Monday, March 19, 2018

Star Wars Scene

This one might seem to come straight out of a Star Wars movie -- a jagged and alien landscape. I took it on our Eastern Cape coast, about 660km / 410mi east of Cape Town. One sees a house perched on a cliff on the right. OBSERVATION: This wasn't an easy photo. None of my camera's automatic settings knew what to do with it.

Ticketing The Traffic Police

A young man who attended my Church got a job as a traffic officer. The same day (I think) that he started, he saw the traffic police illegally parked at the High Court. He dutifully took out his book, wrote out a ticket, and attached it to the vehicle. This caused such a stir that before he knew it, he had made front page headlines. OBSERVATION: I write this with a "moral lesson" in mind. They say that the law is blind. When it is not, one may worry not only about the public, but the officers who enforce it. In South Africa, this is a big problem. Law enforcement is surrounded by uncountable “political” considerations -- as in this rather unusual example. I think that if the law were blind, it would take great pressure off our law enforcement officers.

Women And Children Last

In rural South Africa -- which includes those parts where my wife comes from -- it's a case of "women and children last". I took this photo of children queuing for food as the men were served first, then the women. Looking at the time-stamps on my photos, the children queued for an hour. You may click on the photo to enlarge.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Rehabilitating Joad

I am due to have an essay published in the morning -- however through a computer glitch, the website thinks that today is tomorrow. It is already published at Rehabilitating Joad. Thanks to Martin Cohen for applying his editorial skills to my piece. Joad was very popular in his time, but he fell from grace -- and then he was (all but) forgotten. In my essay, I maintain that he shouldn't have been. He developed a moral epistemology which is both unique and substantial. OBSERVATION: It may be hazardous to state that anyone had a "unique" moral epistemology, so it will be interesting to see whether anyone can contradict that in the Comments. I do not agree with Joad incidentally, but I do think that people forgot him before they paid proper attention to his "teaching'.

‘Revenge Of The Elders’

I received orders from my father-in-law yesterday: I should be on stand-by at my desk. He was learning how to use a cell-phone -- for now, to punch in sequences of digits and press Send. This morning, to our great surprise, he called wife E. OBSERVATION: Perhaps it is the "revenge of the elders". When they first erected a cell-phone mast on the plateau a few years ago, he complained bitterly that the elders were now "out of it". Everybody talked to everybody now, he said, whereas previously the elders had been at the centre of attention.

Invention Thirteen: Gearstick Toy

There was a toy that I greatly enjoyed as a child. I have never seen it since. It was a board with a gearstick mounted on one side. With the gearstick, one drove toy cars around the board -- along roads and in and out of garages and so on. OBSERVATION: It worked with magnets and (I suspect) a scissor arm underneath the board (pictured). Since then, rare-earth magnets have come along, which are much more powerful. For this reason, I would think that one could create a much more interesting board, with two or three gearsticks, additional features, and co-operative or disruptive players. You read it first on this blog.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

God Delights In Weakness

I am adding some spiritual perspective to my last two posts, to offer some counter-balance, as to how one responds -- if here or there one sees psychological problems in ministry. The fact is that some of the greatest men and women of God, both in the Bible and in the Church, had significant psychological problems. Elijah is a well known example in the Bible, while in the Church there are many: Bunyan, Watts, Spurgeon, and so on. I think the key question in such cases is: is this person called by God? We do not ask first whether he or she is a broken reed -- or worse, write them off because they are. OBSERVATION: I think that there are three potential advantages to psychological or emotional weakness in ministry: such a minister may better identify with his or her people's pain, he or she may have gained greater wisdom to minister, and we are told that Christ's power is made perfect in weakness. Paul wrote: "For the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses." I believe that these weaknesses would include physical, emotional, and psychological weaknesses.

Drugged Up [Part Two]

What to do? (see the previous post). I decided to receive the medications, but not to take them -- and to be in a position to prove that I did not take them. Further, when I checked, a pharmacist advised me that this mix was illegal. A doctor advised me that it was dangerous. I took date-stamped photographs of unused medications (some images on the right, clipped) -- then asked chemists for the prescriptions -- however, the prescriptions had all been removed from file. No matter, I had information besides, which was enough. I lodged a formal complaint against Dr. Nicholas with the Health Professions Council. But my complaint went missing six times. Five times, I resubmitted it. When the Board learnt of this, legal officer Nkagisang Madube made a statement: I had not sent them sufficient information to locate the doctor (I provided it six times, in full, and obtained receipt). OBSERVATION: If I had been this "drugged up", one could believably have accused me of various mental illnesses. Then the doctor did -- in a formal statement, through his attorneys. At least, the attorneys claimed to act on his behalf. But I had not taken the medications, and I could prove it.

POSTSCRIPT: Here is some necessary detail. In the beginning, I had to settle on an approach to this most unusual situation. Partly because of this, I took a small quantity of the medications. Also, there were and still are some patches in my records. However, taking these patches into account, I see evidence that about 10% of the medications were used. Even if, through some massive mistake, I took a whole third, this would be very perturbing. (See also Discrimination -- Or Something).

Drugged Up [Part One]

This one's "just the facts". It has to do with my medication in ministry. I suffered PTSD once. After that, I generally took a maintenance dose of Thaden (the smallest dose) each day -- if that. Now after my wife died in January 2011, the "Church Doctor", Dr. Mike Nicholas, checked on me every so many months for depression -- first with the Hamilton rating, then with the Zung rating. I scored "no depression" every time without exception. Then:
• As a "precaution", he said, he would double the Thaden (Thaden is generally used to treat major depressive disorder -- and a few things besides).
• Now he would phase out the Thaden, he said, and phase in Lexamil. He put me on Lexamil, too (also used to treat major depressive disorder).
• However, he did not phase out the Thaden -- he tripled it. And he doubled the Lexamil.
• He further added Zolpidem (a hypnotic), and Zopax (a sedative). And there were a few things besides (not psychopharmaca).
By the time I finished up with the doctor, I was on more than 3000mg of psychopharmaca each month (but see the next post). One sees this on a chemist's list below. At the same time, rumours began to circulate in the Church that the doctor was treating me for depression. I placed these rumours on record with an attorney, then with a Church consultant. However, to take such medications as a "precaution" (one might say: without diagnosis) did not sit well with me. Here is what I did ...

Friday, March 16, 2018

Kempt Bush

I took the photo this week of an indigenous bush. Unfortunately I don't know what it is -- except that it is indigenous. Its strange kempt appearance is what caught my eye. You may click on the image to enlarge.


I am today starting out on another major revision of my metaphysic, the working title "Everything, Briefly". The revision will firstly clarify concepts. Some concepts are "embedded" in the work at the moment, and need to be made more explicit. Secondly, I shall expand on concepts which in places are too densely packed. OBSERVATION: On the positive side, however the concepts are expressed at the moment, I am told that they form a complete and coherent whole. I have a workable metaphysic in hand -- and arguably the first in generations.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The April Fool Flower

This local flower is called the April Fool, or the Paintbrush Lily. It pops up out of nowhere, round about April Fool's Day (the 1st of April). There is a family of such flowers. I think this one is the Haemanthus cocineus. OBSERVATION: It has a very interesting lifecycle, and is said to predict rain. I have heard, too, that it heralds love.

Patient Leadership

Here's a post I put up eight years ago, however it is of abiding application: "I'm very thankful for patient elders and deacons. A Church is at times the field of spiritual warfare, which may be intense. Then it becomes crucial that people not only have patience, but stamina to go with it. One of our stated requirements for leadership (we call it servanthood)  is that leaders should be "peaceable". I think it is vital that we have adhered to this selection criterion. Even under severe strain, our leadership has been peaceable, with not more than one or two transient exceptions during the past ten years. OBSERVATION: Our situation does not reflect the statistics or the trend -- we have far less conflict than the average -- for example, Lyle Schaller says: “Three-quarters of all church ministry is significantly reduced because of nonproductive conflict."

Old Xhosa Man

I took this photo of the father of a brother-in-law, in a township, in the setting sun. The old man has had a stroke, so he speaks little, and walks slowly -- but he faithfully attends clan gatherings, struggling along, struggling along.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Indigenous Coffee

This is another indigenous coffee tree, called the Soetdoring (Sweet Thorn). I previously blogged about the Boerboom (Famer's Tree). As best I know, none of our indigenous coffees are specially cultivated and marketed. Few people have ever heard of them, never mind tasted them. OBSERVATION: My fascination with such things has grown since I married E, who has a good knowledge of the veld. The generation before her still has a very good knowledge of the veld -- but they are dying out now and the knowledge is dying with them.