Mar 14 2010

March 2010 Newsletter

Published by under Newsletters



March 2010



The Rev. Dr Rod Mitchell talked about:

“The Power of “Yes” –
– the need for a Bigger Story than any one religious tradition can offer.

Rod attended the 5th Parliament of World Religions held in Melbourne last December. He shared some of his impressions from his sampling of the more than 500 presentations, which explored major issues facing the various religious traditions in our global world. Rod’s presentation focused on finding new world views, which offer hope.

He had told the people at Knox Church:

“After arriving in Melbourne, my initial feeling was one of disappointment. A Christian bishop’s welcoming letter to the Parliament used very Christian in-house language that was exclusive and domineering.

“I was left wondering where the vision was that was bigger than our own entrenched positions. Was there a more common language, a language that did justice to our own religious tradition but also allowed room for encouraging something fresh and new to emerge in the exchanges between religions?”


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A Book Discussion Group?
If you might be interested, please get in touch with Graham Batts, Phone 477-4880 or email Graham. More about this next month.


Our Committee for 2010:
At our Annual Meeting last month Marjorie Spittle was elected to the Chair, and Ruth Morgan accepted the position of Treasurer. Sheila Clarke, Aelred Edmonds, David Kitchingman and Pen Whitaker are new members of the Committee. Andrew Meek and Bruce Spittle continue as elected members. Geoff Neilson continues for a year as immediate past Chair, and Ian Fleming and Don Feist continue by virtue of being Webmaster and Editor respectively. Geoff, and retiring committee members Graham Batts and Gretchen Kivell were thanked for the work they have done.


Book Review:

“The Power of Now” – by Eckhart Tolle.

In “The Power of Now” Eckhart Tolle does not tell us anything that has not been taught by Jesus, Buddha and other profoundly spiritual people, but he explains simply how each of us can become more enlightened by quietening our ever-chattering brains and becoming aware of the inner Being which we share with all Creation. To do this Tolle suggests that we need to live in the present moment, which is all we have. Life is NOW and always now. There must be a shift of consciousness from mind to Being, from time to presence, where there is a realm of intelligence beyond thought. Here there is an awakening to all that truly matters – beauty, love, creativity, joy and inner peace.
Tolle reminds us that Jesus conveys this when he says “Before Abraham I am”. The dimension of eternity has come into the world which does not mean endless time, but no time. You cannot find yourself in the past or future. The only place you can find yourself is NOW. That is the joy of being, of being who you truly are. Past and future are thought forms, mental abstractions. The past can be remembered NOW, the future when it comes, is the NOW. The only thing that is real, the only thing that ever is, is the NOW. Acknowledge it, honour it.
To quote from Eckhart Tolle’s “Stillness Speaks”:

“The Now is as it is, because it cannot be otherwise. What Buddhists have always known, physicists now confirm: there are no isolated things or events. Underneath the surface appearance, all things are interconnected, are part of the totality of the cosmos that has brought about the form that this moment takes.
When you say ‘yes’ to what is, you become aligned with the power and the intelligence of life itself. Only then can you become an agent for positive change in the world.”

“The Power of Now” has a question and answer format. The language is simple but it needs time and reflection to ponder the full meaning of the message. The effort is rewarding.

– Pen Whitaker


An Evening with Bible College Students
At our last meeting of 2009 one suggestion for the next year was that we contact some young people and invite them to tell us what they believe and what is important to them. An opportunity to do this arrived unexpectedly when a leader of the Capernwray Bible School in Geraldine found our website and wrote to ask if nine of their young people could visit our group to find out more about us.
So it was that on February 15th a group of us were at the Maori Hill hall to welcome our guests. The group was made up of one German, one American, one New Zealander and the rest Canadian, three of whom had grown up in a Mennonite community.
After brief introductions Don explained how Sea of Faith began and the purpose of the group. Their leader reciprocated by explaining the origin of the Capernwray Bible School which began in a village of the same name in England immediately after the war and now has several groups throughout the world. Young people usually attend the school for six months.
In open discussion it quickly became clear that we had very different standpoints. They believed in the literal truth of the Bible, in absolutes that can never change, in particular that Jesus is God incarnate. A verse they often quoted was: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father but by me.” Salvation comes by giving your life to God and this ensures life eternal in heaven.
Although very friendly and respectful they shied away from any suggestion that we belong in the same broad ‘family’.
From this meeting I was left thinking that, though this group may not be representative of young people in general, there are still many people out there, especially the young, who adopt with passion a very restricted and narrow set of religious beliefs that offer them certainty and security. It also reinforced for me that it is very difficult to have meaningful dialogue when religious language has such different meanings for people. Peter touched on the use of language at our last meeting and it is good to see we have another session on it coming up later in the year. It is surely a major issue in communication as we try to make religion relevant in the 21st century.
Nevertheless it is a real plus that this group of lovely young people sought us out and were prepared to meet with us – as well as with Moslem and Buddhist groups in the city. I’m sure we all enjoyed the evening and valued the opportunity to meet together.

– Marjorie Spittle


Religious objections to “AVATAR”:
Aelred Edmonds has sent in a quote from a friend in the United States, who speaks of:

“ …. the neo-Puritans who, in their fear of the human form want to characterize the film as unfit for Christians to see because of the near-nudity of the primitive human-like peoples on the planet Pandora. [The film is] a critique of the predatory imperialism and the genocide of ‘primitive’ indigenous cultures by natural-resource, wealth-hungry, technologically advanced invaders from a dying, devastated planet Earth. Neo-Conservative Protestants are claiming that the theme is exclusively an attack on the founding of America. ….”.

Aelred himself comments:

“How could you resist seeing the film after all this! … I think that what is upsetting them at a deep level is that the film can be seen as attacking the orthodox understanding of the Genesis myth – Adam and Eve, the Garden, the so-called dominion over Creation given to mankind … Obviously contemporary “dominator” Christians are in no doubt as to how to read these verses. Those … who advance another “conservationist” theology of Creation … are seen as the real enemy by the Neo-Cons. We are left in no doubt as to which line the film’s creator [James] Cameron, is implicitly taking. …. Those who lead the imperialists do indeed look like some contemporary American leaders and military figures! Ultimately the fight of the “tribals” is successful, and the imperialists leave Pandora. Defeat for a particular view of America and its “Manifest Destiny”? I think so.”

Chair: Marjorie Spittle – Phone 481 1418 – Email: Marjorie
Newsletter Editor: Donald Feist – Phone 476-3268 – Email: Don

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