Today we walked down (up?) Church St. and got high-fived by Ghandi…
Today we walked down (up?) Church St. and got high-fived by Ghandi…
May continual prosperity in the things of God, be yours! This (below) is (most of) us seeing the new year in, at Pholela Hut, Drakensberg.
Having been tenant long to a rich Lord,
Not thriving, I resolved to be bold,
And make a suit unto him, to afford,
A new small-rented lease, and cancel th’ old.
In Heaven at his manor I him sought,
They told me there, that he was lately gone
About some land, which he had dearly bought
Long since on earth, to take possession.
I straight return’d, and knowing his great birth,
Sought him accordingly in great resorts;
In cities, theatres, gardens, parks, and courts:
At length I heard a ragged noise and mirth
Of thieves and murderers: there I him espied,
Who straight, “Your suit is granted”, said, & died.
George Herbert was appointed Archbishop the same year that the King James Bible was published (1611).
The Ben referred to in the title is Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of America, and an all round interesting fella. The Art of Manliness recently posted his brief plan to becoming a more virtuous man. They intro’d it like this: “In 1726, Benjamin Franklin found himself on an 11-week voyage from London back to Philadelphia. He had spent some time in England learning the printing business, and was now, at age 20, ready to return home and strike out for himself. Young Ben was on the threshold to adulthood, and his thoughts turned to the kind of man he wanted to be. For the first time in his life, he set out some rules for his self-improvement, calling them his “Plan of Conduct.” Soon after, he would create a whole program designed to motivate himself to become more virtuous.”
So here it is: Benjamin Franklin’s Plan of Conduct:
“Those who write of the art of poetry teach us that if we would write what may be worth the reading, we ought always, before we begin, to form a regular plan and design of our piece: otherwise, we shall be in danger of incongruity. I am apt to think it is the same as to life. I have never fixed a regular design in life; by which means it has been a confused variety of different scenes. I am now entering upon a new one: let me, therefore, make some resolutions, and form some scheme of action, that, henceforth, I may live in all respects like a rational creature.
1. It is necessary for me to be extremely frugal for some time, till I have paid what I owe.
2. To endeavour to speak truth in every instance; to give nobody expectations that are not likely to be answered, but aim at sincerity in every word and action — the most amiable excellence in a rational being.
3. To apply myself industriously to whatever business I take in hand, and not divert my mind from my business by any foolish project of growing suddenly rich; for industry and patience are the surest means of plenty.
4. I resolve to speak ill of no man whatever, not even in a matter of truth; but rather by some means excuse the faults I hear charged upon others, and upon proper occasions speak all the good I know of everybody.”
Blimey. Those are good. Resolved to make them mine own.
I often hear complaints about Pietermaritzburg. It lacks the artistic vitality of Cape Town. It doesn’t have the balmy beaches of Durban. Joburg is where it’s happening for business. Whilst all of these are true, Maritzburg does have something that we often overlook. People. Van Gogh apparently said that there’s nothing more truly artistic than to love people. If that’s true, then Maritzburg has the potential to be an authentically artistic city.
Instead of being behind the times, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, is a few steps ahead. Calling for a calm debate on religion and law is revolutionary. From the furore he’s caused, it seems South Africa may not be ready for it.
Exercising his constitutional right to freedom of opinion, Mogoeng recommended that religions should influence the lawmaking process. For example, he reasoned, if laws discouraged adultery, there would be less murders flowing from adultery. Mogoeng also suggested that religion has a role to play in restraining lawlessness. Religions develop social systems and habits that could help eradicate fraud and corruption.
Mogoeng made it clear that he was simply raising these issues. He is in no position to change laws. On the contrary, he is bound, as a Christian, to fulfill his role as Chief Justice and to act in accordance with the constitution. In the past, where the constitution has not agreed with his religious views, he has upheld the constitution.
At the same time, Mogoeng is bound as a Christian to influence society for good. And this is what he wants to debate. He wants all religions to influence the lawmaking process so that good can be promoted in our land. Although religions differ, in the area of moral and social good they often agree. Laws that promote family, or that alleviate poverty are consistent with most religions. So Mogoeng’s call is not exclusive.
Also, the majority of South Africans do claim a religion, so why should they be governed by laws which have not been influenced by religion? This is equivalent to telling people to believe their religion in their homes, but not in the public square. A humanist would want to influence the laws that govern him, why should a religious person not be allowed to want this also? Is that not oppression of religion?
South Africa is a secular state. Some assume this to mean there’s no place for religion, but this is not true. A secular state is neutral in matters of religion, and treats all its citizens equally regardless of religion. So, if the constitution allows us the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion, then why should we not have the right to voice our opinions, based on our religions, about the laws that govern us?
Just because laws have been informed by religion, doesn’t mean laws will be discriminatory. Mogoeng spends half of his speech assuring his listeners of this, at one point saying, “Truly the ‘hallmark of an open and democratic society is its capacity to accommodate and manage differences of intensely-held world views and life styles in a reasonable and fair manner’.”
It could be argued that because of Mogoeng’s influential position he should have kept quiet about his faith. Just letting people know that he is a Christian will make them suspicious of his judgements. This is a fair comment. In fact, his keynote speech at the Conference on Religion and Law is overloaded with Biblical quotes. Enough to make any person of another religion, or non-religion, nervous. But this still doesn’t ruin his main point. Mogoeng believes religion can influence law for the common good in a pluralistic society. Should we dismiss him with some name calling? Or can we, in the true spirit of the constitution and our secular society, enter into some calm