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Showing posts from December, 2008

Beam Me Up Scotty

Today was the day; one of those rare days when Dunedin is the most beautiful city on the planet: green hills; the harbour like glass; deep blue sky with the sun perpetually low so it always feels like 9:00 am; crisp and warm and still and clear all at the same time. Then, the same carpark,the same waiting room with the same magazines, the same gown, the same shorts that fall down unless you hold them up with one hand. A different machine this time though. This one was spectacularly high tech. I was shown down a corridor and into rooms with no windows. One room had a curved desk and banks of monitors: big, flat screen, sharp looking monitors, two displaying a movie of the bench where I would soon be lying, one with a very high definition x ray photo of a pelvis, maybe mine, and another couple with columns of incomprehensible but important looking gobbledegook. Then, just down the hallway was the room with the bench itself and a machine that looked like it meant business. It was cov

Xmas and Christmas

I am indebted to  This Fine Blog  for the following “Xmas and Christmas: A Lost Chapter from Herodotus,” by C.S. Lewis And beyond this there lies in the ocean, turned towards the west and north, the island of Niatirb which Hecataeus indeed declares to be the same size and shape as Sicily, but it is larger, though in calling it triangular a man would not miss the mark. It is densely inhabited by men who wear clothes not very different from the other barbarians who occupy the north western parts of Europe though they do not agree with them in language. These islanders, surpassing all the men of whom we know in patience and endurance, use the following customs. In the middle of winter when fogs and rains most abound they have a great festival which they call   Exmas   and for fifty days they prepare for it in the fashion I shall describe. First of all, every citizen is obliged to send to each of his friends and relations a square piece of hard paper stamped with a picture, which in t

Deck The Halls

Copyright unknown It's nearly Christmas. Time for clergy persons everywhere to whine, bitch and moan about the unceasing commercialisation of Christmas. Well, what do we expect? We hijack the Saturnalia and complain when the old pagan festival brushes off its Christian veneer and reverts to form? Get over it. However, being a clergyman and being rather partial to the odd spot of whining bitching and moaning, there is one thing I'd like to wb&m about. The holiday season offers, yet again, an insight into what I call the Social Credit syndrome. For the information of those of you unfortunate enough not be New Zealanders, and to remind those of you who really should remember your political history a little better (see, I'm in a hectoring mood) the Social Credit Political League was a political party that flourished in our fair country from the 1930s to about the 1990s. And by flourished I mean sputtered along, fueled by the enthusiasm of those who accepted its somewhat p

Take A Seat

I have been practising meditation on and off, mostly off, for a long time now. It's got a bit more serious of late. When I talk about meditation on this blog, I am not pretending to teach. I'm sharing where I'm up to, that's all. Let me repeat that: this, or anything else on here should not be construed as instruction. If you want to learn to meditate, find a teacher, a real live one, who will talk to you. Join a group. At the very least get a reliable book and/or CD in which someone will guide you through the basics in real time. I'm not some self styled new age guru with a 3 day meditation course behind him who is going to charge a bucket full of dosh for some half baked information. Mind you, if you do find my half baked info useful, the buckets of dosh can be delivered to me personally, bank transfer or cash preferred but all major credit cards accepted Instructions to meditate usually begin with the simple invitation: Take your seat. It sounds innocuous eno

Practice Makes Perfect

Let me explain my previous post . I wrote that little story some time ago as a piece of practice writing. Before writing, I set myself some parameters. The piece must: *be exactly 1000 words long; *Contain a discovery that leads to conflict; *Mention 7 objects that all start with 'S' - sleeping bag, soap, sack, satin ribbon, stove, saucepan and soup; *Have a question in every piece of dialogue; *Mention every colour of the rainbow plus black and white, once and only once. This story did not aim to be a great piece of literature; it did not even try to be a particularly good story. It was an exercise, which aimed to make me more aware of my own writing: to help me to be more controlled and precise in my use of words, more inventive with my vocabulary, more aware of structure and the limitations structure must impose on writing. As an exercise, it worked; it worked because other, more serious pieces I wrote after the exercise were much more soundly constructed. This exercise was

A Broken Rib

A silence as deep and thick and dense as the blanketing snow settled on the tent. The storm was gone now and with it, most of their hope. They had struggled on for a mile or two in the wind, unable to see as the snow wrapped round them, like kelp around stricken divers, until, with no chance of making the supply depot, they had pitched the tent in the white darkness and struggled inside it. The wind had picked up the sled and slammed it into Myers as he crawled through the tiny door, knocking him sideways and breaking a rib with a snap, which sounded above the howl of the storm. All through the night the wind beat and shook the straining canvas, surrounding them in noise that subsided gradually until the indigo stillness told them that they, their tent, sled and all the supplies were feet deep in the silent snow. In their condition, the chances of finding anything under such a layer were negligible unless they could regain some measure of strength. “Did you manage to save any food?” as

Into The Shining Ocean

I'm sitting here enjoying a delicious glass of bok choi juice and this sentence contains two absolute lies. Or at least, one absolute lie and one debatable opinion. I'm sure you can figure which is which. In a comment to a post a couple of weeks back, Alden asked me for my opinion on an opinion of John Hick's. To wit, and why anybody in the 21st century except an owl would use the term to wit is beyond me, there is a constantly recurring description in the mystical writings of all the great faiths that the mystical experience is of oneness with God (or Brahman, or the Buddha mind, or Atman or The One or whatever....). The experience is that of a drop of water sliding into the vast ocean and being one with the ocean. John Hick's opinion is that this is a metaphor for an experience beyond words, and is not absolutely true. After all, the mystic is now sitting at a desk somewhere, quill in holy hand, remembering and writing about the memory. Individual identity has obvi

It's Not About The Bike

Sooner or later everyone with cancer gets this book recommended to them. My daughter Bridget gave me a copy and last week I read it. It's an easy read, and for this sort of thing (ghost written sportsman type book) it's surprisingly well written. Take a bow Sally Jenkins. Lance Armstrong is a remarkable human being. In 1996, while he was world cycling champion he was diagnosed with a particularly nasty cancer. He had testicular cancer -a complaint usually found only in young men - which had metastasized to his lungs and brain. Men with this diagnosis seldom live. He went through a most horrific regime of chemotherapy which laid his body to waste and devastated him emotionally and spiritually. He recovered. In 1999 he won the Tour De France, generally regarded as the world's most grueling sporting event. He won it again every year until 2005 marking him as one of the world's greatest sportsmen in any discipline, ever. The book is an inspiring read all right. If he can r

The Visitor

This powerful little film begins with a widowed university lecturer, Walter Vale,living in Connecticut and sleepwalking through his safe and comfortable life. The lights have gone out for him: he takes no risks, he is alone and seemingly half asleep. He wears a tie and clutches an anaesthetising glass of red wine He recycles old lecture notes, is not engaged with students and makes half hearted attempts at learning the piano in an effort to hold onto something of his deceased pianist wife. Reluctantly he goes to New York to present a paper and finds that unbeknown to him, his fusty Manhattan apartment has been illegally rented to Tarek, a Syrian drummer and his Senegalese girlfriend Zainab. In a moment of uncharacteristic compassion Walter allows the couple to stay for a few days and his life is never the same again. Of course it is all a little predictable, or it could have been had not the direction and writing (both by Thomas McCarthy) been so beautifully crafted.Walter is capti

Just looking

The good thing about going to Hospital outpatients is that you get a parking permit for the hospital carpark. It saves $2! Woohoo! Who would NOT have cancer when you can get deals like that? I got my $2 worth yesterday. I was there at 8:00 am bright eyed and bushy tailed, well maybe bushy is not the word. There's details about bowel preparation I will spare you. I changed into one of those hospital gowns that someone has spent an entire post graduate design degree on getting to look as unflattering and to fasten as puzzlingly as possible. Then, with my human clothes in a plastic bag, I went into the waiting room. A waiting room is a waiting room is a waiting room. They all have a look about them: neat rows of chairs bought from a catalogue; cheery posters on the walls advising you in 3 languages to get a mole map done; and magazines. Piles of magazines. I read the only two copies of Classic Car in the heap and then reflected that there were 33 more visits to go and only Women&#