Skip to main content


Return to Middle Earth

 We had a flood, a couple of weeks back, and had to move all the stuff out of the spare bedroom, including  the contents of two floor to ceiling book cases. Shoving the long unopened copies of Sartor Resartus and An Introduction to Byron into cartons, I came upon my  copy of The Lord of the Rings . Written in the flyleaf are the dates of its many readings, the last one being when I read it aloud to Catherine, when she was about 10 or 11, well over 20 years ago. The journey across Middle Earth took Catherine and me the best part of a year, except for the evening when we followed Frodo and Sam across the last stretches of Mordor and up Mount Doom, when we simply couldn't stop, and sat up reading until 11.00 pm, on a school night.  My old copy is a paperback, the same edition that every card carrying baby boomer has somewhere on their shelves. The glue has dried and hardened. The cover and many of the pages have come loose. I was overcome with the urge to read it again, but this old
Recent posts

The Two Sons

A recreation of my talk to 3 in 1, Sunday 16 July 2023  Let's draw together a few loose threads from the last few sessions. Some weeks ago I used the metaphor of fish not being aware of the water in which they lived and to which they owed their very being.  Last week we looked at the passage in Exodus where Moses encounters a presence which identifies itself as "I Am", or, in other words,  as being itself. It seems, from this passage,  that the "water" in which we swim isn't just some inert substance, but has all the properties of a self: it is conscious, has a sovereign will, and has purposes. Moses encounters reality, and reality is alive and conscious  in the same way that he himself is alive and conscious. In the course of the story, Moses is told to remove his sandals, which is an act symbolising his removal of all that stands between himself and reality; for none of us quite perceives reality, because of the self protective layer which we, every one of

Lose the sandals.

An address at 3 in 1, the Sunday evening contemplative group,  which meets from 5.30-7.00 pm at St Michael's Church, Dunedin.  9 July 2023. Tonight I want to talk about one of the most significant, beautiful and profound stories in the Bible: the story of Moses and the burning bush.  I'm sure most of you know it, having, like me, heard it a thousand times since we first came across it in childhood.  You know the preamble to it: how Joseph went to Egypt and rose from obscurity to become prime minister; of how he brought his whole family from Israel to Egypt to protect them from drought and how his family multiplied and filled the land; of how, after Pharoah's and Joseph's deaths, Joseph's people lost their favoured status and fell into bondage and oppression; of how the Egyptians feared this numerous bulk of foreigners in their midst and in an effort to contain them ordered the midwives to kill all Hebrew boys as soon as they were born.   Moses' story begins at t

How Did Jesus Pray?

This is an address to the 3 in 1 group, given by John Franklin on July 2, 2023 How did Jesus pray? The gospel sources preserve a memory that deeply impressed them. Jesus withdrew to pray. But we know that while he prayed the prayers of his people, he sought intimate solitude with his Father. His silent waiting on God was the well he drew from.   Jesus was born into a people who knew how to pray. They were not like others in the Empire who didn’t know which god to trust; they made altars to them all; to get a hearing, they tried to wear them out; they threatened, scorned them. But this way was not the way of Israel. Their day began and ended, with the Shema; ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, you mind.’ And it was followed by number of blessings, the Barochah    Some examples: ‘Cure us, O Lord our God, of all the wounds of our heart.    Remove sadness and tears from us.    Blessed are you who cure our wo

Seeing no thing

This is a recreation of my talk at the 3 in 1 gathering, in St Michael's church, Dunedin, last Sunday. I want to tell you a parable. The kingdom of heaven is like two young fish who are swimming along when they encounter an old fish. "Good morning boys," says the old fish, "isn't the water lovely today!" The two young fish swim on until the old fish is well out of earshot, then one turns to the other and asks, "what the heck is water?" I borrowed this parable from a speech by David Foster Wallace. He was using it for other purposes, but it fits nicely with the verse from John's Gospel I mentioned last week: No one has ever seen God. It is the only Son, himself God, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known. (John 1:1) No one has seen God, or heard, smelled, felt or tasted God either, for that matter, but that doesn't make God unreal, just as the fish's unawareness of the water in which they live, move and have their