Aug 17 2009

August 2009 Newsletter

Published by under Newsletters


Sea of Faith         Newsletter

 NETWORK N.Z.                 August  2009



Murray Rae discussed:

The War on Terror in Ruatoki.

Murray is a Presbyterian minister and is currently Head of the Department of Theology and Religion

at the University of Otago and Associate Professor of Theology. About his subject, he says:

“ In October 2007 the ‘War on Terror’ that has received so much global attention broke out in

the small rural community of Ruatoki. A police raid was undertaken under the guise of the

‘Terrorism Suppression Act’ with the intent of flushing out an alleged terrorist network engaged

in training programmes in remote areas of the Urewera. Many innocent people, including

children, were caught up in the raid, thus bringing to mind other episodes in New Zealand’s

history in which Maori have been subjected to police and state aggression. These episodes

provide a starting point for theological reflection upon the limits of state power, upon the nature

of forgiveness, and upon the offering of public apologies for past offences”.


“Who needs Jesus?”

There’s still time, if you hurry, to register for the annual national Sea of Faith Conference at the

Diocesan School for Girls in Hamilton, Friday September 25 to Sunday September 27. The details

were in the last two Newsletters.



Last month we began discussing what we do about either tea or a meal in connection with our

meetings. As Geoff, our Chairman, cannot come to the August meeting, we’ll leave this discussion,

probably until the end of the year.


“The Case for God” page 2

I‘ve just bought Karen Armstrong’s latest book, the “Case for God. I’m quite excited by how many

insightful and very-well-said things there are in the Introduction – which is as far as I’ve read so far.

If the rest of the book is as good, it’s a real gem. Here are some of the bits I’ve marked:

“There is a tendency to assume that, even though we now live in a totally transformed world and

have an entirely different world-view, people have always thought about God in exactly the same

way as we do today. But despite our scientific and technological brilliance, our religious thinking is

sometimes remarkably underdeveloped, even primitive”.

“ … some of the greatest Jewish, Christian and Muslim theologians … subverted normal patterns

of thought and speech to help the faithful understand that the words we use to describe mundane

things were simply not suitable for God. ‘He’ was not good, divine, powerful or intelligent in any

way we could understand. We could not even say God ‘existed’ because our concept of existence

was too limited.”

“During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, … Western people began to develop an entirely

new kind of civilisation, governed by scientific rationality and based economically on technology

and capital investment. Logos achieve such spectacular results that myth was discredited and the

scientific method was thought to be the only reliable means of attaining truth. This would make

religion difficult, if not impossible. …. In particular the meaning of the word ‘belief’ changed, so that

a credulous acceptance of creedal doctrines became the pre-requisite of faith … “.

“Today we live in a society of scientific logos, and myth has fallen into disrepute … In the past,

myth was not self-indulgent fantasy; rather, like logos, it helped people live creatively in our

confusing world, though in a different way.”

“From a very early date, people re-enacted their myths in stylised ceremonies that worked

aesthetically upon participants, and, like any work of art, introduced them to a deeper dimension of

existence. Myth and ritual were thus inseparable ….. Without ritual, myths made no sense and

would remain as opaque as a musical score, which is impenetrable to most of us until interpreted

instrumentally. Religion, therefore, was not primarily something that people thought, but

something they did …”.

“It is no use magisterially weighing up the teachings of religion to judge their truth or falsehood,

before embarking on a religious way of life. You will only discover their truth – or lack of it – if you

translate these doctrines into ritual or ethical action. Like any skill, religion requires perseverance,

hard work and discipline.”

“The early Daoists saw religion as a ‘knack’ acquired by constant practice ….. People who acquired

this knack discovered a transcendent dimension of life that was not simply an external reality ‘out

there’ but was identical with the deepest level of their being.”

”In their desire to produce a wholly rational, scientific faith that abolished mythos in favour of logos,

Christian fundamentalists have interpreted scripture with a literalism unparalleled in the history of


“One of the conditions of enlightenment has always been a willingness to let go of what we thought

we knew, in order to appreciate truths we had never dreamed of. We may have to unlearn a great

deal about religion before we can move on to a new understanding.”


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

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

No responses yet

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply