Monday, September 27, 2021

Recognising Pretenders

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". 

Autographed Metaphysics

A while back, I gave someone my metaphysics to read. "I don't know what I've done with it," he said. "If you have another one, please give me an autographed copy." However, it's the cost of printing a book one-off if I do that at this stage. 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

Aristotle and Ministry

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

No Experience?

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. 

Spring is Sprung (Again)

This week was a mass of purple flowers on our mountain. On the right, one sees Cape Town's lower cable station. OBSERVATION: The mountain is just a few blocks away from our home. All year round, every week, one sees something new in the veld.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Common Purpose

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

Assembling a Book

My time has been occupied with my forthcoming book. Recently I was scrambling to get footnotes and references roughly in order, to feel that I had some control over the project. This involved 700+ footnotes and 400+ references. I also had about 200 pages checked -- so far -- for conceptual integrity. And I was in touch with a few notable people in connection with the "front matter" of the book. OBSERVATION: Today I obtained permission from San Francisco artist Rachel Leibman to use her art on the cover if desired.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Endangered Ministers

The 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.

Escaping the Heat

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

Flammarion Affice

When one has a book forthcoming, one often inserts a small notice in one's e-mail correspondence. This is mine, shown full size. I showed alternatives around, and this one had the vote. A famous image, it is called the Flammarion.

Monday, September 20, 2021

New Afrikaans

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?

My Vaccine Passport

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

Ingredients of Success

During our COVID-19 lockdowns, I have sometimes listened to sermons of the Gellert Church in Basle. These are delivered in German and Schwyzerd├╝tsch, 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

See Again Soon

I took a photo of this cheery sign on leaving Laaiplek, about 100 miles north of Cape Town. It would sound fairly dull by comparison if the English were correct.

Decision-Making When Overwhelmed

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.