Thursday, May 23, 2019

Before And After

I am writing a metaphysic. A PhD critic in Australia went over 300+ pages. After working his comments into my metaphysic, I used Copyleaks to assess how much had changed. 11% of my text changed, 9% of it significantly, which is about 7 000 words. However, there will yet be changes as I double-check and smooth it all out.

Evangelical (Not)

Yesterday I described "evangelicalism" old and new -- the old and new definitions of the word. On the surface of it, they look fairly much the same -- however they are far apart. This post is not to side with either old or new, but to point out the risk that it poses for Churches and seminaries. One may invite someone who is explicitly evangelical to lecture or to take the pulpit -- even extend a call to them -- (sometimes) unaware that this is a different kind of evangelical, who could plunge one into crisis or decline. OBSERVATION: Some Churches and seminaries require evangelical ministers and lecturers. My own Churches required evangelical ministers -- the old definition of evangelical.

Indigenous Heather

I so enjoy looking at the wonders of nature. This scene caught my eye this morning for its unusual tones. This is indigenous heather. One may click on the photo to enlarge.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Book About Us

With wife E's graduation this past weekend, there is a renewed interest in "the book about us": An Arranged Love. The barefoot girl from the hills of Africa has now obtained a degree. It is well priced overseas -- unfortunately expensive in South Africa, because it is not printed here. There are various editions and options -- among them these:

• In South Africa: Takealot.
• In North America and Europe: Amazon.
• As an e-Book: Kindle.

Evangelicalism Old and New

A friend wrote for the Gospel Coalition on evangelicalism in Africa. The way that "evangelicalism" is understood has changed during the past generation. One tends to find the old understanding in Africa, a new understanding in North America. The old understanding is that evangelicalism 
"correlates with Scripture"
or words to that effect.  A newer definition says that evangelicalism 
"affirms the centrality of Scripture"
and the same for early creeds and Reformation tenets. It is a big difference. For example, the theologian Hans Schwarz says that much of the Torah was borrowed from the Canaanites (Scripture says not) -- yet he is described as a fine evangelical: "one of the finest evangelical theological educators in Germany today". This because his writing "affirms the centrality of Scripture" -- but it would be hard to say that it "correlates with Scripture".

Trust Facebook

Yesterday I described here how I had designed a new button. Today at 12:17 pm I wrote to a company director I know, on Facebook Messenger -- whose company sources belt buckles, among other things -- I had "a new and different concept," I wrote, which "may also be used for belt buckles". At 5:24 pm, an advertisement popped up on my screen: "You'll never go back to a normal belt after you see this." Followed by another one: "Normal belts are outdated." OBSERVATION: It's a pity for them that their belts are not as good as mine! Today's incident does not seem as serious, though, as this: Facebook Snooping.

POSTSCRIPT: I had also made a single Google search for "belt buckles", although my Google search did not suggest something "new and different". With this and the previous example, it seems likely that Facebook scans one's messages, for the purpose of exploiting information.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

SATS Graduation

I took this photo of this year's graduation of the South African Theological Seminary (SATS) on Saturday -- a very big graduation. I myself graduated here ten years ago, when it was much smaller. In my year there were twelve graduates at Master's level, of whom two passed cum laude (I was one). This year there were thirty-three graduates at Master's level, of whom thirteen passed cum laude. Recently SATS appointed a new principal. That is a hazardous moment for any seminary. I think they made a sound choice.

Voter Apathy (Maybe)

In our recent elections, six million people under 30 did not vote, and the Independent Electoral Commission expressed concern about "youth voter apathy". Judging by my own contacts with the youth, no. They are politically alert -- however what seems to me to have happened is that their involvement in lower level political processes -- often with cadres involved, or political placements -- has convinced them that change does not come through the ballot. It comes through other means -- and they have used those other means. For example, they revolutionised the education system without the ballot.

New Button

Designs tend to pop up in my mind complete. Wife E and I were talking, when the word "button" entered our conversation and a new design principle entered my head. I sketched it on paper. I checked the Internet for similar ideas, and there weren't any. I made a large prototype out of cardboard -- but it didn't work. I looked at my sketch. I had omitted a step. Now my button worked as imagined. OBSERVATION: It is easier to use and more versatile than the buttons pictured here, but I dare say no more. My next step is to manufacture a smaller button of plastic or steel, more like an end product. E's employers are in the business of manufacturing and selling buttons -- millions of them.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Effortless Expansion

Wife E spoke to the secretary of a mega-church in Johannesburg yesterday (pictured). The secretary said to her: "We didn't even try. Our Church grew all by itself." OBSERVATION: And isn't that how it ought to be. A Church should be attracting people because of what it is in itself, not because it has additional tricks.

Not A Congregationaist

Through experience, if anyone in the Congregational Church wishes to oppose the minister, the first line of attack is often to question his or her Congregationalism.  There are many ways to do this, but these are among the top two:
• Interpret his role as that of a CEO. For example: "He took such and such a decision, or followed such and such a plan," where in reality, he cannot do it alone.
• Alternatively, set up a dynamic which treats him as a CEO. For example: "We have a petition for you, Reverend," where normally, minister and people are one.
OBSERVATION: The person or persons who use such stratagems may in fact have little concern for Congregationalism. This often becomes clear in what follows. They may not understand Congregationalism anyway, if they think of a minister as a CEO.

The Will-Ought Distinction

I had an article published this morning titled The Will-Ought Distinction  -- with thanks to philosopher Martin Cohen for editing it -- among other things, making it "a bit racier". The is-ought distinction is a philosophical classic which lies at the core of moral philosophy. In my article, then, I introduce a related distinction which, as best I am aware, does not exist in philosophy today, yet may be very useful in reflecting on the nature of science and ethics, among other things. OBSERVATION: Interestingly, an article I wrote three months ago, which seemed to be a dud at the time, has now attracted much interest: What Truly Exists? This sought to solve, with a thought experiment, the longstanding question as to what "things" are really real.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Favourite Photo

I took 688 photos on wife E's graduation day, and my Fuji X30 camera would still have taken a lot more. It promises 470 photos per charge. It is a wonderful camera, even if it is now relatively old tech. Anyway, of all 688 photos, this is my favourite. E is trying on academic caps. She graduated with a Bachelor of Theology (BTh) degree, after eight years of study. It was quite an adventure.

Short Term Missions

Someone asked me this morning how he should prepare for short term missions. Having led or part led such groups, I said the most important thing is for the team to identify your gifting and calling, and put you to use. That implies, of course, that participants seek out their gifting and calling, so that they know it. It doesn't matter that it is the first such mission -- one should be employed immediately, fully. OBSERVATION: In the case of a group that I led, I gave the group portfolios. My own portfolio was finance, since I had just led a financial recovery in my Church -- but that is a deeply spiritual subject, too.

My (Rigorous) Supervisor

Ten years later, this weekend, I met Dr. Vincent Atterbury, who supervised my first Master's degree. He has important things to say about Church leadership -- offering alternative theories to those which are popular (and causing damage) in the USA. OBSERVATION: I had already completed the first half of another Master's in the USA (Fuller), and was suddenly confronted with Dr. Atterbury's rigour. He took the first draft of my work, opened it at the Bibliography, and said something like this: "No. Fix your Bibliography. Then I will look at this again." In the USA, my programme director looked at my Bibliography, and adjusted it himself.