Monday, April 23, 2018

Pewside Manner

This post is about something very simple. Early in my ministry, I heard of a child who was deeply influenced by a minister who got on one knee to shake her hand at the Church door. After that, I often got on one knee to talk to a child, or to speak to the elderly if they were seated. It is more than that, though. It is, in general, being with people rather than over against them. OBSERVATION: Kneeling is a bit painful for me, as I have injured both knees. There's broken bone floating in one of them -- only I don't know which one, as I don't know which X-ray is which.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Metaphysical Movement

From the start, I found the interest in my metaphysic, on this blog, curious. The metaphysic is of course vitally important to me -- just that I had not expected others to be that interested. As a result, I placed a link in the column on the right -- to tweets of my progress. These generally receive more than a thousand impressions a month. OBSERVATION: I have just completed the very hard task of reorganising my concepts for greater clarity. In the process I increased the chapters from thirty-three to thirty-six. The reorganisation was roughly done -- now I am going over it with care, to see that it holds up with close attention. Then I can work on style.

Black Tax

Two of my "edits" have gone up on the Internet in two days. Here is one: Black Tax, by Sifiso Mkhonto (pictured). "Black tax" is money that Black professionals send home to their families. It may be a small part of their income, or almost all of it. OBSERVATION: Significant is that this is Sifiso's second article for a major news service. I have been mentoring him for almost a year, and he has come along in leaps and bounds -- to a large extent because he pays attention to what I teach him. This article is not a sensation -- yet -- but it is competitive. It has a good readership.

Invention Fourteen: Word Processing

The other day I fired up MSWORD and PCWRITE under DOS. It seems to me that little has changed in word processing in thirty years. We still have menus, tool bars, and so on. However, the conceptual possibilities have changed altogether. When I look at a screen of text (like this one), it seems to me that I think about it first in terms of blocks or areas of action. For instance, the ragged right margin. This is an area which is ragged. Supposing then that one should circle (or something) that area. One has now narrowed down all of my possible actions to a few -- which could pop up for selection. Or supposing one should circle a paragraph. Likewise, there are just a few things I would do with a complete paragraph -- which could pop up for selection. This may be a more intuitive way of working, rather than being confined by the technical possibilities of the 1980s.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Youngsters First

Here's an interesting one. I attended a special event at Hillsong Church in Cape Town yesterday (I have doubled the speed of the video -- and the sound). At the start, one sees youngsters surging up the steps and into the Church. These are persons 25 years of age and younger. Then I turn my camera around to the right, to film a queue of people who are 26 years of age and older. OBSERVATION: In my "other world" which is rural Africa, it would be quite the other way round. Elders first, youngsters queue.

When Is An Illustration Not An Illustration?

McCartney's Illustrations of 1946 was a landmark publication for ministers. I inherited two copies from other ministers. It was a book of sermon illustrations -- so organised that one could easily find what one needed to support a certain topic. My own library included several books of illustrations. My favourite was Miller's Notes & Quotes for Church Speakers of 1960. OBSERVATION: But here is something that bothers me. I have used such illustrations myself as illustrations, or as "possibly true". But I keep coming across preachers who claim these illustrations as their personal experience. As an example, one minister shared how he and his wife had peeped at one another through a keyhole, and that was the first time they had seen eye to eye. That is a classic illustration for those in the know. What does one make of this? A very great coincidence? A bluffing minister? And if they are bluffing, then what else does it say about them?

Animal Liberation

Depending how one counts city blocks, I live about ten blocks from the gates of parliament. This is what I saw this morning. OBSERVATION: A protest quite well supported, it seemed like a motley crew -- a broad coalition of ideas -- some dreamers, some realists. Whatever the case may be, I think that people should give greater consideration to the "person" of their animals. "A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, but even the compassion of the wicked is cruel" (Proverbs 12:10 NASB).

Friday, April 20, 2018

Ravi Zacharias Interview

My parting shot for the day is wife E being interviewed earlier in the evening, about the famous apologist Ravi Zacharias. We had just been listening to him speak and field questions. You may click on the photo to enlarge.

Notorious Landlord

Ministry, for me, often means entering daunting situations with people. One of the more memorable events was a landlord who refused to return a large deposit to a Church member. When our member persisted, he screamed at her: "I'll mess up your pretty face!" She was incensed. She said to me: "So he'll mess up my pretty face? How? Like this? Or like this?" The landlord was in his office when I arrived, screaming at a big African man, and threatening him with violence. The man came hurtling out of the office, with the landlord in a fury behind him. I was next in the queue. I said: "I'm Rev. Scarborough." The landlord screamed: "I don't have an appointment with yoooooou!" and slammed the door so hard that its glass pane could have shattered. OBSERVATION: But our member got the deposit back. The landlord was the legendary Shlomo Bitton.

Family Portrait

Funerals are times when families come together -- and they present opportunities for family photos. A photographer snapped this family from the front, while I snapped them from the side -- which not seldom yields the better picture. You may click on the photo to enlarge. OBSERVATION: The deceased, whom I knew, had his life extended for years by our state health system. His final decline was rapid.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Youth Choir

I heard someone humming a song on WhatsApp today which a choir sang under my ministry: "Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary ..." Here is a photo of members of the Youth Choir who sang it. It was the young woman in the foreground I heard on WhatsApp. OBSERVATION: Various choirs went through various incarnations under my ministries. This was a creative group, which sang beautifully over a period of five years. I still have a recording of "Sanctuary".

Young Adults Gap

Churches often complain of a “young adults gap” in their numbers. It’s easy to work out if there is one. Say one takes ages 15-24 as the test group, which is a ten-year spread (a=10). Say a realistic spread of all ages would be 0-80 (b=80). Say the number of people in Church over a whole week is 200 (c=200). That's a / b * c = in this case, 25 people in this age group. Admittedly it's a crude calculation. OBSERVATION: One could also calculate this only for Sundays (say, c = 100). In my city ministry, we calculated that we were about two-thirds full over the ages 0-35, with about age 18 being the weakest spot. Some thought this was very good, some thought it represented failure. Relatively speaking, I think it was good. We achieved this, I believe, through the priesthood of believers (ministry by members). Young people are never too young to minister.

Funeral Singer

This was a surprise. I put this photo on Facebook yesterday, of a singer at a funeral service in the Eastern Cape, singing with heart and soul. Sitting at the same table with me yesterday was wife E. She looked at her iPhone as the photo popped up on Facebook and said: "That's my cousin!" Which is the man holding the microphone. OBSERVATION: This photo has already been "out there", and has been one of my most popular photographs. You may click on the photo to enlarge.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Let Your Yes Be ...

Recently I described how my city Church, on the close of my ministry, sent me more than 10 000 words of lawyers' letters. These were matters that my life depended on -- yet the letters looked "strange all over". Was this really the Church? The subject of this post: I filed a legal request with Bowman Gilfillan Inc.: "On whose instruction Bowman Gilfillan was acting when claiming to represent Sea Point Evangelical Congregational Church." The answer should have been simplicity itself, but Bowman Gilfillan refused to respond. I pressed them. A Managing Partner of the company jumped in, with nearly 1 000 words (below) as to why they could not answer my question. OBSERVATION: Let the reader discern. One may click on the pages to enlarge.

Answering Questions

In my minister’s Bible studies, I have taken up to half of my weekly Bible study to answer questions of the faith, from those who attend. Usually the questions are fairly straightforward, with straightforward answers. Usually I have not answered them immediately, but have promised to answer them next time. It may take me just ten minutes to prepare an answer. There is of course a keen interest in the answers, and value in the answers, and they direct the teaching to where it is wanted. OBSERVATION: Here's one example. A member of my Bible study group had read about a “racy” book called Susanna. What was this book, and why was it in the Bible? Or was it not? I said that it was recommended reading, according to the 39 Articles -- so we read it. Now we knew why it was recommended -- and we studied why it was not in the Bible.