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Showing posts from March, 2013

Seeing in the Dark

It is perhaps seven or eight hours until the sun rises on Easter morning, and I am thinking about two things. One is Anthony De Mello, who in talking of our enemies says, "Given the background, the life experience, and the unawareness of this person, he (sic) cannot help behaving the way he does. It has been so well said that to understand all is to forgive all. If you really understood this person you would see him as crippled and not blameworthy..." The other is Jesus being nailed to his cross and praying, "Forgive them for they know not what they do." I don't think Jesus was praying just for the drunken louts who were doing what the procurator paid them to do. He was praying also for the procurator and the High Priest, and the Sanhedrin and the countless, nameless ones who worked the machinery of power. He was praying for his friend Judas who had thought that the best course of action was to give the authorities what they wanted. All of them were not s

Judas Iscariot

Judas has always fascinated and puzzled me. Years ago I wrote a series of seven meditations for Good Friday, Witnesses of the Cross, in which I tried to enter, Ignatian style, into the minds of some of those who witnessed the crucifixion. Here is Judas. It is my attempt to imagine why someone might in good faith, betray a friend to death. The piece is designed to be read aloud in a 3 hour service, so the punctuation may seem a little strange.    Judas I didn’t always hate the Romans. When I was a little boy I loved them. My mother and father would warn me about them, and at mealtimes, when my parents and my sisters and I gathered to eat, with the door of our tiny house firmly shut,  my father would talk strongly about overthrowing them and establishing the old ways again. But I would note that even as my mother complained about the taxes, she still went to the new aqueduct to fill the water jars. I noted that my father might speak strongly at home, but in the presence of even


Fog on the harbour, and time for a short drive before dark, looking to see if there were any photos lying about. Not many. It was a nice little cruise anyway. 


St. Mary's Riverton. The buttresses make it appear to be leaning. Beside it is the old assay office, now used as some sort of holistic healing centre. .  On a good day there can't be many towns in New Zealand prettier than Riverton, and yesterday was a good one. St. Mary's church was pleasantly full for a chrism Eucharist   We renewed baptismal and ordination vows and licensed Aaron Galey-Young as a deacon in Gladstone parish, blessed James and Barbara's engagement ring and commissioned a small team  to work with special needs people in Kenya. Leaving the church after the service at about 8.30 pm the sun was going down  and some children were setting a flounder  net. I sat in the church for a while afterwards then slept in my caravan parked beside it through a warm Southland night.

A Walk on the Beach

Some photographs from this morning on St. Clair beach

Back to Basics

It's Holy Week, and today I drive to Riverton to renew my ordination vows in company with the clergy of Southland. As part of my Holy Week discipline, I have been going back to the future, revisiting the basic concepts of Centering Prayer. The first of these is to choose a symbol, a word or gesture or action or thought which will act as a non verbal reminder of what CP holds at its core: giving assent to the action of God in my life. This is what I was told to do when I was first converted: "give my life to Jesus", but of course it took about 24 hours for me to discover that this is something more easily said than done. I give my life to Jesus and then immediately try and take back the bits I think would be better under my own management, i.e. all those bits which don't fill an hour or two on Sunday and a few other daily minutes of wrestling with the Bible.  The Christian life is really an exercise in trying to live up to a promise I once made and finding myself

Dazzling Darkness

This little memoir by Rachel Mann is not an easy read; but  not for the usual reasons. It is only 135 pages long and the author is poet in residence at Manchester cathedral so she knows how to handle words. She has lived a full, some may even say sensational, life so it is never dull. Her initial academic training was in philosophy but she doesn't tie her readers up in complex philosophical knots. I found it slow going because it engaged me so deeply that I had to pause every chapter or two to think about what she was telling me, and let it sit with me for a couple of days. Rachel Mann was born Nick Mann and this is the story of her journey across gender. It is also the story of her battles with debilitating, painful, life threatening disease. It is the story of her conversion to Christianity and of her call to priesthood in the Anglican Church. It is a raw, visceral piece of writing but despite the plethora of edgy material in her life history it never invites the prurient or

Relay for Life

Photo courtesy Yesterday I took part in the Relay for Life , the cancer society's annual fundraising and consciousness raising event. I arrived early, saw the teams from the Diocese of Dunedin, and from Anglican Family Care, and went to the official tent to collect the purple sash which marked me as a cancer survivor. Clemency wore a green one, given to those who have supported loved ones through cancer. The event this year was held in the Forsyth Barr stadium, so it was weatherproof. It's a great event with a sort of carnival atmosphere. Organisations and businesses raise teams who commit themselves to walking for 24 hours in relay. A small entrance fee is paid and the teams raise money through sponsorship, so a considerable sum is accumulated to pay for cancer research and for the excellent supportive work of the cancer society. Each team sets up a little headquarters and the members are inclined to

And Still it Moves

This past week was the anniversary of the trial of Galileo, and time for a predictable plethora of commentary all over the place along the good scientist bad prelates line. I have myself written about this in the past, here and here , and don't really want to do it again, but the pseudo argument sat jarringly with other happenings in my world. Particularly, I have been thinking about illusions. About lying, falsehood, deception, prevarications, elaboration of the truth, strategic silences and all the other devices behind which we hide from the light. In the olden days we believed that the world was a big stillish thing, and that the sun was a much smaller moving thing. Why should we not believe that? It was painfully bleedin' obvious to anybody with eyes and more than two brain cells to rub together. Except of course it isn't true. And the realisation that it isn't true began for us Europeans in the late 15th Century with Nicholas Copernicus sitting on the roof of