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30 April 2008

Hope must be learned…                                                                   by Murray Hofmeyr

Studietrust is an organisation with Hope inscribed in its motto: Today for Tomorrow. We had occasions enough over the past few months to reconsider the issue of hope. I was reminded of a lecture that my friend and philosophical mentor, Heinz Kimmerle, prepared for a conference we held in Cote d’Ivoire a few years ago. The question we considered was whether there was hope for Africa. Kimmerle reminded us of the great philosopher of hope, Ernst Bloch, who said that hope could and should be learned. Otherwise it will amount to wishful thinking and not be grounded expectation. Bloch distinguishes between three dimensions of learned hope.

In everyday consciousness hope originates in the power to say No. Every day we must determine whether we are satisfied with the way things are. If not, we have to decide how we want to change things.

Read more: Hope must be learned…
 

30 June 2008

Friendship                                                                                         by Murray Hofmeyr

The Hofmeyr Hall in Stellenbosch, where we hold our annual Western Cape function, stands as a monument for a man and his work. Prof NJ Hofmeyr, founder of the Christian Youth Society in 1874, is remembered as “a friend of the youth.” My thoughts on Studietrust as a monument were kindled by the Flemish philosopher Rudi Visker who recently introduced his new book at Café Riche on Church Square in Pretoria. Visker, whose book is entitled Ode to Visibility, argues that there is a dearth of visible symbols in the public space in South Africa in which people from different backgrounds and experiences can recognise each other. That means recognising yourself and the other in the same symbol or monument.  According to Visker the health of public space can be measured by the extent to which the common interests of the different members of a society are recognisably expressed in common public symbols like monuments. He specifically said he does not only refer to monuments of stone and steel, but of organisations and institutions, too. That got me thinking: Studietrust as monument?

Read more: Friendship
 

30 November 2008
 
You are worthy…                                                                               by Murray Hofmeyr
 
Once a week the Studietrust office team assembles for reflection and prayer. At these meetings we always ask “what are our students and learners doing now?” and then we entrust them to God. This past Thursday morning we reflected on the present global financial crisis in the light of the Christian Scriptures and more specifically the words of the prophet Zephaniah. We agreed that the age old wisdom that deeds have consequences are still valid today. Jan related how the CEOs of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler each in his own private jet, flew from Detroit to Washington to ask the government for a bail-out to save their companies (and the entire US car industry) from ruin. They are laying off thousands of workers, but these top executives were still pocketing a salary of $3 million per month each. (I have subsequently learned that they have accepted a pay cut to $1 p.a. and that some of the companies are selling their private jets!).

It should be clear that the dominant economic system, fuelled by greed, does not have the internal braking mechanisms to keep it from crashing. The result of the present crisis is that millions of workers are losing their jobs while the middle classes are in a credit crunch that causes 7000 vehicles on average per week to be repossessed in South Africa. And the message is clear: We ain’t seen nothing yet.

Read more: You are worthy…
 

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