Sunday, December 11, 2016

Joyful, Peaceable

Wife E's Church Management course (third year MTh) states that all Church officers should be "predisposed to joy". That sounds fairly utopian -- and rare. I myself have used the criterion "peaceable". Church officers must be peaceable. That implies contentment, humility, patience, and a whole lot more. Actually, Church officers should be predisposed to the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, and several things besides -- but single adjectives are helpful in bringing things into focus. OBSERVATION: Such qualities are more important than anything else one may seek in an officer, apart from their knowing salvation. Even so, one will find in ministry that one needs to encourage such qualities, continually.

Saturday, December 10, 2016


In my role as Deputy Editor, the Editor recently assigned to me a book to review. It is a privilege to be asked, for this journal. But look what is in the book (above). It is about probability, basically. However, this is quite interesting. As soon as one is dealing with probability rather than (on the face of it) certainty, this means that there are factors in one’s equations which are beyond one’s perfect knowledge or control, or simply too vast or complex to get a grip on. In general, writes the author, we are far too rushed when we contemplate such factors: “I am calling for a dramatic slow-down in research.” OBSERVATION: Consider recent US election polls which, even with our advanced state of knowledge, were mostly wrong.

Practical Ministry

As a minister, I have often stood by people with practical help. Here’s an example. A young woman was placed on antidepressants, and apparently was in a daze. She walked into a supermarket, picked up a piece of dried sausage, and began to chew on it. Still chewing on it, she walked out without paying for it. She was arrested, and finally convicted of shoplifting – for one piece of dried sausage. This gave her a criminal record, which in turn limited her opportunities for travel and employment – and she felt deeply ashamed. The process of getting the criminal record undone was a long and tedious one. I checked all her correspondence with her, kept in touch with Department officials, and encouraged her. After a year, her criminal record was expunged.

Steepest Street

I took this photo in 2011, in my quest to find Cape Town’s steepest street (several members of the Church lived in this suburb, too). OBSERVATION: It was a nice try, but this wasn’t nearly the steepest street. Just after I took this photo, the police offered me a safe escort out. I felt quite safe, though.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Tamarix Tree

I snapped this tree in a small salt pan near Rhenosterfontein, east of Cape Town. I think it is a tamarix tree, or tamarisk -- as Abraham is said to have planted at Beersheba (Genesis 21:33). It is an extraordinary tree, as most of it appears to be completely dead, except for one branch in the background with delicate "plumage". There were similar trees nearby.

Hanging On

I met a (past) police officer today, in the city. I remember him, unfortunately, for having been there when the police conveyed a threat to me. He left the force. I said: "You look so much better. I see it all over you. You were finished." He said: "I have nightmares at night, that I am back in the force. I wake up in terror. Then I say thank you God, thank you, I am not." He said: "There are so many guys just hanging on for 55, when they can retire."

Schoolgirls In Formation

I turned my camera round to these schoolgirls on a township street. My camera data reveals that, in eighteen seconds, they moved from complete chaos to perfect formation, as seen here. OBSERVATION: And I didn't ask them to do it. They had to be trained for this. They are pupils of Paul Sauer High School in Kareedouw. You may click on the photo to enlarge.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Fossil Tree

This is a tree near my home, which stands outside the South African Museum. What makes it special is that it grew in the Early Triassic age. It is a fossil, yet its cellular structure is still intact. It is an Araucarioxylon karooensis from the Senekal District.

Shut Out Of Communion

There is a Congregational denomination here called the Calvinist Protestant Church. A member of one of their Churches shared the following tradition with me. Before Holy Communion, they shut the Church doors and lock them. If anyone is late, they are not allowed in. One Sunday, someone arrived late. He knocked, he pleaded, he cried at the door: “Let me in! Let me in!” His voice carried through the whole Church, all the way through Holy Communion -- but they would not let him in. “It was rather pitiful,” said the member.

Jumping Spider

I am (or was) well known for electronic design – which I did for fun. In 2007, I invented the world’s first electric jumping spider. This (above) was the very first working prototype – it's a three-second video. My final design was copyright ©Wimborne before the Chinese produced one, and the Chinese were familiar with Wimborne's copyrights. It is therefore assumed that the Chinese (legally) based their electric jumping spider on this, which is now on sale worldwide. The Chinese, however, made a significant improvement – they removed the wire tether. I myself could imagine that, but it was beyond my engineering skills. OBSERVATION: This first working prototype was stupidly simple, but it took months of experimentation to hit on the winning idea.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Dismissing Officers (Not)

Wife E is studying Church management at the moment, towards a BTh degree. The theory reads like this: if Church officers do not serve “the best interests of the Church”, replace them, no questions asked. In reality it is very different. Has Church attendance halved? No problem. Is giving down 50%? No problem. Have the Youth vanished? No problem. Did anyone do a reality check? Not actually. Is there a good spirit here? Well, no. Does anyone still have a vision for this place? Pass. The vote then: 100% in favour that these officers stay and deliver more of the same.

House Number

I took this photo of the number on a front door in a township. What immediately impressed me was the attitude that this number expressed: a bold and careless statement that this is no. 1251, so put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Missions SOS

I received an SOS this morning from my alma mater Fuller Theological Seminary: “Alarming numbers of today’s missionaries are suffering from depression and burnout, as the daily stresses they face in often unfamiliar surroundings are intense. But help is on the way.” Well, I hope so. My one Master’s degree found that it’s the help that’s the trouble – in ministry at least, and likely in missions, too. My late wife Mirjam did her doctoral research in the area of missionary depression and burnout. There is a link to her book – full and free access – in the right hand column of this blog. OBSERVATION: Personally, I think she found the problem. If only people would teach that.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Bishop's Sermon

I took the photo on Sunday evening of Anglican Bishop (Emeritus) Desmond Inglesby. He preached on the genealogy of Jesus. One wouldn't think that a sermon on a genealogy could be either riveting or spiritual -- yet it was both. One could, as it were, smell it, taste it, feel it. OBSERVATION: I would think that, in time, the sermon will be posted at Holy Trinity Church Cape Town. Perhaps by the New Year. This is a super wide-angle shot which can be enlarged by clicking on it.

Rising Readership

Recently the readership of my blog has rapidly shifted -- and grown. I thought it might be a flash in the pan, but readership continues to be both high and (somewhat) unstable. At the moment my blog has about ten times as many readers as made it South Africa's no. 1 Religion blog a few years ago, with more than 1 600 page views yesterday. My readership top ten, by country, includes five out of six continents, so that there is a kind of universal appeal. OBSERVATION: I'm still trying to decide what makes the popular posts popular. It's hard to tell. The photographs help, but they are not the only explanation.