Friday, February 12, 2016

Many Services

A minister will conduct many services apart from those among his or her own congregation. I myself have conducted many services as consulent and chairman -- and (among other things) weddings, funerals, and christenings (one seen here) besides. It has been my custom to mention such services briefly to my own congregation(s), so that people are aware of ministry being done more generally. OBSERVATION: While christenings are not usually done without the congregation, in this case the parents were on a flying visit to South Africa. I remember this as a particularly joyful service. I was speaking with the congregation here, although I don't remember what we spoke about.

Introducing A Friend

This is a re-post of a post first published on 9 September 2011, in which there was enormous interest: "Last night I shared with our Church leadership that I have made a friend -- simply a friend, with no announcements to be made. She is a member of our Church -- a woman of faith, wisdom, humility, and compassion. She has been a quiet organisational power in our Church. It was my late wife Mirjam who, looking to the future, made this match before she died. Recently we met with our Church elders, where we spoke more expansively about this development. They were delighted, and considered that it is of the Lord." OBSERVATION: It was a post which said as much as it didn't. One sees it in the post itself.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

80th Breakfast

I had a pre-eightieth-birthday breakfast with my mother this morning (pictured). She turns eighty on Sunday. I gave her "the usual" for her birthday, this year the finest. I said: "You've certainly had an interesting life." She said: "I must say! And even now!" OBSERVATION: She told me a story this morning which I had not heard before. Her father had given her some cultured books for Christmas, in German, as was his wont, and she had put them above her on a rack in the train. A fellow passenger worked for the United Nations. He looked up at the books, and offered her a job as a United Nations translator (which she took). That was around the time of my birth.

Noakes And Me

I am following Tim Noakes' hearing with special interest. He is a popular doctor, charged by the Health Professions Council for (it is said) an error of judgement. But his attorneys claim that the Preliminary Committee violated his rights and defied the Constitution -- very strong words. I myself have been dealing with the same Preliminary Committee through David Kokong, although not from a doctor's point of view. My attorneys have essentially come to the same verdict on the same points as Noakes' attorneys, but independently. With the difference that Noakes has fire-power -- and this I find disturbing, and continually disturbing, in a society as unequal as ours. What happens to "the people" if they should experience the same? If Noakes should win his case, it has obvious relevance to me. But even without that, the Preliminary Committee is in a very problematic space.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Débutante Ball

This is a ten-second video of a South African "débutante ball" to which I was invited. This is far from what one calls a débutante ball in the USA or the rest of the Commonwealth. But as one local said to me: "Those are not débutante balls!" Here, families bring their own dinner, then (rowdily) watch their children perform. This event also represents the culmination of annual fund-raising (a very good result in this case).

"Classic" Bible Verses

Throughout my ministr(ies), we displayed "classic" Bible verses large on the walls within our Church buildings. There were a number of reasons for this. Among them: keeping focus in the Church, teaching Scripture, and witnessing to the community. OBSERVATION: During my urban ministry, my seminary once gave me an assignment, a finding of which was that we potentially had a very big witness to the non-Christian community through receiving them into our buildings -- which is where such Bible verses become relevant. What are the "classic" Bible verses? One finds some help at The Bible. Sorted -- or one may survey any Systematic Theology.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

New Metaphysical Notes

Thanks to God, I am pleased to announce a new version of my Metaphysical Notes, published on-line today by the Philosophical Society of England, in association with the journal The Philosopher. It is, needless to say, a metaphysic (an all-encompassing philosophy). On the surface of it, it looks much like the previous two editions, yet I spent hundreds of hours on it, above all improving clarity of thought. OBSERVATION: The Philosopher is the world's oldest general philosophy journal in the world, and my Metaphysical Notes the single largest work which is currently published by the Society. Waiting in the wings is another edition, which adds eleven chapters to the existing nineteen, and boosts this work to book size.

Be Prepared

I spoke to a very old man in my Karoo pastorate this morning, who had been taken to a hospital outside the Karoo for attention. It was serious, they said, there was nothing they could do, and they were sending him home. But oh, he said, he was so looking forward to getting home, his bags were packed, and he was "quite OK with it", whatever tomorrow may bring. OBSERVATION: This is an example of a man who is prepared. His attitude shows, too, that it is possible to be prepared. Some people, even in old age, reach such moments and there is terror, dismay, or panic.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Church Treasurer

In the Congregational tradition (to which I belong) there is a passionate belief that the Church treasurer should not have any influence over the Church's finances. This is for the reason that, in the context of listening to Christ through the Body (which is what Congregationalism is), the treasurer is one of the key people to facilitate a yielding to the mind of the Body (and therefore the mind of Christ). At the same time, by virtue of this yielding, the treasurer will be one of the greatest blessings to the Church -- apart from the valuable work, that is, which he or she does as treasurer. OBSERVATION: One might counter: but the treasurer's gift must be exercised. However, the treasurer's gift is not a Gift of Ministry, but a Gift of Service. Even so, the treasurer inevitably will have some influence in the Church. Perhaps I shall consider that in a future post.

Extravagant Apple

I applied my electronics skills this morning to a Mac power supply, saving the owner a cool R1 600 ($100). It cost me a few cents to do it, and I was paid with a milk chocolate Santa Claus made in Greece. OBSERVATION: Electronic design is (or was) my hobby, yet I hate electronic construction, let alone repairs. Experimental circuits (breadboarding) is about where the excitement stops. I would think that R1 600 is extravagant for a power supply. But it is well made (apart from the fatal weakness which brought it to me).

A New Checks And Balances

I had an article published this morning, by the Philosophical Society of England's sister publication Pi: An Information Society: A Proposal For a New Checks and Balances. The information society is something new in our time, and paradoxically evidences a want of information, above all as this applies to ethics. It is well established that this is the root cause of various ills -- and all the more so in my home country South Africa, which I briefly refer to in the article. OBSERVATION: In fact, a lot of what we do does not have a firm philosophical basis today. This is one example. Another is environmental protection.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Case In Point

In my post Encounter With The Chief, I reported how I  tried to lay three sets of charges at Cape Town's central police station last week. But police chief Col. Scanlen refused all three, and asked me to leave the police station (see that post for context). Here is some of the detail of what he refused, as a case in point. I placed in his hands the name, address, telephone number, and passport number of a man who had committed a cluster of crimes. This would have been crimes solved "on a plate". They came complete with the man's own confession, which I had in my pocket. Among other things he confessed: "The solar station, we took." But that was "small stuff" -- I needed help with weightier stuff. OBSERVATION: In November last year, I deservedly reported several police officers, some of them colleagues of Col. Scanlen, to Col. Kemp. Col. Kemp signed the affidavit, which now seems to have gone -- at the least, been abandoned. People told me: Report police officers, and you will never have recourse to the law again. I would hope that that is not true, but at the moment, whatever the cause, I seem to have no recourse to the law.

Connections (As It Were)

I read once that there are an average six people between you and anyone else on earth. With this in mind, it is surprising how many people are on the other side of just one person I met: Queen Elizabeth, Adolf Hitler, Nelson Mandela, Billy Graham, Gerald Ford, and a great many more (that is, I met people who met them). And if one allows for two people in between, it reads like a history of the 20th century: Joseph Stalin, Marilyn Monroe, Chiang Kai Shek, Albert Einstein, Pope John Paul II, Paul McCartney, Haile Selassie, and so on. Your own list might be more impressive still, once you think on it.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Published Or Maybe

One of the publications I work on as a co-editor has a funny dynamic. In theory, articles are either published, or they are not. Then once published, if they are popular they enter the charts. However, one may place a "hidden" label on unpublished articles, so that they are in an intermediate place: while they are not "published", others may view them if they know where they are. This is very useful for obtaining input and critique. Once in a while, though, a hidden article goes viral so to speak, and something "unpublished" pops up in the charts. This is the case with my own latest article. In fact, I have received crucial input so far. OBSERVATION: This kind of "hidden" peer review is becoming more common today.

Youth Leaders

It seemed, throughout my ministr(ies), that God provided us with just the right Youth leaders at just the right time -- Youth leaders who were happy to be faithful when we were at a minimum, Youth leaders who came into their own when we were overrun, and so on. This is P. (pictured), a young Zulu woman, one of the finest Youth leaders I have known. She had faith, she was fun, and she had power over unruly children. Unfortunately, she was injured this week in an accident, and needed to have her eye socket (orbit) repaired.