Bachelor parties

Category: , By Roger Saner
A google image search for "bachelor party" yielded the expected results. Wikipedia tells me that "Increasingly, bachelor parties have come to symbolize the last time when the groom is truly 'free' and without the influence of his new wife." says "The bachelor party is a party for the groom to party the night away, with his male buddies, as his last night of being a single man and to possibly do things / activities his future wife may not approve of."

What to expect

"The groom's mates often, after heavy drinking, subject the groom to various humiliations, sometimes in public. These often include leaving him tied naked to a pole or placing him on an aeroplane to a remote location." Source.

Think: heavy drinking, shaving of eyebrows, painting of body parts, general mayhem.

The presuppositions

  • It's your last night of freedom - enjoy it (assumption: a wife takes away your freedom).
  • Many people refer to the wife as "your ball and chain."
  • The idea is that the man gives up his autonomy and now can't do anything without another's approval - the implication is that she won't approve of anything fun from now on.
  • Some people think that once married life begins, boredom sets in, because it's impossible to live an adventurous life with a woman in tow.

Me, the party animal

I've never been a heavy partier. In fact, for most of my life I've been an "observer" - someone who watches what goes on without (often) getting involved. So it's been healthy for me to move beyond that, and to participate in things which I don't know how to do "properly". Sometimes I've had to pretend that I'm having fun, so that I don't offend my friends.

I've been to a few bachelors parties. They've been interesting. Almost none of them serve any purpose beyond attempting to embarrass the groom. Also, see the presuppositions above: they're all rubbish (obviously!). So why do something which gives credence to them?

The necessity of it all

Some people would say that a bachelors is a necessity, that it's one of the few rituals that we (English-speaking South Africans) have left. This resonates with me: I like rite-of-passage rituals and feel that those who haven't gone through them have missed out.

All rites-of-passage rituals have a purpose: to move a person from one thing to something else. Like from a boy to a man. So what is the purpose of a bachelors, then?

The ever-reliable Wikipedia tells me that "The history of bachelor party is thought to have originated with a bachelor dinner that was traditional in ancient Sparta (5th century BC) where soldiers would toast each other on the eve of a friend’s wedding."

I like that concept: the friends of the groom getting around one of their fellow warriors and wishing him well for the future, for his new life. How we got from something profoundly affirming to something almost entirely de-structive - I don't know. I know this much: I don't like it.

The presuppositions of my marriage

  • Danya doesn't take away my freedom - she increases it. By being with her I have more options for life and am amazed by what she's drawing out of me.
  • My capacity for adventure increases by being with her. For instance, I've wanted to go back to China ever since I first went there, but want to share that *with* someone.
  • We will have a full life with each other, growing into people we never thought possible.
  • I will be completely loyal to Danya at all times.
  • I wrote this to her a while back: "I commit to having a group of people around me external to our relationship who hold us and our relationship in prayer and positive intentions, and who, in a world of failed relationships, help guard and fight for our own relationship."
  • I'll always tell her the truth and will always trust her.
  • We see the other as our "adventure partner for life."

These are some of the presuppositions of my relationship with Danya...and as you can see, they're in direct conflict with the presuppositions of a bachelor party.

And now?

And so I'm thinking of not having a bachelors party before my wedding in December. What do you think? Do you think I'm being too serious and not playful enough?

I'd like to "take on the system." I've been at enough bachelor parties where the groom is uncomfortable, a lot of the people there are uncomfortable, and there's an unspoken thing of "this is stupid - we could do it a lot better." It's meant to be affirming, not something you'll regret.

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Saying goodbye

By Roger Saner
So this year at NieuCommunities is almost at a close. Our last official day is next Friday, November 14th. We'll then hang around for a few days, and I'll probably come back to Joburg on Sunday November 16th. The big day is December 13th, when I'll be getting married to Danya, so the next month is doing planning and hanging out with her to make sure we don't lose sight of the reason for the planning.

After the wedding we have a week, then we fly to the States (where her parents stay) and then to Canada for a month or so, having Christmas with her extended family and doing some travelling. On our way back to SA we'll stop over in London for a few days to see my sister Stacey and her family. Then it's back to Joburg and driving to Cape Town in early Feb - Danya starts studying a Master's in Diversity Studies in mid-Feb.

Pray all the visa stuff comes right! It's complicated, to say the least. The next few months will be hectic, but I'm hoping for a kind of peace in the middle of that.

Which brings me back to the present, and the last week at NieuCommunities. It's emotional for me, as I don't like goodbyes, and we're stretching this one out a bit. I've grown to love this community and the people here, and it's a challenge to say goodbye well. Part of that means grieving, and we all do that in different ways. My temptation is to get lost in the preparations of wrapping things up and in finishing up some website work. I'm finding myself to have less energy, and want to move away from solitude and reflecting. My sleeping patterns are...all over the place...although I'm getting a lot done!

On top of that we're doing wedding planning, sustaining a long-distance relationship, I'm doing my heart project (an "express what's happened in your heart this year" art experiment) as well as doing website work...and finishing up assignments and reading for NieuCommunities. Time is short! There's an impromptu bachelors party happening on Saturday night too...

The next 3 weeks, my fiance, my heart, Lyndi's wedding

Category: , , , , By Roger Saner
My apprenticeship with NieuCommunities wraps up in 3 weeks. It's been an absolutely fantastic year, with learning so much and growing immensely. Pretoria has been a surprising place - more interesting and diverse that I expected - with great people. I'm going to miss it!

After we wrap up here, I'm going to White River to spend some time with my fiance, Danya. She's wonderful! We got engaged in September and are planning to get married in December. She's been working in Positive Living (holistic health) at York Timbers in Sabie for nearly the last 4 years and will be studying a master's in Diversity Studies at UCT next I'm moving to Cape Town in early February! After we get married in December we're heading to Canada for just over a month, to spend Christmas with her extended family and to see her friends.

We've just started a Heart Project at NieuCommunities: creating a work of art which gives a tangible expression to the past year. I've already come up with some ideas (acrylic, canvas, beads, triptych, photos, white space, video) and will be working on this over the next few weeks.

I was at my sister Lyndi's wedding in Cape Town last weekend - and it was great! She looked stunning and the day came together so well. Congratulations, Lyndi and Andre! They're on honeymoon in Bali right now...and I look forward to seeing them more in Cape Town next year.

Danya and I have found a place in Obz which looks like a good place to start our life together. It's a pretty vibrant community (and no, we're not on the ground floor!) and close to UCT. I'd love to pursue Interactive Visual Art more next year and hopefully make it a full-time thing. Otherwise I'll still be doing freelance web development (about to finalise - my latest site for a client) and perhaps coaching too.

So that's me! A lot of changes around, a lot to think about and do, but things have been good. Let me know what you've been up to, too :)

A September update

Category: By Roger Saner
I've been back at Pangani for a week-and-a-half and it's been great! Cape Town was a superb experience, although I was only able to hook up with the apprentices twice. Seeing my sister Lyndi (and her fiance - my future brother-in-law - Andre) ahead of her wedding there in October was fantastic - and she let me sleep on her living room floor - thanks Lynd! I was doing a training course - NLP Master Practitioner through AHT - and managed to learn lots of things about myself which has some life-changing consequences.

One of them is that I'm awake at 7am today processing my tasks and getting ready for the day. I think all of the NC people (especially Amanda!) are kinda amazed at this new development - none more than me! Turns out I had the following beliefs:

  • You're not allowed to enjoy what you do

  • Nothing is worth getting out of bed in the morning for

Changing these has been fun! I find myself more at peace and more able to engage with community and relationships. Hooray!

We're in the middle of a process called Life Compass where we're figuring out the important things in our lives and what we want to do with them. It's been good so far: last week I realised that although I do technology stuff really well, I don't like the process - only the result (I get to build cool stuff). Yet this is what I've spent the last 5 years doing - and it's an energy drainer!

So I look forward to finding out what I come up with as a better way of doing life...

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I'm interviewing an atheist this Friday

Category: By Roger Saner
I'm interviewing Kevin at TGIF in Pretoria this Friday on his beliefs. He used to be a Christian - and even was on the Baptist WOW Team for a year. Then "God" fell to pieces, shattered by rational thinking and observation. We'll be having a civil conversation about his story - and helping others listen better, hopefully.

From the TGIF weekly email:

at the Seattle Coffee Company, BROOKLYN MALL.

It's easy to break down a straw-man. Trouble is, not many real people are made from straw. And perhaps breaking down shouldn't always be our main priority either.

Kevin Parry and Roger Saner are friends. Kevin is an atheist. Roger is a theist. That makes for some interesting conversations between them. Don't miss this TGIF with a difference as Roger interviews Kevin on what he does and does not believe - and why. The interview isn't about winning arguments, but about increasing our understanding of each other.

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Prayers and creeds

Category: , By Roger Saner
Several of us from Nieu Communities with an appreciation for the prayers and creeds of the Church have created a site to post one each day. We would love for you to join us and others around the globe in saying these prayers and creeds on a daily basis. We will begin posting on Monday, 7 July.

Please stop by the site and subscribe to have each day’s piece sent you via email or rss.

Tshwane Bloggers meetup - July 19th at 9:30am

By Roger Saner
Steve Hayes and I are hosting a Tshwane religious bloggers meetup at Greenfields in Hatfield, Pretoria, on Saturday July 19 at 9:30am. And you're invited! You don't have to be a blogger either - just someone who is happy to hang out with some others and talk about G-d. Come along!

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
James 1:27

The last month

By Roger Saner
So much has happened this last month - where to start? I've spent a lot of time in Mpumulanga with my girlfriend, Danya, helping her recover from her 6th foot surgery (if at first you don't succeed, sky diving's not for you) and traveling around (turns out SA Roadlink is not a good bus to travel on - a 3 hour journey by car or City Bug to Nelspruit turned into a 7-and-a-half hour journey by SA Roadlink). Danya works in Sabie, which is such a beautiful place. Unfortunately, HIV/Aids infections have not decreased in the last 4 years, and people are still reluctant to get tested.

As part of my apprenticeship, I job-shadowed Danya's friend Lerraine, who works in the social responsibility department of York Timbers. I got to meet David Poole, one of SA's top experts on medicinal herbs, and hear about projects which they're planning. Lerraine told me about York's community gardens, which provide sustainable produce to local communities. She also showed me their adult education computer training centre, one of the mills and a clinic.

I've also spent some time with Alan Hirsch - one of the top thinkers on building movements which bring about change, all within the Christian framework.

Jody and Andrew went to Amahoro: Rwanda - I was at Amahoro in Uganda last year - and had a very growing time.

We did a week at Pangani called The Sacred Romance - an intense journey focussed on the heart, asking the big questions of life. I've come away with several huge questions and insights, some of which might take a lifetime to grapple with.

Of course, the big news of the last month in South Africa is the xenophobic attacks. As a single South African it's hard to think what difference I can make, but being part of a community response reminds me that if everyone does something small, big changes can happen. I've also continued my involvement with Change Agents - we've run our first 2 of 5 training days (Joburg North and Ekhuruleni), equipping local church-based youth workers to do their ministries better. Although this isn't something which directly impact xenophobia, in the medium term it can help, since xenophobia isn't simply about locals not liking foreigners - the issue is bigger than that.

I'm although thinking through what will be good ways to continue responding to the refugee crisis in SA. Once the humanitarian concerns have been met (food, shelter, safety) and this round of anger has cooled down, we have to face the task of re-integrating these foreigners back into society. In the meantime, sitting around all day is a boring existence - so I've had an idea: to play movies in the evenings for these groups. We have a refugee camp just down the road in Akasia (the one which has been in the news because all of the men (mostly Somalians) are on hunger strike to protest their prolonged poor treatment by the South African government) and strong ties to about 75 Zimbabwean refugees in Pretoria. What would be a good way to help them use their time in a good way, beyond reading newspapers and playing checkers?

Just stay in SA!

By Roger Saner
BlyNet (meaning "Just stay" in Afrikaans) is a site encouraging Afrikaners to stay in South Africa instead of fleeing due to crime or whatever. It's endorsed by prominent Afrikaners like Steve Hofmeyr, Ryk Neethling and Fanie de Villiers.


By Roger Saner
I was about to look through the Attention Deficit Disorder Association site but then went and did something else.