From time to time, people have asked me how one may recognise pretenders in the Church. Through my long experience in ministry, I have found that there are two early waning signs: • There is a lack of a sense of sin, and • They tend to idolise the Christian leader. Everything else may seem in place: they are full of praise to God, show many good works, generously support the Church, and so on. OBSERVATION: This post was prompted by a missionary who wrote about "setbacks, setbacks, setbacks, setbacks," brought about through office-bearers who had "shown their true colours".
Monday, September 27, 2021
OBSERVATION: The book is to be published in the near future by a large US publisher. The image shows the Contents pages. 700+ endnotes have since been converted to footnotes.
POSTSCRIPT: Some say it can't be done: convert Writer endnotes to footnotes. I imported the text with Text Maker, converted endnotes to footnotes, and sent it back to Writer. The final text will be Word.
Sunday, September 26, 2021
This is a post which was originally so "hot" that I took it down. When my first philosophy paper was published in 2013, I was surprised by the reaction. People said I was quoting ancient Greeks (Aristotle) rather than Scripture. I was spending ministry time on philosophy. And if I was that good at philosophy, why was I in ministry? Besides, it was all very simple. Anyone could have written that. Not least, I was elevating myself above Aristotle by purporting to interpret him. Some people found such comments very funny. I didn't see the joke at the time. I said thanks to God that I had accomplished that.
Saturday, September 25, 2021
A myth one often hears is that ministers have no experience of life. They are in the ministry after all, so what do they know of the world. For those who ask: Did they visit the morgue lately? The jail? Did they visit the townships? Stay over with labourers? Visit the dying? Did they deal with domestic violence? Police investigators? Embezzlement? Did they visit the psychiatric ward? Intensive care? Did they deal with attempted suicide? Receive death threats? Get assaulted? Talk with professors? Rabbis? Shopkeepers? Pimps? Counsel the bereaved? Feed the hungry? This was all my own experience, within one and the same year.
Friday, September 24, 2021
During studies in the USA, I needed to discover the common purpose of my Church, for an academic assignment. This involved many interviews with members. I expected that there would be a lot of different answers. In fact the purpose of the Church, as members understood it, was remarkably the same. In order of priority, this was the Church's common purpose:
• Clearly proclaim the gospel of salvation
• Actively promote the priesthood of believers
• Actively promote Christian growth
• Put into practice Christian charity and kindness
• Be committed to missions and evangelism
• Actively promote prayer
• Make the budget work this year
Thursday, September 23, 2021
OBSERVATION: Today I obtained permission from San Francisco artist Rachel Leibman to use her art on the cover if desired.
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
1973 film Soylent Green was a "cult classic". In it, there is a priest who learns too much. On Monday, the BBC reported that, in recent years, more than 140 people in political or administrative office have been murdered in South Africa each year, many of them whistleblowers or witnesses (see SA Whistle-Blower). There will surely be more, if one looks beyond political or administrative office. Apart from that, there are consequences not as serious as death, as one finds in the BBC report, too. Now the point of this post. Like the priest in Soylent Green, there are Christian ministers who have learnt too much. It goes with the calling. The question is, how to approach that.
There has been a lot of concern over heat waves. I have once been caught in a heat wave where there was no relief. Walls were hot to the touch. Every item of furniture was hot. The wind was hot. The shade was hot. Then the water supply failed. When it came on again -- fed through a big black PVC pipe -- it was too hot to touch. OBSERVATION: How much heat can people survive, without relief? Not much. What if a city should be hit by a heat wave, and methods of relief should fail? Water, electricity, shade. Recently, in some places, people only found relief through massive mobilisation. The European heat wave of 2003 killed up to 50,000 people. That may be small in comparison with what seems possible today.
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Monday, September 20, 2021
There's a "new Afrikaans" on social media. I came across this example this morning:
"icii xz wat so dah by [Name] chtii ... xz jamr but xz lankli mee in daii accountiii"
My translation: "It wasn't me chatting there, over at [Name]. I'm sorry, I haven't been in that account for a long while." There's a fusion of words, and a compression of words, and the absorption of a lot of English, too. This is how Afrikaans is actually spoken today. If this were written in formal Afrikaans, a Dutch person would surely understand. But this? Will the purists win the day?
Well, this is interesting. I needed to find some papers this morning. I didn't find them, but I came across this, which is essentially a vaccine passport. I needed this document before I could enter Switzerland in 1978. OBSERVATION: The question is, how does this differ from recent vaccine passport proposals, and why was this not an issue in 1978?
Sunday, September 19, 2021
During our COVID-19 lockdowns, I have sometimes listened to sermons of the Gellert Church in Basle. These are delivered in German and Schwyzerdütsch, both of which I know well. The Gellert Church is renowned for its vitality. This morning a pastor summarised three ingredients of their success:
• Unity in great diversity• The courage of faith decisions• An outward-looking orientation
OBSERVATION: Yes, absolutely. With regard to no. 2, the Gellert Church once called a second pastor with only two month's salary in the bank. It worked, and they kept him.
Saturday, September 18, 2021
There are inevitably times in ministry where it all seems a bit much -- where decisions and actions seem particularly perplexing. Looking at biblical precedent is a good way to go, and so is prayer -- and an approach that I myself have used is to take another situation, which seems somewhat similar, and consider how one would go about fixing that. Suppose one would fix it with steps A, B, and C. One now takes A, B, and C, and considers whether they would apply to one's own situation. One creates a little distance that way.