Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Wheat And The Tares

A bishop asked me to conduct his Bible study this coming Wednesday on "the wheat and the tares". I gave it a first cursory look today. The first thing that stands out is that Jesus was likely speaking of "the wheat and the darnel". The NIV completely obscures this, while the KJV partly does. Darnel is sometimes called "false wheat". It grows up with the wheat, and looks like the wheat, but it isn't the wheat. In the parable, this is only noticed very late. What this implies is that the Church is full of people who look absolutely like the genuine article, but are not.

Passionate Performance

This one's just a pretty picture. I took this photo of violinist and vocalist Veronica of the group Zamar. She had just given such a spirited performance that she shredded her bow. This is visible if one clicks on the image to enlarge.


There is a word in German which I don't think one has in English: kleinlich. Call it small-istic. One of my chief complaints about Churches I visit is that they so often are small-istic: Are you cosy in your pew? Did you know that Sally baked some apple pie today? Joe sends warm greetings from his caravan. And so on. It tends to happen in Churches which view the Church as "community". OBSERVATION: There is some place for this, but I consider that it generally should be fairly inconspicuous. The Church is about far, far greater things.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Rabbinical Remarriage

My posts being more Jewish this week, shortly after my wife died, a Jewish neighbour told me that they have a law: their rabbi, if his wife dies, must remarry within a month. She said: "It's a very old law. It must have had an origin that made a lot of sense." OBSERVATION: Supposing that it takes the rabbi a week to get a grip on himself after the shock, then a week for the first woman to turn him down, another week for the second woman to make up her mind ... It would be interesting to know how it actually works ... My own wife, before she died, instructed me to marry E., to whom I am now married. But that was more than two years before it all came together.

Schul Control Desk

For good measure, here is another photo I took of the Gardens Schul last night -- this time from the control desk. Apparently it was one of the most progressive events in the history of a conservative schul -- yet it succeeded I think in combining dignity with joy. There was, too, a clear and simple message (the story of Rahab, who cast her lot with God's people), and it was a programme of the highest quality throughout. Again, you may click on the photo to enlarge.


I reached a perilous milestone yesterday. I completed my Metaphysic in twenty-eight parts, and submitted to a publisher. It is perilous not only for the Metaphysic, but for the author, for whom a great labour has suddenly come to an end, leaving a great void. OBSERVATION: I noted previously that I have a publisher, however not the one I am looking for. I am certainly in a stronger position now than I was a year ago. Since then, a First Edition was indeed published, and I was appointed Editor and Deputy Editor of two philosophical publications.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Gardens Schul

I took this photo earlier this evening of (I think) Rabbi Feldman addressing the Gardens Schul -- formerly the Cape Town Hebrew Congregation. It was a special Sukkot event (Feast of Tabernacles), in which the Christian community expressed its soldarity with the Jewish community. I was invited to photograph the event on behalf of a Jewish organiser who was injured, and couldn't attend (and I think I got the best interior shot of this synagogue yet). OBSERVATION: This is the "Mother Synagogue of South Africa". You may click on the photo to enlarge. (Somebody asked me: 'Vot's a good boy like you doing in Schul?')

Regularity and Continuity

One of my largely “unspoken” policies in the Church has been regularity and continuity. What this means is that I (and we) try not to interrupt the regularity of a group or event, even if we should discover that only three, say, will be there. I should say, by and large. There are exceptions. OBSERVATION: At one stage in my ministry, for example, we continued with Youth, even with only one or two children, and we rebounded to more than thirty. People need to know what to expect, and to feel secure, not have to contend with on-again off-again programmes. And forward motion, however small, keeps forward motion going.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"Actively" Taking Off

Throughout my ministry, I have taken a day off every week -- typically Monday. In my early ministry, I "passively" took a day off. I wouldn't go seeking Church work, yet there would typically be ten or twenty calls or call-outs on that day (imagine, someone said, that one's place of work would call one that often on a Sunday). But in later ministry, I have "actively" taken a day off. I have done what is necessary to ensure that I do not receive a single call or call-out. OBSERVATION: However, there are still exceptions. What made me change? Inhuman overload, and discovering its harm.

Academic Supervisor

Here's a photo with a difference. It is son M.'s academic supervisor in Cape Town, examining some critter from a safe distance in time. She is a palaeobiologist, among other things. There is a write-up on her at Fossilized Clues. OBSERVATION: I have never met her. I have only heard about her. Apparently she is a great ball of energy, personable, and very competent in her field. She says that M. can complete his doctorate this year. Not quite, says M. His other supervisor is in Rome.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Facial Expression And Culture

I have found that a major contrast between the (African) culture of my wife and my own culture lies in facial expression. But it is only in experiencing it that I have realised it at all. In my own (European) culture, we have a very common tendency to use facial expression for effect, or to play-act. We wince, we smile, we frown, we are bald faced, we put on a brave face, and so on -- but often this is one step removed from genuineness. In my wife's culture, this is far less the case. Facial expression tends to be tied to immediate emotional reality, and not to go beyond it. OBSERVATION: Something related, which took a lot of learning: in my wife's culture, facial expression often substitutes for words.

Crime And Spinning Wheels

A Member of Parliament today (controversially) claimed that our most recent crime statistics are what one would expect from a country at war. In fact just the day before yesterday wife E. and I saw two men, one with a gun, force another man to his knees -- in public. OBSERVATION: Personally, through ministry, I have been impressed by our police, but they seem to be spinning their wheels where they wouldn't have to. I have reasons for saying that, but enough for one post.

Electronics Again

Last week, out of the blue, a major electronics publisher got in touch with me, asking me whether they could publish some of my copyrighted designs. They published two designs in the past -- but I said they had published the boring stuff -- they should publish some more interesting designs now. We shall see. I gave them the choice. (A major copyright holder very kindly released some of my copyrights for this).  OBSERVATION: Designs enter my head all the time, but I no longer write them down, let alone test them. My priorities are elsewhere. However, last month I got as far as sketching the "brains" of a PIR alarm system -- I couldn't find what I wanted on the Internet.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Foundations Of Spirituality

Philosophical Investigations this morning published a piece which I facilitated: The Foundations of Spirituality. It is a vision for the Roman Catholic Church. The essay seems quite forthright, coming from within the Church. It basically argues: We need to rehabilitate our spirituality. But how? Spirituality is a "ramshackle" field without foundations. Therefore three "foundational" principles for spirituality are proposed. OBSERVATION: I am not a Roman Catholic myself, as someone suggested upon reading this. Rather, it was my privilege to bring this work to the public attention. It will be interesting to see how this is received. It could be important.

Faith Or Heroism

From time to time, I have described ministry intuitions on this blog -- which is my vaguer perceptions of the dynamics of ministry. Often, in the Church, one has do do with people who have suffered a major evil or injustice. They might have experienced genocide, say, or might have a disabled child. What does one do with that? The Church is a good place to go -- however, for those who do turn to the Church, there seem to be two kinds: • There is the genuine faith response, or • You can be a hero in the Church with stories like that, yet deep down (perhaps deeper even than conscious awareness) you hate God, and you hate the Church. If the latter, this may reveal itself in strange ways, over time.