Aug 18 2011

August 2011 Newsletter

Published by under Newsletters



August 2011



“How can anyone bring in theology
in talking with someone as self-consciously secular
as the average Kiwi?”

Professor Andrew Bradstock opened the evening by looking at this question.  There was plenty of time for question and comment.
Andrew would also like to hear back from us about what we think the Centre for Theology and Public Issues has achieved in its short life so far.
Andrew Bradstock holds the Howard Paterson Chair in Theology and Public Issues and is Director of the Centre for Theology and Public Issues, which was set up when he arrived at Otago in January 2009.    He studied Theology and Politics at the University of Bristol before completing his PhD in Political Theory at the University of Kent at Canterbury.   He has extensive teaching experience and has been heavily involved in working with UK politicians to develop links between Parliament and the churches and other faith communities.

[Andrew and I haven’t managed to make direct contact before this Newsletter went to press, and I take full responsibility for the wordy question in the title.   –  Ed.] 


Joan de Hamel:

Joan, who died recently, was an active member of our group while her health permitted.  25 years ago, she was at a University service in Knox Church, and liked one of the hymns so much that she saved it and said she wanted it sung at her funeral.  Here it is:

Does a changing doctrine cause you
Fear, resentment, pain or scorn?
Never falter  –  God is living,
While he lives new truths are born.
Truth when new may bring confusion,
Christ himself disturbed the world.
Would you choose to turn from thinking,
Lest our faith should prove too small?
We affirm it, God is living,
While he lives new truths are born,
We affirm it, God is living,
God the new, the yet unknown.

Do you pride yourself, possessing
Simple, undemanding faith?
Simple faith may be obscuring
God’s demand for deeper truth.
Welcome thoughts that stir your Spirit;
Sift them, hear them – can’t you see
Christ, at Easter, died to show us
Truth will conquer; Truth is free.
We affirm it  …..

God will never cease his teaching;
God, who showed his love as Christ;
God who meets us in our spirits;
God of death and hope and life.
Doctrines of our faith and purpose,
Ancient, modern, or to come,
Spring from minds where God is master;
God the present, active one.
We affirm it ….



“How to be an Agnostic”

I printed a few months ago one quote from this book by Mark Vernon which I found quoted in a magazine article. Since then I’ve bought and read the book itself.  In the next column are a few more quotes from it I thought were worth sharing.

“   … the agnosticism that stirs me is not a sterile kind of uncertainty, which sits on the fence, or worse, can’t be bothered to articulate what it breezily doubts. The position I want to flesh out is engaged.  It senses that what we don’t know is as thrilling as what we do know”.
“Many great goods have arisen with the spread of wealth and the appliance of science.  The trouble is that this way of life only nourishes us in certain ways. It can entertain us, but not make us happy. It can heal us, but not make us whole.   It can feed us, but only in body.”
He concluded:  ‘Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind’, and he wrote:
‘Behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion’.”

“Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury has noted,  ‘The piles of flowers that you see on the site of road accidents are the most potent symbols of a society haunted by religion and not clear on what to do about it’.”
“Like many religious people, many atheists want certainty in a sphere of existence in which certainty is not to be found”.

“John Caput …  argues that, on the one hand, many people who might think of themselves as religious because they go to church, are, in fact, not religious, because what they seek from church is certainty.  Then, on the other hand, there are those who never darken the doors of a church, but are actually profoundly religious, because they actively embrace the mysteries of life.”

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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