Friday, July 1, 2022

What Did You Do Today?

A strange thing about ministry is that one may feel one didn't get anywhere today, this week, this month. Yet if one asks oneself the simple question, "What did I do today, this week, this month?" the answer typically reveals that one accomplished an awful lot. OBSERVATION: It is a good question to ask, because the answer is often an encouraging one. Hardly a day goes by where one did not accomplish something truly worthwhile.

Power Cuts

I experienced something new this morning. I walked into Cape Town's morning air -- and I smelt candles. South Africa is now subject to the most severe power cuts there have been. In my suburb yesterday, there were many hours of power cuts. OBSERVATION: Do they know how serious this is? It affects many things. I was most seriously affected this week when my car was stuck for hours in an unpowered garage -- but some have more serious problems.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Employment Contract

Somebody said that I don’t have work. Well, yes and no. I have an employment contract, yes, with high and exacting demands. This runs over a long period of time. However, there isn’t a fixed income attached to it. It's the lot of the writer ... OBSERVATION: I came to the end of an eight-year ministry in the semi-desert just months before I signed a publishing contract. This has been very hard work. Several times, I have fallen asleep at my desk, which I haven't done in the past.

Loveable Car

Circa 2005. This was my ministerial transport, parked outside the Church office. It had a racing harness (seatbelt), because I crashed my first one. This really was a loveable "car" and ideal for ministry. It was a rebadged Vespa, the Bajaj.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Bribes in Ministry

A minister in city ministry will be threatened often -- and occasionally asked for, or offered, bribes. The bribes, however, are almost always subtle. They won't come in crude forms. A minister might be told, rather: "You're in a strait, Reverend. I could write up a report for you." Or, "Thank you for putting your trust in me. My business is at a low right now." Or, "Here's a donation for the Church. I'm glad that we see eye to eye." All three examples here are about giving or receiving bribes. One might call them oblique bribes. OBSERVATION: Typically, it will be experienced professionals who are into this.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Redirected Charity

Every Christmas, in my Churches, we allocated money for the poor. One particular Christmas, a package of money remained unclaimed. So we re-allocated it. We received this thank you (right). OBSERVATION: In this case, we had no more than a vague idea that there might be a need. Thank yous of this nature are not uncommon.

Try Again

A certain literary agent sent me this rejection:

"Remember what Beckett said …

Ever Tried
Ever Failed
No Matter
Try Again
Fail Again
Fail Better

We wish you every success."

OBSERVATION: Well, they could have given me that success! But it seems to me that this ditty applies very much to ministry. One gives things a go. The result? No matter. It is more important to keep things turning, and all of it can be used by God. In reality, though, in ministry, I find that most things succeed.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Rich in Friends

The photo reminds me of the words of Jesus, "One's life does not consist in the abundance of one's possessions." I took this photo after the funeral of an aunt of wife E. This was her garden rake -- bits of twisted wire, held in place with nails. It was a very large funeral ... and yet she died in poverty. Poor in things, she was rich in friends. Notably, being poor in things did not prevent her from being rich in friends.

Essential Foreword

The well known philosopher Martin Cohen kindly wrote the foreword for my book. His bio has now appeared on a page at the publisher's: Martin Cohen. I think he provides very useful context -- and helps set my book apart from both non-traditional and religious metaphysics. OBSERVATION: I didn't know what he would write, but this is a foreword that would be missed if it were not there.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Everything Briefly Everywhere

In a way, my book -- Everything, Briefly -- has not yet been launched. The publicity machine has not been started. Someone asked me, will it be on Google? By now it has proliferated on Google -- and on the Internet. Would one like it in paperback? Hardback? Kindle? Nook? Buy a copy? Borrow a copy? Here are some of the places which are advertising it. The first of them in particular offers a generous preview:

Wipf & Stock 
Barnes & Noble
Knet Books
Harfield Book Co.
Bigger Books


It's been many hours of blackouts, where we are at the moment -- in Cape Town's suburbs.The computer screen shows my book website: (just remember the hyphen). OBSERVATION: For a long time, people generally believed the government, that it was working at fixing this. Now there is a widespread sense that that is deception.

COVID-19 Mistake

I consider that the way that COVID-19 was handled in South Africa was a mistake. And it is for reasons that lie beyond the debate. In the city, we even had troops in the streets. Yet when I visited and lodged in the townships, there were no lockdowns there. There was absolutely no sign of them -- except for one boy I saw, with a mask around his neck. Drive into town, from the townships, just five minutes through crowds, over dusty, potholed roads, and one entered lockdown again: face masks, deserted streets, patrol cars, and all. The people suffered too much, through lockdowns that weren't -- or to be more exact, stringent lockdowns that were thoroughly mixed with none at all. OBSERVATION: What then should one have done? At the start, the government presented its "Young Turks", its advisers, to the public. I wonder whether, if the elders of the clans had been given greater weight, how it would have looked.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Ministry and Roe vs. Wade

Roe vs. Wade looks different in ministry. This has just been overturned in the USA. Abortion is no longer a constitutional right (referring to the US constitution, as opposed to state constitutions). On the BBC, major foci – not all foci – were women’s freedom, unborn children, the right to privacy, social inequalities, and (very much implied) the sole authority of the state. My descriptions are far too simple, being limited by the size of my blog posts. Two things struck me about the BBC’s reporting – specifically from a pastoral perspective. Firstly, such foci are seldom foci in pastoral counselling. Counselling usually covers quite different territory. Secondly, in several articles on the BBC, there was no direct reference to men (there was one reference to “a partner”). OBSERVATION: Privacy is sometimes an issue in counselling, but again quite different. The sole authority of the state in this matter is not everywhere a given – there may be diverse authority, too. The image is the BBC's.

Counter-Intuitive Counselling

Recently I found a note that I wrote to someone after a counselling session. It might seem counter-intuitive, but it surely is true. I remember reading something like this in Rev. Andrew Murray -- one of the few ministers who is still in print 100+ years later.

"With regard to any and all of the challenges of life, I feel that the key is not to try harder, to seek to master it, to resort to the works of our own hands -- but rather the starting point is to confess our own humility, vulnerability, inability. Generally speaking, the way forward always begins with the latter, and coming into God's presence like that."

Friday, June 24, 2022

Hiram Bingham II

Missionaries had to contend with some ... situations. Hiram Bingham II and his wife Clara were missionaries in the Gilbert Islands (a group of islands in the now Kiribati Republic). The King of Tarawa coveted her, and took an army to Abaiang to capture her. He was killed under a coconut tree. I saw the stump of that tree, on the dirt road along the lagoon. OBSERVATION: I have this from a local historian; not the history books.