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Showing posts from May, 2014

Why I Hold the Views I Do

St. Hilda's Collegiate School, taken with my phone after a recent meeting. This picture has nothing whatsoever to do with what follows, but I like the interplay of shapes and particularly the shadow on the wall. My mother is a Methodist, liberal in her theological and social opinions. My father was a socialist, just slightly to the left, in his politics, of Karl Marx. My siblings -there are 5 of us- are all bright, eloquent and omnivorous in their consumption of books and other intellectual fodder.  One of my most cherished childhood memories is of mealtimes in our little state house. The food was ingested with copious amounts of spirited, opinionated, clever and sometimes informed debate on whatever subject happened to catch the attention of one of the family that day. Or whatever one of us thought might get a rise out of someone else. So, sex, politics and religion it was then - oh and motorbikes, economics, international relations, demographics, cricket, company ownersh

The Way to Love

Every couple of years or so I re read this little book. There are 196 pages, but they are small - the book fits easily into a pocket. There are 31 short chapters so what with the diminutive size and all, you'd think it would be a pretty quick read but it's not. At least, not for me.  The minimum time it takes me to read it is 31 days, but usually it is more like 62 or 93. That's because although it only takes 5 minutes to read a chapter I have to sit with each one for a long time afterwards. When Anthony De Mello died in his mid fifties in 1987 he was very widely known and read. For many of us, his numerous books of enigmatic little stories have been rich seams to be mined for sermon illustrations. For a lot of people Sadhana (1978) has been a resource enabling the start of a contemplative spiritual practice. Until Thomas Keating's Contemplative Outreach and Laurence Freeman's World Community for Christian Meditation became firmly established, Anthony De Mel

Home Again

I took this photo on my phone.Can't remember when or where. Just found it now, and I quite like it. I spent all day Friday on planes and in airports. Saturday I slept in. Sunday I went to Balclutha to preside at the induction of Griff Moses as the new vicar, and I was grateful that the service was late in the day as I felt so tired. Today, my day off I went for a long walk and began to renovate our bathroom. Pulling wallpaper off walls is a good thing to do when there is inner stuff to process. I took part in a couple of the synod debates, other than the one on the Ma Whea report, of course. I was, for instance, quite shocked when Carole Hughes presented a table showing the low number of women in leadership in our church at a national level. We have few women members of our key committees and almost no women chairs of those committees.I think there is more to this than just telling the boys to step aside and let the girls have a go; I think there are issues of structure and

Think Again!

From that time Jesus began to preach saying, "repent, [i.e. think again ]for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." απο τοτε ηρξατο ο ιη σους κηρυσσειν και λεγειν μετανοειτε ηγγικεν γαρ η βασιλεια των ουρανων -Matthew 4:17 Jesus: Kelvin! Mate! Have I got news for you! Kelvin: Oh. Really? Listen Jesus, always nice to see you. But can you tell me quickly? I'm kind of busy here, being holy. Jesus: Oohh! Important!  I'll be brief then. The Kingdom of  Heaven is very very close. Kelvin: How close? Jesus: What's that thing on the end of your arm? Kelvin: My hand. Jesus: That close. Kelvin: Ok. Jesus: Great news,eh! Kelvin. Ah yeah. Terrific. So where is it then? Jesus: What? Kelvin: The Kingdom. Jesus: So what are you using to type this post? Kelvin: My computer. Jesus: and....? Kelvin: my fingers? Jesus: Exactly! Kelvin: Right. Look, don't want to be rude or anything, but I'm actually pretty busy. Jesus: But can you see it?

General Synod, Day Three. The Way Ahead.

I took this photo years ago with my first serious digital camera. I like it. It was the photograph I used for the first ever post on this blog, when I was still the Ven. Dr. and was calling the blog Re Vision and wondering whether to make it a photography blog or a Life, The Universe and Everything blog. So, I post it again today to honour a new start. The last few days have been amongst the best I have experienced in the church. There was sense of community and a deep sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit as we discussed and reached unanimity on issues which threatened to destroy our church as they had done to several others. When Bishop Helen Ann Hartley began to read the statement that we had all  worked so hard to produce, I couldn't hold back the tears. We had done what I considered to be impossible, and there is, at last, a way ahead for us. That wise old man Robert Johnson talks about the way almost all problems are framed as paradoxes; they are presented to us a

General Synod 2014 Day Two

We've had a lot of spectators in General Synod. Some dozens of people have come to see the debate on the Ma Whea commission, and see what our church decides with regard to the ordination and blessing of people in same gender relationships. We are a church of the middle: most of us take the broad and open spaces of acceptance and tolerance, and I think that on this issue most of our people, quite used to taking on the one hand this and on the other that, are not quite sure what to think. The spectators by and large aren't drawn from the mainstream of Anglicanism. They seem to come, rather, from the encapsulating views at either end of the spectrum. So we have a group with rainbow scarves hoping for change and a smaller group hoping that we will all stand with our toes firmly on the traditionally held line. Both groups have had to be patient. They have been excluded from the gallery for much of the day as we have discussed matters in committee, and they have arrived at the end o

General Synod 2014 Day One

I woke early this morning and re read the first 5 chapters of Matthew's Gospel, particularly chapter 4 which details the beginning of Jesus ministry and the Beatitudes in Chapter 5. I did this because last night at dinner Archbishop Brown Turei based his synod address on the beatitudes. His korero was humble, wise, holy, gently humorous, strongly rooted in the Kingdom and deeply considered - a bit like Archbishop Brown himself. I was very moved by it, as I was by Phillip Richardson whose address this morning used the same passage. The day began with a Eucharist at 7 am, which was followed by a meeting over breakfast which lasted until synod met for its first business session at 8:15 am. After the usual necessary procedural motions we were addressed by Archbishop Phillip and then by the members of the Ma Whea Commission. For an hour the commissioners presented their report and explained its various sections. We then met to discuss it. Early in the discussion we divided into h


It's been quite a day. After breakfast we walked a couple of hundred metres to a conference centre where the morning Eucharist was being held. The day was warm and still and crisp and clear and the yachts lay in the mirror calm water within touching distance of the windows. We waited while the people gathered and then Tikanga Maori led us in a celebration of Jesus' presence amongst us. Bishop Kito Pikaahu preached, a bunch of teenagers taught us a  action song in about half a dozen languages and the singing reechoed around the rafters. It was by turns raucous, funny, reverent, casual, ordered, loud and prayerful. It lasted around two hours and i loved every minute of it. Following church there was time (just) to nip back to my room and change out of my purple shirt before grabbing a packed lunch from the foyer and heading down to the wharf. All members of the synod along with the members of the Ma Whea Commission boarded a couple of boats and headed out for a leisurely c


It's been 16 year, I think, since I was last at Waitangi. We Pakeha walked the short distance to the hotel to the Treaty House and waited in the sunshine while the Anglican Maori gathered from around New Zealand were welcomed onto the marae and into the meeting house by the kaitiaki of the house. We stood on the vast lawn and looked past the flagpole flying the three flags (New Zealand, The Union Jack and The United Tribes) Then in due course we were called on. The young people of our church had been meeting over the last few days and, augmented by a large number of young locals, they lined up on either side of the meeting house and sang a waiata as we approached. From the porch of Te Whare Runanga three warriors approached in challenge, each carrying a taiaha. There were two young men and one young woman. A woman wielding a taiaha and participating in such a challenge is an almost unheard of departure from tradition, especially in a context where Maori from every region of Aote


Our church will gather tomorrow at the Waitangi Treaty house and be welcomed to the Bay of Islands by the Tangata Whenua. We will be from three tikanga: Pasifika, Maori and Pakeha and we will all meet on Sunday for prayer and then on Monday to discuss our common business. Before that happens though, we Pakeha have been meeting to sort out the stuff that pertains only to us. There is a story told about a native American chief in the 18th Century who was prodigiously talented at languages. In the space of a year he became proficient in English, Spanish, French and Italian. He was taken to England  and at a dinner at Oxford University he was asked, "so tell us chief, what is the grammar of your own language?" He thought deeply for a few moments and then said, "my language does not have any grammar." Just as our own grammar is invisible to us and the grammar of other languages blatantly obvious, so is our own culture invisible to us while that of others is pl


I had an early start. The plane for Auckland left at 6:50 am so it was a drive to the airport in the dark and the steady, cold, Dunedin rain. I sat near the back of the Airbus A320 and sipped my coffee from a paper cup and managed to meditate for a bit. The sun rose just as the Seaward Kaikouras broke through the morning cloud and we landed in Auckland at 10 after a brief stop in Wellington. The plane to Kerikeri was one of those little Beechcraft where you get to have a window seat and an aisle seat simultaneously, and the only people on board who weren't Anglicans were the two guys at the front twiddling the knobs. We were met by some of the locals and there was a drafting gate - bishops to the left, all others to the right, and us in the purple shirts were driven off to Waimate and the old mission house. We met, eight of us from six dioceses, in the little newly restored Sunday School hall. We celebrated the Eucharist in St. John's church, and we wandered around the old

Back to Normal

The common wisdom is that once you have settled on a particular spiritual practice you shouldn't go chopping and changing it. By all means add to it from time to time, or experiment with other practices occasionally, but your main discipline should remain constant and regular. Think of spiritual practice in the same way you might think of music practice: it might be fun to have a whole range of instruments to become proficient at but, for true mastery, at some stage you will have to settle on one of them and devote yourself to it. True, from time to time you might pick up another instrument, and even become quite good at playing it, but your main musical discipline remains and the more often you practice it the better. Spiritual practice is ultimately about dethroning the self. If I have a range of things that I am choosing between as the mood takes me, the self is firmly in charge of my spirituality and my whole regime will be limited. The aim is to conform the self to the shap

How To Walk 800 km

John is just walking the 80 metres back to his bike here, but you get the general drift.  The question I get asked more than any other at the end of the Hikoi is "how are your feet?" It's nice that people care, but my feet have never been an issue on long walks. Good shoes and socks prevent blisters and cushion the effects of long distances on hard surfaces, but I have had other issues. When walking the Camino Santiago knees, Achilles tendons and shin splints have all at one time or another given me trouble. This time round, these have all been fine and I finished feeling as though I could just keep on going indefinitely; to Cape Reinga if needs be. Over the last couple of years I have learned 6 things that have made all the difference. Namely: 1. Footwear. On the Camino I wore walking shoes - Salomon in 2009 and Asics in 2012. A year ago I changed to full walking boots - Salomon Cosmic 2 - and the difference was instant and major. When walking more than 15 minutes

Hikoi Photos

I carried a camera with me for most of Te Harinui - our Hikoi of Joyful News - but I seldom used it. Nevertheless, here is a selection of my few Hikoi pictures. Day one began with this sunrise over Invercargill After breakfast we took the plane to Stewart Island. The aircraft for this route are  Britten Norman Islanders, "The Landrovers of the Skies" robust little machines that rattle and leak but are virtually indestructable. They are piloted by young people who are usually in hot demand by other airlines for the large experience they pack into relatively few years. On Stewart Island Wynston Cooper led us on a preliminary guided tour of the Ulva wildlife sanctuary The following days took us through a progression of Southland and Otago landscapes Every week there was a regional event. This one, in Wanaka The peculiar landscape of Bannockburn reminded me of the American West Part of journey was on the Otago Centra

The Undivided נֶפֶש

Last night I attended the induction service for the new minister of Knox Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Dr. Kerry Enright. I have known Kerry for quite a while. I have had a few peripheral roles in the Presbyterian Church over the years, and our paths have meandered together from time to time. This is a very good appointment indeed, and will be of benefit to Knox, the Presbyterians, and to the whole city. The induction was a great service held in one of Dunedin's architectural treasures, but that's not what I want to talk about today. The sermon was preached by my chaplain, John Franklin, an old friend of Kerry's, and a very good sermon it was too. John preached about the healing at the pool of Bethzatha, and about Jesus' searching question to the bloke who had carved out quite a nice wee niche for himself as a professional invalid and victim: "do you want to be healed?" But that isn't what I want to talk about either. In the middle of his sermon John sp