Sunday, June 13, 2021

Focused Or Scattered

Every minister must know the feeling. This is an old post from 2013.
"Some days in ministry are focused: I'll spend the day tackling just one or two major tasks. Other days are very scattered. This past Wednesday was an example of such. On Wednesday I devoted bits of time to setting priorities, dealing with undertakers, the Church fĂȘte, our Church youth, 'leadership' matters, our charitable giving, the Church website, my Sunday sermon, our preaching programme, fraternal relations -- and various things I don't even remember. OBSERVATION: Those are the days one may feel one didn't get much done -- though perhaps one did."

Banaba Monument

I put up this photo elsewhere on the Internet, and there has been surprising interest. The photo was taken by my father, a Chief Missionary with the LMS. I have put this photo on this blog before, but here it is, improved. It would be easy to miss it -- the grave expressions on the faces of Takeiti Teriuea (left) and Rev. Eritaia Tabutoa (right). I have many photos of them, but in none do they look severe. They are standing at a monument to Albert Fuller Ellis. Ellis was knighted for his deeds, yet brought ruin for the people and the environments of Nauru and Banaba. That surely is one reason for the interest in this photo. Related to that, every resident of Banaba must have made the pilgrimage to this monument. OBSERVATION: Today, most Banabans live on Rabi island in Fiji, where they were relocated. This may be the only photo of the monument on the Internet. 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Church Newsletter

Through most of my ministr(ies), I have put out a monthly Church newsletter. With every newsletter, I have sought to do two things:
1. Focus on what we are most basically about, and
2. Share the most important news.
Usually, I have scanned earlier newsletters for perspective. OBSERVATION: Sometimes it seems as though there are a thousand things to write about. I have typically settled on just one. A newsletter is, I think, an important part of keeping a Church focussed. It is not an optional extra.

Church Choir

This week, I happened upon a photo of a choir of Sea Point Evangelical Congregational Church. I didn't know that I had it -- nor did I take it. I would place it in the early 2000's. This choir brought much joy to the Church. They introduced a sung Amen to most services, and opened many items of song with a brief spiritual word. About half of them have now passed on. OBSERVATION: We had a few very different choirs over time. The choirmaster here is Henry Isaacs. You may click on the photo to enlarge.

Friday, June 11, 2021


Earlier this week, I recovered this old photo from a negative. It is a brother- and sister-in-law. I find the photo atmospheric. Today, perhaps twenty years later, they look very different. He is now an ordained evangelist.

What Next

Ministry continually intersects with problems -- and sometimes malevolence. I have had the custom, when engaging with an unkind problem, to make notes about my next step. By the time the next step is required, one might have been bumped off balance. Those notes are useful, then, for one's stability. Also, they serve as a reference point. One's thoughts are not scattered, but have a place to start. OBSERVATION: The next stage of a problem may, however, be completely different to what one thought might be. This is therefore subject to being completely flexible.

Pressing Pause

I have been very privileged to have the best of advisors and supporters, while striving to create a new metaphysic -- and of course, while seeking to get it published. They include some of the best in the world. I have put in intense work this year, both compiling and submitting book proposals. My advisors say that I am now at a juncture. I should press pause. No more proposals. It is for the best of reasons. There is to be a decision about my book. OBSERVATION: I shall probably continue to write proposals, but hold them back. The image shows the cover of the current draft.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

My Parents-in-Law

There aren't many photos of my parents-in-law. Yesterday I recovered this photo from old negatives. The boy is wife E's younger brother. The photo was taken long ago -- long before I met E's parents. OBSERVATION: When finally I met her father, I didn't know it was him I was greeting. Out of respect, he wouldn't look me in the eye, which is not ... the American way. Like wife E, they are a treasure.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Exploiting Data

Social media are more and more invasive in using one's data. I designed a radically new belt buckle, and discussed it via e-mail with someone who had seen it. I described it as a belt with a ring. Within a day, I had ads popping up on social media offering me made-in-China items (like this one) which included a belt with a ring. OBSERVATION: My ring isn't like that. But are companies using one's data only to bounce back advertisements, or might they poach designs? Whether they do or not, it would seem possible.


Someone once said that I had a thriving Church, but how many conversions had there been? My ministry wasn't worth anything if there hadn't been conversions. At that time -- which was in city ministry -- I had made a note of conversions. At 200, I stopped counting. That is, conversions as best one can tell, where people made a decision for Christ, and said so. OBSERVATION: In an important sense, though, ministry is not about converting people, but simply about ministering. In Jesus’ parable of the sower, the sower simply sows. Ministry is not about what ministers are accomplishing, but what God is accomplishing -- often in ways beyond our understanding. Even without conversions, therefore, we are hopeful.

Church Roof

What is it? I took this photo visiting a Church one Sunday. It is the Church's central aisle. The bright spots on the carpet match as many holes in the roof, through which the sun is shining. The Church used second-hand corrugated iron to cover the roof. OBSERVATION: Many Churches in South Africa are very poor, and built with corrugated iron or wooden slats. 

Vaccinations in South Africa

Eye Witness News reported yesterday, "6,812 PEOPLE VACCINATED IN SA OVER LAST 24 HOURS". The report was critical of government -- however, it did not spell out just what this means. The sums reveal it. The population of South Africa is 60,002,614. If we should continue with 6,812 vaccinations a day, that means 8,808 days, or more than 24 years. In reality, 1.5% of the population has already been vaccinated, which reduces that to a little less than 24 years. Say 12 years to vaccinate half the population. OBSERVATION: We hear confident predictions from government, about a vaccination drive. It seems hard to believe that it could -- so far -- unfold like this.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021


I think that many of our modern problems may be put down to pluralism -- yet are not recognised as such. My parents’ cultures were monocultural. My father told me of the excitement when the first Black man walked through town. My own culture is now bicultural. I transition between two very different cultures, and we accommodate each other, with warmth. Many people, though, need now to negotiate pluralism. It is a potpourri. OBSERVATION: I needed to unite various cultures in my city Church in particular, so I have some idea how to do it. Yet there were some who were still pulled very strongly towards monoculturalism  (culture is not the same as race).

Fire Damage

My technique is improving (slightly). This is an improvement on my last attempt, anyway. It is the city of Cape Town from the slopes of Table Mountain, showing recent fire damage, which did serious harm to the University of Cape Town.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Strange Coincidence

I had an interesting experience this morning. When one submits one's work to a publisher, one ideally surveys what they are putting out. When I surveyed a certain publisher, I found a book in the mix, published this year, which had the same title as the closing chapter of my book, the grand summation of my work. That caught my eye. In fact, I had shown the author a complete draft of my work in 2018. He had a bound copy of it, and we briefly communicated. Is there any connection? Without being able to see inside his book, I cannot tell. It is What is Metaphysics? by John Heil.