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Showing posts from July, 2011

The Gift of God

The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 6:23 The central point of Christianity is that in the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we have the clearest picture anyone is going to get of that from which all things derive. What is at the heart of all things? Why is there something rather than nothing? The answer is not a concept or a principle or an idea or a law but a person. And the overarching theme of that person's life is continuous, unconditional love. The universe is formed in Love. We are formed in Love. Which all sounds a bit syrupy and naff unless we are careful about what we mean by "Love". Scott Peck uses a definition which seems accurate to me: The will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth. We seem to be formed to grow and develop; and the movement towards us from the universe itself ( and from the Great One who is the beginn

The Wages of Sin...

Lately I have been thinking of the almost abandoned Christian concept of sin. Sin is not a popular term anymore. In a society whose greatest good seems to be the right of anybody to do just as they jolly well please, uttering the word "sin" conjures up all the adjectives which are most despised in liberal Western democracies: judgemental, narrow minded, uninclusive, self righteous. Sin is a term which seems, to many, to come from some lesser, undeveloped, unreflective religion, and is not to be taken too seriously by more advanced spiritual people, (such as whoever is saying this stuff, for example).  But I don't think you can get very far along a path of spiritual development without a concept of sin. Not sin as some sort of arbitrarily drawn up list of prohibitions, mind you; but sin as a description of a propensity or an attitude of mind. At a certain point in any regime of spiritual practice you will have to face your own humanity and become aware of  those bits and p

A Nice Little Drive In The Country

It is the school holidays and with the encouragement of those who watch over me I have taken a break. My Sunday schedule being what it is, I could only take a few days, so rather than take a real holiday we have gone for a bit of a drive in the country. On Sunday, after a service at St. John's Milton we drove north to Rangiora and stayed with Clemency's sister Bridget. The inland route is longer but going that way, the roads are deserted, there is snow on the mountains and they are very close. Then early on Monday we drove up through the Lewis Pass to Nelson. There was enough fog to make the early sunlight picturesque and once it had cleared, an absolutely cloudless sky all the way. Patches of black ice. A wonderful little cafe in Maruia selling vegan meals and little items for our imminently new grand daughter. Outside temperatures wavering between -1 and 7. Mountains and winding blacktop. Chatting. Then my brother Alistair's house and a quick tour of the new Jag and the

The Naked Now

"The enlightenment you seek in other religions has been present in Christianity from the beginning." So states the bit on the back cover of Richard Rohr's The Naked Now which seeks to move the book store browser towards the till. Rohr presents a very good explanation for the disappearance of mysticism from mainstream Western Christianity and an equally convincing case for its presence in the New Testament and in the writings of the church from the earliest days. He also gives a cogent psychology for contemplative prayer, speaks helpfully of method, and contains it within a robust theological framework. All this in a mere 180 pages. This is some book. It manages the rare double of being readable and profound. Mostly for me though, Richard Rohr has given me one more way by which I can connect the view of the universe which is slowly emerging, like a photograph in a tray of developer, from my meditation practice to the Christianity which has nurtured me for nearly four de

A Little Bit of Chaos

It's a bit chaotic down at the office at the moment. At Peter Mann house on our groundfloor are the administrative staff, and upstairs we have a library and offices for our ministry educators.While those who administer are performing a vital ministry without which none of the rest of us could function properly, I think  the present arrangement gives the wrong signal. When most of our people utter the phrase "Diocese of Dunedin", I think they think of administration and desks and bits of paper. I have long hoped for something else. So we are moving the downstairs folk upstairs and the upstairs folk down. It looks a bit of a mess at the moment, but in a few weeks, what people will see when they enter the Diocesan Office is a library, comfy chairs and small tables around which people may sit and gather and meet. There will be a retractable screen and an unobtrusive data projector and access to the vast collection of excellent resources built up over many years by Alec C

Common Sense Is What Tells Us The World Is Flat

Galileo got into trouble in 1632 for writing a book which a) insulted the Pope and b) suggested that the Sun, and not the Earth was the centre of the universe. He was  sort of right about both points, but not everyone saw it that way, especially the Pope, and Galileo ended up spending the rest of his life under house arrest. Galileo's problem was that the theory he was propounding, heliocentrism, seriously undermined the status quo and ran counter to common sense (everybody could see that the sun was smaller than the earth and rose on one side of the world, set on the other, and presumably nipped around the back during the night). Further, Galileo's theory depended on some rather arcane mathematics which very, very few people could understand. Those who could understand the maths, and this group included the guys who advised the Pope, could see something else: that  Galileo's sums did not quite stack up.Galileo believed that the earth and other planets moved in perfect circ

Arianna Savall: L'Amor

Last time we were in the car together driving from one bit of the diocese to another, Clemency and I started thinking in earnest about the second half of the Camino Santiago. Northern Hemisphere Autumn next year would be a good time. We will walk from Sahagun to Santiago and maybe, if we have time, onto the coast. Of course for P personalities such as us, the planning and the gathering of information is the best bit, and there are many happy hours ahead picking the right alberges to stay in, and finding new packs and new shoes for Clemency and just the right sort of polyprops for wearing when walking among all those fields of ripe barley and mature grapes and falling olives. This morningI woke with images of the long walk across half the Meseta still to come and the prospect of the hill country beyonbd Astorga and as I was just emerging from sleep, the Concert program played this song: L'Amor, written and sung by Arianna Savall. She sings in Catalan, and if you want to know what