Friday, October 21, 2016

Invention Four: Reversible Clothes

Many of my ideas have gone into production. But I have too many ideas (hopefully viable ones) to promote them or manufacture them myself. Therefore I am putting them on my blog, and I ask for no more than acknowledgement. The idea of the reversible jacket (pictured) is familiar: two jackets in one. In fact I have one at the moment. But with a simple twist of the idea, and no additional cloth, it is easy to have four in one. The outer and inner jackets (or any other clothes) are printed separately on both sides of the fabric. Now one has four different surfaces. Let's stay with the example of the reversible jacket. Now create a slit somewhere in the jacket, say at the waist. It reminds me of the conjurer's magic bag. Put your hand inside the slit, and pull the inside out. You now have four jackets in one. Just a few details, such as the zipper, need a little thought. OBSERVATION: As best I know, this is an original idea, first seen on this blog.

Widening The Circle

I am letting a ministry cat out of the bag here. It is about facing situations which are ... call them unfavourable. In such situations, it is often very helpful to draw one or two others into the circle -- but wisely -- giving others a window into what is happening. This is about bringing a moderating influence into a situation, it is not about shaming anyone or harming anyone, and it is not done in a secret way. This, in my experience, has greater power sometimes than any powers of personal persuasion, greater power sometimes than the law. OBSERVATION: Notice, too, in some situations, how people request secrecy, or suggest secrecy, or resist openness.

Tony Ehrenreich

My "political" photos have been popular. Here is another, of Tony Ehrenreich -- here giving my camera the eye. He is the leader of the opposition in the Cape Town City Council. Behind him is a man representing the food retailers Shoprite Checkers, who is to receive a petition. "They sent us a Junior," said Ehrenreich. OBSERVATION: One issue here was workers' travel expenses. Recently the EU judged that travel should be included in one's work hours. Here it was about state subsidy for travelling costs.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Self-Assembled Playthings

One finds some great playthings in poorer communities -- often made from scrap by an older family member. I took this photograph in Eland's Bay, 220km / 140mi north of Cape Town.

Crazy Tale (Not)

In ministry, I have received some unusual requests for help from the Church's charitable funds. One day a pretty young woman complained that she had been bitten by a crocodile, and she couldn't afford a doctor. The bite was causing her a lot of trouble, she said. I thought, tell me another one. As I was seeing her out, she said: "Let me show you." She pulled up a trouser leg, to reveal a huge bite -- a long row of square puncture marks on the calf of her lower right leg. Some of the holes had healed, but others had not, and the whole leg was swollen. "The festering ones are the deep ones," she said. She said that she had been wading in shallow water near Maputo when a crocodile attacked her.

Tough Missions

I met with a missionary last night (pictured) -- together with a whole lot of people who were keen to meet him. He has been a missionary in remote areas of Africa. Asked why there are so many unreached peoples, he said that, basically, it would be a very tough assignment to live where they do. OBSERVATION: A Congregational minister in Brazil once told me that their denomination had 500 ministers without Churches, and 500 Churches without ministers. The Churches without ministers were the tough assignments.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Berg River Estuary

I have some beautiful photos I have never put on this blog before. This is where I have regularly retreated from ministry: Kuifkop Farm on the Berg River, about 100 miles north of Cape Town. It is here, on this side of the river, that I proposed to my wife E. -- although the river that day was cold, windy, and grey. Needless to say, she said yes. I took this photo with the tiny Leica C-Lux camera. You may click on it to enlarge.

Church And State

Over the years, in ministry, there has been no shortage of nail-biting situations between Church and state. It was all the more so in the uncertain years which followed the fall of apartheid. Here is just one example. The state wrote to our Church that we should write into the constitution: "The management committee may take on the power and authority that it believes it needs." However, Congregationalism specifically rejects such rule by committee. It is governed by the members, and only the members, under the Lordship of Christ. We expressed our concern to the state. The state responded by re-sending the original letter. OBSERVATION: It took us several months, and a few attorneys, to resolve this.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lambert's Bay

I took this photo of the fishing harbour at Lambert's Bay, one of a series of fishing villages up the West coast of South Africa. It is known for its slow pace, its white beaches, and bountiful crayfish -- and for Bird Island, just 100 metres off the shore -- an important breeding ground for Cape Gannets and Crowned Cormorants. OBSERVATION: Notice the sunken vessel in the harbour.

Editor Checking In

I check in every few days to the weekly publication Philosophical Investigations, of which I am a co-editor, to see how I or my (so to speak) protégées are doing, and to check on public comment. In the weekly top ten today:
No. 1  Do We Need Perpetual Peace? (my editing)
No. 4  Not Really a Picture Post 
No. 5.  A Philosophy of the Environment
No. 9  A Philosophy of Gestures
OBSERVATION: On my own pieces: no. 4 was a photo which 'went viral' before we even wrote it up, no. 5 seeks a philosophical foundation for environmental thinking, and no. 9 is on the influence of gestures on philosophy. Usually the weekly favourites are soon forgotten, however nos. 4 and 9 were written many months ago.

Monday, October 17, 2016


For good measure, here's another photo of a COSATU march I took recently (the Congress of South African Trade Unions). This was taken near parliament. I made a quick side-step after this photo. OBSERVATION: While we are not all trade unionists, I felt that some of the issues raised really deserved broader (as opposed to more numerous) support -- issues which I know from my own pastoral ministry.

Too Close For Comfort

I have previously blogged about people putting out mail in my name. Earlier this year, my Internet Service Provider (ISP) alerted me that my e-mail account had likely been "compromised" on the server (rather than my computer). That took a week to fix. But within a day, "I" started to mail people again from Malaysia. My ISP filed a request to shut it down. But no sooner had it been shut down in Malaysia, than "I" started to mail people again from the Dominican Republic. OBSERVATION: I am in two minds as to whether it is personal or not. The last e-mails that "I" sent out went to my wife, and to my late wife, and to the farmer on whose farm I proposed to my wife, and to a personal consultant -- recommending "a very beautiful place" near to our cottage. It seems too close for comfort.


I recently wrote that my father, before he went into the ministry, was a conjurer and escapologist. He performed before large crowds. Here is a newspaper cutting of about 1954. OBSERVATION: He told me that this act once went wrong. It wasn't all trickery. He was locked in a Royal Mail bag with a volunteer, which was inspected by an official and declared secure, then thrown into a pool. But one volunteer panicked, and he had to punch him inside the bag. You may click on the image to enlarge.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Women's Associations

Some Churches don't have them. I have often said that a Women's Association is a Church's "backbone". And when one looks back through the histories of my own Churches, the Women's Association was central to the progress of the Church. OBSERVATION: I think that two things are critical to Women's Associations. They should be spiritual groups first of all -- the rest will follow. And one should remember that, by the grace of God, Women's Associations always regenerate -- talk of them dying out, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The Lizard Kings

Every weekend, far from Cape Town's madding crowd, there are ... call them concerts or cultural events in the villages round about, where people dine and relax and "hang out". This is an impression of The Lizard Kings in Bot River yesterday, who reverberated across the village square. OBSERVATION: I wish I could have shared their talent in the form of a video, but I failed to upload it. Here is a screen grab instead. Click on it to enlarge to 130k.