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Showing posts from May, 2010

The Waiting Land

We drove south on Saturday to take part in the 125th anniversary of St. Saviour's Mataura. It's an easy drive down through Otago, across the Clutha at Balclutha, and then, at Clinton, taking the shortcut which wends through prosperous, green, well nurtured Southland farmland. After 40 km or so of gently rolling hills, relaxed bends, fat sheep and tight, evenly spaced hay bales there is a patch of broken roadway and the start of a collection of ragged houses. Mataura. It sits on a the banks of the river from which it draws its name: on one bank there is a massive freezing works, still functioning, and on the other, an even more massive paper mill, no longer functioning. The paper mill used to function very well indeed, producing about 25,000 tons of paper a year, and employing around 250 people. Before its mothballing in 2000 it was the largest recycler of paper in the country, but rising costs, the problems of effluent disposal and, most significantly, competition from cheape

In The Beginning Was The Word

(c) Jo Fielding 2010 It's now about three months since I was ordained Bishop. We've moved house and even though the new study hasn't been built yet we're quite comfortable. I've put over 13,000 km on the car, been on an aeroplane about once every couple of weeks or so, taken up my membership of the Dunedin Club, got the guys from the ICT Gateway into the office to cast their eyes over our computer system, and have become very used to the wonderful luxury of an efficient and pleasant PA. I've been in quite a few parishes, though I really wish it could have been quite a few more. I've nearly got used to the deference I receive from folks, both inside and outside the church, and today, for the first time, I think I began to understand what being a bishop is actually about. Most days I have a list of people who want to see me. Sometimes that means a latte in a secluded corner of some restaurant or other. Sometimes it means an hour in one of the surprisingly co

Available Light

Lately I have been taking a few photos on my iPhone . It's always in my pocket and its very easy to use when my real camera is bulky and/or unavailable, but there's more to it than that. I find myself using the iPhone by choice. It has quite a sharp lens, and the contrast is very good, and images are comparatively free of noise and distortion. But, the camera is small (2 megapixels) and has no flash and no control over aperture, shutter speed or focus. There is no zoom. It is, in short, very limited as an optical instrument. And that's precisely why it is interesting. Today I went to First Church. This historic Presbyterian landmark is not my favourite ecclesiastical building, but it is visually interesting, and to wander round it trying to capture its feel with a small unsophisticated camera was an intriguing challenge. Using the iPhone I find myself thinking about the pictures in a way I haven't done since I was using a Practika without an exposure meter and developi

The Horse Boy

I had a quiet day today, popped into the office, pruned a hedge, did all that kind of thing. After dinner Clemency and I watched a DVD which I found almost unbearably moving. It is a documentary called The Horse Boy which records the story of Rupert Isaacson and Kristin Neff and their 4 year old autistic son, Rowan. Rupert is a journalist with an interest in the bushmen of the Kalahari and their shamanic traditions, and Kristin teaches psychology. Rowan is incontinent, prone to daily 4 hour tantrums and the other trials to which severely autistic people are subject, but he has an uncanny rapport with horses. Hoping against hope for some help from shamanic healers, his parents decide to take him to the place where there is a strong shamanic tradition and a strong horse culture: amongst the reindeer herders of Mongolia. The film is the story of their journey. It traces a familiar inspirational arc for this sort of film, but does it with a good deal of sensitivity. It is a portrait

When Cultures Meet

I went to St. John's College in 1977, a few weeks after Clemency and I married. The college gave us an allowance, a minuscule flat in Abraham Place, and I settled in to study for an Otago BD . The other students mostly pursued an LTh , so I did my degree alone, with participation in the occasional lecture which happened to fit the Otago syllabus. I attended the communal worship and meals. I acted in the plays and played on the sports teams, drank the coffee, did my share of tidying the grounds and played a daily (at least) game of snooker. For the first time in my life I was happy. I learned the value of learning for it's own sake and I met some inspirational teachers and leaders. I made friends and have continued those friendships for the the 30 something years since. St. John's College was one of the high points of my life and consequently it is a place very dear to me. But I'm a part of this church and receive the same scuttlebutt as everyone else. I know that th


The Anglican church is full of extraordinary people. I sat with some of them today, and ate with others and and dined with still others of them in the evening. I could mention them by name but the inspirational ones probably wouldn't speak to me afterwards and neither would the ones who for one reason or another I left off the list, so you'll just have to take my word for it. But all around me in the General Synod are intelligent, reflective people; people who have had amazing encounters with God; people who have lived out interesting and complicated life stories and who now give of themselves in Anglican parishes and chaplaincies and offices and commissions from one end of the country to the other. So it might be a reasonable thing to expect that when these extraordinary people gather together to pray and to act, extraordinary things would happen, right? Yeah, right. Any organisation is more than the sum of its parts. All groupings, large and small, take on a sort of person


For a long time, I have used the role renegotiation model as a way of analysing relationships. This model acknowledges that all committed relationships - marriages, churches, tribes, families, clubs, whatever - have boundaries: there is a limited set of participants in the relationship and there are rules about who these participants are. If there are no boundaries then there is no relationship. People who participate in the relationship have expectations about how others in the relationship will behave and expectations about how they themselves will behave. In a sense, a relationship is an agreement -made formally or informally, consciously or unconsciously- about what these expectations are. Relationships break apart when expectations are not met, so it is important to know what the expectations are, and how breaches in expectations can be repaired. Now I'm telling you all this because much of today's 14 hours of General Synod was spent dealing with issues of membership The

Don't Die Like An Octopus

Today began with a synod opening service. Somehow I hadn't quite cottoned on to the fact that us bishops were expected to attend in drag, so I left my frock back at the hotel room. Lenore, the wife of Bishop Kito Pikaahu kindly ferried me back and forth between Holy Trinity and my hotel in a rather nice Ford SUV, and I managed to find a place in line and walk into the church on time, in a dignified fashion and decked out in the approved manner. Blake Ramage, the very young vicar of Holy Trinity led the service with panache and the right sort of charisma, but it was another young man who set up my day. The preacher was the Rev Don Tamihere and he preached on a Maori proverb, Kaua e mate wheke , me mate ururoa ( Don’t die like an octopus;Die like a hammerhead shark). The proverb means, approximately: don't give up. Take faith. Keep on going even if the odds look hopeless. It was one of the best sermons I have heard in a long while, and there is a good account of it her


I used to be a member of General Synod some years ago but not for long. The Church has to administer itself, and I was happy that somebody should spend a week every two years doing that, just so long as that somebody wasn't me. But now I have been admitted to the order of the purple shirt and attendance at General Synod comes with the job, so here I am, sitting in a hotel room in Gisborne having spent the day in Holy Trinity Church hall listening and, occasionally, talking. Today was the opening day of the interdiocesan conference. This is the gathering of the 7 Pakeha dioceses who meet together briefly before joining the Maori and Pasifika dioceses in the General Synod which begins tomorrow afternoon. The venue of the synod changes from year to year, and for 2010 it is in this laid back little East Coast city where I have not been since our family spent holidays on the beaches just north of here about 14 or 15 years ago. Gisborne reminds me of Invercargill. The hotel here has a s

The Dawn Breaks On Another Day

I've had a great day. The best day I can remember for a long while. I spent it in a largish greyish room with a large data projector that took a worrying half hour to show any pictures and twenty or so young people sitting around on chairs and lying on the floor. Oh yes, and a half dozen or so clergy and adult lay leaders. I talked to them about God, and somehow the thoughts and intuitions I had gathered up over the previous 24 hours shaped themselves into a coherent conversation about the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit which ran all morning and into the early afternoon. These were an astonishing bunch of young people, and they had been well led as a group by Lynda Paterson and Peter Beck from Christchurch Cathedral, as well as the chaplains of Christ's and St. Margaret's colleges. As a group, they listened. They asked intelligent and perceptive questions. They made searching, and at times frank comments. They talked to each other with respect, enthusiasm and focus.

A Day of Two Halves

Sundays. I look forward to them. They usually start with a lengthy drive in the dark, followed by putting on my impressive clobber in a tiny vestry which somehow missed the last three of the church's restoration projects, and a service or two, then a pot luck lunch and a chat with some very nice people. Yesterday it was Oamaru . The various parishes of North Otago met in St. Mary's for a combined service. Although I have been to St. Mary's a few times I still managed to drive past it; it is not a building which dominates its surroundings in the way St. Luke's does at the other end of town and I was obviously daydreaming as I sailed right on by. Still, I arrived, changed, preached and celebrated, ate and talked. The church was full, and I think the congregation was fairly representative of our diocese. There were some children and some young adults, but mostly the congregation was of about my age, or perhaps, dare I say it, even slightly older. There was a great sense