Monday, January 16, 2017

Police Notice

I received this formal notice today (pictured) from the police. The prosecutor will not prosecute those persons who conveyed threats to me in the name of my old Church, Sea Point Evangelical Congregational Church -- however the police instruct me to apply for a Protection Order. So, while those who conveyed the threats may not have their day in court (although this is not ruled out), this message is nonetheless a sad reflection of what has gone on in the name of the Church, against a long-serving minister with a thriving ministry. OBSERVATION: The threats I received were against my safety, reputation, career, and future -- and sad to say, they ended my ministry. A point of clarity: this post is about those who conveyed the threats, not about those who originated them.

Almost A Doctor

I was with son M last week Thursday -- he was working on an Apple laptop -- when suddenly he said: "I just realise I've completed my doctoral dissertation!" And so it often goes. I've had such experiences myself. However, it is the completion of a mature draft. OBSERVATION: M had a great time doing the research -- exploring caves, museums, and libraries on two continents, and discussing his findings with experts in the field. The hard part was writing it all up. Those who have done postgraduate writing will know that every sentence must add something substantial to the whole. Then imagine hundreds of pages of that.

Domestic Scene

Here's a simple domestic scene, taken in my own home. Wife E has baked some dinner in a Römertopf (a clay pot). One can bake a good meal in such a pot, without any preparation. One simply fills the pot with meat and vegetables and puts it in the oven. OBSERVATION: Look closely, and one sees two computers here -- E studying for a BTh, and I writing something for publication.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Van Wyksdorp Bell

This is the Church bell in the village of Van Wyksdorp -- which still gets rung every week. I say "still" because it appears to me to be very rickety. One day churchgoers will hear a strange thud, and wonder why their bell has fallen silent. OBSERVATION: A hefty bell-ringer pulls on this bell with all his weight to make it ring. It is a sight worth seeing. It looks, incidentally, as though the left hand side of the bell is propped up with a cold drink bottle.

Choir Challenge

Through most of my ministr(ies), we have had Church choirs, of one kind or another. I have given these choirs, from time to time, personal requests or challenges. One such challenge was never fulfilled, because it was just too difficult for the choir -- namely, to sing a psalter. One way of describing a psalter is that, instead of fitting the words to the music, one fits the music to the words. OBSERVATION: A problem with this particular request was that the choir was trained with the tonic solfa, and tended to use spontaneous harmonies -- as one finds throughout South Africa. That does not make a good fit with a psalter.

Kouga River

This is a photo of the Kouga River in the Eastern Cape, which borders on the farm on which wife E grew up. Looking at the photo, it is not hard to imagine that the road is hair-raising. The Kouga, too, is a treacherous river, and has swept many people away. OBSERVATION: One sees some history in this photo. On the far side of the river, one sees the road continue up the mountain. Just above this, one sees a thin line. It is a big stone wall, built by Khoikhoi slaves, hundreds of years ago. Today, of course, barbed wire would do the job.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

† Kjell Olsen

One of the “greats” on the South African Church scene, Kjell Olsen, passed away this morning on a visit to India. Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi paid his respects at the home today. Much lauded, sometimes controversial, Kjell had been the sidekick of the famous missionary Erlo Stegen. He said about the mission: “We do exactly what our name suggests: we help.” I e-mailed Kjell just last night, concerning a promising student. I took this photo of him on 21 April 2016.

Invention Six: Double TV

I am putting various inventions up on this blog. See my original post Inventions. Today, many TVs essentially show two pictures at the same time, in the interests of a 3D experience. It would not be difficult to split the 3D into two pictures for two viewers. There would be a purpose to this, although human psychology would determine how successful it might be. One could obviously have two people watching two separate programs at the same TV -- say, their favourite sports -- with the ability to switch instantly to what their partner is viewing. Or one could enjoy two-player games, such as Scrabble, aerial combat, or tennis. And one could have two-part tutorials, for instance to teach a duet or to practice training manoeuvres. There might be further ideas.

My Father-In-Law

This is a first for my blog: a photo of my father-in-law. Thankfully his finger is not pointing at me here. I am greatly blessed to have the parents-in-law that I have, which of course includes him. They have treated me with generosity and courtesy without fail. My father-in-law is a very interesting man, with a vast knowledge of the veld, and he makes many observations of human nature. People listen endlessly to his stories of heroism, perfidy, danger, humour, animal behaviour ... and much more besides. One of his favourite pastimes is listening to folk tales on the radio.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Eroded History

I don't know who this child is, but his image was caught in a flood. We imagine that there is a permanence to our personal histories, but little by little they are eroded.

NVDA Training

I have realised later in life that things that I ascribed little significance to many years ago were in fact of enormous significance to my later life. Here is one that came to mind this week. In my late 20's, was trained in non-violent direct action (NVDA) by the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR). There was a lot more that complemented or surrounded that training, but that seems a significant moment that brings it into focus. OBSERVATION: Many people do not know what NVDA is. A few are alarmed when they hear that you did that. I have applied its principles many times -- most recently this week.

Minding Her Keys And Pews

This young woman -- she is fifteen years old -- minded the keys and pews of the Congregational Church in Woodlands, about 600km / 380mi east of Cape Town -- until her parents sent her to school in Kwasizabantu, a mission in Zululand, earlier this month. OBSERVATION: She carries a well worn Bible on her left arm -- and on her head she wears what is called a "doek", a popular local headdress. Woodlands is an outstation of the historic Kruisfontein Congregational Church in Humansdorp. This Church has a vast parish, divided into districts, of which Woodlands is one.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Vintage Air Conditioning

Speaking of the Dutch Reformed Church, this is a clip of Dominee Bertus Jordaan explaining to me the 110-year-old air conditioning in his Church in Van Wyksdorp -- unfortunately I didn't record all of it. OBSERVATION: Van Wyksdorp experiences intense heat and cold. Thanks to Dominee Jordaan for a spirit of generosity in showing me things, and for a Sunday service which was rich in good content.

Dutch Reformed Church Doldrums

I am told, through personal acquaintances, that the “Mother Church” of South Africa has been experiencing a great loss of power. In my immediate part of the Church landscape, the Karoo, it has rather been disintegrating. The big issue, among various less prominent ones, has been homosexuality. I shall consider it here from another point of view. In my experience, the local Dutch Reformed Church congregations are by and large conservative -- not to speak of their sister Church, the Uniting Reformed Church, which is more conservative still (I don't know enough about the little sister, the Reformed Church in Africa). The General Synod, by comparison, has been making decisions which are very progressive. The Presbyterian Church (as the Dutch Reformed Church is) has representative government -- and, seen apart from the issue(s) in the Church, it is the principle of representation which has gone wrong. One sees evidence for this through a strong shift now towards Congregationalism. Curiously, though, Congregationalism seems to find more (actual) unity in diversity than the Dutch Reformed Church can muster. OBSERVATION: But I have some suspicion that it may also be the same-old in a new guise: the Dutch Reformed Church being subdued by legislative trends. I know, that’s controversial.

Another Day At The Riots

I thought this made a nice photo of a protest outside parliament. These two young women came complete with brolly, refreshments, and smartphones. This peaceful scene was in fact broken up by gunfire and stun grenades before the day was through -- not that it was peaceful any more by then. One sees the houses of parliament in the background. OBSERVATION: The protest was ostensibly in support of free tertiary education. However on the ground -- simply reading the slogans on the placards -- it was not so easy to make out. At any rate, free education was a big part of it. It was a political promise once.