Monday, 11 October 2010


The past week or two have been so full that many things have gone undone, such as writing on here, for instance. The issues, both personal and diocesan, are not ones I can write about. Suffice it to say that they have been demanding, draining and time consuming. I am not complaining: this is what I knowingly let myself in for when I accepted nomination all those months ago and the busyness has been an occasion for learning and growth and has thus been oddly invigorating. There have been times though when I have needed an escape of sorts, so along with the full timetable that comes as an inescapable accessory to the pointy hat, I have been frantically reading and watching the occasional video.

There's a distinction I have sometimes used in sermons, between amusement and entertainment. I have taught that the word amuse consists of a negative prefix (a-) attached to the word muse meaning to inspire. Amusement is thus the negation of thinking, and it is contrasted with entertainment which is the adoption, consideration and enjoyment of ideas, aesthetic experiences or whatever. Just as we entertain a guest, the ejoyed thing is invited in, a relationship is built and we consider how far the entertained one will be a part of our future life. Entertainment invites growth. Amusement invites temporary anaesthesia.  It's a useful distinction. So useful in fact that even now, when I have learned after the fact that this little piece of entymology is actually inaccurate, I have decided to retain it's valuable services nonetheless. I don't have a lot of time for amusement as I have previously and erroneously defined it. For me, reading blockbuster novels or films without anything to think about or be moved by is inexpressibly tedious. Watching a sporting match is fine as long as there is a sense of narrative - as for example in a cricket test match- but sports which are purely spectacle, such as competitive ballroom dancing, just don't do it for me, I'm afraid, skillful though they may well be. Contrary to my usual inclinations, I haven't been able to garner the slightest interest in the Commonwealth Games this time around, maybe because of lack of time, maybe because I can't see the venues without thinking about the folks whose homes were bulldozed to improve the view from them.

So, lately I been entertained in a feeling response tear jerking sort of way by Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side and in a stay awake thinking about the implications sort of way by the docudrama Bloodlines. Mostly, I have been entertained by a biography of JRR Tolkien and The Beauty of the Infinite by David Bentley Hart. I've found the odd spot of gardening and home improvement quite entertaining. But as far as amusement - switching off the brain completely in order to escape into some reality completely unconnected from this one- goes, the only thing that has happened this week has been Paul Henry. He's certainly been fairly amusing.

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Friday, 1 October 2010

Decently and in Order

My study is built, the books are on the shelves in more or less their permanent positions and there is a desk which will do in the meantime. Just through the wall is a corner of the garage which will serve as my workshop, and those familiar with our garage at Highgate will be astounded by its tidiness: there are little spring clips on the walls to hold all the tools; there are little jars and colour coded plastic trays full of bolts and screws and thingumejigs; there is a lamp and a vice which is actually screwed down to the bench. This temporary attack of anal retentiveness is unusual in someone and by someone I mean me, with the Myers Briggs personality type INFP, for whom, normally, the mere mention of the words "sub clause" or "scheduled" is enough to bring on an attack of hives.

Partly, this orderliness is the result of having a smaller house than we used to and having to make best use of the space available. Partly it is because at my age the natural progression described by the MBTI means that my tertiary and inferior functions - borderline sensing and extroverted thinking- are coming out of their 50 year long apprenticeship and are starting to throw their weight around. Partly it is because even I now realize that tidiness is actually the easiest and least demanding way of doing things, and that some semblance of organisation is needed to move the big picture imaginings, which are my stock in trade, from lala land into the world of being. Or at least into my garage.

Which is why I spent some of this week in a room with colored stick it notes and highlighters and very large sheets of paper. Benjamin Brock Smith had come up with an ingenious system for scheduling our Diocesan plan and we spent a few happy hours sticking things on and coloring bits in. Now, attached to the wall of the Diocesan board room is an enormous diary, outlining the way we will implement our vision over the next five years. It is a work in progress, and in fact has only had the barest preliminary outlines put on it yet. I hope that people, after they have cadged a cup of coffee from Barbara, will feel free to wander up the stairs and have a look at it, and make any suggested comments or alterations to me or Alec, or Benjamin or Helen Wilderspin or Bronwyn, who will all have a hand in shaping it. Seeing the plan begin to be set down on paper in doable chunks encourages me to hope that we are going to do more than that thing the church usually restricts itself to: circulating bits of colored A4 paper.

The energy for the changes we are embarking on will come from the enthusiasm of the people of our Diocese; energy such as that in the room when I met the combined vestries of Gore and Waimea Plains just yesterday. We were talking of how we could cooperate across that part of Southland and work together for the Kingdom. The enthusiasm was so palpable you could have cut it up and sold it by the yard. Perhaps someone reading this might fancy a 1-2 year job ringing in the changes in that busy little corner of Middle Earth or perhaps, later, the longer job of acting as the regional leader. There are plans afoot. We have it down on paper and the dates and names are steadily being filled in. It's very exciting, intuition, feeling and perceiving notwithstanding.

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