Thursday, July 9, 2020

Critical Theory: Metacritical Analysis

This morning a student pastor invited comment on an article on critical theory: The Appeal & the Problems of Critical Theory. I offered a metacritical analysis, without words. I put faces to all the endnotes. OBSERVATION: There may be a duplication here, I'm not sure. No matter, it doesn't affect the analysis.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Fear of Suffering

Something I have come across repeatedly in ministry is people's fear of others' suffering. As one example, I accompanied someone to see their mother in a psychiatric ward, and they would not get out of the car. Another example, two daughters visited their terminally ill father in hospital, but fled from the door and never returned. This is by far not always the case, but it happens often enough. One of the special privileges of ministry is to visit people who are lonely or isolated for this reason. OBSERVATION: People may also stay away for reasons of contagion. If medical staff have allowed me, I have always visited such people. If one can find it within oneself, one needs to think of the person who is suffering.

Genealogies from the Creation

This morning I put up on Facebook the genealogies of Kiribati, from the creation of the world. These were gathered by the missionary May Pateman, and published on Beru in Aia Karaki nikawai I-Tungaru in 1942. OBSERVATION: It takes some effort to reproduce these pages, since the book is badly damaged. A few copies still exist, though none in Kiribati itself.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Strange Burden

A minister sometimes has a strange burden -- in that things he or she knows, which are confidential, may impinge on the life of the Church as a whole. Take this example. A minister has counselled a couple in a case of domestic violence. A man has assaulted his wife. There is high tension, and the police have visited. But there have been no arrests, no charges. Next thing, someone nominates this man as a deacon in the Church. Does the minister reveal what has happened? OBSERVATION: In short, does the minister keep silent and carry the burden, or does he or she shift the burden by revealing private information? Whether he reveals it or not, it could mean trouble. A minister may share such information with Church elders, but then the elders have the same dilemma ...

Graphing Readership

Things happen at two levels, on publications I help edit: there is general readership (red), and targeted views (grey). During the last month, the graph looks particularly interesting. There are four articles here, one a week. With the first, targeted readership is huge. With the third, general readership is huge. The fourth is very volatile, but performs quite well on balance. OBSERVATION: We publish quality pieces, regardless of what we think the graph will do.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Pastors' Daughters

It's ... you guessed it. Another two nieces on wife E's side. It's an old photo from 2012. Strictly, they are cousins of wife E, and both of them are pastors' daughters. By now -- eight years later -- they are quite grown up.

Identifying with Issues

Theology graduates are wont to come into an issue from a theological point of view. But it may sometimes be more profitable to set theology aside, and think oneself into the issue. Immerse oneself in it. Adopt it. Then think. Here is a current example. Last week a news headline read "Civil Union Amendment Bill: Marriage officers won't be allowed to turn down same-sex couples". Specifically, officers may not turn down such couples "on the ground of conscience, religion, and belief". Accepted. It is my Bill now. Immediately there are two sizeable problems. Firstly, I am discriminating against customary marriages. I have been blind to a large Black population. O mea culpa. Secondly, I have failed to take into account a major reason why marriage officers turn down civil unions: authority. Which isn't conscience, religion, or belief. It's orders. We need a much more powerful Bill. 

POSTSCRIPT: In South Africa, many ministers are marriage officers.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

SD Durability

It seems to me another camera card has failed me (pictured). There are various figures as to the durability of memory cards. I have a card which I bought in 2002 which still works in 2020. However, I haven't written to it since 2003. Other cards, I typically make intensive use of -- which is many daily reads and writes -- on occasion, several hundred a day. On average, I would think that SD cards last me two years.

Tragic Murder

Sadly, last month, a nephew was murdered. He was just 12 years old. It made news headlines, yet wife E and I didn't realise at first that this was a nephew. He was a "good kid", described by his grandmother as loving and respectful -- stabbed in the neck by an 11-year-old boy. This happened in Borcherds, a township which I have mentioned several times on this blog -- I have previously put up photos of children and youth in Borcherds. The boy was laid to rest yesterday. OBSERVATION: There were mixed feelings on one news channel. Apart from sadness and sympathy, here are a few comments: "Parents are too busy forgetting to teach the children the way of Christ and the value of respect and friendship," "Ask yourself what you're doing to make a difference in the poorer communities," and "He was fit to stab! So he's fit for trial!" 

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Gentle Complaints

If I need to lodge a complaint, I (almost) always do so very gently -- and ministers would, I think, be well advised to follow suit. Often I do not even lay a complaint. I simply show a matter to someone, and ask, "What do you think?" "What do you see?" If they know what they are doing, and if they are not corrupt or compromised, they will know what they see. OBSERVATION: There is the risk, if one is not experienced in these things, that someone will claim that the minister was aggressive, or demanding -- even "He forced me to act" and so on, when there was nothing of the sort. So I keep a record not only of a complaint, but of the way that a complaint was communicated. If a more serious allegation arises from that, I reveal what passed between us.

Pastel Display

This small display caught my eye in our local World Heritage Site. It caught my eye because of the gentle pastel colours -- complementary colours, coated with a thin white powder. What one cannot see in the photo is that these ... flowers? were sparkling in the sunlight.

Dream Fastener

Last year I designed a new fastener. It was versatile: one could use it in place of buttons, hasps, belts, and so on -- and it had no moving parts. I manufactured a proof-of-concept, and showed it to a company. There was one problem: my fastener required just a little skill -- call it learning. There was a knack to it. People don't want to waste time with knacks. Last night, in my dreams, I took the fastener in my hands, and turned it 90 degrees. It took the knack out of it. Now it worked without any skill. Not only that, but it became an adjustable fastener -- with no moving parts. In my dreams, I say. The next step is to put it down on paper, and try another proof-of-concept.

Friday, July 3, 2020

The Benefits of Elders

In both of my major ministries, we introduced elders. The elders took proposals to a combined meeting of elders-deacons, for a combined vote -- and elders' proposals were always at the top of the combined agenda. I received a question this week which I understood like this: Did elders reduce the pressure of ministry? The answer is no, but it did two things besides. Firstly, I had experienced considerable stress through deacons-only meetings, because these prioritised temporal issues, and closed before spiritual issues could be discussed. Now spiritual issues were foregrounded -- and these are the most important issues in a Church. Secondly, elders contributed much to vibrant Churches. We were now making spiritually significant decisions. Put finances, property, or administration at the top, and the writing may be on the wall for a Church. While, by and large, the spiritual decisions were not major, a raft of small decisions changed the dynamics of the Church. 

Bee Mimic

On a walk this morning, I was photographing bees when I noticed I had caught a bee mimic on camera. It is called Eristalinus taeniops. It seemed to me that the bees became irritated with other insects, but not with the mimic.

Electronics Terminology

Various companies are now removing the terms "master" and "slave" from their terminology -- and other terms. In electronics we -- by which I mean we the publishers and authors -- might have started to remove these terms more than 20 years ago (I don't remember exactly when). Which is not to say that they didn't still slip in. By 2007, I myself noted in an article that we "rather call the master-slave units base-remote units". We were quite progressive -- and in various ways. OBSERVATION: I don't think we were being "politically correct". We simply felt that these terms were too tragic to use, as would potentially be the case with many terms.