Read for Hope, Read for Fun, Read to Learn, Read to experience God’s Presence.

Sep 9, 2020

How have we South Africans spent most of our time in these last months of full or partial lockdown?  Have we read books and the Bible? Have we watched TV news, movies, series? Have we taken courses, learned new skills, written a book, listened to audio books, participated in webinars, done school work and taken time to pray?   Do we read magazines, books, e-books?  Have we played games, done jig-saw puzzles, exercised?   Depending on our age and who lives with us in our homes how have we engaged our minds?  I have done quite some writing but I think I have read more in these months than for years. It has been quite a variety of books, some novels on topics and by writers that interest me, some non-fiction and also spiritual reading.  On my spiritual journey, I have nurtured my interest in environmental matters with the theme I have worked with this year, OUR WORLD A FAMILY OF FAMILIES.  So starting from LAUDATO SI, Pope Francis’s encyclical on THE WORLD OUR COMMON HOME, I keep an eye and ear out for whatever is relevant to creation, nature, climate, bio-diversity, animal and plant families and not to forget vegetable gardening.         

I was quite shocked to see a report on the website that only 14% of South Africans read books in 2007 and 58% did not own a book to read for pleasure.  I wonder how much that changed in 2020 with, I would think, more time on our hands. This week from 7-13 September is SA National Book Week and of course an opportunity to promote the love of reading, also and particularly in indigenous languages. Ideally it should begin at home with a parent, or older sibling or even a carer reading to younger children.  Looking at the NBW’s programme for the week I saw how many related activities were being promoted; reading for oneself, story telling, puppet shows, and also reading along with a story.  

An idea of recording, a children’s story, either in audio or video format,  and sending it by whatsapp for circulation to others is the brainchild of Pam Kantor of READ FOR HOPE.   She is a remedial teacher at a disadvantaged school  concerned for the wellbeing of her learners.  Visit to find out more or join her campaign.    Even children can make videorecordings for other children. 

And as the mind wanders on I thought about e-books, kindle, and older people with failing eyesight who would enjoy listening to stories and articles on topics of interest. Anyone can volunteer to make recordings for that too.  And so, then what about podcasts, another popular trend?  In fact my weekly radio programme FAMILY MATTERS on RADIO VERITAS is podcast from time to time on

I also want to congratulate the Bible Society of SA on their 200 year anniversary. Their target for this year 2 million extra Bibles over their normal distribution. Now available in all local languagues.

But is all this about books and National Book Week?  It is to a certain extent, as often books or articles are referred to that can be followed up.  At the moment I make brief daily references to LAUDATO SI’,  the 2015 encyclical of Pope Francis on CARING FOR OUR COMMON HOME but the full document can be downloaded from  It is a good resource to be studied or browsed through during this ecumenical SEASON OF CREATION from 1 September to 4 October.  It is a very important and formative read for adults as it has become an aspect of Catholic Social Teaching, complementary with the Catechism.  Workbooks and study documents have also been provided for different age groups. But all in all the bottom line is asking ourselves;  “How green is my backyard?”   

  • Who doesn’t waste electricity, leave lights burning or TV, computers, and other electronic devices connected permanently which isn’t necessary? 
  • Why do we drink bottled water when in most cases our drinking water is perfectly safe? And where do we leave the bottles?  The ecological cost of recycling the 1000s of plastic bottles is huge.
  • As adults and parents do we educate ourselves and our children around faith and life, discuss issues of consumerism, social and environmental responsibility and loss of biodiversity?
  • Has this time of enforced “sabbath rest” benefited our family relationships or caused conflict and even violence?   Are we in our family, through our READING, REFLECTING and SHARING OUR FAITH LIFE,  contributing to the welfare of society?  
  • Are we concerned about securing OUR HERITAGE by working peacefully for equality in our society, between races, sexes, ages and within families?  See MARFAM’S children’s booklet OUR HERITAGE.
  • Can we take to heart the attitude of Pope Francis in LAUDATO SI’, “  Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.”   Even if it is a matter of police brutality, typhoons, floods, wild fires or a bad bad-hair day.     TR

FAMILY WEEKLY 9 September 2020

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