Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sing-Song Wife

I wouldn't know how many wives sing at home. Mine does, and in three languages (or four). It is interesting that often, when she sings in Afrikaans, if one doesn't listen to the words but to the song, one hears Xhosa. She is closest to a Xhosa ancestry, yet speaks Afrikaans. OBSERVATION: And she speaks what is called a World English (a regional English, called an "outer circle" English). See this very interesting note on her particular World English by linguists Rajend Mesthrie and Jeanne Hromnik (click on the image to enlarge). She and I have two languages in common, as I have about 100% comprehension of Afrikaans.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Leadership Requirements

Looking back over my ministries, we have always had a few definite leadership requirements. I would think of them as the Biblical requirements distilled, in the interests of focus:  a) A leader must know the Lord, b) they should be well regarded, and c) they should be peaceable. If any of those ingredients is missing, one is likely to regret it. For love of the Church, one needs to adhere to these criteria. OBSERVATION: And one should not overestimate other criteria:  experience, or social status, a good command of English, and so on. There are times when one is tempted to give such things priority, where the "distilled" criteria are not all there. I am glad that we mostly resisted this. Perhaps one  more criterion, although it is difficult to put it into words:  new leaders should preferably reflect where the Spirit is taking the Church.

Noon Gun

This is an intrepid cameraman filming Cape Town's Noon (Day) Gun. I tried this, for the benefit of my blog, but the shock wave nearly knocked the camera out of my hand. This cameraman has the right idea: a tripod. Even so, I doubt that his camera stood still. See also Terror Of Cape Town.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Weaknesses And Strengths

If you have weaknesses, take heart, they may be your greatest strengths. For instance, you may fret over detail, but detail may be your greatest advantage. You may have a soft heart, but a soft heart may be your greatest beauty. Not that one should compliment oneself too easily on one's weaknesses, but they may not be all weakness. OBSERVATION: This is talking more about natural traits. I think when the Bible (2 Corinthians 12:9) speaks of strength in weakness, this is a divine (supernatural) use of weakness.

Putting In Windows

Windows are going into our cottage this week. The brass opener here (in the middle) is called a peg type casement stay. We obtained the windows from an antique window dealer in Cape Town, Wood Strippers. Expect to pay twice as much, for imperfect windows -- however they are very much more sturdy than the typical modern window, and (I think) look good. OBSERVATION: They cost twice as much as bargain basement windows, which is really not bad. Casement windows (such as this one) are the oldest type of opening window in the world.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hard Writing

My so far "fruitful" metaphysic (it's at A New Metaphysics) is simply written -- however this belies the effort which goes into arranging the concepts. My word processor tells me that there is one revision for every three to four words. To speed the task, I worked out a style in detail before I got started, studying many publications which I chose as exemplars. I am currently writing Part V, which together with Part VI will be pivotal. There has been a special interest in Part III. OBSERVATION: This whole blog, in fact, has been a training in style.

God Everywhere

My late wife Mirjam and I were talking to another minister, who was discouraged. It is a large problem in ministry (for example, more than two-thirds of pastors may be burnt out at any given time: see some statistics at Into Thy Word). I said to Mirjam afterwards: "He's cynical about ministry." She said: “Which you only are if you don’t see God everywhere.” That last line is the secret to avoiding disappointment, and applies above all to ministry.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Liberalism And Leadership

Some years ago, I proposed a seminary paper which would compare Christian leadership literature in North America with Christian leadership literature in Southern Africa. I soon found more than one-thousand titles in North America. I found none in Southern Africa (except for re-packaged North American literature). This was startling, and it put paid to my assignment. I had to redesign it. I mentioned this to a Black seminary lecturer this week. He said: "You are taking a human concept, leadership, and you are casting Scripture in those terms. In Africa, that is liberalism. We don't do it."

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A New Metaphysic

Recently I proposed the development of a new metaphysic. Broader in scope and more fundamental than science, metaphysics seeks to understand the nature of the whole of reality. It is widely assumed that the age of metaphysics is past, and such a project would seem to swim against the biggest tide. However, we live in a changed world, and a changed world gives us hope for a new metaphysic. OBSERVATION: This may be more than a pipe dream. The sister publication of the Philosophical Society of England, Philosophical Investigations, has set aside a special space for me, accessed from its front page menu, to develop my project with capable input. Today I handed in Part IV. The Project is mapped out to Part VIII so far.

Men's Breakfast

I visited my old stomping ground Sea Point this morning to attend a men's breakfast hosted by Point Community Church. Rev. Geoff Gertzen (pictured) gave the address. We ought not to be successful, he said, but significant, above all "in the light of eternity". He made it plain and simple. OBSERVATION: Rev. Gertzen proved to be eminently photographable. You may click on the photo to enlarge to 115k.

Friday, October 17, 2014

High Church Low Church

Recently, in one way or another, I have come across the high Church / low Church debate. This is essentially to what degree clergy should be set apart from laity -- not in dress or in manner, but in function. In a high Church, typically one person presides in a Sunday service -- maybe two. In a low Church -- I'll take the Congregational example -- several people give original spiritual input in each service -- or should. I myself have aimed for five in each Sunday service I have conducted, even if the original spiritual input should amount to a single sentence. OBSERVATION: Traditionally one says that this demands much more of the Body of Christ. Traditionally one has lamented services where one or two people preside. Apart from any Church tenets, people laid down their lives for the low Church way. It is important also, I think, to differentiate between taking part in the Sunday routine (welcoming people, singing in the choir, and so on) and original spiritual input. These are sometimes confused.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Visited House

I visited our cottage in the country today (pictured), to attach a trapdoor to the attic, which locks (the rest of the house does not yet lock). I put a car-load of goods in the attic, too. OBSERVATION: The builder suspects that I am not the only visitor to the house, but that it is well visited by villagers when there is no activity there. In fact, one of them left a bottle of wine on the veranda. It is, after all, about the only thing that is happening in the village.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


A cousin-in-law of mine (she sang at my wedding) was waiting for a bus this week when she was suddenly abducted -- bundled into a car / automobile by three thugs. She escaped when they stopped to buy liquor -- she hid herself, then ran for help. OBSERVATION: This is not an isolated abduction. South Africa is ranked no. 4 in the world for kidnappings.

Baby Shoes

Recently son M. found his baby (toddler) shoes in a cabin on our plot in Tesselaarsdal. You may click on the photo to enlarge to 160k.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Scary Counselling

I have had thousands of counselling sessions. A few of them have been scary. Here's one. I met with a man who controlled 45% of the world markets, and the Arab spring -- he said. He laughed irrepressibly, then suddenly he warned: "I could turn to terrorism -- just like that! I'm at tipping-point!" and he snapped his fingers. It didn't help that he blamed the clergy for the state of the world. I manoeuvred my way out of my office, towards the street, talking all the time. When he realised what I was up to, he tried to jump in front of me, and tried to slam the gate. Too late, I was "home free". OBSERVATION: It was mania -- but even so, I dropped items of spiritual counsel into the conversation. God could use them at the right time.