Nelson Mandela was one of the 20th century's greatest leaders, but the long walk to freedom in South Africa is far from over. 

Tom Getman 04-29-2013
Redeeming the Past: My Journey from Freedom Fighter to Healer

Fr. Michael Lapsley's Redeeming the Past: My Journey from Freedom Fighter to Healer

Most Americans sat glued to the TV or radio on April 15 (or raced to finish tax returns) transfixed by the horrific Boston Marathon bombing and aftermath. Nearly 100 friends of Fr. Michael Lapsley’s gathered that evening at Busboys and Poets restaurant and bookstore in Washington, D.C., to be soothed with a testimony of faith by South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, soul-stirring cello music, and a transporting testimony of healing by apartheid regime bomb victim “Father Mike.”

One of my favorite newspapers in the world, the South African Mail and Guardian, reported on April 19 this way: 

“Boston bombings: the marathon struggle of survival and healing … a priest from South Africa, apartheid fighter and a bomb victim himself reaches out to Americans about forgiveness … He had not planned it that way. The event was to launch his book. It had been scheduled for last October but Hurricane Sandy scuppered those plans. Instead it took place on a day when three people were killed and more than 100 injured in Boston.”

Tom Getman 04-26-2012
Squatter camp in South Africa. Photo courtesy of Tom Getman.

Squatter camp in South Africa. Photo courtesy of Tom Getman.

As an annual visitor to South Africa I am often asked, “will the budding democracy survive or will it go the way of other African dictatorship kleptocracies?” 

For starters of course it can be said that all democracies, even America’s in an election year, are works in progress.

But beyond the obvious it is accurate to assert that the model post-apartheid constitution and bill of rights in the early 1990s established a sound foundation. The media and courts remain vibrant and even courageous, African National Congress party discipline is improving, the government is being held accountable for corruption and lack of basic service delivery, and a growing vocal parliamentary opposition is emerging. The grass roots civil society—planted and thriving from the liberation struggle—is active in movements such as Kairos Southern Africa.

'Statue of liberty' photo (c) 2011, Rakkhi Samarasekera - license:

"I will call them my people, who were not my people. And her beloved, who was not beloved." (Romans 9:25 referencing Hosea 2:23)

Estranged, alienated, and removed; anyone living in an industrialized modern society in the 21st century would be able to define, or at least identify the sentiments of these words. Our time is one of mass communication and instantaneous access to knowledge. And yet our lives are too compartmentalized, increasingly divided, and our society reflects this. Indeed the existential writers of yesteryear were correct in diagnosing the iron cage that would befall us, ultimately leading to an eclipse of reason.

Jim Rice 07-19-2011

Kindle 3photo © 2010 Zhao ! | more info (via: Wylio)Sales of printed books are down 9 percent this year, supplanted in part by digital versions on Kindles, Nooks, and even iPhone apps. But the real threat to long-form, hard-copy reading -- that is, paper books -- is inside our heads, according to Johann Hari, a columnist for the Independent in London.

"The mental space [books] occupied is being eroded by the thousand Weapons of Mass Distraction that surround us all," Hari told me last week. "It's hard to admit, but we all sense it: it is becoming almost physically harder to read books."

[Okay, I admit I didn't actually talk with Hari. The quote is from his newspaper column. But pop over to Twitter, and you can see how, in effect, he gave me permission to paraquote him at #interviewbyhari.]

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah, long-form reading. Hari quotes David Ulin, author of The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time, who wrote that he "became aware, in an apartment full of books, that I could no longer find within myself the quiet necessary to read." Ulin wrote that he would sit down with a book, and find his mind wandering, enticing him to check his email, or Twitter, or Facebook. "What I'm struggling with," he writes, "is the encroachment of the buzz, the sense that there's something out there that merits my attention."

Sheldon Good 01-24-2011
Environmentalism is "deadly." It is "one of the greatest deceptions of our day," "striving to put America and the world under its destructive control" and "seducing your children." It is a dangerou
Steve Holt 12-13-2010
We Americans hate to wait. Whatever we want, we want it now. Pay-per-view. One-click shopping. Smart phones. Drive-through restaurants.
To become an undocumented immigrant requires very little but is a result of tremendous social, economic, political, and environmental forces; I offer my story as example.
Shane Claiborne 11-26-2010

As per usual, on Friday, we had all sorts of Buy Nothing Day festivities (check out the video here). But that's not what I want to talk about. I read recent posts on consumerism and Buy Nothing Day by Eugene Cho and Rachel Anderson here on God's Politics, and I admire the optimism and nuanced critiques. But this past weekend folks around the world stared in embarrassment, pity, and horror as people killed each other for bargains –- literally.

Nontando Hadebe 04-06-2010
As millions of Christians celebrated Easter this past weekend, their celebrations were interrupted by events in South Africa and Zimbabwe that reinforced the relevance of the message of Easter for
Nontando Hadebe 04-03-2009
It has been another week of high drama in South Africa and more mixed news from Zimbabwe. In South Africa three key issues have dominated public debate.
Seth Naicker 03-06-2009
I guess that people are on a journey when it comes to faith. Some admit to being on a journey, while there are those who state they have arrived.
Barby Zuniga Ward 02-26-2009
Most of my life I have been thinking about race and religion -- as a child when my family left my native Costa Rica to move to inner-city New Jersey, as a teenager struggling to develop my faith an
Seth Naicker 02-20-2009
Freedom is on my mind. In the case of South Africa, political freedom was achieved almost 15 years ago. It was a freedom from the heresy of Apartheid.
Nontando Hadebe 10-06-2008
"When two elephants fight it is the grass that suffers." - African proverb
Nontando Hadebe 09-26-2008
The political events in South Africa over the last week have been historical