Saturday, June 23, 2018

Modern Couple

I titled this photo "Modern Couple" on Facebook. It is my son with his fiancée. They are to be married this morning at 11:30 am in Holy Trinity Church Gardens. In my toast, I call them "talented, handsome, energetic, brilliant, far-sighted, principled young people".

Friday, June 22, 2018

★★★★ First Review

An Amazon TOP 500 REVIEWER delivered the first review of my book An Arranged Love today. Her conclusion:
"I feel that this book must be read by all across the globe as it gives importance on family life, bonding, love and affection that is beyond culture, race, religion and customs."
The various print and Kindle editions are displayed (a little haphazardly) at my Amazon Author Page.

Shifting Liturgy

Fifty years ago, a standard order of service in a Congregational Church might have looked like this:
Hymn / Call to Worship / Hymn / Prayer / Lord’s Prayer / Hymn / Reading / Gloria / Reading / Anthem / Prayer / Offertory / Hymn / Sermon / Hymn / Prayer / Benediction 
It is sometimes called a “sandwich” service, for all the layers! By the 1990s, about one-third of these items had been removed or merged with others. Twenty years later, in my own ministry, about half were gone -- and special items, which are virtually non-existent above, were common. In fact special items were common in early Congregationalism. OBSERVATION: I think that simplification was important to the life of the Church, as well as the added special items.

Small Shul Bar Mitzvah

It's another photo of a pre bar mitzvah event I attended yesterday, in the "Small Shul" in Sea Point, Cape Town. This was very well attended. OBSERVATION: What struck me in particular was an unusual mix of formality and informality all the way through.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Police Assault

With respect, I am posting a brief recording of a police Shift Commander -- here apologising to me for assaulting me (he has a heavy South African accent) -- after he threw me against a wall. I was insisting on a case number, in a case that went badly wrong. I asked to see him after he had calmed down -- this is when I recorded this. I recorded the assault, too, but my recording device (under cover) failed at the start of the assault. OBSERVATION: Even after this assault, there have been gross violations of procedure. Among other things, police handed the docket to one of those I brought charges against -- Senior Prosecutor David A. Jacobs -- who then personally quashed it. The charges against him were for covering police tracks -- now he covered his own tracks.

POSTSCRIPT: Brigadier Hansia Hansraj assumed personal responsibility for the case -- which, sadly, has been marked by truly wayward behaviour all the way through. I have asked that the people responsible be removed from office. Thanks to GroundUp for the photo of the police station.

Thembalethu In Flames

I was (am) scheduled to visit Thembalethu in the next few days, one of Africa's southernmost cities. But Thembalethu is in flames. All routes in and out of Thembalethu are barricaded, as is the national road which passes by. This morning they manned the barricades from 1:00 am. OBSERVATION: I know Thembalethu well -- there are several photos of the city on this blog. This unrest is fairly recent. While there may not be a strong correlation, it is since the Democratic Alliance took the city. One may Google "Thembalethu" for a summary of the situation.

Bar Mitzvah Blessing

This morning I attended synagogue for a pre-bar mitzvah blessing on a boy -- in fact, one of my wife's charges -- she is an au pair. The rabbi is in the middle -- the boy's father on the right. OBSERVATION: Although this is an intimate photo, there were about a hundred people assembled. I myself have been promoted to the office of rabbi -- the rabbi called me "Rabbi" today. I felt privileged to be invited.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Getting Noticed

People like to be noticed. It's the lighter side of ministry.. I am impressed by the many, innovative ways they see to it that they are. They don’t shake the minister’s hand at the door, but step back and offer their hand. They don’t sit where everybody else sits, but go sit somewhere unusual instead. They sing in the choir, but add their own peculiar flair -- to a hymn, or the choir uniform.  They walk past the altar during a hymn, then return to where they were. And so on! OBSERVATION: How shall I count the ways? They seem endless.

Featured on Indi Blogger

Well, I was featured on (click here) Indi Blogger -- which is "popular posts by Indian bloggers". November's Child, an Indian blog, published the original short article, essentially an extract from my book An Arranged Love.

Wedding Speech

I sketched the outline for a wedding speech for my son and his wife-to-be yesterday -- and am about to write it up this morning. It will need to be something punchy, to the point, for a modern audience -- so it will be (I hope) not too long, not too short. I begin with a love story of the Bible: Isaac and Rebekah. OBSERVATION: While I may only mention it in passing at the wedding reception, my late wife Mirjam carefully instructed my son before her death, as to how to conduct himself with women, and who to take as a wife. He took her words very seriously -- and this is the fulfillment of her hopes. While I grieve little today, more than seven years later, this is difficult for me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Salaries Without Details

I attended a kind of Church Meeting recently. Someone asked afterwards: "Why is there only one figure in the budget for Salaries?" Why no breakdown? This was an issue in my own ministry. Here's a real example of what can go wrong with a detailed breakdown of salaries. I had a petrol allowance. People wanted to know: How much of that is personal use? How much ministry? What is personal use? What kind of ministry? Can we rearrange the ministry? Should this be a variable payment? Why not fixed? Does the minister tithe? Why not use his tithe for the petrol allowance? Should a tithe be a pure tithe? He must stop tithing. No, he must not. And so on ... OSBERVATION: In the Congregational Church, all members are executive members, so that they have the privilege of knowing everything. However over time -- for all staff -- we shifted more to a "details on request" policy, and put lump sums in budgets and statements.


I travelled a great deal as a child, as my father was English, my mother German. This is a photo titled "Leaving For England". I am with my parents here, my mind seemingly far away. I imagine that this was taken at the railway station at Lübeck, (then West) Germany. OBSERVATION: In the first four years of my life, I saw more than a dozen countries on four continents. That was not yet a time of widespread travel.

Teacher Leaves Class

South Africa reminds me of a classroom where teacher has left the class. At first the silence is broken by some whispering -- then general talking. The pupils post someone by the door or window to keep an eye out for the teacher's return. Soon students leave their desks -- and before long, there is riotous behaviour. I myself once threw a cracker in class -- just as teacher returned. It was the revered Mister Schickerling, the senior history teacher. OBSERVATION: One wonders what our country would be like if teacher returned. I think it could very quickly settle down.

Monday, June 18, 2018


It's a photo of two worship team members jamming on Sunday after close of service. Members of this worship team (about five on any given Sunday) often stay, just for fun. You may click on the photo to enlarge.

Transition To Ministry

Two things were particularly difficult for me as a new minister -- relating to the transition from ministerial training to ministry. It may help others to be aware of these things.
• The sudden public exposure. I remember in particular a kite that I built with son M, who was a toddler at the time. "Everybody" saw minister and son flying a kite.
• The intense spiritual output required. Before I was in full-time ministry, I needed little more than my own spiritual life. In ministry, I needed to sustain everybody else's, too.
OBSERVATION: Over time, both of these challenges became less. In fact, such things became more of a pleasure to me than a burden.