Friday, December 15, 2017

Confession Of Crime

The Royal Commission in Australia has again raised the question as to how priests and ministers should deal with the confession of crime. Have I had crimes confessed to me? Yes -- and in urban ministry in particular, such confessions may come thick and fast. A few in a week, sometimes. Are there any crimes which one reveals? I have revealed very few. Here are some which I did reveal:
• Bigamy
• Drug dealing
• A ransack
• Massive embezzlement
• Unlicensed arms dealing
Here are some which I did not reveal:
• War crimes
• A murder plot
• Drug dealing
• Massive embezzlement
• Paedophilia late reported by adults
OBSERVATION: This post is not intended to go into the issue of confidentiality, nor does it describe the circumstances of each case -- it simply gives some impression of crimes one may deal with by way of confession.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Sacrificial Sheep

I have some sister-in-law (here dressed in yellow). She slaughtered her own sheep for her fortieth birthday. OBSERVATION: She is a "sister" of my wife's, having grown up in the same household. Usually one would say "cousin". She tragically lost her teenage daughter to cancer last year. I think it is beyond doubt that the hospital system failed her terribly. It is common in South Africa.

Ministry Through Weakness

I addressed a Women's Association once on the famous Congregational hymn writer Isaac Watts, and handed out copies of a short biography. There was such demand that I needed to make additional copies. OBSERVATION: What struck me about the biography was Watts’ extreme emotional and physical frailty as a minister -- yet he ministered for 46 years in the same Church. There was a different understanding of ministry then, which is seldom found today. I think, today we judge ministers by the law -- which is, very exacting standards. Then, we judged them by grace -- which is, what God does through them by His grace. This may ultimately be rooted in people's failure today to grasp salvation by grace.

What Happens Next?

I didn't expect my post Police Stop Raid-Reports to become as (very) popular as it did. Here follow some simple observations, derived from the facts which I listed there. Some basic facts again: at the turn of 2005 / 2006, there were a number of search and seize raids on my property, after demands I made for files in which the police (according to the Cluster) set me up. Colonel Scanlen of Cape Town Central stopped me from reporting these raids -- yet I succeeded (just) in reporting them in Caledon. An additional fact now: there was an arrest. Now consider "What Happens Next?" scenarios. I shall explain the audio shortly:
• The arrestee is convicted and sentenced to jail. But now there is proof that a police Colonel was defeating the ends of justice (if there isn't proof already).
• The arrestee is declared innocent and absolved. But then the police may be charged with wrongful arrest -- not to speak of possible redress.
• Any basis for a case is removed -- say, by destroying the evidence. This already happened, on 8 September 2016. But I was in a position to replace the evidence.
• The complainant (me) is offered a bribe. This already happened, after the arrest was made. This was a recorded call with my would-be benefactor.
• Try to make it all vanish. This already happened, on 8 September 2016. The prosecutor approached me with a secret deal. I said no, no secrets. He lost his decorum at this point -- replying "What?" (click ⊳ to Play -- apologies for the noise).
• Or string it out, and string it out, and out, so that one doesn't finally have to face the situation. So far, this case has been strung out for (almost) two years.
OBSERVATION: There are one or two scenarios one could add to this -- but enough for one post. Personally, I believe that the accused may have taken advantage of the search and seize raids, since locks and bolts had been removed -- or he may have acted separately. I do not think that he was fully involved. Anyway -- again -- apart from the trauma of raids (felt not only by me), such a situation creates potentially dangerous dynamics, costs a small fortune for the state -- and then, for me it is always a worry that, while I have evidence through the help of expensive equipment, what happens to the defenceless?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Company Director

For want of something (settled) to post tonight, I was in the company of this company director tonight. A few years ago, with bravado, he founded a company, which grew in leaps and bounds. The company is *sparkfolios.

Time-Bound Services

The debate often arises in Churches: should Church services be “time-bound”, or should one “give room to the Spirit”? This is a recurring theme in the Church growth literature, too. I consider that both the time and length of services needs to be predictable. People are creatures of habit, and they need a sense of security -- but more than that, in urban ministry in particular, shift-workers may carefully plan their time in Church, many live in residences and need to keep time -- and so on. Yes, one can walk out of a service if it gets too long, but people don't want to do that. It was once reported to me that seven people walked out when I was away, when a guest preacher didn't keep time. I said: “We shan't have him again.” OBSERVATION: This is not a hard and fast rule, however. Ultimately one consults the Lord. However, I believe that predictability in all spheres has a lot to do with a strong Church.

TENS Unit

I made mention yesterday of the many copyrights I have sold. The very first of them, twenty-one years ago, was a TENS unit (pictured), where TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. TENS units, in many cases, are extraordinarily effective at controlling pain. This is not to say they will always have the desired effect -- but in most cases, they are a significant help. I had just studied a complex TENS design by the celebrated Andy Flind, and felt that it could be done with a fraction of the components. It soon came to Andy's notice, and we remained cyber-friends until he died. OBSERVATION: This design, using a PP3 battery, should give about one month of all-night service before the battery needs replacing. A push-button switch and miniature neon indicator may be wired across T1’s 230V primary coil (the output here) -- these two components being wired in series. This would serve to test the functioning of the unit -- pulsing the indicator if it is working. A neon indicator requires in excess of 70-90V to illuminate at all, therefore this is “proof of the pudding” that the unit is functional. Click on the image to enlarge. One finds information on TENS units on the Internet.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Balloon Flute

I like designing things. I have sold at least 100 copyrights over the years. Here is my latest invention on YouTube, a new musical instrument, the (click here) Balloon Flute. I hope you like it. Feel free to share. It is a revolutionary twist on the familiar bottle flute. (The image shows my Linux video editor Shotcut).

Funeral Billboards

You've seen the billboards at soccer / football matches. Some undertakers now do the same at funerals, and very noticeably so -- to advertise their services. For instance, as the mourners position themselves around the graveside, and the minister takes his / her place at one or the other side of the grave, undertakers scurry around the grave placing advertising billboards. OBSERVATION: Perhaps soon they'll have the option on the standard Last Will and Testament: "Please tick: Billboards or No Billboards?" (with discount, or not).

Ghanian Student

E and I went for dinner last night with a Ghanian student (pictured) who just completed a Bachelor of Technology degree cum laude. She returns to Ghana this week. I asked her whether they would find her taller or broader when she returned. She said it would be a good sign if she returned broader. That would represent wealth and health where she comes from. She said it was a good time spiritually, in South Africa -- she felt that she had grown a lot, thanks to a large extent to a local mentor.

Monday, December 11, 2017

My Son's Girlfriend

This one's just a pretty picture. That's my son's Russian girlfriend on the left. He is in Europe at the moment, where she is to visit him shortly on her way to Moscow. OBSERVATION: The Russians seem still to have a strong sense of etiquette -- something which has been lost in my own culture during my lifetime. You may click on the photo to enlarge.

Separation Of Work And Leisure

Six years into my first major ministry, I suffered PTSD. This is serious, and was hastened at the time by the pressures of ministry. One of my errors was that I didn't separate leisure and work. As the minister of a thriving, growing Church, work intruded all the time, day and night. After the PTSD, as I regained my stamina, I made a strict separation of work and leisure -- as many ministers do. So, for instance, I didn't carry Church keys on my day off, I turned off my phone -- and when I had a holiday, I went places where I was as good as out of reach. OBSERVATION: However, in the past ten or fifteen years, I relaxed this separation. The memory of PTSD had faded, I was much better at assessing my own energies -- and I simply didn't mind as much. I think, though, that a proper Sabbath -- a word which is derived from the Hebrew word for rest -- would help many ministers. Also, I have made space daily for complete repose, although I have typically worked beyond a full day each day.

Article: State Power

My protégé Sifiso of Mamelodi was published this morning with an article on (click here) State Power. It is about the cause and cure of corruption. This was a major edit on my part -- however with all edits I try to preserve the thrust of the author. It is not an editor's job to change an author's intent. OBSERVATION: I call Sifiso "insuppressible" because he is never discouraged by an editor's ruthless critique -- in fact he makes cheerful comments about it. A "major edit" is when I need to go beyond issues of style, and rearrange the concepts.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Offence Of Laity

For several years, I was chairman of Cape Town's Atlantic Area Ministers' Fraternal. As time went on, I invited lay leaders to join our fraternal meetings –- which was perfectly acceptable to a Congregationalist like me -- in fact to all the Churches -- except the Anglican Church. I didn't realise that this would be, in fact, an offence to them. They withdrew from the Fraternal in protest. I went to see the Anglican priest, and we agreed for the sake of fraternal relations to seek the exclusion of the laity. This was accepted by the Fraternal -- however special input from laity would be allowed. We would call them in and see them out.

Problems With A ‘Natural’ System

It's one thing having a house which "runs off nature" as ours does -- quite another if you have a lot of guests, as we have had. The photo shows pond weed that yesterday came through the taps -- there was a lot more of it than this -- and mud, mud, mud. The pump, too, was jammed with mud. Thankfully I got it restarted after some twenty minutes. The problem: someone obviously put the intake into the mud. OBSERVATION: There are a few problems with a "natural" system: city dwellers are used to switching on lights and turning on taps, but a "natural" system requires thought. And there's the problem of not knowing how equipment is used.