Saturday, October 18, 2014

A petition for Asia Bibi -- let us sign

Just go here and sign. It may help save a life. Don't delay.

Matt 24 watch, 254: Calling for action by Caricom to stop the judicial murder of Asia Bibi of Pakistan on a false charge and dangerous blasphemy law in Pakistan

Pakistan is a Commonwealth member state, and so are many territories in the Caribbean. That is why I am calling on national, legal and media leaders across our region to stand up and be counted on a blatant, potentially murderous miscarriage of justice now under way in Pakistan.

Today, I saw in my inbox, notification that the High Court in Lahore Pakistan has upheld the blasphemy-death sentence verdict against Asia Bibi on a charge that is blatantly false, made under a dangerous but violently upheld blasphemy law.

So, I am following up on my post last year on the case.

The damage to her health and family are bad enough, this desecration of justice and abuse of the good name of God have gone beyond all decency and reason.

Stop, stop, for God's sake . . . STOP!

As a first, public mark of protest, we should publicly refuse to play International Cricket with the team of a nation that has such a murderous, worse than apartheid law on its books.

If boycotting South Africa was important to send a message, this is worse.

If you doubt me, notice the Guardian on the law under which Asia Bibi has been sentenced to death by hanging:
  Blasphemy [under the Pakistani law] carries a maximum penalty of death, yet the law sets out no standards for evidence, no requirement to prove intent, no punishment for false allegations and, indeed, no guidance on what actually constitutes blasphemy.

The accuser can refuse to repeat the offending statement in court, and judges can choose not to hear evidence in case it perpetuates the blasphemy and offends religious sensibilities. This means that in some cases, the accused can go through a whole trial without knowing what they are supposed to have done or said.
The law is open to massive abuse. As such, it is frequently used to settle personal vendettas and to persecute minorities . . .
 In the case of Bibi Asia (and other similar cases), as the article continues:
Bibi’s alleged blasphemous comments were supposedly made after co-workers refused to share water that she had carried; they said it was unclean because she was a Christian (this is a hangover from the caste system, as most of those who converted to Christianity in pre-partition India were members of the lower castes). She has always maintained her innocence, claiming that these neighbours simply wanted to punish her. The British citizen Mohammed Asghar, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, also faces the death sentence for blasphemy. Allegations were made against him in 2010 by a tenant with whom he was having a dispute. No concessions have been made for his mental health condition.

Despite these obvious flaws in the legislation and the way it is applied, reform is not coming. When Bibi’s case came to prominence in 2010, three politicians – Salmaan Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti and Sherry Rehman – all from the Pakistan People’s Party, which was then in power, took up the case and called for reform. The consequences speak for themselves. Taseer was shot dead by his bodyguard in January 2011. In March the same year, Bhatti was killed by Taliban assassins. Rehman was forced into semi-hiding. The then prime minister shelved all reform, cowed into retreat by the potent mix of extremist threats and mob violence.

Blasphemy excites strong emotions among parts of Pakistan’s public like no other issue. Many people accused of blasphemy are killed by mobs before they even make it to trial. (According to the Islamabad-based Centre for Security Studies, at least 52 people have been killed over blasphemy offences since 1990). Taseer’s assassin was showered with rose petals when he arrived at the courthouse for his murder trial. Many took this as evidence of the way that extremist groups have infiltrated elements of Pakistani society, exploiting the public’s strong religious sensibility and pushing it further towards intolerance . . .
So bad is the situation that when the author of this report, while living in Pakistan, authored an article for a leading newspaper there, the editor suppressed it for fear.

I think we in the Caribbean need to pray, and to act:

1 --> Let us call on the political leadership of our region to use our Commonwealth status to protest the patent injustice of this case and the destructive law.

2 --> Let us determine not to support any Test matches or International Cricket series involving Pakistan, making it clear that justice must be done and what is worse than Apartheid must be stopped. (This would use the international stature of the West Indies Cricket team to do a world of good. And, the message would be sent to every city, town and hamlet across Pakistan, that enough is enough.)

3 --> Let us support one or more regional offers of refuge for this poor, oppressed woman and her family. (Italy, France and Spain have made offers, let us make one too. Surely, Asia Bibi and her family would classify as refugees under any reasonable standard.)

4 --> In every international forum of which we are a part and Pakistan is a part, let us send the same message to the Pakistani delegation. Let me sum it up:
Stop the hate, false accusation, corruption of justice and murder under false colours of justice and pretense of outraged religious sensibilities . . . murder of one in the image of God under false colours of law and justice is the REAL blasphemy here.

5 --> Only shame, deep wounding shame will move those caught up in entrenched depravity like this, to act.

6 --> The time for public, persistent shaming has clearly come; and that includes specifically every party involved in this disgraceful case, from accusers to judges and politicians who have stood by or have gone along with evil, though we must note the horrible price paid by those who spoke up for the right.
7 --> The murderous fanatical mobs cannot reach us, so let us speak up for those in fear of their lives.

Enough is enough. END

Sunday, October 12, 2014

HEADS UP: Weather news -- TS Gonzalo headed for Antigua & Montserrat over the next day or so

Weather Underground currently has some bad news for us here in Montserrat:



Zulu (= GMT = EC time + 4 hrs) time & location track:
Init 12/1730z 16.4n 58.4w 35 kt 40 mph
12h 13/0000z 16.4n 59.5w 35 kt 40 mph
24h 13/1200z 16.5n 61.7w 45 kt 50 mph
36h 14/0000z 17.2n 63.8w 55 kt 65 mph
48h 14/1200z 18.2n 65.5w 65 kt 75 mph
72h 15/1200z 20.5n 67.5w 75 kt 85 mph
96h 16/1200z 22.0n 68.0w 85 kt 100 mph
120h 17/1200z 24.0n 68.0w 85 kt 100 mph
That looks like, right over Montserrat about 8:00 am on Monday October 13, tomorrow. Translation, a stormy night and morning. (We already had a rain band or two hit us starting this morning.)

Radio ZJB just gave a preliminary warning.
 
Not good, except -- thank God -- not a full-blown hurricane. END

Monday, October 06, 2014

Rom 1 reply 56: Was Jesus a myth? -- a video series on Gospel historicity in response to a current wave of new atheist skepticism

NB: WLC podcast in reply to sensationalist claims

The other day I noticed Michael Paulkovich's Christ was a myth claims coming up at the UK Daily Mail, in its bullet points:

'Jesus NEVER existed': Writer finds no mention of Christ in 126 historical texts and says he was a 'mythical character'

  • Writer Michael Paulkovich has claimed that there is little evidence for a person known as Jesus existing in history
  • Jesus is thought to have lived from about 7BC to 33AD in the Roman Empire
  • However Paulkovich says he found little to no mention of the supposed messiah in 126 texts written in the first to third centuries [--> NB: cf the dissection of the list here]
  • Only one mention of Jesus was present, in a book by Roman historian Josephus Flavius, but he says this was added by later editors
  • He says this is surprising despite the ‘alleged worldwide fame’ of Jesus
  • And this has led him to believe that Jesus was a 'mythical character' 
Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed historically,[f] although the quest for the historical Jesus has produced little agreement on the historical reliability of the Gospels and on how closely the biblical Jesus reflects the historical Jesus.[19] Most scholars agree that Jesus was a Jewish rabbi from Galilee who preached his message orally,[20] was baptized by John the Baptist, and was crucified in Jerusalem on the orders of the Roman prefect, Pontius Pilate.[21] Scholars have constructed various portraits of the historical Jesus, which often depict him as having one or more of the following roles: the leader of an apocalyptic movement, Messiah, a charismatic healer, a sage and philosopher, or an egalitarian social reformer.[22] Scholars have correlated the New Testament accounts with non-Christian historical records to arrive at an estimated chronology of Jesus' life. The most widely used calendar era in the world (abbreviated as "AD", alternatively referred to as "CE"), counts from a medieval estimate of the birth year of Jesus.

Christians believe that Jesus has a "unique significance" in the world.[23] Christian doctrines include the beliefs that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born of a virgin, performed miracles, founded the Church, died by crucifixion as a sacrifice to achieve atonement, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, whence he will return.[24] The great majority of Christians worship Jesus as the incarnation of God the Son, the second of three persons of a Divine Trinity.
The story told in the New Testament Gospels—in contrast to the greatly embellished versions found in the Gospel of Peter and other writings— smacks of verisimilitude. The women went to the tomb to mourn privately and to perform duties fully in step with Jewish burial customs. They expected to find the body of Jesus; ideas of resurrection were the last thing on their minds. The careful attention given the temporary tomb is exactly what we should expect. Pious fiction—like that seen in the Gospel of Peter— would emphasize other things. Archaeology can neither prove nor disprove the resurrection, but it can and has shed important light on the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ death, burial, and missing corpse . . . .
Research in the historical Jesus has taken several positive steps in recent years. Archaeology, remarkable literary discoveries, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, and progress in reassessing the social, economic, and political setting of first-century Palestine have been major factors. Notwithstanding the eccentricities and skepticism of the Jesus Seminar, the persistent trend in recent years is to see the Gospels as essentially reliable, especially when properly understood, and to view the historical Jesus in terms much closer to Christianity’s traditional understanding, i.e., as proclaimer of God’s rule, as understanding himself as the Lord’s anointed, and, indeed, as God’s own son, destined to rule Israel. But this does not mean that the historical Jesus that has begun to emerge in recent years is simply a throwback to the traditional portrait. The picture of Jesus that has emerged is more finely nuanced, more obviously Jewish, and in some ways more unpredictable than ever. The last word on the subject has not been written and probably never will be. Ongoing discovery and further investigation will likely force us to make further revisions as we read and read again the old Gospel stories and try to come to grips with the life of this remarkable Galilean Jew.
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,[i] with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. [ESV]
1 Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas [= Peter, Aramaic form], then to the twelve. 

Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 

Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me . . . 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. [ESV]
One, an unprecedented, psychologically implausible and utterly convincing mass hallucination that includes skeptics [Jesus' own brothers (as in: he's mad, let's take him in charge . . . )] and an arch-persecuter [Saul of Tarsus]. 

Two, the witnesses are not merely sincere, but report the astonishing and world-changing truth, truth for which many peacefully surrendered their lives to dungeon, fire, sword or worse.
And ever since, millions have reported and manifested transformation of life through encounter with God in the face of Jesus in answer to prayer based on the message of the gospel.


On the basis of . . . non-Christian sources [i.e. Tacitus (Annals, on the fire in Rome, AD 64; written ~ AD 115), Rabbi Eliezer (~ 90's AD; cited J. Klausner, Jesus of Nazareth (London: Collier-Macmillan, 1929), p. 34), Pliny (Letters to Trajan from Bithynia, ~ AD 112), Josephus (Antiquities, ~ 90's)] it is possible to draw the following conclusions:
    1. Jesus Christ was executed (by crucifixion?) in Judaea during the period where Tiberius was Emperor (AD 14 - 37) and Pontius Pilate was Governor (AD 26 - 36). [Tacitus]
    2. The movement spread from Judaea to Rome. [Tacitus]
    3. Jesus claimed to be God and that he would depart and return. [Eliezer]
    4. His followers worshipped him as (a) god. [Pliny]
    5. He was called "the Christ." [Josephus]
    6. His followers were called "Christians." [Tacitus, Pliny]
    7. They were numerous in Bithynia and Rome [Tacitus, Pliny]
    8. It was a world-wide movement. [Eliezer]
    9. His brother was James. [Josephus]
[Is the New Testament History? (London, Hodder, 1987), pp. 30 - 31. Cf. McDowell & Wilson, He Walked Among Us (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1993) for more details; free for download here.]

Friday, October 03, 2014

1 Chron 12:32 report, 116: On the fulness of Christ vision, Wallnau's seven mountains of influence and biblical discipleship driven revival and reformation

A few days ago, my attention was drawn to Lance Wallnau's seven mountains of influence theme, which -- without endorsing all he has to say --  has in it a definite point we need to face.  

For he has definitely found a way to speak to seven commanding heights of culture that can communicate to ordinary people in a very easy to remember way. In a day when the accelerating decay of culture, church, home, school, government and civilisation all around us should give any thoughtful person sobering pause.

Accordingly . . . and not having found a good graphic elsewhere, I have pulled together an infographic that relates his thought to the discipling mandate, the Christocentric fulness theme of Eph 1 and 4, and the for R's of revival and reformation:



Now, if we wish to understand a bit more of Wallnau's thought, this video may give a flavour:



(As noted, in drawing out the seven mountains graphic and insight and setting it in the context of the fulness of Christ, discipleship and reformation, I am by no means giving a blanket endorsement. View and draw your own overall assessment. But, I believe the image and idea of seven mountains of influence is very useful.)

To go further, I wish to draw again on Schaeffer's powerful (though marred by some errors) analysis of the thought-life and energising spirit of our civilisation across the centuries since Rome:


We then see the effect of splitting our field of knowledge into an upper and a lower storey, with the life of the mind isolated from the voice of God:



That breakdown then challenges us to prophetic, godly intellectual and cultural leadership towards reformation under God, informed by a sound understanding of worldviews:


Thus, the gospel ever challenges the community to turn from sin to God in the face of Christ.

Food for thought. END

PS: Speaking of Christ, I notice where writer Michael Paulkovich has been trying to suggest that there is an absence of adequate documentation that Jesus of Nazareth rises above a myth. That of course inadvertently underscores just how powerfully challenging the gospel is to those who would rather forget the reality of God.  As a quick first answer I point him and those inclined to take him seriously, to this 101 level video:


 
I also note, from Paul Barnett's Is the New Testament History? regarding early non-Christian sources:
On the basis of . . . non-Christian sources [i.e. Tacitus (Annals, on the fire in Rome, AD 64; written ~ AD 115), Rabbi Eliezer (~ 90's AD; cited J. Klausner, Jesus of Nazareth (London: Collier-Macmillan, 1929), p. 34), Pliny (Letters to Trajan from Bithynia, ~ AD 112), Josephus (Antiquities, ~ 90's)] it is possible to draw the following conclusions:
    1. Jesus Christ was executed (by crucifixion?) in Judaea during the period where Tiberius was Emperor (AD 14 - 37) and Pontius Pilate was Governor (AD 26 - 36). [Tacitus]
    2. The movement spread from Judaea to Rome. [Tacitus]
    3. Jesus claimed to be God and that he would depart and return. [Eliezer]
    4. His followers worshipped him as (a) god. [Pliny]
    5. He was called "the Christ." [Josephus]
    6. His followers were called "Christians." [Tacitus, Pliny]
    7. They were numerous in Bithynia and Rome [Tacitus, Pliny]
    8. It was a world-wide movement. [Eliezer]
    9. His brother was James. [Josephus]
[Is the New Testament History? (London, Hodder, 1987), pp. 30 - 31. Cf. McDowell & Wilson, He Walked Among Us (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1993) for more details; free for download here.]
(For more information, kindly see here on.)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Matt 24 watch, 253: Israeli PM again warns the UN General Assembly, Sept 2014 . . . probably to the usual deaf ears

Courtesy RT, the full speech:



This evening BBC highlighted that Mr Netanyahu pointed out that to defeat ISIS at the price of letting Iran across the nuke line would be to forfeit the war to try to win a relatively small battle. [U/D, Oct 2] His words:
“Don’t be fooled by Iran’s manipulative charm offensive. Once Iran produces atomic bombs, all the charm will suddenly disappear. To defeat [the Islamic State] and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war.”

He warns of ISIS' global conquest ambitions, shows that Hamas has made almost the same declarations, and broadens the issue to militant Islam around the world. But, he is forced to note that -- as with a cancer that starts small then grows -- many may be tempted to not take the matter seriously from the first (and, presumably, nip it in the bud). 

He also took time to do a bit of show and tell on the recent clashes over rockets that also thwarted the planned Sept 24 hostage taking and mass murder attacks using tunnels:



Yes, a double war crime, in a context where an implication of the twistabout blame the targetted victim accusations is that the world has now -- ominously -- de facto endorsed human shield tactics and rocketing of civilians. 

  Mr Netanyahu (for all Israel's own sins and errors) is credibly right, but between short-sighted pols, superficial of biased journalists and those who in their imagination view the West as the "real" global problem and hope to see a powerful IslamIST bloc as a counter-weight I doubt his warning will be heeded. My deep pessimism about our global geostrategic situation continues. END

PS: Again, cf here for balancing perspectives on the history of modern Israel.  The RH column of this blog gives more.

PPS: Full text here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Matt 24 watch, 252: The Hamas Sept 24, 2014 Rosh Hashana mass murder and mass hostage seizing attack on Israel -- not

Had Israel not attacked Hamas in July (in response to rocketing attacks) and destroyed the 30 - 40 attack tunnels targetting Kindergartens and Kibbutzes, it seems that this morning world news headlines would have been dominated by a massive, mass murder and mass hostage taking terrorist attack by Hamas. 

The planned attack that should have been a major focus for regional news and commentary, because of the global significance of what it reveals about radical IslamISM. 

But, of course, this does not fit the preferred narrative for what is going on in the Middle East and wider world in light of the IslamIST tidal wave, and so there was a revealing widespread silence. 

Lost in the condemnation of Israel.

Let us remind ourselves, even as we awaken to what I expect to be an ordinary news day instead of the horror that was evidently planned and prepared for, for years.

An IDF map of six of the tunnels shows the effort and intent:


One of the tunnels:



Inside the tunnels -- revealing just what all that cement that was supposed to be building homes and hospitals (remember the protests on how those wicked Israelis were blocking building such peaceful buildings?) actually largely went into building:



Let me cite and augment Mordechai Ben-Menachem, who has compiled a stunning picture:
Multiple media outlets report that Hamas’s offensive tunnel network – now known to have been composed of over forty attack tunnels dug underneath Israel’s border with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip – was set to be activated during the Jewish High Holidays (September 24th) as a mass terror attack.

The attack was meant to generate as many as ten thousand casualties, men, women and particularly children and hundreds of captives.  Explosives were particularly placed underneath kindergartens to make certain that these “institutions” would be the first struck, even before any thing else . . . . [T]unnels were created in pairs, to empty out on both sides of nearby communities.  The known cost of the infrastructure – each tunnel costs upward of some $1 million – clearly shows that Hamas was planning a coordinated mega-attack . . . . 
Israeli security sources, citing information acquired in interrogations of [reportedly forty-eight captured Hamas operatives] . . . , described a scenario under which [up to] hundreds of heavily armed Hamas fighters [many dressed in Israeli uniforms] would have spilled out [from each tunnel] into Israel in the dead of night and within 10 minutes been positioned to infiltrate essentially all Israeli communities surrounding the Gaza Strip.  Waiting then in hiding until schools and kindergartens were occupied, the terrorists would then attempt to kill the children first, and then kill and kidnap as many Israelis as possible . . . .
Israeli military officials reported that the tunnels are stocked with tranquilizers, handcuffs, syringes, ropes and other materials used for subduing abductees, civilians and soldiers.  The tunnels also had fantastic quantities of explosives and additional military materiel meant to be used in the up-coming mega attack.  Much of these explosives had already been placed underneath Israeli kindergartens.  Some of these tunnels were as deep as 30 meters underground . . . .

“Hamas planned these tunnels for years, and planned to use them to kidnap soldiers,” Israeli military spokesman Brig. Gen. Mordechai Almoz said. “[Now] they see the tunnels collapsing one after the other.”  For the last two years, the Israeli army has sought to develop skills and equipment to fight in enemy tunnels and bunkers.  Hamas and Islamic Jihad have used tunnels to operate command and control, to infiltrate Israel and abduct soldiers, to fire rockets and to conceal fighters amid invasion of the Gaza Strip.
Breitbart.com, in addition to corroborating the above, reports on how a dozen retired US flag rank officers toured one of these tunnels:
Gen. James T. Conway, USMC (ret.) recently returned from Israel, where he was joined by a dozen retired U.S. generals and admirals, sponsored by Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). While there, the group toured a tunnel from Gaza recently discovered near an Israeli kindergarten. 

“Unlike tunnels that I had seen during the Iraq war that were designed for smuggling, this Hamas tunnel was designed for launching murder and kidnapping raids. The 3-mile-long tunnel was reinforced with concrete, lined with telephone wires, and included cabins unnecessary for infiltration operations but useful for holding hostages,” the retired General wrote in the Wall Street Journal
Let us ponder, long and hard, on what this points to, given the very direct parallel in Iraq and Syria with ISIS and similar Jihadist groups.

I will note that the underlying concept of the attack, mass murder, mass hostage taking and intimidation, was fatally flawed.

It would have made Israelis utterly clear as to the existential nature of the threat they faced and Israel would have made the iron decision that with millions of lives now in the stakes, thousands are horrible but necessary casualties. A massive counter attack would have launched within 24 - 48 hours, with intent to destroy Hamas and hold ground used in piratical mass attacks on the people and nation of Israel. Iran, obviously implicated, would have been on the target list (especially its nuke weapons programme), and had Hezbollah, the Iranian cat's paw in Lebanon moved a muscle, it too would have been targetted for massive retaliation.

 And, Israel would have been simply deaf to international demands, which would be viewed as discredited by longstanding track record and by the force of events on the ground. A nice eulogy is not enough when a nation faces the living memory genocide of 6 millions and has enemies sworn to complete the job under false colours of  divine mandate -- the notorious Gharqad tree hadith of Islam, which is a part of clause seven of the Hamas covenant; here from Hadiths as collected in Sahih Muslim, Bk 41:
Book 041, Number 6981:
Ibn 'Umar reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: You will fight against the Jews and you will kill them until even a stone would say: Come here, Muslim, there is a Jew (hiding himself behind me) ; kill him . . . .
Book 041, Number 6983:
Abdullah b. 'Umar reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: You and the Jews would fight against one another until a stone would say: Muslim, here is a Jew behind me; come and kill him.
Book 041, Number 6984:
Abdullah b. 'Umar reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: The Jews will fight against you and you will gain victory over them until the stone would say: Muslim, here is a Jew behind me; kill him.

Book 041, Number 6985:
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.

 Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran as well as all others who follow such folly or ignore the evidence of hateful motive implied, are playing with fire. END

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Capacity focus, 92: Some first thoughts on Project Management 101 in a context of development and sustainability concerns

I have for over twenty-five years been of the view that one of the best start-points for learning basic management (and linked leadership skills) is to study basic project management. 
(Cf. the section on Planning and Management p. 105 ff here . . . NB: there's a spot of web site rot to address on the html side. Later . . . )
Multiplying this by issues linked to sustainable development and challenges surfacing in an in-process government transition here in Montserrat, I think a few capacity focus notes are in order on project management basics. Just, as a marker.

First, a useful view on what a project is, is:
PROJECT:  a time-framed cluster of linked activities towards achieving a goal, 
. . . such as this longstanding simple example I used from all those years ago:
EXAMPLE PROJECT: To make a cup of tea.
We start at the end, "cup of tea made," and work back to the beginning by asking "What must be done before this stage (technically, 'event') is reached"?  This specifies the activities, events, and their logical order, which we represent in a network diagram:
                        END:   Cup of tea made
                        1.         Fetch cup, saucer, tea, colander
                        2.         Boil water
                        3.         Fetch milk, spoon, sugar
                        4.         Put tea in colander
                        5.         Pour boiling water through tea into [cup]
                        6.         Remove colander and spent tea
                        7.         Add sugar and milk to taste and stir
                        8.         Clean up
In the network diagram, Activities are represented by numbered arrows and the resulting Events by circles.  The key rule is that an Event cannot occur until all activities which flow out of it can start, that is, all Activities pointing into it have been completed.  For instance, we cannot add sugar and milk to our cup of tea until the colander is out of the way, but we can fetch the milk and sugar at any time before we stir them into the tea.




Of course, one could go into elaborate discussions on network diagrams or linked Gantt charts, MS Project and similar software etc and resource allocation debates, budgeting and more, but that would rapidly go on to technical project management, suited to a major construction exercise or developing a software application. Whilst, just as ordinary people find Carpenter's tools very useful to do basic things, just so, a preliminary exposure to project management principles and concepts as well as linked skills and contexts will be helpful for us all.

So far, we have been looking at project planning, which is of course a basic example of planning

For which, let us borrow another diagram from the same linked primer:



The key idea here, is that planning and implementing are linked activities, pointed towards a definite goal, with deliverable results. But, as it is hard to keep on track, the management task includes monitoring and adjusting on the fly. This leads to moving along a progressive spiral path: analyse, plan, implement, monitor- evaluate- control; repeat until satisfied or until it is objectively clear that one ought not to further commit oneself to failure and has a better alternative.  

Much as, courtesy Wiki, we can see how a sail-boat heading upwind has to tack from one side to another in a zig-zag fashion in order to "beat to windward":


Sometimes, the challenges are so powerful that one has to re-visit one's analysis of the context and the SWOT picture . . . a good plan builds on strengths, to exploit opportunities, counter threats, and compensate for or correct weaknesses. (Indeed, just above a key challenge for a sail-boat is that it cannot generally sail straight upwind. So, by sliding off to one side then the other in the zig-zag we see, it can generally make upwind progress. But a steady knowing eye needs to be had on what is going on and how trends are developing, or such a boat can get into a lot of trouble fast. Especially in a race.)

So, by understanding and adapting to the situation, trends and shocks, we are able to make progress.

Generally, gradually.

That requires planning and executing a strategy, 
STRATEGY: a planned or emergent pattern of effort, activities and resource deployment to achieve goals in a situation
. . . which requires a focus on the objectives that indicate achievement of the goals [what you want], the "strategy" pattern of effort and activities [how to get there], and required resource inputs [what it takes . . . logistics].

In turn, this brings up the classic "Iron Triangle" of project management tradeoffs (here with a software development example, HT Scott Ambler):



What we want is, fast delivery of a cheap project with all the bells and whistles that so warm the cockles of our hearts. In reality, you cannot get all three maxed out, and must make trade-off compromises and sacrifices. Where, quality denotes fitness for purpose or function, and enduring satisfaction with benefits delivered, based on the right balance being struck.

Even, this blog post is a case in point. 

There's only so much time and effort that can be put in, to meet available time constraints and deliver a quality post: responsibly adequate on a big topic but not boring and overly long.

While I am at it, let me add a glance at one of my favourite planning tools, the logical framework or Log Frame . . . as I have adapted it for the needs of project implementers working with the project cycle:



[U/D Oct 4th] We may expand the project narrative logic into a planning model:




Another is the overview level Gantt chart, here adapted to look at a "stoplight" LED view of achieved vs planned:


The matrix based project team structure is a useful context for thinking about organising projects under a programme of action organisation home, too:




 
 While we are at it, there's the issue of people and performance, bringing up the situational leadership model of Hersey and Blanchard:



There is never a cut and dry one size fits all solution to leading and managing to achieve results while preserving enough harmony and teamwork to get the magical result that the whole is greater than the mere sum of the parts. 

Where also, groups classically go through challenges in a cycle of forming, storming, agreeing (norm-ing), working (and networking), and adjourning. Building a workable plan that there is enough support for to move the boat forward upwind is a problem, and more than one captain . . . leader . . .  has found him-/her- self demoted -- or even thrown overboard.

A tough, often thankless job.

By now, it should be clear how a basic look at and exercise in project management soon enough becomes a key start-point for growing in capacity to analyse situations, come up with strategies and plans, then put them to work successfully while working with, inspiring and mobilising people . . . leadership.

Where, of course, projects come in a cycle that can be looked at in terms of phased activities (and of course, linked paperwork it is not wise to rush over) -- here, courtesy the Gov't of Tasmania:


Closing the loop and highlighting project governance documentation and decisions:




For a first level quick look, I would suggest this slideshare slide show:



Then, for a bit more, this more elaborate one:



And, I think the Government of Tasmania has done us all a world of good by publishing this very useful project management primer. (And don't overlook the EU on managing the project cycle, here. Project cycle management is the strategic management, corporate or community governance look at projects and the programmes of action that sponsor and "cover" them. More on that, later.)

Where, all of this needs to be set in the context of sustainable development, SD for short:
SD: we must strive to better, more fairly meet our needs today – development, without undermining the ability of our children to meet their needs tomorrow – sustainability. (So, in our development efforts, we have to carefully husband our natural, socio-cultural and economic surroundings and resources – environment, in light of correctly understanding how development interacts with our surroundings.)
Readers in and around Montserrat should note that the UK International Development Act, 2002, that establishes the legal framework for DfID, our principal aid and development partner, in Sections 1 - 3, specifically defines development aid in terms of sustainability. 

This means that we must learn, understand deeply and make this ethics of development concept and axiom a key part of all our thinking and planning for development, which is already a good idea in its own right.

If you doubt its value and validity, consider that from the McGregor Royal Society Report was published in 1938 based on five years of volcano grumbling, Montserrat's development efforts should have been systematically redeployed away from putting all our eggs in the Plymouth basket. Then, after hurricane Hugo hit Sept 17, 1989, where the Wadge-Isaacs 1986 - 9 hazard studies were in hand,  that was even more vital. But, such were ignored, and we continued with development on a business as usual track that set us up for the disaster we are still trying to begin to recover from:



(That's the top of what IIRC is a 40+ ft church spire, since buried.)

Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to relive it.

SD and linked issues are central to understanding context, trends and risks, thus to sound leadership and planning. Of which project planning is such a key part.

As my Mom was so fond of saying: a word to the wise.

Okie, preliminary quick and dirty thoughts. 

DV, I will be working with partners on a workshop based course. 

Developing. END

PS: A survey video in light of the PMP PMBOK approach: