Thursday, March 30, 2017

My Life Then

My aged mother recently transcribed my father's letters "home" to his mother, from the time he accepted a call to the mission, to the time we returned home. This extract describes my new environment as a boy, in 1966.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Getting To Know You

One of the curious things about editing the weekly Philosophical Investigations is that we editors may know little or nothing about who it is who is writing for us, except that they turn out good philosophy -- and in effect, this promotes a great deal of originality. Earlier this month, we published a man who -- I first discovered today -- led the team that first described the connection between the Zika virus and brain defects in newborn children. That was a surprise. He has also proposed a reclassification of Parkinson's disease as Sugardiabetes 5. Here is a newspaper article about the Kashmiri Scientist.

What Are The Issues?

This a repost of something I wrote on 15 April 2012, and I put it here this morning without any alteration. With the passing of time, I think it may make far more sense now than it did then:
The eminent Steve Hayes asks in a comment on this blog: "Fight or Decline? What are the issues?" That is, what are the issues with regard to recent turbulence in our Church. We are a Congregational Church, which means government by all. To summarise it in one sentence, the big issue is: Return the power to the members. In everything. Too much power was accrued by the few. Major decisions were taken without the knowledge of the minister, the leadership, or the members. However, trying to return power to the members has been at great cost and pain to myself -- not least at our recent AGM. Perversely, some have accused me of seizing control -- while my heart and my purpose are the opposite. Everything I have done has been aimed at getting power back into the hands of the members. Thank you, Steve, for the question.

Book of Autographs

Last week son M found a book of music with a lot of autographs inside. He didn't check the autographs, he just bought the book -- for a considerable R1 250 ($100). Last night we went through the autographs. Here is one of them, above. This one alone could double his money -- and there are more. Unusually, the autographs span several decades.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Maybe Murders

People sometimes ask me whether I have dealt with murder in ministry. In a sense, one doesn't really deal with it, because it is usually more about burial then (it isn't the usual pastoral situation). Also, it isn't always that simple. There is manslaughter and euthanasia and negligence and so on. Which of them was murder? I have dealt with three brutal murders. What is interesting, but tragic of course, is the "maybe" murders. One man hit his head when he fell on a hike -- or did he? One woman hit a table when she fell at home -- or did she? One of these cases remained undecided (I think), and in the other case, murder was ruled out. OBSERVATION: And then there is attempted murder.

World Blog

The image shows the readers of my blog during the last 24 hours -- at least, the top ten countries among them. It has become a 'world blog'. Originally it had a strong local readership. In fact numerically the local readership is still about the same as it always was, but proportionally it has dropped to about 4% of total readership. During the next month, if things continue on the level, this blog will be passing half a million page views.

NOTE: Apologies, Tasmania. My fault that you got left out.

Saying No To Vehicles

Strangely, a conversation recently touched on vehicles which were offered to me in ministry. This has happened to me five times. Four out of five times, I did not accept the gift, because I felt uncomfortable. I felt it was inappropriate for a minister to benefit from ministry, or to seem to benefit from ministry -- it just didn't seem to fit. The one time I did accept a vehicle, the owner was leaving the country in a hurry, having been offered a job overseas. I was doing him a favour, so he persuaded me. OBSERVATION: Here's one example of such a situation. A man was converted through my ministry, and he wanted to get rid of everything he had ever gained through not knowing God. I said I felt very honoured, and I was thankful, but no.

Husking Coconuts

For want of something to post in this moment, here is a photo of my guardian Temeeti husking coconuts at Morikao, Abaiang. It's my little sister on the left, me in the background. OBSERVATION: If you should ever get washed up on a tropical island, you had better know how to husk coconuts. And pierce them, to drink. Here, Temeeti has an iron stake to do it. An islander (Aua of Beru) taught me how to husk coconuts even without the iron stake. My father taught me how to pierce them. One can drink coconut milk of course, but coconut sap (toddy) is drunk more often.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Scheduled Twice

I was pleased to have two articles scheduled for publication today. One was written by an African protégé (pictured). I saw that he "had the fire", so I approached him to write something for Philosophical Investigations. My co-editor approved the article today, without reservation, and it is scheduled for publication on the 10th of April. And I myself was commissioned to write a book review, on the science of uncertainty, for The Philosopher. This was a tough assignment, that took me months. Today it was accepted and scheduled for publication on the 1st of May. 


One of the things I have studied in more recent years is semeiotics or semiotics -- the signs through which we communicate. Through this I became aware that I routinely (I would think daily) use a sign for "Yes" which I picked up in the mission as a boy, in the central Pacific. I still use it fifty years later -- but it is not a sign for "Yes" in my own culture. It might be completely useless. OBSERVATION: And there will surely be many things like it that I have missed. It makes me wonder about the uncountable influences on our lives, and how they still are with us.

Eerste Rivier

It isn't a village, it isn't a town, it's a ... settlement, called Eerste Rivier (First River) in the Eastern Cape. The locals once tried to close it to the public, but didn't succeed. It is open to visitors. It is known for its picturesque beach, its blow-holes, and one of the best natural pools, the "Blue Hole". It is close to my wife's childhood home. OBSERVATION: My camera couldn't handle this scene with automatic settings, and I wonder if any camera could. I had to do this manually.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Strength Factors

This Church was my father's last pastorate -- an Anglican Church in central Cape Town (I took the photo today). Attendances like this are often seen in South Africa, where Europeans might be surprised. Some factors (not all) to which I might attribute the strength of this Church: spiritual substance, a strong ministry to children and students, pastoral concern, attention to the spirit of the Church, and a glimmer of Congregationalism (in spite of being Anglican). OBSERVATION: Several people in this photo were regular or occasional attenders under my city ministry. Spot the bishop (he's in the congregation).

Ailing Ears

In 2013, I was attacked in my robes in Church. Apart from injuries, I went down several times with fevers, and a constellation of fierce infections. Ultimately it turned out that they were all one and the same. While one cannot connect this indubitably to the attack, it was the best explanation. Doctors prescribed antibiotics, but they failed. They prescribed them again, but they failed again. They prescribed more targeted antibiotics, but they failed. They prescribed them again, and at last they succeeded in curing me out -- except for my ears. This week I had yet another ‘blood burst’ in one ear. OBSERVATION: A fortnight ago, a judgement went in my favour -- I referred to it briefly on my blog. It was related to the attack. Someone staged a defence of their part in things, and their defence was judged as being criminal in itself. I have not yet blogged about this. (The antibiotics were of amoxycillin and clarithomycin).

† Rangarirayi Chikadaya

I was very sorry to hear yesterday of the death of Rangarirayi Chikadaya (pictured). He was a man of faith, brilliant, selfless, who for a time was a member of our city Church. Many refugees turned to the Church for help, and he was one. But the problem of refugees was huge, and we had to make some tough decisions as to who to help and how (and who was genuine). He was a journalist, who had been badly beaten by police in Zimbabwe. "My face was swollen like a football," he said. He showed me newspaper clippings he had brought along. We helped set him on his feet, and he sang the Church a song of praise one Sunday morning. He went on to do monumental work for others, among other things founding a school. When he saw how poor the students were, he would not charge them. He called me up from the Transkei -- the last time that we spoke -- and told me never to be discouraged, I had had an enduring influence.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Youth Choir: God Is Love

When I heard wife E last night, singing a Youth Choir song from my city ministry, I put it up on Facebook. By the morning, it had 42 views -- therefore I reposted it with 16 photos, most of which were taken at recording sessions. Here it all is for my blog. The full line-up of the Youth Choir was Francis Mvenge, Phakamile Nkosi, Peter Nighswander, Ester Sizani, and Itai Chikadaya.