Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bus Terminal

I took this photo a few years ago at Cape Town's central bus terminal. I was waiting on the 5:50 am bus from the east, which arrived at 7:15 am. However, I was well prepared. I sat in the terminal building and revised an article. You may click on the photo to enlarge.

Collateral Damage

Here's one of my more memorable moments in ministry. I walked into a Church hall at the very moment that a boy kicked a soccer ball into a long fluorescent tube on the ceiling. I looked up to see a magnificent shimmer of fine glass floating down. The boy shouted: "Wow! Look at that! It's awesome!" -- then he came up face to face with the minister! OBSERVATION: My attitude is that one's work with youth justifies some losses. Call it collateral damage. One needs to know one's spiritual priorities.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Strange Encounter

I had a strange encounter with a past minister in my area. I'll call him Joe. He shouted at me from the other side of the street: "I'm not ashamed of being Joe! I'm not ashamed of being Joe! I'm not ashamed of being Joe"  I crossed the street to speak to him -- but he fled.

Missing Docket

We have all heard of missing dockets. At the time that I resigned from urban ministry, I was criminally charged, twice. Both sets of charges were thrown out by the Senior Public Prosecutor.  But in one of the two cases, the docket went missing following the Senior Public Prosecutor's verdict.  The police officially reported that "the docket investigated by W/O Olivier could not be traced". They did tell me, however, who had opened the case, in everything but name. I said, then go ask them for the statements again. Reconstruct the docket. OBSERVATION: The police do reconstruct dockets. Whether that will happen in this case, I don't know. (The reason why this is topical only so much later is ... the process).

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Large Donations

I get just a little edgy when anyone talks about a large donation to the Church -- particularly when a name is revealed, or if someone should say: "If it hadn't been for that donation ..." Firstly, if the name of a donor is revealed, even in the relative privacy of a meeting, in my experience the donor may be targeted by mendicants, even by opponents of the Church -- not to speak of the principle that giving should (usually) be done in private (Matt 6:3). With regard to the size of a donation, there are a number of issues. Firstly, a Church is neither rescued nor upheld by windfalls. It is upheld by Jehovah Jireh, who is the Giver behind the giver -- and it is upheld by faithful, God-fearing tithing. That is what the Church wishes both to depend on and to portray. And then, I know as a minister that some people give small amounts which may be all that they have, and this is touching. Then I feel so bad if anyone highlights a large amount in itself -- although the Church is really grateful for large amounts, and they lighten its load. Jesus reminds us that a generous giver may not please God, and likewise a paltry giver may please Him much (Mark 12:41-44). OBSERVATION: These things might seem obvious, but all too often they are not.

Cracks in the Firmament

I was in touch today with the artist Rachel Leibman in Hanoi (she is based in San Francisco). I was seeking her permission to use the image of a collage, Cracks in the Firmament (pictured), for our Society project. She kindly granted her permission. It is, she says, her favourite collage of late. The work takes its inspiration from the Flammarion, a famous engraving.OBSERVATION: I think the collage is beautiful, and very nicely illustrates the concept "metaphysics".

Monday, February 23, 2015

Thomas As A Tot

I visited my aged mother this morning (now in her 80th year). I asked her how she remembered me as a toddler. She said: sweet, docile, shy, and hardy. As for docile, she said that I had requested that she smack me. As for shy, she said that I had stood between a cupboard and a wall at my third birthday party. As for hardy, she said that I had kept running out into a storm on a camping trip. She said that I had preferred dogs to cars / automobiles.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

C.E.M. Joad

I have left my mark though not my signature on an upcoming journal essay on the philosopher C.E.M. Joad (pictured). Core to his thinking was this:  When one asks after our motives, one can keep pushing back the question. Yet one reaches a point where one throws up one's hands and says, you're not serious are you? That's just how it is!  (His example:  Why do you take quinine?  To reduce fever.  Why reduce fever?  And so on).  At the final question, some would say that we have discovered the baselessness of ethics.  Joad says that, at this point, we have discovered the true axioms of ethics.  Then the task is to sift ultimate from penultimate axioms, over which he takes great care. OBSERVATION: Shortly before his death in 1953, he wrote The Recovery of Belief, about his return to Christian faith. Joad, today, has gone out of fashion.

Sacrificial Pig

In my experience, one of the problems of corruption is that the corrupt official not seldom has to decide who will be the sacrificial pig: the honest person, or the corrupt one? It's a decision which is rooted in the official's sense of his or her own shrewdness. That is, which choice is the more shrewd? OBSERVATION: It seems to me to be akin to works and faith in the Bible: to follow my own ability to be shrewd, or to do the right thing in faith. Yet to live by one's own shrewdness surely complicates things greatly.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Comparing Solar

Having designed several small solar systems, I study existing ones with interest. Here's a fairly typical example I saw today. It costs R1 000. It lights up three globes, and by the looks of the full advertisement, it charges small devices, too. But when one does the sums on the specifications shown, the system, on a full charge, will be completely flat after little more than an hour, using only the bulbs (5W each). For me, I would want something robust, that really does the job: a full evening's light, including small devices. And that would not cost as much.

Olive Branch

I wrote to someone this week: "People are fallible, so one needs to understand that and offer them grace and a way to mend things." Not to do so, I think, is not to take people's nature into account. At the same time, in my experience, most people don't want the olive branch. OBSERVATION: I had been revisiting Kant for my Society project (here abridged): “Act only according to that which could be a universal law". Yet one needs to ask what Kant did with compassion. The Bible says: "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you" (New American Standard Bible) -- which seems a lot more human than the philosopher.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bar Mitzvah

I took this photo last month at a Jewish bar mitzvah. This is just one of the dishes which was offered through several courses: a fruit salad. The catering was lavish -- or perhaps rather, wholehearted.

Linux vs. Windows Again

Last night wife E. really wanted to see a Youtube video, but it kept freezing on her computer. I thought it was a waste of time trying to make her Windows behave better. Within about five minutes, I had converted her computer to Linux, connected to the Internet, and called up the video. And it played without freezing. She said: "Who taught you to do that?" Well, it's that easy (almost). But the world still doesn't know it.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Writing With Promise

In faith, I have dedicated a substantial amount of time to writing a metaphysic. "Supposing that I could demonstrate it," I said -- namely, that it is possible in our day to create a new metaphysic. There were early signs of God's blessing on my work. Firstly, I was invited to do it. Then a well known editor wrote to me: "This young project may yet become a mighty oak." From then on, it was a determined effort, chasing forty deadlines, and for months writing "in the dark", with neither praise nor detraction. There was also the question as to whether I could break through major conceptual blocks. I could. I wrote nearly 200 000 words in all, of which nearly 30 000 are now published in draft (the rest are discarded). This week I received comments-which-matter on the whole of my work: "Your new publication is worth making something of." I met the last of my deadlines today, to finish a complete draft.

Faux Coins

Yesterday an employee of the City gave me change in Euros. Our R5 coin (left) and the €2 coin (right) look similar, although the face value of the Euro is much higher. However, our coin is the more valuable. If one wants to discover a faux coin, one uses a magnet. The more valuable coins are immune to magnetism (see the three-second video). OBSERVATION: Our "brass" coins, though, are faux.