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Showing posts from July, 2017

Invisible Grammar

There was, apparently, in the 18th Century, a native American chief who was a prodigy in languages. In the year after his first European contact he became fluent in Spanish, Italian, English and French, and was taken to England as a kind of curiosity. At dinner one night at some university college or other, when the subject turned to the differences between languages, he was asked "What is the grammar of your own language?" He replied, "My language has no grammar." The story may or may not be true, but illustrates an always true phenomenon which everyone encounters the moment they start to learn a new language: the grammar of our own language is invisible to us, except when some teacher drearily and pointlessly insists on showing us, although those of other languages are powerfully and bafflingly obvious the moment we encounter them. It's not just linguistic grammars, of course. Grammar is the set of rules and principles by which a language is organised,

Eden to Patmos. Turning the corner.

A couple of days ago I finished reading the First Testament. It's the first time in the history of my devotional life that I have read nothing but the First Testament for such an extended time- about 6 months. And it's the first time I have read it through using the Jewish ordering rather than the accepted Christian one. Take the same elements of a narrative and reorder them and you get a completely different story. We Christians tell a tale of a developing revelation; of a movement from the beginning of all things , through a salvation history to Jesus. The Jewish story is not so much about the past as about the present. It is about the law, by which is meant more than a set of rules and regulations. It is about the great ordering on which the universe is founded. It is a prophetic commentary in which society is critiqued against the standard of that ordering, and it is worship in the light of the law. By and large, I prefer the Jewish system, and wonder if I will ever re

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

To thank me for  for preaching at her installation as Dean of Christchurch, Lynda Patterson gave me a copy of Haruki Murakami's  2010 novel 1Q84 , one of the best works of fiction I've ever read. It was like nothing I had ever encountered in its smooth blending of surreal elements, its inventive scope and its array of quirky but believable characters. Yesterday I finished another of Murakami's books, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and found it equally challenging and satisfying. At a little over 600 pages it was written in 1994-5 and translated from into English in 1997 by Jay Rubin. Murukami's influences are, partially at least, Western, and although the "feel" of the book seems decidedly Japanese to me, he is sometimes criticised in his homeland as being un-Japanese. This is in some measure because the works of most of his compatriots place strong emphasis on family and connection while his books are filled with solitary people, and loneliness is one of h

Who Are We Really?

I didn't record this morning's sermon at Knox church, but this one, delivered while I was Vicar of St. John's Roslyn, covers much the same ground If you cannot see the audio controls, your browser does not support the audio element

How to Meditate

The following audio file is the third in a series of three talks given at Knox Church Dunedin in June 2017 on the subject of Contemplative Prayer. In this last of the series I speak, informally, for about half an hour, about how to begin a practice of meditation. If you cannot see the audio controls, your browser does not support the audio element