God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

What Harry Potter can teach us…

I visited the Island of Adventures – Universal Studios in Orlando today and I was amazed to see how loads of people visited the Harry Potter exhibition with an amazing ride and all kinds of displays.

An idea, some years ago not heard of; an idea, somebody – not known to the public –  had in her mind, developed, believed in it, put it into the reality of a book and millions of people worldwide know by now the adventures of Harry Potter and his friends, his battles with the dark side of life. Millions have found comfort in fleeing reality in the moments of reading, of watching the movies or even now enjoying the Harry Potter ride in Orlando.
We can ignore the criticism and worries of some right-wing Christians about the magical aspect of the stories. They simply don’t get the point. The point I want to make is very simple:

Should this not be a very good lesson that the thoughts of one person, an idea, a fantasy becomes part of reality in the lives of so many people. And not in history far away but in our times. Seeing all those people queuing for the ride, the excitement of kids – somehow it was an encouragement that one person without political or hierarchical  power can make the world as such more colorful, fill it with more fantasies, with longing for another world full of magic but still reflecting the harsh reality we all face every day in our daily living.

Not everybody can bring his or her thoughts on paper and into book form… but there are other possibilities. Harry Potter as an encouragement for everybody, that we are called and able to contribute to the well-being and development of this world in our circles and in a wider sense. I wish for this creativity also in the fields of HIV and AIDS and all those plaques bringing mayhem to mankind.

And by the way: I loved that specific ride: it combines the newest technology and stimulates all senses.. – it creates a new dimension of reality and somehow it reminded me, that creation is ongoing… Too far-fetched?

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, Networking, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No time to rest…

It is amazing – after 24 hours at airports and in the air back in South Africa and it takes not even minutes to receive the first phone call. How do they know that one is back in the country, just switching on the cell? This week is occupied a lot from work with HOPE Cape Town. The transition phase is ongoing but I get the feel that we are getting there. The website need an update and all the news about the new cooperation with the University of Applied Sciences Neu-Ulm must be beamed up. We started research in the fields of E-learning: How do our people learn best? With paper documents, computers or handheld devices? A 6 months study will hopefully tell us more about it.
But it was great to see the enthusiasm of the students and lectures from Neu-Ulm coming to Cape Town for a week of extensive work. And it was good for our HOPE Community Health worker to see how networking is functioning and how important it is to learn from each other.
Other meetings with fellow priests and friends complemented the week and there was also a second meeting regarding founding a European Club for Cape Town. A club, where one can do networking; but also intellectual and spiritual exchange should take place. And not only once a week or once a month. The club should provide a venue to be accessible every day, just to bump in for a drink and a chat or a business meeting. To make such an idea working one has to look at existing clubs to liaise and form an additional grouping using the facility. I find it an exciting idea and I have the impression that all involved like to work hard to get it off the ground and going.

Ending a time as chaplain at sea means also to write a report about your work, the church wants to know what one has done in this swimming vineyard and even some guests have already taken the opportunity to send greetings from home to their “ex-chaplain”.

Church wise the appointment of Bishop Mueller from Regensburg in Germany to be “God’s watchdog” has created some debate and yeah, I guess, it is debatable. He has a diversity which leaves one sometimes guessing in which direction it explodes. On one hand he is a friend of one of the most acknowledged liberation theologian in South America; on the other hand he dealt with laity in his diocese in a way which is more than questionable. And for the Pius-brothers he seems to be a heretic – denying the virgin birth of Jesus and the teaching of transubstantiation. So it seems nobody is really happy – except the pope I guess and I think we just have to wait and see what is happening. Even if the past might be difficult, there is always the hope that people can change or grow into a job in a way serving God and the people.  All the hasty judgements,be it positive or negative are too early. Let him start and we will see…

Reading also the news on AIDS I see that Uganda starts to have problems related to resistance. This comes not as a suprise, this is indeed one of the biggest challenges we have to keep the virus far away from turning into a nasty resistant one. But the chances are high that it will happen if we don’t watch out very carefully, also here in South Africa.
I also note that the OraSure HIV home kit test is now FDA approved. I remember sitting with the representative of this company quite some years ago and at that time I felt that this test could prove good to make testing easier and avoid the pre-test counselling which I believe we have to stop doing as soon as possible. But local government and the hospitals were not keen at that time even to listen to such a test not performed in a hospital setting.

Well, weekend is coming and I hope there is time for some reading. I just have counted: There are 23 books waiting to be read…

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, Networking, Reflection, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The burden of travelling

Most people like traveling and I have to admit, most times I also like traveling too. The airport controls can be unnerving – but having no cell and no internet for a couple of hours is relaxing – well it seems that it is all coming back into the cabin of new airplanes. Traveling brings you in touch with other traditions and cultures, simply with other realities which might sometimes be strange, sometimes funny, but always good to know. And here the burden starts: Who at home to share the new knowledge and experience with? How to implement it into daily life? Does really anybody in the closer vicinity wants to know how things have changed for you? Does it really fit into the settings you are living in? And when it comes to my church – it is even worse as the word “relativism” is very quick used to bring downfall to different perspectives and their approaches. How much do I wish sometimes that all people could share in the diversity of the world and yes, how relative the way is, we are living in our small little world and that there as so many alternatives which have the same value than our solutions and habits..  Sometimes it is a burden to think broad and diverse…

Filed under: General, Networking, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Osnabrueck

Time is flying and the weekend sees me flying again, first to Osnabrueck attending the “Afrika-Festival” – giving a talk in the evening about my work and experience in South Africa and then the next morning visiting of the diocesan schools to discuss matters with the students and teachers. Then to Hamburg to board the AMADEA for a 14 days cruise. The last time, which was the first time I did the chaplain-to-sea-duty, I realised how important it is to engage with those on board of such huge ships and to bridge many times the living realities of those being the guests and those who are visited in different countries. What an eye opener for some to realise that the way, Germans live in Germany is not the standard – and that the reality seen on TV behind protective glass is so much different when we see, touch, smell it.
So all my travel is about bridging the gap – trying to bring worlds apart together – and at the same time reflecting on my own inner conflict between the two worlds or even more I am living in and have to deal with every day. All living in those world have the obligation to make themselves understandable to others and what could be a more suitable vehicle for that than the church as an international and truly world-wide organisation with the feet so often on the ground through the people working in the fields. And how much chance is given away in the Eurocentric and autocratic way the church is run – additional being so Rome and pope centered that so many voices might never be heard in their life time. We need to have the “German dialogue” expanded in a much bigger fashion if we want to have a future as real brothers and sisters.

Filed under: General, HOPE Cape Town Trust, Networking, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

14th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenNovember 16th, 2019
5 months to go.

Ball of HOPE 2019

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 18th, 2019

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© Rev Fr Stefan Hippler and HIV, AIDS and HOPE.
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