Round About

Dance through the good times; dance through the bad.

Dance as if this time was all that you had.

John Fischer
from the song "Dance" on the album Casual Crimes

The warm South African summer air filled the room with a mixture of body odors and fragrant smells from a room with a mixture of body odors and fragrant smells from a room full of people all foreign to me, twisting my seasonal clock upside down here on the bottom of the world in December. It was the first annual Christian Artists Seminar at a camp in Pretoria. On stage was a group of native singers, musicians, and dancers from Soweto, politically the most seething black township in South Africa.

   The incongruity of this moment shattered all the trappings and preconceptions so often attached to my limited, nearsighted view of Christianity. Here was a group of native South Africans dressed up in traditional Zulu costumes, playing a bizarre amalgamation of American rock and roll with tribal rhythms while they danced Zulu war dances and sang songs of praise in English in rich native harmonies to Jesus Christ the Lord on a summer evening in December.

   There was only one common strain that wound around the stage and out through the racially and nationally mixed audience: we were all human beings in love with the same God and

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thankful for the love and hope that we were sharing together at that moment — a love and hope that we knew would eventually conquer all the divisions, barriers, hurts, and pains that seemed so inseparable from our earthly existence. But so much for the future; we were experiencing the future at that moment!

   Realizing this, there was only one thing left for us to do, one thing that was appropriate for this celebration and common to us all. It happened without a word. Staid traditionalist and young rebel, black and white, Arminian and Calvinist, radical South African and National Security Force officer, Afrikaner and Zulu, Christian and non-Christian, all pushed back the chairs, cleared the floor, let the music play . . . and danced!

Chapter 51  ||  Table of Contents