Nov 15 2009

November 2009 Newsletter

Published by under Newsletters,Uncategorized



November 2009


Kia Ora,


Where are you on the Sea of Faith ?

Again, for our last meeting of the year, we asked everyone to speak for three minutes. This time the question was:

If some close friend asked you about the Sea of Faith, what would you say to them based on your own experience?

We could choose to respond in terms of our own voyage – what changes had there been in our faith, or our understanding, in the last year or two?
Or we might prefer to speak more about the organisation – what was good about it, and what were its weaknesses, as we saw them?
And, as usual, we were free to say “Pass” if we wished.

About your committee:

In February, three Committee members: Graham Batts, Gretchen Kivell and Geoff Neilson [the current Chair] complete three years, and must stand down for at least one year before being eligible for election again. Three other committee members are entitled to continue: Ian Fleming, Andrew Meek and Bruce Spittle.
We propose that, to help ensure continuity, the retiring Chair, as the Immediate Past Chair, will automatically be a member of the committee for one year. This will apply in 2010 [if agreed to at the AGM] to Geoff Neilson.
We also propose that a Newsletter Editor, Treasurer and Website Publisher be elected each year. If they are not already members of the Committee, they will become part of it.
There will be no time limit on these positions. At present the Newsletter Editor is Donald Feist, and Ian Fleming is both Treasurer and Website Publisher. Ian has announced that he wishes to resign as Treasurer.
So – we are now calling for these nominations for 2010:
1. A Chairperson [to be elected for three years].
2. Three new committee members [to be elected for three years].
3. A Newsletter Editor, a Treasurer and a Website Publisher. [to be elected for one year – the present holders of these positions are eligible for re-election].

Nominations must reach Geoff Neilson before mid-January, and preferably before Christmas.
Committee membership is interesting, and not onerous. For a number of years we have met only once, late in January, and occasionally done some business by email, or after our monthly meeting.

Is anything sacred ?

For a while now, I’ve been thinking that we don’t need the word “sacred” any more – that just as the distinction between “natural” and ”supernatural” should be jettisoned, so too should the distinction between “sacred” and “secular”. But I’ve started reading “The Ethical Imagination” – the book of Margaret Somerville’s Massey Lectures, broadcast last year by RNZ Concert. Here’s a passage I found interesting and thought-provoking:

“In talking about the secular sacred, I propose that the sacred is not only a concept that applies in a religious or ritualised context, but also one that operates at a general societal – or secular – level, I’m proposing it as a concept that encapsulates an experience that we might use to help people find their most authentic individual selves. This is not to endorse intense individualism; indeed, my intent is the opposite. I believe our most authentic selves are to be found in the complex interaction of knowing ourselves, relating to others, appreciating our place in the great web of all life, and seeing ourselves as part of the earth, he stars, the universe, and the cosmos.

Some scientists tell us that we came from stardust – that the earliest form of life on earth might have arrived in meteorites that crashed; to rephrase the Ash Wednesday liturgy: “Remember man thou art stardust and unto stardust thou shalt return”. That fact, assuming that it will prove to be correct, and the idea that science can verify it, is astonishing and wondrous. The acute and continuous awareness of a mild-blowing web of relationships – that is what I call the human spirit. The sacred is rightly enlisted when it will protect and promote that spirit, and wrongly used when it will do it harm.

“In promoting a concept of the secular sacred, we need to acknowledge that the concept of the traditional sacred has been abused and caused serious harm as a result. While it sometimes protected against certain practices in war, it has also been misused in the cause of war and violence, as in the Christian Crusades to protect certain sacred places and in the Islamic use of religious concepts such as holy jihad to justify terrorism. Like all powerful ideas, the sacred has the potential to be used for both good and evil.

[Margaret Somerville, “The Ethical Imagination” pp. 56-57]

Chairman: Geoff Neilson – Phone 489-6727 – Email: Geoff
Newsletter Editor: Donald Feist – Phone 476-3268 – Email: Don

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