Sunday, January 25, 2015
I was reminded today that I tried once to develop a remote controlled hovercraft for a magazine. Before starting with the electronics, I needed to design something that would fly at all. I ordered two fast, lightweight motors from the UK for counter rotating propellers. I designed a hard skirt. I was very pleased when the hovercraft flew on water, but even with the counter rotating propellers it gyrated. Also, there was interference between the air-flows of the two propellers. While trying to solve the latter problem, the hovercraft suddenly took a dive and sank. And that was that. OBSERVATION: On the Internet there seem to be few remote controlled hovercraft which really work.
I have come across various things in ministry which would be very hard to explain. Here is an example, just as it happened. J., a young man in our congregation, suddenly struggled to breathe. The hospital wouldn't attend to him. He waited there for five hours. He snoozed a while in a chair, then he opened his eyes, and said to his brother: "I want you to settle my affairs. I want you to take instructions." His brother said: "No, don't talk like this! You're talking crazy! You'll be OK!" J. said to him in English -- which was a language foreign to them both: "Listen carefully. God told me this! God!" So his brother took instructions in English. Then J. went into convulsions and died. In the three months before his death, J. contacted any number of people to settle his affairs and say goodbye.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
I did hard work today revising a chapter of philosophy I wrote. It was a short chapter of 1 300 words, yet I ripped out more than a thousand words, and inserted more than a thousand again. Only then did it occur to me to check the editor's comments on my original work. He wrote: "This is very professional stuff!" Well so much for that.
Friday, January 23, 2015
Thursday, January 22, 2015
I test drove an Audi today, as a favour for a friend. I don't even know what kind of an Audi it was. However it was going second-hand for nearly a quarter million. I said it was boring -- by which I meant no doubt that it was solid. And powerful. And comfortable. And quiet. Something that had me confused was a little thing called a finger-brake. I've never come across one before. Apparently it's a thriller if one pulls it at speed. The car will be engulfed in a ball of smoke. Make sure there's no one behind you.
I have been married for two years to a fine woman who calls herself "a Xhosa child". With this in mind, I continually enter her culture(s). My own greatest struggle in this has been what I have called "the power of we". It is not the same as "the power of we" in European culture: family honour, for instance, or an influential family head. Rather, to put it too simply, the self is gone. If the self is gone, then (to a greater or lesser extent) so too are doors and walls, personal conversations, discreet space, own possessions, private bedrooms, recovery time -- around the clock. On the other hand, if one has a need or a problem, one won't find oneself alone with it. It is "our" problem then, and we are there for you. No, with you.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
OBSERVATION: What should one do? It is difficult. Greater spiritual preparedness on the part of the minister would have helped, so as to have a kind and ready answer. Also, critics were not acting in good faith. They should have thought twice. As a matter of interest, traditionally visitation is not basic to Congregational ministry. However, I myself regard it as essential. (I snapped the kitten on visitation).
The project I completed today in draft (see the previous post) was under development for more than thirty years. I made several attempts at writing it: the first of which more than thirty years ago. Yet they all seemed to stall, from the point of view that they encountered what I considered major conceptual blocks. Two of my attempts were made for professors in the USA, and on a rank-based grading system I scored a C (a middle student) and an A (a top student). What is different with the current attempt is that I could see about a third of the way through that the concepts were now working. OBSERVATION: The next step is to do a sweep of the whole project to see that, in keeping with the Society's aims, it is all "clear to the interested reader".
Today I completed a draft of my New Metaphysics, a project for the "sister site" of the journal of the Philosophical Society of England. I finished one day ahead of schedule. The project today reached 25 000 words, or about the size of a novella. Thanks to editors Martin Cohen and Pierre-Alain Gouanvic for creating the on-line space to develop it. Thanks to Martin Cohen for giving me the special impetus and encouragement to get started. Now come the refinements.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Not seldom in ministry, I have been in situations where people have needed to respond to very awkward questions (in Afrikaans, to a tameletjie, or sticky toffee). From my experience, the finest answer is always the straight one, even if it is the most difficult one. I would think it is worth a person's risk of being straightforward. Anything else comes across, at best, as revealing a smooth operator -- and as they say, first impressions last. That's my sense, from the outside looking in. OBSERVATION: And the straight answer, in the long run, tends to pour oil on troubled waters, too.
Monday, January 19, 2015
Sunday, January 18, 2015
Today I discussed with a theology graduate the well known problem of theological education vs. ministry practice. My own first great shock was when I was called upon to visit an attractive, young(ish) mother dying of cancer. The cancer had metastasised. I didn't know what to do, or what to say. I was so deeply shocked that I didn't (wouldn't) go back -- but I conducted her funeral service. I remember what she said to me on that one visit. She requested the hymn: "When morning gilds the skies." Twelve times, the hymn repeats: "May Jesus Christ be praised!" OBSERVATION: From my experience, the best kind of practical training is observation, or apprenticeship. (In later ministry, I was able to deal with such situations comfortably).