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Showing posts from June, 2010

Apology and Forgiveness

The trouble with being involved with people is that sooner or later there is an interaction in which somebody or other gets hurt. It happens in the church all the time, not so much because people are inherently wicked but because people are inherently people. So, it's quite a good idea to develop a strategy whereby the hurts can be healed, the differences which caused the hurts resolved, and people can go about the business God has given them to do, ie having challenges and difficulties in order to learn and thus grow from them. A strategy which people often adopt when they are hurt is to insist that the other person apologise. Sometimes this strategy is refined by having some sanction held over the other: some favour or other that won't be granted until the apology is given or some reward offered when it is. Of course when the apology is offered, it is often scrutinised, weighed, declared not to be a real apology and refused. Don't get me wrong here. Apologies can someti

Bright Fine Gold

Otago was founded by Presbyterians. The idea was to build a place where all the best parts of Scottishness would flourish in a community marked by decency, order, probity and piety. The immigrants arrived and laid out a city and built churches. Almost as soon as they got here they founded a university and made sure that secondary schools of the finest quality were developed. It worked for a while. A very short while, actually because the plan was subverted by an unforseen discovery. The Otago settlement began in 1848 and gold was found in Gabriel's Gully in 1861. The lure of fast money and lots of it drew people who had a different set of values than those of the settlers from the Free Church of Scotland. They rushed here indiscriminately from all over the place.These two influxes of people: the Presbyterians with their conservative love of order and dedication to education; and the entrepreneurial, cosmopolitan, prospectors are what give Otago its particular character. The two st


I was back at St. John's Roslyn on Sunday morning. It was my first episcopal duty; that is, the first time I was doing something that only a bishop can do. I was confirming 7 people, all of whom I knew and some of whom I knew very well indeed. Two of them I had baptised and several of them I had companioned for some years as they walked the narrow path. I entered that familiar physical space, where everything was so familiar: the way the morning sun plays through the glass, the shapes of doors and candlesticks, which pews were in the church when I arrived in 1999 and which ones I brought back over the hill from Mosgiel on Alan Dunbar's trailer. I entered an emotional space as well, and one which was paradoxical. I felt instantly at home and instantly that both I and the parish have moved on; that I was now on territory where it was no longer my task to call the shots but to encourage other people to call the shots. I walked down the familiar aisle wearing still unfamiliar ve

Cough! Hack! Cough! Splutter

It's been a while since I posted. For the last week I've had the heavy chest cold which seems to have taken a real shine to Dunedin lately, and decided to stick around and make the acquaintance of half the city. This waking up all night to hack and cough and splutter is the dull bit of winter, which is generally my favourite season. I've been tired of it and with it, but there is a lot happening, so I haven't felt able - or willing for that matter - to just sit around home sipping whisky and lemon and looking pale and interesting. At long last though, the malaise has receded to a level that is only mildly annoying and today was a good one: I had some fruitful conversations; the chapter meeting this evening seemed to flow well and get through its business with good humour and efficiency; I had a funeral visit with a truly remarkable family who even in their grief were whole and self aware and grounded -together in every sense; a seemingly intractable problem looks like i


After a long mild autumn the Winter has arrived and seems intent on making up for lost time. We had five consecutive days of heavy rain with floods in all the usual places where, in aeons past, bogs and lakes used to live and now want to return to check out the old family home. Then, in the high country at least, there was some snow. On Monday, a day off after a busy weekend, I drove up to Naseby to try and find some, and was not disappointed. There was snow knee deep beside the road all the way through the Pig Root and fog and hoar frost. In the fog free bits the sun shone brightly out of an inky sky onto a vast white landscape: my very favourite kind of weather, cold, clear, sharp, huge, still. This is the Maniototo; Middle Earth; Tolkien landscapes that need no photoshopping in order to flabbergast the punters. There was a stop or two for photos, and a swift trip down a back road into Naseby for lunch in a quaint little cafe. I learned that the new car can handle with panache a)bl