Saturday, May 15, 2021

Obey the Vision

One of my Master's degrees focused on local Church leadership, specifically an American model -- the dominant American model -- often called transformational leadership. One could describe it as "Obey the vision." As an example, the Christian leadership theorists Halcomb, Harrison, and Malmstadt (Courageous Leaders) wrote that there should be "total obedience to the God-given vision". It seems to me that US President Biden is schooled in this kind of leadership. It is a hazardous model when applied to Churches, and is no doubt hazardous when applied to nations -- except that nations elect leaders for a fixed term, where this may not be so in the Church.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Believing the Counselee

Believe the counselee? One should, as far as possible. But here's an uncertain case. One of our congregation attended a Church in the city centre -- and took a lift home with two men in a white Mercedes. He said, “Next thing, we were surrounded everywhere by blue lights! The police had their guns drawn! They were screaming, ‘Get out of the car! Hands up! Hands up!’” He was sentenced to nine months in jail. He said, “For nothing! Nine months of my life wasted!” I said, “A magistrate needs evidence to make a decision. He must have had something on you.” Our congregant insisted that there wasn’t anything, then he wept. I said, “It’s over. You’re free.” He said, “May I come to Church?” I said, “Of course. We’d love to see you.”

Bench With a View

Here's another bench with a view -- over Cape Town's city centre. I walked here from the upper city today. For the first time since I was hit by rheumatic fever last year, I achieved more than two kilometres' walk. OBSERVATION: The angle of the bench is interesting, as is the angle of many things in the city. Notice the granite in the foreground -- a volcanic intrusion from long ago.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Called Three Times

In my desert ministry -- my consulent ministry in the Karoo -- I was called three times. First in 2013, I received the initial call. This stopped the sale of the Church, and revived the congregation. In 2014, I resigned as consulent, because the Church Board needed to sort things out among themselves. Within days, I was invited to continue. Then, in 2019, a third invitation re-established order in the Church, after severe storm damage had upset things. This year, my consulent ministry came to a close. The Church's future seemed settled now, so that a consulent ministry was no longer needed. OBSERVATION: I think the informal relationship will continue.

POSTSCRIPT: Consulent is a rare word. It is a title in the Congregational Church. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it is "someone who gives advice". Advisor to the Church -- although it usually includes ministry.

Linux and Lenovo

Lenovo are very helpful when it comes to using their computers with Linux. Strangely, though, I couldn't find advice for the Lenovo e300 (designed for students). With a little difficulty, I installed Sparky Linux LXQt (pictured), and am surprised at almost 100% compatibility. Sparky does have a typical Linux problem: it fails to cap computer memory, so the computer can be overloaded. But, one really has to push it far for that. A great advantage of Linux is that, if you need an application, you download it. Your computer can do anything.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Loose Ends

I met for doughnuts and coffee today with another minister. What happened with your pension? he asked. Which is many years of missing pension. The story, I said, is this. My attorneys said they needed vital information. If I could obtain this, the matter should fall in my favour. I did obtain the information. Yes, they said, we had what was required. But the sum was so large, the matter would go to the city's High Court. A big part of a win would be lost to High Court expenses. He duly sent a letter to the Church which held and holds the pension. OBSERVATION: One should be able to discuss such things in good faith, said my clerical friend. Absolutely, I said.

The Importance of Detail

The image accompanied a headline earlier today. There is panic on the US east coast. The cause? One may trace it back to a few lines of code that an unnamed programmer put into a Microsoft application. It seems a metaphor for me of the supreme importance of abstract detail -- which is one of the core themes of my metaphysic, my present book project.

BBC Registration

My maternal grandmother once was in jeopardy for listening to the BBC. I was a keen follower of the BBC, from childhood (and I have read Pravda, Fox News, Der Spiegel, and others, as I feel inclined). Recently, though, my old friend the BBC demanded registration. I could not read articles without it. While we now live in a very different time, the experience of my grandmother dissuades me from registering with a news outlet. OBSERVATION: But there is more to it than that.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021


I recaptured this scene last month, in New Rest, in South Africa's Eastern Cape. Google took the original photo, at the top, in 2009. OBSERVATION: On the surface of it, my more recent photo seems to show progress. Not really. Many houses are derelict today, several that one sees in the top photo are no longer standing in the bottom photo, and there are significant water problems, as one sees.

Evolving Electronics

People ask me sometimes what has changed about electronics. In my youth, it was early days for semiconductor devices. In my lifetime, one has seen almost the entire history of semiconductor electronics. In the beginning, the simplest things were hard to create. Say, a gently throbbing light, as one sees on computers today. Today, the discrete components haven't changed. The logic gates haven't changed. Not much. Some interesting ICs have come along. The biggest change is surely the many micro-controllers. At first, publishers chose their micro-controller. For instance, EPE magazine used PICs. But now, there is micro-controller pluralism. One may find several micro-controllers, all different, in the same edition of a magazine. OBSERVATION: Which is more about programming than electronics. Often, too, micro-controllers are pre-programmed. There is less innovation using the fundamental elements of electronics. I miss that.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Cross and Hearts

I have a friend, an old student friend, a few years older than me, who retired last week from ministry. He kept a wooden cross near his pulpit, and from time to time, as he preached, he would walk over to the cross and embrace it. Before a week was through, they took away the wooden cross, and replaced it with red hearts. It was of course Mother's Day -- even so, knowing him, I imagined him having apoplexy if he saw it. OBSERVATION: There was a worse case. A minister invited me to visit his old Church. We walked in, and immediately stood before a huge portrait of L. Ron Hubbard. He said, "It's OK. It's not my Church any more, not my Church any more ..." (repeating himself). A classic is Matthew Henry, who literally did suffer apoplexy when he went to visit his old Church.

41.3% Different

Thanks to Copyleaks, I compared my opus of 4 November 2019 (a year and a half ago) with 10 May 2021 (today). 41.3% is different. That is a huge change. What made the change? I received high level input, through two people's generosity in particular. A best-selling philosopher indicated a new direction, and a writing consultant discussed it with me. I did and didn't agree with the philosopher, but his comments gave me the impetus for transforming my work.

POSTSCRIPT: Having said this, it wasn't a departure from my original work. Rather, it drew out an aspect of my work (low level thinking) which was already there.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Book Proposal

Seeking representation for my magnum opus, I wondered at the start how someone who is (we hope) competent to write a metaphysic should be competent to write a proposal. They are two different things. My first proposals to literary agents were an order of magnitude worse than my work I think, but I have learnt a lot. OBSERVATION: One thing about proposals is that one needs to promote both one's work and oneself. Ministers are generally taught how not to promote themselves. It seems out of character to do so. I have just revised my proposal for speakers of British English (I first wrote it in American English). 

AGA Stove

I took this photo last month, of an aunt. It has already popped up elsewhere on the Internet. She used an AGA wood-fired stove on a farm (she has now left the farm, but the stove is still there). Reminded of the stove today, I said to someone, "Do you know how much an AGA stove is worth?" The wood-fired stove is available locally at Metelerkamps for a mere R173 000 ($12 300). OBSERVATION: The one on the farm is very well used, though.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Agents' Compliments

I am seeking representation for my magnum opus, a philosophy. I have received several messages of encouragement from literary agents in recent weeks, even though they have declined to represent me. It is said that agents do not dispense such comments routinely or freely: 
'Your project is worthy.' 
'This sounds quite publishable.' 
'This does sound interesting.' 
'Do keep up the hard work of submitting.'

OBSERVATION: I am hesitant to call my work a philosophy, or metaphysic, because of the connotations those words have. I sooner think of it as an integrative or holistic work, of which there are numerous examples on the shelves today.