Monday, March 27, 2017

Scheduled Twice

I was pleased to have two articles scheduled for publication today. One was written by an African protégé (pictured). I saw that he "had the fire", so I approached him to write something for Philosophical Investigations. My co-editor approved the article today, without reservation, and it is scheduled for publication on the 10th of April. And I myself was commissioned to write a book review, on the science of uncertainty, for The Philosopher. This was a tough assignment, that took me months. Today it was accepted and scheduled for publication on the 1st of May. 


One of the things I have studied in more recent years is semeiotics or semiotics -- the signs through which we communicate. Through this I became aware that I routinely (I would think daily) use a sign for "Yes" which I picked up in the mission as a boy, in the central Pacific. I still use it fifty years later -- but it is not a sign for "Yes" in my own culture. It might be completely useless. OBSERVATION: And there will surely be many things like it that I have missed. It makes me wonder about the uncountable influences on our lives, and how they still are with us.

Eerste Rivier

It isn't a village, it isn't a town, it's a ... settlement, called Eerste Rivier (First River) in the Eastern Cape. The locals once tried to close it to the public, but didn't succeed. It is open to visitors. It is known for its picturesque beach, its blow-holes, and one of the best natural pools, the "Blue Hole". It is close to my wife's childhood home.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Strength Factors

This Church was my father's last pastorate -- an Anglican Church in central Cape Town (I took the photo today). Attendances like this are often seen in South Africa, where Europeans might be surprised. Some factors (not all) to which I might attribute the strength of this Church: spiritual substance, a strong ministry to children and students, pastoral concern, attention to the spirit of the Church, and a glimmer of Congregationalism (in spite of being Anglican). OBSERVATION: Several people in this photo were regular or occasional attenders under my city ministry. Spot the bishop (he's in the congregation).

Ailing Ears

In 2013, I was attacked in my robes in Church. Apart from injuries, I went down several times with fevers, and a constellation of fierce infections. Ultimately it turned out that they were all one and the same. While one cannot connect this indubitably to the attack, it was the best explanation. Doctors prescribed antibiotics, but they failed. They prescribed them again, but they failed again. They prescribed more targeted antibiotics, but they failed. They prescribed them again, and at last they succeeded in curing me out -- except for my ears. This week I had yet another ‘blood burst’ in one ear. OBSERVATION: A fortnight ago, a judgement went in my favour -- I referred to it briefly on my blog. It was related to the attack. Someone staged a defence of their part in things, and their defence was judged as being criminal in itself. I have not yet blogged about this. (The antibiotics were of amoxycillin and clarithomycin).

† Rangarirayi Chikadaya

I was very sorry to hear yesterday of the death of Rangarirayi Chikadaya (pictured). He was a man of faith, brilliant, selfless, who for a time was a member of our city Church. Many refugees turned to the Church for help, and he was one. But the problem of refugees was huge, and we had to make some tough decisions as to who to help and how (and who was genuine). He was a journalist, who had been badly beaten by police in Zimbabwe. "My face was swollen like a football," he said. He showed me newspaper clippings he had brought along. We helped set him on his feet, and he sang the Church a song of praise one Sunday morning. He went on to do monumental work for others, among other things founding a school. When he saw how poor the students were, he would not charge them. He called me up from the Transkei -- the last time that we spoke -- and told me never to be discouraged, I had had an enduring influence.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Youth Choir: God Is Love

When I heard wife E last night, singing a Youth Choir song from my city ministry, I put it up on Facebook. By the morning, it had 42 views -- therefore I reposted it with 16 photos, most of which were taken at recording sessions. Here it all is for my blog. The full line-up of the Youth Choir was Francis Mvenge, Phakamile Nkosi, Peter Nighswander, Ester Sizani, and Itai Chikadaya.

Church Choirs

Through three ministries, I very much encouraged Church choirs. Each choir had its own strong musical character, singing (in turn) historical Church classics, established European hymns, South African hymns, and African language classics. The most notable choirmasters were Ricardo Lagiard, Audrey Geard, Michael Scholtz, Henry Isaacs, and Ester Sizani (who is now my wife). Ester, however, "bonded" her choir rather than leading it. These choirs variously used sheet music, the tonic solfa, or no musical score at all. OBSERVATION: I think that the choirs were important, for lifting the worship, and for building friendship. I encouraged them not merely to perform hymns or songs, but to make their performances an occasion for personal, spiritual ministry to the congregation, usually with a short introduction or testimony. This was often touching, and it removed any sense that a choir was just an institution, as often seems to be the case.

Kouga Climb

I took this photo of a farm labourer on the back of a 4 x 4, climbing from the secluded Kouga River, to the plateau where wife E grew up. It was a very rough climb, so that I took this photo backwards, upside-down. The Kouga River is in the background.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Editorial Work

I feel privileged to be working this week with our first African writer, for Philosophical Investigations. I have long wanted to shift us (further) away from Eurocentrism. Not that we are too Eurocentric. We have published writers from four continents, and the Pacific. It is an essay on the (not so) new view of colonialism -- which accidentally coincides with recent posts on my blog. OBSERVATION: Typically we invite authors to select an image to accompany an essay. This one from the Collectie Tropenmuseum seems to express well what the essay says, but let me not let the cat out of the bag.

Conversion Liberation

I attended a Bible study this week on the Woman at the Well. What I picked  up is what seems to me a common dynamic in conversion. If I had been a counsellor, asking this woman about her husband, and she shut it down (as did the woman at the well) with "Haven't got one," there would be a problem. And that was surely a problem in the whole of that woman's common life. In the text, the Lord exposes that -- which is what the Spirit does, too. Then, she effectively tells everyone that she has been exposed. It is the kind of liberation one finds in conversion. OBSERVATION: Perhaps this was what impacted her village: "She says what? Whatever happened to her?"


I took this photo of a young woman in contemplative mood at a Church tea, or should I say coffee -- dressed in a lace blouse and felt hat, with earrings and nail polish to match. You may click on the photo to enlarge.

A Man Called Ostrich

Someone asked me this week to repeat something that happened to me on my first day at boarding school in 1974. I didn't want to repeat it, but I can write about it. Someone asked me to take a message to "Ostrich". I searched through the building, and finally saw a tall man with a long, hairy neck. I asked him whether he was "Ostrich". He grabbed me and threw me against the wall, pummelled me until I dropped to the floor, then kicked me until I was too lame to stand up. OBSERVATION: This was accepted in boarding schools at the time. Students today sometimes tell me of the brutality of the system. Historically, it was bad (I wouldn't want to say worse, not having first hand experience of boarding schools today). I see that "Ostrich" is now a company director. As many do, he may now see things in a different light. The worst of them became a child psychologist.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Pattern For Meetings

This post is about leading meetings, by way of providing an example. Here's how I led a Youth leaders' meeting, following a pattern that one finds in Scripture. First, prayer. Then I said: "Let's begin with the history of this group," and I wove into this history the story of what God had done. One of the Youth leaders became so enthusiastic that she kept taking over the story. I shared some impression of what God, in future, might do with the youngsters who were in this group, and I outlined the basic purpose of the group. Then I opened up the meeting to feedback -- asking, too, whether everyone felt that they were fully employed in the group. Out of this discussion came the offer by two Youth helpers to help lead Youth devotions, and the suggestion from a Youth leader that she start a Bible study for the girls. OBSERVATION: It was therefore a fruitful and encouraging meeting.

Magnificent Beasts

When I first introduced my family -- through selected photographs -- to my (now) wife's family, there was muted acknowledgement as we paged through them, up there on the plateau. Until we reached this one. It is son M measuring methane emissions in a meadow in Switzerland. My mother-in-law exclaimed (translated): "Look at those beasts!" My father-in-law said: "Where in the world do you get cattle like that?" Finally, I thought to myself, I had shown them an interesting photo. OBSERVATION: M was doing (paid) research for the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule in Zurich. It is where Albert Einstein was professor for theoretical physics.