Green, who in 1855 travelled up the Taokhe and Okavango Rivers by boat from Lake Ngami to the Popa rapids. One could not do that today, as you can see from some of the photos.

Okavango River at Rundu

Okavango River at Rundu

So here are our blog posts, with photos, more or less in chronological order.


  1. Kang: ver in die ou Kalahari | Notes from underground — from Tshwane in Gauteng to Kang in the middle of Botswana, in the Kalahari desert, 6 May 2013

  2. Trans-Kalahari Highway, Kang to Windhoek | Notes from underground
    Windhoek: family and old friends | Khanya. In Windhoek we stayed with Enid and Justin Ellis. Enid is Val’s cousin on her mother’s side. We also saw Bishop Assaria Kamburona of the Oruuano Church, and Kaire Mbuende, son of Gabriel Mbuende, the late secretary of the Oruuano Church, whom I knew in the 1970s.

  3. Elusive Namibian families | Hayes & Greene family history. We did some family history research in the Windhoek archives, looking mainly for descendants of Francis and Frances Stewardson (nee Morris). We found some, others remain mysterious.

  4. Books and worms and things | Notes from underground. We visited a Windhoek bookshop, which seemed to have lots of things not available in South African bookshops. And found that Enid and Justin Ellis keep some strange pets.

  5. Sunday in Windhoek: Quaker meeting and walking the dogs | Khanya. We couldn’t find an Orthodox Church in Windhoek, so we went with Enid and Justin Ellis to their Quaker meeting instead, and met another old friend, Hiskia Uanivi, whom I had known when he was a student at the Paulinum Lutheran Theological Seminary. He is now Archbishop of the Archdiocese of the Diviane Word — a title bestowed on him by the Namibian government, which said he could not register a church with the word “God” in its name.

  6. Tracking down elusive Namibian families | Hayes & Greene family historyA rather unproductive morning in the Lutheran Church Archives, but finding more useful material at the Windhoek Scientific Society, and dinner with Mburumba Kerina

  7. After a week in Windhoek we went North to Outjo | Notes from underground. We observed the change, or lack of it, in small Namibian towns and in the countryside, and stayed at the Sasa Safari Camp near Outjo, in tranquil surroundings with a magnificent view.

  8. In the Etosha National Park 15-17 May 2013 | Notes from underground. From Outjo we went to the Etosha National Park, where we spent a couple of days looking at wild animals.

  9. Ovamboland, Namibia 17-20 May 2013, with flashbacks to the 1970s | Khanya. In Ovamboland we met more old friends, and made some new ones. I recalled my previous clandestine visit, hidden under a matress at the back of a bakkie. This time it was open and above-board.

  10. Across northern Namibia | Notes from underground — travelling from Odibo in Ovamboland to Rundu in the Kavango Region of Namibia, with notes on social and economic change

  11. Drowning in the Okavango: in the steps (and wake) of the brothers Green | Hayes & Greene family history –following the Okavango river, where one of the Green brothers drowned, from Rundu in Namibia to Shakawe in Botswana

  12. From Shakawe to Maun via Lake Ngami | Hayes & Greene family history — Fred Green and his companions went from Lake Ngami to the Popa Falls by boat in September-October 1855. We went the other way, by car, in May 2013.

  13. A day in Maun and another boat ride, to see a spectacular sunset and moonrise over the Okavango Delta.

  14. The Botletle or Boteti River – in the 1850s Fred Green and his brother Charles were often to be found hunting on the Botletle River, so we followed the river to find what its attraction was. They also left their mark on a baobab in the area, which is known to this day as “Green’s Baobab”.

  15. Homeward bound — having seen most of what we had come away to see, we headed homewards to Pretoria.

Methodius Hayes [userpic]

Book launch: "Die Onsienlike Son"

August 27th, 2012 (05:47 am)
current location: Tshwane, Gauteng

Die Onsienlike SonDie Onsienlike Son by Jacobus van der Riet

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Last Saturday we went to the launch of a new book, a book of Afrikaans poems on the lives of the saints.

That in itself is a fairly unusual thing.

There was a time, not all that long ago, within living memory of some of us, when those in power defined an Afrikaner as someone who was white, spoke Afrikaans, was a member of one of the three Dutch Reformed Churches and supported the National Party.

Fr Kobus chatting at his book launch

Back in those days, none of the Dutch Reformed Churches did saints, though things may be changing now. Some of them do candles nowadays, which they didn’t do back then, so can saints be far behind?

But these poems are by Fr Kobus van der Riet, an Orthodox priest. Or, to give him his full title, Archimandriet Jacobus van der Riet. At the back of the book are brief hagiographies of the saints who are the subjects of the poems, and who go back as far as Abraham, but also include 20th century saints like St Nektarius of Pentapolis and St John of San Francisco.

The book is also illustrated with ikons painted by our daughter, Julia Bridget Hayes.

Fr Kobus signing copies of his book “Die Onsienlike Son”

Fr Kobus was originally from Harrismith in the Free State, and was educated at Stellenbosch. He was receiuved into the Orthodox Church in 1994, and was ordained as a priest in 2002. He has visited Greece, Russia and Romania, and spent about a year at a monastery in the Peleponese, and about 3 months at monasteries on the Holy Mountain. He studied theology at St Tikhon’s Seminary in Pennsylvania in the USA.

In introducing his book of poems he said that he had written mainly about saints in countries he had visited, so that he could get a feel for their lives and circumstances.

People asked questions about the role of saints in the life of the Orthodox Church, and the place of ikons. Fr Kobus explained that people were recognised as saintsa in the Orthodox Church because people could see the glory of God in them, either in their life and ministry, or sometimes even after their death. For example, there is St Phanourios, who was a lost saint, and was rediscovered when people found an ikon of him. People ask for his prayers when they have lost something, and sometimes make cakes, which he asked people to make for his mother, and pray for her, since she lived an immoral life. He is commemorated on 27 August.

The saints are thus like friends, whom we can ask to pray for us, and, as in the case of St Phanourios, we can sometimes honour their prayer requests too.

These kinds of themes and subjects are unusual for Afrikaans poetry, so it will be interesting to see how the book is received, and whether it makes a lasting contribution to Afrikaans literature. There is some very good poetry written in Afrikaans, which is in some ways much more expressive and poetic than English, which seems more suited to prose than poetry.

There were about 40 people there for the occasion, at the premises of the Protea Boekhuis in Clydesdale, Pretoria. Some came from St Nicholas Parish in Brixton, Johannesburg, where Fr Kobus was received into the Orthodox Church in 1994.

Fr Kobus with some of the Orthodox Christians present at the book launch: Dn Stephen Hayes, Marios Joseph, Carol Hamman, Fr Kobus, Rita Sullivan, Zoe Joseph, Val Hayes

I’ve written about this in English, though really someone should write about it in Afrikaans, and I hope one or more of my Afrikaans blogging friends will do so — there is one blog mention here. You can find more about the book here: Jacobus van der Riet bespreek sy gedigte oor heiliges in Die onsienlike son. And you can buy a copy in various bookshops, or here: loot.co.za or in other online book shops.

You can see the original version of this post here.

Methodius Hayes [userpic]

Orthodox Church in Edendale, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

July 14th, 2012 (06:50 am)
current location: Edendale, KZN, South Africa

The Orthodox Church in Edendale was built, as far as I know, by our Bishop Damaskinos when he was a parish priest in Durban about 10-12 years ago, and is in the care of Reader Timothy Madlala, who attended the seminary in Nairobi. I had heard a lot about him (and the church) from other people, and so was pleased to meet him in person for the first time.

Michael Carstens, Reader Timothy Madlala & Val Hayes at Edendale, KZN

There is a house on the land, where Reader Timothy lives, and the church is built in the same style. There is also an outdoor baptistery, which can just be seen in the background of the picture above, with a cross-shaped font set into the ground.

Orthodox Church, Edendale, near Pietermaritzburg

Edendale has an interesting history. The land was bought and settled by black Methodists before the passing of the Natives Land Act of 1913 (which made it illegal for black people to buy land in “white” areas). But because it bordered on a black reserve, it was never expropriated by the apartheid government, and the people were never ethnically cleansed. It remained one of the few places where black people could own freehold land in South Africa right through the apartheid era.

While we were talking a group of young children came in and ran up and greeted us all with hugs and kisses. Michael Carstens remarked that such behaviour was very unEnglish, implying, I think that the hugging and kissing common in Orthodox culture was a little strange to the more reserved English-speaking cultures.

Reader Timothy with some of his young parishioners, 13 July 2012

I think it would also seem strange in traditional Zulu culture as well, where children do not rush to greet strangers, but rather keep in the background, and are still, in many households, expected to be “seen and not heard”. I took it as a sign that these children felt secure and loved, and at home in the church.

You can see the full post (with more ;pictures) here.

Methodius Hayes [userpic]

Jack Kerouac's American journey (review)

March 13th, 2012 (10:58 am)
current location: Tshwane, Gauteng

Jack Kerouac's American Journey: The Real-Life Odyssey of On the RoadJack Kerouac's American Journey: The Real-Life Odyssey of On the Road by Paul Maher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


On the road is not my favourite book by Jack Kerouac so I might not have bought this book if it had not been going cheap on a sale. I'm glad I did buy it, though, because I found it more interesting than On the road, and it explains how that book was written.

I recently read Neal Cassady: the fast life of a beat hero (review here), and found several details in this book that three more light on Cassady's character and behaviour than his biography did. Perhaps Paul Maher had access to more sources. After reading the biography, I was at a loss to know why people like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg were attracted to Cassady, though in Ginsberg's case the initial attraction was sexual. Maher manages to explain it better, though he still does not portray Cassady as a particularly attractive character.

That still doesn't explain why I liked this book better than On the road itself. Perhaps it is because the real life of authors is often more interesting than the characters they write about. My favourite among Kerouac's books is still The Dharma bums, and perhaps that is because it is more about the influence of Gary Snyder than that of Neal Cassady, and Snyder is a more sympathetic character.

One thing that almost put me off reading the book was odd errors in language. I suppose having been an editor makes me rather intolerant of slip-ups (even though I make plenty of my own). One of the more egregious ones was on page 133, "Carolyn Cassady received a letter from her husband, postmarked January 11. In it he promised her regular installments of cash from working two jobs in New York, neither of which he had yet to procure." I presume the author intended to say either "both of which he had yet to procure" or "neither of which he had yet procured", but as it stands it is a strange piece of nonsense. There are other similar errors, writing "principal" where "principle" was meant and so on. But I'm glad that these didn't put me off, because the book is worth reading, at least to anyone who has enjoyed reading any of Kerouac's books.






View all my reviews

Methodius Hayes [userpic]

Tales from Dystopia

March 12th, 2012 (04:13 am)
current location: Tshwane, Gauteng

Tales from Dystopia is a series of blog posts I am writing of memories of the apartheid era in South Africa.

I started it because of some comments made by some South African Christian bloggers about the need to remember history so that we are not tempted to repeat the mistakes of the past. Some were also too young to remember what the apartheid era was really like. And some noted a tendency of some, even those who had lived through it, to say that it was not so bad, and that it had good intentions, and that in any case we should forget about the past and "move on".

But it is not so easy to "move on" if we forget about the past, because the past is also a great weight to which we are tethered, which keeps us from "moving on".

So here are some memories. They are just one person's memories, but if others follow a similar idea and write about their own memories, we may get a fuller picture, and be better able to come to terms with the past.

Methodius Hayes [userpic]

Extreme economic inequality

February 9th, 2012 (07:09 am)
current location: Tshwane, Gauteng

Now I know that "whiteness studies" is bourgeois, capitalist and racist.

A number of young white South African Christians, who used to be interested in the "emerging church", have recently become abosorbed in "whiteness studies", a pseudo-academic discipline that seems just as racist as the "Christian Nationalism" it claims to be trying to counter. They claim that "whiteness studies" is the solution to the problem of racism that, eighteen years after the official end of apartheid, still bedevils South African society. I invited them to take part in the Synchroblog on Extreme Economic Inequality, in the hope that they might be able to show how "whiteness studies" was relevant to that, but it seems that nont one of them has done so.

For those who are interested, here are the contributions to the synchroblog, most of them from North America. It seems that South African bloggers just don't see this as a problem.

Methodius Hayes [userpic]

Calling us out of numbness

November 3rd, 2011 (06:20 am)

Richard Rohr says “the role of the prophets is to call us out of numbness.” Since the beginning of time, prophetic voices both in and outside of
scripture have been calling us to consider change of some sort. Sometimes it is spiritual change, other times it may be economic,
political, or systemic change. Regardless of the emphasis, prophets challenge us to consider a better future. Right now there’s a strong
sense of change brewing in the church, the world; people are rising up and calling individuals, communities, nations, and everything in between out of numbness and toward justice, mercy, equality, and love.

So the theme of the November Christian Synchroblog is "calling us out of numbness".

Here are the links to the posts:

My own offering, Murder of the Cathedral, deals with the closure of St Paul's Cathedral in London, for the first time since the Second World War, because of a feared "health and safety" threat from the "Occupy London" protesters. That was a fine example of numbness! And comparing it with the actions of downtown churches in other cities that were somewhat less numb.





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