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Showing posts from October, 2008

Moeraki Boulders

On Koekohe Beach, just north of the small hamlet of Moeraki, there are a few dozen large, perfectly spherical boulders scattered along the tide line: the Moeraki Boulders . Tourists on the road between Christchurch and Dunedin stop for a while to stand around and on them and to take photographs. I drove up there today and took a few snaps myself. The boulders are unusual but not unique. There are several other sites in New Zealand where similar rocks occur, and, so I have read, they are found in other parts of the world. They are not always found at the seaside, and Moeraki boulders are sometimes unearthed   several kilometres inland. They have been fairly extensively examined and the process by which they were formed is no great mystery, although their uniformity and large size has meant that over the years legends have accreted around them, in much the same way that calcium and carbonates accreted around some core to form the boulders themselves, millions of years ago. One of

So What Are You Reading?

Last time I posted, I said Middlemarch is the greatest English novel of the Victorian era. Katherine replied, and said on the strength of that recommendation she'd gone and bought it. Wow! Power! Who'd have thought it? It's an anxiety making thing, being taken notice of like that. Well, it's a great book, and if she's the sort of person who can settle into the century old language, and can handle big ideas cropping up on every second page, she'll absolutely love it.  It's big, rich, intelligent; a work filled with great characters and an intriguing plot. But, even so,  what a thing to say - the greatest novel. In whose opinion, exactly? Mine that's all. Oh yes, and the guy who wrote the lead review at . And a few others. Read on Katherine, I'd love to know what you think. Novels are a form of entertainment but they are so much more than that. Novels and films are the two principal ways in which our society deals with ideas. Philosophers a

Daniel Deronda

Image (c) BBC 2002 Over the last couple of days I have watched the 2002 BBC adaptation of George Eliot's Daniel Deronda . I've always admired George Eliot, and always regarded  Middlemarch as probably the greatest English novel of the Victorian era. I've read others of her works from time to time but never Daniel Deronda . In fact I had hardly heard of it. So finding this DVD was a little like a Shakespeare afficionado never being familiar with  Hamlet,  before stumbling onto it via a TV adaptation. Shame on me.  The principal female character, Gwendolyn is very reminiscent of   Middlemarch 's Rosamond. Some of the themes of the book also echo those of Middlemarch : Spirtual wealth vs material wealth; the nature of love; great love thwarted by circumstance and the machinations of others; class; and, pre-eminently, the ability of women to live lives uncontolled by men. Daniel Deronda includes also, as a major theme, the relationship of Jews and Gentiles and it's no

Body Mind and Spirit

Brian Broom is a medical specialist in allergies and a consulting psychologist. His book Meaning-full Disease describes a phenomenon he has seen countless times in his professional life: that people's diseases often seem to follow a pattern and history that mirrors what is happening in their lives. Illness often seems to be a bodily metaphor for the underlying issues the person is dealing with. The book is filled with intriguing examples, such as a woman "putting a brave face" on her husband's depression (her words) developing a chronic rash on her face. The model of disease underlying Western medicine has no time for this approach. Broom describes the Western medical paradigm as "the body is a biological machine. Body and mind are separate entities...and it is appropriate to deliver healthcare by focusing solely on the body. 'Real' disease will be adequately and completely explained by physical mechanisms; thus, mind, soul or spirit aspects are periphe

In The Midst Of Life We Are In Death

This has been a long and busy week, dominated by death: three deaths in particular. On Wednesday I conducted the funeral of Diane Campbell-Hunt. Diane was about two weeks younger than me; a still, secure, beautiful woman who was a musician and singer and mother and academic and wife and friend. Look up the word Greenie in the dictionary and there is a photo of Diane. She was passionate about the planet and the life that grows on it in all its forms. She was also passionate about people: about her husband Colin and their melded family of six extraordinary children; about her many friendships; about people who are oppressed and disadvantaged. Ten days ago, she was tramping on Mt. Taranaki with her daughter Katherine. A vastly experienced and sensible mountaineer, she was swept away by a swollen river in one of those absolute accidents to which no blame could ever be set and for which no explanation could ever be given. The shock of her death was, to me, an almost physical blow; she was

Tino Rangatiratanga

I was at the Titoki healing centre recently to provide input for a retreat held for the clergy of Te Hui Amorangi O Te Tairawhiti. This is the Maori diocese which covers the East Cape area, and the tribes of Ngati Kuhungunu, Turanga-nui-a-kiwa and Ngati Porou. The New Zealand Anglican Church has been divided, since 1992, into three parallel divisions, called Tikanga: Maori, Pakeha and Pasifika. This arrangement is in keeping with the founding document of New Zealand, The Treaty of Waitangi, and is an attempt to provide equal partnership for the three cultural streams which make up our church. The congress between the three tikanga is patchy at best. We meet together in our national synods and committees but at a congregational level, churches are generally fairly independent of each other. So, although I have been guest speaker and led workshops and retreats and ministry schools all over New Zealand, and although I havebeen present at many Maori events, this was the first time I had


Titoki healing centre, where I spent the last few days, is set in farmland just out of Whakatane. Titoki began in the mid 1970's when Don Ferguson, the Vicar of St. George's, in Tauranga left his parish to set up a healing centre. Don had been interested in the healing ministry after a dramatic answer to a healing prayer early in his priesthood. Later, a time in the Solomon Islands convinced him of the link between physical health and mental and spiritual states. He regularly held healing services and sought to deepen his understanding and expertise in this role. Gradually, he became convinced that he needed to set up a healing centre similar to Burrswood in England. In 1975 he found a suitable property, and taking an immense leap of faith, abandoned his regular stipend to found Titoki. Thirty years later the centre is flourishing. The original farm house has been added to over time, so that now, accomodation wings sprout out of most of its sides and modest houses for staff n

Christian Healing?

Today I got to the point in Ian Gawler's book where I am on quite familiar territory: the bit where he explains his theology of healing. It's a theory I know well in various guises, a theory that crops up time and again in various Eastern and/or esoteric philosophies. He says that we have seven bodies, only one of which, the physical body, is accessible to the senses. The other six - the emotional, intellectual, intuitional, spiritual and astral bodies - are of varying degrees of subtlety and while some people can "see" some of them they are invisible to most of us. Illness happens when the energies of two or more of the bodies are conflicted and healing occurs when coherence is restored between them. I'm not sure what I believe about this theory: I'm probably too steeped in my Western world view to embrace it fully but it's  disconcerting  that some practices based on this idea, such as acupuncture,  seem to have real, measurable effectiveness, as does Ia


Alden and I were sitting talking a couple of nights ago, thinking that at some time in the forseeable future, we and our respective spouses might like to take a memorable trip. Perhaps a canal boat in France? Maybe bicycle down the valley of the Rhine from Andermatt in Switzerland to Rotterdam? How about motorcycles across the Nullarbor? Alden, being a nautical type, is keen on something involving flimsy craft floating on large bodies of water. He was telling me about the trip from Vancouver Island northwards which can be made in kayaks, and that it is possible to get collapsible kayaks that can easily go into the boot of a car. As he spoke, I was absent mindedly tapping on my PDA, downloading my email. As the words "collapsible kayaks" were coming out of his mouth, an email arrived from my friend Murray Broom whose business is making collapsible kayaks. Murray doesn't email me often; perhaps 3 or 4 times a year. I won't take this as a confirming sign from God on the

A Bit of a Breather

The Jetty, Carey's Bay I heard back from my surgeon yesterday, or at least from the young woman who works for him. He doesn't want to see me until November, which is a pleasant change from the "please come first thing tomorrow morning, and bring your wife" routine which had become a bit of a stuck record over this past few months. I guess it means that whatever he's found down there is not going to cause my imminent demise, and we can all have a bit of a breather. That's OK by me.I've been reading a book by Ian Gawler with a very self helpy type of title You Can Conquer Cancer . Ian Gawler managed to beat a very nefarious type of bone cancer through diet and meditation, so, much as Betty Edwards deserves a hearing purely on the basis of results, so does Ian Gawler. I read his psychological profile of the typical cancer patient which described me with such accuracy that I cringed at every word. The course of action described in the book seems rigorous at

Tony's Story

I found the following two clips quite moving when my friend Carl shared them with me. They are taken from the BBC series The Monastery , in which five men volunteer to live with the Carthusians in Worth Abbey: a sort of spiritual reality series. The first clip records the moment when one of the men, Tony, has a life changing encounter with the Infinite One. The second clip records some of his reflections, a few hours later. Tony's story is recorded here . What moved me was firstly the portrayal of God at work; of Tony responding to a call that came from goodness knows where to be at Worth Abbey and led him to Brother Francis. Secondly, I was moved by Brother Francis and his prayerful patient ministry. He seemed to embody all that I hope for and aspire to in priesthood. To forsake the glittering prizes our Church organisation has on offer and to spend oneself in pursuit of the Kingdom; to fearlessly venture with another into the depths of their soul. Here is what I mean by the Hero