Saturday, March 03, 2007

Virgins of the Corn

There was a very interesting story in the Swazi News a week ago, an account of a traditional practice revived in Hhelehhele by Chief Mnikwa. What happened was that an army of army worms (caterpillars) had been feeding on the chief’s mealies and veggies, so he asked local schools to release over a hundred and fifty maidens for the weekend. The girls turned up at the chief’s homestead, slept there overnight, then stripped naked the following morning and headed for the chief’s fields. When they got to the fields they began singing traditional songs and hand-collected the army worms before flinging them into the nearby river to the accompaniment of more traditional songs. The chief then urged his neighbouring chiefdoms to use the same tactic to get rid of the insects. As expected, SWAGAA condemned the ritual; a spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture dryly remarked that he would have preferred a ‘more scientific’ method to get rid of the crop pests.
The newspaper report was, also as expected, unfortunately low on details but high on sensationalism. I would have liked to know, for example, if the girls acted on their own, without any involvement by men, and if the girls had to remove every item of their jewellery as well. I would like to know because this is a Nomkhubulwana ritual known as kukhalela amabele (crying for the corn). The newspaper report said that the ritual was performed here 45 years ago, but the custom is much much older than that.
Nomkhubulwana was a Sky Princess associated with fertility and harvest. In times of drought, poor growth of crops or the appearance of insects such as army worms, prayers would be made to her and offerings from the land would be given.
From the time of human prehistory the regenerative creative force of both humans and the earth has been seen as female and therefore it comes as no surprise to know that Nomkhubulwana was represented as an unchanging virgin—an everlastingly beautiful maiden—who never got old and never got pregnant, so her breasts would always be full and uncovered. All girls of marriageable age were linked to her. She epitomised health, female energy and the fertility of humans, animals, and the soil. Beer, for example, would sometimes be brewed by the girls and offered to the Princess. The girls would pour the beer onto the soil and sing a fertility prayer: ‘Princess, here is the food eaten by men. Bless us, so that we may feel horns around us.’ (Horns, of course, are male symbols.)
It is interesting too that this story appeared at this time, for we are currently approaching Easter, and ‘Easter’ derives from the Anglo-Saxon name ‘Eastra’ or ‘Eostre’. Eostre was a Northern Sky Princess associated with fertility and harvest. Her festival was held annually around this time of the year, at the time of the Northern Spring Equinox (which is March 20 this year), and the rituals associated with her are, like those of Nomkhubulwana, related primarily to the fertility of people and crops. This is the time of year when a month was named ‘three milkings’ because the grass was beginning to grow abundantly and the local village beauty was elected a ‘queen’ and so on. Many of these traditions linger on and they certainly underpin the Christian celebration. The resurrection of a man and the rebirth of plants are not that dissimilar as far as ideas go. There are many who believe the ‘crosses’ on our ‘hot cross buns’ were originally a pair of crossed horns.
In all of these traditions the feminine element is pronounced. What cannot be denied from the Swazi Times story is the obvious inference that naked Swazi women are believed to hold a lot of power, and that this power has a connection with crops and the soil. We are still an agricultural nation, after all, and our ties to the land’s fertility are strong. The story of the virgins of the corn runs through every facet of our traditional Swazi culture—note, for example, the photo of our first note—and especially connects to our major festivals of Umhlanga and Incwala.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Feb 14

February 14th, Valentine’s Day, is one of those days that mark our lives, one of those annual events—like Birthdays and Christmas—that should sparkle like bright lights on the calendars of our biographies. After all, Feb 14 comes every year without fail and once we are old enough to appreciate it we know that we can’t miss it.
But so many of us these days have such messed-up relationships that the day has become a remembrance of things past rather than a present and future hope. There was Futhi, remember, and Mandla, and Nosiwe, and Sizwe… and who was it I was with last year?
Flowers flying ‘cross the room
vases smashed against the floor
said ‘I’d rather be alone—
take your chocolates and go home.’

Be my Valentine.
Be my Valentine.
Be my Valentine.

That’s a verse and chorus from ‘Feb 14’ by a contemporary band, the Drive-by-Truckers. In another song of theirs, ‘A World of Hurt’, a world-weary voice declares,
To love is to feel pain, there ain’t no way around it
the very nature of love is to grieve when it’s over
the secret to a happy ending is knowing when to roll the credits
better roll them now before anything else goes wrong’
Yep, Valentine’s Day is not what it’s cracked up to be when our society is itself cracked up.
Our papers are full of stories about some husband beating or hacking his wife or of some man thumping his girlfriend or of two women scratching and clawing each other over some man or of some minister losing his shoes because of a makhwapheni. It used to be Cupid’s arrows, but today’s lovers use sticks and boiling water and knobkerries and fists and even knives—bruises and scars are the new gifts of love; the stories used to be of teddy bears and panties and perfume and bright red hearts. Now every heart bleeds.
What happens to romance these days? A couple meet, fall in love, get all over each other, move in together, have a child, get married… and then hate each other. As the joke-which-is-not-a-joke puts it, marriage is a romantic novel where the hero dies in the first chapter. Our love songs now are about falling out of love:
It seems that we’ve run out of words of praise
There’s nothing left for us to say
in the beginning there was lust
but now the thrill has gone away
you had my heart but now I want it back
we’re nothing more than friends
and when I take a closer look at us
I know we’re heading towards the end

yes we’re falling
falling… out of love.
The manufacturers are still making the heart-shaped cards and the cute teddies and the heart-shaped chocolates, but love—like the roses we send each other—just isn’t built to last. Our passion ends up dry and withered, shrivelled and wasted like last week’s flowers.
Music especially reflects the collective aspirations, outlooks, hopes and dreams of a culture, and if you listen to what we’re singing, you’ll realise that romance is dead. Yes, there are plenty of bedroom songs—one favourite in the clubs right now has a verse/chorus that goes:
I know you see me looking at you and you already know
I wanna f*** you
you already know I wanna f*** you.
The tune is actually quite sing-a-long and the lazy beat is seductive; but it sure isn’t romance.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


Let me tell you why I most probably won’t be buying an iPod, or any other mp3 player, even though I think they’re stylish, contain amazing technology , and love them.
At a crowded table in a crowded restaurant recently I watched a man who was ignoring everyone else at his table, his head full of the personal demons pumping from his portable mp3 player. His ears were plugged, his eyes were glazed, and he might as well have not been there. When later he got up to leave the restaurant, he hardly noticed the people he brusquely barged and elbowed his way past.
About a week after that, I was in the same restaurant when another man was on a date with his girlfriend. The whole time he was there he was wired. Every time she tried to speak to him he said, ‘Huh?’ or ‘What?’ Not once in 45 minutes did he remove his headphones. All the time she was eating, he was jerking and shaking to the sounds in his ears.
I’m obviously getting old, because I can still remember a time when people used to talk to each other. Wasn’t there a time when couples went out to a restaurant to do more than just eat? Wasn’t there a time when a man would gaze dreamily into his girlfriend’s eyes and focus to hear the soft, gentle purr of her voice?
I used to think television was social enemy number one—and then the cell phone came along. For a while, friends would get together, gather around a table… and spend all their time looking at their cellphones. But now even the phones have been muscled aside. You no longer look cool with only a pretty honey hanging on each arm—your ears must now be sprouting earphones or at the very least bulging with Bluetooth receivers.
Welcome to Swazi GadgetLand. You have nothing to lose except your friends and your hearing.
‘Huh? What’s that about hearing? Speak up…’ For some reason I remember a story about two old men who met each other whilst shopping in town. ‘Hey,’ one said, ‘Long time. How are you doing?’
‘Oh, I’m so excited,’ said the other, ‘I’ve just bought a new hearing aid. I had to order it and it was so expensive, but it’s transformed my life.’
‘That’s good,’ said the first. ‘What kind is it?’
‘Oh,’ said the other, looking at his watch, ‘I think it’s about four o’ clock.’
Because the technology these days is so powerful, people are plugging into their personal players for long stretches at a time and regularly cranking up the volume to drown out background sounds and ‘distractions’. In doing so, they are damaging their ears.
Current advice is that users should not listen to their iPods or players for more than twenty minutes without taking a break, and certainly should not listen with the volume above 50%, except perhaps for extremely short bursts. All the evidence available, though, is that no-one is heeding this advice. (No-one is heeding advice about the volume of sound in nightclubs either. Audiologists say we should all wear ear plugs if we go clubbing, because of the volume of music played by DJs, but I have never met a clubber wearing ear plugs.)
The risks are real. Hand-held video players and games consoles and all kinds of new funky things are on the way, but GadgetLand has the potential to lead us into a lonely, silent, world, where every conversation begins and ends with ‘Huh?’ Do we really want this kind of a future? I don’t; so I won’t be buying that iPod after all.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Three Princesses at Incwala 2006-2007

What do we learn?

With SCOT being closed for repairs, the OVCs still a hot issue, the IGCSE minefield still not completely navigated and the opening of schools put back for a further week, now is perhaps the time to ask why we bother with public education at all—what is the purpose of education? Why do we bother ourselves so much about schools? In fact, why do we bother at all? Surely even without schools our young will still learn how to live and become successful—or not—just like all of us.
The late Harold Macmillan recalled the time when he went up to Oxford before the First World War. The new students were addressed by the Dean of their college: ‘Young men,’ the Dean said, ‘you are about to embark on a journey of learning and discovery. I hope you will enjoy it and work hard. But none of it will be of any use to you unless you at least learn, before your course has ended, how to tell when a man is talking rot.’
The writer Ernest Hemingway expressed the same thing, albeit characteristically differently: ‘the purpose of education is to give everyone a built-in crap detector, so you can tell what is crap from what isn’t.’
The purpose of education: to know when someone is talking rot; to discern what is crap from what is not; that’s a pretty good definition, I think.
And that, of course, is why we bother. We bother so that everyone can learn to think for themselves and make their own decisions, based on considered reasoning and evaluation. Education is never about indoctrination, inculcating sets of rules or teaching ready-made answers to life’s big questions. Education is all about ‘why?’ and ‘who says so?’ In short, education is all about questions, not answers.
The ancient Greeks said that every question is itself an education, and they were right.
Here’s a 1965 song by Tom Paxton, tongue-in-cheek and irony intact:

What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?
I learned that Washington never told a lie
I learned that soldiers seldom die
I learned that everybody's free
That's what the teacher said to me
And that's what I learned in school today
That's what I learned in school

What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?
I learned that policemen are my friends
I learned that justice never ends
I learned that murderers die for their crimes
Even if we make a mistake sometimes
And that's what I learned in school today
That's what I learned in school

What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?
I learned that war is not so bad
I learned about the great ones we have had
We fought in Germany and in France
And someday I might get my chance
And that's what I learned in school today
That's what I learned in school

What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?
I learned that our government must be strong
It's always right and never wrong
Our leaders are the finest men
So we elect them again and again
And that's what I learned in school today
That's what I learned in school.

The song still makes a pretty good lesson in 2007, don’t you think?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Smart theology, poor Christianity
(A letter to the Times Sunday, and my response to the letter)


Thank you for the invitation to respond to Ken Rowley and his article 'Smart Move, Poor Theology.'
I agree that Pastor Justice has poor theology in some areas.
However I have occasionally read Mr Rowley’s articles and from them I have to say he has smart theology but no Christianity!
He has openly stated that he believes the so-called gospels of Judas and Thomas are better than the four biblical Gospels. When challenged to state who he believes Jesus is, he replied in the past tense that Jesus was a member of some obscure Jewish sect.
However we Christians believe that Jesus is God incarnate - present tense.
Jesus spoke against the Sadducees, who were religious rationalists of that time. They denied the existence of angels, or other spirits, and all miracles, especially the resurrection. They were rationalists, deniers of the supernatural. In Matthew chapter 22 verse 29 Jesus told the Sadducees "Ye deceive yourselves, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God". Jesus' answer gives the three incapacities of the rationalist; self-deception (Rom.1. 21, 22); ignorance of the spiritual content of Scripture (Acts 13. 27) and disbelief in the intervention of divine power (2 Peter 3. 5 to 9).
From his writings it is obvious the Ken Rowley is an intelligent rationalist - a modern day Sadducee!
The Bible judges Christians and shows us our faults.
However Ken Rowley judges the Bible and finds its 'faults'.
Therefore he places his intellect as above and better than the written word of God.
Christians however place their intellect as below the Bible and by FAITH they accept that God's word is infallible.
I am sure that an intelligent man like Mr. Rowley will accept that human intellect, even his own, is fallible.
Christians do not rely on fallible human intellect but rely on guidance from the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Where does Ken Rowley rely on guidance from?
Since he does not confess Jesus is God incarnate, Ken cannot have the holy Spirit as a guide.
Again I say who then is your guide Mr. Rowley?
It is established now that Rowley is not a Christian but rather a religious rationalist.
Jesus warned us in one parable that an enemy would sow tares among the good seed. The problem with tares is that it looks just like wheat!
Is it possible that the tares appear so much like the good seed that the tares actually believe they are wheat?
Does this explain why some are told on Judgement Day "Depart from me, I never knew you"?
When I have a car problem I seek help from a real mechanic.
When I want dental guidance I go to a qualified dentist.
Surely then it is not too much to ask the Sunday Times to get a real Christian to write Christian articles instead of Mr Rowley with his unknown guide!
Malangabi Crawford.

Hey, thanks for your strong response!

A few points:
1. If you’d read my article, ‘Not Pastorised’ you’d know I don't claim to be a Christian—at least not in the way the church defines the term. As I explained there, my own practice is closest to Zen than anything else.
2. The column I write is not intended to be a Christian one (or even a religious one)—the Christian writer the Times Sunday 'hires' is Pastor Dan Mdluli. I write about religious issues from time-to-time simply because I consider them interesting and important issues.
3. I have never (as far as I know) said that the gospels of Judas and Thomas are 'better' than the canonical ones. ‘Better’ is a meaningless term in this context and I’m rather fond of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I wrote in my discussion of the gospel of Judas that I don’t have much personal use for it because it is clearly late and Docetist. The gospel of Thomas appeals to me because it is closer to the oral record than Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and also because it contains koans and even a mondo or two.
4. Yes, all human intellect is fallible—which is why I keep mine in good working order. This is sensible, for even if there is absolute truth it always has to be understood (filtered) by our human intellect. Reliance on divine inspiration for understanding the scriptures is no doubt why there are so many different denominations and sects within Christendom and why controversies such as the so-called Montanist heresy came about. Texts are wonderful tools but studying any book about God won’t help with the direct experience of knowing God, just as a book of road signs won’t teach you how to drive a car—even a book entitled ‘How to Drive a Car’ is no substitute for really driving. Christian mystics—and all the other mystics—have always known that God is beyond the texts. Texts can be a useful start, but if you’re freezing to death in the middle of a severe winter then be sensible and use your Bible or Qu’ran or Rig-Veda or the Pali Canon or the Book of the Dead to start a fire. In any case, to suggest switching off your mind (as you do) so that ‘divine inspiration’ can explain the text is the kind of mischief that allows people to believe that talking donkeys are real and that fables are historical events. If, as a literature teacher, I taught that method to my students, how well do you think they would do? The Cambridge examiners would fall about laughing.
5. As for ‘real dentists’ and ‘real mechanics’—I am indeed a real and qualified theologian. But ‘theologian’ doesn’t have to mean ‘Christian’.
6. For me the purpose of writing articles is to stimulate thinking and response.

Thank you for thinking and responding.

Some reader responses (Jan07):

What Ken is saying is very true, Pastor Justice should humble himself and go to bible school. His books should be introspected by theologians before sellers. For him to work alone is unhealthy.
He must try to be open and simple (akhulumiseke), and give advice to other pastors like Maseko, Jeremiah, Thwala to go to bible school and they should check their theology, which must be improved.
Thank you once again Ken for what you said, it is the truth, you have spoken for all theologians.

Ken Rowley is right, I wouldn’t have put it more correct than him. The world is yearning for more Mother Theresas, a school teacher who left her profession in heed of God’s call. At the height of her ministry, when she was interviewed on why she was doing what she was doing, her reply was that when she washed the wounds and fed the destitute that she saw the face of Jesus.

Ken, you could not have said it better. These days Christianity is about wealth outside, not the heart. Swazis wake up, give your money to the needy.

Well, I certainly agree with Mr Rowley. As Christians, we’ve completely forgotten the way to salvation. Now healing of the sick, which is a gift from God, is used to draw people to churches.
Reasons are solely for money purposes in form of offerings. Government and church bodies have a duty to protect the vulnerable by putting laws that will monitor bogus pastors who advertise their said powers and gifts through the media.
Control is the key word.

Smart move, poor theology

Apparently there was a big fuss over one of Pastor Justice’s articles a little while back; I see now that he has joined the church crew who are writing and promoting their own books. Though classified as ‘Religion’ or ‘Self-help’, these books should really be placed on the fiction shelves, for it is clear these evangelists have lost the plot. The basic idea is that we shouldn't ever be sick, but must always be healthy; we shouldn't ever be poor, but must always be wealthy; and all this is because Christian’s are 'King's kids', that is, children of the King (obviously Christ, but in a country like ours there are many other resonances).
I have a problem with this. Suppose we are children of the King, but does that mean we are supposed to be 'kids' forever? The early church didn’t think so. Paul, in that wonderful 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians, wrote, 'When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.' One problem with the ‘King’s kids’ theology is that it will never grow up. Writers like Pastor Justice are seeing through a glass, darkly.
And if we do grow up, what might we be, having started as King's kids? There can only be one King. What if we are groomed for the Throne but can’t get it? It is human nature to aspire to greatness. Is this why preachers aren’t satisfied with titles like ‘pastor’ but want to be called ‘apostles’ and such like? The devil fell from Heaven because of this very thing, that he thought it was time to grow up and become King.
The problem with this kind of theology is that it is founded on a selected metaphor, yet that there are many others—equally striking—to choose from. Why not 'King of Kings', which would make us all Kings? Or 'Lamb of God', so that we could be real kids? (J) Or the 'Suffering Servant', so we can really suffer?
How about 'Prince of Peace', so that we can be peacemakers? For sure we need a few peacemakers. (The Sermon on the Mount, anyone?)
No, to take one image and major on it always leads to imbalance and distortion; after a while the distortion becomes little more than half-truth and smoke.
I wouldn't have so much of a problem if these writers were majoring on the idea of being a servant: at least there the focus is on others. Or they could even focus on justice (J). Unfortunately, this theology’s agenda has been set by the world’s values and so these books and articles are in fact little different from the thousands of articles and books found in any magazine or bookstore in every country these days—publications that usually have nothing to do with Christ. Everyone’s theology, alas, can so easily be hijacked by the spirit of the world. ‘King’s kids’ theology is part of a worldwide prosperity cult that's peddled by a thousand success gurus who are remarkably successful in selling plenty of copies of their own writings to a million needy people. And these days, becoming a success guru is a smart career move, even better than becoming a DJ (J).
Christian writing has certainly changed. When I was a boy, browsing the books on the dusty shelves of our church library, the books were all about 'going to the foot of the cross', repenting of our selfishness and 'becoming a broken vessel' to be used by God; now the books on the shelves are 'The Seven Steps to Personal Success' or similar titles with similar sentiments.
We can perhaps blame much of this on television. When Christianity moved from sacred buildings into hotels, bars, and people's living rooms via TV, the message immediately became something different. The 'otherness' was removed. On TV, there is no sacred human activity, no ritual, no sense of being in a sacred place, just the preacher as today's personality, today's talk-show host (I noticed, significantly, that a very recent advert said ‘Pastor Justice will be healing the sick’, not ‘God will be healing the sick’: this kind of thing is par for this particular course). As Neil Postman put it, 'the message of television... is not only that all the world is a stage but that the stage is located in Las Vegas, Nevada.' Postman’s is a telling comment, for Las Vegas is the prosperity Mecca of our times, the place of pilgrimage dedicated to money and the hope that one day we can all become rich.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Chowing the cows…

I’m sure you all saw the picture of the cow on Wednesday. It was a shameful photograph. That poor, abused cow should have had its face covered in the paper—I mean, first you are abused and then, as a rape victim, your face is splashed across the front page of the national newspaper…
But seriously, did the man propose love to the cow first, something like, ‘Eh, sisi, ngitsandza tibunu takho’?
Sometimes—many times these days—it is embarrassing to be a man. It is embarrassing to be classified along with cow-copulators and donkey-doers and, from what I heard recently, chicken-chowers. Yes, I was told of a man who chows chickens in this way. Presumably he enjoys the portability. And no doubt he eats his ‘lady’ afterwards.
What have we now become?
That story ignited justifiable outrage and nation-wide disgust. One man reminded me of a ruling in the Old Testament that a man who does it with an animal must be stoned to death because it is an abomination, a stench in the nostrils of God. Quite so. Another man remarked that since the act took place on Friday the freak hailstorm that thundered upon us on Sunday was obviously God’s judgement on us all for allowing such a thing to happen in the world of men. It’s an interesting theory. Years and years ago, when Cyclone Domoina engulfed us with its deluge there were many who claimed that the cyclone was God’s judgement on the sins of the nation.
That is, in fact, a common biblical theme. In the well-know story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the two cities are completely destroyed by God because local homosexuals wanted to ‘sodomise’ (yes, that’s where the word comes from) two angels who had dropped down to Lot’s house for a visit. And there’s an even older story about beings from the spirit world who interbred with human women. That was considered unnatural and therefore also an abomination.
The classic New Testament comment on such things is the latter part of Romans 1, where Paul remarks that our focus on creatures rather than the creator (i.e., God) invariably brings distorted thinking and twisted humans, as a natural consequence.
Just how twisted have we humans become?
The young cow-copulator who was caught and arrested can’t even claim that he had a sudden desire for the animal, since he had removed all his clothes and organised a cement block to stand on. This shows careful planning and forethought. (Really worrying is that we are told the man didn’t use a condom and that the cow is pregnant.)
No-one alive today who watches TV and films, reads the papers and magazines, and who listens to the radio will be surprised if I say we are living in a sex-obsessed age. If you watch Channel O, you have to wonder if it is the music or the sex that sells the CDs. The soapies are full of affairs, liaisons, and adulteries. The movies try to leave nothing to the imagination. And the newspapers carry reports about the rape of children, grannies, donkeys, and cows. The current homosexual debate is part of this worldwide obsession; and so, of course are HIV and AIDS. You never know, maybe the virus was caught from cows rather than monkeys.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The heart is naked

This week I got angry, which is rather rare for me. My anger was a response to photographs, a news report, and a comment which appeared in the daily Times under the headline, ‘Wife-to-be bolts naked’. The photograph of men holding the woman’s arms was enough to anger me, but the captions underneath the photos irritated me even more: ‘married woman refuses to be tekaed’, ‘a woman they wanted to teka took them for a ride’, ‘caught’, ‘the runaway woman’, and ‘the family members… had to run after her’ (italics mine). The implication is that the woman had no right to say ‘no’, and by running away the woman put everyone to a whole heap of trouble forcing them to go out and catch her and force her back to the homestead.
I don’t know about you, but I see no difference between this and a basic denial of human rights.
The comment, though brave and essentially correct, didn’t help because it didn’t go far enough. Yes, the woman might have been in the wrong; but being in the wrong does not disguise the fact that ‘teka’ as practiced in this way is a sick custom that displays all the hallmarks of slavery—force, the denial of an individual’s rights and wishes, and often (though not in this particular case) abduction. Teka has become a localised version of human trafficking.
Being angry, I aired my views with a whole bunch of people and that initiated some involved and heated discussions. The most interesting comment I received was from a very traditional Dlamini gentleman, who insisted that there is nothing wrong with the teka custom. ‘Teka is for lovers,’ he said. ‘Those people who don’t respect a woman’s wishes and force her are not real Swazis. Those people are ruining our beautiful traditions just because of their own greed. Those aren’t Swazis.’
Perhaps Dlamini is right; I’m willing to reconsider my views after what he said. Maybe the people in the pictures aren’t ‘real Swazis’.
But I have to admit I’m on the side of the woman, however wrong she might be. She reminds me of the story of the pastor who was walking through the village one afternoon. A villager noticed him, and remarked, ‘Hey, pastor, where’s your bike today? I don’t normally see you walking around.’
‘Somebody stole it,’ the priest replied. ‘I suspect one of my parishioners.’
‘Well, tell you what,’ the villager said. ‘When you preach on Sunday, give them the Ten Commandments. They’ll feel guilty, and you’ll get your bike back.’ The following week the pastor was riding around the village again when he met the villager. ‘Hey Preach,’ said the man, ‘I see you got your bike back. Did you give them the Ten Commandments?’
‘I sure did,’ said the priest.
‘And when you got to “Thou shall not steal” you really laid into them?’
‘No,’ said the priest. ‘I only got as far as “Thou shall not commit adultery” and then I remembered where I had left the bicycle.’
When it comes to love, everybody’s heart is naked. The underlying tragedy here—the backstory—appears to be that a woman needed to seek passion in the arms of another man because her husband was not enough. That’s a human story. Everybody needs love, love and romance: we were designed for it, and we can’t ever be complete without it. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: no-one can own another person—that’s slavery. Love is never forced. The woman was at the man’s kraal because she needed love, not because she wanted marriage. If a woman says no, for whatever reason, then no real man needs to chase her down the road and try to force her to marry him. There’s a difference; don’t force it.