Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2014

Christian Names

The eminently sensible Bosco Peters posted this piece a day or two ago about the titles we clergy give each other and the preposterous getups we wear to distinguish ourselves one from the other. I agree with Bosco completely on this one, though I must say that in our diocese the issue isn't as huge as it is some other places.  The word hierarchy means " rule by priests " and the fact that it has entered the English language with the particular meaning we now give it is testimony to the development of the finely graded and nuanced pecking order developed in the church over the past millennium or so. In the olden days, when the act of professing Christ meant inviting your neighbours to burn your shop and the government to burn your body, baptism was a brave and significant act. The new Christians were schooled in the ways of Jesus, then, before entering the waters of rebirth, removed all clothing. They were immersed into the death of Christ and raised to new life wher

A Letter to Fr. Thomas

1 Glenfinnan Place, Anderson's Bay, Dunedin 9013 New Zealand. Fr. Thomas Keating, St. Benedict's Monastary, 1012 Monastery Rd, Snowmass, CO 81654, United States. 24 January 2014 Dear Father Thomas, I have been reading your books for a long time now, and also listening to conferences given by you as I drive about my diocese. I have heard all 24 CDs of your The Contemplative Journey series at least twice, so I think I have a reasonable grasp of your teaching. I have found your words enormously encouraging and informative; you are without a doubt the wisest man I've never met. But you know how these things go: you hear something and it makes perfect sense and you understand it completely, but somehow it doesn't quite make that 18 inch journey from the head to the heart. There is a depth of knowing, a deep interior understanding that comes sporadically if it comes at all. This week has been for me a time of such deep knowing. I have been reading

Holiday Reading

What with the weather and all, this has been a holiday for sitting indoors, with a mellow and warming beverage to hand, an Albinoni Oboe concerto wafting richly past the lit fire and a book with still hundreds of pages to go resting lightly on the knee. This year's reading began with two simply astonishing novels and one that was merely brilliant. Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 is the first Japanese novel I have ever read, and it is breathtaking. It is a big work in every sense, weighing in at just under 1,000 pages divided into three books, and full of big ideas: time, God, religion, fate, alternative universes, morality, sexuality, mythology, love, death, loneliness, sacrifice... I found it compelling and absorbing even if the translation meant the style is patchy in places. Murikami produces exquisitely drawn characters and makes a fantastic - in the true sense of the word - plot utterly convincing. Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is also a big novel, telling the story of

There and Back

Lake Hauroko, Fiordland National Park Catherine, my daughter, had, until recently, two criteria by which you could distinguish a genuine holiday from an ordinary run of the mill road trip. To qualify as a holiday, at some stage it was necessary to a) dig a slop hole and b) eat at least one meal cooked over an open fire. She's changed a bit, and so have we, although there is one holiday preference that we still adhere to, and that is the one of backing the car out of the driveway with only the vaguest idea of where we might be going.  Over the last couple of weeks we went South, intending to drive to the end of the road and see what was there and I didn't take a shovel or for that matter a box of matches. Instead we took a gas stove and a fridge and a bed with an innerspring mattress and a shower and toilet all swaying gently behind the car in a big white box. It rained a lot; nearly every day in fact, but who cares? We also took a pile of books and a DVD player and a scr