Feb 14 2011

February 2011 Newsletter

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February 2011




This month, we invited Jim Neilan to speak to us and open up discussion.

He had given us the title:


Jim was a Catholic priest for twenty years, resigning from the ministry in 1983. He is an active member of the North East Valley parish and has been involved with the independent Catholic magazine Tui Motu since it began in 1997 – some of his writing has been very critical of current Church leadership.

He will tell us a bit about his background – especially his experience of being in Rome during part of the Vatican Council in the 1960s.

He will share his views on why, today, so many consider themselves ‘spiritual without being religious’ and who see the churches as increasingly irrelevant.
He also suggests a few points for us to think about:
  • do we lose something important, such as the value of community, with this way of thinking?
  • where does one look for guidance in questions of morality and spirituality?
  • will the next generation/s be deprived of some valuable inheritance?
Our Annual Meeting ….
will not be held this month, because your committee has decided that in future it will be in March. Two Committee members – Andrew Meek and Bruce Spittle – will retire then because their three-year term is up, so we shall be looking for nominations for at least two new members of the Committee. Details in the March Newsletter.
What’s in our Library?
On impulse, at our last meeting, reckoning that there might be some wet days in January, [and I was right], I picked up “The Future of God” by Samantha Trenoweth. It’s not new [published 1995], and the title didn’t give me great expectations, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised.
In thirteen chapters of about 20 pages, each based on multiple interviews, and with generous use of the subject’s own words, Trenoweth builds up a clear, in-depth picture of what makes each of these people tick, as far as a sense of values, priorities, or a personal faith, is concerned, and reports the path each one has walked in getting to a position that is thoroughly their own and carefully, honestly thought out. In each case it becomes very clear how the person’s activity in the world [and they are all active, in a down-to-earth way] is driven by, and is consistent with, the faith position they have worked out for themselves.
Three of the thirteen count themselves as Christians – Archbishop Desmond Tutu [South Africa], the Rev. Dorothy McRae-McMahon [Sydney] and Professor Matthew Fox [California]. A couple of others would probably find it hard to say whether they are Christian or not. There are also: an Australian aboriginal woman, a Jewish rabbi, the Dalai Lama, an American Indian. The remaining four are even harder to categorise or pigeon hole.
I was glad I found the book and wasn’t put off by the title. Getting a sense of what such apparently different people have in common was especially enlightening. I think many of you who read this Newsletter would also find it a very interesting read. I’m now wondering what other treasures there might be in our library that I haven’t found yet.
PS: Since I wrote that, I’ve seen the Statement of Faith that was presented to the Presbyterian General Assembly last October. It has only strengthened my conviction that all “I believe …” or “we believe …” statements of that kind fail miserably to give convey what any human being’s active religious faith is, or does, or what makes a person of faith tick. Articles like those in this book are vastly more enlightening.

– the Editor.

Up-dating our mailing List :
The first issue of the year seems like a good time to check on a couple of things: 

  1. Would like to switch from a mailed hard copy of this Newsletter to email, or from email to hard copy?
  2. Would prefer NOT to go on receiving it [please note that we are very happy to keep sending it even if you never get to our meetings].

If so, please let the Editor know [contact details at the foot of the page].

Also, if you know someone who might be interested to receive this Newsletter in future, even if they are wouldn’t be coming to our meetings, I’ll be happy to send it to them – so please let me know.
Chair: Marjorie Spittle – Phone 481 1418 – Email: Marjorie
Newsletter Editor: Donald Feist – Phone 476-3268 – Email: Don
or: 16 Pioneer Crescent, Helensburgh, Dunedin 9010

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