Christianity and Other Harmful Practices Including Apartheid

Image

Every Sunday was church day and every inmate in the hostel had to attend church even if there was no church that represented your brand of Christianity. As there was no Lutheran church in the village I was told to pick another or the choice would be made for me, the little blond girl attended the Methodist church so I decided that I would accompany her to the Methodist version of the scriptures as I had already tasted two years of the Catholic variety.

I will admit the Methodist version was not as regulated nor as pompous as the Catholic version. The priest though was hilarious, he obviously had false teeth that did not fit properly and every now and then he would be in the middle of damning adulterers and sinners to everlasting hell when he would whistle certain words. It was very hard to take these whistling sermons very seriously and if it hadn’t been for my young blond friend pinching me every time the whistling started, I am sure that I would have burst out laughing. There was not a Sunday that fornicators were not mentioned, I am not sure if it was because of my father’s son being in the congregation or that he knew many fornicators in his congregation.

After church we were marched back to the hostel not being allowed to share in the tea and cakes that were supplied by the ladies of the parish as there was a tea laid out on the lawns, for all the children of the hostel, after the last service was completed. Normally the Afrikaans churches had the longest services, up to two and a half hours, so tea was set for eleven. Every Sunday these large baking trays were laid out with a yellow sponge cake, that was completely tasteless, smothered in sugar icing that leant some taste to the tasteless cake and large urns of tepid watery tea. Tea lasted exactly thirty minutes and then everything was returned to the kitchen.

During the sixties, the South African government enforced a curfew for the Natives, and every evening in Barberton a siren would sound and all Native people had to be off the streets of the Town. Not only that, they had to be in the place that was designated in what was called the ‘Dompas’, it was a book that contained their complete work history, place of present work, designated living address and their criminal record if any. No Native could find work or be in an area designated as a ‘White area’ without producing the Dompas on demand. I am not sure exactly what time the siren sounded, but I think it was at ten at night.

One Sunday returning from church I was to witness the law in action. A Native gentleman had been stopped and his Dompas demanded, he tried to explain that he had left it by accident in his normal work clothes and the police could take him to his employers house and he would produce it for them. A fair request you would think. What happened next was so totally uncivilized that it is really hard to comprehend let alone describe.

The two white police officers started beating him with their truncheons until he fell to the ground unconscious, they then picked him up as you would a hundred kilogram sack of corn and threw him head first into the back of their patrol vehicle. The sound of his head striking the back of the steel bulkhead was similar to the sound a pawpaw makes when thrown against a wall. It was a scene that I have remembered all my life. I can never say that I did not know of the brutalities committed under Apartheid, I knew. What did I do to end it? Or did I just put it out of my mind and support it? Read on and discover.

Lots of HUGS and more,

Peggy-Sven

Advertisements

Of Church and Other Disasters.

Image

Sunday in our household was a strange affair, Granny always left for the eight o’clock service at the Anglican Church, my father left for the Pirates Tennis Club and it was left to my mother to take us to Sunday school at the new Lutheran Church near Zoo Lake. The Pastor of the Lutheran church was an American and so naturally was his family. I think that my mother attended the main service while we attended the Sunday school classes, but there are three things that I mainly remember from the very few years that we attended church.

The first is that the pastor had a very beautiful daughter, and she was always very friendly. I do not remember her name, but she was one of the “grown-ups’ that attempted to guide our young and impressionable minds along the paths of Christian indoctrination, resplendent with its fire and brimstone for the sinners that we were undoubtedly to become. In the unlikely event that we sinners, by some miracle, were to be counted among  the few saints that would attain the Kingdom of Heaven, the glory of Paradise and everlasting life.

There is something that I have never understood about the necessity of explaining everlasting life to very young children, for two reasons, the first being that they have no comprehension of death, and the other that they themselves have no idea at all of eternity. Eternity to a young child is the length of time that it takes from the time they look forward to something and the actual time that they get what they want. Instant gratification, being a child’s idea of Paradise.

The whole concept of God to a young mind is also incomprehensible, I remember most of my friends at the church thinking that God lived inside the alter, and the idea that he watched us all the time frightening, not in a good way as to stop us from committing all those sins that we had no idea what they really were, but more like the “ Bogey Man” someone that could do us more harm than good. Of all the sins that were forbidden, I think that the only ones we understood were to love our mothers and fathers, not lie and do not steal. All the other ones were for the “Grown-ups” and anyway we noticed that they tended to lie to us a lot as most parents do, calling them “white lies” and thinking that children do not catch them out.

Anyway, the reason I remember the beautiful young pastors daughter is because at the end of one Sunday’s indoctrination sessions she was standing with her father outside the classrooms chatting to all the parents that were fetching their offspring, when I walked up to the young lady and told her she was the sexiest girl that I had ever seen. I had picked up the word sexy from my father as that was the way he described any beautiful woman, so I thought that the word sexy was the highest compliment that could be given to a girl.

I was not prepared for firstly the shocked silence, then the nervous giggles and finally the mocking laughter. My mother marched over and berated me in front of the whole congregation and kept demanding that I apologise to the Pastor’s daughter, I found it strange that I had to apologise for saying that the girl was beautiful, as she surely was, as I felt if I did I was saying that in fact she was ugly. It was many years later that I realised that the only thing that I had done wrong was that the church was an inappropriate place to call someone sexy because today I realise she was both beautiful and sexy.

Hugs and much more,

Peggy-Sven