Category Archives: south Africa

Creationism, Noah’s Flood, and Race

With so much on racism in the news today, here is a good blog (not mine) on Creationists and Race over the last 200 years.
The record on ultra-conservative Christians has not been good as in the USA annd south Africa with Apartheid

Primate's Progress

20th-Century creationism and racism

Henry M. Morris photo.jpg Henry Morris, CRI publicity photo

(re-post from 3 Quarks Daily): Henry Morris, founding father of modern Young Earth creationism, wrote in 1977 that the Hamitic races (including red, yellow, and black) were destined by their nature to be servants to the descendants of Shem and Japheth. Noah was inspired when he prophesied this (Genesis 9:25-27) [1]. The descendants of Shem are characterised by an inherited religious zeal, those of Japheth by mental acumen, while those of Ham are limited by the “peculiarly concrete and materialistic thought-structure inherent in Hamitic peoples,” which even affects their language structures. These innate differences explain the success of the European and Middle Eastern empires, as well as African servitude.

All this is spelt out in Morris’s 1977 book, The Beginning of the World, most recently reprinted in 2005 (in Morris’s lifetime, and presumably with his approval)…

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Anyone who is not opposed to racism in any of its ugly forms has to be deficient in most forms of basic morality. That is so whatever form of racism is considered. Fortunately Apartheid has gone, but racism is still here.

But how do you oppose racism?

That would require a long answer and is not so simple.

The recent murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests highlight the problems of dealing with it.

At times antiracism as a movement can confuse  by using words in particular ways and at times almost making people out to be racist if they do not accept them.

I will say no more and suggest you read this blog of “definitions by an Asian-american who is wary of CRT Critical Race Theory


He begins;

Antiracism is a broad movement committed to opposing, eradicating, and dismantling racism. AntiracismIt has historic roots going back centuries from figures like William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglas and continuing to modern writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates. Although there is no single antiracist ideology or statement of core principles, it’s helpful to view the distinguishing feature of ‘antiracism’ as its focus on systems and structures. While the vast majority of Americans see themselves as opposed to individual, personal racial animus, the ‘antiracism’ movement is distinct in that it is committed to identifying and dismantling society-wide institutions that propagate racism. Thus, not all people who are personally and even vehemently opposed to individual racism would be classified as ‘antiracist.’

One obstacle to understanding the ‘antiracist’ movement is its use of specialized language. Antiracists frequently employ words in technical, nonstandard ways, which can lead to substantial confusion, even when both sides are committed to genuine dialogue.

via An Antiracism Glossary

Alone in a desert and no church to go to!

Alone in a desert and no church to go to!

The last time churches were closed down in England was in 1208, when the Pope made an interdict because King John was a naughty boy. Yet today churches are closed throughout Britain and many other countries including Italy and the USA. This time it was not a naughty king or an authoritarian pope but a tiny virus.

What should Christians do when they can’t go to church for worship?

There have been various responses and some clergy have live-streamed services with only themselves present, either in church or at home. Often these have gone down well and are fulfilling a need. Hats off to all who have done this.

But are we too church worship-centred?

As the events crowded in on the news I recollected that half a century ago, I simply could not worship weekly with other Christians in a church, simply because there were no churches where I was and there were also no other Christians I could join with either.

For a period of 14 and a half months I spent a full twelve months living isolated in the middle of desert, miles from anywhere, 20 miles from the nearest human habitation.  Because of my isolation, public worship was only possible on rare occasions and thus most of the time my worship could only be private. Yet I would say that despite little fellowship in churches with other Christians my faith grew and thrived.

I had two options. Either I worshipped on my own, or I didn’t worship.

How did I end up in that situation?

After graduating in geology I accepted a post as a geologist at Kilembe mines in the Ruwenzori mountains of Uganda, and worked both in the bush as an exploration geologist and underground.  Without being asked, after ten months I was told I was being transferred to South Africa, but I didn’t know whereabouts in that Apartheid-ridden land.

My time in Uganda was enjoyable, though the racism on the mine got me down. I spent six months in all in the bush as an exploration geologist.

Kilembe opened the 1950s and closed in the 70s courtesy of Idi Amin, despite consdierable Copper reserves.

That involved geological mapping , soil sampling and looking for minerals. I lived in a tent in a little clearing in a forest. On one occasion I had to go to a more remote area by foot and ended up in a tiny tent listening to lions roaring as I went to sleep.

I soon got involved in the local church, All Saints, Kilembe in the Ruwenzori diocese. I went to both English and Lutoro services and ended up as churchwarden shortly before leaving the country. I also went to Balokele (Revivalist) prayer meetings, where about six languages were used in prayer. When in the bush 150 miles away I went to the local Anglican Church conducted in Lutoro. As I was the only white I was treated like royalty, which was embarrassing. My whole experience of being part of the Church of Uganda was very uplifting.

As well as public worship and prayer meetings, I followed a daily pattern of bible reading and prayer – the classic evangelical Quiet Time, which was strengthening in a different way. The public and private worship were like two legs enabling me to move forward.

But I had to leave Uganda.

As the VC10 descended to land at Jan Smuts Airport in Jo’burg, I still was not over-pleased. A fortnight before I was told –not asked – that I was being transferred to South Africa, and I was dreading Apartheid. I had turned down a mining job in South Africa because of Apartheid and made sure I was in independent Africa and thus took a post at Kilembe Mine in Uganda. I had loved Uganda and enjoyed my church, All Saints, Kilembe and a lot of African friends, which was not really approved of on the mine by white colleagues. I was met at Jan Smuts airport by the company’s office manager, a podgy 30 year old, who took me to get a coffee. He was fairly affable and asked;

“How did you get on with the ******** (Afrikaans word of Arabic origin)?”

Feigning ignorance, I replied, “What do you mean?”

He said, “*******(nasty word often used in To Kill a Mocking Bird)”

I retorted in a most tactful way, “Oh. They were great to get on with.” I pulled some photos out of my briefcase and showed him one of me holding the hand of an African girl of my age, guiding her over a plank bridge. I am sure she’d approved!  He was not amused, and believe it or not, we never got on! He was the worst racist I met in South Africa despite getting to know a lot of Afrikaners.

The chief geologist, a Dutchman, was friendly and told me to explore that weekend using a Peugeot 404 truck and so I went to the Voortrekker Monument. On the Monday I went to the office expecting to be sent to Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. He showed me an aerial photograph and pointed to some smudges. “I want you to see whether that ancient mine at Numees could be viable. They got copper out in the 1840s” I was stunned as it was empty mountainous desert – the Richtersveld -, part of Namqualand in Northern Cape Province. It was absolutely empty. I was told to camp there at the mine and to find a source of water. We got our water from the Orange River 15 miles away. It was also 15 miles from the nearest habitation – a diamond mine – and only 90 from the shops. Two weeks later another geologist and I set off staying in Kimberley en route and set up camp. Ian arrived from Windhoek and then we drove 150 miles on dirt roads to find labour in Steinkopf.


a typical Richtersveld scene

It was like being dumped on Mars as the area was so harsh. But I was to survey two ancient mine prospects and then map the whole area of a thousand or so square miles. There was a problem. It was a Cape Coloured Reserve run by CAD (Coloured Affairs Dept – for the Bantu it was BAD – Bantu Affairs Dept) and we had permission ONLY to go to those two prospects – yet I produced a map of hundreds of square miles by daily breaking Apartheid laws. I got stopped by the police once on a mountain track up Helskloof (Hell’s Valley). I couldn’t just squeeze past as there was no room and you always stopped to speak to other drivers – usually once or twice a month. They soon realised I was a rooineck so had to speak English. They were utterly lost so I told them how to get back to civilisation. My coloured assistant thought it funny as we carried on our killing ourselves laughing. I should have been arrested.

Richtersveld National Park Map , Rischtersveld map
a modern map, showing the National Park.  When I was there it was a Cape Coloured Reserve. The only tarmac was for 10 mls east of Pt Nolloth. I was halfway between Kuboes and Lekkersing, which are 40 miles apart. There was no habitation in those 40 miles

It was a geologist’s paradise helped by the fact that the only geologists who’d ever been there were Rogers in 1914 and de Villiers and Sohnge in the 1940s. I nearly disposed of Sohnge when he and others came to visit the area and while describing the rocks as we drove along, I drove off the road and down a bank. My guide was De Villiers and Sohnge’s Geological memoir published in 1944. Almost immediately I reckoned that they’d got some of the geology wrong as they thought the thick Stinkfontein formation was about 2300 million years old. I lopped a billion and half off after a day in the field that, but then had to find convincing reasons, which I did. At the same time a German geologist from the University of Cape Town was coming up and we arranged to meet to the west of Hilda Peak i.e. within a few square miles. He said “Look for a white Land Rover.” It was there in a vast sea of sand. We more or less agreed on the geology of the area, and our separate conclusions have stood the test of time reasonably well.

My first stint was from mid September to early December and thus early summer. It was hot, and not the best weather to do surveying as by 11 o’clock the surveying poles simply shimmered in the heat. The following year I spent from mid February to the end of November living in a caravan in three different places – all illegal.


Now let’s leave the fantastic geology and consider my church life. Actually there wasn’t any. I once visited the local Cape Coloured minister from the Dutch Reformed Church at Kuboes (said with a click). He was friendly, but scared to talk to me. Gone were the days when Ugandan priests spent five minutes with their complex handshakes and gave me a tribal name. I realised the political situation prevented any fellowship. I knew there was an Anglican church in Springbok 180 miles hence, so that was out. So, on my first trip I only went to church one Sunday when we went to Cape Town. Apart from that I never darkened the door of a church. As a result I went to church in Jo’burg in mid September, Cape Town in October and then Windhoek in December. There I went to the cathedral for a few weeks, and joined in with Rev Steve Heyes and Dave de Beer, who later got banned, and then was back to Jo’burg for Christmas, where I had a few contacts given to me by a missionary doctor from Uganda. For six weeks I could go to church with people I knew.

Come mid-February I was back on the road for a 1200 mile plus drive back to the Richtersveld. I had to pick up a caravan in a place called Karasburg before crossing the Orange River. For the rest of the year I had three camps scattered around the Richtersveld. Apart from the church at Kuboes, which Apartheid prevented me from attending, I did not know of any “white” churches within a hundred and eighty miles. (Afrikaans-speaking churches were out of the question as all Englishmen were Communists! One of my nicknames was Comrade Mike!)


So what was my solution for my worship and spiritual food? In a sense, I was lucky that I’d become a Christian through OICCU (Oxford Inter-collegiate Christian Union) in my last term just before graduating in geology. (Thank God – literally- that was before Creationists and ultra-calvinists took over OICCU as they did soon after I left.) CUs had one, and only one, guide for personal prayer and worship – the QUIET TIME. This was not amenable to sacramentalists as the emphasis was on systematic bible reading and informal private prayer not using any set forms, and preferably at a set time in the morning. When I got to the Richtersveld I was half way through Search the Scriptures, a 3 year guide for reading the whole bible. Thus almost every morning I read my chunk of scripture and then prayed. It was very simply and some would say monotonous, though the Bible isn’t!

There I was in the middle of the desert and very much on my own. Part of the time I had a white colleague who was more than disinterested. For eight months I was on my own with three Cape Coloured assistants. Those who have not lived with Apartheid don’t know the reality of that racial chasm, as beyond behaving morally and non-discriminatingly, it was not possible to have social, rather than formal relations which were inevitably tinged with Baaskap. That sounds extremely lonely, but I only once felt alone when I had no sleep for three nights when a desert wind buffeted my caravan preventing sleep. My radio packed up so for six months I had no radio. I spent most weekends staying with a geologist on a diamond mine on the Orange River, some forty miles away. His wife was Dutch and during the war had thrown potatoes at German soldiers and then ran! Each week I went shopping at the local big town, Port Nolloth (pop 800) and had to ring the head office in Jo’burg and then waited two hours for the call to come through.

My Godsend came as result on going on a trek over the Drakensburg mountains in the New Year. One leader was HR at Kimberly Diamond Mine. I met up with him when I drove from Jo’burg in February. He said he’d put me in touch with the Methodist Minister of Orangemund on the north side of the Orange estuary – a De Beers diamond mine and highly secure due to the diamonds. Shortly after I got a letter inviting me to a service, which was held monthly in a private house in Alexander Baai Diamond mine on the south side of the river. On the appointed day I went after being cleared by security at the entrance – the police knew all about me. It was unnerving that police and security knew who I was, but it turned out that Van Riebeck was in charge of security. I went to the house and said “Is that Mr du Toit, I am Michael Roberts and the minister told me to come here.” Van Riebeck and Daphne du Toit, a couple in their 60s, gave me a warm welcome and I joined the service with less than a dozen people. After the service we went up the river for a braai (BBQ). Most were Afrikaners, including a Mr Burke, which worried me, but I couldn’t find warmer people. Most were 55 plus – I was 23 at the time – except for a young couple with a toddler. This was the local meteorologist and his family – Willy Taal. We never kept in touch, but twenty years ago I discovered he was a priest in Blackburn’s twin diocese of the Free State. There cannot be many churches of any denomination which have produced such a high proportion of clergy – two out of twelve. The du Toits were a fine Afrikaner family and almost adopted me! Whenever I passed through Alexander Baai I called in. He was in charge of Security, so those at the gate were told to let me in. I never nicked any diamonds. Diamond mines have very strict security and are surrounded by high barbed wire fences.  Over the river in Oranjemund, owned by de Beers, the security was far more stringent and no one was allowed into an area of about 30 by 100 miles without security clearance. This was the Speergebeit, which clearly could not be policed as it was such remote desert. It was impossible to get permission to enter. However on one occasion with a French, Dutch and German geologist, four of us went deeply into the Speergebiet to study the fantastic geology, and compare it with the Richtersveld. The du Toits and I kept in touch for years until both died in the 80s. Once I called into the house and there were two visitors. Van Riebeck said they were government officials and they were clearly Afrikaners. He then told them that I was Communist Englishman and needed watching! They looked very uneasy but Van Riebeck was having fun. I might as well have been the Revd Michael Scott.

Apart from my personal contacts, I probably only went to eight services in the du Toits’ house. It was traditional Methodist fare, with non-methodist attempts at singing. I suppose many would say it was plain boring and stuck in the Ark, but here were a tiny group who came together to worship once a month. Yet, all the key aspects of worship were there; Bible, prayer, worship, singing and communion. It clearly sustained the regulars and it helped me no end both spiritually and socially. Perhaps the church’s faithfulness is also seen in Willy and I being ordained. I can hear objections, “It’s only a handful meeting in a house and not even weekly.” That is factually true but totally untrue.

You could say that the worship was nutritious but not exciting. Army or expedition rations! There was no band, clapping, incense or anything else. Just a plain boringly trad Methodist service. However it had the basic ingredients; Bible reading and sermon, Prayer both confession and intercession, Hymns sung after a fashion. We sometimes had communion, but always went up river for fellowship over a braai (BBQ). But before anyone says “how boring”, please read Acts 2 42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” That is what we were doing.

As it was no bells or whistles it was rather like my lunch box when go off for a long day in the mountains. My food is basic! A sandwich with cheese or beef, tomato, raw carrot, apple, multigrain biscuits and, depending on the season, sweet coffee or sweetened squash in the summer. That clearly works as the last time I had a problem over food and drink was in 1961, when at fourteen I cycled over 80 miles in temperatures in the upper 80s and nearly flaked out.

During the year I made several visits to Cape Town attending various churches including the cathedral, a brethren assembly and an interdenominational church. They were fleeting visits but helpful to me, and gave me spiritual shots.

Getting to an Anglican Church was fraught. There may have been a chaplaincy at Oranjemund on the north side of the Orange River, but the security was greater than Fort Knox. The nearest parish was Springbok, which would entail a drive of 180 miles each way, mostly on dirt roads. I once went to a communion in a house in Port Nolloth – there were four including the priest.

Thus I could rarely get to church more than once a month. Today that would count as occasional worship. Somehow I had to obtain spiritual nourishment for the intervening four weeks. So for virtually every day of the month my nourishment was my early morning QT!! Quite simply, Bible reading followed by prayer. I can almost hear many reading this inwardly groaning and muttering “How boring.” “What about the sacraments?” “What about fellowship with others?”

There was no alternative. Except not praying.

By the time I arrived in the Richtersveld I was reading much of the Bible for a second time and I was finishing off Search the Scriptures. At least on a second reading things which baffled me before came clearer – but maybe I am more baffled now. I am sure some would say that all this smacked of fundamentalism, but I kept hitting the rocks on Genesis and was appalled when I read the odd writer, who took Genesis literally. It was also fascinating reading the Exodus and the Patriarchal wonderings in a desert. The Richtersveld is very like the area around Sinai. I’ve never been one to try to get a special daily message from bible reading, as I took it in a more cumulative way.

When it came to prayer, I followed a mix of the two standard formulae, which are still valid today. ACTS is still recommended in Alpha.










However the basics of all worship, private or public, are there

I won’t go into details on my petitions but will conclude with one which came up in my last few months there as it was a daily concern and scary.

Earlier I wrote that sharing in public worship and spending time in private prayers was like walking on two legs. In the desert I could not walk on two legs as one leg was missing. Hence I had to spiritually hop. So I spent most of my time hopping and only occasionally walking on two spiritual legs when I could get to a church for worship.

I feel that the closure of churches over Corvid-19 is like removing one leg. Thus many will have to continue by spiritual hopping in the absence of church worship.

But here lies a serious problem. People will only be able to spiritually hop if they were walking on two legs before. Despite teaching and exhortation on personal prayer and bible reading I wonder how many church members actually do pray in a semi-structured way at home beyond “God bless mummy, God bless daddy and God bless the pussy cat”. I would suggest personal bible reading is at a premium – indicated by how few know their way round a bible. This comes out so often in talking to church members. It is not new as our college principal, John Cockerton, said he caused considerable embarrassment to a congregation when preaching, as he asked, “how many have read the whole Bible?” In other words hardly any of a loyal congregation.

Yes, many clergy are streaming on-line at present, and there will be many great innovations here. But in the long-term there needs to be more emphasis on private worship and bible study, in order to sustain Christian in normal times when they can worship and in abnormal times when they cannot worship in public. I am not willing to give a formula for this time of prayer. This applies whether digital worship becomes widespread or not. I cannot help feeling that digital worship could turn out to be a bit of prosthetic leg, but I may be wrong. In my Distance Teaching in theology I note many cite an electronic version of the Bibel as if they looked it up specially for the essay. There is nothing to beat a battered Bible. The danger is some Christians will find themselves legless, if they don’t develop a private as well as a corporate spirituality.


My daily work as a field geologist gave another element, which has always been strong with me, and that is being in Creation, in both a practical and mystical way. I would see this more as a prehensile tail, rather than a third leg! (Karl Barth may half like this, but not some eco-Christians today.) Prior to becoming a Christian I was enraptured with the outdoors and mountains – and still am. This started in my family life. My earliest memory is seeing Kanchenjunga from Darjeeling. Part came from reading one of my father’s books The Spirit of the Hills by the Himalayan mountaineer Frank Smythe, who died in the Himalaya about the time we went to India. It’s odd that at his death he was only a few hundred miles from us in a vast land. Some climbing friends taunted me for being a mountain mystic and others considered me a poofter for taking photos of flowers. Why shouldn’t you take a photo of an orchid when you are fifty feet off the ground on a vertical cliff? It was a bit tricky. You have two feet placed as securely as possible, hold on with one hand and then with other hand, open the camera case, focus and take the photo. And then carry on up the vertical face. Simples.

The Richtersveld is an incredibly awe-inspiring and beautiful landscape. It is not unlike the area around Mt Sinai, with craggy bare mountains and dramatic forms. Much of my day in the field was flip-flopping between awe and wonder and sorting out the scientific details of the geology. As much of the area was ancient sandstone, among other things I had to work out from what direction the rivers which deposited came from. And if there were pebbles or larger stones I had to work out where they came from. I also became highly competent at recognising copper minerals and spotting them in cliffs.

Five reasons to visit the ǀAi-ǀAis/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park ...

Rosyntjiebos mountain. I camped below it and climbed it to map the geology

With the emphasis today on forest bathing I was both creation and desert bathing most days. I still do as much creation bathing as I can. Though there was no flowing water in the valleys I often went up one dry valley looking at perfect outcrops not covered in vegetation and then at the top crossed over to the next valley to return to my Land Rover before it got too hot in the early afternoon. I often ran out of water before I got back to the Land Rover and always hope for a spring. I usually found one, but had to test the water before drinking to ensure it was not too full of myriad salts. To counter salt loss I drank a tumbler full of salty water when I returned to camp.

Apart from the geology and the starkness of the mountains, I often found the Atlantic mist rolling in from the west dropping the temperature to a freezing cold 15 to 20 degrees. The flora was fascinating in the dry season with various succulent plants, which varied from half-dead tiny things to the majestic kokerboom .

Richtersveld route detail | TomTom

Most years they were desiccated and dormant but when there was heavy rain, that is two inches in the spring, they sprang to life. Even more so were the flowers, including the Namaqualand daisy, which transformed the desert in September. I was lucky to be there in a wet year. It is brilliantly captured by Isaiah;

Isaiah 35 vs 1-2 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.

It was incredible the way a dusty flat plain would be transformed into a blaze of colour in a matter of days and then return back to its arid state after a few weeks.

One incident sticks out with me. For a week I had been totally confused over the geology of a large area and just couldn’t get my head round it. Then one day thirst demanded a short rest and while having a drink I looked over at the valley slope opposite and its geological structure suddenly became screamingly obvious to me. The whole area was riven with faults. I remember muttering to myself, “So that’s how You did it!” Now is that a naïve Christian approach or was I right? I go for the latter and see science as unravelling and understanding God’s works. Maybe I ought to express it in a more sophisticated way?


Creation bathing – or the old fashioned enjoying nature – was not new to me, as it was part of my childhood as my parents walked and enjoyed wildlife. We sometimes went to parts of the North Downs where orchids were common and my mother’s favourite flowers were the Pasque and Vipers Bugloss. To me it was just normal and almost a daily routine, like an apple a day. At fourteen I took up cycling but preferred to explore than to compete and soon after on a scout camp climbed Snowdon for the first of fifty or so times. At seventeen I was in Snowdonia learning to climb and then had to get home to Surrey. So I hopped on my bike near Capel Curig and peddled away, first climbing the Snowdon Horseshoe and daily getting nearer home. The most awe-inspiring part of that trip was cycling up a narrow valley full of disused mines above Aberystwyth in a thunderstorm. It was almost pitch black at the height of the storm. A few months earlier that year at Easter I was staying at my uncle’s vicarage at Lake Vrynwy. Needless to say I had my bike and did some superb mountain routes. (I was a mountain biker before mountain bikes.) The most significant was cycling over Bwlch Maen Gwynedd in the Berwyns, where I cycled and dragged my bike up to nearly 2500ft. The top of the pass or bwlch was WOW. The whole panorama of Snowdonia was in front of me and to add awe to wow a thunderstorm was passing from south to north over the mountains. That convinced me of God, but I never told my uncle, or my mother. It was another five years of sitting on the fence before I turned to Christ, after reading C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity, having been sold a copy by a member of the CU, who is now a Baptist minister in France. We’ve kept in touch.

Now back to Creation bathing. In the Richtersveld I could do it in the most dramatic ways as one can when you visit the Grand Canyon or see a lion going in for the kill. Far more important is to see the wonder of the Creator reflected in the wonder of the smallest aspect of creation. Thus today I noticed a hoverfly taking nectar from a dandelion. It is too easy to overlook things like that. We need to cultivate as part of our worship and daily life, a sharp eye for the beauty of nature around us. It also helps to have a moderate knowledge of natural history, which is becoming less common today. At present I visit a small wood close to home every few days. Since January I have been watching the bluebells slowing coming into leaf and a few days ago two plants were almost in flower. Revising this a few days later some are in flower. Two minutes before that I watched a treecreeper creeping forty foot up a tree. With all the emphasis on creation in the church today, we forget that until twenty-five years ago creation and the care of creation were almost ignored.

I spent a year in total in the desert and I could attend “a” church only on about dozen occasions and even then had to drive, or fly, between 60 miles and 500 milesto do so. Thus for most of the time I had to find an alternative, which I found in my private prayer and worship, which was totally non-sacramental. I will admit that even now after fifty years of my “forced isolation” I still find my private worship more significant than anything else. Dare I say church worship comes second?  In these Corvid-19 days, we are being forced to leave church worship on one side. The question is whether all have their own private worship to sustain them.

Looking back over my time in the ministry, the church has always put more emphasis on public worship than private prayer. Public worship must be sustained by meeting together, but private prayer is sustained by the individual, with or without the fellowship of others. However, if you only have public worship and no private prayer, you have nothing if the public worship is removed. I fear that may the case for some church members today. You become spiritually legless and cannot even hop.

Now that is enough,but earlier I mentioned one item in my intercessions.

For my last three months, one thing was very high on my list of petitionary prayer as it was very worrying and unnerved me every day. That was; safety from snakes. Due to the wet spring not only flowers came out in abundance, but also snakes and I saw them frequently. The two most venomous ones were the puff adder and cape cobra.

I had two close calls with snakes. The first was when I walked past a bush and a snake shot out and aimed for my calf. It only just missed! Luckily it was a Rhombic Skaapsteker (sheepkiller), which is slightly more venomous than a grass snake. It was scary as I did not know it was a skaapsteker while I was under attack. It could have been a mamba.

On another occasion I was descending a scrub covered hill I suddenly realised I’d put my left foot a few inches from a sleeping Cape Cobra.

Cape Cobra (Naja nivea) from Milnerton, South Africa. Dangerously ...

I did an Olympic Gold medal jump out of the way. Now I was over an hour from my Land Rover and then an hour from the nearest human, and the venom is fatal in two hours. Now just imagine if it wasn’t four inches………..

Maybe prayer helps. Is so this was a precise answer to prayer and on target!

So I was four inches away from writing this.

So, to conclude;


We need to emphasis two-legged worship (and our spiritual prehensile tail);

Worship in a place of worship


Worship in private I any place.

(and creation bathing)


Michael Roberts Ist April 2020

Was Jesus latte?

Here is an alternative picture of Jesus

Image result for black jesus

Compare it to the classic of Holman Hunt which is too white

Image may contain: 1 person

Now many will say that it is well-known that Jesus was not white as he came from the Middle East. Yes, I know, but too many still reckon Jesus was white as this incident fro the other local church shows.

Please consider two discussions with youngsters. The first was with our Year Sixes. One thought Jesus’ birthday was 25th December. We pointed out we didn’t know and that was his official birthday. Jesus was born around 6BC. It was light-hearted!

The second in another church a lad of eleven said that Jesus was dark-skinned and not white. He was corrected and put in his place. Our Year Six agreed with him when I told them about it. It is appalling that today some still insist that Jesus was white. And even more appalling that a child should get put down for saying Jesus was not white. One year Six said his skin was latte !! Now this is not trivial, especially a lad being put down. In the 1930s Nazi Christians were insistent Jesus was Aryan and thus white.

When in apartheid South Africa I often stressed that Jesus was coloured! Somehow it did not always go down with white Christians.

As Jesus was from Judean stock born in Israel 2000 years ago he would not be white and had the darker skin of that area. When we grasp that, we cannot be racist. It is almost that Jesus has the average skin colour of all people, and thus relates to all of us whatever “race” we are.

Image result for coloured jesus

And that leads us to consider why we celebrate the birth of a non-white baby 2000 years ago. As I explained to year 6, it was so unknown that no one recorded it, unlike the birth of the other Sons of God – Julius Caesar and successors.  Probably the best is to say it was about 6BC, though Sir Colin Humphreys of Cambridge has tried to narrow it down to a week or so. It seems most odd to make so much of this unknown wandering preacher who was executed by the Romans in their nastiest fashion.

Many want to choose what they believe about Jesus rather than accepting the whole Jesus package. This particularly applies to those who see Jesus as a great moral teacher and leave out the religious bits. Many, great and small, have done this as did Mahatma Gandhi. It’s also provided the moral basis for much of Europe, but that is now being eroded.

However that ignores so much of the gospels on Jesus. To some it just leaves out the mumbo-jumbo, as the religious bits are sometimes called, especially that about his Incarnation, being Son of God, the atonement and the resurrection – not to mention the Holy Spirit. If it had not been for them, Jesus would have soon been forgotten, as he would have been just another wandering eccentric Jewish teacher. The message of those early Jesus followers was not an appeal to morals but trust in a person who is our saviour in contrast either to the teachings of Judaism or the customs of the Roman Empire.

The message was that humans are in a mess and need saving and this happens because this Jesus died on the cross and rose again and thus we should follow his moral teaching. Thus Jesus was seen as the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, saviour and King. Now today that is a standard formula about Jesus but in the first century it was radical as it cast a snook at the Roman Empire where the emperor was known as son of god, lord, king and saviour. That is often lost on us today, but in the roman Empire it resulted in the deaths of those Christians who would not recognise the emperor as God and offer him a sacrifice. Today Jesus is so tame and domesticated that we miss his radical challenge.
So back to Christmas, beyond all the tinsels and donkeys, we need to see that we celebrate the obscure birth of someone who transformed the world and billions of people.

Hopefully he has transformed each one of us.
So this Christmas period let’s ask how Jesus needs to change us.

But how?


That should get tongues wagging. Most creationists will deny that and Ham of Answers in Genesis tries to blame evolutionists for racism.

I have no idea what the quote from Revelation means but then fundamentalists use the Bible is odd ways

This article deals with some of Henry Morris’s comments on race, with the sons of Ham being born to serve! (This comes from Genesis 9 where Ham found Noah drunk after the flood. and was cursed Gen 9 vs25. Bad old anthropology had the “sons of Ham” who were to serve. This was used to justify Apartheid among other things as the sons of Ham were Africans)

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This attitude is typical of the whites in the Southern States and was held by some Southern Presbyterians at the time of the civil war.


However, here we see the founder father of modern creationism being overtly racist. I didn’t realise that for sometime as I was initially more concerned in the way he misquoted and misrepresented modern science.

Many creationists will try to wriggle out of this but Morris was writing like this during the 21st century. I am well aware that Morris is a minority but it is very concerned that he held such views so recently, when almost all Christians had rejected racism in any form many decades ago


via On the Racism of Creationist Henry Morris

Oxford theologian outs himself – as being on the right.

Some personal comments. I met Nigel Biggar in 1999 at Oriel college at a Gaudy i.e. graduates gathering!! He wanted me to read a lesson in the chapel. This was odd as I’d never been to chapel while at Oriel.

We haven’t met since but I noted his writings didn’t fall into the usual watermelon mush beloved by today’s Anglicans

Reading this I found we had much in common especially over the silly RMF Rhodes Must Fall movement which wanted to remove rhodes statue from Oriel Coll as Rhodes was reckoned to be a racist. Having been in South Africa working in mining I followed much of Rhodes legacy, – his shady deals in mining , the Jameson raid etc. However he was not a racist as he ensured non-whites had the vote in Cape Province way back in 1900. Now that is progressive

Here Biggar makes some good points.



Rev Prof Nigel Biggar, Prof of Moral Theology at Oxford and former chaplain of Oriel

I was certainly in the sixties, but I was never of them. Born in 1955, I grew up alongside the post-war emergence of pop culture, the rumble of resentment against Americans as they waxed and we waned, the flourishing of utopian flower-power, and the associated debunking of all the old certainties and heroes. While Blackadder didn’t dare to mock the Battle of Britain pilots, he was merciless in his caricature of their fathers.

Nevertheless, my Inner Edwardian refused to vacate my soul, and so I found the cultural changes swirling around me painful and unsettling, and I resisted swallowing the New Narrative whole. But observing that the tide was against me, I went into inner exile.


Growing old has its advantages. One is that we come to know our own mind more clearly; the other, that we cease to care so much what others think of it. It’s not that I am always sure of myself; it’s rather that I feel that I have a vocation and a duty to say it as I see it. If I’m proven wrong, then we’ll all learn through the proving. But if I’m right, then what I say needs to be heard. Either way, the truth wins out.

I first started making trouble in 2013, when I published a book called In Defence of War. My pacifist confrères were, of course, aghast. But even others baulked at my defence of military intervention without UN authorisation. One whispered to me that I was abusing my authority as an eminent professor; another, that I was just being “contrarian”. Somehow they couldn’t compute that I say what I do simply because I believe it. And rather than tackle the argument, they preferred to tackle my integrity.

The same thing happened the following year when I produced a book that argues – with oodles of qualification – in favour of the nation-state, a certain sort of patriotism, the Anglican establishment, and (even) the British empire. In response, a colleague of 30 years, who has never once taken the trouble to engage me in conversation on these matters, published a review in which he described my opinions as “glorying in their unfashionability”. No responsible, rational engagement. Not even charity.

Then came the First World War. Late in 2013 I had published an article in Standpoint, which argued that that Britain was right to go to war in 1914. Early in the New Year Michael Gove praised it in the Daily Mail, provoking the Cambridge historian Richard Evans to enter the lists in the New Statesman, where he dismissed what I’d written as “absurd”, declining to offer reasons while sneering at the “self-importance of his [ie, my] tribe”. Sneering at whole tribes is what we call “bigotry”. But in this case Evans was shrewd in lining up the victims of his prejudice. Had he chosen Jews, blacks or gays, it would have cost him his job. But because he targeted the class of Christian theologians, and because he is an eminent Man of the Left, it was fair game.

And then there was Rhodes. Because of my sympathy for the British empire, and because I’d been reading about the history of British involvement in South Africa for the past four summers, when the Rhodes Must Fall (RMF) movement started to besiege Oriel College in the autumn of 2015, I felt moved to act, first of all in print and then in a debate at the Oxford Union.


About that debate two things are remarkable. First was the opening sally of one of my opponents, Richard Drayton. Drayton argued that, if he were to presume to offer his opinions on the theology of the eucharist, he, as an historian of Africa, wouldn’t deserve to be taken seriously. Therefore, nor should mine on Rhodes, I being a mere theologian. Had there been time to respond, I’d have said that, had an Africanist shared his views on the eucharist, I’d have treated them on their merits, and that it was disappointing that he wouldn’t extend the same justice to me.

Then there was the intimidation. The RMF group in Oxford was little more than 2,000 strong. On the generous assumption that they were all Oxford University students, that amounts to about 10 per cent of the student body. They were a small minority, but an intimidating one. During the debate, every statement by an RMF proponent met promptly with a storm of cheers and applause. If you weren’t paying attention, you’d have thought the audience overwhelmingly supportive. But at one moment I decided to look rather than listen, and observed that, during the thunderous applause, most of those present were actually sitting on their hands.

But the most shocking revelation of the whole controversy was that the RMF activists had no interest in the truth. I laid out my views in the London Times in December 2015, in the Oxford Union debate in January 2016, and in Standpoint that March. Those views included a demonstration that the quotation usually cited as proof of Rhodes’ genocidal racism is a mixture of fiction, distortion, and fabrication. No one at all has challenged my account, either then or since. The truth about the past, and the duty to do justice to it, is of no interest. History, it seems, is merely an armoury from which to ransack politically expedient weapons.


So what are the morals of my story? One, that academics – despite their self-perception – are no more morally virtuous than any other class of people. The fact that academics are unusually clever doesn’t make them unusually honest, just, or charitable.

The second moral is more hopeful. The zealous certainty of a minority can tie the tongues of an uncertain majority. But when someone dares to stand up and out, others begin to find their voices, reassured that what they think can be said in public without risking social death. For, despite appearances, they are not alone in thinking it.