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Showing posts from April, 2016

Steps and Plateaux

Ordination changes a person's self perception in ways that only those who have experienced it can understand. Urban Holmes says that when the community singles us out and sets us aside we become living symbols. We evoke various archetypes in people, particularly the shaman archetype, and people react to us in ways of which often they themselves are hardly even aware. We are the screen onto which all manner of psychological and psychic stuff is projected, and people react to their own projections in ways which are deep and unexpected. I noticed it most markedly a few days after I was ordained deacon, walking through Cathedral Square in Christchurch. I walked past a group of gang members, perhaps a dozen of them, who were laughing and talking and clowning around just outside the Cathedral. As I walked past, wearing my crisp new black shirt and shiny new clerical collar, they all fell silent and stared at the ground. It wasnt me they were reacting to, of course, but what I evoked


Vodafone, who supply my internet connection, gave me a little present the other day: a year's free subscription to Neon. In the unlikely event that I ever decide I want to watch Bob the Builder or   Game of Thrones after all, then all the episodes, every single one of them, are sitting there waiting for me. Also sitting there is a not bad supply of movies including a few I've always been meaning to see but somehow never got around to viewing. The 2008 film Doubt is one such. I saw it last night and I'm very pleased I did. Technically it's a tour de force with superb cinematography in a suitable limited but highly contrasted pallete, intelligent editing, certain direction,  brilliant casting and some outstanding performances. The central roles of an embittered nun, Sister Aloysius Beauvier, a young and na├»ve history teacher, Sister James and a popular parish priest, Father Flynn, played by Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Phillip Seymour Hoffman respectively are as str

Stewart Island

A selfie. My reflection in the engine nacelle of a Stewart Island Flights Britten Norman Islander It's a two and a half hour drive from my place to Invercargill and a short wait at Invercargill's very modern and surprisingly large airport before we board the flight for Stewart Island. We fly in a Britten Norman Islander, a two engine, robust, no nonsense, ten seater, plane known affectionately as the Landrover of the skies. I cram into the very back seat for the 20 minute flight and peer out at the surging, frothy surface of Foveaux Strait beneath me. Flying at about 1000 ft there is more of a sensation of height and of speed than in any jetliner travelling at ten times the height and eight times the velocity.  There is a bit of a southerly but the flight it comparatively smooth. The ridiculously young pilot dots it down on the runway on top of a bush clad hill and we creakingly unfold ourselves onto the ground.  **** There are ten people in church on Sunday morning

Available Light

There's a photo I've been wanting to take for a long time. I know the place. I know the light conditions I want. I know what time of day I need to be there. This morning looked like it might just fit the bill nicely, so I was up early, did my morning routine, and had the car out of the garage with camera and tripod well before sunrise. I drove to the spot but my photo failed to show up. There wasn't enough cloud in the sky and there was a fog, and anyway, what on earth did I think I was doing? Going out with a particular shot in mind is the antithesis of what photography is about. I was wanting to impose my idea on reality, rather than looking to see what was before me. I've been taking pictures for nearly fifty years now, and still I fail at the first lesson! I took the long way home. I stopped and saw  the fog rolling over the harbour around my beautiful town. I waited for the photos to arrive. I pressed the shutter a few times, but mostly watched the terns and t


I was 15 when Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was released, perhaps the most influential  music album ever.  It changed, forever, how popular music was conceived, recorded and played, and of course I listened to it and within a month of its release, knew it pretty much by heart, including Paul singing the jokey little song on side two, When I'm Sixty Four . when I get older, losing my hair, many years from now.... At 15 I could not conceive of being 64.  I had worked out that I would be 48 at the turn of the Millennium and was greatly disappointed by that prospect, in that I would be far too old to enjoy all of the amazing wonders (flying cars, space travel, ray guns)  that the  Twenty First century was bound to bring. And today it's here. My 64th birthday.  I looked in the mirror when I took my shower and a sort of bristly, balding, scarred, heavy old man looked back. And was mighty pleased to do so. If it wasn't for advances in medical care which h

Birthday Party

On Thursday I went to Wellington for a day long meeting of the Bishops. We sat in one of those soulless airport conference rooms and talked through matters which some people think are important enough to leave the church over. Friday was a day of conversations, some of them fraught, then an afternoon frantically preparing our little house for an influx of visitors.  And on Saturday, Ada was one . We had the sorts of food that toddlers like. She got presents. We sang the song and cut the cake, and people took photographs. Ada took it all in her stride. She doesn't sleep much, but nonetheless is determined and quiet and mostly calm. She is very quick to smile. She has been walking for almost three months now, so is very mobile and takes a bit of shepherding. She has worked out roles for us all, mine being to carry her about, on a route decided by her, follow the direction of the appraising frown in her dark brown eyes and talk about the things she points at. It's only

Radical Face

Late yesterday afternoon I drove through the Southern Otago sunshine to Gore. The people at Holy Trinity church wanted to discuss their immediate future with me, so we had a pleasant and productive chat in the parish hall before I had a quick meal with Keith and Anne Gover and drove on through to Invercargill. At All Saints Gladstone a group of about 20 or so had gathered to discuss the issue of the ordination and/or marriage of gay people. There were no surprises in the views expressed, but I think that we are making good progress in our ability to live with difference. **** This morning I was in Lumsden to talk to the people from four very small rural congregations, also about their immediate future. In the face of shifting patterns of land use, wholesale but unreported changes in the rural culture of New Zealand and the spiritual shifts common to all the Western world, there has been huge decline in small country churches in the last decade. There has been no diminution of i

And So It Begins

I got a big fat package in the mail today. It is all the documents required for General Synod, which is to be held in Napier in about a month's time. There's a whole swag of stuff and much of it looks pretty inportant and interesting, but of course the one issue that most people are really interested in is the report of The Way Forward group, on same sex marriage. Tomorrow I'll be going to Southland: I have a couple of meetings to attend but the main business will be a discussion I will be leading on the Way Forward report. This will be the first of such meetings in our diocese, and another two will follow in the next fortnight. I have read the material, looked at the proposed new liturgies for the blessing of civil marriages, and thought through how we might best discuss the contentious issues the report deals with. I'm certain of one thing, and that is no-one is going to change their mind, but we all knew that anyway. The Way Forward seeks a formula by which we m

My Dunedin. Just a few more.

I was looking through some old photos and came across these which I took, maybe 10 years ago.

Unconditional Positive Regard

Here's a secret. I learned it this past Lent. If you want to change your life, meditate for an hour a day. The changes won't happen immediately but they will happen. Sit still. Stop trying. Don't just do something, sit there . Be quiet for a change. The psychologist Carl Rogers coined a phrase, Unconditional Positive Regard , to express the attitude required of a counsellor towards the one who comes for counsel. By it he meant that no matter what was said or done, the counsellor offers support and acceptance. The extension of this regard gives an environment in which the vast resources within the client can be mobilised for their own healing. I don't know where the humanist Carl Rogers got his phrase from, but it seems that great minds think alike, for this is the attitude God extends towards us. Jesus said, Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life .  I think he meant this: get out