A Girl from Germiston
Copyright 2016 V M Gray
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events or locales is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of the book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
This book is dedicated to my wife Melodie and my daughter Ruth
“Julian, Julian, Julian Bogart,” she called out while rushing after him. A recurring thought shot through her mind for the umpteenth time. He did not actually look like his name. This had always bugged her about him, this incongruity between him, his manner and his name. Why don’t parents give their children proper names that will somehow resonant with their physical appearance and personalities?
Julian Bogart had just walked out of the CNA in President Street Germiston. He turned round to see who was calling him. It was Helena Lathbury.
“I thought it was you,” she exclaimed, as she walked up to him, slightly breathless from the sudden rush to catch up with him.
He turned round and saw Helena. She was the last person he had ever expected to see again.
“Helena! Hi,” he responded, looking extremely surprised, and a bit bewildered, and somewhat flustered, at the sudden unexpected eager attention that he was receiving from Helena.
She had spotted him in the CNA while he was browsing through some magazines on the sports shelf. He did not notice her. Two years had passed since she had last seen him. Her eyes followed him as he walked with a golf magazine to the cashier. As usual he was neatly dressed, on this occasion in pressed golf trousers and golf shirt. She had never seen him in jeans or a T shirt or wearing track shoes. He always wore top of the range shoes. Basically he had always been a careful dresser. He was also wearing more fashionable spectacle frames and he had an expensive gold watch on his left wrist. His hair had been nicely trimmed and styled.
She noticed that his waist was trim, his stomach flat and his biceps seemed bigger, but not too big. They looked nice. He had muscular thighs and nice calves. She liked men with good thighs. She began to realize, especially after not seeing him for quite a while, that he was actually not that bad looking. He must be going to gym she thought to herself. That would be something new, something totally out of character. Why was he buying a golf magazine? Has he taken up golf? Could a person change so much over two years? As he walked out of the CNA, she was in two minds whether or not to draw his attention. She had fobbed him off so often before that he had finally stopped calling her. But she could not contain her curiosity, and there was now another reason for her turnaround. It was because of a recent dream that she now suddenly found him interesting, even appealing and possibly even a bit mysterious.
So she decided on the spur of that moment to rush out of the CNA after him. On the pavement outside the CNA she stopped and stood in front of him in her black high heels which made her slightly taller. She had a lovely smile on her face.
She was dressed in a short 30 inch long sleeveless cobalt coloured body clinging casual dress made from nylon and Lycra. With its natural waistline the soft fabric accentuated the outline and contours of her body. The oval shaped neckline was low enough for her cleavage to be exposed. The fragrance of her long loose hanging thick full bodied glossy hair was intoxicatingly erotic. At 5 foot 3 inches she was just fractionally short of average height. She was about 2 inches shorter than him. She had long dark brown hair, big brown eyes, a perfect nose and very sensual lips which today glistened with lip gloss. She was an eye catching, head turning woman. Men looked at her and she knew that they looked at her.
He was amazed how fabulous she looked in such a simple outfit with just a simple black leather shoulder bag as her only accessory. Her sudden materialization out of the blue right before him seemed to have struck him dumb. Momentarily he seemed to be at a complete loss for words. He had been caught totally off guard. Helena quickly sensed that the situation could become quite awkward. She had to think of something to say, anything would do, as long it kept up the flow of conversation.
“It is wonderful to see you again,” he said while trying desperately to control the tension in his facial muscles that threatened to make his face so completely immobile that he would not even be able to manage a frozen smile.
“It’s also so great to see you again. I can’t believe how fast time goes by. It seems like only just yesterday that we still students catching the train to Wits every day,” she said.
She was the girl that he had pursued for so long without having any success. Pursued and wooed in such a cautious and dignified manner, that at times it became quite comical to her. He had not been timid at all, in fact he been indomitable in his careful and sensitive persistence. All his efforts were eventually rewarded with an emphatic rejection.
He had not seen her since he had graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from Wits. He had been infatuated with her ever since he first met her about 5 years ago when he was in first year. He met Helena at the most unlikeliest of places possible. It was also under the most unusual of circumstances. They met on a warm December Saturday night in a hot basement in Twist Street over the road from Joubert Park at a place called the Invisible Church. Julian a Roman Catholic by birth, baptism and confirmation had at the urging of his recently born again class mate gone to a service at the Invisible Church.
He had responded to the altar call. Helena who was then a recent new born again and a member of the Invisible Church was the person who counselled him, who knelt down next to him holding his hand tightly while they laid hands on him and prayed for him. That night he made a conscious commitment to accept and receive Jesus as his personal saviour. At that intensely emotional and intimate moment she had hugged him tightly, tears of joy running down her cheeks.
While they were standing on the sidewalk outside the entrance of the CNA she could see from his posture and body language that he was preparing to take flight from her. She sensed his wariness of her. She guessed that he was going to say something along the lines of ‘nice to see again, I have to go.’ He might feel compelled to do this just for the sake of preserving his self-respect and dignity especially after she had rejected him so many times before. He was that kind of person. Actually she respected him for that. Now his cautious reserve towards her also made him more appealing.
She felt the need to re-establish the bond that used to exist between her and him. Things had changed a lot over the last two years. She had time to think a lot about all the relationships that she had been involved in. Almost all of the men had been pretty much a dreary, tedious, and uninspiring lot. They were all lacking in something, even if she could not put her finger on it, they just lacked it whatever it was. She did however find that all her relationships so far had in the end turned out to be experiences that were intellectually and emotionally stunting, if not suffocating in the extreme, and it was evitable that they had to be aborted.
A few days ago she had an erotic dream about Julian. It disturbed her. It awoke feelings that she thought she could never have had for him. After the dream thoughts about him kept on cropping up in her mind for days on end at the most unexpected moments. She tried her best but she could not suppress them. She wandered whether it was possible to develop feelings for someone against one’s own will. Could one possibly have an erotic dream about somebody against one’s own will? How could that be possible? She had given the dream considerable thought. She eventually came to the conclusion that she could only have had an erotic dream about someone if in reality she actually did have some feelings for that person even though she may not have been fully aware of having these feelings. So the dream must have triggered these feelings that she was not aware of with respect to Julian, feelings that she would not have dreamt of in her conscious state. Maybe all this time for some unknown reasons she had been suppressing the genuine feelings that she had subconsciously really felt for him.
It was all so complicated and could turn out really messy. But now the erotic dream of Julian had certainly triggered some kind of emotional domino effect over which she had little if any control. Today for some obscure reason which she could not quite fathom, she suddenly found herself being irresistibly drawn to him. She felt unashamedly predatory. All she had to do now was to exert the full force of her considerable charms on the person who had so unexpectedly gate-crashed back into her life from the past all of a sudden.
And here he was standing right before her in the flesh, completely unaware that she had succumbed to an incredibly strong attraction towards him all because of a dream.
Helena did the unexpected. She stepped forward closing the gap between them and hugged him. She gave him a kiss full on the lips, and grabbed his hand. She had never kissed him before or hugged him or even taken his hand. She then stood back, still holding his hand firmly and looked at him with searching earnest eyes, as if seeing him in a new light for the first time.
“Just look at you. You also look so good. It’s been so long since we last saw each other. How are you, what are doing?” she asked with a display of interest that seemed actually authentic to Julian. As she spoke she started running her free hand through her long hair and then placed it on her hip.
He had always been scrupulous about his personal hygiene. She liked the deodorant and cologne he used. His nails were always immaculate, clean and perfectly trimmed. He had such nice hands. He also took good care of his thick black hair. He had brown eyes, but they were darker than her eyes. His eyes behind his spectacles were always alert, intelligent and sensitive. She remembered that he always got a bluish five-o-clock shadow. It made him sexy in a cute kind of way. But as it turned out, during those halcyon days at Wits she felt no attraction towards him; even the bluish five-o-shadow did nothing for her.
Whenever she dreamed this kind of dream about a guy something always happened. She fell in love with that person. This was why her recent dream disturbed her so much. Today his height did not bother her, before it did not matter. It was now no longer one of the important considerations in her list of attributes that she had used to judge his relative attractiveness compared to her many other suitors. Today nothing mattered. He was just perfect.
After graduating they had gone their separate ways. She had majored in Chemistry and Physics at Wits. Throughout their undergraduate years they had remained firm friends. They had both served on the committee of the Student’s Christian Association (SCA) at Wits. For two years she had been the president of the SCA at Wits. During their final year at Wits they had both succumbed to the contagion of Reformed Theology that was spreading in the Churches of the East Rand like a powerful invisible undercurrent. They metamorphosed from being Pentecostals into Calvinists. At Wits they had both joined a band of students who had become Reformed Christians, or in other words Calvinists.
They were interrupting the smooth flow of the pedestrian traffic going past the CNA so he moved away from the centre of the pavement towards the pavement curb next to a parking meter. She followed him. She did not seem to be in any hurry to leave him; she lingered next to him at the parking meter. In the late morning sunlight her hair shone brilliantly.
“I am fine. I am working here in Germiston at the SA Chemical and Fermentation Industries in Power Street,” he answered, “and you, how are you and what are doing?”
“I am also fine as you can see. I am a science teacher at Jeppe Girls,” she said. “Where are you fellowshipping?”
“I have been going to St Andrews Presbyterian Church.”
“That is so great. I am glad to hear that. You say you work in Power Street that is the Power Street that intersects with La Bassee Road?”
“That is so amazing. I have been attending the African Reformed Church just down the road in the old Indian shanty town. The church is next to the railway line. It is actually an Indian Church with a wonderful Afrikaans dominee.”
“Are you still living with your parents?” Julian asked
“No. Actually I have been staying at this totally eccentric Christian commune called the Loft. We are renting a huge old sprawling ramshackle house from Simmer and Jack.”
“I have heard about the Loft from friends who have been to their meetings,” he said, “it has not been around for long or what?”
“As far as I know it started in 1973. That makes it roughly 5 years old. It started as an informal gathering of Reformed Christians. They formed a study group that used to meet fairly regularly on Friday or Saturday nights. It was started by Everard Mallet. He is the most amazing guy. He did a BA in English and Philosophy at UCT before going to the Bible College at Kalk bay in Simons Town. He is an English teacher at Germiston High,” she said.
“What are doing right now?” she suddenly asked.
“Do you mean this moment as in now or the rest of the day?” he asked looking a bit confused.
“Both. What are you doing now at this present moment, as in now? And what are you doing for the rest of the day? As in all the other moments that will follow? Sorry I am being a bit pedantic,” she said.
“Nothing really,” he replied.
“Then why don’t you come over for some coffee at the Loft. We can do some catching up for old time’s sake. The Loft is just up the road by the old mine dumps near one of the old Simmer and Jack mine shafts. Look I am parked over there. You can follow me in your car,” she said pointing to her car parked across the road from the CNA.
As always she exuded this bubbling confidence that any suggestion she made will find ready compliance, because it always seemed the most obvious thing to do at that moment.
He looked across the road and recognized her car.
It was still the same old battered and rusty brown Datsun. It was the car that she had inherited from her parents after graduating with her BSc degree in chemistry and physics. She needed the car to get to her teaching practicals while she was doing her higher education diploma.
“Where are you parked?” she asked.
“I am parked just round corner.”
“OK. I will get into my car so long, when you turn into President Street just flash your head lights and I will pull out of the parking space and you can follow me,” she said.
After passing the Magistrate Courts she turned right into Knox Street and then left into Meyer Street, driving down the subway that went under the railway line. Julian drove a safe car length distance behind her car in his white 1600 VW Beetle which his parents had bought for him after he had passed his first year.
After they had met at the Invisible Church they were both amazed to discover that they actually lived just around the corner from each other. They also discovered that they had both just finished their first year at Wit. She had been attending the Invisible Church for most of that year. Their meeting seemed to be a remarkable coincidence. It seemed to be a sign from God. How else could this coming together have happened? She had gone to Germiston High School and he had gone to Christian Brothers College in Boksburg, there was no chance of their meeting even though they had been living just round the corner from each other ever since they were born.
Almost every day while they were undergraduates he would fetch Helena in the morning from her home in Catchet Street Lambton. He stayed in Klip Lane just around the corner from her home. He would drive to President Station where he would park his car. They would then travel together by train to Johannesburg Park Station from President Station. In the mornings they would walk together from Johannesburg Station through Braamfontein to Wits. This was their daily morning routine.
He became very attracted to her, but he was also a cautious person not given to acting on impulse. He was an individual who had a great aversion to risk and avoided exposing himself to any kind of emotional hazard. He was definitely not a reckless romantic. She also never gave any indication that she had any romantic inclinations towards him. Not even the faintest sign of flirtation ever emanated from her side. No fluttering of eye lashes, no dilated pupils, no touching of his arm or wrist, no prolonged stares into his eyes, no fidgeting with her hair, no tossing of her hair, no twirling of the ends of her hair with her figure tips, no biting of her lips, no hot flushes. She just acted normally towards him.
The total absence of any signs that may indicate a romantic interest did not put him off. He was grateful that he could be with her almost every day. Obviously she must have sensed that he was in love with her. However, she was extraordinary careful not to create any illusion that she felt similar romantic feelings towards him. She tactfully turned him down whenever he asked her out to movies. She always did it in a manner that allowed him to save face. This also allowed him to believe that he had risked nothing, his dignity remained intact, and he could walk away from the rejection feeling relatively undamaged. She had sufficient emotional savvy to be as sensitive as possible under the circumstances. In fact, she seemed to have a gift in being able to turn him down without bruising his ego too badly. He eventually stopped trying to ask her out on a date.
In spite of her artful deflections of his advances she was still able to play the role of a charming, reliable and good friend. In return he was grateful and satisfied with any morsel or crumb of attention that happened to fall from her table. Ironically she had at the same time become quite dependent on him for transport and assistance with her chemistry and physics. He was a maths and chemistry whiz kid. So he proved to be a very useful and worthwhile friend to have. He was always there to fetch and carry. Always ready to help her solve some chemistry or physics problem. In the afternoons they would wait for each other at Johannesburg Station and catch the same train home to President Station. He would give her a lift home in the afternoons. If she caught a later train he would always be waiting for her in his car at President Station. He was completely reliable.
He also soon learnt that she even though she was extremely popular and was pursued relentlessly by many suitors she was exceptionally fickle, in fact incurably fickle. She was also aware that that her many brief and often stormy romantic liaisons were extremely painful and upsetting to him. While he bore the pain of her many short lived romances bravely with dignity, he battled to hide the emotional storms that he would have to frequently endure.
After they had graduated and started working he tried for a time to keep in touch with her. But it was the same old story as before. Whenever he asked her out she always had some other commitment. Her list of different seemingly genuine and credible excuses seemed to be infinite. In the end he gave up and stopped calling her altogether. He got the message that she did not need him anymore. He realized that the basis of their previous relationship as friends revolved around her dependency on the convenient and cost free transport that he had so willingly and generously provided. There no longer seemed to be any compelling reason that she could think of for the continuance of their friendship, so their friendship waned, and finally withered away altogether.
So it was natural that he felt perplexed as he walked to his car. It was also natural that as he turned the ignition and engaged the gears of his car that he began to feel wary of her sudden unsolicited friendly behaviour towards him. Was it for some ulterior motive? There were legitimate reasons for having misgivings. For him it was never an issue that faintness of heart was the reason for failing to capture this fair maiden. His heart was never faint. His only fault was he could not help being a perfect gentleman. But he was also a realist. He had made no headway with her and so he had moved on.
Why had she changed? Maybe it had something to do with age and new life experiences? Maybe she had downgraded her life expectations. Maybe she had lowered her incredibly high standards and expectations when it came to men. Anything becomes possible when you are still single and approaching 25. She was 24 years old and he was 25 years old. He had joined The Purple Hat dancing school, and was surprised to see how many women had missed the boat and were now in their thirties, single and stranded high and dry without any marriage prospects. Men it seemed had a superior shelf life.
He was filled with mixed feelings as he followed her car. He realized that he had not got over her. Today she looked so sensual, so ripe, and so ready to be plucked. He was convinced that she was still a virgin. Anyway he wanted to believe that about her. But then again how was it possible that such a striking woman could still be a virgin at 24? Well he was a virgin at 25.
He wondered how his life would have turned out if he had not met her, if he had not gone to the Invisible Church that night. Maybe things would have turned out differently for him. He would still have become a chemical engineer. But he might have become a different person if had not been trapped by the allure of such an eye appealing and desirable girl. In a sense it was because of her that he had become so choosy with regard to the opposite sex. She had become the standard by means of which he measured the romantic suitability of all other females. Maybe his standards regarding the opposite sex should have been set a lot lower. It was clear that his standards were completely unrealistic. Maybe in another life if that were at all possible, he would have in all likelihood fallen in love with a less attractive girl, a much plainer girl, possibly a nice Roman Catholic convent girl, who in turn would have fallen in love with him, a nice CBC boy. Maybe Catholicism would have been the glue that would have stuck them together.
Things could have been different if he had not spent all those years pursuing her as if she were the only girl in the Universe. Possibly his life would have turned out for the better if he had never met Helena Lathbury, not that his life was actually bad. He really had no valid reason to be depressed or unhappy. He had been top of his class for as long as he could remember. When he graduated he was awarded the gold medal for being the most outstanding engineering student. He now had a good job with excellent career prospects. His employers had sent him overseas many times over the past two years. He had never wanted for anything as a child or as a teenager. He had dotting parents who were always quick to accommodate his needs.
But still there was a dark cloud hovering over him. It often became most noticeable on his otherwise very bright horizon of promising prospects, casting its shadow over his life, reminding him that he was missing out on all those indiscernible things in life that made a person feel good and contented. Its shadow became particular dark and especially long on Friday and Saturday nights. The shadow cast by the dark cloud over his life was the complete absence of female companionship. Female companionship was what he needed most now in his life and this was what he now lacked. How do you meet girls? Once he had started working and had moved out of the University social circle it became practically impossible to meet girls, even at church. It seemed that dateable girls stopped going to church after they had turned 18.
Cut adrift from his previous social circle of fellow Reformed Faith believers he found himself becoming a lot more critical of things he originally accepted without question. His commitment to the strict Calvinist asceticism once advocated by the Reformers of Geneva began to wane. Its inevitable waning had a lot to do with the exigencies of living a life isolated from the supportive comradeship he once enjoyed in his student days with Helena as a fellow member of a student faith community. Loosing touch with a nurturing faith community of fellow age mates had in a real way also set him free to see and think about things differently, but always in a rational and logical manner. True to his nature he could never accept any opposition between faith and reason. So he set out to solve his problems of acute loneliness once he realized that he had lost Helena forever.
He thought he could solve his girl problems by enrolling in a social dancing course at The Purple Hat dancing studio and social club in Germiston. The brightly lit neon sign outside the studio stated ‘No partner necessary!’ In theory social dance clubs should be the ideal niche for meeting and getting to know girls. But even here under the most favourable of circumstances it proved in practice to be exceedingly difficult to meet what he considered to be suitable girls that were his own age or younger. There was simply a great scarcity of suitable girls at The Purple Hat dancing studio and social club. It turned out to be a huge disappointment. He leant a lot about dancing from older women. In fact he loved the dancing, and he was surprised to discover that he was quite good at it. So it had not been a complete waste of time. It was a pleasant way to pass an evening on a weekend if you had nothing else to do. At least you could get dressed up and go out and be with people. But it did leave him feeling empty and discouraged. Light hearted flirtations with the older women could be amusing at times, but he was always the perfect gentleman. And also he did not want to become involved with any single woman in her mid thirties or early forties.
As he drove behind her he began to feel helpless and vulnerable again. He was following her again like a puppy dog. He was setting himself up for pain and heartache. He told himself that he had no excuse this time round, he was going into this with his eyes wide open and whatever happened would be entirely self-inflicted. But he was drawn to her like a moth to a candle. He knew there was a risk that he could be burnt by her again and again like all the others. This was an emotional hazard that he had to contend with. He had no choice in the matter. When it came to Helena he lacked personal agency. He heard on a radio magazine programme this thing about possessing agency, which also meant having control over situations and all that kind of stuff. It was a secret, and it was true, men are also vulnerable, men also experienced the loss of control over situations, over circumstances when it came to women. He believed in statistics. Statistically men were just as vulnerable as women when it comes to relationships.
Yes she still had an incredible hold over him, and he was convinced that she knew this. But why was she so suddenly interested in him, especially after always subtly rejecting his advances while they were still students?
She turned right into Johann Rissik Road and turned left off into a narrow tar road that was bumpy and pockmarked with pot holes. The road ended at the veranda of a huge old sprawling dilapidated house. Several battered looking old cars were parked in front of the veranda. On the east side of the house was a huge rusted corrugated iron clad warehouse structure that was almost three stories high. Behind the house on its north side were more huge rusted corrugated iron clad buildings that seemed to have served as the mine’s workshops. On the west side of the house was a derelict complex of brick buildings. One of the buildings looked like the original Simmer and Jack recreation hall. The other buildings must have functioned as the mine management and administration offices. On the far west side, behind the offices, in the distance, loomed the silhouette of an old headgear straddling over the still open dark deep vertical shaft of a mine that had been mined to exhaustion decades ago. The corrugated iron clade winding house was still standing.
She got out of her car and waited for him under the covered veranda that extended around most of the house. Interlocking her right arm intimately with his left arm she steered him through the open front door into a large cavernous multifunctional room that was the Loft’s renowned meeting room. It also functioned as a lounge and a dining room. On the one side of the room stood a huge rectangular table made from Oregon pine. Fixed to the wall behind the table was large pin board for sticking up notices. Displayed prominently on the board was a glossy A3 sized black and white photograph of Steve Biko. The rest of the board was filled with newspaper cuttings.
As they entered the room she announced:
“Let me introduce you to my old and very good friend Julian Bogart. We were at Wits together.”
They walked over to the table and she began to introduce him to everybody.
“OK starting from the head of the table and going clockwise, we have Everard, Winifred Blatt, Jason Bone, Christina Napier, Allegra Bonner, Jonathan Statham, Reuben Kaplan, Janet Whistlebird, Maria Gomez and David Strachan.”
In a very formal manner, with each introduction he learned over, shook the person’s hand with a firm grip and said: “Pleased to meet you.” He shook each hand in the same manner as if he were at The Purple Hat social club.
Everyone appeared to be in their late twenties or early thirties. Everard had an imposing presence. He was over six feet tall with dark red hair and green eyes. Reuben Kaplan was the other person who caught Julian’s attention. He was also over six foot and heavily built. He had a shock of wavy black hair, a beard, and piercing dark eyes.
“Winifred is a lawyer, Jason is a doctor, Christina teaches maths at Boksburg High, Allegra lectures Biblical Studies at JCE, Jonathan works as a mechanical engineer at Anglo American Corporation, Janet Whistlebird is our resident musician, she teaches violin, cello, flute, guitar, singing and piano, Reuben is our residence artist, Maria Gomez is from Chile and she works for World Christian Youth Mission SA and David Strachan is an estate agent. They all live here.”
Everyone round the table appeared to be in a festive and jovial mood. There were a couple of empty and half-empty wine bottles on the table. This did not seem to the same Loft that he had heard so much about. This did not seem to be the kind of place where people discussed C S Lewis or Francis Schaeffer or Rousas John Rushdoony or Cornelius van Til or Dooyeweerd or even John Calvin. A Beatles album was playing on the turn table of a fairly newish Pioneer Hi Fi stereo with large speakers.
“I am brutishly hungry. I could devour a horse. I am sure Julian is also hungry.” She said looking up at Julian and slipping her arm round his waist.
“I love that specific Beatles number, what it is called?”
“It is called Get Back,” someone answered.
She looked at Julian and said: “I think from now on I am going to call you Jojo.”
The table could comfortably accommodate 12 people. Two additional chairs were pulled up and a space was made for Julian and Helena. They sat down at the table next to each other.
“We have stacks of exceptionally tasty homemade hamburger meat patties and chips that can stilled be fried,” Everard announced. “Would anyone like a second helping of hamburgers and chips?”
Apparently there was sufficient appetite around the table for another serving of hamburgers and chips.
“We will go fry some more patties and chips,” Winifred volunteered.
“Thanks guys, I owe you,” Helena said.
“You sure do Helena, be sure that I will be collecting,” Winifred winked and laughed.
“Yeah, Helena, I think you owe us all, and we will be collecting in due course. You can make the coffee later for starters,” Reuben added
“Hey stop it. You going to scare Julian off at this rate,” Helena added as she squeezed Julian’s hand.
“Winnie, I will help you in the kitchen,” Jason got up and followed Winifred to the kitchen.
“Would anyone like some more wine?” Everard said.
“Yeah, why not?” Jonathan replied.
“I will definitely not say no, and I am sure that Julian will have a glass as well,” Helena said.
Jonathan got up and walked over to a box in the corner.
“Let us uncork some of the good stuff in this box,” he announced while he pulled two bottles out from the box.
“This is a very tolerable Cabernet Sauvignon,” he announced to no one in particular as he placed two bottles of Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon on the table. Everard started uncorking the bottles of Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon.
Allegra got up and brought two clean wine glasses, placing them in front of Julian and Helena.
Jonathan began going round the table topping up every ones wine glass.
It was not long before Jonathan had to get up again and retrieve more bottles of the very tolerable Kanonkop Cabernet Sauvignon from the box in the corner.
While Jonathan was bent over the box of wine Helena asked if the Beatle’s Get back track could be played again as she felt the first glow of the wine.
“Wow, I mad about this specific Beatle’s song, I have always loved it, it’s so funny that I can never remember the name of the song…. it really puts me in a party mood,” Helena quipped enthusiastically as she took another deep sip of her wine.
People round table began joke about Jonathan’s use of the word ‘tolerable’. A debate ensued. It was agreed that this was not the right word to describe this particular vintage. Janet got up to fetch a thesaurus. Coming back she read out aloud that the synonyms for ‘tolerable’ included words like passable, average, reasonable, acceptable, and adequate and so on.
“Everyone serves the best wine first, and after the guests have had plenty to drink, he then serves the guests with the tolerable or average or passable wine. But you Jonathan have kept the best wine until now and you call it a tolerable wine,” said Jason.
After having his third glass topped up Julian glanced at his watch it was 13.15. Helena looked at him:
“Do you need to be somewhere,” she asked with an amused smile.
“Actually yes, I have just remembered that I am supposed to be teeing off at 14.00. Can I use a phone,” he replied.
“Helena please show Julian the phone in the library,” Everard responded.
“OK Jojo lets go make your phone call,” Helena said as she got up. She led the way to the library carrying her glass of wine with her. She sat on a table in the library sipping her wine while watching Julian dial the number and give his apologies.
“This must be the new Julian that I am seeing before me. This must be the first appointment he has ever forgotten and has had to cancel. Am I right or not,” she teased him. “I think I can get to like this new Julian very much.”
He looked at her searchingly. She had never been like this with him. She was definitely flirting with him. Was it the effect of the wine? Or had there been a shift in the earth’s axis? He could not make up his mind. But decided whatever the reason for her behaviour it made him feel good. He was also enjoying the kind of interaction that he was getting from Helena.
“I feel honoured and very special that you have considered my company worthy enough to cancel 18 holes of golf so that you can spend an afternoon with me and my good friends,” she said.
Looking at him she announced: “I am so glad you accepted my invitation for coffee.”
“Well you made it worth my while,” he joked, “even though you have yet to make the coffee.”
“Oh indeed it has also been worth my while my darling Jojo, and what we are now having between us is much better than the coffee I originally offered you,” she said. “You don’t mind if I call you Jojo.”
He could not believe what he was hearing and seeing. She was definitely coming onto him in a big way.
“Is this perhaps the wine speaking?” He asked. He could not resist asking this question as his instincts told him to be cautious. Could it be the third glass of wine that had removed all her inhibitions?
“No Jojo, you got it all wrong, it is not the wine speaking, it is my heart that is talking to you,” she said with a naughty smile on her face.
“Really?” He asked with a sceptical smile on his face.
“Julian it’s been two years since I last saw you. A gal is allowed to change you know. A gal is also allowed to have second thoughts. Look at me Jojo, can’t you see that I have changed?” she exclaimed in a display of being earnest and serious.
“I think we better go back now that you have made your phone call. Maybe the chips and hamburger patties are done. I’m ravenous, ich habe einen Bärenhunger,” she announced as she slipped off the table.
He answered: “I’m also feeling ravenous, tengo un hambre feroz.”
“It’s Spanish for having a ferocious hunger, like being brutishly hungry. I am teaching myself Spanish.”
“I want to visit South America.”
“So I can find myself a beautiful dark eyed senorita.”
“I can be your beautiful dark eyed senorita my sweet Jojo,” she said playfully.
As they walked back to the dining room down the long passage she said: “This is my room.”
“Oh I have got see this,” he exclaimed. It was his turn to tease her.
“No, no, don’t open the door.”
With the glass of wine in one hand she could not restrain him. He pushed open the door and walked into her room. It was in a state of chaos. The bed was unmade. Mounds of clothes, heaps of shoes, bundles of underwear, stacks of books, piles of magazines, and empty cups lay strewn everywhere. She had not packed away her cloths that had been recently washed. She had not packed away her shoes. Her desk was almost collapsing under the weight of mountains of books and school classwork exercise books.
With her free hand she covered her eyes in mock embarrassment and bowed her head in a comical gesture that mimed extreme shamefulness.
“Oh it is so humiliating, to have one’s privacy invaded in such as an insensitive, heartless manner by someone you thought you could trust,” she lamented.
“Now that you have seen the shameful and despicable way that I live will you ever be able to love me and accept me as I am, a truly wanton woman,” she said, smiling wickedly while standing in the doorway holding the glass of wine in one hand and with the other hand on her hip. She puckered her lips. He leaned over and kissed her.
“Well you have proven one thing. The Universe is governed by the law of entropy,” he said, she laughed.
“That is so true,” she answered, “especially for the part of the Universe that is in my room.”
It was getting quite noisy in the dining room. The sounds of laughter and bubbling conservation muffled against the backdrop of the continuous automatic replaying of Beatles tape.
The lyrics of Don’t let me down filtered into the long passageway.
Standing in the passage outside Helena’s room Julian put his arms around Helena and pulled her tightly against his body. She lifted up her lips to be kissed. As he kissed Helena they could hear the voices of Maria and Paul singing above the background laughter.
Their singing accompaniment of Don’t let me down was actually very good and their rendition were acknowledged with loud applauds of clapping and whistling.
“This is turning out to be such a wonderfully crazy party don’t you think. I can assure you that it is not normally like this at the Loft. Usually everyone is so serious, so sedate and so awfully intellectual about everything. They can be so polite and civilized, sipping tea and enjoying a slice of cake after someone has read a paper on Hegel’s dialectic or something along those lines. You would never have dreamt that they could ever really let their hair down like this,” Helena chuckled.
Being brutishly hungry was not an exaggeration. Helena wolfed down two hamburgers and had her fourth glass of wine topped up. She shifted her chair closer to Julian pressing her thigh tightly against his. She took hold of his hand, she began to caress and stroke his hand, she placed her arm around him and kissed him every now and then on his lips, neck, ears and cheeks.
It seemed so natural.
After coffee everyone retired from the table leaving the room empty except for Helena and Julian. They got up from the table and flopped down on a sofa.
“I got two complimentary tickets for Tom Stoppard’s Travesties at the Market Theatre for next Friday. Would you like to go?” she asked. “I have already seen it once. You will simply love it. You got to come.”
“Are you asking me out on a date?” he asked her with a look of exaggerated disbelief on his face. “Do realize that this will be our first date after knowing each other for more than 6 years if my calculations are correct.”
“Yes I am asking you out on a date. Please accept or my heart will be broken forever.”
“Well thank you. That was not so difficult.”
“Have you ever been to the Market Theatre?”
“No, never, this will be the first time.”
“What is the play about?”
“It is quite a complex play. Everard said it consists of a play within a play. It is set within Zurich during the First World in 1917. In 1917 Lenin, James Joyce and the surrealist poet Tristan Tzara were all in Zurich at the same time. I cannot give you an overview. That will spoil it. You will have to see it for yourself.”
“Talking about Lenin in Zurich, you may be interested to know that many notable personalities have come from Germiston. Which seem so enigmatic given that Germiston happens to be like some forgotten orphan city lost and forsaken amongst railway lines, mine dumps and abandoned mine shafts?”
“What notables have come from Germiston?” Julian asked in surprise. “I always had this uncanny feeling that nobody comes in a manner of speaking from Germiston.”
She laughed. “Uncanny feeling? That sounds so funny! It is a wee bit of an over exaggeration to state that nobody comes from Germiston. Both of us come from Germiston. We may be nobodies but nevertheless we were born and bred in Germiston. That must count for something in the bigger schemes of things,” she said with a look of mirth on her face, after she had emphasized the words ‘nobody’ and ‘nobodies’.
“Well I have always believed that ‘nobody’ of note could possibly have come from Germiston,” Julian replied.
“OK seriously, some very notable people did in fact come from Germiston. There was Ted Grant who was a prominent Trotskyist politician and Marxist theorist, and of course there was Helen Suzman,” she said.
“I know who Helen Suzman is, but who is Ted Grant?”
“Ted Grant’s parents fled from Tsarist Russian to South Africa in the nineteenth century. He was born in 1913 in Germiston. He helped some guy called Ralph Lee in 1934 to form a Trotskyist organization called the Bolshevik-Leninist League of South Africa.”
“Where did you hear about Ted Grant?” Julian asked.
“It’s just some of the Marxist trivia I picked up at Wits. They had all these leftist workshops between 1974 and 1975. Do you remember speaker’s forum at Wits. Who were those guys again that was so popular on speaker’s forum?” she said.
“I know who mean, but I can’t remember their names,” Julian said.
“Those were the days at Wits. There was such a fantastic vibe on campus. I was going out with that tall sexy guy called Stuart Blignaut who played rugby for the first team at Wits. I remember he did not think much of speaker’s forum. He was completely right wing. I remember you would always come and stood with us. I felt so irritated with you. You were like our shadow. Wherever we went you just tagged along. It was so annoying. You looked so depressed all the time,” she and then she out burst laughing at this particular recollection of Julian.
“I actually don’t know what I saw in Stuart. I think he must have had only one brain cell,” she said, after reflecting for moment.
Julian looked her.
“Why are you smirking at me?” she asked.
“It was not only Stuart who had one brain cell,” he answered.
“What are you getting at?” she asked.
“You know what I mean?” he said
“No I don’t,” she countered
“With hindsight I just find it all so funny now, all your boyfriends had one brain cell, not only Stuart,” he said, with mocking grin on his face.
“OK. I agree. You have made your point, thank you so much for expressing your kind views about my past boyfriends,” she said, “and I have become quite aware that you have lost a lot of that modesty that you used to have, when you followed me and boyfriends around at Wits during lunch breaks like a shadow.”
“Well the brain happens to be the sexiest organ. It beats brawn hands down,” Julian answered.
“Wow, now that is very uncanny, look I have goose flesh on arms and legs.”
“What is so uncanny?” he asked looking curious.
“I don’t know if I should tell you,” she said with a mysterious smile playing over her lips.
“You got to tell me,” he said.
“OK, I had this weird dream about you. And in the dream you said the brain was the sexiest organ.”
She covered her face with her hands: “Oh my Gosh. This is getting so embarrassing. I have had too much wine. It has really gone to my head. I better just shut up before I actually say something really embarrassing to you.”
“Thanks for inviting me to the Loft, it has been a lovely day,” he said.
“I am glad that we are together again. I have missed you, you have always been such a good friend to me,” she confessed.
It was dark outside. She walked with him to his car. After long lingering kisses he got into the car. He rolled down the window.
“See you on Friday night next week at 6.00 pm. Have a nice week,” she said.
“You also have a nice week too. See you on Friday then,” he replied.
When Julian arrived in his new white BMW 635 CSi at the Loft to fetch Helena he did not have to wait. She was dressed and ready to go. As he got out of the car she stepped down the veranda stairs to meet him. As she walked towards the car, he quickly opened the passenger door for her.
Dressed in a body hugging short strapless black and gold tube top neckless cocktail dress she looked exquisite. She was wearing silicone and elastic band stay-up thigh-high sheer black stockings and 4 inch black patent leather highheels. The dress had a pleated design decorated with gold sequins. It was made of satin and pongee. Her long hair was braided tightly into a thick plait which had been tied up into a compact but elegant Grecian knot at the back of her head. Encircling the bicep of her left upper arm was a gleaming gold coloured Celtic bracelet.
She was carrying a gold coloured evening clutch bag. She was also carrying a plastic package in the other hand. He looked at the package.
“What’s that package for?”
“Oh, it’s nothing. It belongs to a person called Livingstone Zulu. He is the guy that gave me the two complimentary tickets for Travesties. It is his study stuff. He is a theological student. He is studying to go into the ministry. He forgot it here at the Loft. He asked if we can bring it after the play to a discotheque night club in Fordsburg called the Electric Rainbow. It is quite close to the Market Theatre. Will that be OK with you?”
He thought the request sounded a bit out of the ordinary. What would a theological student be doing at some Johannesburg night club waiting for his study materials? Maybe he works as a security guard or a doorman at the Electric Rainbow. Julian decided not to ask any questions
“Yes it is OK. We will drop off the package there after the play.”
“Where is your Beetle?” She asked as she climbed into the passenger seat of the BMW.
“At home. This is my going out and going to work car,” Julian answered.
“How can you afford a brand new BMW after only been out of University for two years? I can barely make ends meet. That is why I am still driving that old claptrap of a Datsun,” she said with a genuine look of amazement on her face.
At the intersection with Johann Rissik Road he turned right into Johann Rissik, and then left into Main Reef Road driving westwards to Johannesburg. Julien always found Johann Rissik Road to be a strange road. It made a wide loop or horseshoe around the Simmer and Jack mine property, exiting at two ends, a west end and an east end, into Main Reef Road.
“To be honest it is embarrassing what I earn in a month. I earn more than I care to spend.”
“What do you do with all your spare earnings?”
“I have bought a stand and I am busy building a house,” he answered.
“Do you plan to move into your house,” she asked.
“I don’t really know. I am only 25 years old. I don’t think I could face the prospect of living in a house by myself,” he said.
“Well a room has become vacant at the Loft. I actually took the liberty of asking Everard how he feels about you having the room. I hope you don’t mind?” she said.
“No I really don’t mind. I actually feel honoured. Oh that sounds so stupid. Anyway what did Everard say,” he said.
“He likes you. He thinks you’re a great person and will fit in very well into the commune. So the room is yours if you want it. By the way it is next to my room,” she answered. “It has bed, a bedside table with lamp, a large desk, a bookshelf, a wardrobe and a very nice carpet. It also gets the full morning sun.”
“I really enjoyed your company last Saturday,” she said as she learned towards him and placed her hand lightly on his thigh.
“I also enjoyed being with you,” he answered smiling.
She smiled affectionately back at him.
“We have known each for a long time. You are a good man Jojo. You have always been a truly wonderful friend to me for so many years,” she said.
From the Loft he took the Main Reef Road to the M2. At the point where it runs into Stanhope Road the Main Reef Road swings off sharply to the left into a hairpin bend. On its way to the old concrete bridge that passes over the main East Rand – Johannesburg railway line the road goes past a couple of old forgotten and forlorn looking corrugated iron roofed mine houses that have been standing there since the 1890s. At Cleveland Station Julian took the left turn into Cleveland Road and then turned right taking the slip-way onto the M2 west which is also called the Francois Oberholzer Freeway. After the Cleveland Road intersection the Main Reef Road runs almost parallel to the railway line until it eventually sort of peters into Jules Street near Jeppe Station.
The Francois Oberholzer Freeway cuts across a long narrow graveyard of expired gold mines, which have left behind huge mountains of fine yellow sand and hard colossal light yellow sulphur encrusted slime dams that looked like the ruins of ancient pyramids. Monuments built of yellow encrusted sulphurous toxic sands are the only remaining visible legacy of the existence of the once great gold mining industry that used to be the life blood of the entire Witwatersrand economy.
Traffic moving slowly eastwards in the opposite direct along the M2 East was heavy with cars streaming out of the City of Gold to the outlying suburbs of the Central and East Rand. On the northern side of the M2 freeway sprawling industrial townships hugged the railway lines which in turn clung to the original old Main Reef Road which faithfully followed every turn, bend and kink of the Main Reef gold bearing outcrop of conglomeratic rock which stretched across the entire Witwatersrand from Krugersdorp in the west to Springs in the far east.
On both sides of the M2 freeway veld and weeds had reclaimed the exposed toxic earth of the derelict landscape left behind in the wake of the receding tide of the gold mining industry which had gradually sunk into decline as the gold bearing conglomerates were mined to exhaustion.
In the north, beyond the Main Reef Road, beyond the Main Reef outcrops, beyond the industrial townships and beyond the railway lines, the flat landscape was broken by ridges and valleys that stretched from Gillooly’s Farm in east to Hillbrow in the west. Behind the north facing slopes of Kensington Koppies a series of folds, ripples, ridges and valleys divided Johannesburg into a southern half and a northern half. The densely populated white working class suburbs of Malvern and Belgravia lay cradled in the shadows of the southern facing slopes of the Kensington Koppies. Malvern straddled Jules Street with its countless synchronized robots blinking incessantly green, amber and red all the way into the setting sun that was about to sink below the ragged and jagged western sky line of the city.
After turning onto the M2 they drove for a while in silence. As the BMW cruised along the highway, Helena glazed through the window at the string of mine dumps and terraced slime dams which lay squeezed against the left hand side of the highway. Familiar landmarks popped up into her view. Against the purple skies she caught a glimpse of a large flock of Ibises flying home in their strung out V formation. A few seconds later her eyes fell upon the light blue coloured east facing football grandstand next to the George Goch hostels which was the home of black male migrant workers.
As they swept past George Goch she looked at Julian.
“You seem suddenly very preoccupied. What are you thinking,” she asked, looking slightly concerned.
“So much has happened so fast,” he answered.
“Is that a good or a bad thing? Is it about us?” she asked.
“No it is not about us. Everything that has happen has been good. In fact it has been great.”
“What do mean?”
“Well firstly just being with you has been great. Moving into the Loft is going to be great.”
“I sense there is something else,’ she said.
“Well this week I got a big promotion and a huge salary increase. And that is not all. I will be going to Germany in three weeks’ time for a month or so. The Germans have bought a licence for the butanol and acetone fermentation process that I have designed. I need to help them set up their plant.”
“But that is so wonderful,” she exclaimed.
“Yes I know, but I really want to move into the Loft as soon as possible so that I can be close you. Do you think that it will be OK if I move in tomorrow,” he asked.
“This is so unlike you wanting to act immediately without examining all the angles. Of course it will be OK. I will help you move all your things. But is this really what you want?” she asked.
“It is what I want.”
In the distance Ponte Tower and Hillbrow Tower came into view on the north-eastern ridge of the city.
“It looks like Ponte is tilting slightly like the leaning tower of Pisa don’t you think?” Helena said.
“I have heard rumours that it is tilting slowly a millimetre or so a year,” he answered with an amused grin on his face.
“So you don’t actually believe it is tilting?” She asked.
“I don’t think so. Maybe just it is an optical illusion,” he said.
“From the train to Wits it definitely looked like it was tilting,” she said adamantly.
At the downtown southern edge of the Johannesburg central business district the highway’s motorway flyover rose high above the corrugated iron roofs of the factories in Village Main, Wemmer and Selby. On the left side on the top of a mine dump stood the huge screen of the Top Star drive-in. From the elevated vantage point of the flyover Helena took in the panoramic view of the distinctive Johannesburg City skyline of high rise buildings standing out sharply like LEGO pieces against the crimson blue twilight that had started to descend on the now deserted city. The familiar silhouettes of Ponte tower, the Hillbrow Tower, and the Carlton Centre gave the city skyline its uniqueness which distinguished it from any other city in the world.
Constantly moving from behind the building and dancing between gaps it seemed that the Hillbrow Tower was following them as they approached the M1 North turnoff. In the distance behind the Crown Interchange loomed the gigantic mine dump belonging to Rand Mine Properties. In the south stretched out among the mine dumps and slim dumps lay the sprawling Johannesburg southern suburbs of Orphirton, Booysens and Robertsham.
Driving along the lower deck section of the motorway’s flyover that cut across the western side of the city they caught a glimpse of the distinctive blue structure of John Vorster Square as it came into view, framed between the concrete gantries that supported the lower and upper decks of the flyover.
Turning to her he asked: “What wrong?”
“It is that hideous building it gives me the creeps. It is an architectural monstrosity. It geometric form embodies an aestheticization of terror.”
“John Vorster Square?”
“That is quite a dramatic description of a building’s architecture.”
“The offices of the security police are located on the 9th and 10th floors,” she said, “in 1971 Ahmed Timol was thrown to his death from the 10th floor.”
The name rang a bell and triggered a flood of memories. In October 1971 Julian was on the border in the Caprivi Strip. He remembered clearly that one of the permanent force military intelligence officers who had been regularly involved in the torture of SWAPO prisoners and in the processing of the dead bodies of SWAPO soldiers killed in ambushes gave frequent security and military intelligence lecturers to the troops on the border. At the end of one of these talks he told them that Timol a communist terrorist had flown like a kite from the 10th floor of John Vorster Square. There were rumours that SWAPO prisoners were thrown out of helicopters as part of the interrogation process or otherwise they were discreetly executed after been processed for information. In the bush war the South African Defence Force (SADF) did not feel bound by the Geneva Conventions. To treat SWAPO prisoners as POWs would be the same as giving political legitimacy to SWAPO’s liberation struggle. So the fate of Timol did not come as a surprise to Julian, if he was a freedom fighter he would die after being caught. The security forces were pretty much callous and inhumane in the treatment of their captives. Death was a certainty. In a military intelligence office at Katima Mulilo he once saw a plastic bag filled with severed human hands that had been brought back from an military operation against SWAPO temporary bases in Zambia.
Things on the border were also petty much conducted on a fairly laizzer-faire basis. The careless boastings of permanent force officers and non-commissioned officers made during their regular alcoholic binges became grist for the rumour mill. All kinds of rumours filtered through the ranks and camps in 1971 while Julian was in the Caprivi Strip. Rumours about killings and plunder, rumours about illegal hunting and killing of wild life. There were rumours that lion, elephant and rhino had been hunted by the military in Southern Angola and Zambia. It was difficult to know what the truth was. Everything became simultaneously believable and unreal on the border. Manifestations of lawless and immoral behaviour permeated all aspects of military life in the camps. Troops stole whatever they could at every opportunity from each other, from civilians and from the military. Nothing was sacred and no boundaries existed. The troops, our boys on the border, were consumed by an insatiable appetite for decadence. The cordon sanitaire erected to protect the South African way of life had degenerated into a spiritual wasteland where everything except for social relations with blacks seemed permissible. The singular preoccupation of the defenders of the values and morals of Christian Western Civilization from the Communist onslaught was alcohol, dagga, sex and pornography. Nothing else mattered on the border, nothing else was more important to a person’s life than this. An ethos of spiritual desolation reigned in the military camps. Having experienced a strong Catholic upbringing Julian could not avoid feeling an overwhelming sense of God forsakenness at the border military base at Katima Mulilo. This sense of God forsakenness and alienating debauchery contrasted starkly with the lush beauty of the surrounding thinly populated and almost unspoilt African wilderness. The words please God that prefaced all the concerns of his parents began to creep regularly into his own mind. He found himself muttering: ‘please God have mercy,’ as he began to feel constant pangs of guilt as his sense of personal wretchedness on the border during the bush war began to feel more and more overwhelming.
After passing John Vorster Square the Hillbrow Tower reappeared in the east standing tall in the twilight gloom that had started settle over the eternally sleepless Hillbrow. In the west the Brixton tower pointed to the twinkling Evening Star as the sun finally disappeared beneath the horizon. Julian took the Smit Street off-ramp.
Even though they were about half an hour early, they found the foyer of the theatre already crowded with theatre goers.
“Should we have something to drink before we take our seats?” Helena asked.
“Ok, that’s a good idea,” he said.
At the bar he asked her what she would like.
“Hmmm let me think. I think I will have a double gin and tonic,” she said.
“I will have the same. Please make those two double gins and tonic,” he said.
“Will Gilbey’s gin do?”
“That will be fine thanks.”
There was only standing room at the bar.
Helena was pleasantly surprised with Julian’s attentive, enthusiastic and positive response to the play. From the opening scenes, which started with the Tristan Tzara, James Joyce, Lenin and Gwen in a library in Zurich in the year 1916, a year before the Russian October Revolution Julian sat transfixed, riveted and totally engrossed with each scene, all the time holding Helena’s hand tightly.
After the play she directed Julian to the night club. They drove down Jeppe Street toward Fordsburg after passing under the the double decker motor way. Near the Oriental Plaza they turned right into Malherbe Street and parked near the Electric Rainbow discotheque. Brightly dressed black women in tight slacks or miniskirts were milling everywhere in high heels on the pavement under the huge flashing neon rainbow sign which had been stuck to the façade of what was once a large warehouse or factory building. Across the road from the discotheque more black women mingled in the shadows. At the door Julian paid their entrance fee. The cashier stamped their wrists. They walked into the club to the disco sounds of Thank God it’s Friday.
Inside club as their eyes adjusted to the dim light they gaped in astonishment at the crowded multi-racial gathering. A large glittering mirrored disco ball hanging from ceiling and illuminated by spotlights rotated above the crowded dance floor. Sharp beams of light reflected from the rotating disco glitter ball flashed in every direction, filling the dark interior with dancing colourful spots of light. Multicoloured strobe lights painted the dancing patrons in every colour of the rainbow to the throbbing beat of disco music, and everywhere like otherworldly cosmic apparitions people dressed in fluorescent- active clothing glowed spectacularly in the dark.
He followed Helena to the bar area of the discotheque. They sat down on high stools by a high table close to the bar counter. The waiter came as soon as they had sat down. Julian asked her what she wanted to drink.
“Just passion fruit for me please,” she said.
“I will have the same,” said Julian.
From out of the shadows from the far side of the disco club a tall figure approached them. Julian realized that this must be the theological student.
“Hi Livingstone, here is your stuff. This is my very good friend Julian,” she said.
Julian shook Livingstone’s hand.
When the waiter came back with their passion fruits Julian asked Livingstone what he would like.
“I will have Black Label,” he replied.
“Please bring a Black Label and two more passion fruits,” Julian instructed the waiter.
Livingstone sat down, he looked a bit distracted
Curiosity got the better of Julian, so he asked:
“Do you work at the disco club?”
Livingstone burst out laughing.
“No I have come here to meet someone. This was the only convenient place we could meet. It is also the first time I that have been here. But it looks like a nice place where you can come to relax, dance and have a good time I suppose. Yes I would say it definitely seems a good place to meet people and socialize,” Livingstone said.
“I work for a non-profit adult literacy and education organization funded by churches from Denmark and Sweden.”
White men streamed in and out of the disco club. Some lounged on bar stools at the bar with black female companions. Others were dancing with black women.
“Livingstone, you have hardly said word, you seem be very preoccupied,” Helena said, looking a bit concerned.
“I’m sorry. I have a lot of things on my mind. Don’t mind me,” he said.
Helena noticed Julian’s interest in the dancing. He was watching a young black woman who was an excellent disco dancer. She had been on and off the dance floor, dancing mainly by herself.
“She is very good,” Helena remarked.
Julian looked at Helena: “Would you like to dance?”
She looked at him with surprise. For the first time in her life she suddenly felt unsure about herself. Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees came on.
He got off his chair. He urged to her come and dance.
“Jojo rather go ask that girl,” she said pointing to the young black woman.
Julian hesitated. She urged him: “I don’t mind, really. Go ask her my darling.”
“OK,” he said sort of reluctantly. He walked over to her; she was already dancing again, alone by herself. Everyone in the club could see that she was good dancer, and possibly because of this, no one had approached her the whole night to ask her for a dance.
She noticed that he wanted to speak to her. She stopped dancing. He began speaking to her, gesturing with his hands. She nodded her head as he spoke. She then smiled at him and they walked together to an uncrowded space near the centre of dance floor. They began to dance, at first they danced sort of tentatively, trying to find the rhythm and beat of the music, and then they began to dance the Hustle. They both seemed to know exactly what to do.
Helena’s mouth dropped open in astonishment. The only other thing that ever amazed her about Julian was when he told her that he had been a Parabat in 1 Parachute Battalion during his national service in 1971. How could such a non-macho polite gentleman ever have been a Parabat? It was so incongruous. And now he was showing that he was a more than a competent dancer. She frowned and bit her lip as she watched. He was obviously enjoying himself, and his dancing partner’s face was transfixed into a radiant smile. She was also clearly enjoying herself. She was actually very pretty and had a very nice body.
The music stopped. Julian put his heels together and made a slight bow to the girl. As he turned to came back to the table, the girl quickly stepped forward and grabbed his right wrist and pulled him back.
Before he could break free from her, I Feel Love started to play. They began to dance again. Helena listened to the words of I Feel Love that was been sung with such amazing power, skill, colour, warmth, flexibility, agility and range in Donna Summer’s renowned coloratura mezzo-soprano voice. She watched Julian and the girl as they danced. The words of the lyrics began to resonate deeply with the emotions that had been stirred up in her for Julian. Her feelings for Julian had grown stronger and more powerful throughout the past week. Tonight they had become particularly strong. The feelings seemed to have sprung from the very core of her being. She had never ever felt this way over any other man before. She listened to the lyrics.
Before the lyric ended Livingstone got up, excused himself and disappeared somewhere. She sat alone at the table clutching her bag, the only white woman in a semi-illegal multi-racial disco club in Fordsburg. She glanced warily at the constant weird parade of white men, some of them middle aged in grey suits, prowling and trawling for black women. She began to feel anxious while waiting for Julian to come back to the table.
At the end of the I Feel Love track the black girl stood holding both his hands. It seemed that she did not want to let him go. He managed to free one of his hands. He was laughing as he spoke to her. She was laughing as well. She seemed to be flirting with him. He then pointed to the table where Helena was sitting. The girl turned her head and looked towards the table. When she saw the white woman sitting at the table waiting for Julian she waved with one hand and a huge white toothed smile flashed over face. She then let go of Julian’s other hand.
He returned and sat down at the table. She looked at him. “It seemed like that girl did not want to let you go. What have you been doing with yourself these past 2 years? You have become a man full of surprises. I don’t think I really know you anymore. Where did you learn to dance like that?”
“I learnt to dance disco at The Purple Hat. The dance studio and social club in Germiston. I also learnt social skills and etiquette that dancers need observe and practice in dancing halls or dance clubs.”
“Dance studio and social club. What happened at the social club?”
“The social club involved twice a month social dance evenings when all learners could mingle, socialize and dance.”
“Did you have a regular dancing partner?”
“No. I went to the dance lessons by myself. I danced with the instructor, the dance teacher,” he said.
“And you never met anyone at The Purple Hat?” she asked, looking at Julian in disbelief.
“No, I did not meet anyone in the sense that I think you are meaning,” he smiled
“That black girl you were dancing was quite attractive don’t you think?” She asked with a mischievous smile on her face.
“Yes she was,” he agreed. He back at Helena and shook his head in disbelief.
“What?” She asked
“You jealous of me,” he said and burst out laughing, “I can’t believe it, after all these years you are actually jealous of me. I never thought that you could ever become jealous of me.”
“OK I admit it. I have become jealous of you, I noticed that the girl was coming onto you, and she was very attractive, and I started to feel jealous,” she finally admitted.
“Well I have been jealous of you for a much longer time. Now you know what it feels like. I had to watch you all the time being besotted and lovey-dovey with all those imbeciles. So it is good that you also have a turn to be jealous for a few minutes,” he said.
“It was not only a few minutes. It was more like half an hour that I had to be jealous of you while you were obviously enjoying every moment with that girl.”
She felt that she was falling; free falling without any parachute. She was falling hopelessly and helplessly in love with Julian. She was sick with love for this man sitting at the table next to her. She looked at him and remembered the canticle from The Song of Songs; she recited them silently in her heart like a prayer.
[_ I slept but my heart was awake. Listen! My lover is knocking. “Open to me, my flawless one, My head is drenched with dew, my hair with the dampness of the night.” I have taken off my robe - must I put it on again? I have washed my feet – must I soil them again? My lover thrust his hand through the latch-opening; my heart began to pound for him. I arose to open for my lover, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with flowing myrrh, on the handles of the lock. I opened for my lover, but my lover had left; he was gone. My heart sank at his departure. I looked for him but did not find him. I called him but he did not answer. The watchmen found me as they made their rounds in the city. They beat me, they bruised me; they took away my cloak, those watchman of the walls! O daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you- if you find my lover, what will you tell him? Tell him I am faint with love. I am sick with love for him. Tell him, I feel love, I feel love, I feel love. _]”
Livingstone came back to the table.
“Where did you disappear too? I thought you went to the toilet,” Helena said.
“Sorry. I had to make a phone call. It took a while to find a call box. I need a big favour from you guys, can you please give me a lift to Alexander Township,” he said
“Sure we can, it will be pleasure,” Julian quickly responded.
Livingstone gulped down the beer that was left over in his glass. Julian looked at his watch.
“I think we should be going then,” he said.
Outside black women were still parading everywhere in the streets.
“Prostitutes,” said Livingstone in a sort of matter of fact manner.
Cars driven by white men crept and crawled slowly along the curb like giant predatory insects with shining eyes, armoured carapaces and waving antennae.
Julian started the BMW.
They drove down Louis Botha to Alex. At Alex Livingstone directed Julian to a house that seemed to be located deep in the location. They stopped outside the house. Loud music could be heard coming from the house.
“Have you ever been to a shebeen?” Livingstone asked. “Why don’t you come for a short while? It’s still early. Most of the crowd has gone.”
Julian looked at Helena.
“It’s up to you,” she said.
They followed Livingstone through the front door and entered into a large dimly lit lounge. When Julian heard Malomba’s Pampa Mabida being played he experienced a sudden inexplicable but strong sense of overwhelming and palpable déjà vu. He wondered if the sound of the words being sung could have reawakened a memory of a long forgotten dream. He began to almost feel convinced that he had been in this shebeen before. Something about the music was so hauntingly familiar. He was sure that he had heard it before. He glanced at Helena. She looked magnificent and somehow she did not seem to be out of place. Everything tonight had become so mixed up but also everything also seemed strangely normal.
They joined what appeared to be some friends of Livingstone sitting around a table. They all turned out to be ex-high school students who had now become political activists following the 1976 Soweto student uprising. An opened bottle of White Horse whisky stood in the centre of the table. It was quarter full. One of the activists got up and fetched more glasses.
Julian and Helena declined the offer of a shot of whisky.
One of activists called Bongani looked with interest at Julian.
“I can see you like this music,” he said. He eyes were blood shot, but he did not appear to be too drunk.
“Yes I do,” Julian answered. He also felt an inexplicable kinship with Bongani and the other activists as if he had known them for long time.
He began to have vivid recollections of Katima Mulilo where he had been posted as a Parabat in 1971. Katima Mulilo became a segregated town in 1965. A township for blacks called Nghweeze had been developed outside of the borders of the small white’s only town.
Late one Friday afternoon he slipped away and went with a friend to the nearby M’pacha airbase to fetch supplies. His friend had also gone to Christian Brothers College in Boksburg, and was now doing his national service as a driver at the Katima Mulilo military base. They went in a Unimog to M’pacha. On leaving the airbase with their freight they were instructed to take a group of black labourers who worked at the airbase back home to Nghweeze for the weekend. Along the road back they were waved down by a black man standing next to the road. As part of the campaign to win the hearts and minds of the people in the Caprivi it had become recommended practise to give lifts to the local population. When they stopped for the man standing at the side of the road Julian remembered that he felt concerned about the situation because it could have been some kind of ambush. The thought that raced through his mind was that the man could easily toss a hand grenade into the cab of the Unimog. Julian became vigilant. He watched the man’s every move; he kept an alert eye on the man’s hands as the man explained that he also wanted a lift to the township. Anyway they allowed the hitch hiker to climb onto the back of the Unimog; the others on the back seemed to know him
When they dropped the passengers off at the entrance of the location, the friend asked them in Afrikaans where liquor could be bought in the township. In 1971 national service men were not allowed to drink alcohol in the camps or buy liquor and bring alcohol into a military base. They pointed out a house that sold liquor illegally. As the sun began to set below the horizon they drove the SADF military vehicle into the location and stopped outside the front gate of the whitewashed house with a small yard. With their R1 rifles slung over their shoulders they walked through the front gate and knocked on the front door of the house. They could hear music being played inside the house. It sounded very similar to Malomba’s Pampa Madiba.
The house turned out to be a shebeen. When the person who opened the door saw the two white soldiers in sun faded camouflage battle fatigues armed with automatic rifles he became extremely alarmed. The front door opened into a small lounge that was packed with patrons. The friend quickly pacified the man and reassured him in Afrikaans that all he wanted was to buy a bottle of cane spirits. The man who seemed to be the proprietor of the establishment quickly ushered Julian and his friend into the house and closed the front door behind them. The military vehicle stood conspicuously in the street outside the shebeen owner’s house.
They stood there inside the lounge. The scene in all its exotic vividness came back to Julian. The music’s captivating sounds and beat was pleasant to the ear. By the time their eyes had adjusted to the dim light in the smoke filled interior of the shebeen a hushed silence had descended over the crowded lounge. Everyone stared at them with dark impenetrable expressions on their faces. It felt like he was an alien in another Universe, one in which no other white person had ever ventured into before them. His friend must have not only been completely fearless but was also stark raving mad to have got them into this situation. Why had he allowed himself to get into this situation, which could have landed them in very serious trouble? Why had he so willingly gone along with his friend? He could not find an answer.
A black woman with a very dark complexion, her face made up with plum rouge, purple eye shadow and red lipstick gazed at them with bemused and mocking eyes. She was very attractive. Julian could not help staring at her while his friend negotiated a deal for a bottle of cane spirits.
It had been a hot and humid day. The temperature had soared to 37oC by midday. He felt the heat radiating from the hot corrugated iron roof. It must have been at least 35oC in the room.
He became aware of the tension in the room, but his friend seemed to be completely oblivious to the hostile atmosphere that enveloped them. He was completely relaxed as if this was something that he had done quite regularly. The shebeen owner eventually relented to the friend’s request and sold him a bottle of cane spirits. The friend then told the shebeen owner that they would like to quickly drink an ice cold beer before they left. The man began extremely agitated, but again he relented and brought two ice cold quarts of beer. They stood against the hot wall next to the closed door and drank the beer from the bottles. It was the first time in his life that he had drank alcohol. He felt the skin on his cheeks tingle pleasantly as he drank the beer from the bottle.
“Check that black chick there. Don’t you think she is simply gorgeous,” his friend said.
“She is not bad looking,” Julian answered.
“Do think she has a boyfriend?” his friend asked.
“I don’t know, may be those guys are just friends,” Julian answered, “maybe she is a SWAPO informer.”
“Who cares if she is,” he said.
He sensed that the beer was making his friend reckless. He felt tense.
“I think we should go, let’s not push our luck,” Julian said.
His friend caught the girl’s eyes, they made eye contact. He pushed back his beret and cocked his head. Holding her gaze his lips curled into a smile he waved his hand meaningfully at her. Reciprocating, she lifted her hand and waved back.
“What is going on with you?” Julian anxiously asked his friend.
“I’m chaffing that chick. I like her,” he replied.
No one ever found out that they had driven a military vehicle into the township to buy liquor, nor did they tell anyone. In fact he had never ever spoken to anyone about their illicit visit to Nghweeze.
A few weeks later his friend woke him at about 1.00 am on a Sunday morning. He whispered in the dark that he had found a way to break into the officer’s bar. They climbed over the high wall into the small backyard area of the officers club. The back door of the club was unlocked and had been left wide open. The lights were still on inside the club. They walked into the empty bar and his friend went behind the bar counter and packed bottles of Glenfiddich and Chivas Regal into a cardboard box.
No one ever found out who stole the whiskey from the officers club. Today he could not believe that he had been involved as an accomplice in such an audacious act of theft.
Tonight sitting in the shebeen in Alexandria Township he wondered again if he really knew himself. Who really am I actually? He had often wondered.
His friend, Raymond, who was still a good friend, had recently taken up Holy Orders and had become an ordained Catholic Priest with the Dominicans. When Julian told Raymond that he was no longer a practicing Catholic, Raymond laughed good naturedly and said: “Deep down you will always be a Catholic, once a Catholic, always a Catholic. We are like Jews. Catholicism is not something you can just give up. Remember what naughty Catholic boys we were once. Now look at us, we have become the salt of the earth. Solid Christians after we had sown our wild oats.”
As they drove to the M2 East freeway from Alexandra Township Julian looked at Helena relaxing in the passenger seat. She appeared to be deep in contemplation.
“Do you feel you tired,” Julian asked.
“No, in fact I am wide awake,” she smiled back at him, “it is only 1.30 am and the night still seems endless.”
“How did you get to meet Livingstone,” Julian asked.
“It is long story. Do remember the SCA committee wanted to get someone to give a lunch time talk on black consciousness and black theology. I think you missed the talk for some or other reason. Anyway everyone we approached turned us down. No one in the black consciousness movement wanted anything to do with white students. I was told to go the Christian Institution which was in Jorrison Street Braamfontein to see if someone could persuade a black consciousness representative to come and speak to white Christian students at Wits,” she said.
“I went over to the Christian Institute to see if anyone there could perhaps persuade someone to come and give a lunchtime talk. No one was unavailable at the time to help me. However, by pure chance I happened to bump into a very kind black lady who was also visiting the Institute. I spoke to her and she promised to see if she could help me. She managed to persuade Livingstone Zulu to come and speak on black consciousness and black theology.”
“That is how I first met him,” she explained, “and then recently he began to pitch up quite regularly at the Loft meetings. He seemed to find them interesting. He has since become lukewarm about the viability of the black consciousness movement and was more open minded about alternative struggle strategies that involved forming broad alliances with different groups in civil society irrespective of race. Apparently many black activists aligned with the ANC felt that by forming a broader and inclusive civil society alliance of the Left would be a more effective strategy in the liberation struggle in South Africa than one based on a narrow essentialist ideology such a black consciousness. These were more or less his exact words as I remember them from a talk that he gave at the Loft.”
“As a Christian he was interested in Liberation Theology and he told me about Alfredo Fierro’s Militant Gospel which I went and bought, and I have started reading the book.”
Before Julian could turn into the side road to the Loft Helena suddenly said:
“Don’t turn. Keep going straight. Follow the road it will take us back to the Main Reef Road. We can find a quite spot where we can park and talk. ”
Julien was more than happy to comply with her request. The night had taken on a magical quality and he also did not want it to end. So he turned into the Main Reef that goes to east to Boksburg.
“Go past the clinic on the right. There are some mine houses further on. You can take a right turn off there and we can stop somewhere in a quite side road.”
They drove in silence along the Main Reef Road.
“There is the road. Turn right into that road.”
“Go park next to those tall pine trees over these. It looks like a nice spot.”
The full moon had reached its zenith above the pine trees and drained the ocean of darkness from the night, painting everything in a mantle of luminescent silver and sharp shadows. The gold sequins on Helena’s dress glittered and sparkled in the moon light.
They began to kiss. He discovered that she was an excellent kisser. Her tongue began to probe his mouth. He felt his loins surge with excitement.
“Can we collapse our seats, it will be much more comfortable” she said while trying to adjust her skirt which had become hiked up around her upper thighs.
Julian lowered both seats.
She stretched out on her back and he bent over her and began kissing her passionately. He felt his hand brushing her breast accidently. He gently laid the palm of his hand lightly over her breast. He kept his hand cupped over her breast while they kissed. She did not seem to mind. He tentatively began to fondle and caress her breasts, very softly and very lightly with his right hand, touching them through the soft satin fabric of her dress. She did not demur. She continued to probe his mouth with her tongue. He softy squeezed her breasts. He could feel through the fabric of her dress that she was not wearing a bra. He gently and carefully pulled down the top of her dress to expose her breasts. Her breasts were beautifully shaped and firm and had a seductive perfumed fragrance. He began to caress, fondle and softly squeeze her naked breasts and nipples.
Her dress had hiked up high enough so that her thighs and panties had become exposed. Moving his hand down he started caressing her thighs. Shifting his had up under her skirt between her legs he felt the soft smooth silky naked skin of her inner thighs above the stockings elastic stay-up band. She parted her thighs as he touched her there. He moved his hand up and very tentatively stroked her mound softly through the fabric of her panties. As he touched her there she gasped immediately, exhaling a warm sweet odour. Her response to being touched there caught him by surprise. He removed his hand from her mound.
“No don’t take you hand away touch me there Jojo darling, stroke me between my legs it feels absolutely wonderful.” His mind began to race. He had no idea that a woman could response in such a dramatic manner when touched in these places. This was the first time he that had touched a woman in such an intimate manner.
A kaleidoscope of multiple disconnected images began to flood his mind. Impressions from the Electric Rainbow were followed by scenes from Travesties, a dreamlike image of a black man in the rugged jacket waving the Unimog down on an isolated stretch of the road between M’pacha and Katima Mulilo reappeared in his mind, recent recollections of the mood in the shebeen in Alexandria merged with distant memories of the dim interior of the house in Nghweeze, he thought he was again feeling the tingling in his cheeks from the first beer that he had ever drank, in his mind’s eye he saw the attractive dark skinned black woman with the red lipstick staring back at them as they stood drinking ice cold beer, and he smelt the whiff of the stale smell of booze lingering in the officers club that they had just broken into. This was bar in which all the rumours were incubated.
While these images turned through his mind the sound of Pampa Madiba echoed in his head. Again, he saw himself standing on the threshold of the unknown, again as it was when he stepped through the door of the shebeen at Nghweeze; he was now once more at that kind of place, a place of darkness and danger, a kind of place in which he could became lost, and a place that made him feel like a stranger to himself, a place where he would feel himself slipping away from who he thought he was.
He remembered a vivid dream that he had once had. In the dream Raymond woke him at mid night. He whispered that he wanted Julian to meet someone. They slipped out of the military base and walked deep into the bush. Under a tall tree stood the black woman they had seen in the shebeen in Nghweeze. Raymond introduced her to Julian. He told Julian that she was a SWAPO agent, and that she wanted Julian to give her information on military operations. She reached out and squeezed Julian’s hand. His friend disappeared and he was left alone with her. She did not say anything. Instead she embraced him and he began to kiss her. He stripped the clothes from her body. They make love. A powerful nocturnal emission woke him up.
His slide his hand very carefully down under the elastic fabric at the top of her panties, brushing his hand lightly over the soft fine down of her pubic hair. Suddenly he could feel the unfamiliar anatomy of her vulva. He began to feel breathless with excitement as he entered into a realm of erotic sensations that had been completely unknown to him until that moment. He heart began to throb like mad. His breathing rate quickened. He felt as if had been injected with an opiate more powerful and pleasurable that heroin. He began to probe and explore her vulva carefully and gently with his fingers. She gasped again. Her breathing rate also began to increase as her own excitement started to soar. She stopped kissing him. She laid her head back on the seat and closed her eyes. She breasts rose and fell, her rib cage rose and fell, as she began to breathe more deeply. She began to make panting sounds, and soft moaning sounds as his figures probed, explored, caressed and rubbed in and around her vulva.
Even though he knew that they were about to go beyond the point of return, even so he did not feel numb about what they were going to do, he was lucid, he was thinking all kinds of things, he thought of Ruth going to Boaz at night. He thought about his standing as a Christian, but he could not deny himself nor could he deny her. He remembered weeping when read the moving novel The Slave by Isaac Bashevis Singer, one of his favourite authors. In the story Jacob woke with Wanda lying close to him burning with desire and panting with lust like an animal, her voice passionately imploring him not to deny her. While Jacob was overcome with desire for Wanda he remembered at that moment a passage from the Gemara: Should a man be overcome from by the Evil One, let him dress himself in black clothing, and cover himself in black, and indulge his heart’s desire.
Julian could think of no Christian theological precept that would condone the breaking down of all his defences, allowing him to indulge his heart’s desire.
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
How can anyone endure temptation when the mind and body, the whole person, succumbs to the consuming infinity of desire, how can anyone endure temptation when desire with its limitless power can take possession of thought, of willing, of knowing, of becoming and of being. His began to feel the vertiginous collapse of his will.
Intoxicated with desire he was unable to resist any longer, he began to pull her panties down over her thighs, while wondering where in the Gemara would one find that passage, and how would it relate to the whole of scripture.
She sat up, in the moonlight he saw her face was also flushed desire.
“Let me help you Jojo.”
They had known each for six years as close friends, often as trusting confidantes. What she said seemed so natural, ‘let me help you, Jojo.’ Yet this was the closest that they had ever been, they were going to do something physically intimate together, something that Helena would never have ever contemplated doing with anyone until she had that wild dream about Julian. The dream had take possession of her, she wanted Julian, and she wanted it to be Julian. He was really the only man that she trusted, the one that had always made her feel so safe, and so very special, when she was with him. She knew that she was extraordinarily special to him. She knew that Julian loved her more than she could ever imagine.
Secure in this knowledge regarding Julian’s feelings for her she pulled her shirt high up over her hips and then pulled her panties down over her knees and down to her ankles. She slipped them off over her high heels, carefully untangling them as they snagged on her shoes. They were both in a state of intense arousal. He could feel that the anatomy of her vulva had changed. It had become engorged with blood. Her nipples were stiff and erect. They had both embarked together like explorers for the first time into an unknown and foreign zone. They entered together almost by accident into a beautiful scented garden, into a lush vineyard heavily hung with sweet and ripened fruit.
There was no going back now; she was ready, he knew she was going to let him mount her. She was practically naked. Only her midriff below her breasts and above her navel was covered by her folded and rumpled up dress. He felt the intensity of his excitement increasing. He felt an incredible rush of heightened pleasure everywhere, in his brain, in his chest and in his loins. His heart pounded furiously in chest. He has ascended to the pinnacle of arousal.
She placed her arms around his neck pulling him down as she lay back again. She moved her thighs apart as his hand went back to her vulva. She reclined back on the car seat with her vulva exposed in the bright moonlight to his gaze and probing fingers. Once again this night, this night that felt so endless, this night that was filled with overpowering mysteries, this night that was bursting with the kind of intense and urgent intimacy that she could never have anticipated, she felt moved to recite a canticle from the Song of Songs, she recited it to herself silently and inwardly as if the words were a sacred pray:
“Let the wine flow straight to my lover, flowing over his lips and teeth. I belong to my lover, and he desires me. Come, darling, let’s go out to the countryside and spend the night in the fields. We will get up early and look at the vines to see whether they’ve started to grow, whether the blossoms are opening and the pomegranate-trees are in bloom. There I will give you my love.”
The awareness that he was on the threshold of having sex with her put him into a kind of dreamlike state. He undid his belt, unzipped his fly, and pulled his pants down to his ankles. As he positioned himself over her she positioned herself so that she could be penetrated by him. He knelt on the seat between her open thighs. As he leaned forward over her she spread her legs further, parting her thighs as wide as possible, so that he could have full unimpeded access to her vagina. Holding his penis he pushed into her vulva. It found the entrance of her vagina, he thrust through her hymen. She let out a sudden cry.
“I am sorry,” he said.
“It is OK Jojo. Push hard so that you can get it all in. Don’t worry. I am fine. It actually feels really good having you in me, push.”
He felt enveloped by the incredible heat of her vagina as it seemed to grasp his penis tightly in its clutch, not letting go of him. He discovered to his surprise that it was at the same temperature as her core body temperature, 37 oC. He realized he should not have been surprised at this intimate discovery.
“Helena I love you so much. You are the first and only person I have every loved”
“I know that my darling. I have given you such a hard time for so long. I love too my Jojo, no one has ever been so faithful to me as you have, it so wonderful, so unbelievably special for us to be together again,” she whispered.
Nocturnal callings of a pair of dikkops punctured the silvery silence of the night. From a distance that seemed so far away in the night a lonely dog barked at the moon. Nearby the soft pleasant hu-huuu hooting sounds of a spotted eagle owl seemed to make the moon smile down through the canopy of pines needles onto the white BMW.
He began to thrust. The wet heat felt pleasant. With each new thrust he felt an exquisite orgasm building up. It reached a crescendo and as he climaxed he felt the beautiful surge of a powerful ejaculation.
She felt the warm fluid squirt into her, filling her to the brim. Feeling the rhythm of his thrusts of his hips ebbing she urged him: “Keep going Jojo, please don’t stop Jojo my darling.”
He began to work harder, thrusting and thrusting his pelvis. Every time he slowed or slacken the pace she urged him to continue. He realized that she desperately wanted to climax. He worked hard. His breathing increased with the exertion. She felt the heat radiating from his body. She breathed in the erotic fragrance of his deodorant and cologne. Eventually she opened her mouth and let out a cry of pleasure as she writhed beneath him. He collapsed down on her. They hugged each other tightly. She felt happy and content beneath Julian, she turned her head so that she could catch a glimpse of the night sky through the window, she smiled back at the moon’s friendly face, and she felt complete.
A grey cat with black stripes trotted past the BMW with a mouse struggling in its mouth. Crickets that had waited in silence for them to finish their love making started to chirp again. A large shongolola encased in rings of armour that reflected the moonlight marched along a narrow meandering foot path towards the BMW; the synchronized wave like motion of its multiple legs carried the annulated tubular train of its body. Bats flitted to and fro across the road. A toad awoke finally from its hibernation and crept out of its winter chamber beneath a flat rock. Its eyes reflected the moonlight. A faint smell of jasmine from the nearby mine house gardens lingered in the night air.
After a while she began to move beneath him.
“I think there is one hang of a mess on your car seat Jojo. Just as well I pulled up my dress up; else it would have been completely ruined. Oh heck! Quickly we need tissues! I am leaking all over the seat.”
They untangled their bodies.
“There is box of tissues in the cubby hole.”
They both wiped away the smears of blood and semen from the seat, from her thighs and from between her legs.
“I am bleeding quite badly Jojo.”
“I have a gym towel in the boot. I will go and get it, just hang in there.”
He got out the car and opened the boot. She also got out of the car. She carefully pulled her dress over her shoulders and head. She hung her dress carefully over the open door. She stood fully naked in the moonlight, wearing only her arm bracelet, her stocking and high heels. In the moon light she looked breathtakingly beautiful. But seeing her standing there naked, he also began to feel a surge of incredible tenderness, affection and love towards her. He realized that while she was completed naked before his gaze she was not nude.
High in the western sky a star suddenly started to shine brightly. For a moment Julian thought it was the evening star. But then they could hear the faint rumble of an approaching Boeing 747. It was beginning its descent to Jan Smuts Airport. Julian gazed up into the night sky; the star had turned into the flashing lights of a plane. Passengers gazing out of the cabin windows marvelled at the sight of the full moon hanging in the sky. They gazed in delight at the moon bathed landscape beneath them. The captain made some announcements over the intercom to the passengers:
“We are now descending over the Witwatersrand. Beneath us lays the vast Witwatersrand gold fields stretching from east to west. If you use your imagination you can easily trace out in the moonlight the head of a lion sketched across the landscape of the Witwatersrand. You can see its head, its two ears and if you look carefully you see its nose and its blazing eyes. Ladies and gentlemen this is the Witwatersrand and we are now passing over Germiston. ”
“Are you not cold?” Julian asked.
“A bit but I will be OK. I am just worried about ruining my dress. It cost a fortune and it is still brand new.”
He gave her the towel. She held the towel between her legs. He went back to the boot and rummaged in his gym bag. He retrieved a clean tracksuit and T-shirt. He spread another towel on the front passenger seat.
“Put my tracksuit on.”
She sat on the seat and took off her high heels and stockings. She pulled on the tracksuit pants. Put on his T shirt and tracksuit top. She squeezed her stockings and panties in her clutch bag and laid her dress carefully out on the back seat.
“You dumped one heck of a load of semen into my vagina. I am not on the pill. It feels like I may have ovulated. Could that be possible? What if I fall pregnant?”
“If you fall pregnant I am going look after you. I will marry you. The house that I have built is practically finished. I can give you your own home. You don’t have to work. I earn enough to take good care of you and the baby. I can give you a wonderful life. You will want for nothing. I can take care of you,” he said. “I love you such much. I have always loved you.”
She smiled warmly. “I know that. You are a good and honourable man Jojo, a man of integrity. I know you Jojo. I love you too. I have actually fallen head over heels in love with you, I can’t help myself,” she said confessed. “My sweet Jojo you are the first man that has ever touched my breasts, who has ever caressed my body. Jojo, I am 24 years old and was a virgin until you make love to me tonight. I wanted the first time to be extra special with some one that I was going to marry. Tonight has been out of this world, it has been one of the most beautiful nights that I have ever experienced in life. It has been so incredibly special. I don’t think I would have wanted to do it with anyone else.”
“It was also very special for me. I am 25 and I have never touched or made love to anyone. You are the first woman I have been with.”
“I know my Jojo.”
“I do love you Jojo. I have also missed you these past two years.”
“We are not like other normal people Jojo. We are different. I feel it.”
Julian reluctantly looked at his watch. It was almost 2.30 am. The moon hovered above the Simmer and Jack mine dumps.
“I don’t want to leave you,” he said
“And I don’t want you to leave me,” she laughed
“So we are couple? We are in a relationship?” he asked
“Yes of course, what a question to ask especially after what happened to us tonight,” she said. “I don’t think I will ever be the same again after tonight.”
“What time should I bring my stuff over to the Loft tomorrow?” he asked.
‘Definitely very late morning, say after 11.00 am,” she answered, “I don’t think I will manage to get up before 10.00 am.”
At the Loft she slipped bare foot through the front door wearing Julian’s track suit, her clutch bag clamped under her arm, her high heels in one hand and her dress slung over her other forearm.
He started the car and drove through the deserted CBD of Germiston. He wondered whether Helena had seduced him or whether what had happened was purely contingent, unplanned, something that had just happened, possibly by accident. Then again he thought it could have been foreordained.
She tip toed barefoot down the passage in the dark. The carpet failed to smother the creaking of the floor planks under her soft tread. In the black silence of the house the sound seemed to be loud enough to wake the dead. For a moment she stood absolutely still in mid step like a cat stalking a bird and listened carefully to hear if anyone had been stirred from their sleep. Sneaking back into the house so stealthily with her dress draped over her left forearm made her feel like a naughty teenager. A thought flashed through her mind: “Why am I feeling so guilty. l am a grown woman of 24; I don’t need to feel guilty or accountable to anyone regarding my personal and private business. I have not really done anything immoral.”
“Oh dear I am thinking just like an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth and says, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong’,” she mumbled herself.
At her door she fumbled in her bag for the keys. She unlocked the door and pushed it open, the moon light streamed from her room flooding the passage way with a faint phosphorous glow. She decided not to switch on her lamp or the main bedroom light. She draped her dress over the chair by her desk. Leaving her bedroom door wide open she tiptoed to the bathroom to brush her teeth and remove her makeup.
Back in her room she gently closed the door and crept into her bed wearing Julian’s T-shirt and track suit pants. While thinking about their love making, she fell asleep with a smile on her face.
“You are really so anal,” she exclaimed as she helped him unpack his cloths from the two suitcases lying opened on the bed. Before packing his clothes into chest of drawers and onto the selves in the wardrobe he first unfolded and carefully refolded each item of clothing. He then packed each item in a specifically ordered arrangement. This ritual began to amuse Helena.
“Why don’t you pack your stuff straight into the draws from the suitcase? Everything is already so neatly folded so why re-folded again, you just doing double work? And why must everything be hung in such a specific manner beats me. I have never seen anyone so obsessive about neatness and order,” she chuckled while shaking her head in disbelief.
With all his things careful and neatly installed in their proper place and order, he closed the cases and stashed them on top of the wardrobe.
While he was busy with the unpacking, refolding and carefully hanging his clothes she stretched herself out on his bed. Laying on her side with her head resting on his pillow she watched him unpack the boxes which contained his collection of books. She gazed at his books as he arranged them on the bookshelf in strict alphabetic order with respect to authorship. She noticed that he had the complete collection of books by Jacques Ellul.
“You know there is lot I don’t know about you Jojo. For instance I did not know that you liked Jacques Ellul,” she said.
He handed her a thick black hard covered book. It was Jacques Ellul’s The Ethics of Freedom.
“Have a look at this,” he said.
She took the book and began to page through it, scanning her eyes quickly over the pages. She found something that caught her attention. Resting on elbow she began to read. The text of interest dealt with Ellul’s interpretation of the three temptations that Jesus faced while he was in the wilderness.
“This is so interesting,” she said.
“Oh I definitely agree with this. Ellul concludes that with regard to Jesus’ second temptation that there is no such thing as a good ruler, not even if the ruler consists of the sovereign people or the proletariat. He states that there is no such thing as a good master,” she said. “When you finished with the book I would like to read it.”
“I am finished you can take it,” he answered.
“Oh thanks,” she said.
“Talking about rulers whether they are kings, dictators or presidents, I have never heard you ever express a political opinion. I don’t even know what you think about the situation in the country,” she observed.
“I have never been interested in politics,” he answered without thinking about what he had just said.
“That is such a cop out and so lame,” she said with a disappointed expression on her face.
He did have political beliefs.
“OK you right I should be more concerned about what is going on in politics. Let me state my position on politics. My political beliefs are quite simple and uncomplicated. In spite of whatever opinion Luther or Calvin may have had on the matter I personally believe strongly in the ideals of egalitarianism. I believe that much of what Marx has written about in his critique of Capitalism is trivially true. But then I don’t believe that the socialism currently practiced in Communist countries can ever actually work in an economically sustainable and viable manner. I also believe that Apartheid is not only an evil system, but also completely unworkable. But then I also believe that all the bad things in politics are inevitable and that it is an inescapable inevitability that politics will always work towards the destruction of egalitarianism, because an egalitarian society will always be an impediment to the interests of politicians and the power elites who control the politicians and their political agendas. Politics will always be about how to achieve and retain a monopoly of power over others, and to enjoy the benefits that a monopoly of power brings in its wake. The inevitability of a monopoly of power by the few over the many is an iron law of history. Another related iron law of history is the inevitable evolution of hierarchies of social dominance of powerful elites who have no interest in establishing the social and political conditions that would ensure the independence, equality, freedom and autonomy of the individual. I also agree with Ellul that there can never such thing as a good ruler or a good master.”
“Your pessimism and cynicism regarding politics comes as a very big surprise to me. Also, I would never have imagined that you of all people would be a supporter of egalitarianism,” she said with a look of genuine surprise on her face.
He smiled back at her.
“There are a lot of things that you do not know about me,” he replied with boyish grin on his face.
“I am beginning to realize that,” she said.
She could not remember ever hearing anyone in her immediate social circle of acquaintances and friends ever taking such strong stand in favour of egalitarianism. None of her friends were critical of Capitalism, so Julian jaundiced view of Capitalism was something she did not expect. Everyone in the Loft defended some form of Capitalism. The only people she knew who were critical of Capitalism and supported some kind of ideas on egalitarianism where those students at Wits who openly professed to be Marxist. In her circle of Christian friends being against Capitalism was as good as being anti-Calvinist.
“If all social systems are ultimately doomed to descend into a state where oppression, injustice, inequality, exploitation and totalitarianism reigns unchecked, then why should we bother about being so concerned about freedom, liberty, equality, democracy, justice, independence and autonomy. If everything is ultimately futile, regardless of our of best efforts and sacrifices to strive for equality, freedom and justice, then we might as well allow ourselves to sink into a mental and emotional condition of indifference and apathy, and live out our lives in a numbed state of anomie,” she argued.
“I am not implying that we as whites should be indifferent to Apartheid nor I am suggesting that we should be indifferent, apathetic or passive in our response to any immoral, unjust and oppressive political system. I think we have a moral duty, in fact think we are under a moral obligation or imperative to resist the inevitable monopolization of political power by any minority over the majority,” he answered.
“Even if every single nation state on earth is ultimately doomed by some inexorable iron law of history or some inflexible law of human nature so as to eventually become undemocratic, corrupt, violent, unjust, unfree and exploitative does not relieve us in any way from a God imposed moral imperative to resist and even fight against the inevitability of evil,” he continued.
“I like that. I agree with you that we are indeed under a God imposed moral imperative not only to merely resist evil but also to fight all manifestations of evil,” she said
“Well the battle against evil will be a war without end?” he commented philosophically, “evil will always arise as long as there is a monopoly of power by the few over the many, the existence of evil depends on the existence of hierarchies of social dominance, it is as simple as that. As long as the majority of people have no power over their lives evil will prevail. To advance the cause of evil was the reason why the Devil tried to tempt Jesus with a monopoly of power over all the kingdoms of the world. All Jesus had to do was to bow down and worship the Devil and he would be given an absolute monopoly over all earthly power.”
“So the desire for earthly power is the same as worshipping the Devil and advancing the cause of evil?” She said.
“Yes that is the dismal iron law of history, this is also the essence of man’s depravity which arises from his insatiable desire for power and dominion of others,” he agreed.
He looked at her; she was listening, so he continued.
“The development of hierarchies of social dominance has always depended on the destruction of egalitarian forms of co-existence within and between human communities. Egalitarian forms of social co-existence emerged spontaneously in the evolution of man. A persuasive case can be made for the case that the biological and social evolution of man would not have made any progress if our prehistoric ancestors had not prevented or delayed the inevitable progression towards the monopolization of power by the few over the many and the consequent emergence of hierarchies of social dominance,” he said.
His reference to biological and social evolution took her by surprise. It was clear that he had come to believe in evolution. As students both of them had held to some form of evangelical idea of creationism. Not wanting to interrupt him about whether or not he had modified his beliefs about evolution she allowed him to continue. In fact she was fascinated by what he was saying.
She was also relieved and surprised to have discovered that he was learning to the Left in his political beliefs.
“If there was such a thing as an etiology of evil, then the origination or causation of evil is linked to the emergence of hierarchies of social dominance that are characterized by an absolute monopoly of power by the few over the manner. Evil depends on the concentration of absolute power in the hands of the few, as the saying goes absolute power corrupts absolutely. Preventing the concentration of power in one institution or in an elite or even in the hands of one person is the only way to win the battle against evil,” he argued.
“This idea about the spontaneous or inevitable emergence of social hierarchies which become sources of evil, is it a hypothesis and could it become the basis for a theory of social revolution?” She asked.
“I would definitely say it is a hypothesis, but I think it is quite a compelling hypothesis, and I suppose it could provide the rational foundations for theory of social revolution. I think it also makes scientific and theological sense. If the development of hierarchies of social dominance had not been actively prevented or constrained or held in check by the collective and cooperative actions of the many against the few during the earliest stages of hominid social evolution, Homo sapiens as a social animal would have become extinct through a process of self-annihilation. It is quite possible that only those species of primitive social hominids that managed to survive and possible thrive for a time were those that were the most egalitarian in their social organization. I think that a genetic flaw which resulted in behavioural predispositions towards the formation of hierarchies of social dominance pushed all of the different species of hominids over the edge of the cliff of extinction. We are the only surviving bipedal intelligent primates with a capacity for language and highly dexterous opposable thumbs who have miraculously escaped extinction through a process of self-predation or self-destruction. By sheer luck we have managed until now to escape extinction. But I think this only a temporary reprieve from the inevitable,” he said.
“Wow, you have quite an apocalyptic vision for the fate of mankind. What has happened to Julien the Evangelical Reformed Christian who did not believe in evolution while we were students at Wits? Do you believe that man evolved from some kind primitive primate ancestor?” She asked.
“I don’t think it is a question of simply believing in evolution. It is rather a question of accepting evolution as an empirically well supported scientific theory for the origin of biological diversity through the process of descent with modification. If this is what you mean by me believing in evolution, then yes, I believe in the theory of evolution as proposed by Darwin,” he said.
He realized that given their strongly Reformed Evangelical background that they had previously shared, his acceptance of Darwinian evolution without any qualification was a ground breaking admission.
“Look, I fully comprehend all the theological and philosophical implications which an acceptance of the scientific truth of Darwinian theory of evolution will necessary entail with respect to a traditional understanding of Christian belief,” he admitted.
“It was not easy for me. It was a real struggle. I have read Darwin’s Origin of the Species by Natural Selection. I have also read many undergraduate text books and other more advance academic studies on the theory of evolution and I could not find any compelling reason for rejecting the theory of evolution on scientific or rational grounds. I also read the Christian anti-evolution creationist literature and found it very weak and unconvincing from a scientific perspective. For the sake of my own intellectual integrity and honesty I had no alternative but to accept that theory of evolution was a valid explanation for the origin of the diversity of life on earth. It was the only sane decision and when I made it I found peace. I discovered that I could still believed in God,” he explained.
“What about you, do you accept evolution as a valid theory for the origin of the diversity of life?” He asked.
“As a science teacher and as a Christian it is something that I have been struggling with. I have not dared to raise the issue with any of the Loft people. I don’t think they accept evolution in a strictly Darwinian sense. I think most of us do not accept the narrative of Adam and Eve as a literal account of two real historical personalities who actually existed in some place called Eden. Most conservative Evangelicals would argue that if there were no literal historical fall of man which actually took place as depicted in the form and plot of the Genesis drama, then it would be difficult to explain how sin and evil originally entered into the world, and how the fall of man actually occurred. Personally I have been finding it increasing difficult not to accept some form of evolutionary theory about the origin of biological diversity as you put it. But what happens if you give up the idea of Adam as a literal historical figure and if you also give up the Edenic narrative as a literal account of the fall of humanity following the commission of the first sin by Adam?” She asked.
“We definitely have to discuss this at a Loft seminar, but in the meantime it will be good for us to discuss our own views on the topic,” she mused.
They stared thoughtfully at each other, digesting what they had discussed.
“So in a way the structure and functioning of pre-Neolithic society could be a model for our modern world,” she proposed.
“Absolutely! It seems that small pre-Neolithic hunter-gather societies displayed a remarkable absence of hierarchies of social dominance in their social organization. All the evidence suggests that they were highly egalitarian in their social organisation. The idea that early or primitive human social organization was necessarily based on that of the apes with alpha males ruling the roost cannot be substantiated. The equivalent of ape-like alpha males in humans only emerged in the social organization of humans when these communities were exposed to a set of conditions that favoured the spontaneous development of abnormal behaviour among its male members. Forms of abnormal behaviour included the development of polygamy. Evolution of hierarchies of social dominance was tightly coupled to the emergence of polygamy. Also the evolution of hierarchies of social dominance was a precondition for the development of the institution of slavery.”
Helena smiled affectionately at Julian.
“I am impressed with your political beliefs. I am also comfortable with your political beliefs,” she said, “I think I could agree fully with all them. At least I now have someone I can talk to openly about evolution and radical politics. ”
“Were my political beliefs that important to you?”
“Yes they were. All the guys that I have gone had such conservative political views. If you had conservative or defensive views about Apartheid it would have torn our relationship apart,” she said.
“You do agree that slavery as an institution ended only as a result of the practical actions of dedicated anti-slavery activists who happened to also be Christians?” She said.
“Yes I suppose so,” he answered.
“Do think that Apartheid will just go away by itself?” She asked.
“No, I don’t think so,” he answered.
“Why is this so?” she smiled.
“I can see where you are going with this line of interrogation” he said.
“Really? Then please tell me where I am going with this so-call line of interrogation.”
“I think you want me to agree that Apartheid can only be dismantled or eroded away through the pressure of active and forceful actions or violent opposition,” he answered.
“This is what I have always liked about you. You try to answer everything in such an objective and analytical fashion. You will never use a phrase like the revolutionary overthrow of the Apartheid regime,” she laughed.
“Do you think that the removal of Apartheid can only be achieved through revolutionary action,” he asked. “All revolutions with the exception of the American revolution have resulted in the replacement of one social dominance hierarchy with another one.” Julian countered.
“I disagree,” she said, “I believe it is only through revolutionary struggle that Apartheid can be overthrown.”
“Maybe so,” he answered, “but I fear that the revolutionary overthrow of Apartheid will not guarantee the emergence of an egalitarian society or prevent the progression to a monopoly of power by the few over the many.”
“What alternatives are there then?” she asked.
“I am not sure?” he answered.
“But you don’t rule out revolutionary struggle all together?” she asked.
“I agree that violence may become the only option under very definite and special circumstances,” he answered.
“Give me an example,” she challenged.
“There are very definite desperate situations where one is left with no choice and a historical example of such a situation would have been the rise of the Third Reich under Hitler and Nazis.”
“So you are not in principle opposed to a revolutionary kind of struggle to overthrow the Apartheid government,” she asked.
“No I am not opposed to that in principle?”
“I am happy with your answer,”
“Because it shows that you are flexible and that you have an open mind, and that you are thoughtful. I like that in a person.”
“So will you marry me?”
“What are you saying? Jojo be serious.”
“I am serious. Didn’t last night mean something?”
“It meant a lot. It was special. It was beautiful. It was fantastic. It was fabulous. ”
“But it has in a sense made us one flesh,” he said
“I suppose in some kind of way we have become one flesh because of last night,” she said, “and I did agree that we are now a couple. We are going steady, you are my boyfriend and I am your girlfriend. I am in love with you. Let us not rush things.”
“It is not that simple Helena I need commitment, I want to marry you, I am serious,” he said
She sat up on the bed.
“Let’s go for a walk Jojo. We can talk about this later. I know we have to talk about it. But let’s do so later. I just want to enjoy this thing that is happening between us. Everything has been so wonderful. Everything is so perfect. It is like we are rediscovering each other.”
“Where do you want to walk?”
“I have never been down the road to the headgear and vertical shaft. My grandfather worked at that shaft. For years he went down that shaft every day. Why don’t we go and check it out.”
She got up from the bed and gave him a hug.
“Before we go I need change into other clothes.”
While Helena went to change, Julian put on a pair of old black army shorts and a faded black T-shirt.
She burst out laughing when saw him standing in the passage outside her door.
“Where has Jojo gone? Have you seen him anywhere? Oh sorry it’s you. I didn’t recognize you at first. What on earth are you wearing?” she had never seen him attired in this fashion.
“Why are laughing at me. Do I really look so funny?”
“No, no….you look really great. I love your outfit. It is such a profound fashion statement. It makes you look so becoming, so unlike Mr Julian Bogart. You look more like Jojo the hippie.”
Holding hands they ambled down a narrow broken up, cracked and pot-holed tar road that branched off from the Loft to the old Simmer and Jack mine shaft.
Along the road they stopped to read the names of different African independent churches that had taken up residence in many of the old abandoned buildings on the Simmer and Jack mine property that surrounded the Loft. Many of the names included either the word Zion or Jerusalem. Individual church names were painted on the doors that had been secured with a chain and stout padlock. Church names were also painted on the outside walls of the buildings that had become occupied. On the mine property there existed the following churches with their priests and congregations: Apostolic Holy Spirit Church of Zion of South Africa, Apostolic Church of Zion, The Pentecostal Apostolic Church of Jerusalem, The United Jerusalem Apostolic Pentecostal of Zion.
Helena gazed at the surrounding landscape.
“Remember our train journeys every day to Wits. From the train window the passing scenery was so littered with abandoned mineshafts, rusting headgears, ventilation pipes, ventilations shafts, decaying compounds, dilapidated workshops, slime dams, yellow mine dumps, ore dumps, derelict gold reduction works. After almost 80 years of continuous gold mining most of the land on the northern boundary of Germiston has been transformed into a bleak, grim, sterile, toxic, and blighted wasteland.”
“It is quite ironic I suppose that the Loft is located right in the middle of an environmental disaster zone,” he said.
“It is also quite frightening how much radioactive uranium is locked up in that slime dam over there behind the winding house,” she said, “I suppose there is more than enough of the stuff to build a large nuclear bomb,” she said.
“As a chemistry student I was always amazed at the colours of the mine dump and slimes dam landscape along the railway line. Everywhere splashes of orange, magenta, yellow, emerald green, violet and cobalt blue,” she said.
They stared up at the massive structure of the steel head gear that straddled the deep vertical shaft. A six foot high barb wire fence cordoned off the open shaft.
They sat on slab of concrete under the towering hear gear. Rock pigeons began to return to their roosts on the headgear after a day of foraging.
“When you mentioned that early human hunter-gather societies were different to the apes because they had a highly egalitarian social organisation based on strict monogamy I got the impression monogamy was an important evolutionary adaption,” she said.
“Yes the idea of man being naturally inclined towards egalitarianism was based on the idea that monogamy was originally the natural breeding system of early man, it seems that egalitarianism was dependent on the maintenance of strict monogamy in the prehistoric hominid communities,” he responded.
“There has to be a theological rapprochement with the theory of evolution, don’t you think?” She asked.
“That is not really an intractable problem, it only becomes a problem when you try to harmonize the Genesis creation account with the scientific views of the origin of the Universe and the evolution of life,” he said.
“If Homo sapiens and the apes evolved from a shared common ape-like ancestor then the Adam and Eve story in Genesis is myth. If Adam and Eve are not real historical persons then they did not actually ever exist in space or time on planet earth. This means the whole of humanity on this planet did not literally descend from Adam and Eve. This also means that God did not literally create the person we call Adam out of clay and there never was in reality an actual Garden of Eden with a Tree of Life and a Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. If all of this is myth then the traditional doctrine of the fall and original sin has to be reformulated; also the whole idea of what is sin and evil needs to be rethought. Some people may even argue that if there is no Adam and Eve then there is no Gospel, other people will go as far to argue that if the story of the fall of Adam and Eve was never an actual real historical event but only a myth then the existence of evil and the idea of sin may be just an illusion, an ideology, or even a social construct that has no rational or scientific foundation,” she said.
“Are you comfortable with the treatment of the Genesis creation account and the story of Adam and Eve as a myth especially after we have for so many years believed the Bible to be literally true, infallible, inerrant and authoritative? Do you think we are able to live an authentic and meaningful Christian life if our faith is based on a non-fundamentalist critical reading of the Bible and if we accept of the theory of evolution and the modern theories of the origin of the Universe?” She asked.
“Yes I think it is possible. Anyway we are left with no alternative. We cannot wish away the truth of Darwinian evolution. Nor can we say that the Big Bang origin of the Universe tens of billions of years ago did not take place. We know that stars evolved from the gravitation collapse of vast clouds of gas, dust and rocks. We know how solar systems and planets evolve. We know how all the elements in the Periodic Table are synthesized from hydrogen and helium as the stars burn up and explode. I have reading up on all of this over the past two years,” he said.
“I have also done a lot of soul searching over these past two years; especially after I had read Steven Weinberg’s First Three Minutes, Jacque Monod’s Chance and Necessity and also Richard Dawkin’s The Selfish Gene. Like you I also read the creationism literature, but did not find their arguments against evolution credible. It was while I was struggling with all kinds of doubts that I came to a meeting at the Loft. That night after the meeting I had a long chat with Everard. I remember he said to me that the fact of evolution changes nothing. Look he is not a scientist or biologist, but he is not just an English teacher he also majored in philosophy, so just speaking to him helped me a lot. He said the fact of the Universe was not self-explanatory means we could not come to any final conclusion about the ‘why’ of its origins. That also stuck in my mind. Reuben was also amazing. Anyway Everard said that if I wanted to move into the Loft commune I could have the room that had just become vacant. I accepted his invitation, I moved in and it was the best move that I had made for in a long time,” she explained.
“What do mean by a critical reading of the Bible?” He wanted to know.
“A critical reading of the Bible will be a reading that does not ignore the conclusions reached by the various kinds of biblical criticism such source criticism, literary criticism and historical criticism, but will involve a reading that is engaged dialectically with the various critical viewpoints,” She asked.
“What do you mean by dialectical engagement with the critical readings of the Bible?” Julian wanted to know.
“Well for starters I would propose that if a particular Biblical narrative is obviously mythological it should not be read literally. But the fact that it should not be taken as a literal account does not necessary mean that it represent a false or untruthful account about something. It should be read as stating or presenting or even revealing a difficult or a significant or a meaningful truth about reality in a metaphorical or symbolic way. This is exactly what literature is all about in all of its different forms, it is about truth, or it should be about truth, especially if it is genuinely committed to fulfilling its authentic artistic task or goals which is to disclose the truth about a matter or a state of affairs. Art has to be about the good, the true and beautiful, the three are inseparable, and ultimately the message of the Bible is about the good, the true and the beautiful, because God is the source of the good, the true and the beautiful with regard to everything,” she proposed.
“That makes a lot of sense,” he said.
“Luther was not a rigid biblicist. He understood the Word of God to be much more than the mere words written in the Bible. In an ultimate sense the Word of God is God himself. In the Gospel of John we read ‘in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ So strictly speaking the Bible itself declares that the Word of God is none other God, and the Word of God became flesh and dealt amongst us. The Word of God is more than information, it not reducible to strings of words or even pages of words, the Word of God is a creative power, it is force, it is action, God speaks the Word ‘ let it be’ and ‘there was.’ Everard once said that what makes the Bible the Word of God is not that it is literally inerrant or infallible or true or authoritative. The Bible is the Word of God because Jesus the Word made flesh comes to us and makes the Bible the living Word of God through the action, force and power of his death on the cross and through his resurrection from the dead,” she explained, her eyes becoming bright and intense with passion.
“Luther also said that if anyone reads the Bible and does not discover Jesus in the reading of the Bible then that person has not encountered the Word of God in the Bible. The Bible becomes inerrant, infallible, true and authoritative when we encounter the Word of God through the revelation of Jesus in the very meaning of the actual words that make up the content of the Bible, in this encounter with the Word of God we encounter and experience the real presence of God,” she explained.
“Everard said that from a literary point of view, whether the words are found in scientific literature or in literary fiction, it does not matter, because the existence of God as the ultimate meaning of the Universe persists in every phrase or allusion of intelligibility,” she said.
“That is amazing. So the meaning or intelligibility of every phrase, every word, every reflection, and every allusion is underwritten by the presence of God, like some kind of transubstantiation,” Julian mused thoughtfully.
“Yes, like some kind of transubstantiation, I like that,” she laughed.
“As in the Catholic Mass?” He asked.
“Yes, transubstantiation, as in the presence of God in the Catholic Mass,” she laughed.
“Talking about transubstantiation in the Catholic Mass do Humans did not literally originate from Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve are mythological figures, they did not literally ever exist in time and space as “historical” individuals.Humans did not literally originate from Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve are mythological figures, they did not literally ever exist in time and space as “historical” individuals.you remember Raymond, he was studying Zoology and Botany at Wits, he stayed in Boksburg and sometimes caught the same train as us,” he said.
“Yes I remember Raymond. He was sort of your best friend,” she said.
“Yes for a long time he was my best friend. We were at CBC together and he ended up at the Katima Mulilo as well. He was not Parabat. I got some stories to tell you about Raymond while we were on the border. Anyway he has become an ordained Roman Catholic priest. We have been meeting regularly,” he said.
She burst out laughing.
“Raymond becoming a Catholic Priest that is the funniest thing I have ever heard,” she said.
“Well I have being meeting with him quite regularly. He is genuine Roman Catholic priest if there was ever one. He loves being a priest. I have had similar discussion with him and it is quite remarkable that a lot of what we have just spoken about has also cropped up in our discussions on theology, faith and the theory of evolution,” he said.
“When you see Raymond again please give him my regards and love. I think he will be surprised to learn that I am now your girlfriend,” she laughed.
“Does he ask if you will ever return to the Catholic fold?” She asked.
“Not really. He says that once you are a Catholic you are always a Catholic,” he said with bemused smile.
“Are you a Catholic deep down in heart,” she asked out of curious interest.
“To be honest I don’t really know. I am at the stage in my Christian journey where in all honesty I don’t consciously define myself as being a Reformed Protestant or Calvinist or even Catholic. For once in my life I have genuinely opened myself to other voices in the Christian community of the faithful including Pentecostal and Eastern Orthodox voices,” he admitted seriously.
“I am in the same place as you. It has been a roller coaster journey for me over the past two years. When I saw you in the CNA my heart skipped a beat, I nearly died. I want so badly to be reunited with you. I would have died a thousand deaths if you fudged me off. I realized that you were my real soul mate,” she said.
“We better start walking back to the house, it’s getting late. Someone is coming over supper and after supper she is going to give a talk on The Song of Mary. It should be quite interesting.”
The sounds of beating drums and forlorn singing coming from a congregation of Zionists who had converted one of the old derelict buildings into their church drifted into the dining room as they ate their dinner before the start of the seminar on The Song of Mary at 7.00 pm. The guest speaker was Reuben’s girlfriend, Dr Rosanne Feinstein who also happened to be a psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of depression.
“They starting early today,” Allegra commented speaking to no one in particular
“Normally they have their church meetings on a Sunday afternoon, but if they start on a Saturday their services can last the whole night,” Janet said
“If you grew up on mines you got used to the singing and drumming,” Jason said.
“The midnight drumming and singing makes me think of the ancient Greek Dionysian mystery cults that would meet late at night in secret mainly to seek spiritual ecstasy in wild frenzied nocturnal dancing to the sounds of shrill flutes, beating tympana’s, clashing metal cymbals, clicking castanets, shaking rattles. Dionysus the god of ecstasy was one of the many gods that the ancient Greeks had invented. They would often collapse into trances. Sometimes at these ecstasy rituals they would even handle snakes like the snake handling Pentecostal Churches in America,” Janet commented
“It is interesting to see how even things in ancient mythology can change for the worse. With the rise of the Roman Empire, Mars the Roman god of war demoted Dionysus the Greek god of communal ecstasy and lover of peace to a more harmless state that would not endanger or frustrate the military ambitions of the Empire,” Winifred added her bit on the matter.
“I agree it was a change for the worse. Poor old Dionysus was transmuted by the Romans into the inferior comical Bacchus, the drunken god of vineyards and orgeia. Dionysus in his new role as the Roman Bacchus became the god of wine-filled fun, grossness, excess and sexual promiscuity. In its original meaning the ancient Greek word orgeia was used by the Greeks to describe non-sexual religious rites performed in the forest at night,” Everard elaborated.
“Well the word orgy arose from it more innocuous root, orgeia. So with the Roman demotion of Dionysus to Bacchus, the meaning of orgeia underwent a radical change in meaning. With respect Bacchus the party animal it signified excess, grossness and drunken sexual promiscuity, all which represent the activities that displaced the more spiritual Dionysian non-sexual ekstasis and ekstasis. In the minds of the Romans ekstasis and ekstasis became transmuted into superstitio,” Allegra continued.
“What did ekstasis originally mean?” Maria asked.
“Ekstasis means to be in state of intense rapture. I suppose when one is in as state of ekstasis you feel as if you standing outside of yourself. The Latin term superstitio was used by Romans to ridicule ecstatic religious cults. In 80 Ad Domitian outlawed and persecuted Christians for superstitio Iudaica, that is, for practicing a non-Roman religion,” said Allegra.
“Everard do you remember the shows that they had at Cinderella Compound,” Janet asked. Both Janet and Everard grew up in the ERPM village at Cinderella Deep in Boksburg. Cinderella Deep was situated next door to the Cinderella Compound.
“Yes it used to be on Sunday afternoons. Do remember Mr Arnold Patterson the manager of Cinderella Compound. He used regularly gave talks on traditional tribal music at the Cinderella Compound amphitheatre,” Everard responded.
The compound amphitheatre was popular venue for traditional dancing by the mine boys. The mine boys were also entertained with films in the amphitheatre on Friday and Saturday nights.
“Compound amphitheatre?” Allegra asked looking surprised.
“Yes there was this massive amphitheatre at the compound. Anyway there used to be regular Sunday afternoon tribal musical forays. Mr Patterson loved to play the role of the impresario. He was quite a character; he actually took a keen interest in promoting tribal or traditional music. Do you remember how he would introduce the various tribal musicians, talking a bit about their musical instruments and then give some details about their cultural background?” He asked Janet while everyone followed the conversation with interest.
“Yes I do. It was usually quite interesting and entertaining. Do remember how he went on about the various traditional musical instruments such as the Basuto lekolulo and setolo-tolo; the Tsonga-Shangaan umqangala, also called the Zulu flute bow; thumb pianos called variously, a lekembe or mbira or kalimba or sansa,” Janet responded.
“He was indeed amazing. He was extremely knowledgeable about traditional African musical instruments. He also spoke fluent isiZulu, Shangaan and Sesotho.” Everard said.
“It was basically what he said about syncopation in African music that really caught my attention and got my music imagination going,” Janet said.
“I have always wondered what is meant by syncopation,” Jason said.
“It is quite simple to grasp and hear. Syncopation is a way of playing play a musical instrument that involves playing an off-beat which is accomplished by the shifting of accents to between beats in places where you do not expect the accent to be, that is, playing an accented beat in places where an unaccented beat would normally be played. So syncopating involves playing off beat. Syncopating is what gives African music its feel, its rhythm, its drive, its energy and excitement. Syncopating also gives African music its rich texture, its density, its timbre, its complex interweaving of parts and its emotionally moving quality. I remember the first occasion that I heard about syncopation, after explaining this to us Mr Patterson then got some mine boys to demonstrate some syncopating on their drums and other musical instruments. Then he got the mine boys to demonstrate on some other musical examples of syncopation with chorus singing accompanied with the play of musical instruments, including drums. It was really quite amazing,” she said.
Janet continued with her reminiscing of the old ERPM days in Boksburg during the 1960s.
“He spoke about syncopation and antiphonal singing which involved the alternative call-and-response singing between a lead singer and a chorus. This is a very common feature in traditional African music. We listened to a mind blowing demonstration of this with one of the Compound choirs. With chanting and singing in the antiphonal alternating call-and-response pattern they engaged in some spectacle tribal dancing. Mr Patterson said that the antiphonal call-and-response singing is a defining characteristic of African music. It transcends the separation between audience and performers. He emphasized that African music was participatory in nature; it always invited the active participation of audience. African music was never meant to be merely watched from afar or listened to, it is the nature of African music to invite participation rather than mere observation from the periphery,” she said.
Jane glanced around the table at the faces; everyone was listening to her in a state of rapt attention, so she decided to continue:
“Yes in his talks Mr Patterson also gave an overview of the how African music influence the development of Western dancing. He spoke about how the quick 4/4 time syncopated rhythms formed the basis of the Charleston and a lot of Latin American dances. He said that even the movements and steps of the Tango had evolved in response to the syncopation of African rhythms.”
“In the end Mr Patterson’s talks and the musical demonstrations at Cinderella compound ignited my imagination and interest. Basically I owe my passion for music to him. It was the Sunday tribal music forays at ignited my interest in music.”
After supper Reuben’s girlfriend, Dr Rosanne Feinstein began her lecture with The Song of Mary by reading the Magnificat:
[My soul magnifies the Lord
And my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;
Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid;
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;
Because He who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His name;
And His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear Him.
He has shown might with His arm,
He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.
He has given help to Israel, his servant, mindful of His mercy
Even as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever]
“The Song of Mary from Luke chapter 1 verse 46 to 55 also commonly known as the Magnificat is one of the most astonishing, enigmatic, paradoxical and ironical canticles that could ever have been recited daily throughout the world of Christendom possibly for more than a one thousand five hundred years. Throughout the ages it was recited or sung at Vespers within Roman Catholicism, at Evensong in Anglicanism, and at Matins in the Orthodox Churches. It is not only prophetic song, but also a paradox that exists within the heart of ancient European Christendom. It is paradox that the Magnificat failed to transform Europe into a more egalitarian and compassionate continent.”
“From as early as 500 AD until today, geographically speaking, widespread Christian congregations have sung or chanted Mary’s passionate, vehement and revolutionary Song in all its terrifying unadorned starkness word for word straight from the Gospel of Luke. The enigmatic Mary, the pregnant unmarried observant Jewish peasant woman marches onto the stage of history. She stands in all her vulnerability in the same prophetic tradition of Deborah, Judith and Miriam.”
“I am not sure of what kind of status the hymn has enjoyed within Protestantism. I cannot only speak as a Hebrew Christian having a Jewish perspective on the matter.”
“In the recitation of this very Jewish hymn Mary represents the ancient hopes of Israel in which Israel becomes the material beneficiary of a several dramatic political reversals suffered by her adversaries. To spiritualize the canticle would render it completely meaningless. In the hymn we hear the echoes of many Old Testament passages that express similar hopes and sentiments. There are some pronounced allusions to the Song of Hannah which we can find in the First Book of Samuel chapter 2 verses 1 to 10.”
“Politically speaking the hymn is nothing less than a condemnation of the ruling political establishment of the day and herein lays the profound and extremely unsettling paradox and the irony of Mary’s Song for all churches of the West. In the Song of Mary which reflects compositional features of pre-Christian Jewish hymnology we see three contrasting political reversals suffered by the oppressors of the under classes. Firstly, He hath shewed strength with his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. Secondly, He hath put down the mighty from their seat: and hath exalted the humble and meek. Thirdly, He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he hath sent empty away.”
“So in summary we see that the position of the proud are reversed by the under classes, the position of the mighty and powerful are also reversed by the lowly and humble under classes, and the rich who have everything are displaced from their position from where they are able to control access to all resources needed by the hungry who because they are powerless have no access to these resources.”
“There is another angle to Mary’s Song. It involves a little reading between the lines with the help of some hermeneutical hindsight or foresight on the matter. She was a young woman unmarried and pregnant belonging to an ancient culture where men who by following a strict honour code exercised complete control over the bodies of women. Joseph’s plan to dismiss her quietly without public humiliation does not necessarily mean that she get off scot-free. We cannot rule out that she faced the prospect of stoning for the crime of adultery and the stoning would have been carried secretly without the attendant public humiliation.”
“Now I want to jump to other themes of political reversals in the Bible. The Bible is book about the role of God in political reversals. The Bible is filled with narratives were the theme of political reversals looms large in the underlying literary plots. Biblical themes of political and social reversals are also reinforced in Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus. Themes of political and social reversals are also reinforced in Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats which I will get to towards the end of my talk.”
“A few pages after the [Magnificat, _]Luke records the first public words spoken by Jesus, who expands on the breadth of God’s biases far beyond wealth and political power. After his temptation in the desert, Jesus _returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. On the following Sabbath he entered the synagogue in Nazareth where he had grown up, and when he was invited to speak he unrolled a scroll and read from the poetry of Isaiah for this week (Isaiah 61:1–3):
[The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
_ instead of ashes,_
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.]”
“Here again we have an account of social and political reversals are consequences that should flow out of the proclamation of the Gospel, consequences which in turn, re-enforces the truth that the meaning of the good news of the Gospel is not and was never intended to be irreducibly spiritual. The proclamation of the Gospel has profound social and political consequences for the ruling establishment. To proclaim the Gospel is to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the year of the Lord’s favour arrives with real tangible social, economic and political consequences for the rulers and the elite. To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour includes the announcement of the day of God’s vengeance on the ruling social and political establishment. We cannot decouple, separate or disengage the message regarding the reversal of the social and political power of the ruling elite that is embodied in the Song of Mary and which is also again embodied in the reading from the Book of Isaiah on the inauguration of Jesus’s mission from rest of Jesus’s teaching which includes the beatitudes that we associate with the famous Sermon on the Mount.”
“The spiritualization of the message contained in the Sermon on the Mount has resulted in the disembowelment and hollowing out of the Gospel of Jesus and rendered the good news of the Gospel inconsequential and empty, which is a state of affairs that not only benefits the ruling political establishment, but also provides ideological justification for the empowerment of the ruling establishment. Let me read from Matthew chapter five:
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.
‘[Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.]
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’ ” She read, closing her Bible and putting it down.
After pausing she continued with her analysis of the beatitudes.
“We cannot spiritualize the beatitudes. They are intensely political. They are statements that are fraught with underlying tensions of crisis, crises emanating from a groundswell of social and political discontent that wracked the entire region which was under Roman colonial occupation. The beatitudes speak the language of subversion and resistance to political and social oppression. Each of the beatitudes implies a subversion and reversal of the fortunes of the ruling elite which is linked to the day of God’s favour. And the day of God’s favour is realized in the breaking dawn of the eschatological jubilee that is associated with the day of redemption, which is also the day for the reversal of fortunes.”
“In each of the beatitudes Jesus makes a prediction of social and political reversal and he also makes a promise that this reversal of power will come to pass. The reversals of power have unimaginable social consequences for this world in the here and now. The term ‘blessed’ use in the beatitudes is of some interest. The term also means ‘the fortunate’ or ‘the lucky ones’ or ‘the prosperous ones.’ In a word, to be poor in spirit, or to be mourning, or to be meek, is to be a state of subjugation and oppression, it is to be in a physical and subjective state of suffering and injury as a result of real external powers and forces that are economic, social and political in nature.”
“From a sociological and psychological perspective the beatitudes address the individual as a self or I and as a subject. The individual person as a self exercises agency and the individual person as a subject experiences suffering and injury to his or her individual personhood. This is a modified Cartesian view of the individual which I believe is justified. The self in its capacity for exercising agency can act as a peacemaker, can be merciful, and can be pure in heart. The self in other words is in possession of a ‘will’ or a ‘free will’ if you wish, but lets not debate the issue of free will, all I wish say in the matter of free will is that it is difficult to logically and rationally attribute moral culpability or moral agency or immoral agency to individuals if they do not possess free will.”
“Now lets look at the matter of ‘those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.’ In the Old Testament Hebrew references to justice and righteousness are based on the same word which is tsedaquah. So it is also accurate to state: blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice. It is also necessary that we contextualize our notion or idea of justice. Therefore we say blessed are those who hunger and thirst for social, economic and political justice in the ordering and organization of all social, economic and political relations.”
“To hunger and thirst for something is the same as to experience a physical, intellectual, spiritual emotional and psychological desire for that something. So we can also say blessed are those who have a strong and compelling desire for justice. Furthermore, we say that conscience is the root or source of a strong and compelling desire for justice. I’m going to say a lot more about the idea of conscience. I want to emphasize the importance of conscience in relation to the beatitudes. I believe it is one of the important focal points of the beatitudes and also of the entire Judeo-Christian tradition. In fact I believe that it is foundational to the Judeo-Christian tradition and to the beatitudes and to the foundations of morality and justice. I would suppose that the capacity to experience conscience must be ultimately biologically rooted.”
“But having said that, I suppose that the power of one’s conscience can be suppressed or numbed to different degrees by social and psychological conditioning. I also suppose that an individual’s conscience or the collective conscience of a whole community can be suppressed to various degrees so that individuals or communities do not have an unqualified or unconditional desire for justice. They may feel it is not in their interest to have an unqualified desire for justice.”
“This brings us to the point where we are able recognize the existence of two communities or two classes that are in conflict with regard to their commitment to an unqualified desire for the reign of justice in the ordering of all social relations.”
“In to contrast to the Beatitudes of The Sermon of the Mount we can think of the ‘anti-Beatitudes’ which characterizes the essence of the privileged elite who occupy the upper stratus of society. In contrast to the ‘poor in spirit’ we find the pompous and arrogant that thrive on recognition and aggrandizement. In contrast to ‘those who mourn’ we find the wealthy and politically powerful elite celebrating and trumpeting their social status. In contrast to ‘the gentle’ we find the overbearing, dominating and oppressing class of the rich, successful and socially connected. In contrast to ‘the merciful’ we find the ruthless, the opportunistic, the unforgiving, the exploiters and the cruel. In contrast to ‘the pure of heart’ we find the dishonest, the cunning, the deceitful, the devious, those without conscience and those without integrity. In contrast to ‘the peacemakers’ we find those who persecute those who desire and seek justice.”
“In the Beatitudes the ‘poor in spirit’, ‘those who mourn’, ‘the gentle’, ‘those who hunger and thirst for righteousness or justice,’ the merciful’, ‘the pure in heart’, ‘the peacemakers’ and ‘those who persecuted for the sake of justice’ will ‘receive the kingdom of heaven’ , ‘shall be comforted’, ‘shall inherit the earth’, ‘ shall be satisfied’, ‘shall receive mercy’, ‘ shall see God’, ‘shall be called the sons of God’, and so on. These together constitute the great reversal of fortunes for the poor, the oppressed and the dispossessed. The great reversal is inaugurated with the reign of justice which is the reign of God’s Kingdom. And the reign of justice represents the Kingdom of Heaven.”
“Now I want to come back to the issue of conscience in relation to the foundations of morality and justice. Is it true that morality and justice as values have no foundations other than convention? I would provisionally say yes. The laws of nature which govern the natural world have no logical or rational or causal-consequential bearing on any questions relating to morals or justice or ethics. The external Universe out there is silent when it comes to any question on what I ought to do. In nature we find no unshakeable foundations for the justification of any kind of morality. In nature there exist no moral imperatives. Even reason is powerless to provide unshakeable foundations for the justification of morals and justice. Kant has demonstrated that we cannot ground morals or ethics or ideas of justice in knowledge.”
“Theologically speaking there is an upside to this. And the upside begins with the revision of our theory of God which will make our theology more consonant with our understanding of the nature of the Universe and with the theory of biological evolution. For starters, given that logically for God to be God, God has to be a Being who is necessarily omniscient and omnipotent, that is, almighty and all knowing in other words. We don’t have to state that God is necessarily perfectly good or perfectly all loving. We could argue that ideas or properties or attributes relating to the good and to loving are derived concepts, constructed or invented by our imaginations. The good and the loving don’t exist as natural properties of the Universe. Even though the Universe is intelligible it still does not tell us anything about what is good and what is love.”
“Now if God is all powerful, almighty and all knowing then God cannot be offended and God cannot suffer any injury. If God is an infinite being in all respects then logically no kind of injury can be inflicted on God. Then it is also impossible for God to suffer any kind of injury as a consequence of some ‘moral law’ being violated or transgressed by some finite being constituted out of matter. If it is impossible for any finite being to inflict any injury on God then there would be no cause or reason for God to act in a retributive manner towards any finite transgressor or moral offender. It is reasonable to conclude that man cannot cause God any harm or injury. If this is true then this spells the death of religion.”
“How did human moral and ethical conscience arise? Conscience is the foundation of morals. Obedience to one’s conscience is the foundation of morals and justice. Levinas who is one of my favourite philosophers speaks about the voice of ethical conscience. Feeding the hungry, visiting the prisoner, looking after the sick and hiding the persecuted at great risk to one’s self are actions that do not arise as a consequence of careful rational reflection but arise spontaneously from some inner private imperative which we can only refer to as a deep seated sense of empathy and conscience. The voice of ethical conscience is not a divine inspired impulse. It is something that is equivalent to Descartes’ finite thinking self becoming aware of the idea of the infinite. Levinas proposed that obedience to the voice of ethical conscience is an inspired act to let the Good take hold of you at the moment of ethical decision. The voice of ethical conscience invokes a moral obligation not to equivocate but to obey and let the Good take hold of you at the moment of ethical decision. Obedience to the voice of ethical conscience harkens us back to Mount Sinai where the children of Israel uttered naase venishma, which means: ‘we will do and we will hear’.”
She picked up her Bible and opened it.
“To finish up I going to reach the parable of the sheep and goats from Matthew chapter 25 verses 31-46.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
She closed her Bible and continued with her talk:
“In this parable were also see a reversal of fortunes based on the obedience to the voice of conscience. Also in this parable and also in the incarnation, the Word becoming flesh, we see God voluntarily expressing solidarity with the poor, weak, sick, imprisoned, dispossessed, the disenfranchised, the exploited and the oppressed. He takes up the cause of the poor, the oppressed and the exploited, and as God he become like the least of these his brothers and sisters, and clothed in human flesh, and being fully human he obeys his own voice of conscience, which puts him on the inevitable road to Golgotha where he is executed on a Roman cross.”
She picked up her Bible again and opened it at Matthew chapter five, she read aloud:
“ ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. ^ ^For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.^ ^For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.’”
Closing her Bible she said:
“We have come all the way back to the foot of Mount Sinai and the Law of Moses. The Law cannot be abolished. The Law of Moses as Jesus said is fulfilled in these two commandments: Love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind and love your neighbour as you love yourself. In these two commandments the obedience to the voice of conscience is fulfilled, because in what you do for the least of these bothers and sisters of mine, you do to me.”
Later that night at about 12.45 Helena got out of her bed. She had been unable to fall asleep. She quietly opened her door. The passage light had been switched off. The entire house was in darkness.
Everyone had turned in and had gone to sleep. She stood in the passage outside her door and listened for a while. She quietly closed her door and turned the handle of Julian’s door. It was unlocked. She carefully and slowly pushed the door open so that the hinge did not creak too loudly and slipped into his room. She gently pushed the door closed. Julian was asleep, facing the wall. He had not drawn his curtains. The windows were wide open and the room was bathed in moonlight. Outside amongst the patches of overgrown weeds that flourished after the recent rains on the perimeter of the ramshackled home of the Loft commune the crickets chirped incessantly. Under the cars parked outside in front of the veranda brown croaking toads hopped about unseen by any human eye in their typical anuran intermittent locomotion.
Through the window she noticed that the full moon that had watched their lovemaking was now again balanced on top of the mine dump across the road from the Loft. Bathed in the moon light the mine dump radiated a soft luminous yellow colour. With her eyes grown accustomed to the dark she stood next to
Julian’s bed and gazed around his room. Nothing was out of place. There were no untidy heaps.
She bent down and carefully pulled the covers back, she then carefully climbed into his bed. She put arm around his waist and cuddled close up against his back. She kissed the back of his neck.
He woke up and turned around to face her.
She whispered: “I couldn’t sleep, I am sorry I woke you up.”
“It is OK,” he said, putting his arm around her.
He whispered: “I am beginning to wish that I did not have to go to Germany.”
“Why is that? I thought you were looking forward to going?”
“It is the prospect of being away from you for a full month.”
“I will still be here when you get back Jojo,” she said. “I want to you to enjoy your trip to Germany. I will be waiting for you.”
She turned around so her that back faced him. He put his arm around her waist and pulled her snugly against his body.
They lay there in silence.
After a he asked: “Are you asleep?”
“No. I am thinking.”
“What are thinking about?”
“Do you really want to marry me,” she asked.
“Yes of course, I want to marry you.”
“I want to marry you too Jojo. I accept your proposal, I pledge you my troth.”
He kissed her on the neck.
“I also pledge you my troth.”
“I don’t what a big wedding. I will be quite happy with a simple civil marriage within day or two after you get back from Germany.”
“Are sure this is what you want.”
“Yes I have thought about it. This is what I would like. I know my parents are going to very unhappy about us getting married in the Magistrates Court in President Street. I can just image the drama.”
“We can go to Paris for our honeymoon,” he said.
“Really, that would be wonderful,” she said, “you are a seasoned traveller, how many times have you been overseas.”
“I have been 7 times over the past 2 years on company business,” he answered.
“What countries have you been too?” she asked.
“Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Italy,” he said.
“Did you have time to take a few days off for a holiday,” she asked
“I always managed to take two or three days off to do some sightseeing and that kind of stuff before I came back.”
“What kind of sightseeing did you do?”
“The usual stuff, museums and art galleries, but I also spent a lot of time visiting churches and cathedrals, mainly Catholic.”
“Yes, especially in Madrid and Vienna.”
“I don’t know why. I just found myself going from one church to the next. Sometimes there would be mass in progress, I would sit and watch, other times I would kneel and pray or read my pocket New Testament. All of the Catholic churches in Vienna had these metal memorial or commemorative plaques fixed to the walls in the foyer. I would spent time reading the inscriptions of the plaques. There were literally hundreds of plaques in the different churches all having the same message: ‘Missing in Stalingrad.’”
He lay in the bed holding Helena and listening to the forlorn singing and the beating of drums of the different the ZCC congregations gathered in the scattered ruins of the various buildings still standing on the Simmer and Jack property.
“Do they go on like this all night?” he asked.
She did not answer.
“Helena have you fallen asleep?”
She woke up 5.00 am. She had slept soundly in his arms. She untangled herself from his embrace and the bedding
“I have to get back to my room before the rest wake up. I will see you later at breakfast. Do you want to come with me to my Church? The service starts at 9.00am.”
After she left he fell asleep again.
She was right the morning sun did stream through the window lighting up the whole room. He had set his alarm clock for 6.30 am. She also said that all the other members of Loft go to a low Anglican Church that has a Reformed rector. Their service starts at 8.30 so the showers and bathrooms would be quite congested between 6.00 and 7.00 am on a Sunday morning. Dora serves breakfast between 6.30 and 8.00.
He went to the toilet. The aroma of toast, bacon and filter coffee filtered into the long passage that divided the house into two halves. On the way to the toilet he hear could the clicking of plates and the murmur of conversation coming from the dining room. The men’s shower and bathroom were clear. He quickly tiptoed back to his room, donned his bathroom robe, packed his toilet bag, grabbed his towel and put on his sandals. There was a full mirror length in the shower which he found odd. Was there also a full length mirror in the ladies shower? Adjusting the temperature of the water he stood with his back under the shower and lathered his face with shaving cream. The mirror in the shower was actually a good idea. He could shave while he showered. This saved quite a lot of time. Should he also brush his teeth in the shower? Maybe it would be better to use the basin. After shaving he quickly soaped his entire body with a sponge and washed off the foam. He rinsed the shampoo from his hair. After pouring the hair conditioner into the palm of his hand he rubbed it into his wet hair and left it to do its job for about 2 minutes.
He felt that he had everything a man could possibly want. He closed eyes and prayed softly while the warm water rained down on his back: “Dear Father, our Mighty God, the Master of the Universe, thank you for bringing us back together. Amen.” After applying the cologne and deodorant, he put on his bathrobe, gathered all the toiletries together, put his towel over his shoulder, slipped on his sandals and walked quickly to his room.
The house was quiet. All the others had left for church. It was 7.30 am; there was still time for breakfast before getting dressed. He decided to dress in a T-shirt and tracksuit pants for breakfast. After a selecting one of his dark suits, a white shirt, a set of cufflinks, a pair of shoes that would match the suit, he began to match silk ties with suit. He finally settled on a tie. He thought about it for moment. No the tie matched perfectly. Even though the passage was carpeted the floor boards creaked loudly as he walked to the dining room.
A sleepy looking Helena dressed in a black satin gown over her night slip joined him in the dining room.
Before he could sit down she hugged him tightly from behind, kissing his neck and sniffing his hair.
“Mmmmm you smell so clean and wonderful.” Still holding him she asked: “Are you still coming with me to my Church Jojo.”
“Yes of course.” he answered, “are you going to have some breakfast with me.”
“Yes. But I am just going have a slice of toast and coffee.”
Dora came into the dining room to pour the coffee.
“Do want some bacon and eggs Baas Julian?” Dora asked.
“And Madame, what is Madame going to have?” she asked Helena.
“I will just have some toast from the basket, thank you.”
Dora went back to the kitchen.
“For some reason she does not like me,” Helena said, looking at the ceiling, speaking to no one in particular.
Helena got up from the table and went over to the Hi Fi. She picked up an LP by Johann Sebastian Bach placed the vinyl record on the turn table. They listened to his Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring.
[Jesu, joy of man’s desiring,
Holy wisdom, love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light.
Word of God, our flesh that fashioned,
With the fire of life impassioned,
Striving still to truth unknown,
Soaring, dying round Thy throne.]
“Do you want to hear it again?” she asked.
“Yes. I could listen to it a thousand times,” he answered.
The African Reformed Church consisted of a simple modest corrugated iron structure. It had a congregation of about 50 adult Indians with their children. All the members including Helena brought their Bibles and a light blue hard covered Psalter and Hymnal.
They took their seats at the back of the church. Helena took a beautifully embroidered white lace veil from her handbag and covered her head with it. All the other Indian women wore veils. While they waited for the service to begin Julian paged through Helen’s Psalter and Hymnal. It contents included the doctrinal standards and liturgy of the Christian Reformed Church. It was issued by the Board of Publications of the Christian Reformed Church published by Grand Rapids, Michigan, printed in the USA. It was the 1976 issue.
On page V it had a statement of principle for music in the Church. The music should be appropriate for worship. The music should be liturgical. It should convey the spirit, form and content of scripturally religious thought and feeling, and above all it should serve the ministry of the Word. The music should also be beautiful. It should satisfy the aesthetic laws of balance, unity, variety, harmony, design, rhythm, restraint and fitness which are the conditions of all art.
The contents also included the doctrinal standards of the Reformed Church which are based on The Ecumenical Creeds, The Heidelberg Catechism, The Belgic Confession of Faith, and The Canons of Dort.
The contents also included the forms of liturgy for baptism, profession of faith, celebration of the Lord’s Supper, excommunication, readmission, ordination of ministers of the Word, ordination of elders and deacons, solemnization of marriage.
The liturgical form followed for the service involved the singing of psalms and hymns, readings from the Old Testament and the Epistles and the Gospel, the reciting of the Nicene Creed and finally the Preaching of the Word. Because it was a Protestant Reformed Liturgy the liturgical destination was the Proclamation of the Gospel and not the Celebration of the Eucharistic Feast.
The Catholic altar of sacrifice, which has its roots in the Temple worship of Israel, had been removed from the Protestant Church and had been replaced with the communion table for the eating of a commemorative meal of bread and wine once a month or so. All altar adornments had also been removed from the Protestant Church. Where the altar once stood in the sanctuary, the pulpit now stands. The pulpit not only replaced the altar, it has usurped the place of the altar in the sanctuary of the Church. The sanctuary, a sacred and holy niche, which was once reserved for the celebration and sacrifice of the Mass on the altar, has now been transformed into a theatre in which another kind of drama unfolds which is the drama of the preacher’s performance. The vacant place once occupied by the Mass has now become the niche of a new incumbent, who is not priest under holy orders, but an ordained minister of the Word.
The minister of the Word, the human preacher and not the Mass has become focus of the Protestant service. Julian was always aware of the starkness and austerity of the Protestant Church, after growing up as a Roman Catholic. Helena had grown up in the Pentecostal Church. For her the interior of the Church has always been stark and austere, like a synagogue.
The dominee preached on the message from Luke 18 verses 9 to 13.
After reading the message from the Gospel of Luke he began to preach:
“All of us in the Church are familiar with the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. The Tax Collector was politically speaking on the wrong side. He was working for the Romans. He was working for the colonialists. In fact he was working for the forces of Roman occupation of Jerusalem, Galilee and Judea. The Pharisee and the Tax Collector were both Jewish. And because they were both Jewish they were mindful as Jews of their religious obligations.”
“Now on that day, they both went to pray in the Temple in Jerusalem. It is possible that Jesus actually saw the two of them praying in the Temple. The Pharisee was devout, he was also pious, and he fulfilled all the prescriptions of the Law of Moses. He was an observant Jew. He was faultless. He was not greedy, he was not dishonest, and he was not an adulterer. Everyone else was an adulterer, but he was not. He did everything that was expected of him as a religious man. In fact he was a religious role model for everyone. He fasted two days a week. Unlike most of us, he was also a regular tither. He always gave without fail one ten of his income.”
“The Tax Collector was a political collaborator. You can think of him as a sell out. He had sold out to the regime. The taxes that he collected oiled and fuelled the Roman machine of colonial oppression. Because he was consciously aware that he was a bad person he could never even dream of praying in the same way that that Pharisee prayed. Therefore the Tax Collector’s prayer was completely different to the prayer of the Pharisee. In the simple prayer that Tax Collector prayed he did not recite to God a long list of all the good deeds and good works that he had done. In the prayer that he prayed he refrained from saying to God, look I am such a good person, I am really wonderful, just look at the all the good things that I have done. Look at all my merits. Look at all the good works that I have done. Look at all the good deeds that I have done. Look I have not been greedy. Please don’t forget that God. Look I have not been dishonest. Don’t forget that God. Look I have not been an adulterer, don’t forget that God. I have lived a pure, holy and sanctified life, don’t forget that God.
The Pharisee must have noticed the shameful figure of the Tax Collector trying his best not to be noticed. The Tax Collector tried to be less conspicuous by standing in the shadow of a corner. The Pharisee stood in the open so that he could be seen by all. In his prayer the Pharisee began to compare himself to the Tax Collector. To drive his point home to God, he said: ‘Thank you dear God that I am not like that Tax Collector standing over there in s corner, hiding himself in shame. I thank you my God that I am not like him. I have not sold out to the Roman oppressors. I not collaborated with the colonialists.’
Unlike the Pharisee, the Tax Collector did not dare lift his face to heaven. Instead he bowed his head low and while he beat his breast he prayed a very simple prayer: “Dear God have mercy upon me a sinner.” There was absolutely nothing good or worthy that Tax Collector had done in his life which could have earned him God’s favour. He had done absolutely nothing to merit God’s favour or grace. He had not done any kind of good works which he could trade with God in exchange for God’s grace and favour. Before God he was morally utterly bankrupt. He was a sinner, a man who mingled with the dregs of society. He mingled and socialized with Jews who were ritually unclean.
In explaining the parable Jesus said something very profound. He said that the Tax Collector was right with God when he went home. That was a very strange thing to say. Why would he say that the Tax Collector ‘was right’ with God especially when the Tax Collector had done nothing to ‘earn’ or merit God’s grace and favour. Morally speaking, it was counter intuitive, how can he as a sinner who has nothing to earn God’s grace and favour suddenly find himself right with God. It does not make any religious sense. He was possibly ritually unclean. He was not pure, holy or sanctified. He had done no good deeds or good works. He had not diligently observed the Law of Moses. He had accumulated no merits that he could trade for grace and favour. Like I said, he was indeed morally bankrupt in every possible way. He was an unreligious man. He was not devout and he was not strictly speaking an observant as a Jew. He had no religious credibility.
What about the Pharisee? What was his standing before God? Well to blunt, his standing before God did not look very good. It seems that all his good works and religious observance counted for very little in the eyes of God. In fact when the Pharisee left the temple to go home he was not right with God. In the original Greek, Jesus said that Tax Collector was, but the Pharisee, was not dedikaiōmenos.
Dedikaiōmenos means to be in a right relationship. The Pharisee, the deeply religious man who made himself pure and sanctified by meticulous and diligent religious observance was not in a right relationship with God. Let’s go back to that Greek word and investigate its meaning in a bit more detail
The Greek word dedikaiōmenos has been translated in many different ways. It has been translated to mean: justified, justified before God, acquitted of all sins, made right with God, and in the right with God. It has also been translated to mean righteousness. Today we tend to translate dedikaiōmenos as meaning ‘to justify’.
From the phrase ‘to justify’ we have derived the idea or concept of ‘justification’. We can interpret or understand justification as being the verdict of a judge which favours the acquittal of the accursed. But the verdict of justification is actually greater than mere acquittal. It includes much more. It means that the accursed in not only acquitted of the charges laid against him, it also means the accursed has been given the status of being in the right which means a lot more than mere acquittal for a transgression or an offence.
To be put in the right is to be made righteous. To be made righteous is the same as being made blameless. To be made blameless is more than simple acquittal. If you are blameless, then no one can blame you. No one can blame you for any wrongdoing for any sin. If you are put in the right, then no one can blame you, no one can judge you. If God makes you blameless then you cannot be blamed, you are blameless, and therefore you are righteous. So to be righteous is the same as being blameless or being put in the right in the sight of the Judge who is God himself. To be right is to be blameless. We can only blame someone if they are not right, and they can only be blameworthy if they have done something which is not right.
So to be made right is more than mere acquittal of guilt, it means to be transformed into an objective moral state or moral condition in which you are no longer blameworthy before God. If you are no longer blameworthy then you have been justified. You cannot be made righteous if you remain blameworthy. Only the righteous are blameless. If you have been made blameless then you have been justified.
There is tragic paradox in this story. The sinner is acquitted and made blameless. The religiously observant Pharisee, in spite of all his merits and good deeds, did not earn any favours or grace from God the supreme Judge of the Universe. The Pharisee was not acquitted; therefore he was not made right with God.
What the Pharisee did not realize was that no one could earn God’s favour through the power of their own efforts. The Pharisee was mistaken in his belief that he could through the power of his own efforts cause God or force God to act according to his wishes. He was under the misapprehension that he could force or cause God’s to look upon him favourably. He believed that he had earned the right to God’s favour as a direct consequence of having done good deeds or good works.
If good deeds or work works cannot earn God’s favour. Then what about belief? Can belief as a concentrated and conscious exertion of will power earn God’s favour; can the effort of belief or the strength of belief earn God’s grace or earn God’s acquittal? I will flatly say no! If belief involves an exertion of effort then believing can be viewed as a kind of work. If the expression of faith involves a concentrated and strenuous exertion of effort then it also becomes a work of faith. And you have to work very hard to end up having sufficient or enough faith so that God is forced to notice your tremendous work of faith. But can we ever have enough faith in order to persuade God. It is possible to persuade God by the strength of our belief?
Before we go on let me ask you a question. Do you think the Pharisee really believed in God? Who says yes? Who says No? I see there are many yes’s in Pharisee’s favour. Well maybe he did not really believe in God. Maybe he believed in a god who was not the true God. A god who was in the words of sociologists could have been a god constructed by imagination of the Pharisee. This god was a god who traded favours for merits; this was god who liked religious observance or that kind of religious stuff. This was the god of religion.
Let’s now go back to what I wanted to say about belief and faith in the true God of all creation, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
What I wanted to emphasize was that even the work of belief or the effort of believing or the work of faith will always be insufficient, the magnitude of effort expended will never be enough to earn God’s favour. As long as belief or faith is exercised as a kind of work requiring the expenditure of effort it cannot earn any merit or favour with God.
This may shock you. Well believe me, it also shocks me. But even if it sounds shocking I am going to say it again. No one can earn God’s merit or win God’s favour through the work of belief or through the work of faith or through good deeds or through good works or through religious observance. Believing in the correct doctrines, believing in the correct creeds, also cannot win you God’s favour. You cannot by the work of faith earn God’s merit or win God’s favour. You cannot through good deeds or good works or the work of belief or the work of faith earn your salvation from God.
This is one of the greatest paradoxes. We cannot choose God. It is God who chooses us.
God does not need your belief. God does not depend on what you believe. Whatever you may believe has no effect on God. If God is all powerful, all knowing, then God has no needs, God is self-sufficient, God does not need to care about what you believe, nor is God offended by what you belief. We believe that God is a person, but he is not human person. His personhood in a sense is hidden from. His personhood in a sense remains unfathomable.
However, we can hold beliefs about the nature of God which seem rational and reasonable to us. But our beliefs about God carry no currency with God, so what we believe about God has no significance with regard to our standing before God. If God is all powerful and all knowing he cannot be offended, he cannot be resentful, he cannot be angry, he cannot be vengeful and he cannot be a retributive God.
Let go back to the idea that the religious content of our belief can somehow have an influence on God. The work of belief which is also a work of faith is also based on or influenced by the religious ideas which forms the content of our beliefs about God.
A work of belief or a work of faith that depends on you exercising the power of your own will cannot cause God or force God to act according to your wishes. We cannot will God to do anything. We cannot move God by our will. We cannot negotiate deals with God. We cannot trade with God. We cannot give God anything, not even our lives. We cannot harm God nor can we injure God. We cannot influence God. God is God.
No action that you are able to initiate with your own strength or with your own will power or with your own intellectual power can earn the merit of God’s favour. To even contemplate that possibility is to be guilty of blasphemy.
As I said, no one can force God to do anything. You can do nothing that will merit God’s favour. It may surprise you that faith or belief cannot cause or earn God’s justification. If faith or belief is taken to be a kind of work that causes salvation and acceptance by God then we can never be certain of our salvation. We will always be wondering whether we have exercised enough faith or enough belief to guarantee the certainty of our salvation. One of the biggest problems of Protestantism is the misunderstanding of the meaning of sola fide, which sees faith as a cause or as a force or as a power.
Faith is not power. It cannot cause any effects.
If faith is something that cannot produce anything, that cannot cause anything to happen, that cannot force anything to happen, if faith does not have that power, then what is faith? Faith is an act. But what kind of act is faith?
Martin Luther always stressed that faith is best conceived as an act of receiving. Faith is not an act that produces something. Faith is not an act of causing nor is it an act of forcing. Faith is an act of accepting. Faith is an act of receiving that which is free and unearned. An act of faith is not a leap into the unknown. Faith is never an irrational leap into the dark. That can never be an act of faith.
An act of faith is no more than an open and empty channel through which God’s grace can flow. An act of faith is the open hand that is empty, and because it is empty it has nothing to offer God, it has nothing to give. An act of faith is the outstretched hand that is empty, and because it is empty it is open to receive and accept what has been unearned, it is a hand that is open and empty to freely receive the unearned, unmerited and the unconditional grace offered by God to the sinner, to the accused.
Faith is the act of freely receiving and not the act of doing or producing. Faith is the act of receiving that which is offered only by seeing and recognizing God’s free offer of grace, God’s free offer of acquittal, God’s free offer of making right, God’s free offer of justification. The sinner does not even know that he is a sinner. The sinner does not have the power to perceive, recognize, comprehend, receive and accept God’s free unconditional offer of acquittal for all offences committed against God and against one’s neighbour.
Faith and belief is a miracle made possible by God’s intervention. All of you here today, every one of you are a miracle of God’s intervention. You are here today because God choose you, not because you choose God.
It only through the active intervention by God through the Holy Ghost that a sinner becomes empowered to perceive, recognize, comprehend, receive and accept the full benefits of God’s free unconditional offer of acquittal for all offences committed against God and against one’s neighbour. It this act of justification initiated by God all the requirements of the Law of Moses become fulfilled in the life of the sinner and he is counted as righteous before God not because of anything that he has done but by virtue of what Jesus has accomplished on his behalf.
What about belief? Let us go back to the issue of belief. Does belief need to have any content in the form of thoughts and ideas?
Today I invite to join me in relearning the meaning of belief in God. We are all in need of having to relearn the meaning of true, genuine and authentic belief in God. The word ‘believe’ is derived from belove. So what does it means to believe? To believe is derived from a phrase that goes something like this: to belove someone very much is the same as to believe in that person. To believe in God is the same as to belove God very much, and I will explain why this is so. There cannot be love and affection without trust, and there cannot be trust without belief and there cannot be belief without faith, so love, affection, trust, belief and faith all go hand in hand.
To believe in God is the same as to fall in love with God. To fall in love is always a beautiful experience. When God chooses us it is as if we have fallen in love with God. In a way God chooses us because God has fallen in love with us the work of his own creation in the same way that a mother falls in love with the child that she has given birth to.
To love is to express belief, to love is to express to affection, to love is to express trust; to love is to express faith. This applies to our relation with God and it applies also to the relationship with that special person who we love.
God is always the God of love. He is all powerful, all knowing and but he also all loving.
For us to be able to believe in God as in a loving relationship requires that we must be first touched by God’s loving affection. To be touched by God’s loving affection is to experience the irresistible grace of God. To experience the irresistible grace of God is to fall in love with God.
Let me remind you of something that most of you have experienced, especially when you were still teenagers. If were told that so and so likes you, you often suddenly fell in love with that person. It is the same kind of thing with God, we suddenly realized that God like us or loves us, and then we fall in love with God.
To experience the irresistible grace of God’s is to be wrapped in the loving and affectionate embrace of God. When we reciprocate to Gods love and affection we grow in God’s grace and become sanctified. A person in love is someone who is filled with joy, hope and kindness, a person in love is filled with grace.
To fall in love with God also involves falling in love with your neighbour. Now falling in love with your neighbour is not romantic love, it is the love that is best described my comradeship and solidarity. To love one’s neighbour as oneself as experience authentic and genuine solidarity with all human beings.
Now I am going to say something quite radical. I don’t like preaching politics from the pulpit but I would not be doing my job before God if I did not say what I have say.
You cannot say that you have fallen in love with God if at the same time you do not feel genuine solidarity with other human beings, and true solidarity is only possible if you are not oppressing or exploiting your neighbour or fellow human being.
There is also another point I want to speak about and that is salvation.
We can never be our own saviour. Our will is too depraved, too perverted and too wicked to even perceive, recognize and accept God’s free offer of salvation and redemption without God’s assistance, with God’s radical and revolutionary intervention into our lives. Our will is not free. Our will is in bondage. Our will is enslaved to forces and predispositions that are beyond our control. We only experience the illusion of freedom; we only experience the illusion of free will. Only God can set our will free. It is only God that acts, chooses, induces, elects, predestines, enlightens, produces, forces and causes. As I said before we are unable to choose God. God chooses us first.
Again I want to emphasize the point I have made before so that there can be no doubt or misunderstanding. I see your faces. I see how earnest you are listening to the word that God has placed in my heart. Now I want to reassure you of God’s love for you. You are here this morning because God wanted you to be here. That is the objective reality of our situation this morning.
The fact that you are sitting here this morning in the pews listening to my sermon, the fact that you got out of bed, got dressed and came to Church today, is because God chose you before you could even think of choosing Him. You are here today because God initiated a relationship with you. You are here today because God the Master and Creator of the Universes wanted to start a friendship with you, God wanted to start this love affair with you. God has called you into this mysterious and beautiful relationship with Him, and He has also called you into the same kind of relationship with your brothers and sisters sitting here in this little corrugated iron church next to the railway line that goes from Germiston station to Natalspruit. Amen.
Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.
After the recessional hymn a jubilant congregation of Bible clutching Indians, men in suits and women wearing colourful saris, milled outside the church in the dusty street of the Indian shanty town, busking in the warm spring sun. Beyond the railway line, beyond the blue gum trees stood the headgear of the South West Vertical Shaft belonging to the East Rand Propriety Mines Ltd.
In the blue skies overhead swallows wheeled and turned. Helena was still wearing her veil. Clutching her book containing the articles and confessions of the Reformed Faith to her breast she smiled a smile of radiant jubilation at Julian.
Helena began to introduce Julian as her fiancée to her church friends. Everyone told him that he was lucky to find someone like Helena and that he must take good care of her because they love her as if she were their own sister or daughter. For a brief instant wearing her veil she actually looked like a very beautiful Indian woman to Julian.
“Lunch is ready guys. The food is going to get cold,” Allegra Bonner called out from the dining room.
Jason was busy carving the roast leg of lamb and Everard was carving the Cornish hen. Helena had prepared the duck that she had promised for months. She had prepared a honey and orange roast duck. She had stuffed the duck with pieces of orange and roasted it in orange-honey sauce.
Now Jonathan was uncorking a variety of bottles of wines which included a Chardonnay, Rosé, Shiraz, Chianti and a Merlot. Julian glanced over at dining room corner and noticed another full box of wine.
As soon as everyone had found a seat Everard said grace. Everyone began to serve themselves. Everard looked at Julian
“Julian we do not observe any quaint dinner party etiquette just dig in and help yourself to everything.”
Plates were soon piled up with slices of lamb, bits of chicken and slices of duck breast arranged around heaps of rice, vegetables and potatoes. Mint sauce for the lamb and gravy for the rice were passed around the table from hand to hand. As the clinking of knife and forks played against the plates, Maria got up and put a record on the turntable and adjusted the volume. She put the stylus down on a LP and came back to the table.
Jonathan got up and began to pour the various very tolerable wines.
“Helena this duck is divine,” said Allegra. “Can you believe it I have never ever eaten duck before? What kind of duck was it?”
“Peking duck,” Helena answered.
“Why is it called a Peking duck?”
“I think it was the Chinese who originally bred it from the wild Mallard duck. The Peking roast duck was one of the main dishes served in the imperial courts during the Ming Dynasty,” Everard informed the table.
“I remember as a kid we bought three Peking ducklings from a hardware store across the road from the old fresh produce market in Germiston,” said Christina Napier.
“We kept them a cardboard box in the kitchen. They used to swim in a bowl of water which we put on the kitchen table.”
“What happened when they grew bigger?” Winifred asked.
“I can’t remember,” Christina said.
The sound of the soprano aria I Know That My Redeemer Liveth from the third part of Handel’s Messiah filled the lounge and dining room.
I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.
For a few minutes everybody ate in silence listening to the music. Reuben Kaplan raised his glass of Shiraz and said:
“Magnificent, truly magnificent,” he exclaimed. His dark eyes glowed with fervour. He looked like some prophet from the Old Testament:
“The words are so powerful and so beautiful, yet in my flesh shall I see God. But that is not all, Job goes on to say ‘I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another.’ ” Reuben said quoting from Job.
Helena smiled and winked at Julian. It wouldn’t be long before Reuben and Everard began their Sunday lunch theological discourse. She had told him of the Sunday theology debates for which the Loft was renowned. Sometimes Everard and Reuben ended up debating in Hebrew or Aramaic with each other. Julian was looking forward to witnessing and listening to this noble tradition of the Loft Commune. Jonathan got up and filled everyone’s glass with their choice of wine. Maria got and adjusted the volume of Handel’s Messiah to a lower level.
“Job says: Though worms destroy this body, yet I will see God in my flesh. He does not say that when I die I will see God in my soul nor that I will see God in my spirit. No he says that when he dies he will see God in his body. Body and soul are not two substances. Persons are persons because they have bodies, and only a person with a body can see God. The soul is not in the body, nor is the soul’s relationship to the body the same as the pilot’s relationship to his ship,” Everard said.
“The key question that needs to be answered here is: what is a person?” Reuben interjected.
“To try and answer that we need to agree that there cannot be a person without a body,” Everard answered.
“So when someone dies, the whole person dies?” Reuben proposed.
“Eternal life or life after death can only be possible for persons who exists in a material bodily form, rather than as a kind of soul-like or spirit-like entity that is an ephemeral puff of nothing or an entity that exists as some ethereal wraithlike phantom,” Reuben went on to clarify what he meant.
“Yes, and I will go one step further, if the whole person without reminder dies with his body, then the person, both body and mind, must in some sense be a material entity,” Everard answered.
“A person, including his mind, ceases to exist when the body dies,” Everard repeated it emphasize the point.
“So are you agreeing with me, that a person can only exist or be embodied in a material form,” Reuben said.
“Yes, how could I possibly disagree with you on this matter, the person is his flesh, I reject any soul-body or person-body or mind-body dualism,” Everard stated.
“Would you agree that the self which makes a person a person is material or has substantiality because personhood exists as an emergent property of the material body,” Reuben said.
“Do you mean that by being an emergent property of the physical body that the self or person cannot exist independently of a material body,” Everard asked.
“Yes that is exactly what I am proposing,” Reuben reiterated with conviction.
“Now what are the theological conclusions that we can make if we have reached consensus on the matter of the soul-body or self-body or person-body or mind-body relationship?” Everard asked.
“It means human persons can only exist as beings that are incarnated and not as ethereal or ghostly phantoms without substantial bodies,” Everard said as he answered the question that he posed.
“Let’s not forget Descartes mind-body problem. In the Cartesian picture the body has been turned into a thing. One can say that Descartes view of the body as a thing has resulted in the separation of the self from its body. In the Cartesian dualism the body as a thing-like entity which in turn belongs to another entity which is the self. The self is the ‘I’ and the body is the thing. The ‘I’ is the subject and the body is the object,” Reuben expanded.
“In this way the body becomes a thing among things or an object among objects. From a theological perspective the body is not a thing nor is it an object among objects. Also from a theological perspective the body is not owned by a subject or by an ‘I’. Theologically a person’s body cannot be owned by a subject or an ‘I’. It is not the property of an ‘I’. Theologically speaking the body is my incarnation. If my body is my incarnation then my body cannot be an object, it is a subject, it is me in all my personhood,” Everard explained.
“Speaking about the body from an artistic or aesthetic perspective if you want a theory or conceptualization of what is pornography from a theological perspective then I believe I can now give you one. Pornographically works on the illusion that the body is not a subject but an object owned by a subject. The condition that makes pornography possible is the alienation of the body from the ‘I’, it is based on the splitting of the body from the person. Pornography encourages the idea that the subject or the self or the ‘I’ owns their body as a thing and therefore the subject as the ‘I’ can as owner of the body freely dispose of the body as an object as she or he sees fit in terms of the circumstances. The same goes for prostitution. Prostitution and pornography works on the paradigm that the body is the property of an owner, and the owner of a body can sell that body as an object, as an exchange value in a market of commodities, commodities which when exchange for money are consumed. So both pornography and prostitution involve an exchange in which the body is turned into object and is alienated from the subject or ‘I’ or self. In other words the body is transformed into a commodity that is bought and sold. So theologically speaking both pornography and prostitution involve the alienation of a thing from the owner of that thing. This alienation results in a destructive transmutation of the body and the self, because the two cannot be separated, into an object or thing which then becomes a commodity. In pornography the destructive transmutation of the body and the self or personhood into an object occurs in the production of the pornographic image of the body. But theologically the body is and remains the person’s incarnation, so in pornography or prostitution what is done to my body is actually being to ‘me’ as a subject,” Reuben had come to the end of what he wanted to say.
“I am finished with what I want to say. Jonathan I think I will try some of that very tolerable Pinotage if you don’t mind,” Reuben said.
“So if I understand you right. Pornography and prostitution should be condemned and disallowed because the economic alienation of the body as a commodity cannot take place without damaging the owner who is the subject or the ‘I’. And this damaging is unavoidable because the ‘I’ cannot be separated from its body. Furthermore, if I understand you correctly, because of the inextricable co-mingling or merging of the ‘I’ with its body, the objectification of the body into a commodified thing will inevitably result in emotional and psychological damage to the person, causing that person to become numbed and dehumanized like a zombie,” said Maria Gomez
“You have said it better than I could have done,” Reuben remarked on Maria’s summing up.
“Actually the condemnation of pornography and prostitution is based on the Christian idea that you and your body are not two separable things as would be the case in the Cartesian view of things according to Descartes, but rather that they are one inseparable entity,” Allegra added.
“I think pornography and prostitution are a desecration of human beauty,” Winifred Blatt said.
“And I think it is time for dessert,” Helena said.
“Yes, I agree we want pudding not pornography,” Janet agreed
Jonathan got up and fished another bottle from the box in the corner
“This is really marvellous Chianti, does anybody want to try some?” he said.
“Talking about the pornographic image while we are waiting for our pudding, John Berger in his book Ways of Seeing makes some interesting insights about the differences between the naked and the nude body,” Reuben said.
“Are you talking about the male or female body?” Allegra asked.
“I am talking about the female body of course. The naked female body has to be seen not as the beautiful embodiment of a living person but as a depersonalized object clothed in skin in order for it to become a nude,” Reuben explained.
“I don’t understand, what do you mean?” Allegra asked.
“A naked person is transformed into the nude when that person is displayed as object in a manner that excites the gazing voyeur. Nudity is a way of dressing up the naked female body so that it can become an object of pleasure for the voyeur,” Reuben elaborated further, “in this sense nudity is actually a way of being in a fully dressed state. In other words the naked body becomes a nude when it surface features are displayed for purpose of giving visual pleasure to an anonymous and often absent viewer.”
“Is this how pornography creates it images?” Winifred asked.
“I suppose so,” Reuben answered.
“We can cut through all the cant regarding the debate on pornography. All pornography is a form of sadism in which the human body owned by a person is expropriated from that person in the form of a reproducible image which is commercially exploited as a sexualized object,” Everard interjected.
“We have no argument against that, we agree. As I wanted to say ,in the gaze of the voyeur the disembodied pornographic image becomes magically transformed from being a two dimensional virtual representation of the actual three dimensional living physical body into a sexualized object that while not possessing substance or presence becomes consumed in an act of masturbation,” said Reuben. “And because this act of consumption can never satisfy the hunger of desire the act is repeated endlessly over and over again.”
“Wow that is so incredibly horrible and so alienating!” Christina exclaimed. “Could it be possible?”
“Yeah it is definitely possible, just speak to any school boy,” said Jonathan drily with a deadpan look on his face.
“What are saying?” exclaimed Allegra, looking shocked and bewildered. “If this is true then those poor school boys are actually victims as well.”
“I never believed in the myth that personal vices are victimless,” David interjected.
“Pornography thrives off the bodies of its victims. All pornographic actresses are victims. Behind every pornographic image stands a long almost endless queue of poor victims,” said Winifred.
“Do you think that the person who uses pornography for masturbation is also a victim of porn?” Christina asked.
“No they are not only victims they also sinners, slaves to desperately depraved minds, that is why they are in the queue standing behind the first victim at the head of the queue who I suppose is the porn actress,” Jason remarked.
“Jason this is not funny,” Allegra said angrily.
“Maybe becoming a victim of vice and been a slave to sin are two sides of the same coin. Being a slave to sin makes one vulnerable to becoming a victim of vice,” said David as he got up to start clearing the table of plates.
While Jonathan topped up the glasses with the marvellous Chianti, Jason, David, Julian and Helena began to carry away plates and dishes to the kitchen.
“If the pornographic actress has given her consent to perform in pornographic acts then how can she be a victim? Surely she only becomes a victim if she has not given her consent?” David said.
“I agree with David, if the performance of any kind of pornographic act is done with the consent of all the parties involved, even when the actual act is completely degrading to the actress, she cannot under these circumstances be viewed as victim,” Jonathan said.
“I also agree, if she freely and even willingly consents to the use of her body to make the most extreme pornographic images, she can hardly be viewed as an innocent exploited victim,” Jason quipped from the kitchen door.
“Well, even though she may not be victim on the grounds that she happens to be a willing and consenting partner this in itself does not make the production of pornographic images less immoral,” Christina said.
“It is no secret that people voluntary consent to do things that are immoral, and they get great enjoyment and pleasure out of doing immoral things,” Jason said
“Are proposing that mutual consent is insufficient to make a sexual act morally unworthy?” Everard asked Christina.
“Yes I want to know what makes any not sexual act morally unworthy with respect to not only to the consenting partners but to the order of things,” Christina said.
“It is no secret that people voluntary consent to doing things that are immoral,” Jason said
“That is not the point I am debating,” Christina responded. “The point that I am making is that the voluntary, willing and consensual performance of a pornographic act for the production of images or for the entertainment of an audience is immoral because it violates human dignity and defiles something that is truly sacred, and against the order of things.”
“So you are arguing that human dignity is a value that should be upheld and never debased?” Reuben asked.
“Yes, there are things that should never be debased, such as human dignity and human sexuality, because they are sacred, they are part of a sacred order which is grounded in God’s moral law,” she said.
“So you would ban pornography because it violates human dignity?” Everard asked.
“Yes I would. I would ban torture because it also violates human dignity?” Christina answered.
“What about the sexual revolution and sexual liberty of the modern world?” Everard asked, wanting to push the argument further.
“The so-call grossly exaggerated sexual revolution is not really liberating and it not very modern either,” Christina argued.
“Our Minister gave a really profound sermon this morning. Salvation and redemption involves falling in love with God and that we cannot genuinely love God if we are unable to feel meaningful solidarity and comradeship with our fellow human beings no matter whom they may be. Maybe pornography undermines human solidarity and comradeship because it is impossible to produce or participate in the production pornography without at the same time destroying human solidarity and comradeship in the struggle against exploitation, oppression and alienation,” Helena said as she sat down next Julian with her pudding.
Everyone took their seats around the table. Julien watched them with air of curiosity as they got stuck into the pudding. He glanced at each one in turn: Everard, Winifred Blatt, Jason Bone, Christina Napier, Allegra Bonner, Jonathan Statham, Reuben Kaplan, Maria Gomez and David McLellan.”
“Well as I was saying science only deals with what we call the observable Universe or the empirically accessible Universe,” Helena said.
It was Helena’s turn to lead the Wednesday weekly evening seminar at the Loft.
“What do you mean by the observable universe?” Everard asked.
“Broadly speaking I would say that observables are those things or processes that can be empirically characterized in a reproducible fashion,” she answered.
“But there are also built in constraints that prevent the Universe from being fully empirically accessible in an exhaustive fashion, take quantum mechanics for example, some important observables at the microscopic level cannot be measured simultaneously,” Everard said.
“Yeah the world of quantum mechanics is a lot more complicated than the everyday world of macroscopic entities. In quantum mechanics what we see at a specific moment is all that we can expect to get at that moment, nothing more. The rest of the stuff going on remains sort of hidden behind a veil of uncertainty,” she said.
“At a purely technical level the only thing we see in quantum mechanics is the quantity that we are able to measure; we only see the results of our act of measuring. At the quantum level we cannot see anything else. What we see with respect to our experimental measurements is what is ultimately observable in the Universe at the quantum level. It is only the measurable properties of a quantum system that counts as the observable,” she said.
“If science deals only with what you call the empirically accessible Universe or in other words the sensible Universe, then what can science say about God?” Everard asked Helena.
“Before I answer you, I need to expand a bit on what I mean by the idea of the empirical accessibility of the Universe. Much of what is going on in the Universe is completely invisible to our senses. For example there are many things that we cannot see with the unassisted naked eye. Too see things that exist in the microscopic realm we need to use various kinds of instruments and apparatuses to extend the range of our senses so that we can see things happening at the microscopic level, or even at the quantum mechanical level. We also need various kinds of telescopes to look at things happening beyond the range of our galaxy,” she said.
She continued to expand.
“OK having said that, the answer to your question is that science cannot say anything about God. The moment a scientist starts to speak in an apparently or putatively scientific manner about God’s existence or God’s nature, whether in a positive or negative fashion he is no longer doing physics or science, he is no longer in the realm of the empirically observable Cosmic, instead he is engaging in a discourse on metaphysics, and metaphysics involves discourses about ideas, things or entities which happen to be located outside the boundaries and limits of the strictly empirical or the empirical accessible Universe or the observable Universe in other words.”
She went on to clarify:
“Methodologically speaking science cannot say anything meaningful about God, and this is because to make things sensible to the senses, science depends on procedures and methodologies which can only render those things or processes which belong to the material or physical Universe, sensible to the senses. Even if God is somehow immanent in the material or physical realm of the Universe, He cannot be directly observed as something directly visible within the realm of sense perception. God is invisible because God is not made up of the same material stuff of the Cosmos as we are. So God is always invisible, unless God decides to make himself visible like with Moses when He appeared to Moses in a burning bush in the desert. God remains essentially invisible or inaccessible to us with respect to operation of our five senses, and this because he is not a material part of the physical realm. We cannot directly see, hear, taste, touch or smell God as would be the case with many of the external physical objects that exist in the Universe. God is not a Person or a Being that is empirically accessible to human observers nor is there a logical or empirical key that the mind can dream up which will open the door to God.”
“So you arguing that there is no empirical or logical bridge to God,” Everard repeated, stroking his chin thoughtfully as the words seemed to sink in and resonant in his mind.
“Yes there is no simple empirical or logical bridge to God,” she said, “no one has ever seen God, and this is what has been stated repeatedly in the Bible.”
“Yes no one has ever seen God,” Everard said thoughtfully, again repeating the words that Helena has just spoken.
Helena cast her eyes around the lounge, glancing at their faces. It was the first time she had lead a discussion on a topic at the Loft and it appeared to her satisfaction that it had gone very well.
He then said sort of absent mindedly, speaking to no one in particular:
“Lord show us the father and that will be enough for us.”
The quotation from John 14 verse 8 induced a bemused look to Helena’s face as she became aware that Everard was actually taking her all remarks quite seriously.
She glanced at the others in the lounge. They were also weighing up the significance of her remarks and Everard responses. This was the first time people at the Loft had actually stopped to think about something that she had said. Julian also realized this and he smiled to himself. Helena then answered Everard quotation with another quotation from the Gospel of John:
“No-one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only who is at the Father’s side, has made him known to us,” she said. “Jesus is the only definitive empirically accessible self-revelation of God that we have. Jesus is the only open door or open window to God. No one comes to the Father except through me. I am the way, the truth, the life.”
Everard’s face brightened up as he re-surfaced from his musings.
“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him,” he said, “this also proves that logic and empiricism has its limitations, when it comes to finding or seeing God.”
“I agree and that quotation from John’s Gospel also reinforces what I have said about the difficulties that one has to face when trying to build a bridge to find God through your own initiative and intellectual resources, depending solely on the strength of your own cognitive power in your search to discover God. But even if we cannot find a way to build an empirical or logical bridge to God, there are still rational grounds for believing in His existence and for trusting in the claims that the Bible makes about Him,” Helena added.
“It is easy to understand what must have been going through the minds of the disciplines when they discovered that it was Jesus standing on the beach next to the fire he had made, and it was him in the form of a physical, flesh and blood material being who standing there, and it was the same Jesus who had died and who had been buried, who was now standing on the beach while waiting for them to join him for a breakfast of fish which he had roasted on the coals of the fire,” Reuben said.
“But as they gathered around Jesus on the shores of the lake, none of the disciples dared ask him, ‘Who are you’?” Reuben continued.
“Yes I can imagine them thinking ‘Who are you?’ Was this God, the creator of the Universe, standing before them on the beach next to a fire with fish roasting on the coals? Was the Universe indeed causally open, because God really existed? The idea of a causally closed Universe is inconsistent with the idea of God’s existence as the creator of the Universe. I can now see what Helena meant that in spite of empirical and logical constrains, there still exists rational grounds for believing that God exists and created the Universe. We can agree with David Hume that there are no empirical or observational grounds for accepting the idea of the Uniformity of Nature and the associated idea regarding the Regulatory Theory of Laws of Nature because there is no justification for the logic of induction. But it is rational to expect nature to continue to remain uniform and for the established regulatories of nature to persist unchanged into the future. This is the most fundamental assumption of science, yet it is a metaphysical assumption,” Everard said.
“Everything in the Gospel of John makes sense. God can only reveal Himself by making Himself accessible to us through the operation of our five senses, and He can only do this by becoming incarnate in the form of a living human person made out of the same material of the Universe or the same star dust out of which we are also made. In Colossians we read that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. And in Luke we also read that no one knows….who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. If the God who became incarnate in order to make himself visible to mankind wanted to speak to the disciplines after Easter then it would be natural that he would still appear to them again as incarnated in a resurrected physical body of flesh and blood. Jesus standing on the beach after Easter by the fire was both God and man,” Winnie said.
“I like that. In order for God to make Him visible to mankind the physical incarnation of God was necessary,” Everard said.
“The biggest irony was that God incarnate remained invisible before the wide open gazing eyes of many who believed completely in His existence,” Jason said.
“So belief in Gods does not necessarily endow a person with the faculty to see God even if He was visible, standing right in front of you,” David said.
“So if God became visible right before our eyes why would we still doubt that this observable manifestation was really God and not just some imposter claiming to be God? How would God standing as a visible being right before you convince you that He was indeed God, the God who created the Universe. As far as I am concerned it would be simply impossible that this visible material being claiming to be God could do anything to convince a sceptic that He was indeed God,” Jonathan said.
“That is a good point to explore further. How would God as a visible presence right before your eyes convince you that He was indeed God,” said Everard.
“Well if Jesus had trouble convincing even His disciples that He was God incarnate then what would it take for Jesus to convince the real sceptics that he was actually God,” David said.
“OK let’s leave this problem for the time being and let Julian have a chance to have his say,” Everard said as he looked at Julian who had been sitting silently listening with interest to the discourse in the lounge, “but before we give the floor to Julian that let me first summarize some of the key points that we need to keep in mind.”
“Taken at face value it would seem that there are no observables in the Universe that can be used to demonstrate God’s existence to a critically minded sceptic. Even the disciplines of Jesus were critically minded sceptics who could not bring themselves to believe that Jesus was God incarnate. Can we speak of any kind of evidence or observables from nature that provides reasonable warrant or justification for believing in God’s existence? We generally accept without question ideas such as the Uniformity of Nature. We are easily persuaded to believe that the Natural Regularities of Nature will persist unchanged into the future, but this expectation cannot be justified by induction, so it becomes a metaphysical belief which we do not question. But philosophically speaking we do not have any compelling logical or empirical grounds for justifying our belief in the existence of the Uniformity of Nature or in the existence of Natural Regularities of Nature, which means there are no logical or empirical grounds for supporting our expectations that the Regularities of Nature will persist unchanged into the future. It is only common sense that leads us to believe in the Uniformity and Regularity of Nature. Maybe in some way it is also common sense that justifies our belief in God’s existence,” Everard said.
“I think from what you have said we cannot help being struck by the fact that the Universe in not self-explanatory. I suppose that if we can demonstrate that the Universe is not self-explanatory and is not causally closed then we cannot ignore or possibly even avoid or exclude the question of God’s existence,” Julian said.
“What is it about the Universe that is not self-explanatory?” Everard asked.
“The existence of universal laws of nature which seem to be necessary, such as no signal can travel faster than the speed of light, but are not self-evident or self-explanatory in an obvious way,” Julian said.
“I think I understand what you getting at, but maybe you should elaborate a bit more on why the Universe is not self-explanatory, I think this is quite important,” Everard said, looking very pleased in way the conversation was going.
So far Julian had said very little on any matter in the robust discussions there were constantly bubbling up Loft, especially in the table talk that erupted during their communal meals. In fact, Julian had generally refrained from expressing any opinion on any matter. He just listened and this had bothered both Everard and Helena. In fact it began to make Everard exceeding curious about what Julian thought about things. He wanted to know now what was going on in Julian’s head.
The others were also curious about Julian, who now was seen by everyone as Helena’s boyfriend. It was clear to everyone that Helena was finally very serious about a boyfriend. He seemed to be the one that had finally captured her heart. It would have surprised them if they knew the details of the actual history of their previous relationship. But they knew a lot about Helena’s fickleness when it came to the opposite sex. She had been a serial dumper of boyfriends, twisting them round her little finger before discarding them in the most indifferent manner. It astonished them. The thought had passed through their minds that she may be lesbian.
Julian glanced around the lounge at all the expectant faces as he gathered his thoughts. Helena was smiling at him; she knew that Julian had a razor sharp mind, but could be quite reticent to share his thoughts or speak his mind. It was his painfully polite manner that often irked her, especially if the smirk on his face indicated that he knew more than he was letting on. She had also realized that night while watching him dancing with the black girl at the nightclub and seeing the black girl’s blatantly flirtatious reaction to him that he had become actually exceedingly attractive to other females. He did not realize it, but she saw it. This made him more desirable to her. She knew that with her prospects of finding a marriageable partner the tables had turned in his favour, even if he was not conscious of it. She had finally realized that she had something to lose when it came to her relationship with him.
“In simple words science discovers the occurrence of certain kinds of Regularities in Nature. It discovers connections or conjunctions or relationship between various kinds of states of affairs or properties in the physical and biological world. Often in science a discovery entails finding the existence of a regular conjunction between two states of affairs or properties which seem to be linked with each other by a necessary connection, which means that the connection has all the characteristics of being law-like. If the constant connection or coupling or association existing between states of affairs or between properties persist or endure and remain unchanged over all space and time, then we assume that these regularities or uniformities possess all the features of a law-like relationship, and we usually conclude that these phenomena represent Laws of Nature. But we cannot give reasons for why the connections or relationships persist into the future without falling into a circular argument, for example take the following argument:
If a given connection or relationship between two states of affairs is a Regularity of Nature or a Uniformity of Nature then the connection or relationships persists into the future,
If a given connection or relationship between two states of affairs persists into the future then it a Regularity of Nature or a Uniformity of Nature.
This is an example of a self-reference circular argument which explains nothing. Self-referencing circular arguments crop up each time we try to make Laws of Nature self-explanatory.
Here is another example: In one state of affair an entity we call ‘a’ is an F and in the other state of affairs the same entity ‘a’ has the property G. If ‘a’ is a raven then ‘a’ is also black in colour. Raven stands for F and G stands for black. To summarize, ‘a’ being a raven is one state of affairs and ‘a’ being black is the other state of affairs. So ‘a’ being an F, or raven in other words, necessitates ‘a’ by some law as being G, or black in other words. This represents a very simple law-like conjunction between two states of affairs because the occurrence of the conjunction seems to be regular and persistence. Whenever we recognize a bird as being a raven it also happens to be black.”
“Now we run into problems when we have to explain the existence of the various kinds of regularities that occur in Nature. In a simplified form we have to explain why all Fs are Gs. Usually when trying to explain why all observed Fs are Gs it is a common mistake to simply postulate that all Fs are Gs by appealing to the Principle of the Uniformity of Nature which somehow necessitates or guarantees that all Fs are Gs with respect to all space and time, without being able to logically justify or establish the grounds for this Principle,” Julian said, finally wrapping up his argument.
It took a while for everyone to digest the argument that Julian has just expounded on why facts of nature and laws of nature can be non-self-explanatory by appealing to the logical problems of inductive logic.
“Very nice indeed, very impressive Julian I must say. Did everyone get the drift of Julian’s argument? This is the problem of induction which David Hume brought up. By appealing to the Principle of the Uniformity of Nature you always end up arguing in a circle, which is the same as begging question. To beg the question or to assume the truth of the very thing that you want to establish as being the truth, that is exactly the problem facing inductive inference,” Everard explained.
“That is right, to assume a Principle of the Uniformity or Regularity of Nature you end up trying to explain something by appealing to the existence of the state of affairs of which the very thing that you want to explain is already a part of. But a fact cannot be used to explain itself; in the same way all observed Fs are Gs cannot explain why all Fs unobserved in the future will also be Gs. So the point I am making is that all the facts of Nature or of the Universe are not self-explaining in the same sense that a bald statement that all Fs are Gs does not in itself represent a self-explanation of the relation obtaining between states of affairs in the Universe. Therefore it follows that the Universe is not self-explanatory,” said Julian.
“This is nice way of looking at the metaphysical problems science faces if it wants to get find ultimate explanations of the Universe. The justification of the Laws of Nature as Humean Uniformities depends on solving the problem of logical inference by means of inductive reasoning. This basically represents the problem of induction which has not been solved. So if justifying the Laws of Nature involves inductive inference than such attempts at justification will be shipwrecked on the rocks of circular reasoning and question begging, as Julian as shown,” Everard said.
“I remember the circular arguments linked to the Principle of the Uniformity of Nature and the problem of inductive inference. We did this in the Philosophy of Science course I took in third year as my Arts Course. I also remember we did the black raven paradox and the riddle of induction with respect to problems of confirmation. I agree that by showing how or why the Universe is not self-explanatory boils down to proving that no solution exists for the problem of induction,” Helena said.
“Inductive scepticism erodes the bed rock of all our scientific beliefs regarding the Principle of the Uniformity of Nature and calls into question the truth we may attach to scientific laws or to any ideas that we may have with respect to the existence of natural laws of nature which determine the structure and dynamics of everything in the Universe,” Everard added.
“If the appeal to the Principle of Uniformity of Nature cannot be used establish a relation of necessity between the conjunction of ‘a’ is an F and ‘a’ is a G because inductive inferences are invalid due circular reasoning and question begging, then an alternative solution would be to ground the relationship between the two states of affairs or two properties as one of necessity or necessitation by appealing to the existence Universals,” said Julian, “the relation between F and G is made necessary by the existence of two Universals , that is, ‘a’ is an F is one kind of Universal and ‘a’ is a G is another kind of Universal,” Julian proposed.
“OK I see where we going with this. If we are forced to reject Regularity Theories because the Principle of the Uniformity of Nature is found wanting because inductive inferences are invalid and therefore cannot be used to justify the existence of necessary law-like relations between state of affairs, then we have to be open to the idea that maybe Universals do indeed stand behind each kind of law-like relationships obtaining between states of affairs in Nature,” Everard said.
“Do I understand you correctly that we when observe a series of ‘a’ and each one is F and G then we have a concrete actual realization or in other more philosophical terminology an instantiation of the corresponding Universal underlying this relationship?” Helena asked.
“Yes,” answered Everard.
Turning to Helena, Everard asked:
“Was it obligatory for science students at Wits to take an art subject?”
“Yes, we had a choice of subjects, and I took Philosophy of Science. The course work included a huge chunk on the logic and nature of scientific explanation, but we also had lectures, assignments and tutorials on Kuhn, Popper, Feyerabend and Lakatos which dealt mainly with things like the nature of scientific revolutions and so on,” she said.
“It was also at that time that Julian and I were reading the books by Francis Schaeffer, and one day in the lectures I asked the lecturer if he believes in Universals. He gave me such strange look as if I was completely mad, then he firmly said ‘No’. It is so weird that here we are tonight finding reasons to believe in Universals,” she said.
“Do I understand correctly what you guys are talking about? It is a self-evident obvious fact that snow is white, but the obviousness of the whiteness of snow, to anyone who happens to look carefully at snow, does not provide an explanation for this fact, because the fact that the snow appears white depends on other facts, and those facts in turn depend on other facts and so on. It is also an obvious fact that the Universe exists, but we need to explain this fact, which maybe an impossible thing to do,” Maria Gomez asked.
“Yes that is precisely what we are proposing, we end up with brute facts which are in themselves unexplainable,” Helena answered.
“I don’t think we can prove that the existence of the Universe is necessarily the result of a process of self-causation. I don’t think it is wrong to presume that existence of the Universe is the result of a cause,” Allegra said.
“Yeah that is a good point. This is precisely the million dollar question that our discussion was leading to in my opinion,” remarked Reuben.
“What if the Universe always existed from all eternity then there is nothing to explain and the argument has been neutralized,” David McLellan said.
“There is no evidence that the Universe has not existed for all eternity. The Universe is finite and had a beginning,” said Helena.
“If the Universe is a non-self-explanatory fact, contingent, finite and had a beginning then the Universe cannot ultimately be self-causing,” Helena argued.
“OK Helena, I think now is good time introduce your list of non-self-explanatory facts,” Everard interrupted her.
“OK, let me go fetch them, I left the list on my desk.”
She came with an exam pad on which she had written notes. She sat down, flipped open the exam pad on her lap, while glancing over her notes she went through her list of facts and assumption regarding the origin of everything in the Universe.
“I have a list of facts relating to the origin and evolution of the various entities out of which the Universe is comprised. My lists of well-established facts are as follows.
Well-established fact #1: The Big Bang which resulted in the origin of Universe had a beginning at between 10 and 20 billion years ago.
Well-established fact # 2: The physics and chemistry of all the major events and processes that were associated with the early stages of the Universe’s evolution have worked out in reasonable detail.
Well-established fact # 3: Formation of galaxies, stars, planets, solar system from the gravitation collapse of dust and gaseous clouds called nebulae is now relatively well understood as a process. Gravitation collapse and spinning of the nebula or gas cloud can be triggered by the shock waves generated by exploding supernovas.
Well-established fact# 4: Nebulae are formed from the debris produced by the massive explosion of giant Supernovas.
Well-established fact # 5: The physics for the nucleosynthesis of all the elements in the Periodic Table that took place during the different stages of the life cycle of different kinds of stars has been worked out in detail and the process is now fairly well understood.
Well-established fact # 6: Our solar system including the sun was formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago from the gravitational collapse of a region within a large nebula comprised of gas, dust and rocks that had been formed out of previous supernova explosions.
Well-established fact # 7: The oldest known rock on earth has been dated to 4 billion years.
Well-established fact # 8: Chemical evolution of organic molecules including the amino acid and nucleotide monomers from simpler molecules such as CO2, CH4, H2, H2S, NH3 has been simulated in controlled laboratory experiments.
Well-established fact # 9: Formation of polymers of amino acids (peptides) and polymers of nucleotides (RNA and DNA) from their respective monomers can be catalysed by the surface chemistry of clay particles such as montmorillonite clay.
Well-established scientific fact # 10: The spontaneous chemical evolution of lipid bilayer vesicles has been demonstrated in laboratory experiments.
Well-established fact # 11 : Fossilized bacterial cells were formed 3.5 billion years ago which means that life could have first formed between 4.0 and 3.5 billion years ago, giving a window time of 500 million years for life to form from inanimate matter, starting about 4.0 million years ago, which is roughly 500 million years after the formation of the solar system.
Well-established fact # 12: Evolution of the first eukaryotic cells from prokaryotic cells has been established from the evidence for endosymbiotic hypothesis.
Well-established fact # 13: Evolution of multicellular organisms from a common single cellular protists ancestor containing. Evidence suggests that Choanofallegate like organism was the common ancestor of all multicellular metazoans.
Well-established fact # 14: All metazoan body plans for the 35 extant animal phyla were laid down just before the Cambrian Explosion at about 542 million years ago. The body plans of all complex multicellular metazoan organisms had evolved by approximately 3.0 billion years after the appearance of the first prokaryotes.
Well there you go, these are some of the14 well-established facts which correspond to the sequence of events leading from the Big Bang to the origin of life and evolution of the species on our planet. These facts suggest that after the Big Bang the Universe came into existence as a finite entity consisting of a variety of different kinds of things.
The things that made up the Universe consisted of tangible objects like photons, electrons, proton and neutrons and slightly less tangible objects such the law-like relationships which obtain between objects. Now by virtue of these objects and the relationships that obtained between the objects the Universe possessed an innate capacity or power to facilitate the occurrence of all the processes that were ultimately necessary for the eventual emergence of life on earth.
Direct astronomical observation confirms that the Universe possesses something like a built-in capacity for the occurrence of processes such as star formation, nucleosynthesis and solar system formation seemingly without the external purposeful and causal intervention of an intelligent Divine Agent.
Now the explanations that have been formulated for the origin or emergence of life on earth are based on a number of unproven assumptions. I have summarized some of the key unproven assumptions as follows:
Key unproven assumption # 1: Spontaneous chemical development of self-replicating DNA or RNA polymers from which the DNA replication, DNA transcription, and RNA translation machinery evolved. This development was completed more than 3.5 billion years ago.
Key unproven assumption # 2: Spontaneous evolution of the protein based catalytic system for anabolic and catabolic metabolism made possible by virtue of the evolution of the DNA based transcription and RNA based translation system for protein synthesis. This was complete more than 3.5 billion years ago.
Key unproven assumption # 3: Evolutionary processes associated with assumptions #1 and # 2 took place with lipid bilayer vesicles.
Key unproven assumption # 4: Evolutionary process associated with assumptions #1, #2 and #3 resulted in the formation of the original prokaryote cell that became the ancestor all every living organism.
In lieu of the facts # 1 to #14 we have scientific and logical warrant to believe that assumptions # 1 to # 4 are justified.
We are thus justified, even without having actual concrete evidence, in accepting that assumption # 1 to # 4 broadly describe the occurrence of actual events which fill in the gaps between the three facts # 8, fact # 9 and fact # 10.
Our conclusions are also logically justified on the grounds that it is rational to believe that an broken chain of cause and effect connects all the facts from fact #1 to fact # 15.
In the absence of externally intervention Divine Agent we can accept that the Universe is causally closed in the sense that only internally acting causes (ie, without externally intervening causes) brought about all the events associated with all the facts 1 to 14.”
Helena closed the note pad and looked up at Everard.
“Thanks Helena. We appreciate all the time and intellectual effort that you have put into this seminar. The take home message of Helena’s 15 well-established facts and her 4 rational assumptions is that the facts and the yet to be established facts that would be associated with the 4 assumptions are in-themselves not ultimately self-explanatory chiefly because of the logical problems that Julian raised regarding law-like relationships between states of affairs. I will make photocopies of Helena’s handwritten notes so that we can all have copies. We need time to digest the stuff that Helena has presented to this evening. So I suggest we have a tea and cake and call it a night. But before everyone jumps up I would like to as Reuben to make some concluding remarks with regard to the way forward with the topic that Helena has presented,” Everard said
“I do not have Helena or Jojo’s depth of scientific knowledge, but I do agree with their arguments. It is clear to me that many of the issues raised by the science of origins are under-determined by Scripture which means the door has been opened for what can best be called philosophical theology.
“What do mean by something being under-determined by the Bible?” Christina Napier wanted to know.
“Well firstly the Bible cannot be used as a textbook for science. It is actually not even a textbook or even a reference book for theology or philosophy or politics for that matter. In the case of science this means that the Bible does not contain the kind of empirically substantiated theories which can be used in dealing with the issues raised by a science of origins,” Reuben explained.
“I agree that the Bible cannot be used as a textbook or reference for science or theology or philosophy or even for religion in a simplistic manner, and I emphasize the word ‘simplistic’. So if this is the case then my question is what can the Bible be used for, why do we have the Bible, why do we read the Bible, why is the Bible sacred and important to us as a believing community?” Allegra Bonner asked.
“The Bible is a source of important, useful and significant literary narratives, but in studying the Bible we are not only engaged in the intellectual assimilation of its contents, in the actual reading of the Bible the reader also become involved in an encounter with God,” Reuben proposed.
“Helena’s list of well-established facts does have implication for theology, moral philosophy and our understanding of the Bible. For example the classical fundamentalist ideas of the fall, original sin, and the existence of evil and the existence of an immortal soul do not square up with the evolutionary theory that Homo sapiens and other bipedal hominids descended from a common ape-like ancestor,” Reuben concluded.
Reuben was not yet finished. After a moment silence he continued with his summing up.
“There are many theological and philosophical questions that need to be addressed in the light of the evolutionary origins of mankind. The Universe is intelligible but it is not self-explanatory. The Universe is intelligible in the sense that it is open to scientific interrogation, which means there is something rational or reasonable about the deep underlying nature of the Universe.”
A heavy down pour was falling over Yeoville. They stood in the foyer of the Piccadilly movie theatre unsure what to do next. A dash to the car would leave them soaking wet and they still wanted to go to Hillbrow to browse in Exclusives Bookshop and afterward have something to eat. They had just seen Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up. They were curious about the movie because Francis Schaeffer had mentioned it in his book Escape from Reason.
They stood in the crowded foyer waiting for the rain to subside. Every now and then flashes of lighting lit up the Johannesburg skyline. Seconds later the sharp crack of thunder would follow. They moved to the closed double glass doors at the entrance where it was less crowded.
“It was an intriguing movie. I actually think that Francis Schaeffer completely missed the point that Michelangelo Antonioni was actually making in his movie,” Helena said as a couple pressed past them while opening up their umbrellas. They pushed through doors dashed into the rain. Just before they dashed off they dropped an old dog eared film magazine into the trash bin by the exit.
“What do you think was the point of the whole movie?” asked Julian looking perplexed.
“I will tell now,” Helena said as she fished out the magazine from the bin. Opening the magazine she began to page through it until she found what she was looking for. After scanning through an article she began to read aloud parts of a review article on Antonioni’s Blow-Up.
“The 1960s London swinging scene of drugs, sex and rock n roll was the social setting for Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up which was released in the 1966s. Thomas the movie’s protagonist while taking a set of pictures in a park for the final chapter of his photo art book London fashion photographer Thomas(David Hemmings) has unknowingly stumbled onto a scene involving a couple and a hidden gunman in which unknown to Thomas a planned murder was progress. To both the photographer and the film viewer the couple in the park appear to be lovers. But in fact the woman who seemed to be playfully pulling the man by his arms was in fact intentionally and premeditatedly drawing the man to a spot within the park next to a cluster of trees where he could be shot by a hidden murderer. While surreptitiously taking photographs of the couple kissing from various vantage points Thomas has unknowingly and inadvertently captured by sheer chance a series of snapshots of the unfolding murder drama. Jane (Vanessa Redgrave) the woman spots Thomas taking pictures of them. Angrily she runs down the slope from the copse chasing determinedly after Thomas as he makes a hasty retreat along the park’s exit path. When Jane catches up with Thomas, she tries unsuccessfully to grab hold of his camera. She seems to be desperate and demands the film. On the surface it seems that she wants the film because it contains the evidence of her adulterous affair. Yet it was not obvious to Thomas or the cinema viewer that beneath the surface of things in the park there existed another reality that was not immediately perceptible.
The sequence of events involving the couple that were captured mechanically on film for the epilogue of his book appear on the surface to the photographer as representing nothing more than the purely innocuous antics of lovers. As such that would have been quite incongruous with the overall theme of his book. After he leaves the park to meet a friend at a restaurant he is followed by a man who may be the murder accomplice. The same man follows Thomas back to his studio and apparently directs Jane to the address. Jane arrives at the studio where she tries to steal the camera, in desperation she offers to exchange sex for the film. Thomas gives her an empty substitute film. When she leaves he develops the film and creates a storyboard out of the time ordered sequential series of the 43 blown up pictures taken of the couple in the park. The spatial and chronological sequential series of pictures represents a textual reconstitution of the events that took place in park. This textualization of the visual in the form of a series of frozen images represents a narrative of the events that unfolded in the park. In order to interpret their meaning Thomas engages semiotically and hermeneutically with the photographic images. After carefully examining each picture he eventually discovers the arm holding a pistol of a gunman hidden in the shrubbery behind the white picket fence. After the sexual interlude that followed the intrusive interruption of two teenage fashion groupies he re-examines the pictures and discovers an image in one of the pictures that looks like a corpse lying at the base of a tree in the middle of the park. Initially he thought that he prevented a murder. He returns to the park and finds the body of the man who was with the woman lying under the tree. He confirms the evidence of the photograph; however, he has forgotten his camera and is unable to confirm the presence of the corpse at the foot of the tree with a second close up picture.”
“I think that one of the possible key questions posed in the movie was whether sense perception reveals the world as it really is or only as it appears to be,” Helena mused.
“Do you think it would ever be possible to determine how the world really is independently of how it appears to us through sense perceptions?” Julian asked
“I am really not sure. Maybe we can never penetrate the veil of appearances and apprehend the world directly as it is in itself,” she seemed to conclude.
“While the world does appear to the average person as being colourful, noisy, scented, cold or hot, to the chemist or physicist there are only rapidly moving colourless, invisible microscopic particles, pressure waves of air, and electromagnetic radiation, that collide with our sense organs and somehow cause us to experience the perception of colour, taste, sound, fragrance, heat, cold and surface texture,” she said.
“Maybe material objects possess powers and our senses and brain also possess powers to reveal the world as it actually is,” Julian said thoughtfully.
They noticed that the rain subsided to a light drizzle and the flashes of lighting had become less frequent. Julian had parked his car round the corner in Rocky Street.
“Do still want to go to Hillbrow or should we go have coffee and something to eat in Rocky Street,” he suggested.
“Maybe Rocky Street is the better option,” she answered.
As they exited from the foyer of the Piccadilly and started walking towards Rocky Street Livingstone Zulu who been waiting for them across the road from the entrance of the theatre immediately spotted them. He called out to Helena.
They stopped on the wet pavement and looked across the road trying to recognize the tall dark figure standing in the shadows who had just called out Helena’s name.
Livingstone grabbed his small suitcase and run across the street towards them. They could see he was in state of great anxiety and agitation.
“I phoned the Loft and they told me that you had gone to see a movie at the Piccadilly. I need your help so I came here hoping to find you when the movie ended. The security police are after me,” he blurted out. They stopped and stared at Livingstone with expressions of complete incomprehension written all over their faces.
“Why are the security police looking for you?” was all Helena could say.
“We can’t talk here, where is your car, let’s go to the car,” he said anxiously looking nervously around. Once they were in the car Livingstone began to speak nonstop. He told them a long convoluted and complicated story that left them dumbfounded.
Livingstone had been employed by an Adult Education Project which had been set up as a legitimate section 21 company. Its operations were financed with aid money from Denmark and Sweden. It was involved in the distribution of self-study educational materials from a house that it rented in Kensington. His problems started when one of his friends, a political activist, who he suspected was involved in the underground liberation struggle in South Africa, asked him if he could provide a temporary storage place for a cache of arms because something had gone wrong in the delivery plans.
He reminded Julian and Helena that they had met the person at the shebeen in Alex. It was the person who had introduced himself as Bongani.
“You remember Bongani; he was the one who liked Malombo’s music so much that was playing it in the shebeen that night. I had to help them. I had known Bongani my whole life. We were like brothers. So I let them secretly stash a shipment of armaments in the garage of the house that was been rented by the Adult Education Project. The armaments had been brought illegally into the country by some guy who runs an overland safari tourist operation in Botswana and Zambia. He used an army Bedford to take overseas visitors on safari tours,” Livingstone explained.
“How did they manage to smuggle weapons into South Africa in an army Bedford?” Julian asked.
“The Bedford contains several false compartments. The arms were loaded into the Bedford in Tanzania. They packed guns and ammunition into the hidden compartments of the truck. The Bedford travelled overland from Tanzania, via Zambia and Botswana, to South Africa with a whole lot of foreign tourists on board,” he explained.
“So the cache of arms has been hidden in the garage without the knowledge of the people who were responsible for administering the adult education programme?” Helena asked.
“Yes, we hid the cache in the garage under boxes of stationary. It was only going to be for a few days. Anyway after the Bedford had gone back to Botswana, Bongani and many comrades were arrested in a security police swoop. It was just a question of time now before they will learn of my involvement in helping Bongani and of the existence of the arm cache in the garage. This is why I have left Alex and have been hiding in Hillbrow, sleeping on the streets at night. Out of pure desperation I decided to phone the Loft to get in touch with you. I couldn’t think rationally anymore,” Livingstone said.
“Livingstone have you gone completely out of your mind. How could you have got yourself into such mess,” Helena said, looking at him with a stunned expression on her face.
“You have got to understand, I had no alternative. They were my friends. It was a desperate situation,” he said defensively with an anguished pleading look on his face.
“We have to move the arms tonight and then get Livingstone out to the country, across the border into Botswana,” Julian interrupted.
They both looked at Julian with incredulous expressions on their faces.
“What are you saying?” Helena said looking horrified at Julian.
Livingstone was also taken aback. He himself had not thought things through. He left had Alexandria Township in a state of panic with no plan in mind, except to hide out in Hillbrow.
“We have to move them to place where they can never be found. This will remove the physical evidence and the state’s case against Bongani and the others will be weakened. They may even be released,” he argued.
“How are we going to move the arms and where are we going to move them so that they will never be found?” Helena asked with a terrified expression still fixed to her face. Her eyes became filled with fear at the prospect of Julian’s suggestion.
“Do think we can put them in the boot of the BMW?” he asked Livingstone.
“There are a lot of weapons. We need at least two cars to move them,” he said.
“And where are going to move then to?” Helena asked in amazement, not knowing whether to believe that was actually going to happen.
“We going to dump them down that mine shaft near the Loft,” Julian answered with a determined expression on his face.
“Throwing them down the mine shaft near the Loft? Do think that is good idea?” Helena said with feelings of reservation
The car windows had steamed up. Julian rolled down his window.
“I can’t think of any other place. Time is critical we got to act swiftly, let go get your car,” Julian said. They drove back to the Loft to fetch Helena’s car. Helena followed the BMW as Livingstone directed Julian to the house in Kensington.
A light rain began to fall again when they arrived with the two cars at the house in Kensington. Livingstone opened the driveway gate and Julian reversed the BMW up to the garage doors. Livingstone unlocked the garage door and opened the small garage. Helena then reversed her Datsun into the driveway, parking in front of Julian’s BMW. Julian took a torch out the cabbie hole. He switched on the torch and the sharp bright beam of torch revealed a huge pile of boxes filled with stationary under which the weapon cache had been hidden. While Helena held the torch they removed the boxes of stationary to uncover the hidden arms cache.
The weapons had been packed into large plastic zip-up bags. Several zip- up bags were packed full of Kalashnikov rifles and magazines. Other bags were stuffed with boxes of 7.62 mm AK 47 cartridges. They packed the boot, back seat, back floor and passenger seat of the BMW with zip up bags containing the Kalashnikov rifles and AK 47 cartridges. The remaining bags including the bags containing RPG-1 70 mm rocket launchers plus ammunition were packed into the Datsun.
Before leaving they packed the boxes of stationery into a neat pile at the back of the garage. After Julian and Helena parked their cars in the street Livingstone locked the garage. He then climbed into the passenger seat of Helena’s Datsun.
Helena followed Julian’s BMW as he turned right into Langermann Drive. At the third robot he turned right into Queen Street and then left into Jules Street taking the right fork at the end of Jules Street into Stanhope Street and within 10 minutes they reached the Loft. It was 12.10 and the Loft was in complete darkness. They drove down the narrow pot holed strip of tar to the old vertical mine shaft. They parked as close as they could get to the mine shaft. It was still raining steadily.
Helena shined the torch for them while they dragged the heavy bags filled with weapons and ammunition to the fence that had been erected to close off the mineshaft. Livingstone managed to open a gap at the bottom of the fence large enough for them to crawl through. The shoved the bags through the gap and dragged them to the edge of shaft. They pushed the bags over the edge of the vertical mine shaft while Helena stood by the fence shining the torch for them. They listened after shoving the first bags down the shaft. They heard nothing. It must have fallen to the bottom. The intensity of the rain increased. The thunder storm that had started earlier in Johannesburg had moved eastwards to Germiston. Lightning began to illuminate the old steel head gear against the black sky as they hurriedly shoved the remaining bags of Kalashnikovs, ammunition and rocket launchers down the mine shaft, the mine shaft at which Helena’s grandfather had worked as an underground mine captain 45 years ago. She kept on warning them:
“Please be careful. We don’t want any accidents,” called out with a concerned voice.
After dumping the entire arms cashe down the mine shaft they scrambled back through the hole in the fence and run towards the cars. Helena put the torch off. It became quiet and dark again. The thunder had stopped; the only sound that could be heard was the steady fall of rain. They were soaking wet. They drove back to the Loft.
Helena parked her car and made a dash for the shelter of the veranda. She opened her handbag and started searching for the keys for the door. Livingstone and Julian joined her on the veranda.
“I think you must stay. I will take Livingstone to the border,” he whispered.
“No I want to come with. I need to put on dry cloths. I’m shivering with cold. You and Livingstone need to change as well into dry clothes. You can’t travel in soaking wet clothes.”
“We can’t all go into the house, we will wake everybody up,” Julian said.
“I got dry clothes in my case. I will change quickly on the veranda around the corner,” said Livingstone.
“Helena, go into my room and look in my cupboard. You see an old pair of jeans. On the shelves there are some socks, T-shirts and jerseys, bring a jersey as well. Bring also a pair of old track shoes,” Julian said.
Helena went into the house and quickly changed into dry cloths. She went into Julian’s room and found dry scants an old pair of jeans, a T-shirt and a jersey for Julian. Before leaving she wrote a note to Everard informing him that she and Julian had left for Durban because of an urgent family matter. Julian also quickly changed on the veranda into his dry clothes.
“Where exactly we are going?” Helena asked.
“We need to get to Vryheid within the next 4 hours at least. We will travel via Potchefstroom, Kerksdorp, Wolmaranstad, Bloemhof, Christiana and Warrenton. From Warrenton we will take the road to Vryburg. I think it is about 500 km from Johannesburg,” Julian said.
“It is 12.50 now. If we leave now and travel at an average speed of 140 km/h we should get there in 4 hours. So we should aim to get there by 4.00 am. Then we need to ask someone how to get the Botswana border,” he said.
At Vryburg he stopped at a Sasol garage. It was 4.20 am. A sleepy petrol attendant came to the car and filled the tank. Livingstone spoke to the petrol attendant. The petrol attendant told Livingstone that they need to get to Terra Firma. He told them which road to take from Terra Firma to the Botswana border which was close to a town across the border called Werda.
“Ask him how far Terra Firma is from here?” Julian said
“He said it is about 200 km or so,” Livingstone said. “He said it was a not town or anything, it is not even a place, it was just an intersection of three roads in the middle of nowhere.”
“Why is it called Terra Firma, if it only an intersection of three roads in the middle of nowhere,” ask Helena, with an amused look on her face.
“I don’t know.”
“Any way we should get there in about 1.5 hours. That brings us to about 6.00 am,” Julian said, “ask him how far the border is from Terra Firma.”
“He says about 30 km,” Livingstone said.
“So we should be able to find a spot to make the crossing at about 7.00 am. Ask him if there are any police patrols.”
“He said he does not know?”
They soon reached the intersection of three roads in the middle of nowhere. It could only be Terra Firma. On one side of the road there were two shed like structures that appeared to be completely abandoned as there was no sign of anyone living there.
Julian stopped his car in the middle of the intersection. He left the head lights of the car on. They all got out of the car to stretch their legs. In the dim light of dawn they could barely make out the forms of the shadowy physiognomy of the flat featureless Kalahari sandy thorn veld dotted with bushy shrubs and Acacia trees that filled the landscape as far as the eye could see.
Before them was the gravel road heading in a north-westerly direction toward the Botswana border. They decided to take the gravel road. They got back into the car.
As they drove to the border they becoming increasing intrigued by the mysterious beauty of the empty remoteness of the region. It seemed that the great vastness of the thorn tree studded plains of the open Kalahari savannah had no space to accommodate even a single homestead. No evidence or sign of human occupation could be seen from the road. Mile upon mile of barb wire fences were the only signs that the apparently unoccupied land had been claimed under the title of ownership.
Not very long ago it was once thought by the first white men who had trekked across miles of arid and deserted bush in search of grazing and game that the land which stretched to the vanishing horizons belonged to no one. There were no signs which indicated that it was occupied or claimed land, to all appearances it was no one’s land or terra nullius in words of the Roman legions who invaded and colonized the vast wilderness of what once ancient Europe. Unknown to the white man for millennia it had never been strictly speaking terra nullius. Nor had the Kalahari, ever truly been terra nullius. The veld between the bush and thorn trees was sweet. Herds of cattle had for millennia grazed seasonally on the unbounded plains of the Kalahari bush veld.
It was only the gaze of the white man that saw it as terra nullius. It was only the white man who felt compelled to carve up the Kalahari with bard wired fences. It was only the white man who had the ignorant audacity to baptize an intersection of three roads in the middle of the isolated unbounded vastness of the Kalahari bush veld with the name Terra Firma. The name barely functioned as a flag that been left on the summit of some unscalable mountain top or as a flag left on some uninhabited planet as a sign that man had once been there. Terra Firma was not even the name of a small village or forgotten hamlet; it was just a name for a no place on a map.
After travelling for 34 km the gravel road ended at a T junction with a dirt road. They stopped the car and climbed out. Behind them, in front of them, north, west and east the vastness of the Kalahari thorn veld complemented the vastness of the early morning sky that was beginning to turn purple and crimson as another new day started to open up over terra firma.
Beyond that dirt road where they had stopped they see the border fence and beyond the fence they could make out the dry river bed which could only be the Molopo River. The dirt road seemed to run parallel to the fence and river for miles on each side of the T junction. They speculated that if they took the left turn the dirt road would take then to the vicinity of the Botswana town called Werda.
The early morning sun started to rise above unspoilt arid wilderness of the Kalahari.
“It is so beautiful, and so very quiet. I can almost hear my own heart beating,” Helena said as her tense and weary eyes suddenly brightened with enchantment at the unexpected magnificence of the panorama that was slowly becoming unveiled before them as the sun continued to rise.
The dried river bed of the Molopo River formed a natural border between South Africa Botswana. On either direction of the T-Junction the sand road run parallel to the Molopo River along the South African side of the border. Further north, beyond the Molopo River the immense Kalahari wilderness of Botswana stretched as far as the eye could see, from horizon to horizon and beyond the horizon it joined the sky that had now turned a shiny platinum colour wherever it touched terra firma.
The surrounding desolate vista was reassuring. They took the left turn. After driving about 7 km they stopped. In the distance across the border they could see Werda. It was 7.15 am.
“This seems like a suitable spot to make the border crossing into Botswana,” Julian said.
He opened the car boot and Livingstone took his case. They stood for a few seconds by the open car boot seemly undecided what to do next. Helena scanned the scrubby thorn veld. Shielding her eyes with her hand she gazed at the rising sun in the east.
“It is unbelievably beautiful and peaceful out here. I can now appreciate why God loves deserts, and why the presence of God feels so strong in the desert,” she said.
Julian glanced at her and nodded in agreement. Her face which had been tense and drawn, and filled with anxiety started to look a lot more relaxed. The worry that had creased her brow was gone. Her mood became increasingly buoyant.
“I can’t believe how deserted it is out here. I don’t think anyone has been on this road for days,” she said.
They walked to the fence that had been erected near the Molopo River. Black beetles that had been lethargic started to scurry across the sand. Huge Camel Thorn trees with spreading umbrella canopies grew along the banks of the Molopo River. The only other sign of life was a Bateleur eagle sitting in nearby thorn tree. It watched them with a wary eye. It suddenly took off with heavy wing beats. They watched as it flew rapidly away over the tree tops along the Molopo River’s dried up river bed.
The only obstacle that separated Livingstone from Botswana was a flimsy barb wire fence. At the fence they stood for a while beneath a tall Camel Thorn tree.
“I think we should pray with Livingstone before he crosses into Botswana,” said Helena.
The three of them knelt in the shade of the large thorn tree and prayed for Livingstone, asking God to grant him safe passage across the border. Helena became tearful and emotional as she hugged Livingstone tightly and kissed him. He put his arms around her and held her tightly for a while. She sobbed silently into his shoulder.
She dried her eyes and managed a weak smile.
“So Livingstone this is it. I don’t think we will be seeing you again for a long time. What are your plans?” she asked.
“I suppose I need to get political asylum in Botswana. I would like to get a scholarship to study theology in America and come back to South Africa one day,” he said.
They walked over to the fence. Julian put his foot on one strand and pulled up the other strand. Livingstone climbed through the gap. Helena passed him his suit case over the fence. They shook hands over the fence.
“Hamba kahle “Helena called out to him as disappeared into the river bed.
They walked quickly back to the car and drove off. The palpable nervous stress that had gripped them began to evaporate.
“I feel emotionally drained,” she said.
They drove in silence towards Vryburg. He could sense Helena wanted to speak. He looked at her.
“Do you think we helped Livingstone for selfish reasons,” she asked. It was a strange question to ask he thought.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Well, do think we helped Livingstone to assuage our white guilt for Apartheid,” she elaborated.
He didn’t answer her immediately. He had to think about it.
“In a sense we did it for selfish reasons. I suppose there could have been an element of wanting to assuage our guilt for Apartheid. But there is nothing wrong with that. There are also other reasons. We would not have been able to live with ourselves if we turned down Livingstone’s plea for help with all kinds of plausible and perfectly legitimate excuses. We also acted out of a personal sense of honour. We were honour bound to help Livingstone, we had no other option. In the end what really was at stake for us in all of this was our personal sense of honour and our personal sense of moral obligation. So I think it was more out of a sense of personal honour rather than guilt about Apartheid that really compelled us to help Livingstone. So it was definitely not only out of guilt,” he said.
“What about the voice of conscience, don’t you think we were being obedient to the voice of our conscience, we had no time to think this through, we acted on the spur of the moment, my mind was racing all the time, I was frightened, I am not embarrassed to admit this,” Helena said.
“It was not only the voice of conscience speaking to us, it was also a mixture of guilt and honour that persuaded us, I knew straight away that I would not have been able to live with myself if we walked away from this, I knew I would have regretted it for ever, for the rest of my life, we had to help, we were left with no option, there was no way out of this for us, we did what we had to do, partly out of guilt but also for a lot of other reasons, I a way we acted under duress, it was self-imposed duress, I actually don’t really know why we did this to be honest, it sounds nice to say it was the voice of our conscience speaking to us, maybe it was, I don’t know, ” he concluded as an afterthought.
“Well maybe God spoke to us through the voice of our conscience,” she said.
“Maybe it was conscience mixed with guilt, maybe conscience and guilt are inseparable emotions, maybe if we don’t experiences emotions of conscience mixed with feelings of guilt, we would not be human,” he answered.
“Well I agree that we were motivated by an element of guilt,” she said.
“As whites in Africa we will always feel guilty of something, it’s the burden that we have inherited from our forefathers who made South Africa into what is today. If our burden of sin wasn’t Apartheid, then it would be for something else, ” he said with a philosophical smile on his face
She looked at him with surprise.
“That’s a pretty grim view of reality,” she said.
‘It is the reality, we have all fallen short, we have all sinned and we all remain sinners?’ he said.
“I know. I agree. We remain sinners justified only by grace received through faith, and even the capacity to have that faith is a gift from God,” she said.
“Would you say that Apartheid is a sin?” she asked.
“Yes definitely, but it is also an insidiously inescapable sin,” he said.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“In a sense we cannot escape the burden of sin and guilt that we have inherited from our forefathers because of their actions. It is like the debts that the future generation of a country inherit from previous governments. The fact that they did not make the debts does not absolve the future generation from the liability of settling those debts which they did not create. Can we ever apologise fully or show sufficient contrition for Apartheid. The inherent white predisposition towards racism made Apartheid inevitable the moment the first white Europeans set foot on African soil. The inevitability of Apartheid was an inexorable outcome of the iron laws of history, it could not have been avoided,” he said.
“That is a pretty grim way of seeing things. Do you really think Apartheid was inevitable?” She asked.
“Yes for sure. It’s inevitably had its roots in the Roman Empire and in the very existence of Western Civilization. Its inevitability also had its roots in the European mind, in the way that Europeans viewed and interpreted the rest of the world. Apartheid became possible because of the Roman idea of terra nullius. Existence of any land or terra firma that no one had explicitly laid claim to in terms of title deeds was essentially unowned land to the European or Roman mind. Land ownership rights that were not exercised through internationally recognized legal title or property rights belonged to nobody. It was terra nullius and by established historical conventions any powerful nation could lay claim to it and colonize it. Colonization is a natural process in the history of life, in the life history of plants, animals and humans, migration and colonization was one of the major driving forces of species diversification. Just think of Darwin’s finches on the Galapagos Islands. Migration and colonization is what humans do, it is also what plants, birds, insects and animals do all the time, it only humans who moralize about the ethics of migration and colonization, ” Julian elaborated.
“Colonization in human history has always been a violent and destructive process,” Helena mused in response to what Julian had been saying.
“Yes that is the way it has always been, the colonizers have always been violent usurpers, the business of colonization has never been been a nonviolent, bloodless and peaceful enterprise, no imperial expansion is bloodless. Any prospective owner who was able through force of power to lay a claim of legal of ownership under the aegis of a conquering empire was entitled to occupy the land that had been previous identified as terra nullius even if the land was used as a resource for supporting the livelihood of the original aboriginal people. In the eyes of the colonialists the aboriginal people were not legal occupiers of their own ancestral lands. They had the same status as the wild animals that lived off the land. Throughout history legal claims to the ownership of land has always been made through conquest and occupation by colonizers,” he said.
“This is how land has been occupied, settled and owned throughout human history? This is how South Africa arose; it arose as a geographic economic and political entity through occupation and conquest. Before that it did not exist. It has been the inevitable fate of native or aboriginal people to become colonized. It is just the way things have been ever since man ceased to be a hunter-gather. It has been the fate of Africa from time immemorial to be occupied, conquered and colonized by successive waves of imperial colonizers. It has also from time immemorial been the fate of Africans to be enslaved and oppressed successfully by Romans, Arabs and Europeans. The creation of the African Diaspora has been a major spin-off of colonization. Before the whites began to dominate the world the Arabs had oppressed and enslaved the African for more than a millennium. The genocide that was visited upon Africans by the Arabs has never been much of a talking point of interest,” Julian said.
“But we don’t have to accept the inevitabilities of history. Surely this is the duty of all Christians is prevent or forestall the inevitabilities of history by discerning what is wrong and what is right, and having the moral and prophetic courage to fight for what is right,” she said.
“I agree we cannot proclaim the good news or even believe in the good news of the Gospel while we remain blind, ignorant or indifferent to the plight, suffering and oppression of others, especially native or aboriginal peoples,” he responded.
“So by helping Livingstone, we were just doing our duty as Christians, we were duty and honour bound to help save our brother from the hands of the oppressor,” she said.
“Honour and duty are scarce sentiments in our world,” he said.
“It was also out of a sense of honour and duty that brave men have answered the call to arms. They were prepared to suffer the personal costs, including the possibility that would have to lay down their lives in the line of duty for the sake of a just cause. Both my grandfathers volunteered to fight with the allied forces against the German in North Africa in World War II. My mom’s father spent 4 years of the war as a German prisoner of war,” she said.
“Well I suppose Livingstone and his friends have also answered the call to take up arms out of a sense of honour and duty to fight for not only for their dignity but also for their legitimate claims to political freedom,” he said.
“I have never asked you about the army,” she said. “Did you enjoy the army?”
“My army experience was not that bad. It ended up being quite enjoyable especially after basics. I started my basics at 5th South African Infantry Battalion at Ladysmith. I managed to get into the parabats when they came to select candidates at Ladysmith. After basics we posted at Katima Mulilo on the Caprivi Strip. The army base was close to the Zambezi River.
“Do you think you will ever be called up for camps?”
“No. I did 12 months service after that I received exemption from doing camps.”
“If you exemption was revoked and you were called up to Angola would you go?” She asked.
‘I don’t know. I have not given any thought to conscientious objection. I suppose I will end up going to Angola if I was called up, but I doubt that I will be called up,” he answered. “Are you disappointed?”
“No not really,” she smiled.
“Why are smiling like that?”
“I am just finding it so funny. You were prepared to risk so much by helping Livingstone, yet you will not consider conscientious objection if the SADF calls you up to fight in Angola.”
“With Livingstone it was a question of honour. With Angola it is a lot more complicated. There are thousands like me in South Africa. There have been millions like me throughout the history of war. What we all share in common was being coerced through the might of the state to fight in wars that we did not believe in,” he said.
“Some wars have to be fought. There have been wars that soldiers believed in. It was morally and ethically necessary to fight those wars. I think specially of the war against Hitler,” she said.
“OK I agree that there are wars that have to be supported, but I don’t support the war in Angola. I don’t support the war in Rhodesia. I don’t think most of the Americans who were drafted to fight in Vietnam supported that War.”
“In South Africa and Rhodesia there is no evidence of a ground swell of opposition from the whites to the current border wars that are being waged to prop up the white minority regimes,” she said.
“Even so, in South Africa most of the sane and intelligent white males are not volunteers. When they are called up and they all go grudgingly to the border, especially when they have to leave wives and kids behind. The borders wars in South West Africa and Rhodesia cannot be sustained indefinitely. They are ultimately an exercise in futility. Any rational person can see that white minority rule in Southern Africa has to come to an end. You have to be completely stupid not to realize this.”
“But if the borders wars are futile, irrational and not sustainable then is it not rational and sane to be a conscientious objector?” she asked.
“OK, from an objective point of view on how things really stand in Southern Africa, you are right, there is a very strong moral and rational case for being an conscientious objector,” he said.
“I will stand by and support you if you ever decided to be a conscientious objector,” she said.
“In a way we have unwittingly gone one step further than being conscientious objectors,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
“Helena we have nailed our colours to the mask. In the eyes of the South African government and the majority of white citizens we have become terrorists. We can now be charged under the Terrorism Act, No. 83 of 1967. We will be found guilty and we will serve a minimum of five years for what we have done over the past 24 hours. Talk about conscientious objection is totally irrelevant. We have become enemies of the state. We have become accidental freedom fighters.”
“I have realized this as well,” she said.
She stared out of the window at the passing landscape of scrub bush and thorn trees.
“We can stop for something to eat and drink at Klerksdorp,” he said.
“Are you tired, are still able to drive. I can take over if you wish?” she said.
“No it is OK, I am fine. My flight departs at 10.00 pm tomorrow night. Can you take me to the airport? I want you to use the BMW while I am away. I don’t want it to stand in the garage at home for a month,” he said.
“Are sure you about this,” she said with surprise, “it is really a nice car.”
“I have a suggestion to make. Let us go to Europe for our honey moon for the whole of December. I will put in leave. We can go to Paris, to London, to Italy. Do you have passport?” he asked.
“Yes I have passport. I was planning to go overseas for a holiday for quite a while, but I could never afford it,” she said.
“Do think we can afford to go overseas for our honeymoon?” She asked looking a bit concerned.
“I have enough to cover the air tickets and everything,” he said
“I feel bad that you will be paying for everything,” she said.
“You don’t need to feel bad. I was planning to go anyway for December before we bumped into each other at the CNA,” he said.
“It will be wonderful, something I have dreamt off. It is very generous of you, but I still feel bad that you will be paying for everything,” she said.
“Don’t feel bad. Let’s just do it. We only live once,” he said.
The sky grew dark as they approach Klerksdorp. Lightning lit up the horizon. It began to rain hard.
Helena felt that she had to speak about the potential gravity of the consequences they faced with respect to helping Livingstone. There were things on her mind that she had to get out of the way. They had come to a mutual understanding and be of one mind.
“So if we are caught, you and I will take full ownership and full responsibility for crime that we have committed against the government of South Africa. We will wear it as a badge of honour and serve the sentence that the courts impose on us,” she said with a look of profound resolution.
“Yes. I will take ownership and responsibility as an issue of honour for what we have done,” Julian agreed.
“It is easy to speak now of honour and all of that, but to be charged under the Terrorism Act is a very terrifying thought. I don’t think we should be so gung ho about it,” he added as an afterthought.
“I know, I know and I also don’t want to be separated from you for 5 years. I will die if we are separated,” she said, “I will be in my thirties when I came out of prison. This is really frightening. I just felt we had to speak about it.”
“Do think it is possible that they could ever find out about Livingstone and the weapons cache?” she asked.
“I don’t think we need to worry ourselves sick about it,” Julian said, “Livingstone will be the USA studying theology before the end of this month.”
They found a Wimpy Restaurant in Klerksdorp and after sitting down they ordered bacon, fried eggs, toast and coffee.
Helena appeared to be lost in thought. The angst had left her eyes. The coffee arrived.
“No we don’t take sugar. Is the milk hot? Thanks,” she said.
She poured warm milk into her coffee and took a sip.
“I have been craving this cup of coffee since last night,” she said as she put the cup back in the saucer.
“Have you ever thought about how one should deal with Romans chapter 13, especially verses 1 and 2, especially if you are a South African, ” she asked.
Helena opened her shoulder bag and took out her small leather bound Bible and opened it at Romans chapter 13.
“Ok, how does one deal with Paul statements where he says that, ‘everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.’ I have real problems with an unqualified submission to the so called governing authorities. I cannot accept a literal interpretation of these two verses.”
“I don’t know who how to deal with it, especially in the South African context. Paul seems to be endorsing the existence of all political authority in these two verses. If this is the case then he would be endorsing the political authority of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, and even of Pol Pot in Cambodia,” Julian answered, “because this is implied in the statement that all authorities that exist have been established by God.”
“That is precisely the point, no government or state can exercise its authority without power. According to Calvin all power comes ultimately from God. So the power that gives them authority to act has been established by God. So the power and authority of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot has been given to them by God. Therefore one must submit to the authority of a Hitler or Pol Pot, it does not make any moral or rational sense,” she said.
“So to stay out of trouble one must submit to all political authority without qualification. Paul does not provide any qualifications that would restrict the full scope or extent of submission to political authority,” she continued.
“Well that is what the meaning of the two verses seems to imply when taken at face value as they stand in chapter 13. Paul in fact has provided an unqualified approval of the Roman political order and by extension he is endorsing all past and future political orders, because all political orders are established by God. So Paul seems to be a radical supporter of the political status quo whatever its form or embodiment may be,” he said.
“This is precisely my point, I could not have summarized it better,” she said.
“Well I must admit. I’m completely dumbfounded. Maybe we are missing something. It can’t possibly mean what we think it does,” he said.
“Again, this is precisely my point. I have done some background reading on and off on this topic since our university days. My conclusion is that you cannot take the first two verses of Romans chapter 13 at face value without running into all kinds of absurdities such as God being ultimately responsible for establishing the power and authority of Hitler or Pol Pot or Stalin. It makes nonsense of the idea of a good and benevolent God,” she said.
The two plates of bacon and eggs arrived.
“Are you still bringing the toast?” Julian asked.
“Yes sir, I will bring it now,” the waitress replied.
“Should we say grace,” Helena said.
“Yes, why not,” Julian answered.
After Helena had said grace she continued:
“There is an incredible irony locked away in those two verses. At the time of their writing Nero was the emperor of the Roman Empire. He was the governing authority of the Roman Empire of which Paul was citizen. Paul was stating without any qualification that everyone must submit to the authority of Nero. This is completely absurd because Nero began to persecute the Church. How could God establish an authority with power to cruelly persecute the very Church that God in Jesus Christ had established,” she said.
She stopped to butter a slice of toast, after putting the toast in her plate she flipped the fried egg onto the toast. She looked at Julian:
“Every possible cruel act was committed against Christians by Nero. Christians were even set alight as human torches to illuminate Nero’ gardens at night. In the end Paul himself was beheaded on Nero’s instructions. The biggest irony was that Paul was ignorant of what his fate would be in the hands of Nero when he wrote his letter to the Romans,” she continued to elaborate on the theme of irony as she sliced a piece of egg and toast into a mouth size portion. After swallowing she ate some bacon and then continued with her exposition of Romans 13.
“And then we have the biggest irony of all when Paul writes in verse 3 of Roman chapter13: ‘For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.’ The Christians in Rome were a vulnerable minority underclass that were well known by all in Rome to be community that was impeccable in doing everything that was right in terms of Roman Law and with respect to all accepted norms of decency and good behaviour. Yet doing what was right in the eyes of the authorities did not save them from the terror of that authority,” she said with an ironic smile and a sad look in her big doe like brown eyes.
“Your food is getting cold Jojo,” she said. Julian had been listening with such great interest to what Helena was saying that he had forgotten to start eating.
“The point I want to get too is the verses 1 to 3 in Romans 13 do not endorse the submission to Political Authority. It is impossible that it should mean that. In fact the three verses are an exercise in the rhetoric of irony?” she concluded.
“Please explain,” he asked.
“I will explain it on our honey moon in Paris while we stand in the queue to go up the Eifel Tower at night. I need to do more reading to get my ideas on rhetoric irony in the Bible in order. I will be busy with it in my spare time while you are away. Eat up your breakfast Jojo it is getting cold,” she said with a motherly tone in her voice.
“How do know we will have to stand in a queue to go up the Eifel Tower at night?” he asked.
“One of friends was in Paris last December. They went up the Eifel Tower at night. It was fantastic but they had stand for quite a while in a queue,” she answered.
“I was at also at the Eiffel Tower last December,” Julian said.
“You were?” she said looking surprised.
“Yes,” he said.
“Were you alone?” she asked teasingly.
“Yes,” he answered.
“Anyway to change the subject, let’s go back to what we were talking about, could you just pass me your Bible for a moment?” Julian opened Helena’s Bible and paged through it quickly to the page he was looking for.
“Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? You know what Jesus’ answer was?” he asked
“It was: Show me the coin used for paying the tax. They brought him a denarius and he asked them, ‘Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?’ Caesar’s’ they replied. Then he said to them, ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s’,” she quoted from memory.
“Correct, but we could rephrase this rendering unto Caesar in a more potent or radical way along the lines of something like this, render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but do not render unto Caesar what belongs to God only,” Julian said.
“I like that, but where do you intend going with it?” she asked.
“We can never exchange our allegiance to God’s moral order for the allegiance to Caesar’s moral order especially when Caesar’s moral order is inconsistent with God’s moral order,” he said, “and any man made moral ordering of things and people which violates the injunction to love one’s neighbour as one’s self is the same as rendering to Caesar what belongs to God, which constitutes idolatry,” he answered.
They drove in silence through Stilfontein, Potchefstroom and Carletonville; before long they were speeding eastwards back to the Loft on the M2 East freeway.
“What are thinking?” She asked.
“I am thinking about Michelangelo Antonioni’ Blow Up. It is actually a very contradictory movie. In a significant way it is a celebration of reason, rationality, technology and science. It is a movie that expresses faith in the existence of a rational Universe. Thomas is able to rationally discover and verify that a murder had taken place in the park. He depends on rationally constructed instruments and technology to blow up the film so that he can see the murderer hiding in the thick brush standing behind the low wooden picket fence. The blown up film even though it is has become grainy and its resolution is no longer so sharp, it still shows quite clearly the pointed gun, the hand, the arm and face of the killer. The woman was trying to position the man into the centre of the killing ground for the ambusher. In retrospect her odd behaviour of pulling the man into the centre of the park, the action that Thomas witnessed now becomes rational in terms of being goal directed,” Julian said.
“I think the only irrationality in the movie was the way everyone behaved. They behaved irrationally within an ocean of rationality,” she answered.
Later at one o’ clock in the morning Helena slipped into Julian’s room and snuggled into his bed with him. This had been their sleeping pattern for the past week. He woke up and embraced her. She was naked. Her fragrance was intoxicatingly erotic; it filled his nostrils and stirred his loins.
“I am not pregnant, it safe for us to make love,” she whispered in his ear.
Afterwards he held her, her back pressed against his body.
“Are you sleeping?” she asked.
“No, I’m awake,” he said.
“I have read somewhere that night was always supposed to be divided into two halves. It used to be normal for a man and woman to wake up after 4 hours sleep feeling refreshed and invigorated. They would then make love, and pray and draw close to God. It was supposed to be a mystical time of togetherness, a time during which they enjoyed the most intimate communication possible between a man and a woman. It was also a time for the most intimate communication they could have with God. After one or two hours when they had made love, prayed to God and read the Bible they would then fall again into a very deep, dream filled and peaceful sleep for another 3 to 4 hours, just like we have been doing for the past seven days. For me this has been a time of unbelievable bliss. I have felt as if I were in heaven, and that our eternal life in Christ Jesus had already commenced. I know that intellectually our eternal life in Jesus has already started, but this week it really felt like I have been living on the timeless shore of eternity,” she whispered.
“So we are supposed to have a total of 8 hours sleep,” he asked.
“You can be so incredibly unromantic,” she laughed softly, “here I am telling something so amazing, so incredible, so beautiful and your only response is whether the actual time we have to sleep adds up to 8 hours. Jojo what am I am going to do with you.”
“It is pity that Julian has to be away on business and not able to join us this evening,” Everard announced as the Loft Commune members and visitors settled down in the lounge for another midweek evening seminar.
“I don’t want to give a lecture tonight. I have jotted down some ideas and questions that could help us debate the questions raised by the theory of evolution in relation to some important theological concepts such as: the original sin, the nature of sin, the concept or nature of the fall, the nature or concept of evil, and of course the nature of man. It is easy to see that the concept of sin and evil is dependent on the ideas that we may have about the nature of man,” Everard explained.
“We can only make real headway in this debate if we all make an effort to define or explain the meaning of concepts such as sin or evil. When trying to come to grips with the question of the nature of man we need to keep in mind that the concepts of sin and evil can only be meaningful conceptualized if we assume that man is in fact a moral agent and has free will. It is necessary for us to justify the claim that man has the power or capacity or disposition of moral agency, otherwise the debate becomes meaningless. Humanity as a whole can only have the attributes or traits or properties or characteristics of moral agency if people in general are able to rationally judge by means for thoughtful deliberation whether any action is either good or bad,” he said.
“If it is to be accepted that man is capable of committing acts which are evil in nature, then we also need to show what makes any act an evil act,” Winifred said.
“Yes I accept that,” Everard.
“I take we are restricting our discussion to sin as a moral phenomenon which may be an act that is morally evil or just plain evil?” Allegra asked.
“Precisely!” Everard answered.
“Am I right in saying that sin and evil are only possible if man is a moral agent?” Christina asked.
“So animals are not moral agents and are therefore incapable of committing acts which are sinful and evil?” Maria asked.
“I think we have no alternative but to accept that as a fact of nature,” Everard answered.
“So then what makes man so different from animals if we are supposedly descended from a animal common ancestor that we share with all the other animals?” Jonathan asked.
“Yes I want to know how man became sinful and evil if we evolved from primitive or primeval life forms just like all the other animals,” Jason agreed.
“What makes man so different from other animals, especially the apes?” David asked.
“It is an obvious fact that moral evil exists, it also exists in spite of the fact of our evolutionary descent from some common primeval ancestor that we share with all the mammals. If it is true that moral evil exists as a recognizable social and political phenomenon, then how did we get our ideas of right and wrong, in other words how did we become moral agents in the first place through the process of evolution by means of natural selection of random mutations?” Reuben asked
“That is what we want to find out,” Everard.
“I remember when Helena first joined the Loft Commune we discussed similar stuff. I argued with her that the fact of evolution changes nothing; we still have to contend with the reality of evil even if man has evolved from an ape-like ancestor whom he shares with the chimpanzee and the gorilla. Just because Darwinian Evolution happens to be true does not mean that evil is an illusion that can be magically wished away,” Everard said.
“Since the existence of evil is an indubitable fact how do we square the fact of evil with existence of all powerful, all knowing and omnibenevolent God?” Reuben asked.
“I was waiting for someone to ask that question,” Everard laughed.
“That question also happens to be the problem of theodicy,” Janet said.
“I did not want bring up the issue of theodicy, but I realize we cannot ignore it,” Everard said.
“I think lets postpone the theodicy issue for a moment and focus first on some ideas about the source and nature of evil. We agree that the fact of evil seems to be an unfathomable paradox. And this is why it has always been such a burning issue right from ancient times. Many myths have been developed to give an account for the existence of evil in the world,” Winifred.
“Such as the fall of Adam and Eve?” Jason asked.
“Yes indeed, the myth of the Fall of Adam has been interpreted theologically to represent the symbolic inauguration of original sin which is also the orthodox Christian’s answer to Gnostic questions regarding the origin and source of evil in the world. It has been proposed by Paul Ricoeur that original sin also represents an anti-Gnostic concept. The development of Gnosticism predates Christianity. A number of similar beliefs are held in common by a variety of Gnostic religions. Two core Gnostic beliefs embrace ideas associated with gnosis and dualism. The word gnosis is the Greek word for knowledge and in Gnosticism gnosis represents a secret form of knowledge. In Gnosticism the idea of dualism is associated with the existence of two creators representing a good god and an evil god. The good god is the creator of an immaterial, perfectly good world for pure spirituality. The evil god who is also called the demiurge is the creator of the imperfect material or physical world. The material world with all its physical imperfections is viewed as the prison house of mortal souls. Gnostics practice a strict material world rejecting asceticism. Gnosis involves the study of esoteric transcendental knowledge and the practice of states of conscious awareness aimed at comprehending and realizing unity with the good god,” Winifred explained.
“What about Manichaeism, it is also a variety of Gnosticism, with its dualistic cosmology involving a struggle between light and darkness, where the light is the pure good immaterial spiritual world and darkness presents the evil world of matter?” Allegra Bonner asked.
“Yes you right, Manichaeism was associated with the Iranian Gnostic religions founded by Mani who resided in Babylon which used to be a part of Persia. Mani was also preoccupied with the origins of evil. For him the cause or source or origin of sin was in matter itself, and in order for consciousness or mind or the soul to free itself from sin, the soul had to free itself from matter. Evil sprung from matter,” Reuben explained.
“In the Manichean cosmos there are two independent competing powers, God and Satan, which are engaged in a struggle for supremacy. God is lord of the kingdom of light which is a pure and perfect spiritual realm. Satan the prince of darkness is the lord of the kingdom of darkness which is the corrupt and evil regime of matter. Light stands for goodness of the immaterial spiritual realm whereas darkness stands for the evil of the material and physical non-spiritual realm. Manichaeism solves the cosmic riddle of evil by proposing that God is not omnipotent and co-exists with an independent power which is the agent of evil. The human soul whose authentic nature corresponds to the light is essentially good but in its fallen state it has become imprisoned and enslaved under the regime of darkness within a body made from evil matter. Only by following a life of diligent asceticism and religious observance can the soul of man be freed from the prison of the body and return to the spiritual kingdom of God,” Everard explained.
“Augustine himself under the influence of Manichaeism pursued a life of rigorous asceticism in his own personal struggle with sin and evil,” Reuben said.
“The fallen soul has become imprisoned and enslaved to a material body; it has also become enslaved to a physical world and to temporality. The corrupt material body becomes the source of evil because it is comprised of the natural substance of evil,” Janet said.
“The fact that Homo sapiens evolved from an arboreal ape-like ancestor makes the idea of moral agency, the idea of evil, the idea of sin and the idea of free will problematic, and the evolution of man also places a question mark on the emergence of Original Sin with its symbolic inauguration in the eating of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden,” Reuben expounded.
“Who all wants tea?” Helena asked
Winifred Blatt, Jason Bone, Christina Napier, Allegra Bonner, Jonathan Statham, Reuben Kaplan, Janet Whistlebird, Maria Gomez and David Strachan, all wanted tea.
“In the context of all this, what is the moral significance of sensual pleasure?” Jonathan asked
“Do moral agents choose to do evil for its own sake or for the sake of sensual pleasure?” Jason asked.
“I find it amusing that the issue of sensual pleasure has been linked with moral agency and sin,” Everard said with a grin on his face.
“I think it is important to debate this linkage between sensual pleasure and moral culpability. What about desire and its gratification, does this also involve moral agency and the possibility for sinning?” Winifred asked.
“Is the the craving for sensual pleasure the doorway to sin and evil?” David asked.
“I think we are going off on detour by bringing in the relationship between the cravings for sensual pleasure and sin,” Everard said.
“Broadly speaking there are two kinds for explanation for the existence of evil. It can be argued that in some instances a moral agent does not directly or intentionally choose to do evil, but rather commits unavoidable acts of evil in the pursuit of interests, cravings and desires. That is the first explanation. In the second explanation moral agents choose to do evil for its own sake, irrespective or independent of any need to satisfy a desire for pleasure, whatever pleasure is derived from the act it is purely inadvertent. According to the Augustinian concept of the fall, either way or both ways, humanity inevitably chooses evil, whether it be direct or indirect,” Everard expounded.
“There are a number of moral theories about the relationship between moral agency and the existence of evil. They express different views on the relationship between moral agency, moral judgement, motivation and the existence of evil,” Winifred said.
“What kind of moral theories are you speaking of?” Everard asked.
“Well there is the problem of moral externalism, which argues that here is no necessary connection between moral judgement and moral motivation. A moral agent can recognize that a certain action is immoral and yet still remain motivated to commit that act. This means that there is no necessary connection between moral judgement and the exercise of the will. Moral judgement does not necessarily have an influence on moral motivation. Then there is the problem of moral internalism which proposes that for a moral agent, there exists some kind of connection between moral judgement and moral motivation which will have a direct influence on how the moral agent acts. The moral agent will feel a compulsion to act a manner that is consistent with her moral judgement. If she recognizes that something is the morally right thing to do, she will be motivated to do it. For her to act otherwise would be completely irrational,” Winifred explained.
“What are these moral theories supposed to show or prove?” Reuben asked.
“They both have something to say about the logical existence of evil. Moral externalism is compatible with the existence of evil, whereas moral internalism is logically inconsistence with the existence of evil. An externalist would probably argue that internalism is false because evil does in fact exits and this is something that internalists would deny. Internalists argue back that no rational or thoughtful person can choose to do evil simply because it happens to be evil. Even Milton’s Satan who states that ‘ evil be thou my good’ while fully embracing wickedness, and does not do evil for the sake of evil, but commits evil actions in the pursuant of other goals, such as in the case of Job, where Satan tries to prove a point to God with respect to the superficiality of Job’s faithfulness,” Winifred elaborated.
“Therefore for the internalist the existence of evil with a big E is irrational?” Everard asked.
“I suppose so,” Winifred answered.
“Who would be an internalist?” Reuben asked
“I suppose Hannah Arendt,” Winifred answered.
“What? Is that possible?” Reuben asked in surprise.
“Is Evil that is evil with a capital E a moral concept or does evil only exist with a very small ‘e’ in the form of different degrees of routine and mundane wrong doing as in Hannah Arendt’s idea of the banality of evil,” Everard asked.
“If we take into account the examples of massive moral catastrophes like the Holocaust, the Gulag Archipelago, the genocide in Chile, the genocide in Cambodia and even Apartheid in South Africa then I believe evidence exists for moral Evil with a capital ‘E’ or even Metaphysical Evil,” Winifred answered.
“The Holocaust was uniquely Evil, with a big E, and it would not have been possible without the committed actions of men and women or without the active intentional and premeditated actions of our so-called moral agents who actually worked hard beyond the call of duty in the diligent execution of their duties in bringing about the mass murder of Jews on a scale that boggles the mind. I think they were motivated to do Evil for the sake of Evil and not in the service of some higher law of nature or history. I just think that Hitler and his Nazis were plainly Evil beyond comprehension, and that’s not all, I firmly believe that the entire German nation were complicit in the Holocaust the same way that all whites in South Africa are guilty of complicity in the propagation and maintenance of Apartheid. In this sense like the Germans in the Second World War the whites in South Africa are guilty of perpetrating a great Evil in the form of Apartheid,” Winifred argued.
“Are you saying that all evil acts derive their specific form or nature from the character or nature of the perpetrator?” Janet asked.
“Yes I would argue that all evil acts are inspired and motivated by the evil dispositions of men, from their desperately depraved and perverted wills, from men who derive pleasure from doing evil,” Winifred answered.
“I agree that the Holocaust would have been impossible without the widespread compliance and passive endorsement or the passive condonation of ordinary German, Polish and Lithuanian citizens. So in a real sense the ordinary citizens of Germany and Poland where in reality evil people. The same applies to whites in South Africa. Apartheid would have been impossible without the widespread commission, endorsement, condonation and compliance of ordinary white citizens with regard to all the actions which were carried out or undertaken in the initiation, the propagation and the perpetuation of Apartheid,” Helena said.
“Would you agree that Evil is a theological and philosophical concept?” David asked.
“Yes I would certainly agree with that. If there was no God then everything would be permissible,” Winifred said.
“Yes I also agree that if there were no God then everything would be permissible, and to quote Jacques Monod from his Chance and Necessity, just hang on a second while I find the page, OK I have it, this is what he writes: ‘The ancient covenant is in pieces; man know at last that he is alone in the universe’s unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty. The kingdom above or the darkness below: it is for him to choose,’” Helena said.
“OK guys I just want to quickly jump in. I think we have all succeeded in focusing our attention onto a wide range of ideas and views. I also think we are getting a sense on how difficult and profound this topic really is especially from a philosophical and theological stand point,” Everard said.
“I would like to propose that the concept of Evil with a capital ‘E’ can only exist under the aegis of a certain conception of Moral Realism. Maybe we can come back to this later, but I first want us to go back and explore the meaning of sin in relation to certain biological realities since we need to make clear the meaning of sin in relation to the evolution of man if that is at all possible,” Everard said.
“Throughout its long history Christianity has become, as a direct consequence of its moral indifference and moral passivity towards the social ordering of economic and political power, compliant and accommodating in its response towards exploitative, inhumane, cruel, injurious and harmful manifestations of evil in society,” Everard said.
“By actively propagating a narrow and shallow understanding of what constitutes sin the Church has perpetuated and condoned a pervasive moral indifference and moral passivity towards evil,” Helena added.
“It has always been safer, easier, cheaper and less complicated for the Church to focus on the appetites, needs and desires of the sensual body as the fountain head of all sin. In Christianity sin has always been associated with the pursuit of bodily sensual pleasure. Desire for sensual pleasure is the same as choosing to do evil. Sin is synonymous with concupiscence and the synonyms for concupiscence includes words such as sexual desire, lust, ardour, passion, lecherousness, lasciviousness, wantonness, carnality, licentiousness, salaciousness. All of these are safe or unproblematic sins. This kind of obsessive preoccupation with the so-called carnal sins of tye flesh is actually a very subtle from of distraction from the weightier matters of Evil that is Evil with a big ‘E’. This kind of religious preoccupation with so-called true spirituality, holiness and sanctification does not have any disturbing or disrupting political consequences. It may even service to maintain the political status quo. An obsession with a religious life that is focused only on the so-called spiritual, holy and sanctified life style which is only concerned about a particular kind of personal and inward regeneration poses no no threat or problems to political powers that be,” Helena continued, speaking with passion and suddenly becoming slightly breathless from a sudden surge of nervousness.
“There is much more to the meaning of sin and evil than an inward looking preoccupation with sin in the form of sexual immorality, drunkenness, gluttony and all kinds of behaviours that are usually associated with the gratification of the carnal desire. In reality the sins of social injustice are condemned more strongly in the Bible than sins associated with sensual acts of personal immorality,” Helena continued.
“I am not finished. I just want to say one more thing. There can be no acts of evil without victims. During its two thousand years of existence Christianity never became a radical social transforming force in the world. Instead of transforming society Christianity adapted to every social system by means of active cooperation with and endorsement of the political rulers of the day,” she said.
“Thanks Helena. The points you made are valid,” Everard.
“I agree with you Helena. It is a telling point that Christianity has co-existed in cosy arrangements with all kind of strange political bed fellows throughout the ages. Christianity has allowed itself to be readily co-opted into all kind of evil social and political arrangements that serve only the interests of powerful elites. When Christianity is co-opted into the service of a political ideology like Apartheid or Capitalism for example, it also finds itself providing ethical legitimation for these ideologies,” Reuben said
“Yeah I agree also, the best way for Christianity to be co-opted by political ideologies is by saying, ‘hey you Christians just stick to living you spiritual, holy, sanctified and pure lives in your little harmless inward looking unworldly communities while we get on with the worldly job of real business such as political-economy, worker exploitation, worker disempowerment, environmental destruction and genocide’,” Allegra said
“A narrow inward looking morality is behind the real reason why God has been pronounced dead. Heidegger in his interpretation of Nietzsche has said that God who is comprehended in terms of morality is dead. And I think your analysis of the meaning of sin in relations to political power possibly covers some of things that Nietzsche associated with morality. Our dispute with both Heidegger and Nietzsche over the death of God involves differences in the philosophical and theological conceptualization of morality, sin and evil,” Reuben said.
“What is sin is actually? I still think we need to have a clear idea of what we mean by sin before we can pursue our discussion further,” said Christina Napier
“Sin can be defined as an immoral act that involves the transgression against a divine law; this where God comes into the picture. It also is where a specific kind of moral realism comes into the picture,” Everard said.
“The idea of sin is linked to the idea of a divine law or the existence of a moral order in the Universe or to a kind of moral realism that Everard has mentioned. Verbs that define the act of sin include to rebel, disobey, transgress, err, trespass, and offend. Nouns for sins committed include rebellion, disobedience, transgression, offence, violation and so on. Sin can also be defined as the desire to be like God. Sin can also be thought of as substituting something else for God. All sin seems to have its roots in idolatry. There are sins of commission and sins of omission. Transgressions, offences, violations with respect to God’s laws result in judgment. There penalties or punishments for breaking laws. The law would not be a law if no were incurred for breaking the law. The wages of sin is death. The penalty for committing a sin is the punishment. If you sin you automatically earn a penalty which is the wages of sin. Also sin is the something you do which separates you from God,” explained Reuben.
“If there is no moral order or divine law in the Universe that has been instituted and upheld by God then there can be no sin and consequently man is ultimately innocent of any offense or transgression or violations and then that quotation from Monod’s book is true, ” said Reuben
“The argument that if there is no God then everything is permissible seems perfectly rational to me if we confine our search for moral certainty only to the realm of the empirically accessible Universe. There can never be a scientifically construed story about moral certainty that will justify any of our ideas about what is good and what we believe is evil. The empirical and logically based language of science is incapable of making any rational and logical pronouncements on good and evil that will be universally valid and binding on every living person on this planet,” said Winifred
“I agree that science has nothing to say with respect to the validity of moral principles,” Helena said.
“So if I understand you correctly, the proposal that we have evolved an innate capacity to know what is good and what is evil cannot be used to justify the truth of our moral claims concerning good and evil in a manner that is universal, objective, absolute and binding? ”Allegra proposed
“Yes, and even the claim that we have evolved an innate capacity to know what is good and evil may be questionable especially if we look at the evidence of history, ” said Janet “ in fact this claim has been disproved by the Holocaust and by Communism.”
“But we may have an innate capacity to know what is good and evil, but we lack the will to act morally even if we know right from wrong, and good from evil,” said Christina.
“I could be convinced about the truth of moral principles, I could know with absolute certainty what is good and what is evil, what is true and false with regard right and wrong, yet I could still feel free to ignore this truth with impunity,” said Maria, “knowing that I will not be punished by any consequences of natural causality, as would be the case if I ignored the truths of logic, mathematics and science. Ignoring the truths of logic, mathematics and science in the way I conduct my life will have causal consequences for me. But can I say with confidence that if ignore the truth of moral principles it will not necessarily follow that I will suffer from any natural causal consequences.”
“So if I may abrogate all moral and ethical principles which believe and know to be valid, I will escape punishment arising as consequence of natural causation, ” said Jason.
“OK we done well up to this point, let us now change gears and see what we have say about the existence of evil in the career of mankind on this planet,” said Everard.
“Does this means that the evolutionary or scientific based story telling about the value of the ideas that we have about good and evil as our reasons for having them are empty?” Reuben asked
“So any argument that man has evolved an innate capacity for moral insight into what is good and evil does not that provides moral certainty concerning good and evil cannot be used proved the truth of these moral?” Jason asked.
“There are no reasons why any ethical or moral principle should necessarily be of universal and binding validity. Even Kant failed to in his efforts to provide compelling reasons for this possibility. So are we are now only left with divine authority being the only grounds for universally valid and binding moral principles. There are no other grounds,” said Jonathan.
“A transcendental or ontological construal of good and evil can be challenged as a matter of principle as being nothing more than the intellectual or ideological residues of one’s religious legacy or religious traditions,” Everard said.
“Sin begins in the mind, sin begins with what you think and what you think eventually becomes what you do. In the Gospel of Matthew were read “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart [mind]; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders [Sixth Commandment], adulteries [Seventh Commandment], fornications, thefts [Eighth Commandment], false witness [Ninth Commandment], blasphemies [Third Commandment]: These are the things which defile a man.” Sin is directly linked to not loving neighbour as yourself. Luther said that whenever you break any of Ten Commandments you always end up breaking the first commandment, because every sin represents the desire to worship another god instead of the one true God,” Maria argued.
“Thanks for that Maria,” Everard said after Maria had finished what she wanted to say.
“Before we break for tea, I would like to read something to you guys, it is a portion of scripture which we are all familiar with from Handel’s Messiah,” Everard said as he paged through his Bible to find the reading he wanted to share.
“OK listen to this,” he said.
“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”
Everard put the Bible down after reading the passage from Isaiah chapter 40 versus 1 to 2. He looked around at everyone.
“I know that you all are very familiar with these famous two verses from Isaiah in Handel’s Messiah, the next two verses go as follows: ‘The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain’.”
“I actually would like us to explore a bit further some of the ideas on the Biblical conception of sin. These verses taken from Isaiah which are concerned with Israel’s exile in Babylon recall to memory Israel’s previous experience of slavery and bondage in Egypt. In the Old Testament God’s act of redemption towards Israel has always involved her being released the bondage of her bondage slavery, first in Egypt and now in Babylon. We hear from Isaiah that Israel’s debt owed as a direct consequence of her iniquity has been satisfied. For her sins she has received double the punishment that she deserved. Her debt has now been satisfied. The time of her service is over. You can ask Reuben, the Hebrew words for the English translation of her warfare is accomplished , actually mean her term of service is over, where the Hebrew word translated as service refers to service as in the obligation to do military service in the army.”
“Everard is correct in his understanding of the Hebrew word. It is the same meaning as the Hebrew word used in Job where the labourer is described as a slave who longs for the evening’s shadows after a hard day’s work. The labourer is hired to work for a specific time that is commensurate with respect to the wage that will be paid for that unit of labour time expended in physical exertion. The situation is similar for a debt-slave who has to work for a specific period of time that is commensurate in monetary terms for the debt that he owes. After working for the period of time his debt becomes fully paid up and his term of slavery comes to an end,” Reuben elaborated.
“I want to explore this idea of debt that Reuben has brought up especially with regard sin. In the Bible sin represents much more than the violation of moral norms and the consequences arising from an act of sin results in the creation of something more than a guilty conscience. The act of sinning causes something to be created such as a stain, a defilement, a burden or a debt, All of these thing, such as stain, a burden or a debt, can be removed by the performance of an action. A stain can be removed or cleansed by washing. A burden can lifted or removed from one’s shoulders and a debt can be remitted or repaid. All descriptions of sin in the Bible resort to the use of metaphors. In the language of the Bible the concept of sin comes to us always in the form of some metaphor which is used to giving meaning to the idea embodied in the concept. To sin then means to become stained, to become burdened with the consequences of an action, or to fall into debt. In all these cases sin is a thing which adheres or sticks to the person who has sinned. The different metaphors used in the Bible for qualifying or quantifying the thingness of sin are stain, weight or debt. Because sin is something which is a stain or a weight or a debt, sin is therefore something that can be removed or taken away.”
“In Leviticus 16: 21-22 we read that on the day of atonement Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness. This was the rite that was used for the removal of all the sins from the Israelites. The animal had assumed the weight of the sins of the people of Israel. Their sins were transferred to the goat and the goat after being released outside the camp into the wilderness made the sins disappear by carrying them away into the depths of the desert.”
During the flight back from Germany Julian felt restless and uneasy. When he walked into the arrivals hall he saw her immediately. She was in the front smiling broadly. She was holding a poster. With a thick black Koki pen she had drawn a huge heart. Inside the heart were the words Jojo.
“I have an incredible but very frightening story to tell. I did not want to mention anything over phone about it. It started after Everard fetched a guy called Joachim Glasenapp from Jan Smuts Airport. He was from Holland and works as a journalist for Amnesty International. He had spent a few days doing some investigative reporting on the fate of Soweto student refugees who have fled South Africa after the June 16th Soweto student upraising and who were now living Gaborone He was made lots of notes and tape recordings of the interviews that he conducted with the students.”
“He arrived at the Loft Wednesday afternoon last week. After supper Paul and I were sitting in the lounge chatting with him. Everard was doing something in his room. Joachim was regaling us with stories of how he managed to elude pursuing KGB agents in the maze of Moscow’s underground train subways while he was in Moscow on one of his investigative assignments. This was at about 11.00 pm and I think all the others had gone to bed. The front door was still open and suddenly in walked a tall man wearing a grey safari suit. He was accompanied by two girls. They looked like teenagers they were so young. They were casually dressed in jeans. He flashed some plastic card and tells us he is from the security police and he is looking for Joachim Glasenapp. Joachim gets up from his chair and tells the policeman that he is Joachim Glasenapp.”
“The police man introduces himself as Major Claasen and tells Joachim that he has come to detain him and he must go fetch his personal belongings. Captain Claasen follows Joachim to his room. In the passage way we meet another security policeman in plain clothes. He is wearing a tie and sports jacket. He stops us from following Major Claasen to Joachim’s room. He tells us to wait in the library.”
“We go into the library and to our surprise and amazement we find three more security policemen in the library. They had entered the library through one of the open windows. They had taken their shirts off, so their chests were naked. They were dressed only in blues jeans and boots. They were wearing leather holsters with pistols under their arm pits. The holsters were held in place by leather straps that went round their chests and over their shoulders. They just stood there in the library surrounded by tall shelves stacked full of books on philosophy and theology. Anyway one of the shirtless police man pulls out a book out from the shelf. It must have caught his attention. It was actually Martin Luther’s Bondage of the Will. Pauls asks him if has ever read that book. The security police man tells Paul that he does not read communist trash and puts the book back into its place on the shelf.
Pauls tries to tell him what the book is about and the policemen tells him to shut up because is not interested in hearing about load of communistic lies.
“Next thing all of the others are shepherded in the library by the two girls and the security policeman wearing the sports jacket and tie. Janet, Winifred, Christina, Allegra and Maria were all bare foot and in their nighties. Jonathan was bare foot with only in his scants. Reuben was wearing T-shirt and track suit pants. Jason and Dave dressed in their shorts that they sleep in. Maria was white with terror. Her whole body was quivering with fear. I could she see was praying the whole time. Her eyes were closed, she clasped her hands in front her chest and her lips quivered in silent prayer. Later after the police had left she told us that she was convinced we were all going to be shot that night in the back of the head executioner style, because this is what happened in Chile under Pinochet. She said prayed for all us that we would all have courage at the moment of our deaths and that we could be ready to go into the loving embrace of our Lord when our turn came to be shot at the edge of an open mass grave that had been dug for us at some God-for-shaken spot in the middle of the night.”
“While we were being guarded by the three bare chested guys and the two girls the Major and the guy wearing the sports jacket searched through Joachim suitcases. Everard insisted that be there in Joachim’s room as an observer, anyway you know how Everard can be with his tall imposing and almost imperious presence, I think the police wanted to avoid drama so they let him stay in the room as some kind of witness to the search. They confiscated all of Joachim’s notepads, film and cassette tapes. Then as quick as they came they left taking Joachim with them.”
“Everard was beside himself with fury and indignation. We all gathered around him when he phoned the Dutch embassy. He eventually managed to get hold of the Dutch ambassador informing him that a Dutch citizen had just been taken into custody by the South African security police. The ambassador managed to get in touch with the minister of police who informed him that the special branch had no knowledge of any Mr Joachim Glasenapp. Anyway the next day Joachim was escorted to Jan Smuts Airport by the Special Branch and deported to the Netherlands.”
“I must tell when he said he was from the security police I went ice cold. But they did not give me a second glance. They were totally disinterested in us,” she said.
“Any news about Livingstone?” he asked.
“I have heard nothing. Maybe he is in America already,” she answered.
Everard, Winifred Blatt, Jason Bone, Christina Napier, Allegra Bonner, Jonathan Statham, Paul Kaplan, Maria Gomez and David McLellan.”,
Helena lifted the covers and crept into his bed. He turned around and pulled her close to him, she was naked. In the dark they found each other lips.
She whispered: “I am on the pill we can make love.”
He began to caress her body and fondle her breasts. Her hand moved down over his belly and under the top of his shorts. She gripped the erect shaft of his penis in her hand and squeezed it as tight as she could. He felt his breath go away as the most exquisite pleasure imaginable surged through his loins.
She chuckled softly when she realized what she had done to him.
“I was so curious, I needed to touch it and squeeze it, it is really amazing, so hard, so stiff and erect,” she said, chuckling again.
“Put it into me,” she urged.
He mounted her and began to thrust.
Afterwards they lay in bathed in a light sweat and glowing with warmth from the lovemaking.
“What is the time,” she asked.
He put on the lamp and squinted at his watch.
“It is quarter to one in the morning,” he said.
“Are you sleepy,” she asked.
“No not really, this story of yours of going to bed early so that we wake up after 4 hours sleep to make love, pray, meditate and whisper in the dark is actually wonderful. Do you think we can make it last,” he said as he put the lamp off.
“All good things such as love making, prayer, meditation and real communication require routine, discipline, and commitment to create and sustain the opportunities that make love making, prayer, meditation and real communication possible,” she said, laughing quietly in the dark, “there is some truth in the saying which says that ‘early to bed makes one healthy, wealthy and wise’ or something like that. But we must go early to bed so that we may rise literally in the early hours in the dead of night, when our bodies, minds, and nervous systems are ready for love making, meditation and prayer, and then we must sleep again so that our bodies, mind and nervous systems exhausted by love making and pray can be ready for a day’s work when we get up 4 hours later. This is the magic of the 8 to 9 hour nocturnal cycle spent in bed in the dark. The night is a sacred time to be savoured and enjoyed.”
“I haven’t even asked you about your trip, I have spoken your head off about the police raid and the wedding. How was your trip?” she asked.
“Everything went very well. There were no hitches in the plant commissioning,” he answered.
“Is that all you going to tell me? What else did you do? Did you at least take some time off for R and R? Did you some sight-seeing?” she asked
“I did take off a long weekend and spent 4 days in Vienna. I have always wanted to visit Vienna. It is probably equivalent to Paris in many ways. I also had finished reading the books we bought at Exclusive Bookshop and I needed to spent some time away from the job in order not only to relax but also to digest the stuff that I had read,” he said
“How was it? What did you do?” She asked.
“Every day after I breakfast I spent the whole day walking from one end of Vienna to the next. I explored every nook and cranny. I think I must have visited every single Catholic Church and Cathedral in Vienna. I think all the churches in Vienna are Catholic Churches. Many of the churches had these memorial plaques fixed to the wall in the foyer of the churches. I ended meeting an interesting guy from Poland. By coincide he was also a chemical engineer. He had just finished doing a two postdoctoral in chemistry at the University of Vienna. The way I met him was so weird. He had also decided to do a tour of all the churches in Vienna. Consequently we kept on bumping into each other in the various churches and Cathedrals. It was funny I would walk into a cathedral and there he was. Similarly, he would walk into cathedral and there I would also be. Often we would be the only two people inside the church.”
“So it was natural that we ended up introducing ourselves and got talking. He could speak English and German. I soon realized that he was going through a process of serious soul searching and was in the valley of decision. After being a dedicated and loyal Communist, a rabid atheist and devout Marxist, he began to have all kinds of doubts about the truth of atheism and Marxism. Eventually he realized that both atheism and Marxism where nothing more than bogus shams. This realization caused him to undergo a profound intellectual and identity crisis. He could no longer avoid rejecting atheism, Communism, and Marxism as empty-headed and groundless ideologies that were potentially seductive but in the end they proved to be nothing more than deceitful falsehoods.”
“His intellectual crisis led him to discover the reality of God. These were his actual words; he said that he had ‘discovered the reality God’. When his postdoc ended he decided not to go back to Poland. There was longer any reason for him to go back as his fiancée who was still in Poland had broken off their engagement and was going to marry someone else. His fiancée informed him of her intention to breakup with him shortly after he had discovered the reality of God. It was quite ironic. This momentous event of discovering God was soon dampened by the news that his girlfriend wanted to leave him. It was as if his new found faith was been immediately subjected to the ordeal of an unexpected and cruel test before its roots could be properly established.”
“Oh that is so sad,” Helena said, “so what is he going to do now.”
“He could not imagine marrying anyone else as he still loved her very deeply. The news plunged him into some kind of process of deep moaning and sadness, almost like a black depression I suppose, because he said he did not feel like living any more. While he could not give up believing God at the same he did not want to continue living. The only way he could some kind of solace and comforting was when he went he inside a church. He would kneel in the front pew and gaze for hours at the Real Presence in the tabernacle on the altar. While doing this he would experience the most wonderful feelings of peace and certainty about God. It was while he was kneeling before the tabernacle that he received the call to become a Jesuit priest. He then decided to join the brotherhood in Austria.”
“What do you mean by the Real Presence in the tabernacle on the altar? It sounds like you are talking about something like the holy of holies and the Temple Shekinah Glory in Jerusalem,” she said.
“After we had introduced ourselves I suggested we should go for lunch. We had a long lunch together and spend the rest of the afternoon talking about science and theology.”
“What else did you do apart from working and visiting Vienna,” she asked
“I spent most evenings in my hotel room reading books on cosmology and astrophysics that bought at a university bookshop in Frankfurt,” he said.
“And what’s your verdict?” she asked.
“They were fascinating but they all instil the same metaphysical illusion that everything in the Universe was obviously self-caused,” he said.
“As we agreed before science has proved to be more than perfectly adequate to its task of investigating the nature of empirical reality in terms of what is observable. But we have to accept that the empirical world of science does not represent Ultimate Reality. There is more going on than science is able to see,” he said
She lay in the dark next to Julian listening to his voice and catching the reflection of the moonlight in his eyes as turned his head. She had also become aware that there was always more going on than what one can see. She had come to realize this more and more in reading, prayer and meditation. She knew that you only get something out a relation with God the more that you are prepared to put into that relationship.
“It is interesting that because science deals only with the empirical realm or the observable Universe that in the name of objectivity the scientific enterprise will always understate the full implications of its findings. This profound irony of understatement and nagging uncertainty will always haunt the scientific narrative regarding the ultimate nature of the Universe. It is always clear that there is more going on in the Universe than the eye can see. It reminds me of words of the angel at Jesus’ tomb on Easter Morning when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb. The angel said to them: ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he is risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Go quickly and tell his disciples. He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ There was more stuff going on behind the surface of things than they could see with their eyes on that Easter Morning. They could see that he was not there in the tomb, it was an empirical fact, an empirical observation, but they could not comprehend fully the implications of what it meant to see that he was not there, instead they were filled with feelings of uncertainty regarding what the fact of the absent body really meant in its full significance,” she said.
“It may be also the ultimate irony that because we do not know what is going on behind the veil of the observable empirical accessible reality that we find it difficult to reconcile and integrate a whole lot of seemingly incompatible ideas with the system of Christian belief,” he said.
“What do mean?” she asked.
“May be we need to trust the empirical findings of science and try as best as we can to resolve all the apparent incompatible implications that these findings seem have with respect to a popular and superficial understanding of the Christian faith,” he said.
“Give me some examples of what you getting at,” she said.
“If we accept that science is always converging asymptotically onto the truth regarding the nature of the observable Universe then we need to accept what science is telling us. We need to accept the whole package of theory that seems to be consistent with the data. For example like your list of well-established facts that you spoke about. There is lot of stuff we know for sure. Like you said we know that the Big Bang Theory of the origin of the Universe is consistent with the empirical data. Furthermore, also like you said, we know that the nuclear fusion reactions occurring during the life cycle of stars resulted in the nucleosynthesis of all the elements in the Periodic Table. We know that at the end of a star’s life it explodes because the pressure of the star core exceeds the gravitation force driving the star’s collapse. When the core explodes huge amounts of matter are ejected into the interstellar space. We know that most of the heavier chemical elements found in the Universe are formed in supernovae explosions. In this way supernovae seeded the interstellar spaces of the Universe with matter in the form of clouds of gases and dust. We know that solar systems form when these massive clouds of gas and dust eventually undergo gravitation collapse. If we accept these all of this then we have accept that once own solar had formed as a consequence of the gravitational forces acting on dust and gas clouds then we are compelled to accept that life emerged on earth as a product of prebiotic chemistry. If we accept that life arose spontaneously from the star dust out of which the earth was formed as a consequence of gravitational forces then we must accept the all the subsequent sequence of evolutionary steps that led to the descent of man,” he said.
She smiled in the dark as Julian elaborated on the significance of her list of well-established facts about the evolution of the Universe.
“It is amazing to know that all the material from which we our bodies are constructed in nothing but star dust,” she said.
“It is also amazing that our sun and all the planets of the solar system including earth arose from the collapse of a spinning cloud of gas and dust,” he said
“It is also amazing that the laws of nature make it possible for consciousness, faith, belief, thought, mind, language, morality and love to emerge from the star dust of exploding supernovas,” she said.
“It is also amazing that the Universe is intelligible,” he said.
“It is also amazing that matter is rational,” she said.
“What do mean by matter being rational?” He asked.
“I believe that matter is rational, I like the idea, if matter was not rational in its behaviour it would not possess the power and capacity for spontaneous self-organization that we see in physics and chemistry,” she said.
“Are you sleepy,” he asked.
“No, I feel too excited about our wedding tomorrow and our trip to Paris,” she said
Ivan Karamazov one of the brothers in Dostoevsky’s novel The Brothers of Karamazov who concludes that if there is no God then everything is permissible.”
“So if God does not exist then the concept or idea of sin is meaningless or even absurd,” Winnie Blatt proposed.
“Getting married today will just be a legal formality. We already married in the eyes of God the Creator and Master of the Universe. He was the witness to our marriage when we first made love and became one flesh, husband and wife. We became married under the pine trees in the moonlight. God and all the nocturnal creatures of the night were our wedding guests. The moon was also at our wedding. I almost ruined my wedding dress that night,” she said as they drove to the magistrate’s court.
Julian looked at her. She was radiant with happiness.
Reuben and Everard followed them to the magistrate’s court in Everard’s car. They were going to act as witnesses
Helena had set the date for their marriage the day after Julian had returned from Germany which happened to be a Friday. They had packed their suitcases and loaded them into the BMW’s boot. Helena had their passports and air tickets in her handbag. Everard and Paul would take then to the airport in the evening. They would pick up Julian and Helena from her parent’s home.
At 12.15 pm they arrived punctually for the marriage ceremony and solemnization. The authorized marriage officer conducted the process swiftly and efficiently. The entire process starting with the presentation of ID documents and birth certification, followed by the exchanging of vows, filling in and signing of the marriage register was over in less than 10 minutes.
After the solemnisation and registration of their marriage they drove to her parent’s home for tea and cake. Everyone from the Loft was already there. Umbrellas, tables and chairs on the lawn next to the swimming pool. In the shade of the garden pergola stood the table laden with cakes, pastries, savoury snacks. As a surprise for the bride and bridegroom Janet Malory had organized a garden concert to celebrate their wedding. She was a music teacher who taught violin, cello, flute, guitar, singing and piano. She was also the Lofts resident musician. Reuben and is our Maria Gomez had volunteered to sing.
On their arrival Everard and Jonathan began opening up the bottles of champagne. Maria and Winifred began pouring the champagne into glasses.
A professional photographer arrived and after taking the formal wedding photos in the garden everyone assembled around the tables to partake of the refreshments while the photographer continued to take pictures of the proceedings.
After filling their plates with food the guests took their seats at the tables under the umbrellas with their champagne and plates stacked with eats. Janet Malory, Reuben and Maria Gomez were ready to entertain the guest after setting up and tuning their musical instruments.
The blazing December sun slipped unnoticed past its zenith. Julian gazed up at the swifts and swallows wheeling high against the cloudless azure blue sky. He knew that the resemblances between swifts and swallows were due to convergent evolution. Swifts generally have narrower sickle or crescent shaped wings. Swallows have broader wings and longer forked tails, and fly with a much more languid wing beat compared to the rapid twisting, turning and flickering wing almost bat like flight of the swift
“What are you looking at?” She asked.
“I am looking at the swifts and swallows. It is amazing how similar the bats and swifts are in their patterns of flight. Like bats, swifts hardly ever stick to a straight line when they fly, they zig-zag in an almost jerky fashion as if they are dodging a missile,” he said.
Helena also looked up at the sky turning her heard head as she followed the rapid flight of a swift.
“You are right their flight is amazingly bat like,” she said.
The Bogart and Lathbury families retired to the cool of the spacious Lathbury lounge after the guests from the Loft had left. The old black Labrador followed them into the house and stretched out on the carpet in the middle. In spite Helena tenacious protestations Helena’s father decided to set up his 8 mm movie projector and show all the old family films of Helena. After setting up the projector and screen Mr Clifford Lathbury dug out some old reels of 8 mm film from a box.
He selected a couple of reels and started feeding and threading the film into a slot above the lens. He then drew all the curtains, switched off the lights and then switched on the projector. The projector began to whirr and for the next two hours the Bogarts and the Lathburys watched the various stages of Helena’ life unfold on the portable home movie screen that had been set up in front of the fire place.
Helena’s mother and grandmother provided the non-stop running commentary.
“She was the most beautiful baby; she learnt to walk and speak so fast; she was always top of her class.”
“She had such a beautiful figure and she could twist the boys around on her little finger; she was really a stunning girl; she broke so many hearts.”
“Who would have thought she and Julian would end up getting married? We always liked Julian so much. He was such a nice boy, always a perfect gentleman.”
“But she said he could be such a pest, he was always hanging around her at Wits.”
“When they were at Wits we always asked her why she does not go out with Julian, he was such a nice boy. She would get so angry with us whenever we made any suggestion that Julian would be nice boyfriend.”
“One weekend after she had graduated and had started teaching she got so furious with us when we said she was getting on in years and she should seriously consider marrying Julian. I have never seen Helena so angry; she stormed out of the house, slamming the lounge door behind her. She was away for hours and we got very worried. Her dad was just getting ready to go look for her when she came back.”
“It was after that incident that Helena decided to leave home and stay at the Loft. She was very angry with us for a long.”
“When Helena told us that Julian was also moving to the Loft she knew that God had answered our prayers and that they would fall in love and get married.”
“We knew from the first time that she met Julian that he was the right man for our daughter.”
“Then two weeks after Julian had moved into the Loft she told us that they were going to get married. We were so happy to hear the news. The Lord is so gracious.”
Everyone laughed at the stories that her mother and grandmother told about Helena. Even Helena started to laugh at herself. The films captured moments that were poignant, scenes that where filled with humour and footage of when she was in her teens that was fascinating to watch.
As the films rolled they watched: Helena coming home from the Queen Vic as a new born infant; Helena having her first bath at home; Helena sitting with dummy in mouth; Helena crawling with dummy in mouth; Helena walking with dummy in mouth; Helena’s first birthday party; Helena’s first day at school; Helena at Germiston Lake first on the slide, then on the seesaw, the on the swing, then on the merry go round; Helena aa 14 years old in bikini at Margate walking on beach with first holiday boyfriend; Helena at 15 years old in bikini at Port Shepstone walking on beach with the second holiday boyfriend; Helena 16 years old in bikini at Amanzimtoti walking on with third holiday boyfriend; Helena 17 years old as deputy head girl; Helena at 17 years old in Matric Ball evening dress with a new boyfriend.
The last film showed Helena as a little girl of about 6 years old with her hair in two long plaits and white ribbons, wearing a white dress, white sock and black shoes. It shows her running on the lawns at Germiston Lake. She runs to the swings and sits on the wooden swing seat holding tightly the chains of the swing. She smiles, pulls a face, puts out her tongue and then laughs, throwing her head back. She slips off the seat, and while holding the chain she runs backwards and then quickly hops back onto the seat, holding the chain tightly in her hands she throws her head and torso backwards and kicks out legs so that her body, head, torso and legs lying almost horizontally across seat. As the swing descends its kinetic energy increases, it begins to climb higher and higher, until it stops momentarily at the summit of its arc, at this point she instantaneously pulls herself up into an upright sitting position while kicking her feet and lower legs swiftly under the seat, the swing descends again.
The camera remains fixed on the Helena swinging. It shows her pulling herself sharply into a sitting position at one end of the arc and throwing herself into a lying position at the other end of the arc.
Julian watched the swinging motion induced by the movement of Helena’s body. He became fascinated with the swinging motion, for the first time in his life he saw clearly how[_ ]one swings. He saw [_why] the swing swings. Watching Helena swinging he could see the physics of the harmonic swinging motion. Swinging on a swing was like riding on a pendulum. As the swing descends its kinetic energy increasing, and as it rises it kinetic energy decreases, while its potential energy increases with height. But where does the energy come. Energy is force times distance.
The swing like a pendulum swings forward gathering momentum. As it rises higher she tucks her legs under the sit and pulls her body up. The swing descends. The swing continues to rise higher and higher.
Everyone in the lounge became mesmerized with the Helena’s swinging motion. The 8 mm projector continued to make it whirring noise. Everyone become engrossed with Helena on the swing at Germiston Lake.
Grandfather Lathbury broke the silence:
“Germiston Lake was originally called Victoria Lake. It was originally a natural pan. Originally water was pumped into the pan out of the Simmer and Jack mine. August Simmer and John Jack started their mine Simmer and Jack in 1886. It was through these two amazing men that Germiston came into existence. It was John Jack gave Germiston its name. He named it after his childhood home in Glasgow.
At six o clock the doorbell rings. Everard and Reuben have arrived to take Julian and Helena to Jan Smuts Airport. Julian and Reuben packed into boot of Everard’s blue VW Variant. After all the farewells, hugging, kissing and handshaking they departed for the airport.
“The birth of Witwatersrand has all the dramatic elements of a Greek myth. Just as the Greek goddess Athena leaped spontaneously from the head of Zeus fully formed and armed ready for war so was the spontaneous volcanic like eruption of Johannesburg, Germiston, Boksburg, Benoni, Brakpan and Springs from the dirt of a dry dusty and barren treeless wind-swept grassland broken by a few ridges and scattered koppies.”
“I was born in Boksburg, and I went to Boksburg High. I thought that going to UCT would be my ticket to escape from the East Rand,” Everard said.
“I was born in Brakpan and I went to Brakpan High, you can’t beat that,” Reuben chuckled.
“A Jew born and bred in Brakpan, it is almost unthinkable,” laughed Everard
“Yeah a lot of stuff is hard to believe. It is hard to believe that beneath a narrow strip of veld that no one had ever really wanted or desired for thousands of years lay the largest treasure chest of gold in the world,” said Reuben, “and it was that treasure chest that brought my great grandfather to South Africa.”
“It brought all great grandfathers to South Africa,” Everard agreed.
“Yeah, it was the discovery of this gold transformed everything,” Helena said.
“I would like to paint that drama,” Reuben mused.
“It will be like trying to paint Das Kapital,” Everard said.
“How would you paint Das Kapital?” Helena wanted to know.
“I am sure it will look something like Picasso’s Guernica,” Everard said.
“I don’t know, but just image the following scene in the mind’s eye. In the blink of an eye the following happened. Fully developed mines, humming factories, sprawling suburbs, scores of schools, numerous banks, many hospitals, a booming stock exchange, scattered convents, several horse racing courses, art galleries, countless thriving churches, everywhere observant synagogues, Victorian styled zoological gardens, bioscopes and bars, multiple police stations, dozens of municipalities, carefully laid out botanical gardens, public libraries and quite a few power stations sprang up not only seemly spontaneously, but also simultaneous, along the margins of a fifty mile arc, transforming a desolate grassy landscape in a bustling modern metropolis, that extended in range as far as the eye could see, ” Reuben said.
It seemed like Reuben was giving the matter serious thought.
“It is an interesting idea. Where there used to be only veld as far as the eye could see there is now a network of roads, a thicket of smoke stacks, long winding railway lines, power lines everywhere, pipe lines filled with clean flowing water, telephone lines connecting people in their tens of thousands, mine dumps breaking the skyline everywhere and a forest of shaft head gears following the main reef road to where ever it led. For the world the Witwatersrand represented a miracle of instantaneous urban and industrial development. It represents a once off never to be repeated event that involved a spontaneous and abrupt transition from the dead slumber of prehistory into the formation of a fully developed modern society. The sheer scale of such an occurrence had never been witness before in the long history of mankind, nor will it ever be repeated,” Reuben said
“Now 75 or so years later the Main Reef Road that we are now travelling on is lined by an almost endless, graveyard of exhausted mines. Just think of all the mines South Geldenhuis Deep, South Rose Deep, Rand Victoria Mines, Rand Victoria East, Jupiter, Simmer and Jack West, West Rand Mines, Violet, Angelo, Driefontein Consolidated, New Comet, New Blue Sky, City Deep, South City, South Wolhunter, Wolhunter Deep, Village Deep, Turf mines, Geldenhuis Estate, Geldenhuis Deep, Jumpers, Rose Deep, Glen deep. Many of these gold mines have now vanished,” Reuben said
“And all that is left is an exhausted and ravished urban landscape. After almost 80 years of gold mining most of the once pristine grasslands have been transformed into bleak, grim, sterile, toxic, and blighted wasteland, littered with abandoned mineshafts, rusting headgears, ventilation pipes, ventilations shafts, decaying compounds, dilapidated workshops, slim dams, yellow mine dumps, ore dumps, derelict gold reduction works,” Helena remarked
“I am beginning to see the kind of painting I need to paint. In my painting there will be yellow coloured streams crisscrossed through the veld draining into a patch work of wetlands that lay spread out between mine dumps and slim dams. Like suppurating sores, orange ponds, magenta ponds, yellow ponds, emerald green ponds, cobalt blue ponds dotted the landscape. The colours made me think of the bronze skies and wine coloured seas in Homer’s Iliad. It also makes me think of the surprising set of colours that seemed to fill the vision of the ancient Greeks. For Xenophanes, Greek poet and philosopher Xenophanes from Colophon, the rainbow had only three colours, purple, green-yellow and red. Other great Greek philosophers such as Empedocles, Democritus and the Pythagoreans also thought that the only colors that were white, black, red and yellow. The Romans such as Pliny, Quintilian and Cicero thought the Greeks were mad. They wrote up to the end of the reign of Alexander the Great for some inexplicable reason the Greeks only painted with four colors. If Homer was blind, then maybe the other Greeks were coloured blind,” Reuben said.
As the drove towards Boksburg along the Main Reef Road they could not help glancing up for more than the 1000th time at the message proclaiming, Jesus Saves, that had been painted on the rocks of the a mine dump next to the Main Reef Road between Primrose and Boksburg.
“Reuben, I can see your picture in my mind, it is going to be painted in purple, green-yellow and red. It’s going to be a hybrid between Karl Marx’s Das Kapital and Picasso’ Guernica,” Everard said good humouredly, “and it is going to be called The Apocalypse of the Witwatersrand.”
They drove pass the old Angelo Hotel.
“Is this no longer route to the airport?” Helena wanted to know.
“I don’t know. It is a back route, I wanted to avoid the afternoon traffic. I also just wanted to drive Boksburg. The Main Reef Road becomes Cason Road and Rietfontein Road which will take us straight to Jan Smuts Airport makes a T junction with Cason Road. Actually from the Loft this is the shortest route, ” Everard said.
“You are very quiet Julian,” Reuben said, turning around to look at Julian.
“I have just been thinking about are what we have talking about,” Julian answered.
“I have also been thinking about our discussion,” Helena said
“I don’t think the grasslands were entirely barren. The soils are actually similar to the prairie and chernozem like-soils. The Transvaal Highveld grasslands are comparable to the great plains of North America, the Argentine Pampas or the Siberian steppes. These grasslands while they could be classified as fairly arid were still eminently suitable for raising cattle and sheep,” she said
“So the grasslands were indeed suitable for raising cattle and sheep. That is why after the great trek they believed that they had finally found their Canaan, their promised land, where they could live in peace in a Boer Republic,” Everard said.
“But unfortunately it was not to be. A random geological event that took place more than 2000 million years ago would ultimately dash the realization of their cherished hopes. Hidden deep below the rolling grasslands was a sleeping geological time bomb, and it was just matter that in the fullness of time the long-time delay charge or fuse would burn to the very end and trigger the explosion of a bomb which would result in the destruction of the Boer Republics,” Julian said.
“In the fullness of time, the bomb would explode and destroy the tranquil rural Boer Republics, what a thought, ” Everard laughed.
“I agree, what a thought that a random geological event in the remote past which would eventually frustrate the ambitions, hopes and dreams of the Boer settlers and the future of their Boer Republics, ” Helena agreed.
“That is not the whole story. There is more. Once the gold reef had been formed, they and to be preserved in situ,”
“Preserved in situ? What do mean?” Reuben asked.
“Do how the good reefs were formed?” Julian asked.
“Not really, to be honest,” Reuben answered.
“About roughly 3000 million year ago the Witwatersrand was a large basin that became filled with water giving rise to a large inland sea about 400 km long and 200 km wide. The Main Reef Road roughly followed the outline of the northern shore of the sea. The sea’s northern shore line stretched in arc from Evander in the East to Virginia in the West. You can think of outline of the shore line been roughly marked out by Evander, Springs, Brakpan, Benoni, Boksburg, Primrose, Johannesburg, Krugersdorp, Cartonville, Stilfontein, Klerksdorp, Welkom and Virginia. Anyway the basin gradually became filled with sediment from the rivers that flowed into the basin. The sediments that settled in the basin over about 200 million year eventually became transformed into layers of sedimentary rock more than 7 km deep.”
“The water that flowed into the basin came from the highlands or mountains located more or less north-west of the basin. Rain water flowing off the slopes of these mountains collected into streams which merged into rivers. Over many millions of year’s vast quantities of materials consisting of clay, sand, gravel, rocks were removed from the slopes and valleys of mountains. This material was then carried by a complex network of rivers that flowed down from the highlands into the Witwatersrand basin. On reaching the inland sea the heavier materials that had been eroded from the mountains were deposited into a series of gravel and pebbled filled deltas that lined the sea shore. Lighter materials such as clay and sand were deposited in the sea. Regular fluctuations in levels of the sea due to changing patterns of season rainfall also resulted in layers of sand and clay being deposited on top of the gravel-pebbles beds. Fluctuating rainfall patterns and sea levels resulted in the formation of a sequence of geological layers consisting of layers of pebble-gravel beds becoming sandwiched between layers of sand-clay sediments.”
“Then something amazing happened. About 200 million years ago a meteorite between 10 and 15 km in diameter collided with the Witwatersrand basin near Vredefort resulting in the downward tilting and burial of the gold bearing reefs. This is why the gold bearing reefs dip down at steep angle into the crust of the earth Without this tilting or dipping down of the reefs all the gold would have been lost though the action of erosion. This is how a structure as vast as the reefs of Witwatersrand gold fields become buried at steep angle deep into the earth?”
“Many geologists believe that a meteorite or asteroid with a diameter of about 10 km collided with the earth close to where Parys is today. It struck the earth with a velocity of about 36 000 km per h. It created an impact crater that was about 300 km in diameter and 50 km deep. I was told that after the impact of the asteroid there was a rebound of the material in the centre of the impact crater. This rising of this material creates a dome like structure in the centre of the impact crater. The movement of material upward to form the dome in the centre draws the rocks that surrounded the perimeter of the crater downwards and inwards towards the centre. This how the gold bearing reefs dip downwards and became buried and protected from forces of erosion that would have eventually removed all of the gold.”
“Today Johannesburg and the Witwatersrand on located on the edge of the rim of this huge crater. Erosion has exposed the gold bearing reefs along the edge of the crater’s rim resulting in the jutting out of the Main Reef conglomerate outcrop.”
“So now you why they call our region the Reef or the Rand were ‘rand’ is the Afrikaans’s word for ridge which basically represents the rim of the crater.”
“In the end it was this meteorite that ultimately paved the way for the destruction of the Boer Republics because if the meteorite did not collide with the earth at Parys then the gold would been removed from the reefs as a consequence of erosion. The gold would have become redistributed over a very extensive area in such diluted concentrations that it would have been economically impossible to recover or mine. There would have been no gold rush, no Boer War and today we would have the existence of independent internationally recognized Transvaal and Free State Boer Republics,” he said.
Helena began to hyperventilate with excitement like a young girl as Everard took the airport off ramp to the passenger drop of zone for international departures at Jan Smuts Airport. She had never been on a plane before. Everard and Paul helped them transfer their luggage from the car’s boot onto the trolleys. After checking through passport control they had about an hour to kill in the international departure lounge before bordering the flight to Paris.
They browsed through the duty free shops. Julian bought a bottle of Dom Pérignon champagne for their first night in Paris. He put the bottle in his personal cabin hand luggage bag. At the CNA newspaper stand a Star newspaper late afternoon headlines caught their attention simultaneously. It read in big bold black capital letters:
SPECIAL BRANCH KIDNAP EDUCATION SA EDUCATION ACTIVIST HIDING IN GABERONE
What Helen and Julian did not know was that at 2.00 am that very morning in daring lightning raid agents of the security police had crossed over illegally into Botswana and broke down the door of the house in which Livingstone was staying with sledge hammers. They hand cuffed him and bundled him into the boot of a car and speed off at high speed off back to South Africa.
Helena went ice cold and her heart dropped when she read the headlines. Julian bought a copy of the news paper. They quickly scanned the news report looking for Livingstone’s name. And there it was, in black print on the page literally jumping out at them. When she saw Livingstone’s name she felt an abyss opening up before her.
“Do think they have already started with his interrogation?” Helena asked.
“I don’t know, let go sit down have some coffee, we have still an hour before we can board the flight,” he said.
She scanned the departure lounge for any sign of Major Claasen and the Captain in his sports jacket and tie as they walked from the CNA to the restaurant. A vision of Major Claasen dressed in his grey safari suit with his characteristic smirk on his face flashed through her mind. She felt her mouth going dry, her heart began to pound, and she began to feel queasy. They sat by a table that gave them a good vantage point for surveying their surroundings. She wondered if her life with Julian on the very first evening of their marriage, on the night of their honeymoon, was at the brink of been completely shattered.
“I think they will only start interrogating Livingstone later tonight or in the early hours of tomorrow morning. Livingstone will realize that he has to hold out for a long possible so all his comrades have a chance to escape across the border before he is forced to disclose their names,” Julian said as he tried to image what would be the most likely scenario.
“Do really think so?” she asked hopefully.
“We are actually trapped. Maybe they are here already in the departure lounge and they have decided to play a cat and mouse game with us. If they have seen us they would have noticed that we have read the newspaper and that we know that they have got Livingstone. I bet that they going to wait for us to get up and walk to the boarding gate and then while we standing in the queue with our boarding passes they going to casually walk up to us and ask us if we are going anywhere or something stupid like that,” she said.
Julian held her hand. She clutched his hand tightly. She had become very quite. He looked at her. She had bowed her head, her eyes were closed and her lips were moving silently as she prayed. After a while she lifted her left forearm and rested her forehead in the palm of her hand. She continued to pray silently as he sat next to holding her right hand tightly. He kept watch, without being sure what he should be seeing or looking for. With his eyes open and watchful he too began to pray, sub vocalizing the words in his mind; he prayed for their deliverance from the hands of the security police, he prayed for their rescue from what could turn out to be the inevitable consequences of their actions.
He suddenly felt incredibly thirsty, his lips and mouth had become extremely dry. The words my mouth is dried up like a potsherd and my tongue clings to my gums sprung from nowhere into his consciousness. He remembered that the words came from Psalm 22. Other words sprung from the same Psalm began to drift into his mind: O go not from me for trouble is hard at hand and there is none to help. Many bulls surround me, fat bulls of Bashan close me in on every side. They gape wide their mouths at me, like lions that roar and rend. He whispered: “Jesus, Lord, Jesus have mercy upon us sinners.” In his mind he subvocalized the Name in an attitude of prayer: “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Lord hear our prayers, save us in our hour of need, in hour of catastrophe, in hour of hopelessness.” The words of Psalm 22 began flow like a flood through his mind: I am poured out like water and all my bones are out of joint my heart within my breast is like melting wax. He wondered if God had put these words into his mind and why. Was he supposed to draw comfort from them? Why was God speaking to him through Psalm 22? Could God possibly feel empathy for them? Was God telling them to be strong and take comfort in His presence no matter what consequences they may have to face before the night had ended? He clung to this thought and began to feel strangely calm.
“It is time to go,” he said to Helena. He folded up the newspaper, unzipped the side pocket of his cabin bag and squeezed the newspaper into it.
She smiled wanly at him as she squeezed his hand.
“You must be strong, we are going to get through this,” he said.
They got from the table and gathered their hand language. Julian felt a strong compulsion to speak about an incident that Solzhenitsyn had documented in his book The Gulag Archipelago.
“In Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago he tells the story about some guy called Nikolai Aleksandrovich Kozyrev whose brilliant career in astronomy was interrupted by his arrest. While in solitary confinement in the Dmitrovsk Prison he managed to save himself by thinking of the nature the Universe and of God. In order to continue further with his mental exploration of the nature of Universe he needed crucial empirical data. So he prayed to God to help him continue with his theoretical cosmological research. He was entitled to receive one book every ten days. Within half an hour after praying the prison warden arrived at the door of his cell to exchange his book and without saying a word to him the person passed him a book. It was entitled A Course in Astrophysics. Where did this book come from? He could not imagine that the prison library would contain such a book. But its mystical arrival had opened the way for him to continue with his work which he was able to continue the camp in Norilsk. The highly improbable does not happen by chance. God is going to save us, you will see.”
“I really hope so,” she said looking very desperate.
The boarding gate for Air France to Paris had not yet opened. They took their place in the economy class passenger queue. Helena kept looking around to see if she could spot anyone that looked like a security policeman. A thought crossed her mind, she had assumed that Major Claasen and his colleague in the sport jacket and tie would be the arresting officers. But it was also possible that the task of their arrest at the airport had been placed in the hands of other security police. The thought made her even more anxious. Glancing around she speculated that anyone of the several of groups of individuals standing close by could be security police who were just biding their time before they decided to make the arrest.
Their arrest could become immediately imminent at any moment now. One of those groups of men could start walking over to them and ask to see their bordering passes and passports. They would glance at their names and passport photos. Once they were satisfied that these were the suspects they would announce so that everyone in the queue could hear: ‘you are both under arrest under the 1967 Terrorism Act please come with us now.’ They would then be handcuffed and marched off through one the official exit doors reserved only for airport staff. They would be bundled into the back seat of separate cars waiting outside in front of airport buildings and driven to John Vorster Square. The only time that she would see Julian again would be during their trial. They would be found guilty and sentenced to anything from 5 to 15 years. They would not see each other again or be able to communicate with each again.
“I feel so exposed and vulnerable standing here in the open in this queue,” she whispered to Julian. Her face had gone pale and her brown eyes were filled angst.
The queue began to move. She decided not scan the surrounding, but instead focused her gaze on the Air France airhostess checking the boarding passes at the exist gate which opened into enclosed boarding bridge that connected the terminal to the entrance of the waiting plane.
At last it was their turn. The smiling airhostess checked their boarding pass and passports allowed them to pass through the exist gate. Carrying their hand language they walked swiftly through the passenger boarding bridge. Another smiling airhostess standing next to male air steward greeted them as they stepped into the plane and directed them down the aisle to their two seats next to cabin window located just behind the left wing in the economy class.
Once they had taken their seats they sat stiff and tense in their seats while studying the faces and demeanour of every person that came down the aisle toward them. Time seemed to drag by like hours. She sighed with relief as she watched the disconnection and uncoupling of the movable connector passenger bridge from the plane. The plane door was bolted shut and the plane started to move backwards away from the terminal building.
“Well I don’t think we will be returning to South Africa for the foreseeable future.” Julian said.
“Image if they had caught us in the departure lounge on the eve of our honey moon. I cannot think of a worse nightmare,” Helena said whispered in his ear.
“Well as soon as we get into our hotel room we going to crack that bottle of champagne,” he said.
Soon the plane was taxiing slowly towards a main take off runway turning left, then turning right and the turning left again, getting further and further from the airport terminal. The plane stopped at the starting line of the runway and the blades the turbine engine began to rotate faster and faster. The pilot increased the fuel supply to the engines which began to roar loudly as the rotation velocity of the turbine blades increased. The whole plane with its breaks fully engaged seemed shudder and vibrate under the strain of the thrust of the huge jet engines. Suddenly the plane began to rapidly forward as pilot the released the brakes, started to increase in velocity as it accelerate down the runway. She was surprised how bumpy the runway felt. She stared out of the cabin window. In the distance she could see the light of the airport building receding away. There was not much too see as it was pitch dark outside. The plane’s nose began lift, and seconds later the plane was airborne. She could hear the whirring, bumping and thumping noises of hydraulic system opening the landing gear doors and retracting the landing gear. Again she could hear the hydraulic and air noises as the wings flaps were retracted allowing the plane to accelerate upward.
As the plane climbed steeply upwards into the dark sky Helena realized they were safe. She felt the nervous tension that had threaten to crush her in the airport terminal release its tight grip. She wept silently as the tidal wave of pent up emotions began to ebb away. After a while she wiped her eyes with a tissue. She was amazed that Julian had remained so calm. He did not show any trace of fear. His dark eyes had shown with intense vigilance until they were airborne. Now his demeanour which had worn the stoical mask of a soldier in the face of the terrifying uncertainties that fill the mind before the firing of the first shot of battle began softened. The relief of humour returned to his eyes and he smiled at Helena. She squeezed his hand as she realized that he made her feel so safe, that is did show any sign of panic at any stage, that he had remained a pillar of strength against which she could learn in the darkest hour that she had ever experienced in her life. Jojo had always been there for her, always waiting in the wings. She realized that she had treated him quite shabbily in the past.
From the station near terminal 2 they caught the train to Saint-Michel Notre-Dame station. From Saint-Michel Notre-Dame station a very short walk to brought them to the modest entrance of the Hôtel Dianna at 73 rue Saint Jacques in the Latin Quarter of Paris. The hotel was a very narrow building squashed between two larger buildings. It could easily have been missed.
There was a vacant room with a double bed on the 4th floor with double glass door that opened on to very small balcony overlooking the rue Saint Jacque. They just managed to squeeze into the tiny box of a lift with their suitcases. At the 4th floor the lift opened into a narrow passage. Julian turned the key in the door lock at room 407 and pushed the door open. The double bed almost filled the entire room. Helena flopped on the bed and burst out laughing.
“I can’t believe we made it. I can’t believe that we are in Paris. What time is it?” she asked.
“It is almost the same as South African time. Its 10.00 am. The sun will starting going down after 16.00. The days are very short in winter. We can clean up, have a shower or a bath, put on fresh clothes and go sightseeing. What do you say?”Julian said.
Helena became pensive.
“I feel guilty that we are here Paris and Livingstone is in detention, maybe being tortured at this very moment,” she said.
“Don’t feel guilty. I am sure Livingstone is glad that we managed to get away. It would have been a very heavy burden for him if we had also been detained and sentenced under the Terrorism Act. At least he does not have that on his shoulders, at least he has been spared that,” he said.
“I suppose you have a point if you put it like that,” she said.
“We have not got off scot-free. We have also paid a heavy price. We have lost all our possessions, our jobs, our home and our country. We cannot go back. Soon our passports will be revoked. We will have to seek political asylum in some country. We have unwittingly become political exiles. All we have is each other. All that we own are in those two suitcases. The only money we have is in our wallets. We will have to start new lives in a foreign country. We have left our old live behind we cannot go back to them. But having said that, let’s block everything out of minds for the next two weeks or so. For now we need to just let go of everything and enjoy each other,” he said, “and tonight we will go up the Eiffel tower.”
Julian went over to the window
“Come look out of the window I want to show something,” he said
“Look diagonally across the street there behind the robot. Do you see that large grey building, That is the famous La Sorbonne, the Universite de Paris, it which was established in 1257 and is one of the oldest universities in the world.” he said while pointing across the street.
“Wow, oh my gosh, the famous Sorbonne,” she said. “Let me think, what famous people where associated with the Sorbonne.”
“Well Thomas Aquinas studied and taught there over 700 years ago,” said Julian, “he stayed in the Dominican priory of St Jacques here in the Latin quarter close to where are now staying.”
“Where exacting was the Dominican priory of St Jacques, can we see it from our window?” she asked.
“The Dominican priory of St Jacques no longer exists as a building, but its original site is close to us on the rue Saint Jacques,” he said, “ 700 years ago Thomas Aquinas would have come down this street from the priory on possibly his way to the Sorbonne, I suppose, to work and lecture on his Summa Theologica.”
“I need to have a long hot relaxing bath before we decide do anything,” she said.
“OK, let me quickly shower and shave, it will take me 5 minutes max,” he said, “let me turn of the radiator so we warm up the room.”
While Julian was busy in the bathroom Helena started unpacking their suitcases. After his shower Julian watched Helena as she undressed in the bed room. He saw her smiling in the dresser’s mirror at him when she noticed that he was looking at her. She watched him in the mirror as he came up behind her and cupped her naked breasts his hands. He felt a surging desire to mount her.
“Hmmm, you smell so wonderful, ” she said as she pressed back against him.
“I really need to do it now,” he said softly as he fondled and caressed her breasts while still standing behind her.
“You can do it to me whenever you feel the need, just do it to me, I am your wife, this is your conjugal right to have your way with me whenever you wish or whenever you have the need, Jojo you never have ask, you don’t have to wait, just do it to me anytime when you want too, we are one flesh, I am yours and you are mine,” she said with a tender look on her face. Her words, her open invitation of ‘just do it to me’ increased his excitement.
“Do you want to do it while are we standing Jojo my darling?” she asked him, still smiling at him in mirror.
“You can bend down over the bed if you like,” he said, as he pulled off his shorts. She complied with his wishes and bent over the bed resting on her elbows, presenting her beautiful shapely buttocks to him she spread her legs so that he could mount her from behind, she gasped as he entered her, he began to thrust slowly and rhythmically, savouring each increment in the rising tide of increasing sensual pleasure that filled his loins with each thrust, which also seemed to saturate every pleasure receptor in his brain to overflowing. She began to moan softly as he abandoned himself to the surging climax that swept through him.
He lay down next to next her. They embraced and kissed each other softly. The room was beginning to warm up he felt drowsy. He rested his head on the pillow.
“Jojo you are falling asleep my darling.”
He heard her voice as if in dream. He tried to open his eyes, but felt himself drifting as she spoke to him.
“I think the ordeal at the airport has finally got to us. You can have a snooze while I take bath,” she said as she got up. She covered his naked body with a wrap and kissed him on the cheek.
He heard the bath water running and then he dozed of again. A knock at the door woke him up. He put his shorts on and opened the door. It was one of the cleaning ladies. She gave him clean dustbin and two clean ash trays. He gave the ash trays back to her.
After closing the door he opened the wardrobe. Helena had dumped her tights, panties and bras as mixed up jumble into one the draws. The rest of their clothes had which were not on hangers were also dumped into jumble on the shelves. He took her underclothing from the drawer and placed them on the bed. Sitting on the bed he untangled her bras, he then carefully folded them and placed them neatly back into the drawer. He then folded the rest of her clothing, packing everything neatly back into ordered piles, and then he got dressed.
He examined their passports; they had visas for Germany, Holland and the UK. They had three weeks grace before they had to decide about political asylum. What began to bother him was whether they had compelling grounds for seeking political asylum. He was not even sure whether the security police were looking for them. Maybe they had put themselves through an unnecessary emotional and mental ordeal at Jan Smuts Airport. It could be possible that they were not even on the security police radar. Only Livingstone and they knew what happened to the weapons. Surely the police would need material evidence of the existence of the arms cache in order to include these in the list of charges under the Terrorism Act. If there was no proof of the existence of an arms cache then maybe they would have to release Livingstone or convict him on a lesser charge. What could they charge him with?
Julian decided that they would have to phone Everard at the Loft when they get back to the hotel later to establish whether in fact the security police had been looking for them. But then he had second thoughts about phoning the Loft. It may not be such a good idea after all, the Loft phone could be tapped and it was also possible that the call could be traced back to the Hotel Dianna. A telephone call from them to Everard could also place the Loft under the spot light of the security police, which would be an unnecessary burden to place on the Loft commune. He realised that they may be in fix with respect to establishing their bona fides as asylum seekers if they could not produce any documentary evidence of political persecution or proof of their affiliation to the liberation movements.
He put their passports back down on top of the dresser next to Helena’s two books that she brought with, Alfredo Fierro’s The Militant Gospel and Soren Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling. He picked up Fear and Trembling and starting scanning through the prelude chapter, a quote from Genesis caught his attention, he read:
And God tempted Abraham and said unto him, take Isaac, thine only son, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt offering upon the mountain which I will show thee.
Helena came out of the small bathroom wrapped in a white towel. When she opened the wardrobe door she chuckled softly after seeing the order that Julian had restored to the wardrobe. When they packed their suitcases Julian had lectured her on what she should take and on how she would have to dress. She quite felt amused about Julian’s advice on how to dress for the cold in Europe. He outlined the 11 basic steps on how to dress for the European winters. December in Paris is generally icy cold compared to winters in Johannesburg. It was also better to have many thin layers rather than a few thick layers of clothing.
“What are our plans for the rest of the day Jojo?” she asked as pulled on a pair of thick woollen tights over her panties before putting on her denim jeans. Following Julian’s advice she put on a spencer, a white T-shirt, a black long sleeved polar neck blouse, a black corduroy shirt and thick soft black woollen jersey. After putting on her socks and hiking boots she stood up in front of Julian:
“Are you satisfied that I am dressed warmly enough?” she asked, “and what’s more I still am going to put that black coat and scarf.”
“It is 3 oC outside, you will thank me, especially after we have been out in the open for a few hours,” he said, “there is no blanketing cloud cover so it will be especially chilly today and tonight.”
“Where are we going?” she asked
“I suggest that we can go first to the Notre Dame Cathedral. After that we can take a walk along the left bank of the Seine which is also the southern back, if you like,” he said.
“I think that is great idea,” she said as put on her black coat, a bright emerald green scarf, a black woollen beanie and black leather gloves with fur inside. She grabbed her black shoulder bag as they left their room.
They walked northwards from the Latin Quarter towards the Seine along the Rue Saint-Jacques, crossing the Seine via the Petit Pont to get onto the island in the river called Ile de la Cite. Against the cloudless icy blue winter skies at the eastern end of the island stood the majestic Gothic two towered west facing façade of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, which means Our Lady of Paris. Seemly oblivious to the frosty chill in the air crowds of tourists milled in front of the three huge portals that framed entrance doors to the Cathedrals atrium or narthex.
They entered the Cathedral and walked narthex to the threshold of high vaulted nave. At the east of the nave
She had never set foot in a Catholic Church nor had she ever been to a Catholic Mass. This was the first time that Helena had ventured into the interior of a Catholic Cathedral. She had grown up in the Pentecostal Church that her parents attended. As teenager she had gradually grown numb towards the faith of her parents, going to church every Sunday was something she had to do because of parental insistence. After she had matriculated and begun her studies as a first year student at Wits she stopped going to regular Sunday church services with her parents. She occasionally went to the Friday youth group evenings and on one of these Friday evenings she went with the church youth group to the Invisible Church in Joubert Part. That night something happened to her. She responded to the altar call and re-dedicated her life to God. She became an active member of the Invisible Church. Five months later Julian turned up one Saturday night at the Invisible Church and also responded to the altar call. For the past seven years neither Julian nor Helena had wavered from the faith, they had both developed a deep love and an abiding intellectual passion for the faith.
“This is all so foreign to me. I cannot connect with it. It feels like another religion,” she said.
“For the ordinary Catholic believer God is always perceived as being essentially present even if He is in His essential Being invisible and hidden from sense perception. In the Catholic sacramental world view which plays such an important role in the formation of the Catholic imagination the presence of the invisible and hidden God becomes manifest to one’s sensibilities in the signs and symbols of speech, gesture, music, vestments, art, colour, fire, water, bread and wine. Non-Catholics often criticize Catholics as living in an enchanted world of grand church architecture , of altars and sanctuaries, of holy water and stained glass, of candles, incense and bells, of saints and rosaries, of bread and wine turned into the actual body and blood of Christ. For Catholics their whole world is filled with the awesome holiness of God, every good thing is a sign of God’s grace. ”
“Catholics often conceive grace differently to Protestants. Talking about God’s grace and the Catholic understanding of faith, the phrase sola fide, has become the most distorted and misunderstood phrase in the history of the Church. This phrase should be replaced by ‘God’s grace alone received through faith alone.’ That is, grace received through a faith that is weak, frail, helpless and impoverished. A faith that is incapable of triggering a chain reaction of divine causation. The point I want to make is that faith is not the cause of God’s grace or God’s justification or even of God’s salvation. Faith is not ‘a work’ that can cause justification or salvation. Faith does not produce anything from God. It does not produce or cause the creation of His good will towards us. Rather faith is the simple act of holding out open and empty hands to God so as to freely receive without making payment in the form of works of good deeds that somehow earn God’s grace. Faith is not an act that can earn something from God. Faith is not something which can be quantified as too little or not enough or even too much. Faith is the empty and unblocked channel through which we receive the flow of God’s grace into our lives. It is wrong to say I don’t have enough faith. Faith is simply being open to God even when you are consumed by doubt, despair and hopelessness.”
“What about transubstantiation?”
“It seems to me that the Protestant criticism and the Catholic defence of transubstantiation boil down to a conflicting interpretations of the relation between Reality and Symbol. Both Protestants and Catholic agree with the statement that ‘if something is symbolic it cannot truly be real and, if it is real, it cannot truly be symbolic’. Protestants emphasize a symbolic interpretation of the meaning of the Eucharistic bread and wine in relation to the body and blood of Christ. Catholic emphasize the real presence of Jesus Christ in the bread and in the wine. Both Protestants and Catholic emphasize a discontinuity or gulf between symbol and reality. For the Protestants the bread and wine used in the Lord’s Supper can only have a symbolic meaning. Therefore they argue that the bread and wine as symbols of the body and blood of Jesus can never ever truly or really become the actual body and blood of Jesus. In the development of the idea of transubstantiation Catholic’s emphasize that symbol and reality depend on each other for their existence. If we accept this then it can be argued that reality can become embodied in the realm of symbols and symbols can become embodied in the realm of reality.”
“OK, let’s take marriage as a model. In the wedding ceremony for the solemnization of marriage many symbols and signs are used such in the form of spoken words, candles, exchange of rings. All these signs and symbols are used during the wedding ceremony to constitute the solemnization of a relationship whereby God joins two people so they become one flesh. So in the process of solemnization of holy matrimony the two bodies, the body of the man and the woman, are transformed into one flesh. Something similar happens with transubstantiation. During the Eucharist through the exchange of signs and symbols something really happens that results in transubstantiation, just as in the same way that in the wedding ceremony two people become one flesh. During the consecration of the bread and wine these two symbols are transformed into the reality of his body and blood. The bread is his body and the wine is his blood in the same way that in the solemnization of holy matrimony the man and the woman become one flesh.”
“You and I have become one flesh as a consequence of freely donating our bodies only to each other and to no one else. We became joined into one through a physical act and through a ceremony of solemnization. So you and me have become one flesh in a sense that is equivalent to saying that through the consecration of the bread and the wine, they have become the real body and blood of Jesus, and therefore they also embody the real presence of God.”
“One can understand Catholic sacramentality as the way in which God’s transcendence and immanence have become reconciled. Without this reconciliation the transcendence of God is overemphasized at the expense of His immanence. When this happens God’s presence is erased in the mind of the believer. The perception of God’s presence is then reduced to a disrupting super-naturalistic or miraculous intervention into a world and Universe governed by the natural laws of nature. Without a satisfactory reconciliation of the idea God’s transcendence and immanence, Nature is viewed as a closed-system and God can only act in the Universe by bridging the integrity of the immanent world. This is how the ideas of supernatural events and the miraculous arise.”
“To reconcile in our human understanding of God’s transcendence with his immanence we need to have a proper idea of God’s presence in our world and in the Universe as a whole. I think a proper understanding of the presence of God is fundamental to comprehending the Catholic idea of transubstantiation. The reconciliation of Gods’ transcendence and immanence in terms of his presence in the world is grasped in the so-called Catholic imagination. “
“The Catholic imagination is sacramental. In terms of Catholic sensibility all of reality is perceived sacramentally. In terms of this sacramental sensibility the Catholic imagination is able to perceive the revelation of the presence of the transcendental God in the immanent ordering of the Cosmos and in the Liturgical Rites of the Church. It is through this imagination that Catholics are able to perceive the physical immanent presence of God at work in the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church and thereby receive the work of His grace in our lives. ”
The coloured lights of the Eiffel tower came into view against the black cloudless icy cold star lit night sky like a giant Christmas tree.
Julian had noticed on a previous visit to Paris the magical effect that the Eiffel tower decorated in Christmas lights had on the transformation of the faces of people who saw it for the first time at night in the December festive season. Their faces would break out into such amazingly joyful smiles. If they had cameras they would immediately start taking pictures. Looking down from the top of Eiffel at night one could see the continuous random flashes of hundreds of cameras along the Seine as tourist took photos of their first ever view of the Eiffel tower.
Now it was Helena’s turn. Her face also immediately lighted up with same smile of amazement and pleasure at her first view of the Eiffel tower on a chilly December evening in Paris.
The December of last year was the first Christmas that he had spent alone away from his family and friends. Walking on the left bank of the Seine to the Eiffel tower that night from the Hotel Diana he had became overwhelmed with melancholy and nostalgia. He realized that he had not got Helena out of his system; he was still in love with her. That night he felt a longing for Helena that was unbelievably intense. His heart literally ached for her. He wondered if she would ever know how much he was in love with her. Probably she would never any idea of the deep emotional pain he felt that night. A man’s emotional pain is something that remains a secret, always invisible to others. It would always remain hidden in the depths of his soul. No one knows what a man can feel. There is a mystery to being a man. There is an impenetrability, an inexpressibility associated with being a man he thought to himself. Women have no idea on what they can do to us he mused.
Now a year later at they were together holding hands, married, standing at the exact same spot at which the previous year he had become so emotionally overwhelmed with his longing for her. She looked at him and saw that he was deeply preoccupied.
“Is everything OK?”
“Everything is perfect. It can never be more perfect. I am experiencing a wonderful miracle,” he said.
She looked puzzle: “What do you mean?”
“Being with you like this is a miracle,” he said.
“I know it is a miracle,” she smiled, “like you have said highly improbable events do not happen by chance. Our walking along the left bank of the Seine in Paris is not by chance, it is by God’s providence, in the same way that the stars stares shining above us tonight are not there by some highly improbable event, they are there because of a law like inevitability that guarantee their coming into existence and being there tonight for us to look at. God has stage managed all of this for our benefit because of His incomprehensive love for us. I feel it tonight. Isn’t Paris supposed to be the city of love or something like that? ”
“It is also called the city of lights, La Ville-Lumière, for its fame as the centre of the Enlightenment,” he said.
“Centre of Enlightenment, the City of Enlightenment, the City of Lights, the City of Love, I have grown to love Paris,” said Helena, looking up at the star lit sky over the Seine.
“The stars above us tonight are not our stars, they are foreign stars, I don’t recognize the night sky, there is no Southern Cross,” she said, as they stopped to gaze up at the night sky.
“The northern night sky is recognized by the Bear, there it is,” he said, pointing out the constellation.
Arriving at the Eiffel Tower they joined the queue to by ticket. He looked at her with broad grin. She looked back at him.
“What?” she asked.
“You know what, here we at the Eiffel Tower in a very long queue, aren’t you supposed to be telling me something?” he asked.
She looked confused.
“What am I supposed to tell you?” She asked with her brow becoming creased.
“Yes you are supposed to tell me why the first three verses in Romans 13 are an exercise in the rhetoric of irony,” he said.
She burst out laughing, her shining with elation, she turned her head up and gazed at the steel structure towering above, and then looked at him her face sparking with humour at his reminder that she had promised to talk, here under the Eiffel tower in Paris, in the City of Lights, about the irony that should inform the proper interpretation of Romans 13.
“Oh yes, now I remember, the irony of politics and the politics of irony according to St Paul. I need to define what is meant by irony, before we can talk about an ironical reading of what St Paulo said about government in Romans 13,” she said after laughing.
“OK let me think about….”
“According to general consensus there are three kinds of irony: verbal irony, situational irony and dramatic irony. In general irony involves the use of words to convey the opposite of their apparent literal meaning. In verbal irony the intended meaning conveyed by a statement is actually the complete opposite of the apparent meaning expressed in that statement. In situational irony an incongruity arises with between what was expected to happen and what actually occurs. Dramatic irony involves the intentional effect produced by the author of story in which the reader is lead to know more about the turn of events than the actual character in the story. In Romans 13 we have verbal and situational irony in operation in Paul’s writing. This is an example of how subtle God’s Word can be; it is a double edged sword that divides the marrow from the bone.”
“How could Paul in all honesty have commended the governance of Roman authorities when he himself had suffered terrible injustice under their rule? As the genuine Pharisee that he was so profoundly proud of being it would have been a complete contradiction for him have any sympathy or any positive regard for the Romans. He must have been familiar with Daniel 7:7 which portrays Rome as the fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth and was devouring, breaking in pieces, and stamping what was left with is feet. Rome was an occupying force that oppressed both Jews and Christians, making it in reality an enemy of God, so how could Paul view the Roman authorities especially a ruler like Nero as the God ordained authority over all the subjects of the Roman Empire. This would make God the agent that would ultimately be responsible and accountable for all the acts committed by Nero. Also if the state is indeed not a contingent man made institution but rather a God ordained institution under whose God given authority all people must submit unconditionally then God is ultimately responsible for every law promulgated by the state not matter whether that law is moral or immoral. All laws promulgated and all the actions that were necessarily condoned for the creation and operation of an institution like Auschwitz would be have to permissible under God.
Everything under heaven and earth becomes permissible under God’s rule, which is the same as …….
Remember what you said in Klerksdorp: “ ‘do not render unto Caesar what belongs only to God.’ I would say that this is the real message behind the rhetorical irony in Romans 13. If so, then how could Paul give unconditional endorsement to the Roman authorities who carried out the cruel and irrational directives of Nero? There is a profound and very disturbing dissonance between a literal reading of Romans 13 and the actual reality of what Roman rule meant in the lives of ordinary Jews and Christians. It would have been impossible for any of Paul’s Jewish or Christian contemporaries to accept a superficial literal non-ironic reading of Roman 13. In fact the discerning reader of Roman 13 would have, given the prevailing circumstances, immediately grasped the full rhetorical irony of Romans 13.”
“I see what you getting out,” Julian answered.
They bought their tickets
Every morning after breakfast they stopped briefly at the news stand at corner of ……… and scanned the newspaper headlines. Something caught Julian attention as he glanced at the front page of the International Independent News. It was the weekly African focus English language edition of the newspaper. On the front page he spotted in the right column among the list of stories covered in the newspaper the following headline: South African Honeymoon Couple in Dramatic Escape from Security Police, page 3.
He bought the newspaper and they immediately folded the first page over and with bated breath they began to read the brief report on page 3. They anticipated that the news item was about them but the actual short story written in the third person that unfolded in the newspaper column astonished them:
Newly married couple Julian Bogart and Helena Lathbury on the eve of their honeymoon to Paris managed to miraculously elude a massive security police swoop on the international departure terminal at Jan Smuts Airport South Africa. An internal informant revealed that the couple managed to escape under the very noses of the security police because of a comedy of errors committed by the normally very thorough and efficient South Africa Security Police Services. Apparently the police got names and photographs mixed up. After raiding the Loft in Germiston where the couple had been living they did not bother to verify whether the photographs that they had in their possession were actually of Mr Bogart and Miss Lathbury. It was after the raid that they discovered that the couple were already at Jan Smuts Airport. While they could verify that the couple had already received their boarding passes the search for them became fruitless because the police unknowingly had the wrong identity photographs. Their apparent absence at the international departures in terms of the persons whose images were represented on the photographs was interpreted as their having aborted their plan to depart on the Air France flight ……to Paris. It was assumed by the police that they must have got wind of the imminent arrival of the security police at the airport and subsequently fled the airport before the arrival of the security police, when in fact they had been standing all the time in the queue at the exit gate for the Air France fight to Paris.
The security police wanted to question them in connection with their alleged involvement in weapon smuggling and assisting terrorists. One of the allegations was that they assisted in the escape of Mr Livingstone Zulu to Botswana while he was hiding from the security police. The security police in a daring raid into Botswana had subsequently managed to abduct Mr Zulu and bring him back to South Africa to face charges under the 1967 Terrorism Act. It was after his abduction that the security police discovered the alleged involvement of Mr Bogart and Miss Lathbury in the underground liberation struggle in South Africa.
The Loft where Mr Bogart and Miss Lathbury were staying is an unorthodox and radical Christian commune in Germiston. Mr Everard Mallet the leader of the commune was emphatic in his rejection of the allegations regarding Mr Bogart and Miss Lathbury’s involvement in any kind of terrorist activities in South Africa. Mr Mallet was also sceptical of Mr Zulu’s alleged involvement in weapon smuggling. Mr Mallet expressed his outrage with regard to the series of security police raids on the Loft that had recently taken place. In an earlier security police swoop on the Loft Mr Joachim Glasenapp a Dutch national working for Amnesty International was arrested while staying at the Loft. He was subsequently deported by the security police.
It understood that Mr Bogart and Miss Lathbury are now staying in Paris.
“It so weird to read a newspaper story about ourselves that has been written by a complete stranger who we have never met, it almost sounds like fictional narrative straight out of a spy thriller, ” Helena said as she shuddered not from the cold but from of the terrifying realization on how narrow their escape had actually been.
“I think we should contact Joachim Glasenapp and see if he can assist in our application for political asylum,” she said, “especially that now we have been officially labelled as terrorists. It is unbelievable. In fact it is absurd. If Camus was writing about the absurd then here we have a real life example on how really absurd and surreal the world can become. We are now terrorists can you believing that? It is almost Kafkaesque.”
“What do mean by Kafkaesque?” Julian asked.
“You know Kafka in wrote The Trial, The Castle and Metamorphosis. You know Kafka’s nightmarish world of impending danger that erupts out of the most innocuous of circumstances,” she said.
“Yes, I know Kafka’s novels, in his stories what seems apparently innocuous becomes menacingly complex, it like wading through a perplexing human created wilderness where what you thought was terra firma turns out to be an ocean of quicksand that is always about to swallow you and suck you down into the dark night of irrationality,” Julian said.
“Wow, Jojo, I never realized you could be so poetic. You can be so mysterious and so enigmatic at times,” she laughed.
“The idea that the world is absurd does not make it an innocuous place as some would like to portray it. It is actually a very dangerous, terrifying and menacing place as you so nicely put it,” she said, “ the Bible constant reminds us especially in many of the Psalms that the world is not at all a peaceful place where justice and freedom reigns. It is mostly a violent and deadly place where death and destruction lurks behind every shadow.”
“I woke up while we were on the plane. I couldn’t sleep anymore. You were sleeping so beautifully with your head resting on my shoulder. I put the reading lamp on and began to read the Psalms for comfort. Reading some of the Psalms I realized what a terrifying place the world really is. In my heart I knew that God had saved us from imminent danger at the airport. I prayed my heart out at Jan Smuts. Our escape was a divine miracle. It reminded me of Psalm 7 where David writes, just let me get my Bible,” she said as she opened her shoulder bag and took out her pocket Bible
“David writes, O Lord my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me, or they will tear me like a lion and rip me to pieces with no-one to rescue me.”
“I was also praying while we waiting for the boarding gate to open. It seemed that the whole airport terminal had become transformed from a normal mundane ordinary place of departure into a human hunting ground filled with unknown menace and peril. It felt like an arena with no exits that threaten to swallow us into an abyss at any moment from which there could be no escape. The whole situation made me think of Solzhenitsyn’s experiences that he spoke about in his Gulag Archipelago,” he said.
“You are fond of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago,” she said with a smile.
“Talking about Psalms, the Psalm that was on mind at the airport was Psalm 22. I remember the Psalm from my school days. The Psalm is chanted on Maundy Thursday as they strip the altar before Good Friday in the Catholic Church. It is one the most haunting Psalms. It is filled with the pathos of Gethsemane and the horror of Golgotha,” he said.
She turned to Psalm 22 in her Bible and began to read it softly but also loud enough so he could also hear:
[My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? _][_Why are you so far _][_from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? _][_O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, _][_by night, _][_and am not silent. _][_Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; _][_you are the praise _][_of Israel. _][_In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you _][_and were saved; in you they trusted _][_and were not disappointed. But I am a worm _][_and not a man, scorned by men and despised _][_by the people. All who see me mock me; _][_they hurl insults, _][_shaking their heads: _][“He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. ][_Let him deliver him, _][_since he delights _][_in him.” _][_Yet you brought me out of the womb; _][_you made me trust _][_in you even at my mother’s breast. _][_From birth _][_I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God. _][_Do not be far from me, _][_for trouble is near _][_and there is no one to help. _][_Many bulls _][_surround me; _][_strong bulls of Bashan _][_encircle me. Roaring lions _][_tearing their prey _][_open their mouths wide _][_against me. _][_I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. _][_My heart has turned to wax; _][_it has melted away _][_within me. _][_My strength is dried up like a potsherd, _][_and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; _][_you lay me _][_in the dust _][_of death. Dogs _][_have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced _][_my hands and my feet. _][_I can count all my bones; people stare _][_and gloat over me. _][_They divide my garments among them and cast lots _][_for my clothing. But you, O LORD, be not far off; _][_O my Strength, _][_come quickly _][_to help me. _][_Deliver my life from the sword, _][_my precious life _][_from the power of the dogs. _][_Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; _][_save _][_me from the horns of the wild oxen. I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation _][_I will praise you. _][_You who fear the LORD, praise him! _][_All you descendants of Jacob, honour him! _][_Revere him, _][_all you descendants of Israel! _] [_For he has not despised _][_or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; _][_he has not hidden his face _][_from him but has listened to his cry for help. From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; _][_before those who fear you _][_will I fulfil my vows. _][_The poor will eat _][_and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him— _][_may your hearts live forever! _][_All the ends of the earth _][_will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD _][_and he rules over the nations. _][_All the rich _][_of the earth will feast and worship; _][_all who go down to the dust _][ will kneel before him-- those who cannot keep themselves alive. ][_Posterity _][_will serve him; future generations _][_will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness _][ to a people yet unborn-- for he has done it _].”
After she had read it they stood for a few seconds in silence.
“It’s about Jesus’ Roman execution by crucifixion under Pontius Pilate,” she said.
“Like Psalm 7, the words that went through my mind as we stood in that queue were: Do not be far from me, _][_for trouble is near _][_and there is no one to help. Many bulls _][_surround me; _][_strong bulls of Bashan _][_encircle me. Roaring lions _][_tearing their prey _][_open their mouths wide _][_against me,” he said.
“That is exactly what I was also feeling at the time,” she exclaimed.
“So we should contact Joachim Glasenapp?” Helena asked.
“I think that would be a good idea. Maybe we can get the hotel to help us find his contact details. Or better still we should ask for a Paris phone book from the hotel reception and look up the address for Amnesty International in Paris. We could then get a taxi to take us to the Paris office. We could do this tomorrow,” Julian said, “maybe they will phone Joachim if we take the newspaper with us and show them that we or at least you know Joachim. You can show that at least we have a connection with him and he could be able verify our situation if need be. I have not the faintest idea on how one goes about applying for asylum. I know that we need proof that we are in danger of some kind of serious political persecution. ”
Melanchthon, Calvin and Chemnitz were absolutely brilliant in developing the forensic meaning of justification. In the Greek and Hebrew roots of the word, to justify can only mean to be declared righteous by a judge. Justification must not be confounded with regeneration. There is a difference to declaring righteous and making righteous. To confound declaring righteous with making righteous is really to commit an Trinitarian error, an error based on a misunderstanding and misconstrual of the Trinity because it improperly assigns the work of justification on the Third Person of the Trinity instead of the Second Person of the Trinity. confounds the work of the Mediator and High Priest with the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Gospel proclamation of a concrete historical event.
A denial of justification as forensic act is ultimately a radical denial of the central message proclaimed in the Gospel.
The taxi stopped outside Amnesty International at 76 Boulevard de la Villette. It was a non-descript small ground floor office with the front door opening onto a tree lined pavement. After paying the taxi they stood on the pavement outside the entrance for few minutes feeling quite undecided on what to do.
“It doesn’t look like anything I expected. I was expecting something like the offices of Race Relations or The Christian Institute in Braamfontein,” she said with a sceptical look on her face, “what are going to tell them? Do you think they understand English?”
“We will show them our passports and the newspaper article and explain that we have become political refugees and we need to contact Joachim Glasenapp at the Amnesty International office in the Netherlands,” Julian replied, “let’s go in, they can see us standing here.”
They stepped into the modest and sparsely furnished office of the Paris branch of Amnesty International. There were two old wooden desks, a battered filing cabinet, some creaky old wooden office chairs, a telephone and a fax machine.
A woman in her thirties was sitting behind one of the desk typing and behind the other desk sat a bald man in his late forties. He was speaking on the phone. The woman stopped typing and looked up with a cocked eyebrow at Helena and Julian.
“We are from South Africa and we are seeking political asylum,” Julian said, trying to explain the reason for their presence.
The woman did not really understand what Julian had said. She pointed to the man on the phone. He did not seem to be in a hurry to end his conversation so Julian and Helena sat down on the two chairs in front of his desk.
Eventually the phone conversation came to an end and he put the phone down,
“Bonjour,” he said looking at Helena and Julian.
“Bonjour,” they replied together.
“My name is Julian Bogart and this is my wife Helena Lathbury,” Julian said, “I think the best way that we can explain our situation is for you to first read this newspaper report article.”
Julian stood up and opened the newspaper on the desk and pointed to the column containing the story.
The man behind the desk slowly read the article.
“So you are now political fugitives on honeymoon in Paris,” he said with a deadpan expression on his face.
The woman who was typing, stopped her typing, sat back in her chair and stared at Julian and Helena with an expression of renewed interest on her face.
“Yes in a way we are political fugitives and we are now wanting to seek political asylum, because we will be prosecuted and imprisoned for providing assistance to people involved in the liberation struggle against Apartheid,” Julian explained.
“Do want to get political asylum in France?” he asked.
“No, not necessarily,” he answered looking at Helena, and she nodded her head in agreement.
“What do you want from me?” he asked.
“We would like to get in touch with Joachim Glasenapp,” Helena said.
“Do know Joachim?” he asked.
“Yes I have meet Joachim, I was at the Loft when the security police came to detain him,” she said, “and we would like to contact him because he understands the situation we are in. We would be most grateful to you if you could phone him so that we can speak to him.”
“No problem. I think we can phone him, let me see if I have his number,” he said as he pulled open the draw. He took out a note book with telephone numbers and began to go through the pages.
“No I don’t have his number, but I do have the number for Amnesty International in Amsterdam,” he said.
“I am sure you can contact him at that number, he works at the Amnesty International branch in Amsterdam,” Helena said.
He dialled a number and someone answered the phone. Joachim was not in the office. The man behind the desk said that it was extremely urgent that they get hold of Joachim and get him to phone back. He then put the phone down.
“We can wait, “he said.
“So you are on honeymoon in Paris?” he said with a faint smile of humour on his face, “my name is Pierre Allemand and this is my assistance Angeline Chevrette.”
The phone rang and Pierre picked up the phone, it was Joachim. Helena stood up and he passed the phone to her. She told Joachim about how they had assisted Livingstone to escape to Botswana. She then told him about his abduction by the security police. Then she told him about their narrow escape from the security police and finally she told him they were seeking political asylum. She also told him about the newspaper report which he immediately asked her have Pierre fax a copy of the story too him. She wrote down the fax number. After he had given her the fax number he spoke to her for a good 15 minutes. From Helena’s answers, questions and comments in response to whatever Joachim was saying it appeared that quite an interesting story was unfolding.
By the end of the telephone conversation the aloofness and scepticism of Pierre and Angeline evaporated. They had become intrigued with the two South African who now seemed be to genuine political activists engaged in the liberation struggle against Apartheid and who would face lengthy prison sentences if they returned to South Africa.
“Pouvez-vous faire une photocopie et de fax à Joachim.”
After Angeline had faxed the copy of the story to Joachim, Pierre looked at his watch.
“Why don’t we go for lunch?” Pierre suggested
“That is a good idea but I insist that I pay,” Julian said
They walked together up the Boulevard de la Villette to Le Delly’s de Jaurès which was near to the Buttes Chaumont Hotel. It was too cold to sit outside so they went in and after taking off their coats and scarves and hanging them up the four of them sat around a small round table at the window which gave them a view of the Boulevard.
“They serve a good Bordeaux red wine here, an excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, I recommend we order a bottle,” Pierre proposed.
“That is OK with me,” Julian said.
Pierre picked up the menu and read it out for Julian and Helena.
“The first item is Poulet á la Moutard et au Miel which is grilled chicken breast with honey mustard glaze, the second item is Porc á la Dijonnaise which is sautéed pork tenderloin medallions with an orange saurce, the third item is Truite Sauté Sauce Amere which is sautéed fresh boneless trout with raspberry butter sauce, tarragon, parsley, and shallots, and lastly we have here Brochette d’ Agneau á la Greque which is lamb brochettes with sweet peppers, zucchini and onions with a Greek citrus sauce of fresh rosemary, orange, lime and grape fruit juice. You also ask for side dishes of vegetables and French fries,” he said as he interpreted the menu for them.
“I will have the sautéed pork tenderloin medallions with French fries,” said Julian.
“And I will have the lamb brochettes with a side dish of vegetables,” said Helena.
After Pierre had asked for a bottle of the red wine, and then having placed everyone’s order with the waiter he smiled as he looked expectantly at Helena.
The waiter set down four wine glasses on the table and uncorked the wine. He poured some into Pierre’s glass. He lifted the glass and tasted the wine.
“Le vin est excellent merci.”
The waiter filled everyone’s glass.
“Merci beaucoup,” said Helena after her glass was filled.
“What did Joachim have to say?” he asked.
“Ne soyez pas si curieux,” said Angeline, it was the first time she said anything since they entered the restaurant.
Helena caught on what Angeline had said and laughed. She found Angeline’s comment about Pierre’s inquisitiveness amusing.
“No I don’t mind speaking about what Joachim said, it is quite interesting, but I must warn you it can get quite complicated and may sound a bit farfetched, and also full of outrageous political intrigue,” she said.
“Political intrigue? Whenever is there no political intrigue, the whole of life is one long story of political intrigue,” Pierre said laughing.
“Well I am sure you will find what I have to say very interesting. I think from my discussion with Joachim I have managed to join many of the dots and a picture of what may have been taking place sort of behind our backs is emerging even if it is a bit foggy,” she said.
“Politics is always a foggy affair,” Pierre replied with a serious expression on his face.
“Let’s begin with Joachim so you can see how the whole plot has eventually unfolded. Before Joachim came to South Africa he had spent several weeks travelling in Angola, Tanzania, Zambia and Botswana. He was investigating allegations of human rights violations in the camps of the liberation movements in Angola, Zambia and Tanzania. In Botswana he conducted interviews with many students who had recently fled South Africa and were living as political refugees in Gaborone. Joachim also met a person called Livingstone Zulu in Gaborone Botswana. Joachim made extensive notes about what people had told him about what was going on in the camps. He also tape recorded all his interviews. He also took many photographs.”
“Livingstone Zulu is the one you helped escape to Botswana,” Pierre asked.
“Yes that’s right. Livingstone told Joachim about the Loft in Germiston South Africa. Joachim became intrigued that a community like the Loft could exist in South Africa. So while he was still in Gaborone he contacted Everard Mallet who basically was the leader or spokesman for the Loft. Everard invited Joachim to come and spent some time at the Loft.”
“This story seems revolve around photographs. Joachim also took many photos of the people at the Loft. The only person he did not have a photograph of was Julian who was away in Germany when Joachim was visiting the Loft,” she said.
“It has been said that for the photograph to represent truth, it must resemble the object it represents. Susan Sontag has also some interesting things to say about photography. She claims that the modern state depends on the photographic documentation of its citizens. We all carry on our person a photograph image of ourselves to show who we are. Our photographic image on our passports and identity cards is the only proof of who we are,” Pierre observed.
“Sorry I am interrupting you,” he said.
“Don’t worry it is OK. What you are saying about the photographic image actually fits in nicely with what I am going say. Anyway to get back Joachim, he had gathered evidence that serious human rights abuses had occurred in many of the liberation camps. In the camps there had been torture of dissidents, rape of women, mutinies and executions. The evidence that he had obtained would be very embarrassing to the liberation movements in Southern Africa if it was published in the international press. Joachim suspects that leaders within the liberation movements knew that he had obtained vital evidence that was very damning and could damage their image with the international community. If Joachim went ahead and published the results of his investigations there was a real danger that it would have a negative impact on their political standing within the international community. To prevent this from happening they leaked information to the South African security establishment about Joachim having critical intelligence information,” she said.
“And which was in fact true?” Pierre asked.
“Yes Joachim had indeed gathered very important factual and verifiable data on violations of human rights that had been perpetrated in the camps of the liberation movements in Southern Africa. Joachim’s concern was not to undermine the goals of the liberation struggle. All he wanted to achieve was to stop the abuse of human rights within the camps. He supported the liberation struggle, but not at the cost of abusing human rights, because that would be ultimately self-defeating. If abuses were condoned in the camps then the revolution would eventually consume its own children like a pig that eats its own young. ”
Can I top your glass up Pierre asked Helena.
“Yes thanks. Hmmm it is a nice red wine. The leaders of the liberation movements were not too concerned that Joachim photos, notebooks and tape recordings would fall into the hands of the South African government because any attempt by the South African government to use this information as propaganda against the liberation struggle would fail. No one in the international community or the international media would believe any of claims that the Apartheid Government might make about human rights abuses in the camps of the liberation movements. ”
“This reminds me that we must not forget that all Marxists are victims of the weirdest kind of magical thinking, which believes that veracity of any evidence whatever always depends on the purity of its sources, and purity of the source directly relate to its class origin and class interests. Truth always depends which social class is telling the story,” said Pierre, “an impure source always contaminates or infects the information with Bourgeois lies.”
“Yes so it seems, Lysenko versus bourgeois genetics is a good example of this. Anyway, once the South Africa security police had received information about Joachim they began to monitor his movements, he fell under their surveillance umbrella as it were, and he was now a bleeping dot on their radar screen. They allowed him to settle in at the Loft and then they swooped onto the Loft. They took all his notebooks, tape-recordings, photos, film and cameras, and then they deported him back to the Netherlands.”
“When they analyzed all the data that they had taken from Joachim they began to the join dots between Livingstone, the Loft and the weapon smuggling. We went with Livingstone to a shebeen which is tavern or bar in a black township called Alexander Township about a month before Joachim came to the Loft. There was a security police swoop and all the activists that we met at the shebeen were detained by the security police. Livingstone managed to escape and went into hiding. He contacted us and we smuggled him across the border into Botswana. We believe that one of the activists in the shebeen that night was an undercover agent working for the security police. So when they got Joachim’s information they connected us with Livingstone because their undercover agent would have reported that Livingstone had visited the shebeen in the company of two people who were connected with the Loft. But any surveillance of the Loft would have drawn a big blank. So they must have downgraded the importance of Julian, me and the Loft with regard to the activities of Livingstone. ”
“But when they found out that Livingstone who escaped their dragnet had not left Africa for overseas but was in fact working quietly on an education project in Gaborone they decided to abduct him because they must have believed that he was a high value suspect and could be the missing jigsaw piece in the weapons smuggling puzzle that they had not managed to solve in spite of having planted an undercover agent in the circle of activists to which Livingstone was connected.”
“What happened was the security police had developed the photos on Joachim’s camera. So they had photos of all the Loft members with the exception of Julian. But they could not put names to faces. They needed to put my name to a face and Julian’s name to a face. The only person who could help them with the identities of the Loft photos was their undercover agent who saw both of us with Livingstone at the shebeen in Alexander Township. Now white faces all look the same to blacks and black faces look all the same whites. The night that we were at the shebeen I had my hair tied up tightly in a Grecian knot because I knew that Julian always found me extremely attractive and irresistible if I tied my hair up in this fashion,” she said.
“Ta femme regarde aussi belle avec des cheveux en une queue de cheval,” said Angeline.
“You heard that, Angeline says that Helena looks beautiful even with her hair in pony tail,” quipped Pierre.
Angeline eyes sparked with amusement.
“Je suis désolé, je comprends parfaitement l’anglais mais j’ai du mal à parler anglais,” said Angeline.
“She can understand English but battles with the speaking,” Pierre added.
“That no problem, it is OK,” Julian responded.
“Go on, you said you were in the shebeen,” said Pierre.
“Yes we were in the shebeen and the light in the shebeen was very dim and everybody had been drinking so the undercover agent would have remembered me as having very short hair and not long hair. It is possible that when he looked at the Loft photographs the only female person with short hair was Winifred. Julian wears spectacles. The only other person in the Loft who could be mistaken for Julian and who also wears spectacles was Jason. Jason and Winifred were engaged so they would have appeared on the Loft photos taken by Joachim as a couple. The undercover agent must have selected Winifred’s picture as representing me and Jason’s picture as representing Julian. Winifred’s picture and Jason’s picture must have then been used to identify us when they made the swoop on the airport.”
The food arrived and Pierre asked if they should get another bottle of the excellent wine. Just before the waiter turned to leave Pierre caught him by the sleeve:
“Nous aimerions avoir une autre bouteille de vin rouge.”
“What an amazing turn of events. It would have been ironical if there were more murders and torture taking place in the liberation camps than in the Apartheid jails,” Pierre observed as he sliced off a mouth size piece of pork.
“I don’t know if you have heard of the recently published three volume study called Main Currents of Marxism: it origin, growth and dissolution by Leszek Kolakowski, ” Pierre said, “ In the epilogue of the final volume he states that Marxism has been the greatest fantasy of our century. Like all other fantasies Marxism as embodied in Communist ideology is anti-intellectual and anti-scientific.”
“But to say that Marxism has all the hall marks of an incredible fantasy does not imply that it has not been inspired by a couple ideas that are trivially true in a very narrow sense. Marxism inevitably becomes a wonderful fairy tale when these ideas were not properly qualified, but become more and more exaggerated out of all proportional to their actual empirical significance and scientific standing,” Julian remarked, “this is the conclusion that I eventually reached after listening to all the arguments of the Student Left when I was a student at Wits University.”
“From all these trivial ideas which where only apparently true in a very restricted and narrow sense Marxism gave rise also to one defining idea, in fact an article of faith, a truth claim that had not empirical support or logical justification foundation upon which the whole edifice of Communism has been constructed is based on one simple idea which can be summarized as follows. With the abolition of private property the total and complete emancipation of man from all oppression and exploitation will come to end,” said Pierre.
Pierre sipped some wine. Took a mouthful of food and after chewing and swallowing his food he looked at Julian and Helena.
“It’s is the end of 1978 and it is also the end of Marxism, we are in fact living in a post-Marxist world, Marxism has retreated to the academy where it persists in some kind of twilight afterlife not really knowing that it is actually a dead ideology. I witnessed the death throes of Marxism in the 1968 student uprising. University students in France had given up on working class as a revolutionary force arguing that it have become hopelessly degenerate and depraved by aspiring to the values and dreams of the bourgeoisie which were based on the social ideals of full and meaningful employment. For the students being oppressed took on a whole new meaning, it was no longer being exploited by the capitalist class. In the minds of the Student Left oppression had become more insidious, more pervasive and more alienating in the forms of multiple prohibitions. They were oppressed because drugs were prohibited, they were oppressed because they had to study for exams, and they were oppressed because they had to work for a living. They wanted liberation from all forms of restrictions. They wanted sexual liberation. They wanted liberation in the form of freedom from work, freedom from academic discipline, freedom from responsibility, freedom from accountability. This was how they visualized the essence of Communism. These are all the symptoms showing that Communism is dead, that it has expired, that it is finished,” said Pierre, as put his fork down and spread out open palms in a grand gesture indicating the collapse Marxism.
“Maybe you are right that a new post-Marxist age has dawned on the World and Communism is practically dead, but the South African Government believes that Marxism is thriving as a rampant cancer and that Communism is very much alive and well, especially in Angola, Mozambique and in the liberation movements,” said Helena, looking very much amused at this surprisingly disclosure that Marxism was now terminally ill and Communism was no longer even a warm corpse.
“In a sense, just like Marxism and Communism, Apartheid has also collapsed in many ways, but this fact has not yet fully dawned on the majority of whites in South Africa. Apartheid may be terminally ill, but it has not yet completely died, it is still kicking, it still lives quite strongly in the minds of most whites,” Helena said.
“I don’t think the Rhodesians can hold out for much longer and think the cost of holding onto the political control of South West Africa is going to become less and less viable,” Julian said.
They stopped by Théodore Chassériau’s painting called The Toilette of Esther or Esther Preparing Herself to Meet King Ahasuerus, and they gazed at it in silence.
In the painting Esther is seated between two slaves. From her waist upwards she is nude. At her right a kneeling brown skinned slave woman clade in rich blue holds a container filled with accessories. On her left clad in bright red, kneels the black eunuch Hegai, presenting her with a jewelled box. They are in the open, the landscape of trees and sky fills the space behind them Esther appears to be preoccupied, she does not notice or acknowledges either of the slaves as she stares to the right out of the picture into the distance. Her expression is both thoughtful and pensive.
“It is inconceivable, why would Esther an Oriental woman or Semite woman have blue eyes, a milky white skin and honey blond hair?” Julian said with a critical frown on his forehead.
Helena laughed. She found Julian’s remark amusing.
“Let’s see what the book has to say,” she said.
Helena opened the book A Modern Guide to the Paintings in the Louvre. After paging through the book she finally found what she was looking for.
“Apparently Chassériau was a pupil of Ingres. He learnt to paint the Oriental nude from Ingres. In this painting Esther is depicted as a white blond woman with blue eyes. Esther started off as a beautiful Jewish harem slave in Persia. She with a 1000 other virgin slaves were brought to King Ahasuerus’ harem as potential candidates to replace Queen Vashti. She eventually became the king’s wife and queen of Persia. The woman depicted as Esther in the painting does not have the pose and facial expression that is typical of paintings of an odalisque in the sultan’s harem. She is seated, her arms raised above her head to arrange her blond coiffure. The result of her raised arms is the lifting, thrusting and enhancement of her breasts. This gesture is extremely erotic and even provocative. The colours used in the painting have been inspired by Delacroix, indicating a definitive break from the influence of Ingres.”
After Helena had read aloud some the information on the painting in the book, she closed the book. They continued to gaze in silence at the painting of Esther.
“What is an odalisque?” Julian asked.
“I don’t know?” Helena answered. “I also wondered, I guess it is a harem female slave.”
“There is something really important missing from the story of Esther?” Helena suddenly said.
“What do you mean?” Julian said.
“There are a lot of puzzling things that do not add up in the story of Esther. I really believe that treatment of Queen Vashti was unfair. Do remember how the story goes? Ahasuerus the king of Persia, organizes this huge banquet, he invites all the important people in his kingdom, but things at the banquet start going wrong. He does a whole lot of strange stuff. Let me get my Bible out.”
Helena opened her shoulder bag and took out her Bible. She opened the Bible at the Book of Esther and read from verses 10 to 12 from chapter one.
“On the seventh day, when King Ahasuerus was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him, Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Carcas, to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.”
Her demeanour became serious and thoughtful as she gazed at the painting.
“The puzzle or riddle regarding Queen Vashti rebellious or disobedient behaviour has been sort of solved. Queen Vashti did not merely disobey King Ahasuerus’ command. She refused to comply with his request. What was he actually requesting of her? This is an important question because it will solve the riddle of her rebellion. The solution has been found by performing an imaginative reconstruction of the hidden subtext of Esther story. Queen Vashti’s own story is hidden in plain view between the lines of the Esther narrative. Once Queen Vashti’s story is brought into plain view then everything else changes in the Book of Esther,” she said.
“Are you suggesting that Queen Vashti was the first feminist or something?” Julian asked.
“That is a good point, maybe she was the first feminist, an Oriental feminist, which could be a contradiction in terms,” she said.
She looked at Julian. He had that expectant look on his face. She had discovered that he enjoyed her interest in unusual stories filled with surprises and anti-climaxes that she had managed to dredge from the Bible. She laughed again.
“Usually for reasons of propriety, decency, respectability and modesty all the wives of the men leave the banqueting hall when the men start drinking. After the wives have left the concubines and courtesans are brought into the banqueting hall. It was while in a state of drunkenness that King Ahasuerus ordered his seven eunuchs to fetch Queen Vashti and bring her to the banqueting hall wearing her crown so that he can display her beauty to the drunken male revellers who are his quests. Some time ago I did some research on the book of Esther. It has been agreed in rabbinic commentary that King Ahasuerus actually ordered Queen Vashti to appear naked in the banqueting hall wearing only her jewelled crown. This meant that in reality she would be degraded to the level of a concubine, or to the level of a female harem slave. For the sake of her personal honour and self respect she refuses to obey his request. She asserts her autonomy over her body. He fails to exercise his own autonomy and authority as the sovereign ruler of his kingdom by asking his wise men for advice on what he should do,” she said.
Helena opened her Bible again at the Book of Esther.
“In Esther chapter 1 verses 17 to 18 we are told the following: ‘ For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King Ahasuerus commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come. This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.’ So King Ahasuerus issues, on the advice of his nobles and wise men, an edict that was to be proclaimed throughout his vast realm. The edict proclaimed as law that all wives will respect their husbands from the least to the greatest. The edict was drafted in every language spoken in King Ahasuerus kingdom. Messengers were dispatched to every corner of the kingdom and read the proclamation in each of the native tongues of the various ethnic groups of the people living under his rule. The proclamation stated that ‘every man should be the ruler over his own household.’ ”
Julian had noticed that a man standing a few meters away was taking a keen interest in what Helena was saying. He had become aware of man as he seemed to have been following them throughout the Louvre.
The man smiled back at Julian and stepped towards them.
“I could not help overhearing to your conversation. What you were speaking about is actually quite interesting. The Greek word despostes means master or ruler over the slaves in a man’s private domestic household. You are completely right about King Ahasuerus. He made every man whatever his status a despot by proclamation. Every man must rule as the despot over his private household. In its extreme form a despot is usually a man who has the unfettered power to exercise control over everything in his household or realm. He is able to exercise his power and control over others without rule or law. As true despot his rule is governed only by whim, will and caprice. A government which is despotic is essentially a lawless government,” the smiling stranger said.
Both Helena and Julian were taken aback by the stranger’s sudden intrusion into their conversion. He noticed this from the look on their faces. But this did not deter him and he joined the pair before the painting of Esther.
“In Montesquieu’s book De l’esprit des lois, also called The Spirit of the Laws, a linkage can readily be made between the concept of Oriental despotism and the husband’s reign over his private domestic realm which incorporates both women and slaves. Until very recently slavery has been an almost timeless institution in the Orient. The essence of Oriental despotism revolves around the control of women and slaves. The Orient has always been a slave society. In the Orient women are like slaves because they can never own themselves,” the stranger said.
Both Helena and Julian relaxed and became intrigued by the stranger that had unceremoniously butted into their private conversation. Helena responded with a comment:
“If your interpretation is accurate then according to King Ahasuerus if women were ever allowed to own themselves then there will be no end to their disrespect of men and discord will rage in his private domestic realm,” she said.
“Correct, it has always been the custom in the Orient for women to be treated as if they were female harem slaves that need to be kept under constant surveillance and also well hidden from the gazing eyes of other men,” he said.
“Why are women in the West women treated differently,” Helena asked.
“Mainly because of the long history of Christianity in the West, the idea and value of a person, especially of a person who happens to be female differs greatly in the West compared to the Orient,” he answered.
“In the West as opposed to the Orient a woman’s right of self ownership is taken for granted. As opposed to the Oriental women, the modern Western women know that the privacy, intimacy, integrity and inviolability of their bodies are guaranteed under law. Because their rights over their bodies are guaranteed by law they are free to make choices regarding the fate or destiny of their own bodies,” he said.
“What a strange way of putting it, women not having rights over the destiny of their own bodies!’ It seems to be inconceivable not to allow women to exercise any right over the destiny of their own bodies. Why cannot a woman own her body and be allowed to make choices with respect to the way she wants to live her life through her own body,” Helena said, her raised eye brows emphasizing how incredulous such a state of affairs could be.
“In the Orient women have always been denied the ownership of their own bodies and selfhood. They are not free to choose romantic partners, they are not free to choose marriage partners and they are not free to engage in sexual relations with whomever they wish. The exact opposite is applies to the Western women. Western women are no longer the slaves of men. The story of Queen Vashti shows that under Oriental despotism the idea of a woman’s right over the use of her own body was actually inconceivable in the mind of the Oriental man. Sadly this is still the case in the Orient. In the Orient nothing has changed. Women still do not own themselves nor do they have any command or control over the fate of their bodies,” he said.
“I would like to show you a painting that is relevant to our topic of conversation please follow me,” he said.
He turned on this heel and they walked behind him. They followed him until he stopped by a painting.
“Now look at this picture. Here we have “Liberty leading the People” painted by Eugène Delacroix in 1830. Delacroix was a child of the enlightenment. The lady in middle of the picture standing bare footed on the great mound of corpses at the barricades with her magnificent breasts exposed, holding up high the French tricolour flag with one hand and brandishing a bayoneted musket with other hand, appears like some goddess. The Oriental mind would be incapable of conceiving the symbolism embodied in the drama of the scene depicted in this pattern. This picture is quintessentially Western. It quintessentially embodies the spirit of the enlightenment that has been the foundation of the Western progress. In the picture it is a woman that wears the reddish soft conical Phrygian cap. In the Western Roman Empire this cap used to signify liberty and the pursuit of freedom. She is half naked, but her breasts are not nude. Her exposed breasts do not represent nudity, nor can it be transformed into nudity by the gaze of the viewer. She owns the destiny of her body and therefore her exposed breasts can never render her nude,” the stranger said.
“Have you ever seen the 11th century sandstone sculpture of Vishnu embracing his wife Lakshmi on the main façade of the Parsvanatha temple in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, Central India?” he asked
“No,” Helena answered.
“Well in that sculpture Lakshmi’s splendid breasts are exposed for all to see. She is depicted as almost thrusting out her naked breasts as ornaments to be admired, to provide visual pleasure, and so forth. The sculpture shows Lord Vishnu’s left hand cradling or possibly fondling the beautiful naked breast of the Goddess Lakshmi. Her exposed breasts being fondled by Lord Vishnu does not seem to provoke any moral ambiguity. In fact why should it provoke moral ambiguity? They are both practically naked, and they are totally absorbed in active erotic love with each other. Lakshmi face is turned up to her husband. Her overall posture and erotic deportment indicates that she is sexually as actively engaged with her husband Lord Vishnu as he is with her. She is not sexually passive. They both have their eyes wide open, but both Vishnu and Lakshmi show no shame. Her erotic nakedness differs from the paintings of the passive supine nudes that we often see in many examples of traditional European art. ”
“In the sandstone sculpture Lakshmi is also half naked, but her breasts are not nude. Lakshmi has an erotic aura about her. But Delacroix’s goddess of liberty appears to be devoid of any erotic aura. Her fully exposed naked breasts even as magnificent as they are, they do not provoke any moral ambiguity,” he said.
“It seems like the two words naked and nude cannot be used interchangeably or as synonyms, ” Julian remarked
“I am aware of this,” said the stranger
“Yes this actually interesting. What does moral ambiguity mean in relationship to the two words naked and nude?”
“For the Western mind the question of the moral ambiguity of nakedness first arose in the Garden of Eden. Eve may have originally been like the goddess Lakshmi. Adam and Eve with both their eyes wide open were not sexually passive, they were sexually engaged but without any shame, like animals. But when she was exiled from the Garden of Eden she was not anything like the defiant goddess of Liberty as symbolized in Delacroix’s painting. She would now have to toil in the hot sun and give birth to children under extreme pain. She left the Garden of Eden, bowed and her nakedness was covered up in animal skins. The animals killed for their skins were possibly the first victims of the blood sacrifices that were to be made on behalf of mankind as an atonement for his sins in the Old Testament, ” the stranger said, “I assume you familiar about what happened to Adam and Eve in the Genesis story?”
“Yes,” Helena said as she reached into bag to retrieve her Bible. She opened it and read aloud:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
^ ^When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
They listened as Helena read. He then smiled, what appeared to be an ironic smile.
“Like the stories of many of the women in the Bible it remains an amazing yet puzzling story, moving from poignancy to dramatic pathos,’ he said.
“You wanted know what an Odalisque is?” the stranger said looking at Julian.
“Yes,” he answered.
“Follow me,” he said, “I will show you.”
They followed the stranger as he walked briskly some distance in front of them to the Daru Room on the 1st floor in the Denon wing.
Julian whispered: “It seems like we have been adopted by a self- pointed museum guide and art critique.”
“Sssh, he will hear you,” she said, suppressing a little laugh, “I know, it feels really weird.”
When they caught up with him he was standing in front of the La Grande Odalisque by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.
“An odalisque is the word used for a female that was a slave or concubine in an Ottoman seraglio or a sultan’s harem,” he said.
“Do you agree that there is something odd about this picture?” He asked.
They examined the painting for a few seconds.
“There is something definitely wrong with the woman’s body. It did not seem right,” Helena said, “especially with her back.”
“It is the back,” he said.
“Maybe she has been given too many vertebrae,” Julian said.
“You are right. It is thought that she has between three and five too many lumbar vertebrate,” he said.
“We have not introduced ourselves. I am Julian Bogart and this is my wife Helena Lathbury,” Julian said extending his hand.
“I know who you are. I am Lucien Lefévre.” Helena’s heart skipped a bit.
The blood drained from her face. Her face became visibly white to the observant Mr Lucien Lefévre. She looked at the stranger with new and uncertain eyes. This was the last thing she wanted to hear.
“Excuse me. This is really an unexpected surprise, how could you possibly know who we are, we have never met you before,” Helena said as the colour returned to face. Her initial shocked expression changed to one of extreme perplexity.
She felt very perturbed. Was this tall debonair Frenchman in his forties with the sharp intelligent eyes that did not seem to miss anything a policeman or detective? Was he going to arrest them and deport them back to South Africa?
“I know that, but it is my job to know who you are. I am in the espionage and intelligence business,” he said in a sort of matter of fact manner, as if it was perfectly normal for him to tell complete strangers that he knows their names and everything about them.
Julian could also not hide his surprise. He also realized that he should have guessed that their meeting with this friendly and engaging stranger was not a chance encounter but had been deliberately choreographed. He had noticed from the time of their arrival in the Louvre that he had been tailing them, and he had also been aware that the man was ostensive listening to what they had to say about the paintings, in the manner that one often finds oneself listening with a vague unobtrusive interest to the conversations of complete strangers in waiting rooms, in queues or on trains. Now it was clear that the man had been intentionally waiting for an opportunity to strike up in a natural manner a conversation with them, and this he had achieved with such aplomb, winning their trust with such cool ease.
“You are both in great danger and it is my duty to prevent any crime being committed on French soil if I can,” he said.
Julian was half expecting the man to say exactly something along these lines, but he wanted to know more.
“I don’t understand what you talking about. Why are we in danger? We have not been involved in any criminal activity. We have not broken any laws while we have been in France,” Julian said.
“The South African Bureau of State Security, you know the organization referred to as BOSS, has subcontracted some free-lance specialists from the criminal underworld in Paris to abduct both of you and bring you back to South Africa to stand trial for terrorism. Within the next 48 hours a small fishing vessel will be passing close to Marseille. They are planning to abduct you within the next 24 hours. After abducting you they plan to take to Marseille. From Marseille a ski boat will be used to transfer both of you to the ship which will then sail back to South Africa. You must be very high value targets for the South Africans in order for them to become engaged in such an expensive and very risky mission.” he said.
Julian felt his mouth go dry. Up until this point in the Louvre they had been blissfully unaware that they were in an extremely perilous situation. It seemed unbelievable that the South African government would go to such extreme lengths to detain such light weight and insignificant political suspects.
Lucien Lefévre had already found the necessary confirmation that his instincts about the pair were in fact very accurate. Everything about them, their deportment, their naivety, their sanity, their sincerity, their obvious integrity and finally the look of incredulity on their faces with respect to his remarks that they were viewed as high level political enemies of the state in the eyes of the South African Government were consistent with profile that he constructed. He had been amused by the written report of his surveillance officers that detailed how Helena constantly consulted the Bible that she carried in her shoulder bag. They were definitely not a Baader-Meinhof gang kind of phenomenon or even members of the second generation Red Army Faction that had become prominent in recent years. Neither were they some kind of Bonny and Clyde couple involved in a criminalized political adventure; nor were they political or religious extremists.
“How do you know all this?” Julian asked.
“It is my business to know everything. I know that an independent Paris based detective agency acting on behalf of BOSS has been hired to trace the pair of you. I know that on instructions from BOSS the detective agency recruited a team from the French under world to facilitate the illegal rendition of pair of you into the hands of the South African authorities. So you can imagine that I would be curious about why the South African government was so interested in the pair of you,” he said with an ironical smile on his face, “so I as part of my job I decided to keep you under surveillance.”
She felt herself go ice cold. It was a nightmarish replay of the Jan Smuts Airport experience. She battled to contain a rising tide of terror that threaten to overwhelm her. She glanced around. In her mind’s eyes she visualized several men in grey trench coats ambushing them here in the Louvre, swiftly injecting with some drug and dragging them into a car before the drug knocked them unconscious.
“Apparently you have been linked to a very successful weapon smuggling operation which the police have not been able to break. We have independently become aware through our own intelligence that there has been a major shift in the strategy of the South African liberation struggle. The leaders of the South African liberation struggle have recently held extensive consultations with Võ Nguyên Giáp who was a General in the Vietnam People’s Army. He was a military genius and was the principal military commanding officer in two wars, first the Indochina War from 1946 to 1954 and then the Vietnam War from 1960 to 1975. Giáp participated in the Tết Offensive of 1968, the Easter Offensive of 1972, and the recent final Hồ Chí Minh Campaign of 1975. He is current a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of Vietnam. Both of you have been identified by BOSS as members of what has become code named by BOSS as the Giáp Team. According to BOSS the task of the Giáp Team is the provision of logistic support and clean up action in the first phase of the launch of the South African Peoples War of Liberation.”
Julian and Helena listened in stunned amazement at the unfolding narrative in which they had become the key characters, except they both realized that the story was not a fictional spy drama and thriller that had been conceived by some anonymous paper back writer in some remote study filled with the clutter of a typewriter from which reams of paper flowed.
“Sun-tzu book on The Art of War is full of practical advice. He says that In war the general receives orders from his sovereign, assembles troops, and forms an army, he makes a camp opposite the enemy. The true difficulty begins with the fray itself. The difficulty of the fray lies in making the crooked straight, and in making an advantage of misfortune. Take a roundabout route, and lure the enemy with some gain; set out after him, but arrive before him. This is to master the crooked and the straight. The fray can bring gain; it can bring danger. My message to both of you comes from Sun-tzu and it is this. Often what may seem to be a gain in warfare and there actually lurks a perilous trap. Often in what seems to be a gain of advantages lies hidden pit falls of extreme danger. ”
He turned around to gaze at the painting of Liberty leading the People.
“It is still one of my favourite paintings. Apparently Delacroix wrote the following to his brother ‘I have undertaken a modern subject, a barricade, and if I have not fought for my country, at least I will paint for her.’ ”
“My advice to you is to leave France immediately, this afternoon if possible. Even if we gave you political asylum you would still need police protection. One thing that I have learnt is that all states teeter on the brink of criminality. There is nothing God ordained with respect to the state or government. The institutions of state and government are contingent creations of men and as instruments and vehicles in the hands of men they are hardly ever consistently used for the common good of all citizens. You must know the reading from the Gospels about the final temptation of Jesus when he came out from fasting in the wilderness. The devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. ‘All of this I will give to you, if you will bow down and worship me.’ I suppose all politicians have bowed the knee to the devil. ”
“Well I must go now I have a desk load of work to get through. Au revoir,” he said.
Helena ran after him.
“Monsieur Lefévre, please Monsieur Lefévre, I need to ask you something,” she called out.
Mr Lefévre stopped.
“Have you already informed anyone about us?” She asked.
“No I have not informed anyone. Officially you do not exist yet. Except for Pierre Allemand no one in Paris knows anything about the two of you,” he said.
“Did Pierre tell you about us?” She asked.
“No Pierre did not inform on you. Pierre is an ethical man; he is a true believer in human rights and freedom. He could never compromise he own values, and trust is an important currency for men like men. He is not in the spy game. What could he possibly gain by compromising his own personal integrity by informing on you? I have many professional informants working for me. We had you under our surveillance the moment you arrived at Charles De Gaul from South Africa,” he said
“How could you have learnt so much about us in such a short interval of time?” She asked.
“The blunder that the South African Security Police made at Jan Smuts Airport was leaked by an informant within the security police to the journalist who wrote the article on their blunder. Hoping to make some money from the information, the same journalist phoned me within hours after your plane had departed from Jan Smuts’s airport. We paid him for the information which he subsequently published,” he said.
After Monsieur Lefévre departure they remained standing in front of Liberty leading the People.
“Let’s go to the coffee shop in the foyer, order coffee and sit down and think about what we need to do,” Julian suggested.
In the coffee shop Julian spread out the map of Paris on the table
“We will walk back to hotel along this road which is Quai de Montebello. If we get back to the hotel we will pack our cases, get the hotel reception to call a taxi and then check out go immediately to the Gare de Lyon which is the major railway terminus in Paris and catch the first train to Zurich. Here is the Gare de Lyon on the make and here we are at the Louvre and there is our hotel,” he said pointing out the places on the map.
“Now if we are intercepted on the way back to the hotel this is what you must do. You immediately must sprint away as fast as you can to the nearest road on the left and get into the first taxi. You head straight to the station and catch the first train to Zurich. I will run in the opposite direction across Quai de Montebello and cross the Seine at the first bridge and I will catch the first taxi to the station as well. Don’t wait for me at the station. In this way we will split the enemy into two groups. Our rendezvous will be Lenin’s house in Zurich. Wait for me near the house. I go to the house as soon as I get Zurich. I think you better book into a hotel as soon as you get into Zurich. Here is one thousand US dollars in one hundred dollar bills. Fold it in half and put it in your front jean pocket. Take this wad of francs it should be enough for a ticket to Zurich, put it in your back pocket. Take your passport out of your bag and put in your other front jean pocket,” he said.
“You seem to be almost hundred percent sure that we not going to get back to the hotel. What is going happen to all our stuff at the hotel?” Helena asked.
“Well we are not left with no choice,” he said, “I think they are already parked somewhere outside Louvre waiting for us. I think Lucien knows that,” he said.
“Well if you think Lucien knows don’t you think the French police will intervene? Maybe he will be following them his car,” she said hopefully.
“Maybe, maybe not.”
As they walked back to the hotel a panel van coming down Quai de Montebello braked suddenly and screeched to a halt next them at the intersection with Rue Dante. The doors flew open and three men sprung and lunged towards them. Julian screamed to Rachel,
In less than a split second, faster than the reflex response of a sprinter at the crack of the starter’s gun shot, Helena immediately turned around and in a flash was in full stride sprinting as fast she could down Rue Dante. Her sudden flight was completely unanticipated and caught their assailants completely off guard. After a moment’s confusion and hesitation two of the man started running after Helena while the other one lunged at Julian in a desperate attempt to grab hold of him. Like the swift and agile rugby player he once was while at Christian Bother’s College Julian deftly side stepped and dodged the tall heavy built man. Before the man could recover his balance, Julian had already bolted, sprinting across the road he narrowly escaping being hit by a passing car. Before he made his getaway across the Seine River via Pont au Double towards the Notre Dame Cathedral, he managed to glance over his shoulder to see that Helena was still ahead of her two pursuers. The driver jumped out of the van and joined the other man in his chase after Julian. He gained a head start of more than 50 m, but he did not slacken his pace, instead he turned right into the Rue du Cloitre Notre continuing his sprint down the road than ran past the Notre Dame Cathedral. They gave up the chase as he run across the road weaving through the traffic before disappearing from sight into Rue Massillon.
He waved down a taxi and climbed in and instructed the driver to take him to the Gare de Lyon, the major railway terminus in Paris.
Helena was a lot fitter than the two men pursuing her. Even though the deep breaths of cold air made her lungs ache, and even though her breath started to rasp she did not slow down. Completely outrun by Helena the two men also gave up their chase as Helena run across the Boulevard Saint-German and disappeared from their sight. They turned round and raced back to the panel van.
Julian noticed that the taxi driver had a frown on his face; he kept on peering into the rear view mirror. He turned around and saw that the panel van was driving close on their tail. The two men sitting in the front of panel van recognized Julian. The driver of the panel began to ram into the rear end of the taxi. The taxi driver began to swear. He brought the taxi to a sharp halt and jumped out of the cab to confront the driver of the panel van. The four men in the panel van piled out. One of them was carrying a 9 mm pistol in his hand. A police car stopped behind the panel van. There was an exchange of fire. Julian glanced through the rear window of the taxi and saw that the man who had drawn his weapon was now lying in a pool of blood on the pavement. The other men jumped back into the panel van which then with wheels spinning sped past the taxi and vanished round a corner with the police car in pursuit.
Almost immediately a large crowd gathered around the wounded man lying on his back on the side work outside a crowded restaurant. Julien climbed out of the taxi. He assumed that the attempted abduction had turned into a debacle. The man who had been shot had been sitting in the passenger seat of panel van cab. He was still alive. Julian pressed through the crowd surrounding the man. He heard the words ‘sud-Africain’ being repeatedly uttered. Julian stared briefly down at the man who had been identified as a South African. His face was ashen and his eyes were filled with shock as he gazed up at the foreign faces staring down at him. To Julian he embodied the South African state. He was a fallen Apartheid warrior. The words Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité did form not part of his political creed. In France he was a criminal, an agent of criminal actions, a law breaker. He then walked away unnoticed from the scene. He kept on walking until he saw a church called Église Saint-Jean-de Montmartre in the street Rue des Abbesses. He stopped and stood next to a huge tree across the street from the church.
He entered the church and walked down the main aisle to the altar, at the second row of pews from the altar he found himself making the sign of the cross before seating down the left had side of the aisle. He sat in the middle of the pew and gazed at the altar. In the gloomy interior under a glowing red sanctum lamp stood the tabernacle fixed to an elevated plinth against the asp on the right hand side of altar.
He felt a mixed sense of relief. He realized that there was a strong possibility that Helena had escaped. But then the thought crossed his mind that she could have been caught. Maybe this was the reason they had been so persistent in trying to get him. Maybe she was drugged and bound in the back of the panel van.
The icy hand of panic began to tighten its grip on his mind as he began to entertain the possibility that they had caught Helena. Taking a few deep breaths he struggled to calm down and think rationally.
It became palpable to him that the future existed in a state of limbo as a set of mere possibilities yet to be realized. But the looming phantom of the future had the power to rise up out of nothing, out of non-existence and devour the present moment transforming it into unchangeable consequences. The past was closed and the gapping jaws of the future were wide open. He felt the logical asymmetry that was built into the way one speaks and thinks about the past, the present moment and the future. Verbs were tensed, the idea of time was alive in the very grammar of language, in the manner that language functioned in communication, and this was obvious. This was because the past, present and future were ontologically different. The past was closed and the future was open, it was as simple as that. The past was unchangeable. The future was not yet. He could deliberate about what the future held but all deliberation about the past in terms of what it held was over for good. Now in the present, any statement about the past could be true or false while a statement corresponding to a belief about what the future held could be neither true nor false. But thinking of all of this gave him cold comfort. He closed his eyes and prayed with all his heart that God would save Helena.
He wanted to believe with all his heart that she got away, and that she was on her on a train to Zurich. In his mind he began to weigh up all the various probable outcomes. He tried to convince himself that she had outrun them. They could never have sustained the chase. She was fit. They had been walking almost continuously for 8 hour every day. They were both fit and in good shape. She was the girl’s hockey coach at Germiston High School. At high school and at Wits she played left wing. She could run there was no doubt about that; and she was fit, so she must have outrun them and managed to lose them. He wanted to believe that she had got away, but the lingering doubts still persisted in his mind.
He wondered about whether it was safe to go back to the hotel to collect their things and pay the bill. He had to act decisively while there was still time. He weighed up the all risks in his mind. He quickly decided to gamble on going back to the hotel to retrieve their things. He felt morally obliged to settle their bill.
Stepping into the wintry midday sunlight outside the church he spotted a taxi approaching and waved it down. He gave the driver the hotel address.
The taxi dropped him outside the hotel. He stood outside the hotel entrance for a while and surveyed the street. There was no evidence that the hotel was under any kind of surveillance. Pushing open the glass entrance door he walked over to the reception desk and informed the woman on duty that he would be booking out immediately and wished to settle his hotel bill. He carefully monitored the receptionist’s demeanour and manner for any kind of warning signs. She seemed to be aware of nothing. She did not bat an eyelid; she just confirmed that she will have his bill ready in a moment. She gave him the room key, and got busy with his hotel account.
He stepped into the left, pressed the 3rd floor button. As the lift door slide closed the receptionist began to prepare the hotel bill. He quickly packed their cases and within ten minutes he was back at the reception desk ready. After paying the bill he asked the receptionist to call a taxi.
At the station after paying for a ticket to Zurich a porter helped him with the baggage.
It was a grey and gloomy morning, a light snow was falling, his breath turned into clouds of fog in the frosty air and the temperature had fallen to an icy -10 oC. Julian had been standing for more than two hours next to the door of the house in Spiegelgasse which used to be Lenin’s lodgings when he was in exile in Zurich. As the minutes ticked by he grew more and more anxious, he continued to glance up and down the street expecting Helena to arrive at any moment. The cabaret of Hans Arp and the Dadaist movement of Tristan Tzara had been launched in the same street in 1916
Another hour passed and he started to believe that his worst fears were going to be fulfilled. He had left the hotel near the Zurich railway station before sunrise so that he could be at their rendezvous at first light in the Old Town of Zurich. The falling snow began to cover the park across the street from Lenin’s house in a thin white mantle. The neighbourhood was deathly quiet. The same neighbourhood was steeped in history. James Joyce and Thomas Mann had once frequented the streets of this ancient town. John Calvin had in all likelihood walked down Spiegelgasse the street in which Julien was waiting for Helena. Now as Julian gazed around expectantly not a soul was to be seen on the same streets which had been around since mediaeval times. He crossed the street so that he could examine the front façade of the greyish blue narrow multi-storey house with shuttered windows. He gazed up at the tall narrow house which had been standing there for hundreds of years.
A movement in the corner of his eye caught his attention. Out of gloom emerged a dark figure carrying a white bundle which looked like a newspaper. The person waved. It was Helena, still wearing her black beanie, black scarf and black coat, the same clothes that she had on yesterday. Her face was radiant, beaming with angelic joy.
“Isn’t the snow just so amazing Jojo? Everything is so magical and so unreal. Everything looks so beautiful with the snow falling. I think I can even hear the snow falling. Just listen carefully, can you also hear the snow falling. It feels like this is all a dream,” she said with such intense passion. Her eyes were bright with wonder.
Julian was immediately perturbed by her almost manic state; he had never seen her like this before, she seemed to be intoxicated.
“Are you OK Helena, is everything alright with you?” Julian asked as he hugged her tightly.
“Don’t be so worried Jojo. I am just fine even though the past 24 hours have been absolutely horrific,” she exclaimed ecstatically like someone in state of transcendence.
She saw the concerned expression on his face. She gave him a reassuring smile. She kissed him and hugged him tightly.
“I am alright, everything is OK with me?” she answered.
“Are you OK Jojo?” She asked.
“Don’t worry about me, I am OK. I just did not expect to find you in such an exuberant mood after what we have been through,” he said.
“I can’t help it Jojo. It must be the joy of freedom. It must be the bursting feelings of elation that comes with knowing that we have survived, that we have escaped, that we are together again. I never felt so good as this in all my life, for the first time in my life it feels like that I am really alive, ” she tried to explain.
“I brought this newspaper to show you that we are in the news again.”
She read the headlines:
“South African Anti-Apartheid freedom fighters Julian Bogart and Helena Lathbury once again eluded capture by the South African secret police. French authorities thwarted the attempts of the South African secretive services to illegally abduct Bogart and Lathbury in Paris. A South African secret service agent died in a gun battle with French police on the streets of Paris as they tried to abduct the couple. The whereabouts of Bogart and Lathbury are as yet unknown. It is believed they are no longer in France…,” she read.
“What now?” She asked Julian with a bemused smile on her face.
“Well it seems that Zurich is going to be our new home for the time being, maybe we can find a room in Lenin’s old house,” he said.
She burst out laughing.
It is impossible for God to suffer passive or involuntary injury and harm as a result of human actions. But in an empathetic act of solidarity with his creation God permits himself to be affected by pain and suffering as a consequence of human actions; and He does this freely without giving up his sovereignty.
In the lost decade of the 1970s in South Africa two eccentric and unlikely Calvinists from normal middle class families in Germiston who after becoming involved in an unlikely romantic attachment discover that they have also become accidental terrorists. They do not know that the security police have discovered by sheer chance their culpability in terms of the terrorism laws of the country. Fortuity, contingency and providence seems to have become all mixed up as they find themselves on the run as political fugitives in Paris. The notorious Bureau of State Security (BOSS), a secret apparatus of the South African government, has hired contract hit men from the Paris criminal underworld to abduct the couple and bring them back to South Africa to be tried as weapon smugglers for the anti-Apartheid liberation movement.