Thursday, December 8, 2016

Fossil Tree

This is a tree near my home, which stands outside the South African Museum. What makes it special is that it grew in the Early Triassic age. It is a fossil, yet its cellular structure is still intact. It is an Araucarioxylon karooensis from the Senekal District.

Shut Out Of Communion

There is a Congregational denomination here called the Calvinist Protestant Church. A member of one of their Churches shared the following tradition with me. Before Holy Communion, they shut the Church doors and lock them. If anyone is late, they are not allowed in. One Sunday, someone arrived late. He knocked, he pleaded, he cried at the door: “Let me in! Let me in!” His voice carried through the whole Church, all the way through Holy Communion -- but they would not let him in. “It was rather pitiful,” said the member.

Jumping Spider

I am (or was) well known for electronic design – which I did for fun. In 2007, I invented the world’s first electric jumping spider. This (above) was the very first working prototype – it's a three-second video. My final design was copyright ©Wimborne before the Chinese produced one, and the Chinese were familiar with Wimborne's copyrights. It is therefore assumed that the Chinese (legally) based their electric jumping spider on this, which is now on sale worldwide. The Chinese, however, made a significant improvement – they removed the wire tether. I myself could imagine that, but it was beyond my engineering skills. OBSERVATION: This first working prototype was stupidly simple, but it took months of experimentation to hit on the winning idea.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Dismissing Officers (Not)

Wife E is studying Church management at the moment, towards a BTh degree. The theory reads like this: if Church officers do not serve “the best interests of the Church”, replace them, no questions asked. In reality it is very different. Has Church attendance halved? No problem. Is giving down 50%? No problem. Have the Youth vanished? No problem. Did anyone do a reality check? Not actually. Is there a good spirit here? Well, no. Does anyone still have a vision for this place? Pass. The vote then: 100% in favour that these officers stay and deliver more of the same.

House Number

I took this photo of the number on a front door in a township. What immediately impressed me was the attitude that this number expressed: a bold and careless statement that this is no. 1251, so put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Missions SOS

I received an SOS this morning from my alma mater Fuller Theological Seminary: “Alarming numbers of today’s missionaries are suffering from depression and burnout, as the daily stresses they face in often unfamiliar surroundings are intense. But help is on the way.” Well, I hope so. My one Master’s degree found that it’s the help that’s the trouble – in ministry at least, and likely in missions, too. My late wife Mirjam did her doctoral research in the area of missionary depression and burnout. There is a link to her book – full and free access – in the right hand column of this blog. OBSERVATION: Personally, I think she found the problem. If only people would teach that.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Bishop's Sermon

I took the photo on Sunday evening of Anglican Bishop (Emeritus) Desmond Inglesby. He preached on the genealogy of Jesus. One wouldn't think that a sermon on a genealogy could be either riveting or spiritual -- yet it was both. One could, as it were, smell it, taste it, feel it. OBSERVATION: I would think that, in time, the sermon will be posted at Holy Trinity Church Cape Town. Perhaps by the New Year. This is a super wide-angle shot which can be enlarged by clicking on it.

Rising Readership

Recently the readership of my blog has rapidly shifted -- and grown. I thought it might be a flash in the pan, but readership continues to be both high and (somewhat) unstable. At the moment my blog has about ten times as many readers as made it South Africa's no. 1 Religion blog a few years ago, with more than 1 600 page views yesterday. My readership top ten, by country, includes five out of six continents, so that there is a kind of universal appeal. OBSERVATION: I'm still trying to decide what makes the popular posts popular. It's hard to tell. The photographs help, but they are not the only explanation.


The photo says it all. Our niece was a winner -- an impressive young sportswoman. The same week that she took ill, she was due to sign the contract of her life, as a female rugby player. OBSERVATION: But everyone thought she was a winner, too, in the way that she dealt with suffering and death -- still in her teens. This was a frequent theme at her funeral. I took this photo shortly before the funeral in the home. You may click on the photo to enlarge.

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Nephew

Elsewhere on this blog, there is a photo of my terrified nephew, reacting to his uncle with the big eye (my camera). Happily, things have much improved since then. Here is his reaction to my camera now. He just celebrated his first birthday. You may click on the photo to enlarge to 90k.

Getting To The Core Of It

I once counselled a young woman who was deeply troubled, at times suicidal. At the same time as I gave her spiritual and pastoral counsel, she was given psychiatric attention, and even admitted to a psychiatric ward. It seemed that, in some important way, we were not getting a breakthrough. It all counted in the end – but not as we had expected. Through the counselling, she came to trust me. One day she seemed different. She sat down with her head down, and said: “I want you to understand. I had an abortion.”

Girl Portrait

Someone asked me yesterday whether I was taking any good photos. I joked  that if I took a hundred, I was bound to find one good one amongst them. This is one of the better photos I took yesterday -- of a young girl in a city Church. I'm not sure that she even saw me snapping her. Her father is a leader of the Student Y, a ministry to students. You may click on the photo to enlarge.

Sunday, December 4, 2016


I was photographing a rehearsal for a children’s Christmas play this morning when I looked behind me and saw this granny presumably, kneeling in the aisle to encourage her grandchild to join in. I quickly turned my camera round and snapped them. It is a picture of kindness. OBSERVATION: Often, the nicest shots are the ones you are not expecting to take. You may click on the photo to enlarge to 180k.

Pentecostal Wine

Someone told me this morning about a village east of Cape Town, which was refusing access to the Pentecostal Church. Here is their problem. The local Church serves communion wine in little “tot” glasses, but the Pentecostals serve it in a chalice – placing no limit on the amount that congregants drink -- it would be improper to dictate that. Further, the Pentecostals believe that all the communion wine must be finished before the Church disperses. OBSERVATION: I have this through the Pentecostals, so perhaps it is true. In South Africa, one can buy “Communion Wine” in liquor stores (so labelled, in Afrikaans), which is an excellent dessert wine.

God: An Existential Proof

Early this morning, I had an essay published by Philosophical Investigations (click here): God: An Existential Proof. There are many proposed proofs for God. This may be a new one. Since it is a philosophical essay, it cannot stray too far beyond philosophy (into theology, especially). It is a sombre piece. It is at the same time born of personal experience in counselling. If you cannot live for God, or expect God to intervene in your life (two major Biblical themes), you have an existential problem. A big one. Although it is not quite saying the same, it reflects Augustine's conviction: "You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you."

NOTE: Apologies to readers. For the first hour or two the link was incorrect. It has been rectified.
“You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” - See more at:
“You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” - See more at:
“You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” - See more at:
“You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” - See more at:
“You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” - See more at:
“You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” - See more at: