Apr 18 2009

April 2009 Newsletter

Published by under Newsletters

Sea of Faith


Dunedin             April 2009


Arthur Templeton introduced …

“Lines that Etch”

Arthur explained:
In hymns, poems and our reading, from time to
time we encounter lines or phrases whose beauty
or meaning etches them on our mind or memory.
A sampling of some that have done so for me is given:

“I believe the poets, it is they
who utter wisdom from the central deep,
and, listening to the inner flow of things
speak to the age, out of eternity.”

That is the dedication in a treasured volume:
“Masterpieces of Religious Verse” edited by
James Dalton Morrison.

Some stanzas from Alfred Tennyson’s lengthy
poem “In Memoriam” are included in numbers of
hymn books:

“Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
Whom we, that have not seen Thy face,
By faith, and faith alone embrace,
believing where we cannot prove.”

Another example, this time a line from the poem
“Hound of Heaven” is:
“Fear wist not to evade as love wist to pursue”.

Hymn writer John Ellerton has given expression to
the cherished trust that many of us hold:

“…. we must not say
that those are dead who pass away;
From this our world of flesh set free,
We know them living unto Thee.”

To my beloved artist wife, Robina, I was able to
say in the words of a poet whose name we do not

“I love you,
not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.

I love you,
not only for what you have made of yourself
But for what you are making of me … “.

This is a written taste of what is to receive a fuller
verbal expression.

I hope there can be opportunity for those who so
wish, to give a couplet or stanza that has “etched
itself” on their memory.


Last month, Graham Batts spoke to us about “The Lloyd Geering Reader”. Here are a few quotes from that book that appealed to me [the Editor]. Because I had to put this page together before the
March meeting, I don’t know whether Graham referred to any of these or not.

“My preferred definition of religion is that of an Italian scholar, Carlo Della Casa – ‘Religion is a total mode of the interpreting and living of life’. In this new secular age religion is manifesting itself in a much more humanistic and naturalistic way that in the past. We are coming to value what it is that all humans have in common, irrespective of class, race, religion, gender or age. We are developing a growing concern for human rights. We have come to see that what used to be regarded as the divine attributes are actually human value judgements, expressing what our forbears found to be of ultimate concern to them.”
[ p. 288 – from “God in the Twentieth Century; a Personal Perspective.” – the Hocken Lecture, 2005]

“The most pressing concerns of our dependence upon nature are very basic. They are largely the same as those we share with the other animals: the need for air, drink, food, shelter, survival, and the regeneration of the species. …. These basic needs and animal instincts were the starting point from which our primitive human ancestors set out slowly and unconsciously to create human culture and all the various forms in which they expressed their devotion.
We too, must go that far back. The need for pure air, clean water, healthy food, adequate shelter, the regeneration of the species and the overcoming of all threats to human survival have once again become the central issues to which we must ‘devote’ ourselves. They are genuinely ‘religious’ issues. In spite of all of our modern sophistication, scientific knowledge, technological expertise, philosophical wisdom and traditional forms of spirituality, it is from these basic instincts for survival and regeneration that the new spirituality will arise.”
[p.355 – from, “An Ecological Faith for the Global Era, in ”Ecotheology”, 2001 ]

“Our experiences of reality are leading us, strangely enough, to another kind of trinity – what we may call a secular or this-worldly trinity, a trinity which encompasses everything which is sacred to us. What are we moderns learning to put our trust in? No longer a divine being in the sky. Not even a divine saviour come to rescue us. What we are being led to put our faith in are these:

  • First, there is this self-evolving physical universe, which as we understand it, encompasses the whole of reality. It is truly awe inspiring.
  • Secondly, there is the human species that has evolved out of this creative universe and which, by its own evolving cultures, has brought us into existence as personal human beings.
  • Thirdly, there is that which the collective consciousness of humankind has in turn brought forth – the body of cultural knowledge and values, without which we could not be human.

These three constitute the God in whom we ‘live and more and have our being’.”
[p. 143 – from “Reshaping the Christian culture which shaped us” – SOFN conference 2001]

“ It is no light matter learning how to play God. It is already being brought home to us that we could destroy all human life by a few false moves which lead to a nuclear war or by rash waste of irreplaceable natural resources or by the pollution of the biosphere. We have been happy to play God by shortening the life of the individual through abortion or euthanasia. On the other hand, we have been willing to play God by killings in war; but we find it difficult to play God by taking firm, planned measures to ensure quality of life for future generations.”
[p. 199 – from “The Religion of the Individual in the Modern World”, J.C.Beaglehole Memorial Lecture, 1974 ]

“New Zealanders generally, by their passion to combat apartheid and racism, to condemn war and violence, to promote tolerance of diversity, to respond positively to the new demands posed by environmentalism and other ecological issues, have manifested in these and other ways a genuine religious zeal. Indeed, in so far as New Zealand has been called the most secular country in the world, then New Zealand may well be in the vanguard of a new secular phase of religion ….”.
[ Ibid ]


“Only the closed mind is certain” [Dean Spanley]


Chairman: Geoff Neilson – Phone 489-6727 – Email: Geoff

Newsletter Editor: Donald Feist – Phone 476-3268 – Email: Don
Branch Website:

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