Sunday, 26 July 2015


My parents and my maternal grandparents were neither overt nor devout nor practicing Christians. I was baptised in a Church of England (Anglican) church in Yeoville, Johannesburg, when I was an infant. My young sister and I were raised by our parents as, what is generally termed, “nominal Christians”. We never said “grace” before meals at home and my father only insisted that we attend church on Good Friday and on Christmas Day. Ironically, my paternal grandfather, Harold Macleod, began his post-school career studying to become a Church of England (Anglican) minister but then changed to law before starting  a small legal practice in Cape Town.

From the time I was around 5 to 7 years old my mother taught my sister and me to “say our prayers” every night before we went to sleep. After I turned 13 and was at high school my father (Gordon Charles Macleod) arranged for me, together with a school pal (who many years later was to become my brother-in-law)  to be “confirmed” at St Saviours Church, Claremont with the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Reverend Joost De Blanc, officiating.

Both before and during the last decade of my father’s life he and I used to have long chats about religion. Dad was a deeply “private” person where his spiritual views were concerned. He strongly believed that we should “do unto others as we would have them do unto us” and that all people, no matter what their religious persuasion “would be judged by God according to the way they lived their lives”. He believed in God and God’s commandments and believed that God had sent Jesus Christ to Earth to teach humankind how to live their lives.  
Dad had the utmost respect for people of other faiths and counted many non-Christians (including Jews and Muslims) amongst his best friends and confidantes. He judged all people by the way they treated others and once related how a very kind and compassionate Muslim “Hadji” couple rallied to support his mother (my grandmother) and her four young children (including himself)  by regularly bringing fresh fruit and vegetables to their home after his father died suddenly, at a relatively young age leaving his family
struggling financially.

Dad was no Pharisee because he "walked his talk" and although some may have considered him not to have been the typical example of a “committed, practising Christian” most people who knew him would agree that he lived his life completely selflessly and was always courteous, caring and kind  to people, regardless of their status, creed or culture.  In short, he was regarded by most people as a true role model of how a “genuine Christian” should behave

I have a brilliant ex cousin-in-law, Michael Van Breda, who matriculated at Rondebosch Boys’ High School in Cape Town and who was a top MBA graduate at UCT soon after the MBA programme was first established. He lectured at the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS) before being appointed a Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management in the USA for 5 years and later a professor at the Southern Methodist University in the USA for 31 years. Prior to his retirement he was a member of the East Dallas Rotary Club and was actively involved in the community and also taught Sunday School at Wilshire Baptist Church and led classes at other churches.

I  admired Michael’s intellect and I asked him on one of his visits to South Africa if he could describe or contextualise the world’s different religions? His answer lay in this analogy he gave me: imagine a pyramid (or multi-faceted mountain) and up each of the slopes people are climbing towards the top and at the top is “God”.  And each slope represents a different religion - Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, etc.

Although I have chosen to follow the Muslim faith what should count most in today’s world of violence, greed, materialism and corruption is for good, decent, caring and compassionate people of all religions to build bridges and to focus, not on what separates us, but what we share in common.  

Regardless of our different beliefs - whether we are Christians (of whatever persuasion), Jews, Muslims, Hindus or any others, including Atheists and Agnostics - we should remember that we are all part of “one big family” and during our mortal lives on this Earth we must be judged according to how we live, what we do, what we think and how we respect and treat this world and all of its inhabitants

Guy Macleod,  26th July 2015

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