Oct 04 2015

2015 Conference Report

Published by under Talks

Report to the October 2015 Dunedin Sea of Faith meeting on the

2015 Sea of Faith conference, St Cuthbert’s College, Auck.

 

Micawber vs Cassandra: Responding to an increasingly uncertain future

 

Lloyd Geering introduced the theme by recalling how he came to write his 1999 book ‘The World to Come’, which was prescient about our increasingly uncertain future. He brought his scenarios up to date: there are a few changes, and some have become more pressing.

As we’ve heard from Lloyd before, only we humans can solve the problems threatening the world. ‘For the first time in human history, the human species is being forced to become one global community – one in which all nations, races, cultures and religions are becoming intermingled, with each influencing the others’.

 

Anjum Rahman, a lively and impressive Muslim woman from Hamilton, spoke about the increasing diversity and the increasing divisiveness (power, wealth, poverty) in New Zealand: ‘we still don’t do well at recognising that the make-up of our country has changed or, at the very least, accept that other people do things differently and that our structures and institutions don’t serve them well’.

‘My contention is that it is time to move beyond these divisions to the realities of commonality. It is imperative that we do so, and in doing so, we build movements for change’. She says this applies to the future of the world, as well as of New Zealand.

 

Kennedy Graham, Green MP with an education and UN experience in international politics: ‘There is a new knowledge of the cosmos itself, spawning a new sense of infinite wonder. There is a dawning recognition that we are personally responsible for the degradation of the planet. And we are taking the identity and direction of our species into our own hands. The magnitude and impact of these developments are unprecedented and cannot be under-stated. We require ‘a change of mind-set – a sense of planetary responsibility, a new global political mentality’.

Although it wasn’t his main thesis, I found the insights Kennedy gave us into the working of the UN to be very encouraging. For all its flaws, it is doing much good work and it is the bones of a global government. But how to get there? It will take major change. First, we all need to encourage a ‘spiritual revolution’ in ourselves, our communities, and our species. Then ‘we need education, we need new political thinking, and a new form of transcendent thought’.

What sort of person might lead a global government? Kennedy suggested a Churchill, ‘for his stern and resolute good cheer’, and says Dag Hammarskjold came close to ‘speaking for the world’. Current thinkers he recommends are Joachim Schellnhuber (Germany) and Johan Rockstrom (Sweden).

 

Rod Oram, talking on The Theology of Economics, discussed ‘how our care of creation will enliven our theology and legitimise our economics’. From his opening contention that ‘economic is value-free’ he then used a remarkable array of slides to highlight planetary issues from an economics viewpoint. One slide (using a doughnut shape) showed all the issues to be addressed to provide a ‘safe and just space for humanity, with inclusive and sustainable economic development’.

He then demonstrated that, while the ‘issues are increasingly global, the solutions are increasingly local’. For every individual, our world encompasses

Ecology (home)

Economy (stewardship of a household)

Ethics (moral principle).

These matters define how we look after ourselves, our place and our planet, and also our relationships with each other and the planet.

 

 

These four papers are available at www.sof.org.nz/doclist.htm

 

 

 

 

On the Saturday afternoon David Hines (former Chair of Auckland SoF and Christian Atheist & Public relations officer, Secular Education Network) gave a talk:

 

Bible in Schools, no: Teaching about all beliefs, yes

 

He is very concerned that teaching the bible in schools is

 

  • Allowed in our secular country
  • Anyone can do it (including an increasing number of fundamentalists)
  • There is no control over what is taught
  • Children have to ‘opt out’ – which children are known to be reluctant to do

 

 

 

 

 

Gretchen Kivell

Frances Smithson

20 October 2015

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Oct 04 2015

Newsletter October 2015

Published by under Newsletters

091011.SOFimageSea of Faith – Dunedin
Exploring Meaning in Life
Newsletter OCTOBER 2015

 

Conference happenings – Gretchen

What is MEANING?

David Kitchingman

Thursday, 22nd OCTOBER

Highgate Church buildings,

Maori Hill

Tea and Coffee will be available

From 3pm

NEW TIME

The programme will start at 3.30 pm
Contribution – $4

*****

We Start With…

A two minute period of silence – a moment of peace.

From the ‘Chair’

At September’s meeting we heard from Glenda Hall, counsellor with the Otago Community Hospice, about Advanced Care Planning. She took us through how creative and valuable it is to think about how we want to live our lives to the end of our lives. This is not a usual topic of conversation, and I felt Glenda introduced the subject carefully and respectfully – but without beating about the bush. If we think about these things now – in the clear light of day – then we, our families and caregivers are immensely helped when decisions have to made at times of stress, when we may not be able to speak for ourselves.

The Hospice movement is promoting Advanced Care Planning nationally, together with a programme from the USA ‘Begin the Conversation’ which is a more substantial programme also leading to advance care planning. Information can be found at http://www.advancecareplanning.org.nz/ and http://www.begintheconversation.org/

If you look on the national Sea of Faith web site you will see the strapline ‘Exploring values, spirituality and meaning’. The Dunedin SoF newsletter has the strapline ‘Exploring meaning in life’. What do we mean by this word meaning? Come to our October meeting, where David Kitchingman will give his take on this important word.

Gretchen

gretchen.kivell@xtra.co.nz (03) 473 0031

Peace Action

Every day we read and hear of violence somewhere. It seems to get bigger headlines than its opposite value. We have heard that there have been about 136 school shootings in recent times – not deaths but rampages, in US schools. The President is often photographed with a ‘how-can-we-grow-a-brain-and-stop-this-nonsense?’ look on his face. The forces ranged in favour of violence and mayhem seem to have the upper hand there.

However, the Pope stands for peace and wherever he goes hundreds of thousands turn up to cheer him – presumably because they believe in what he stands for. That makes me hopeful.

Bryan Bruce

Last evening Bryan (well-known TV documentary maker… he made ‘Jesus the Cold Case’ amongst others) gave the annual Quaker Peace Lecture to a packed lecture theatre at Uni. He reflected that he and John Key both had the same free state-house and free-education background and yet now they stand on different sides of the economic fence. Our Prime Minister is a follower of the Chicago school of economics and he is a Keynesian. He reminded us that having sold so many state assets to raise funds we are in more debt and less happy than when the process started in 1988 – so has the process worked?

OK – silly question.

In America, Bernie Sanders is asking some fundamental questions and in UK Jeremy Corbyn is asking even more fundamental ones. He is unlikely to become Prime Minister – who wants a man who would do away with the nuclear deterrent (which can never be used), who would talk to leaders of opposition parties such as Hamas and Sinn Fein and who believes the state should run essential services not for-profit companies? Those who don’t like the idea of him talking to the opposition should remember Kenya, Mau Mau and Jomo Kenyatta. I remember as a boy reading about those ‘terrorists’ slaughtering Britons in their beds but later read that there were very few such deaths, it was a press beat-up.

Bryan Bruce reminded his audience that economic decisions are moral ones. To choose to look after people in warm, dry houses owned by the state and rented at reasonable rates or to let the market decide and have the state pay accommodation subsidies to help individuals pay the high rents they are being charged.

Jeremy Corbyn believes that there should be a Living Wage so that people don’t need auxiliary state handouts to make ends meet. He believes that those handouts are effectively a subsidy to the employers who are paying low wages.

Bryan reminded us that New Zealanders voted in the current party with its economic policies. A million or so folk didn’t vote and his investigations have led him to discover that a lot did not do so as they don’t want to be on the electoral roll which helps them to be found by debt collectors and such like.

In England, some churches are becoming pay-day lenders to help overcome the high interest rates that are being charged for people struggling with debt – and in our community we know how easy it is for folk to get embroiled in debt as a result of trying to meet obligations to family.

In India, micro-loans are helping women in villages to become more independent. That is not Chicago school philosophy either.

If I were to mark the report card of the Chicago School of Economics and I was doing so from a personal point of view as editor of this newsletter, I’d give them an F for ‘Fail’. If I was doing so from inside the elite camp of employers who get $4million in wages per year whilst laying off workers, I’d give them an A+.

As spiritual people we cannot help but be involved in all these issues. We can speak out whenever we get the chance and encourage people to think about choices and to vote when the time comes. We can attend rallies, sign petitions, march for causes, write to MPs and the newspaper and generally be a force for good.

As a simple soul, I think the Kingdom of Heaven is very much about Social Justice and I think Jesus asked all his followers to make it happen here and now – in this world.

Newsletter Editor:
Alan Jackson
55 Evans Street
DUNEDIN 9010
Ph: 473 6947

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Sep 22 2015

Newsletter September 2015

Published by under Newsletters

091011.SOFimageSea of Faith – Dunedin
Exploring Meaning in Life
Newsletter SEPTEMBER 2015

 
 

Glenda Hall

Counsellor with the

Otago Community Hospice

Thursday, 24th SEPTEMBER

Highgate Church buildings,

Maori Hill

Tea and Coffee will be available

From 3pm

NEW TIME

The programme will start at 3.30 pm
Contribution – $4

*****

We Start With…

A two minute period of silence – a moment of peace.

From the ‘Chair’

The highlight of the Sea of Faith year is the national conference, this year to be held in Auckland in early October. The theme is ‘Responding to an increasingly uncertain future’. Climate change, overpopulation, resource depletion, pollution (also downstream effects including terrorism, wars, and financial crises) offer us many challenges as to how we could, or should, respond.

The keynote speakers are Lloyd Geering (now aged 97), Anjum Rahman from Hamilton, Kennedy Graham (Green MP), and Rod Oram (economics commentator, on ‘The Theology of Economics’).

You can find out more at sof.org.nz/2015conf including a registration form. It is a long way to go, but I encourage you to think about all the things you could do in Auckland in early October – if you were up there for the two-day conference.

Frances Smithson and I will be reporting back from the conference for the first half of the Dunedin SoF October meeting.

I trust you are enjoying gardens full of spring cheer; if only the weather would take the hint 

Gretchen

gretchen.kivell@xtra.co.nz (03) 473 0031

Otago Community Hospice Funding

Services are provided free of charge to anyone who is dying and whose palliative care needs are beyond the level that are able to be supported by their primary palliative care provider alone. To run this service, we receive contracted income from the Southern District Health Board which covers approximately 58% of our annual costs. The other $2 million is generated through our community fundraising efforts. We have six hospice shops throughout the region and we rely heavily on these, and our bequest programme, to generate income. We also run events throughout the year and provide regular mail outs for our database of supporters.

Otago Community Hospice is a registered charity. Charity No. CC20590

Action for Peace

Last evening I attended, with about 300 folk including many of you, the 12th annual inter-faith Peace lecture. The group who arranges the lectures was set up in response to Sept 11th 2001 by the three faith groups, the University and the City Council to try to ensure there was no negative backlash in Dunedin from those events in New York. The community here of course had absolutely no connection with the group that brought the World Trade Centre down.

Rabbi Fred Morgan talked about the time for Peace and a time for War (Ecclesiastes). He commented that whilst Ghandi’s civil disobedience techniques succeeded in expelling England from India, the same technique would not have worked with Hitler.

He also said that the idea of “I’m right, you are wrong” would not produce a peaceful outcome in any situation – there had to be respect for the views of “the other” (much along the lines of Martin Buber) – a respect for our common humanity as we are all created in the same human mold (‘in the image of God’ according to scripture). Combative approaches may produce a winner but will not ‘win over’ the loser and so win the peace. He advocated a fuzzy logic where instead of black / white, right / wrong there were shades of grey which enables both sides to be comfortable.

Pope Francis – Action in the Church

Pope Francis is making it easier for women and doctors to seek forgiveness for abortion, by allowing all priests to forgive it. In Catholicism, abortion is viewed as such a grave sin that it can punished with excommunication.

In most countries, only a bishop can approve forgiveness for abortion. They would then delegate an expert priest to hear the confession.

The change is only for the coming Jubilee Year, beginning in December. However, the rule relaxation will not affect Catholics in England, Wales and Scotland as all priests there can already forgive abortion without seeking permission from a bishop.

The Pope said many women who sought an abortion did so because they “believe that they have no other option”. He added that he had “met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonising and painful decision”.

The easing of the rules is being seen as a shift in Catholic Church policy, reflecting the Pope’s outspoken views on compassion and mercy. “‘I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to allow all priests for the Jubilee Year to absolve of the sin of abortion those who procure it and who also seek forgiveness,” Pope Francis said.

BBC 1st September

Pope Francis has unveiled reforms intended to make it easier for Roman Catholics to get annulments and remarry within the Church.

Catholicism does not recognise divorce and teaches marriage is a lifelong commitment. In order to separate, Catholics must have their marriage annulled by showing it was flawed from the outset. The radical reforms allow access to procedures free of charge and fast-track decisions. Catholics seeking an annulment previously needed approval from two Church tribunals. The reforms will reduce this to one and remove the requirement of automatic appeal.

BBC 8th September

Newsletter Editor:
Alan Jackson
55 Evans Street
DUNEDIN 9010
Ph: 473 6947

No responses yet

Aug 13 2015

Newsletter August 2015

Published by under Newsletters

091011.SOFimageSea of Faith – Dunedin
Exploring Meaning in Life
Newsletter AUGUST 2015

 

Alan Jackson

Archibald Baxter

A memorial for men of conscience & courage

Thursday, 27th AUGUST

Highgate Church buildings,

Maori Hill

Tea and Coffee will be available
From 3.00 pm

NEW TIME

The programme will start at 3.30 pm
Contribution – $4

*****

We Start With…

A two minute period of silence – a moment of peace.

From the ‘Chair’

Margaret Feist’s funeral, on Tuesday 12th August, remembered her special contribution to her many roles, and was well attended by those her life had touched. The Rev. Dr Kerry Enright’s first action was to ask those attending to talk to someone near to them whom they didn’t know; in acknowledgement of Margaret’s always drawing in the stranger, the new person, to make them feel welcome. The church was rapidly abuzz – she would have liked that.

Margaret was born in London in 1932, the daughter of a Baptist minister. Her family moved to New Zealand in 1945, initially to Auckland. Margaret found friends and her social life – and Don – with SCM while at university. Her father moved to Dunedin with his job, and Don moved to study at Knox Theological Hall, so Margaret’s first job as a teacher of English was at King Edward Technical College.

Don’s first ministry was at Matiere in the King Country, where he and Margaret lived in shearing quarters. Time in Gore saw her busy with family and in her role as ‘the minister’s wife’. On arrival back in Dunedin Margaret returned to teaching at Kaikorai Valley HS; she became a school inspector and the national moderator for School Certificate English.
Margaret and Don had a very active life in the Dunedin community, thoughtful and supportive and always contributing their special skills. As we know, Margaret was very affected by Don’s death in 2012. Nevertheless, she continued to belong to and contribute to many groups, including Sea of Faith. In March this year she read to our group a ‘Letter to my Grandchildren’ she had written 15 years ago, and she was a member of the Dunedin Sea of Faith committee to the end. We will miss her strength and support and warm smile.

This month

Alan, this month’s speaker, is a tower of strength to Dunedin Sea of Faith in a number of capacities. A man of many commitments, through his efforts the Archibald Baxter Trust has been established and looks like achieving its several important aims. Alan will talk about Archie and the treatment he received when he refused to put on a uniform and kill other humans. This is a story of great importance to New Zealand’s historical record and has a special resonance here in Dunedin.
Gretchen
gretchen.kivell@xtra.co.nz(03) 473 0031

Last Meeting

At our last meeting, Amy Anderson told us quite a bit about Pope Francis’ encyclical. Lo and behold, when the National Sea of Faith Newsletter arrived later in the week, the headline was all about that very topic. “Laudato Si’, [from Laudato Si’, mi’ Signore: “Praise be to you, my Lord”] is the most astonishing, and perhaps the most ambitious, papal document of the past 100 years since it is addressed not just to Catholics, or Christians, but to everyone on Earth” (Guardian Weekly)

The Pope is critical of greed and selfishness which threatens the poor as well as the earth as our home now and in the future. I hope he is more successful than the other great man who had a lot to say on the same topic and who ended up on a cross for his troubles.

Dunedin’s Future

I recently listened to a businessman who noted that Dunedin’s population has not changed very much over the last 10 years – more students but fewer non-students. Jobs lost to firms shifting to Christchurch are a real threat to our livelihood and the trick is to know what to do to get more jobs into this city we all love so much.

We are all past the age when we can start a new business venture to create those new jobs but I do think that by spotting the positive in our city and talking about that, writing the occasional encouraging letter to the ODT, speaking optimistically to our friends, we can do a lot to maintain the spirit of the city.

I thought the idea of the big hotel in the city was a good one but I didn’t like the design in that location – if it had been rotated so that it projected into the harbour (like a similar one in Wellington) it could have done the same job. At that rate, why not a berthed cruise ship closer to the city – that would be quite a different sort of hotel.

Conference

The National Sea of Faith conference is being held in Auckland from 2nd to 4th October. This is always a wonderful, friendly and thought-provoking event, with four keynote speakers and plenty of time to discuss what you’ve just heard after each address. The panel discussion with all speakers on the last morning is the highlight that makes the conference very special.

Members will have got their conference information by now. Others who are interested are very welcome to attend – you can find information and forms at sof.org.nz.

The conference theme is ‘Responding to an increasingly uncertain future’. The first speaker, Sir Lloyd Geering, launched Sea of Faith in New Zealand and, at 96, will give a profound and thought-provoking presentation.

David Perez

About half of our regular Sea of Faith members attended the Hospital Chaplains’ event to hear about end-of-life spirituality. David surprised many of us when he quoted a woman who said that she would like to die of cancer as the treatment meant that she would have time to put her affairs in order and say all her goodbyes. Now that is a different way of looking at life.

There is going to be more of those events and they seem to be planned to coincide with the day our Sea of Faith meets. Thoughtful Thursdays then…

From a book received as a present…

If you had to be obsessed with money, sex, sports, religion or food, which one would you choose?

Newsletter Editor:
Alan Jackson
55 Evans Street
DUNEDIN 9010
Ph: 473 6947

 

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Jul 08 2015

Newsletter July 2015

Published by under Newsletters

091011.SOFimageSea of Faith – Dunedin
Exploring Meaning in Life
Newsletter JULY 2015

 
 

An interview with

Amy Armstrong,

Catholic Pastoral Leader

Thursday, 23rd JULY

Highgate Church buildings,

Maori Hill

Tea and Coffee will be available
From 3.00 pm

NEW TIME

The programme will start at 3.30 pm
Contribution – $4

*****

We Start With…

A two minute period of silence. Some people call that contemplation, others meditation, others call it prayer. Whatever you call it, it is a moment of peace.

*****

From the ‘Chair’

Your committee took a momentous decision last month, to change our meeting from an early evening meeting with a light meal, to the earlier timing of 3 – 5 pm with tea and biscuits at 3pm and the meeting from 3.30 – 5 pm. Numbers at our meetings are tending smaller, particularly in the winter months, and we need to cut our cloth accordingly.
We have some wonderful speakers, and we are hoping the earlier timing will encourage more members to attend. David Tombs’ exposition of the place of religion in the history and current situation in Northern Ireland was masterly. It gave confirmation, to those who haven’t met him before, that he will be a worthy and important successor to Andrew Bradstock as the second Professor of Theology and Public Issues.
Amy Armstrong, our July speaker, is another Dunedin treasure. She has recently moved from campus ministry to a wider role in the Catholic diocese of Dunedin, one including adult formation as well as student pastoral care. She will talk about these roles and about Pope Francis, including his ‘environmental’ encyclical. Amy is a thoughtful and engaging person, and should expand our understanding of one of the world’s great faiths
Gretchen
gretchen.kivell@xtra.co.nz (03) 473 0031

Archibald Baxter

A few months ago I wrote “watch this space” for news about the memorial. We have a site, in front of the Otago Museum. The Dunedin City Council couldn’t have been more helpful, the Museum Team is fully supportive and the University is right behind the project. Supporters have been asked for donations and over the past few weeks around $13 000 has been donated. Of course it will take a lot more but now we have asked the local artists, sculptors, landscape designers to rack their brains on designs for the memorial and in less than three months we shall have three designs short-listed. Keep watching.

Last Meeting

David Tombs gave us a brilliant display of listening when he asked us at the start of the meeting what questions had we brought to the meeting and what things had we heard about Ireland, peace, violence etc. That gave us all a chance to give a point of view which he then wove into his excellent talk about the background to the violence in Ireland and the peace making that has taken place there.
He did say that reconciliation is a further step in the process and there is still a lot to be done on that front.
As I understand it, one of the Irish Chiefs, in about 1167, had been ousted for taking the wife of another chief. He asked the King of England for help in regaining his kingdom and Henry II sent an army of Normans (they had won the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and conquered England) to help. That was probably the starting point.
Can you think of any other historic conflicts caused by the love of a man for someone else’s wife?

Funerals

Earlier in the year we thought about plans for a funeral – do you make your own and plan for the funeral you would like or leave it to the folk left behind working on the assumption that since you are not there, the event is of no further interest to you?
This last week I was involved with the arrangements of a funeral of a friend and was mightily pleased to find that she had left a folder containing items of poetry, favourite music to play and memory sticks with photographs to be projected etc. She was very clear that there was to be no mention of God and I think we carried out her wishes. For friends and family left behind, if we had got that part wrong it would have made a mockery of the way she lived her life.

Terror in Tunisia

Again, violent thugs on a killing spree. They have been called ‘Islamic State’ but the killers don’t have a state and most Muslims reject absolutely the violence carried out in the name of their faith. Some argue that we don’t call the IRA ‘Christian Terrorists’ and so the word ‘Islamic’ should not be used. Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) devotes his column in the Telegraph to asking what to call the enemy which threatens our way of life. What do you think?
David Cameron says that ‘we should be intolerant of intolerance’. Is that the same as ‘fighting fire with fire’, or using violence against violence? Gwynne Dyer in the ODT has a contrary view and is always worth reading.
So far as I can gather, there is no ‘violence gene’. It is learned behaviour – but as Voltaire said “All that is required for the triumph of evil is that good men sit back and do nothing”. (In a PC world he would have said ‘people’ rather than ‘men’ as it is up to all of us).

Fortune Theatre Play

By the time most of you read this, the season at the theatre will be half over. This is not a plug to go to see the play (the ODT has already printed a letter of mine encouraging folk to do that) but rather to encourage you to talk to your grandchildren about the issues of bullying and violence in their schools and in the places they ‘hang out’. Are there trigger points where it is possible to see a person reaching breaking point? How do they intervene? What part does the cell phone play in all of this? Do they ever turn their cell phone off? What is the implication for them if they do? Who can they trust when they want to talk about life’s hard issues?

Newsletter Editor:
Alan Jackson
55 Evans Street
DUNEDIN 9010
Ph: 473 6947
alanjackson@xtra.co.nz

No responses yet

Jun 16 2015

Newsletter June 2015

Published by under Newsletters

091011.SOFimageSea of Faith – Dunedin
Exploring Meaning in Life
Newsletter JUNE 2015

 

David Tombs

  Peace and Reconciliation

in Northern Ireland

Thursday, 25th JUNE

Highgate Church buildings,

Maori Hill

Tea and Coffee will be available
between 5.00 and 5.40 pm
Food will be available
$7 for as much as you want to eat plus rent
or
$4 if you come for the meeting only
The programme will start at 6 pm

*****

We Start With…

A two minute period of silence. Some people call that contemplation, others meditation, others call it prayer. Whatever you call it, it is a moment of peace.

*****

From the ‘Chair’

I have recently revisited China after 13 years, staying in five cities in the south-east. The largest of these, Hangzhou, has a population of 25 million. I travelled with two friends. Bill whom I have known since my university days, has in the last ten years taught himself to speak Chinese and taught English for several years in the smallest city we visited, Huai’an. His second wife, Xia, now lives with Bill in Hamilton and has conversational English. They are currently in China visiting relatives, and in the three weeks I spent with them we visited members of Xia’s family, friends, and several of Bill’s former students.

My first impression was green – Fujian province is mainly steep low hills of trees in their spring green. The cities are full of public gardens, lakes, rivers and canals full of/lined with bright green, and the major roads and many roads in the new high-rise housing estates have superb plantings of red, yellow and green shrubs together with the taller green trees. There are rest, socialising, and gathering places. Many times I saw these used by individuals or groups singing, or for various sorts of dancing including western and Ceroc.

I spent most days being a tourist in fabulous, interesting and beautiful places – for Chinese tourists, that is, I saw fewer than twenty ‘Lao wai’ in the whole of my stay. Old Chinese houses, a canal trip, a two-hour ride in a canyon through high hills on a bamboo raft, a Song dynasty theme park with a fabulous show that included an enormous (and real) waterfall the length and height of the back of the stage, and a beautiful jade museum with items back to 5000 BC.

I saw a number of Buddhist temples. They were going concerns, clearly respected, and open to all; most set in large or very large beautiful grounds. I saw two churches, both while travelling and from a distance. Each had a large cross high above the gable, and painted red. Clearly proclaiming themselves.

I received so much sensory input – people, noise, buildings, traffic, new sights and activities, new foods – that I am still processing my experience.

I was experiencing the rise of the middle-classes since my last visit. People come to a city, get jobs in the factories, at some stage afford an apartment in a high rise (they are very nice indeed to live in), afford an e-bike (ie with a battery) and then a car. I saw no vandalism and was never concerned for my safety – everyone was too busy doing, getting, going, being, to notice me. But the pace of existence really overwhelmed me.

Floods in Dunedin

There is no question but that the vulnerable in Dunedin have been hit again with the results of the recent 40 year flood. When I walk around town I see grids covered by leaves, plastic bottles, hedge clippings and similar debris. It will help the town’s drains if we returned to an earlier, more civic-minded time and kept the grids near our homes clear, so that debris didn’t enter the pipes and cause blockages. We can all play a part in helping reduce the harm of heavy rains.

Right to Die

The terminally ill Wellington lawyer Lecretia Seales was unsuccessful in seeking a landmark High Court ruling to allow her doctor to help her die without criminal prosecution. She was a senior legal and policy adviser at the Law Commission. She died a few days after the court ruling and her husband reported that she was quite broken by the decision.

It seems that our law makers do wish to protect life by making it illegal to harm oneself with drugs such as heroin or to drive whilst incapacitated with drugs or alcohol, but have less of a regard for the quality of life when they permit smoking and excessive drinking and allow people (especially children) to live in sub-standard housing and are happy enough to send troops in to the Middle East where many will emerge scarred either physically or mentally. Mentally unwell folk used to be cared for in Cherry Farm (maybe more people than necessary) but now some of those people are released into the community which is overwhelmed by their needs. Some get into trouble and end up in prison at $95 000 per year and emerge not only with a mental health problem but also with a prison record. I’ll not go into the abortion debate.
Somewhere we have lost the plot about caring for our vulnerable people in a dignified way. The right to die debate has been with us before and needs to be argued again. The private member’s bill that would have seen it debated in Parliament earlier was withdrawn due to the proximity of the election. We have time now to debate that issue without an election getting in the way.

We can conclude something about Parliamentarians’ priorities when they voted to backdate their wage rise but made beneficiaries wait for theirs.

Ireland’s Vote

The issue of same-sex marriage went to the vote in Ireland and was carried by 62% of those who voted. In New Zealand and other countries, the issue was settled by the Government (with a considerable amount of public lobbying) and Ireland is the only country to put the issue to a plebiscite. The Roman Catholic Church’s commentators said that the church had become separated from the people. There have been problems about the abuse of children by priests and nuns and the subsequent cover-ups by the clerical establishment so that it is perhaps not surprising that the vote in favour of the same-sex marriage was so overwhelming. It was a vote for equality as well as love.

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, called the result of the referendum a “defeat for humanity”, although earlier the Pope has said “A gay person who is seeking God, who is of good will – well, who am I to judge him?” (Irish Times 8th June)

Dublin’s Catholic archbishop Diarmuid Martin went even further last year: “Anybody who doesn’t show love towards gay and lesbian people is insulting God. They are not just homophobic if they do that—they are actually Godophobic because God loves every one of those people.” (Time Magazine 24th May)

Newsletter Editor:
Alan Jackson
55 Evans Street
DUNEDIN 9010
Ph: 473 6947
alanjackson@xtra.co.nz

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