Friday, March 22, 2019

Very Valuable Critique

A local printer printed out my newly edited metaphysic recently (pictured). First I gained some impression of the whole of it. Now I am studying the critique with care, noting first thoughts. Next I shall map out what needs to be done, with monumental changes first in line, then the detail. OBSERVATION: Being one-fifth through a serious reading of the critique, it is clear that my editor is an intellect to be reckoned with. A very clever man. It is a very valuable critique -- just what I wanted.

Distinctions Vanish

People assume sometimes that corruption belongs to a particular race, creed, or colour. My personal experience in ministry is that it transcends race, creed, and colour. This would seem to be borne out by commissions of inquiry in South Africa. In important ways, there is no majority group involved. OBSERVATION: Also, race, creed, and colour unite -- distinctions vanish -- where people are united in corruption. This means, too, that corruption may be the driving force, even where people present themselves as something else. One might be a democratic leader, a Church elder, a community representative, a law enforcement officer, and so on -- where these things are "not the plot" in one's life. It is not new. Under apartheid, it was a standing joke that the greatest rogues were the most presentable citizens.

Walking Around

I took this photo about ten minutes before a service on 5 April 2009. The Church filled up substantially after this. I had just walked up the aisle to greet people, and now greeted people as they entered the Church at the door. OBSERVATION: This has been my routine throughout ministry -- and to greet people again as they leave. I usually have everything in place an hour before a service, so that I can do this. Although it's just a thumbnail photo, notice the worship team spread out across the (so to speak) altar.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

A Helping Hand

I am helping someone tonight with an academic assignment. I have helped many students, and I learn some interesting things. This one is about the effects of a European order being introduced to an undeveloped South Africa. The assignment needed rearrangement. It was like red pebbles and blue pebbles all mixed up in a bucket. I said to the student to sort out the pebbles, as it were, and to put them in separate piles, then we could look again. OBSERVATION: I tell students what I think they should be doing, but I don't do it for them.

Archive Discovery

Earlier this month, I discovered this old USB flash drive -- and this week discovered two more books on it, which I wrote in the 1990s. Not as big as the Christian Jokes book I already found (300+ pages), there is a spin-off of that book, which is jokes gleaned from the darker side of ministry (100+ pages). I also discovered a unified Church calendar on it (Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant) which gunmen took from me last year. There are 80 years of calendar there, from 2019 till 2099, and each year fills many pages. Sometimes it is specialised information like this that is sought after. I wrote a program to churn out all that information automatically.

Easier Pastoral Appointments

I used to set up all my pastoral appointments personally -- because they are, after all, pastoral and personal. Yet no small amount of energy went into this. It involved a lot of “bargaining” on the phone. The purpose of the visit? Home or vestry? You're inviting me to your yacht? I need a police escort? This week or next? It depends? I should call back in half an hour? You need to change it? And so on. Ultimately I handed it over to our secretary. She knew my preferred times, she tracked people down, and did all the bargaining -- and said she quite enjoyed doing it. OBSERVATION: It actually made life a lot easier for me. All I had to do was turn up.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Planning A Church's Crunch Point

More than ten years ago, I reported on this blog that "our Church's finances are working". What, then, if a Church's finances are not? Working finances, I wrote, depend on six factors:
• solid spiritual foundations
• constitutional proces
• well ordered finances
• transparency and accountability
• a Planned Giving Scheme, and
• congregational control. 
In order to undo working finances, one needs then to undo this list. Once accomplished, what then? There are three possibilities: restore the finances, close the Church, or seek a sustainable solution. It is crunch point. OBSERVATION: Now consider this. Was this crunch point planned? In some cases, yes. Someone with influence then stands up and says: "We are unsustainable now -- but wait! we have the solution! This is what we now do with our assets ..."

Food For The Hungry

I took the photo this morning of the succulent "Pig's Ears" or Cotyledon orbiculata. It is known to many in South Africa as food. However, note that there are (apparently) relatives of this plant which are a little poisonous. My wife, as a child, ate this plant when she was hungry. It is also called Plakkie in Afrikaans. One may click on the photo to enlarge.


Under all of my ministries, we have had the rule that, if one does something “on behalf of the Church” that isn’t authorised, then it isn't on behalf of the Church, and one pays for it oneself. It is surprising how often this happens -- say once or twice a year -- although many cases are minor -- for example: "I ordered her a taxi. Can the Church reimburse me?" A few cases have been major. Early on in one of my ministries, an ordinary member ordered major work on the buildings, so that the Church would look good for its 100th anniversary. I walked into the Church garden one morning to discover a huge scaffold erected, and labourers beginning their work. In this case, the work was shut down, and the member concerned got off with a warning. OBSERVATION: I myself once bought a telephone answering machine, and realised that it wasn't authorised. I paid for it myself. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Rolling Blackouts

I wanted to get a photo last night of the unusual sight of our plush suburb of Clifton without lights. As my finger touched the shutter release button, the lights came back on! Here is Clifton therefore as it always looks. OBSERVATION: South Africa is experiencing major "load shedding" or rolling blackouts.

Invention 19: Cancer Treatment

One of my designs, which has since gone into production multiple times, is a wart remover. It removes warts and other alien cells from the body -- and very effectively. It obliterates them -- sometimes one can hear the cells rupturing. It does this with low voltage (about 20V) high frequency (about 20kHz) electric pulses. But so far, this has only been applied externally. My guess is that it will work internally. For example, if one should have a diseased pancreas, with only an incision one may apply similar pulses to the pancreas, to remove alien cells. I have a design on my blog: the Wart Zapper.

Christian Jokes Book

  It's out! A book of Christian jokes I wrote in 1992 has been revised and reissued as a Kindle book, with a print book soon to be announced. The Kindle version is now available here: The girl is my niece Alli. 10% of royalties go towards her education. OBSERVATION: Kindle permits one to look inside, to read the first seven out of fifty-one chapters. Being arranged thematically, the book may also provide sermon illustrations.

POSTSCRIPT: A 355-page print book is now available at at a very economical $12.95. It is available in different parts of the world -- not only at the link above. ISBN 1090812639.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Marauding Baboon

This is a scene outside my parents-in-law's house -- but on the left, one sees a marauding baboon. It was eating my father-in-law's wild figs -- which are all he has left after a drought. My mother-in-law said let the baboon eat. My father-in-law fetched a rifle, and fired a shot -- and missed.

Poorest Of The Poor

One of the most difficult aspects of urban ministry is "the poorest of the poor". One is very limited in the material help one can offer, they are very tough customers, and one seems to see few lasting results. I was reminded this morning that, in the midst of such a situation, we got some things right. Driving in side streets far from my former (so to speak) parish, one of the poorest shouted out "Pastor!" while another waved with a smile. Hardly a week goes by without such signs of recognition. We sought to do what we could -- not much, considering the scale of the problem -- we did get tough with them, but we also did this: we sought to explain our predicament to them, and wherever possible prayed with them, walked with them, counselled them. OBSERVATION: One found little thanks at the time, but today one does.

Text Distribution System

I was a pioneer in the area of electronic self-publishing -- however I thought that all the evidence of that was lost in the mists of time. Yesterday I stumbled across Version 3.1.0 of my Text Distribution System, copyright 1995 (pictured). This was capable of quickly publishing a book, or any text in parts. I noted that existing systems "needed 3 to 5 days of study to master", while mine could be mastered in an hour. It offered "swift and flexible access to your writing". When one gave it numbered text files between 1.DAT and 76.DAT, of (almost) unlimited size, it automatically presented them.