Apr 11 2010

April 2010 Newsletter

Published by under Newsletters



April 2010



David Kitchingman got us thinking about

“Just enough is plenty”:

Voluntary simplicity as a recipe for life – and for faith

David explained:
At Christmas, my wife and I received in the post a gift from her brother and his wife. What was faintly unusual about that was that in recent years we have mutually dabbled in non-observance of the customary exchange of Christmas presents. We’ve been aware of the deep-seated cultural imperative of gift giving, yet also increasingly uneasy with the compulsive consumerism of western society. Ironically, on this occasion the gift itself touched on the very dilemma we had been facing.The gift was a book entitled, Voluntary simplicity: the poetic alternative to consumer culture, edited by Samuel Alexander, and published by Stead and Daughters Ltd, Whanganui, 2009. This substantial anthology deals with a term that is as old as I am and with a concept that is almost as old as the hills.At our April meeting I would like to provide an outline of “Voluntary simplicity”, based on this among other key books. The movement’s philosophy, if it may be called a movement, is most succinctly expressed in the phrase: “just enough is plenty”.

In the first part of the presentation I will introduce the simple living approach to our current way of life. After discussion, in the second part, I want to go off on a tangent! Contrary to the common meanings of phrases such as “simple faith” and “little faith”, I want to pose the question of whether just enough faith is plenty. Just as there is a case for reduced consumption of material goods for a sustainable future, we will consider the argument for paring down beliefs to a nucleus of the numinous.

A Book Discussion Group?
We know of at least five people who are interested.  An initial meeting is planned for Monday afternoon, May 3 at 3 pm at Graham  Batts’s home,  49 Royal Terrace, to choose a book and settle on a regular time to meet.  Turn up then, or if you want to know more, ring Graham, phone 477-4880 or email Graham

Our Committee for 2010:
In the last Newsletter, I missed out David Kitchingman’s name.  The full Committee is:
Marjorie Spittle [Chair], Sheila Clarke, Aelred Edmonds, David Kitchingman, Andrew Meek, Bruce Spittle, and Pen Whitaker [elected members],  Geoff Neilson [immediate past Chair], Ruth Morgan [Treasurer], Ian Fleming [Webmaster] and Don Feist [Newsletter Editor].

Paul Oestreicher
Some of you will know Paul – or know of him – from when he was a schoolboy in Dunedin. More still will know something of his religious journey and his career leading up to his being a Canon Doctor of Coventry Cathedral, and perhaps know of his work as a peace activist.He will be speaking on “Peace, an impossible dream?” in Mornington Methodist Church, Galloway Street, on Tuesday 20 April at 7.30 pm. This is part of the Mornington Methodist Open Education Programme.    All welcome, Admission $5.00.


Living by dogma – or by mystery? – a response:

David Kitchingman writes:
In February the Editor invited us to compare living by dogmas (following Fr Brian Fenton) with living by unfathomable mystery (following Paul Knitter).
I know very well which I prefer as the more likely to be “right”, but I freely acknowledge that countless numbers of Christians have lived in exemplary fashion whilst shackled to a literal creed that now beggars my belief. If only dogmatists could make a reciprocal concession, then perhaps precision and imprecision could begin to learn to live together, and even learn a little from one another.
I think Knitter implies that wars of words are seldom fruitful, so it may be more useful to focus on winning through to concelebration (far beyond its Eucharistic sense) than on arguing who is right.   I note that Knitter speaks of “my church community”.   Choosing how, when and where to express one’s “frequent discomfort” within the community is very difficult.  For starters, there are probably better places than a battle field.


“Abandoned faith …?”

In response to the Editor’s request for contributions, Graham Batts has offered us these thoughts:
A couple of months ago, after our discussion about Don Cupitt’s writings, our new Anglican Bishop Dr. Kelvin Wright, when asked to comment on the Sea of Faith movement, said “They have abandoned faith, but they have not replaced it with anything”He is right if he means that some of us have abandoned “faith in a God out there” –  a Being outside existence, outside the Cosmos, outside the world which is the world of all of us.

The old sureties are no longer relevant to us, and we are faced with the implications of the differences between realist and non-realist world views.   This difference is huge, and I am surprised that so many do not see it so.
At a recent meeting, we discussed the writings of Don Cupitt, and agreed that he was more of a philosopher than a theologian.   It was very thought provoking, and the discussion that followed made me pick up one of his books again.    Not withstanding his philosophical arguments, he is still saying much the same things as can be found in Lloyd Geering’s writings, or even Karen Armstrong’s.

Given the challenge of Dr. Wright’s remark, I find that for me, my mission in life is simply to just to get on with it! and try to follow the injunctions of Christ for their own sake whether he be real, or just an ideal.   For much of theology, I just have to say that “I do not know” —  or better, “I cannot know” .  Hopefully, the idea of an immanent God, or the concept of being part of an evolving process [See John Spong] may have some traction.

In the final analysis, all I want to do is:
· To be grateful to who or whatever gave me life   –
[though probably sandwiched between two eternities of complete oblivion!]
· To live an authentic and intellectually honest life,
· To take responsibility for my own choices
· To live by the Golden rule, or as Karen Armstrong constantly reminds us, “Lead a compassionate life”.

May I wish you too a happy life too !!

“Such is Life! – a close encounter with Ecclesiastes”

This is a new book by Sir Lloyd Geering. There will be a review in the next national Sea of Faith Newsletter. Here is one taste of it:
“… the sage Jesus complemented the sage Ecclesiastes in a most important and positive way. On the one hand they both accepted the bare facts of human existence and affirmed that the content and workings of the natural world are but little subject to change.   But whereas Ecclesiastes focused on the world’s lack of any clear purpose  and on the fact that nothing lasts, Jesus fastened on what it is possible to make of life here and now while it does last.   It can be said that Jesus made a new religion out of the simple but very difficult practice of people serving one another with the aim of creating a new kind of community, the one he called the ‘kingdom of God’.”

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