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Showing posts from March, 2016

Auto Mode

I kind of like this picture, but could understand why others might not. It's a truly automatic shot. My very first digital camera, a Canon Powershot, took this all by itself when it was in the process of dying, a disappointingly short time after purchase. I was suckered by the tag on a Facebook advertisement: Auto Mode is Killing Your Photography . The link led to a place where I could buy a little ebook (reduced from $97 to just $10 if I bought it now) which appears to give reasonable advice to beginner photographers, which boils down to understanding what your camera is doing and thinking about the pictures you are taking. The tagline got me because it's a sentence I have been repeating to myself for a long time now. I got serious about photography when I was 18. Over the road from my parent's house was a hippy commune called Chippenham. Walter Logeman lived there, and he had gathered a small group of young guys to whom he was teaching photography. We bought bla


 A beautifully restored Catalina flying boat approaches Lake Wanaka for a landing  It took one and a half hours to drive the 10 km from Wanaka to the airport.  Russian Yak aircraft were numerous. They are comparatively cheap and easy to maintain  One of the RNZAF's new NH-90 helicopters  A Hercules lays a flare to distract heat seeking missiles.  The star of the show. A Messerschmidt ME 109, one of the mainstays of the Luftwaffe fighter force in WW2   A voice from my past. The distinctive drone of Harvard trainers, common in the skies over Christchurch when I was a boy  A couple of Japanese fighters.  Harvard pilot  This plane obligingly raced a Holden V8 car (it won) and an MV Augusta motorbike (it lost)  Coming home the hard way  A Dominie airliner, one of NAC (the forerunner of Air New Zealand)'s first passenger aircraft. The Warhorses organisation gave a ground based demo of old kit. RNZAF Beechcr

Easter in Wanaka

On the way home. Lake Pukaki The Parish of Upper Clutha has churches in Cromwell, Tarras and Wanaka and I was scheduled to be there for the whole of the Easter weekend. This is a part of the world where people go to ski, mess about in boats, hike, run or just gawp open mouthed at the scenery. Upper Clutha has had a new lease of life in recent years and is one of our Diocese's most vital parishes. It was 1 degree in the Manuka Gorge at 7.30 am on Good Friday Morning and we were towing the caravan, so what with the weight and the risk of ice and everything we took it fairly slow. We arrived in Cromwell  just in time to help a fairly sizeable crowd carry a large wooden cross from the Junction Lookout by Lake Dunstan to the Presbyterian Church, maybe 3 km away. After the customary country style morning tea, we drove on to Wanaka for an early afternoon Good Friday Liturgy, and then parked the caravan beside the church, on the site of what I hope is soon going to be the new commu

On the first day of the week

...and  on every day since... ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN!

Father, into your hands

Forty or so years ago I committed myself to Jesus Christ. A glittery eyed young man led me through the sinner's prayer, in which I acknowledged that pretty much everything I had tried, up to that point, by way of making myself what I hoped I might be had been a bit of a flop, so I acknowledged that and asked God to take over. Since that moment, in the back room of the Assembly of God church in Lower Hutt, a lot has happened. I have been Vicar of 5 parishes, accumulated a few degrees and a roomful of books and become a father and grandfather. I've travelled the world and I've accumulated all manner of nicely framed certificates attesting to other people's confidence that I know some stuff. But really, in all that accomplishment, the one thing I have been trying to do, in everything I've done since that Sunday evening, has been attempting to live up to that commitment.  It is so simple and so hard because I am human. The experiences which have formed me, the ide

It is finished.

Song: My Love Came Through The City My love came through the city And they did not know him With his beard and his eyes and his gentle hands For he was a working man My love stood on the lakeshore And spoke to the people there And the fish in the water forgot to swim And the birds were quiet in the air. ‘Truth’ - he said, and - ‘Love’ - he said, But his purest word was - ‘Mercy’ - And the fishermen left their boats and came To share his poverty. My love was taken before the judge And they nailed him on a tree With his strong face and his long brown hair And the whiteness of his body. ‘Truth’ - he said, and - ‘Love’ - he said, But his purest word was - ‘Mercy’ - And the blood ran down and the sun grew dark For the lack of his company. My love was only a working man And now he is God on high; I have left my books and my bed and my house, To follow him till I die. ‘Truth’ - he said, and - ‘Love’ - he said, But his purest word was - ‘Mercy’ - Flower

I Thirst

They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar. Psalm 69:21 Our words come back to haunt us. Even for Jesus. One day, walking through Samaria he met a woman, an outcast, sitting by the well outside of the village to which she both belonged and did not belong. He told her that whoever drank the water that he had to give would never be thirsty. And now, a few years later, an outcast himself, nailed to a cross outside the city to which he both belonged and did not belong he cries "I am thirsty. " For me this is the bleakest moment in a bleak event. This is the time when Jesus doubts everything he has taught and everything he has done. This is, after all that has been heaped on him, his moment of utter desolation and weakness. Here is the ending of all plans and all ambitions. And here's another irony: at the last supper Jesus says, or so Luke tells us, that he will never drink of the fruit of the vine again until the Kingdom of God co

Why have you forsaken me?

All religions, the old wisdom has it, are fingers pointing to the moon. They are not the moon itself. Which must always be so, if you take God seriously. Think of this universe, huge beyond comprehension and ingenious and elegant in its construction, and then try to comprehend the will which brought it into being and holds it there. An oyster sits in the mud on Doctor's Point. 20,000 feet above it, an Air New Zealand Airbus A320 flies overhead with five crew and 150 passengers on board. The oyster has as much chance of understanding the workings of that plane and the intentions, desires, dreams and memories of all on board as we have of understanding God. Our scriptures recognise this. When Moses has his epiphany at the burning bush, God is revealed as "I Am what I AM". The first four commandments are about loving God only, not trying to make images of God and not trying to name God. The Hebrew tradition was that the name of God was unutterable, that is,  it is im

Woman, behold your son...

This video clip is from the wonderful and beautiful movie, Human . This short (3 1/2 minute) interview is a moving testimony to the transforming power of forgiveness and love. It is a living example of resurrection. Murder, such as this young man committed and such as Jesus suffered, has effects which extend far beyond the taking of a human life. Murder destroys the relationships of those who are left. It heaps up an seemingly unresolvable pile of guilt, anger, frustration and bewilderment on those who are left: the relatives and friends of the murdered and the murderer. Of all griefs, the death of your own child is the hardest to bear. Of all griefs over children, that for a murdered child is perhaps hardest of all. Which makes the actions of Agnes, whatever they were, all the more remarkable and all the more profound. And on the cross, Jesus works, even as his life is dripping away, to lessen that grief for those he loved most dearly, his mother and his friend. He gives them t

Today you will be with me...

Copyright unknown. Not mine anyway Clemency has a particularly womanly  metaphor for what happens after death. She compares it to a baby in the womb. Inside the womb the baby lives in a tiny all sufficient world. It is dark, warm and comfortable and all needs are met. Occasionally some hints of another, larger world drift in: there is perhaps music or the sound of voices or unusual movement, but the baby has no idea of what awaits after birth. While it is ignorant of all the things - people, air, sun, moon, tastes, colours, smells - which make up this new world, it is ignorant also of the basic principles and concepts -light, dark, up, down, hot, cold, painful, pleasurable - which it will need to make sense of  what lies outside. The baby is born into a new world which is beyond any comprehension and which is unimaginably bigger and more real than the tiny confined space of the womb. And the little world of the womb is seen to be not opposed to this bigger world, but actually a pa

Father forgive...

This video clip is of a young man, a father and husband, whose wife was murdered by extremists in the Bataclan attack in Paris. It is searing, courageous, profoundly moving. And it captures exactly what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is not about minimising evil. It isn't pretending that the wrongs done somehow don't matter or that the perpetrators can avoid the inevitable consequences of their actions. Forgiveness is the hard, brave, powerful decision not to let yourself be defined by the wickedness of others. Jesus lay with his lacerated back on splintered wood and watched as a drunk Roman Legionary with one hand held a nail against his wrist and with the other swung a mallet. In this moment of fear and pain he chose not darkness and anger, but the light which had guided his young life to this point: Light which would in only three days be shown to have triumphed over the darkness which sought so brutally to overcome it.

Holy Week

The face of  the child Jesus from a stained glass window, reflected in the wine in a chalice, in St. John's Church, Roslyn . I had no commitments yesterday morning, Palm Sunday and in the afternoon presided at a prerecorded  Eucharist to be broadcast on Radio New Zealand on Easter morning. There was a congregation of 50 or 60 and the choir was in glorious voice. We wore white, said the Easter versicles and responses, read John's account of the resurrection and I pronounced an Easter blessing. The dean preached an erudite sermon which, along with all the Easter music and hymns, will be repeated in a few days time. So I began this week's journey towards the cross with a full hearted proclamation of the Resurrection. It seemed bizarre at the time, but as I participated, oddly appropriate. The ending of any story determines everything that went before it. In a Shakespearean play if there is a wedding at the end the play was a comedy, and if there is a death it was a tra


By now most people will have voted in the flag referendum; I certainly have. And I voted for the status quo, even though I think it's high time we took the Union Jack off our national ensign. I made my choice because I thought the alternative, the Kyle Lockwood design is such a bad design. I think there  are basically two things wrong with it: the placement of the design elements and the colour. My own approach to design is photographic, so before I say what I think is wrong with the new flag I need to give a bit of background theory. Sorry. When people look at a photograph they react favourably to some compositions and not so favourably to others even though the subject matter, lighting, focusing and all that stuff may be exactly the same. How things are placed in the frame is one of the most important determiners of peoples' favourable or otherwise reaction to any given shot . One of the most basic compositional concepts is called the Rule of Thirds. Using this schema, t

Relay for Life

The cancer society runs a Relay for Life every year but alternates the venue between Dunedin and Invercargill. The idea is that organisations enter teams of people who walk, in relay, for 24 hours and through sponsorship raise money for cancer research. The Diocese usually has a team, and of course I have a bit of a vested interest.   It was Dunedin last year so we set out for Invercargill at about 8:30, stopped for coffee in Mataura, arrived at Rugby Park (proud to be home to the Southland Stags)at about 11.40 and found the Anglican Tent. The team this year was smaller than last time, and the whole event seemed not as big or as busy as previous years, with fewer teams and smaller. There was continual live music and a range of stalls selling or giving stuff away, and many of the teams dress up, giving the event a sort of carnival atmosphere. I registered and got my purple sash which marks me as a cancer survivor. Then I joined the crowd for the first lap of the track. Only people w

Doctor's Point

Photography has its limits. I return to this beach time and again and try to catch the reason why I return. Which is not so much about what Doctors point looks like, as what it feels like. I haven't succeeded yet, but I will keep on trying.