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  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: February 2020

Chapter Four - Healing as metaphor: ‘The Dream’ and ‘Healing’


The Dream

The second series of sermons were based on the image of ‘the dream’. ‘The dream lives longer than the dreamer’ was a refrain which, through frequent repetition, became synonymous with the idea of the dream. While an individual dream, or vision, ends with death, the corporate dream of the church, the community, or the nation, continues. This larger dream is, however, dependent on the quality of the smaller individual dreams.

The theme of ‘the dream’ owed much to Martin Luther King's engagement with the civil rights movement in the USA. The affinity with King and the civil rights movement also found expression in the singing of songs such as ‘We Shall Overcome’ and other allusions to the life, vision, political aspirations, and non-violent philosophy of King. One of the explanations of ‘the dream lives longer than the dreamer’ was the continuation of King’s vision after his assassination (10 March 1996).

Reverend Thandekiso worked for a non-governmental organisation, the King Luthuli Trust, which promoted the ideals of non-violence in development and training work amongst youth. The name of the organisation was derived from Martin Luther King and Albert Luthuli, both internationally recognised for their non-violent resistance to racial oppression. The visit of King's widow, Mrs Coretta King, to South Africa in 1994 was described by Reverend Thandekiso as a particularly significant event for him. In the series of sermons on the theme of ‘the dream’, he linked Martin Luther King's campaign for civil liberties in the USA to the anti-apartheid struggle and also to the campaign for social acceptance and legal equality for gay men and lesbians. Once again, the aspirations of gay men and lesbians were associated with other social movements with which the congregation identified.

It was on the eve of Coretta King's visit to South Africa that Reverend Thandekiso's partner George died. He spoke about ‘crying alone’ in his flat on hearing the news of George's death. He later used George's untimely death in a sermon as a warning that death could strike unpredictably at any time. The importance of having a sense of direction in one's personal life (individual dream), as well as a spiritual commitment (corporate dream of the church) and the importance of ‘community’ were all emphasised in this sermon:

When living weekend to weekend, just enjoying being gay. Maybe wasting your life.