Jul 18 2011

July 2011 Newsletter

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July 2011




Mai Tamimi spoke to us; the title of her presentation was:

From the Holy Land to New Zealand:

A Challenging but Exciting Journey.


About herself she said: I am currently a finalist PhD student at the Geography Department at the University of Otago. My PhD focus is on Young Palestinians and Contact with Nature. I am also a secretary for the Abrahamic Interfaith Group in Dunedin. I am a Palestinian and came to NZ with my family in late 2008 so as to carry on my studies. Before coming to NZ, I worked for more than 10 years in Palestine with different development international organisations such as Save the Children US and Save the Children Alliance, OXFAM GB, the World Vision and Seeds of Peace. During that time, I worked with children and women in particular being the most marginalised groups. I am married and have two daughters and one son.


The Future of “Sea of Faith”

A proposal to modify our national name to “Sea of Faith: The National Religious Discussion Network” will come to the national AGM in October, along with some suggested changes to our aims.
Your local Committee will meet on Thursday August 11 at 2 pm at Marjorie Spittle’s home, 727 Brighton Road, Ocean View, to discuss both our response to this remit, and what pointers this may give us for our own aims and activities in Dunedin. Anyone interesting in joining this discussion would be welcome.
Please let Marjorie know so that we can send you information, and combine on transport where possible.


National conference:

This year’s conference will be held at  Rangi Ruru Girls’ School, 59 Hewitts Road, Christchurch, from Friday 14 to Sunday 16 October. The theme is:

Pulling us Back from the Brink: Economics? Science? Religion?

Details of the programme and the speakers and a registration form are now available on the Sea of Faith website.


“The Core of Christianity”

In the latest Bulletin of SoFiA (Sea of Faith in Australia) there’s a 5-page article under this title. The writer is Peter Robinson of Brisbane. Obviously I can’t fit it all in here, but I’ll be happy to email a copy [I have the Editor’s permission] to anyone who would like to read it all. The following quotes from it give some idea of the writer’s approach, and what he covers.

“Jesus was revered as a stand-out teacher (Rabbi) amongst his cohort. Each Rabbi had his particular ideas and individual following. But Jesus had something very different to say about the way people should live and relate both to their God and to others around them.”

“We can talk glibly about the Gospel. But few take on the discipline of examining what it is that Jesus might actually have said and what might have been added or inferred by later writers, and by people like us down through the years. Our difficulty is that we begin with later theological interpretations, and read these back into the historical Jesus. Thankfully, much of this task is being done for us by contemporary biblical scholars.”

“Jesus pointed his followers to God, not to himself.”

“ … the most significant contribution of Jesus’ teaching was (and arguably still is) the radically subversive counter cultural ethic of compassionate mercy. It introduces us to a far larger view of reality than ourselves.”

“ …. the essential witness of the earliest Christians was about living in loving relationship. We see a similar dynamic today, where in developing countries the church is embracing people who are struggling in the face of political and economic injustice and oppression … while in parts of the world where people are experiencing greater comfort and security, the church is being pushed to the margins of society.”

“Contemporary scholars help us understand how, as Christianity abandoned its Hebrew roots and became a Gentile movement, its cultural outlook, language and expression was influenced and changed by a growing exposure to prevailing classical religions, philosophies and mythologies of the Greco-Roman world.”

“In an extreme irony, at the time of Emperor Constantine (Emperor 306-337CE), Jesus, who in his short lifetime had turned the values of the Empire upside down, was invested as the standard bearer of Roman imperialism, his Cross the symbol on the victor standard of Constantine, and the motto ‘in this sign … conquer’. The institutional church was changed forever. (The church, today, is still coming to terms with issues of power and control, and the rise of individual conscience and religious expression).”

“A new cultural paradigm is emerging, focused on ‘spiritual wholeness’ rather than classical dogma, social action rather than introspective religion. It expresses a deep concern for common humanity, world hunger and poverty, the earth, social justice and the voiding of deep cultural and social prejudices of past generations. It is close to Jesus’ original message of redemption, hope, love, compassion, justice and inclusiveness.“

“I have a view that Christian faith is a journey to be lived, not a set of propositions to be believed. Or put another way, in the words of Canadian Gretta Vosper, ‘the way we live is (as/or more) important than what we believe’.”




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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