Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “Anglicanism”

Of babies and bathwater: English theological and ecclesiastical reformers

A couple of weeks ago I heard the news of the death of John Fenton, who was principal of St Chad’s College, Durham, when I was a student there in 1966-68. Now Bishop Alan has pointed to an obituary in The Times: Bishop Alan’s Blog: John Fenton RIP: wonderful man…:

Sad to reflect on the death of Canon John Fenton (Times obit). His gentle presence and sharp thinking sparkled, provoked, healed and stimulated on every level and with every kind of person.

It was good to read the obituary to learn something more of his life after he had left St Chad’s, and especially before. He had taught New Testament at Lincoln and Lichfield theological colleges before becoming principal of St Chad’s the year before I went there. He later became sub-dean of Christ Church, Oxford.

My first real encounter with him was when I went to tea with him, with a couple of other new students who were graduates of other universities and had come to St Chad’s to do the post-graduate Diploma in Theology. One was Graham Mitchell, from New Zealand, and the other was one Barnes, who had studied at Lampeter, in Wales. Perhaps the best way of describing it is from my diary of the time (10-Oct-1966), though it describes his household rather than John Fenton himself, but that was part of who he was:

We had only one lecture in the morning, and most of the rest of the morning I spent cloistered in my room, reading the final part of The Lord of the Rings. After lunch went to have tea with the principal – with Graham and a little bloke called Barnes. John Fenton’s wife, Linda, is about twenty years younger than he is. There is a very young baby, which was crying or gurgling most of the time, and a Burmese cat, a very friendly-looking animal – which is apparently pregnant by an alley cat. Linda wanted to know if cats could have abortions, because they didn’t want a litter of mongrel kittens. Frank Cranmer came in, and we had a right merry time with this Barnes. He was a graduate from Lampeter, an institution in Wales. Whenever anything was mentioned that was inefficient or nutty about the church, he applauded it loudly. He
appeared to think that New Zealand was still a crown colony, and the idea that New Zealanders no longer thought of England as “home” horrified him. When he acclaimed the startling (to me) and radical revelation that the Bishop of Durham lived at Bishop Auckland, and the Bishop of Jarrow lived in Durham, Linda kicked a box of tissues at him, he was, of course, an arch-Tory, and Frank said afterwards that he probably was a fan of King Charles the Martyr, and wanted the Jacobites to return to the throne. At 4:15 Barnes and Graham Mitchell and I went with the Vice Principal to the Castle for the matriculation of graduate students. We wore academic dress. I had
to borrow a gown, and a hood from Reading, which resembled, in a vague sort of way, the Natal BA hood. The Vice Principal seemed rather suspicious of it. We sat in the huge mediaeval dining hall, and the Vice Chancellor gave a chatty little speech of welcome, and then we all signed our names in the books provided.

I found that John Fenton was a super bloke (“super” was a favourite expression of his), but theologically we were worlds apart. He was a fan of Rudolf Bultmann, who advocated “demthologising” the gospel. He gave me one piece of advice that I thought was very good. He said that when reading books and commentaries about the New Testament, one should concentrate on books that take a strong line, with opinionated authors, rather than the bland “consensus of scholarship” ones. So he always suggested books that took a strong Bultmannite line in reading lists. I preferred to read books like Brandon’s one on Jesus and the Zealots, which suggested that if Jesus wasn’t a guerrilla leader in the struggle against Roman imperialism, he at least associated with people who were.

One thing that showed the breadth of theological difference between us was when he set me an essay on “Jesus and the demons”. I read it to him, and when I had finished, he said “But you haven’t told me whether you think demons exist or not.” I said I thought that the question whether demons existed or not was a distraction and beside the point. Bultmann would probably have said that demons were a primitive mythological element that must be excised to make the gospel relevant to modern man. But to me arguing about whether they existed or not was a bit like being run over by a bus, and lying there in the road wondering about the philosophical question of whether or not the bus existed. Coming from South Africa, where demonic political powers were oppressing the people in the country, arguing about whether demons exist or not seemed to typify the armchair theology of Europe. British theologians argued about the theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but British theologians were not in danger of being hanged for treason by a demonic government, as Bonhoeffer was.

When I got home to South Africa I mentioned this incident to John Davies, then Anglican chaplain at the University of the Witwatersrand, who had also been a student of John Fenton, only at Lincoln Theological College. He said yes, whatever the demons are, the important thing is that Christ has the mastery of them.

It is sometimes said of zealous ecclesiastical reformers that they want to “throw the baby out with the bathwater”. But after my two years at St Chad’s I came to the conclusion that English theological reformers wanted to throw out the baby and keep the bathwater. And in many ways it was John Fenton who taught me this.

The 1960s were a time of liturgical reform, and in my time at St Chad’s we swung from old Anglo-Catholic High Mass to the latest products of liturgical committees and back again, according to the whims of the senior common room (i.e. the college staff). Some of us students objected, and asked for some community discussion on the process, so that our worship could be an expression of the college’s life as a Christian community. On one occasion in a sermon John Fenton said that he wasn’t sure if he believed in the kingdom of God. We asked then, “If you don’t believe in the Kingdom of God, what’s the point of going to Matins and Evensong?” “Because yer’ve got to do it when yer get into a parish” he replied in his emphatic way.

One student went to see John Fenton to express his concern about this. And John Fenton persuaded him that it didn’t matter. So the following occasion when there was a Solemn Evensong, on the eve of a major saints day, when students were expected to attend wearing cassock, surplice and academic hood, four of us went in our everyday dress (bright hippie stuff, back in 1968), because, after all, it didn’t matter. The principal had said so.

But it turned out that it did matter very much. The next time the vice-principal (a German Jewish refugee from Nazism who had converted to Christianity when he fled to England) took two of us to lead evensong in a Durham mining village, he asked on the way why we had not been wearing wedding garments at Solemn Evensong the previous week. “Because we think it is a new form of circumcision, Father,” we replied. He said he disagreed, but did not say much more.

The next time there was to be a Solemn Evensong, we received a message to say that we must be wearing wedding garments, by order.

So at the time of Evensong we left our cassocks, surplices and hoods neatly folded in our places the chapel while we were in the college office duplicating our equivalent of the Ninety-five Theses, which we put in all the places in the college dining room at supper. It was a considerably milder protest than the student power riots in Paris. We weren’t ripping up the paving stones or buiilding barricades of burning vehicles. But it was a protest none the less.

And the core of it was that if you throw out the baby (the Kingdom of God), then it makes little sense to keep the bathwater (Solemn Evensong with all the trimmings).

Looking back on my two years at St Chad’s, I think that that was the main thing I learnt there — how to distinguish between babies and bathwater. It wasn’t in the syllabus, and I don’t think it was what John Fenton intended to teach. But it was what I learned.

When I returned to South Africa, John Fenton wrote to my bishop to say that he couldn’t recommend me for ordination, because he couldn’t understand me at all, and had no idea what made me tick, and suggested that someone in South Africa should take that responsibility. So, as I said, our theology was galaxies apart, and we both knew it.

But I liked him, and I think he liked me. We wrote to each other over the years and kept in touch in that way. I am glad that I went to St Chad’s and I’m very glad that I met John Fenton. He was a very kind and generous-hearted man, not least with people whose theological opinions differed greatly from his. So I say, may his memory be eternal.

Spend! Save! Don’t spend! Don’t save!

As the economic recession gets closer to a full-blown depression, the conflicting messages from economic fundis and would be fundis become more and more confusing, leading to reports like this: Spend less this Christmas, says the Church of England, as retailers head for bankruptcy :: Damian Thompson:

Every year the Church of England tries to underline ‘the real meaning of Christmas’ with a publicity campaign and every year it makes a hash of it. Indeed the sound of a Christian PR stunt backfiring has become a much-loved feature of the festive season. This year s headline the Bishop of Reading the Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell calls on the public to spend less in the shops just as the recession is biting and shopkeepers are searching anxiously for customers. Nice one bish.

Hat-tip to A conservative blog for peace.
And then there’s this.
TitusOneNine – Joe Nocera–The Worst Is Yet To Come: An Anonymous Banker Weighs In On The Credit Card Debacle:

Over my career, I have seen thousands of consumers that have credit card lines in excess of their annual salaries. Some are sinking under their burden. Some have been fiscally responsible and have minimal amounts outstanding. My 21-year-old daughter, who’s in college, gets pre-approved offers all the time. She has no ability to repay debt, yet the offers flow in just the same. We all know how these lines are accumulated. The banks, in their infinite stupidity, keep upping credit lines because the customer pays the minimum payments on time. My daughter’s credit line started at $1,000 and has been increased over the last two years to $4,400. She has no increased earnings to support this. But the banks do it without asking. And without being asked. The banks reel in the consumer, charge interest rates higher than those charged by the mob, increase lines without the consumer asking and without their consent, and lure them into overextending. And we can count on the banks to act surprised when they aren’t paid back. Shame on them.

You swipes your credit card and you takes your pick.

Why I am not a Marxist: Class war and the Anglican schism

You’ve got to wonder what they’ve been smoking to dream up stuff like this!

Class war and the Anglican schism | Links:

Dramatic events within the worldwide Anglican Communion (the international association of national Anglican churches) have revealed a “cold split” with the potential for a complete collapse of the Episcopal formation. Superficially, the debates have centred on the right of women and homosexuals to be priests and bishops, and on gay marriage. However, while theological arguments dating back centuries are being mouthed, behind them are class-war elements of more recent vintage, including some connected with the era of US President Ronald Reagan’s backing of Central American death squads in the 1980s.

African bishops have led the charge against modernity, but they are funded and organised by right-wing US think tanks and the Sydney Anglicans’ arch-reactionary Archbishop Peter Jensen. Another player is the Vatican, which has been reported as throwing its resources behind Anglican Primate Owen Williams.

They are so keen to interpret everything in terms of class war that they end up being thoroughly racist. The assumption behind this is that Africans are too thick to make up their own minds, and they need white Australians to tell them what to think.

That is very little different from the National Party regime in South Africa, which was firmly convinced that any opposition to its policies among black people must have been stirred up by white agitators (communist, of course).

I have no doubt that there are elements of class struggle in the current turmoil in the Anglican Communion, but this kind of simplistic and racist analysis does nothing to help people understand them.

US imperialism has created the worst of all worlds

US imperialism has created the worst of all worlds, says the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury.

clipped from

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has said that the United States wields its power
in a way that is worse than Britain during its imperial heyday.

Rowan Williams claimed that America’s attempt to intervene overseas by
“clearing the decks” with a “quick burst of violent action” had led to “the
worst of all worlds”.

He said the crisis was caused not just by America’s actions but also by its
misguided sense of its own mission. He poured scorn on the “chosen nation
myth of America, meaning that what happens in America is very much at the
heart of God’s purpose for humanity”.

  blog it

Claims mother died during Maori exorcism

Claims mother died during Maori exorcism:

“Claims a young New Zealand mother-of-two died as relatives tried to remove a Maori curse from her are being investigated by police. A homicide investigation is under way into the death of Janet Moses, 22, at a house at Wainuiomata near Wellington on October 12 as relatives looked on.”

Anglican Maori Church archdeacon Hone Kaa told the newspaper makutu-lifting ceremonies were often used to cleanse victims.

The curse was believed to have been linked to a relative stealing a taonga.

Dr Kaa said water was often used in such ceremonies, but not the amounts understood to have been involved in Ms Moses’ case.

He said lifting curses was a difficult process and was wary of doing it.

In some cases victims needed to be held down by several people as the spirit fought, but he was not familiar with injuries such as scratches and grazes being inflicted.

The Archdeacon does not say that this particular ceremony was an Anglican one. I wonder if they are done by other denominations.

Guitar Priest: Dorothy Sayers on Christian Work

Now this is worth a read: Guitar Priest: Dorothy Sayers on Christian Work

The only Christian work is good work done well. Let the Church see to it that the workers are Christian people and do their work well, as to God: then all the work will be Christian work, whether it is Church embroidery, or sewage-farming. As Jacques Maritain says: ‘If you want to produce Christian work, be a Christian, and try to make a work of beauty into which you have put your heart; do not adopt a Christian pose.’

When I was a student (more than 40 years ago) I used to attend St Alphege’s Anglican Church in Pietermaritzburg, which at that time was a thriving Christian community. A new priest came to the parish, and complained that people were not doing enough “Christian work”, meaning arranging flowers for the altar, baking cakes and so on. Several people objected, saying that for many people their Christian witness in the secular world of jobs, education and working for NGOs and even political parties was their Christian work.

Women clergy leaving the Episcopal Church

According to Ad Orientem: Women priests leaving the Episcopal Church? Alice Linsley is doing a survey of women clergy who are leaving the Episcopal Church in the USA.

Alice Linsley herself was one who left to join the Orthodox Church, and knows of others who have done so, but would like to find out more. If anyone has information about this, please pass it on.


Over the last couple of weeks I have seen quite a number of blog posts that have referred to an Episopalian minister in the USA who has said she is both Christian and Muslim. Most of posts I have seen that have come from Christian bloggers have been very uninformative and moralistic. They have either simply condemned the minister concerned, without saying why, or they have held it up as an example: see, everything you have been told about the Episcopalians is true.

We all tend to moralise at times. In my own blogs I have tended to moralise about warmongers like Bush and Blair and Clinton, and that has its dangers (Grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother). But their actions have taken place in public view and in democratic societies are exposed to public debate.

In the case of the Episcopalian minister who claims to be both Christian and Muslim, however, there have been a couple of media reports, which have been, in the nature of such things, rather shallow. And in neither the media reports nor most of the blog postings I have read has there been any serious attempt to get to grips with the real issues.

One exception is this post by The Imugi on Religious Syncretism. The Imugi is not a Christian, but a religious syncretist practising a mixture of Taoism and Buddhism (a kind of syncretism that is quite common in East Asia), yet displays a far better grasp of the issues than most Christian blogs I have read on the topic.

A few months ago we had a synchroblog on Syncretism (you can see my contribution, with links to the others, here: Notes from underground: Syncretism in Western Christianity. I nominate the Imugi’s post for honorary, though belated inclusion.

Anglican introversion

Retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu told the BBC that the Anglican communion was spending too much of its time and energy on debating differences over gay priests and same sex marriages – a subject, he said, that had now become “an extraordinary obsession”. The crises in Zimbabwe and Darfur, corruption and HIV/Aids were not getting enough attention, said Tutu. To which one might add, for American and British Christians, such things as the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo.

In his blog Journeys in between, Matt Stone remarks that “Consumerism, pluralism, spirituality, collapse of Christian credibility and moral authority in the media and public discourse … don’t these issues deserve some attention? I don’t recall Jesus being that sex obsessed.”

The Anglican obsession with sex has led to some disturbing changes in the attitudes of the West. As one columnist put it

But the largest adjustments are coming on the religious left. For decades it has preached multiculturalism, but now, on further acquaintance, it doesn’t seem to like other cultures very much. Episcopal leaders complain of the threat of “foreign prelates,” echoing anti-Catholic rhetoric of the 19th century. An activist at one Episcopal meeting urged the African bishops to “go back to the jungle where you came from.” Not since Victorians hunted tigers on elephants has the condescension been this raw.

Perhaps these are not changes in attitude, though, but rather the multicultural mask being stripped off, and revealing the paternalism and imperialism that was there all along, and had been covered up, as I noted in an earlier posting in this blog: Mission is a two-way street… or is it?.

One of the Anglican blogs that appears quite frequently on blogrolls and is recommended as a good one is Father Jake stops the world. Yet when I read it recently it seemed to be almost entirely concerned with the internal politics of the Anglican Communion. There were older post on other issues, but now sexual politics within the Anglican Communion seem to be the dominant theme. The same seems to be true of other Anglican blogs, and I’ve seen it in other forums such as Usenet newsgroups. The sexual obsession seems to have rendered many Anglicans incapable of seeing anything else, and to have almost paralysed the Anglican Communion.

The martyrs of Epinga

Persecution and the suffering church –

Ovamboland, Namibia

On Sunday 30 January 1972 the congregation of St Luke’s Anglican Church, Epinga, was coming out of church after Mass. Epinga is about 30 miles east of Odibo, where the main Anglican Church in Ovamboland is situated. While going from the church, members of the congregation were accosted by a police patrol, and were told they were not to attend any meetings. They scattered into the bush, and then when the police vehicles had departed, they came back together again asking what it was all about when police on foot surrounded them.

They were searched for weapons and one young boy aged about 18 was carrying a walking stick. The chief of the police began poking a stick into his face and shouting at him. The boy lifted up his arms to ward off the blow, whereupon the policeman shot him through the head. The whole patrol then opened fire, and shot at him until his skull was a bloody pulp. Seeing this the congregation fled, and several of them were shot as well. Four died instantly, and another is said to have died later in hospital.

Those who died are: Thomas Mueshihange, Benjamin Herman, Lukas Veiko, Mathias Ohainenga. The wounded were Seimba Musika, Phillipus Katilipa and Kakaimbe Hidunua. The parish priest still had some fragments of the skull of the boy who was first shot in the vestry of the church. In the early church too, it was the custom to bury the bones of the martyrs who had died for Christ under the altar of the church, and to erect churches on the tombs of the martyrs.

At the inquest into the deaths, the police said they had been attacked by a group of 100 Ovambo armed with axes, pangas, bows and arrows (the Rector of the parish said they were armed with Bibles, prayer books and hymn books). The police also said that after making “exhaustive inquiries” they had been unable to identify any of the dead except Benjamin Herman. Almost all the affidavits at the inquest were from the police, and those of non-police witnesses (who were wounded) attest to the fact that the congregation was not armed. The inquest magistrate found that the police had opened fire “in the execution of their duty”.

The Archdeacon of Ovamboland compiled a list of the names of the dead and wounded, together with their next-of-kin (the spelling of the names above may not be correct, as they were transmitted orally, by telephone).

The circumstances

The Rector of St Luke’s, Epinga was the Revd Stephen Shimbode The Archdeacon of Odibo was the Ven Philip Shilongo, of St Mary’s, Odibo. The Archdeacon of Ovamboland was the Ven Lazarus Haukongo, who had been Rector of the Parish of Holy Cross, Onamunama, which was close to Epinga. Most of the Anglican parishes in Ovamboland were among Kwanyama-speaking people, and were stretched out eastwards from Odibo along the border with Anglola, at intervals of about 10 kilometres.

Kwanyama-speaking people lived on both sides of the border, and many Anglicans lived to the north, in Angola, and until this time the crossed the border to attend church services. Most of the church buildings were no more than half a kilometre from the border fence.

A short time before this incident the South African government had declared a state of emergency in Ovamboland, which prohibited meetings. There was no time for news of this proclamation to have reached ordinary churchgoers in Ovamboland, so the members of the
congregation were almost certainly not aware of it.

There are various possible conclusions that one can draw from the inquest.

One is that the magistrate was either under the control of, or intimidated by the police, and saw it as his duty to exonerate them no matter what, and that he therefore either did not either ask for or consider evidence from all sides, and that the verdict was therefore a cover-up.

Another is that the magistrate was aware of what had happened, and that he considered that it was the duty of the police to shoot church congregations.

The brief report above was one that I compiled shortly after the events described, which were one of my closest encounters with persecution in which people were actually killed. A month after that I was deported from Namibia, along with the bishop, Colin Winter, the diocesan secretary, David de Beer, and a teacher, Toni Halberstadt.

No, it didn't quite happen like this in Ovamboland, this picture was taken in Mexico. But the circumstances are similar. If the people who died at Epinga had not gone to Mass, they might still be alive today. For the Mexican story, read "The power and the Glory" by Graham Greene.

No, it didn’t quite happen like this in Ovamboland, this picture was taken in Mexico. But the circumstances are similar. If the people who died at Epinga had not gone to Mass, they might still be alive today. For the Mexican story, read “The power and the Glory” by Graham Greene.

I thought the story of the Epinga martyrs deserved to be told, but the Anglican Church in Southern Africa was strangely reluctant to hear the story of its own martyrs. It honoured contemporary martyrs in Uganda, such as Yona Kanamuzeyi, in the church calendar, but not its own martys in Epinga. It dishonoured those who were imprisoned for their faith in South Africa and Namibia and other places by removing the feast of St Peter’s Chains (August 1) from the church calendar. So I thought I should tell their story here.

And since a blog is a journal of sorts, I reproduce my journal for 28 February 1972, which was the day on which I first heard of the events at Epinga a month earlier. It was my last official duty in the Anglican Diocese of Damaraland (as the Diocese of Namibia was then known) — to represent the Anglican bishop, Colin Winter, at the uniting synod of two Lutheran Churches in Namibia — the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Ovambokavango Church. We had received our deportation orders over the weekend, so the bishop was unable to attend himself. And deportation was itself persecution of a sort.

Monday, 28 February 1972

Early in the morning I went to the bishop’s house to fetch Philip Shilongo and Erica Murray to go to the Lutheran Synod at Otjimbingue. Erica came out alone, and said Fr Philip had not returned home last night, and said she thought he had been going round Katutura getting up a petition for the removal of the dean. We drove past Katutura to go to Abraham Hangula’s new house, but we found Fr Philip walking down the road, and he got in the car and came with us.

We were driving in the blue Combi, and refuelled at Okahandja, and got some road maps for Erica so she could see where we were going. We arrived about 10:00, and went and talked to Pastor Wessler. The bishop wanted us to discuss the whole situation in Ovamboland with the aim of issuing a joint statement on it, as Nangutuuala had asked him to do. Unfortunately the Ovambo delegates to the synod had not yet arrived, so we could only meet with the Evangelical Lutheran Church people.

Fr Philip told us what had happened at Epinga on January 30th at Fr Shimbode’s church, St Luke’s. He said that after Mass that Sunday, at about 1:00 in the afternoon, the congregation was coming out of the church, and a patrol, whether of police or army he could not find out, told the people coming out of church that they were not to hold any meetings. The congregation scattered into the bush, and when the lorries had driven off, they came together and began to discuss the incident, and asked each other what it was all about. Then the patrol surrounded them, and searched them for weapons. One boy, aged about 18, had a walking stick, and the leader of the patrol began shouting at him, and poked a stick in his face. The boy lifted his arms to ward off the stick, and the captain shot him with his revolver. Then the whole patrol opened fire, and shot his head to pieces. The congregation scattered again, and three of them were shot dead, and two or three more seriously wounded. One of the injured ones died later in hospital. One of the others had serious brain injuries, and they did not expect him to recover. Fr Shimbode still had some of the bones from the shattered skull of the boy who was shot first in the vestry of the church.

So lie in honour the bones of the martyrs who by the blood of their necks have borne
witness to Jesus, and to their faith in the kingdom of God; they shall shine like stars and move like sparks through the stubble, and their Lord will receive them with honour in his kingdom.

Some of the Paulinum students, who had worked at the Oshakati hospital during the vac, testified to the admission of people from that area who had been shot, and the numbers tallied. They also knew of others who had been shot on other occasions, but we did not know why, or the circumstances of the shootings.

We had lunch with the students and I met Miss Voipio, who wrote the booklet about the contract system. After lunch we returned for more discussions, and then had tea with Pastor Sundermeier and Pastor Kaipianen and Miss Voipio. Dr Sundermeier was now teaching at Mphumulo in South Africa, but had come up for the synod where the two Lutheran churches were uniting. After tea I phoned the Daily Mail, and had great difficulty in getting through, the dictate typist told me to hang on, and then cut me off, and then after three minutes I began to dictate the story, what Fr Philip had told us. I had just got to the part where I said “four people were shot dead” when we were cut off. I rang the operator at Karibib, and she said Windhoek had cut us off — there was a strict limit on trunk calls of six minutes, and there was nothing she could do about it. I had visions of what might happen with half a story like that going around, and told her it was a very important call, and did an excited Smitty act with her, but it made no difference. Later I talked to Father Kangootui, who had also come for the synod, and told him about our deportation.

The synod followed, and the opening session was a service, with a sermon preached by Habelgaarn, the guy from the Lutheran Church in South Africa. Bishop Auala presided over the first session of the synod then, which was greetings from other bodies and churches, and I represented the bishop in bringing the greetings of the Anglican Church.

Afterwards I met the combined church board with Fr Philip, and told them again what we knew of the situation in Ovamboland, but the Ovamboland people — bishop Auala and company, were stalling. They were sympathetic, but not interested. We went on till after 11:00, and there was no conclusion. Afterwards Pastor Maasdorp and Pastor Rieh came and apologised to me for the meeting, and both seemed terribly embarrassed by the prevarication of the delegates from the Ovambokavango Church. They felt they had let us down, but it wasn’t their fault at all. Then Pastor Diehl also came and apologised, and he too was embarrased by it all. Two delegates from the German Lutheran Church had earlier expressed support for us in the action we were taking against Dahlmann. We drove back to Windhoek, and after we reached the tar at Wilhelmstal, I stopped to let Erica take over. I went to sleep in the back, and Fr Philip acted as kudu observer, and there were many kudus on the road, all bent on suicide. We got back to Windhoek after 2:00 am, and I drove the Combi back to the hostel, feeling dead beat.

Some explanatory notes:

  • Daily Mail – I was a stringer (correspondent) for the South African Morning Group of Newspapers, and so regularly sent news reports to them. But the story of the Epinga martyrs was never published, except for the distorted account of the inquest. That is one reason why I thought it should be told here.
  • Smitty – was J.M. Smith, one of the craziest journalists in Namibia, whose legendary encounters with the Namibian telephone system were repeated years afterwards.
  • Dahlmann – another journalist, Kurt Dahlmann, editor of the Allgemeine Zeitung, who had been a Luftwaffe pilot in World War II. The Allgemine Zeitung under his editorship was an ultra-rightwing, almost neo-Nazi paper, which had recently published several slanders against Christian leaders in Namibia.

This post is part of a , in which several bloggers blog on the same topic on the same day. In this case the topic is “Persecution and the suffering church”. Below are links to the other blogs with posts on this topic.

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