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Showing posts from September, 2008


I've made a start on the drawing. For a long time the pad and pencils sat on my desk, eyeing me accusingly. I wanted to do it, but it was one more thing to take up the precious hours in the day. One more ancient fear to face. It was a sort of deadlock, broken by the arrival of the text book that Audrey had recommended, Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain . One of the first things to do, said the book, was to draw a few pictures as a reference point, to see how far you progress from this point onwards as you go on with the lessons. In the book were some examples of the self portraits people had done at the start of the five day courses tutored by the author, Betty Edwards, along with the ones they had done at the end. Such as these ones: I thought that if she could teach someone to make that sort of progress in 5 days, she was probably worth listening to. And so far, so good. I've done the before self portrait (the answer is NO) and a few other little bits and pieces, and lea


What Browsers are people using? Just curious. I've been using Firefox, and have IE and Safari sitting unused on my computer.In the last couple of days have been trying out Chrome . So far I really like it: simple, clear, stable, easy to use and quite fast. It has a couple of ways of navigating which are quite novel and very helpful.  What do you think?

The Hero's Quest

Picture: Parsifal The High Mysterious Call by Willy Pogani, early 20th C Hungarian illustrator According to separation theory, the developmental task for men and women is very different. All of us begin inside the body of another human being. All are born utterly dependent on that other and unable to distinguish between our own being and hers. To become a self we must learn, first of all, to separate our own identity from that of our mother. We then gradually grow into our own self through the lifetime process Jung calls individuation. As we move through childhood to adulthood we follow different paths. A little girl attains womanhood by becoming a being that is progressively more and more like her mother. A little boy attains manhood by becoming a being that is progressively less and less like his mother. Here is the Genesis of the differing spiritual paths of men and women: for women, the path is towards unity, inclusiveness, forging community. For men it is towards individuality,


I had a CT scan today. I had to be up early to drink dye (two delicious cupfuls) and report to the hospital at 8:30. I was asked to change into one of those gowns that do up at the back, and which are branded Property of Otago District Health Board against the truly absurd possibility that someone will want to nick one. A shunt was put into my arm. I'm good at shunts. I've had a few of them lately so I was able to comment positively on the nurse's technique as she poked it in and flushed it with salty water. This one was for more dye, which was pumped in by a mechanical injector, just like the one they used in Dead Man Walking - made me feel quite the movie star. Then I was passed through a large circular machine which spoke to me in an elevator voice, telling me when to hold my breath and when to breathe out (I was going to write "expire" , but thought it in bad taste, even if it was witty and opened up a whole gamut of dark cancer type humour. See how gentle I

An Oldie But a Goodie

The main speaker at our Diocesan Ministry Conference was Alistair Hendry . Alistair was at St. John's College with me, and after a time as parish priest and counselor is now the Ministry Advisor in the Diocese of Christchurch. As is usual for these events, what Alistair had to say perfectly complemented what I had to say, though neither of us knew the content of the other's addresses until we sat in the audience and heard it. We both, in our own ways, spoke of the message of Jesus as an invitation to a particular kind of life and of ministry as an invitation to others to live that life. Alistair was fairly scathing of the lets count bums on pews school of evangelism, and mentioned his own striving for visible success as a young parish priest and the effect that this had had on his mental, emotional and spiritual health. It was good stuff, but one thing he said hit me like the bang of the sharp corner of a cupboard door on my head in the morning, knocking me awake. He spoke of

The Way

This last week has been spent at our diocesan ministry conference. I have been leading daily Bible studies, about an hour and a half a day of riding my hobby horses through the lecture theatre in front of a captive audience. Poor sods. It's been helpful to me, though. CS Lewis said " Any fool can speak learned language. It's the vernacular that is the real test. If you can't put your faith into it, then either you don't understand it or you don't believe it. " It's certainly true for me. Until I can explain something to someone else in plain simple language, I don't feel I have fully grasped it. So, in as simple language as I can find, I have tried to explain that Jesus' central message is about the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom isn't a place or a state of mind. It's not a set of doctrines. It's not an organisation or any other kind of thing. The Kingdom is something you do. It is a particular way of orienting yourself - it is a way

Gathered In Confidence: Review

Gathered in Confidence is a documentary Drama produced as an Advanced Production Project by level 400 drama students at The University Of Otago's Theatre Studies Department. The play ends it's too short run today, so few of you will be able to see it, which is a shame, as it is one of the most compelling pieces of drama I've seen in a long while. The production of the piece was complex. Twenty two Dunedin people, representing a wide mix of age, gender, ethnicity and social background were videotaped as they answered the questions, What frightens you? and What comforts you? The people were interviewed in their home or work environments or in some other congenial location. The resulting 22 hours of footage was then edited into a 50 minute script which the actors performed using, as far as they could reproduce them, the words, intonation and body language of the original subjects. Staging was minimal: a layered set was used, with seats placed on differing levels and the actors

Hide and Seek

I saw my surgeon again this morning. Last time I saw him he arranged to meet me in November to check my progress, but about ten days ago I had a blood test and a week ago his secretary rang to suggest we might need to move the appointment forward. So there were no great surprises about what he had to tell me. There is still some cancer down there somewhere, skulking about in my nether regions playing a winner takes all version of hide 'n' seek. I'll have a CT scan sometime in the next week to see if they can rumble where the little blighter is holing up, and depending on what they find, there'll be more treatment. None of it is likely to hurt much, but every available option will have side effects that I'd really rather avoid; and at least some of it is going to happen, sooner or later, probably sooner. My reading for this morning included psalm 57: Take pity on me, God, take pity for in you I take refuge... I went to St. Clair and had a soy latte ( the best of b


I bought some stuff at the Warehouse Stationery the other day, which I have been meaning to buy for a while. About 40 years. I bought a block of drawing paper, some pencils and a rubber. When I was very small I drew a lot. I covered the backs and blank pages of exercise books and those little newsprint jotter pads with all the stuff little boys draw, which usually involved fighter planes with circles on them shooting down other fighter planes with crosses on them. It wasn't exactly the early Leonardo, but my teacher in Standard 4 told my mother that my future lay in art. Well it didn't, obviously. In fact with the encouragement of my art teacher,I gave up the drawing in High School, and haven't done any since, except for cartoon illustrations in letters to girls - which obviously worked because one of them married me. There's always been a niggling sense of loss though, in the place where paper and pencil used to be. In my twenties I even joined an art class but the

Making God in Our Own Image...

( click on the cartoon to enlarge it if your eyes are feeling a bit middle aged today)

Telling Stories

The stories we find compelling reveal something to us of the tensions in our lives. Perhaps even more revealing are the stories we ourselves tell. Think of the incidents that happen to us in the course of an ordinary day - there will be dozens and dozens of them. Most of these will pass into oblivion but some we will pass on to others in the form of the stories we tell when asked "how was your day?" We won't tell everything that happened to us, but a carefully selected sample. Why these few? And the incidents we choose to tell are never reported exactly as they happened: we select details, emphasising some parts and ignoring others. We minimise, or even omit entirely some of the characters present and play up others. We expand the timescale in parts of the story and contract it in others. Think for example of what is meant in the middle of a story by the phrase, "and then..." (or such similar phrases as "what happened next" or "next thing I knew&

It's Only A Story

Still from movie Thick Red Wine (c) 2006 Jack&Sons productions, Dunedin, New Zealand I can lay down the law to people, instruct them in things, coax teach and inform them, and the odds are they will have forgotten it all before the sun goes down. If I tell them a story they will remember it for weeks, months or maybe even a lifetime. Give them a list of propositions and their eyes glaze over. Tell them a story and their bodies go still and their faces light up. We respond to stories because our lives are narrative in nature: they have a beginning, move through a "plot" towards an ending. All reality in fact, can be thought of as narrative in structure; the history of anything is a story with a beginning a middle and and end, so a story is a familiar way for us to view the world; but there's more to it than that. The reasons for the compelling nature of narrative are many but centre on the way stories are structured. There are a number of things all stories have in co