Thursday, December 13, 2018

Editing Pi

Most of the submissions we receive for the philosophy weekly Pi are publishable -- and of these, say half need minor editing, and half major. My own criterion for taking on a piece, as a co-editor, is whether I can understand it. Mostly I can -- and once I can, it all makes sense within the big picture I have formed of it. Recently a co-editor rejected a piece. I said let me have a go. I received it, but did not understand it. I corresponded with the author to try to get the big picture. Once I had that, I was able to edit it, and the improvement is (I hope) an order of magnitude greater than the changes which were made. OBSERVATION: The subject of the piece is "Misunderstanding". Basically that we have to adjust our whole selves to understand others, not merely look at details of speech.

POSTSCRIPT: As for my co-editor, he shifted from rejection to acceptance. We publish by consensus.

Precious People

As I look back over many years of ministry, there were many wonderful people who were a continual support and encouragement to the Church. This is one such person -- pictured here only because this was the nearest photo to hand. It seems to me that the problems always arise when self comes into the picture -- with the power to help or to harm growing with the influence and status a person has. OBSERVATION: Many selfless people, because they were selfless, are not generally remembered, but the memory of them is precious to me.

Believing The Wrong People

My post (click here) Accountability Removed has turned out to be particularly popular. It is a very serious matter. A major Church -- my old city Church -- has deliberately reduced its financial accountability to the level of, say, a tennis club when it is a multi-million rand concern, and potentially worth multi-multi millions to anyone interested in gain. Throughout my ministry, I insisted on high standards of accountability and transparency in the finances -- but my attentions slipped, wrote a consultant (David Newby) when my wife died. There followed awful dishonesty among the finance officers, which should have aroused great concern. I myself was vilified by these officers -- and not by others, except by way of exception. And here, of equal concern, is who people chose to believe in these things. People believed the wrong people. I may not have spoken always with excellence, but I spoke the truth. The Church treasurer ultimately confessed in writing to "wrongdoing", to a government agency, with five diaconate signatures beneath his own. At that point, at the latest, people should have paid serious attention, and set aside the people involved. OBSERVATION: (I distinguish between dishonesty and fraud -- see for example Deleted Bank Records).

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

666 666 Page Views

As I write, my blog is on the brink of registering 666 666 page views, which is two-thirds of a million. This is not in fact the real number of reads. Apart from my failing to count the first years of blogging, my posts get duplicated in various places, so that the real number has to be much higher. At one point, my blog was registering nearly 5 million back links. OBSERVATION: I started the blog for two reasons above all: to help people form a picture of what urban ministry is about (at the time students), and to be a help and encouragement to those who are in urban ministry. I know that my blog has achieved this -- I know it from many notes of thanks. My posts have included my adversities and mistakes, which I hope -- in a backward kind of way -- are helpful, too.

Munificent Industrialist

During my many years of studies, I had two principal backers: my grandfather the city treasurer, and a well known industrialist. My grandfather is now long gone, so I cannot keep him updated any more -- but I do keep the industrialist updated on my milestones, simply out of gratitude. This week I was delighted when she invited me to use her personal address -- we had previously communicated through her secretary. OBSERVATION: She is a member of the B20 behind the G20. I have not included her in my current search for patronage.

Planning And Spontaneity

In a multi-cultural Church, there are some who prefer planning, some who are spontaneous. We were planning a Church Supper, where usually we had about 60 people attending. Our office secretary called me up to say that "only fifteen people" had put their names down for the supper. Should we continue? Later in the day, I took a look through the names -- and could see immediately that these were people who favoured planning. A quick telephone call confirmed that there would be a lot more people coming. OBSERVATION: In a multi-cultural Church, one tends to have planning on the one hand, spontaneity on the other, and these strange bedfellows tend to meet at Church suppers.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Exciting Project

A third editor responded to my proposed magnetometer today -- which has been on store shelves in Australia now for two weeks. He wrote: "I find the project very exciting," and noted that it "can even be turned into a saleable product". Alas, too late. I thought that that submission had vanished in the aether. There wasn't a receipt. OBSERVATION: It is a "deeply analogue design", notes the editor, which would require testing in the lab. That makes good sense. Digital or modular designs may merely be a matter of logic, while analogue designs may be more or less impenetrable to logic, and beyond the powers of the best of simulators. That in itself is interesting -- that fairly simple science may befuddle the best minds and computers.

Conradie Hospital

During my city ministry, I often visited Conradie Hospital in Cape Town -- one of the finest hospitals in Africa for the treatment of spinal injuries, among other things. My visits there were not pleasant, although the care that the hospital gave its patients was first class. This week I came across photos of the hospital today -- of which just one on the right. The hospital was simply abandoned, and the common people tore it apart.

Farewell PM9

In the South African countryside, they have stopped selling PM9 9V batteries. This means that my parents-in-law's radio is dead. One needs to imagine a vast, desolate plateau, now with only the sounds of hunting dogs, frogs, bird calls, and crickets. Yesterday I bought some parts in Cape Town to hook up the radio to solar power. Wife E called her mother this morning to tell her that I had them. Her mother's response: "When are you coming?" OBSERVATION: Sounds like a situation of desperation. One often finds my parents-in-law perched on the edge of their seats listening to the radio.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Freedoms vs. Pastoral Issues

In our age, things have become physically possible which were impossible one or two generations ago -- sex changes, cloning, surrogacy, and so on -- not to speak of what has become possible, in a sense, though a changed legal landscape. But little attention is given to the pastoral issues surrounding these changes, and they are big. If we look at the distress which emerges from yesterday's moral issues -- misogyny, paedophilia, prejudice, and so on -- perhaps we may know what the future holds. I imagine that, within the next generation, we shall see a strong human reaction -- not necessarily a principled or carefully reasoned reaction -- to freedoms we gain today. OBSERVATION: I say this on the basis of pastoral experience. What was accepted yesterday -- or was accepted, so to speak, through silent suffering -- becomes the outrage of tomorrow. Because back then, the pastoral issues were overlooked -- and today, there are various such issues overlooked, too.

The Bridging Inference

I see this morning that an article I wrote three years ago, on what words are, has re-entered the Top of the Pops of the philosophy weekly Pi: The Bridging Inference. It stands at no. 2. Words are not what we were taught at school. It was said (and is said) that a definition is the most economical statement of a word's descriptive meaning. I turn that around -- and motivate it carefully. A definition is the most expansive statement of a word's descriptive meaning. That is how we actually use words. It has all kinds of consequences. It explains a range of things we haven't really explained about language -- and it says we ought in general to be thinking holistically, not reductionistically.

The Routine

This one's a post "out of character" -- just the details, the routine, the opening routine, when I was abducted earlier this year, by men with semi-automatics. They held me for an hour-and-a-half, searched my papers, and took valuables. This was the sequence:
Fasten your seat belt.
Lock your door.
Put your hands where we can see them.
Put your head down.
Take off your spectacles.
Hand over your cell-phone.
Declare all digital devices.
Do you have a gun?
These are our weapons.
This is whose they are.
This is our firearm training.
These are our names.
Confirm your personal details.
This is how you'll die.
OBSERVATION: It seems a bit like airport customs control! I might have omitted a line or two here -- but notice that this is all a matter of "They said, I said." It is a private conversation, with no independent confirmation -- except, that is, similar stories out there. I limit the details, for safety's sake.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Editors Lined Up

I have set up three editors for my magnum opus, my metaphysic, for the new year. There are just the details now to consider. Now my metaphysic is made up of about 40 segments: 36 chapters, and some bits besides. If each editor spends one day on each segment, and if I, too, spend one day on each segment, working their suggestions into the metaphysic, that makes eight months. The three editors are to focus on the following:
Editor One: a "destructive" edit, targeting  conceptual or factual errors, weaknesses
Editor Two: a "constructive" edit, to bring out the best of the philosophy as a whole
And Editor Three: an edit for style and creativity

New Doctor

I took this photo yesterday of a (fairly) well known minister, with his youngest child. This coming Friday, he is to be awarded a doctorate. Dr. Vuyani Sindo. He finished the doctorate in under three years, which is a "cracking pace".

Standing Behind The Door

I once spoke to a police investigator in Sea Point. She called me into an office, and said she wanted to give me some advice. Some of it was this. She pointed to the door, and said: "When a man walks through that door, he is standing behind it." I said I didn't understand. She said: "When a man brings an accusation, he is guilty of the same. He is covering himself." OBSERVATION: This, I think, is very often true, and a piece of wisdom few people understand. People too often see the man walking through the door, but fail to see the man standing behind it. In this case, the investigator was talking specifically about a Church attorney, but it applies everywhere, and to organisations, too.