Sep 16 2013

September 2013 Newsletter

Published by under Newsletters

091011.SOFimageSea of Faith – Dunedin
Exploring Meaning in Life
Newsletter SEPTEMBER 2013

Next Meeting


Led by Ian Fleming

Thursday, 26th September

Highgate Church buildings,
Maori Hill
Tea and Coffee will be available
between 5.00 and 5.40 pm
Food will be available
$5 for as much as you want to eat plus rent
$2 if you come for the meeting only
Kitchen volunteers:
Marjorie and Bruce Spittle
The programme will start at 6 pm


We Start With…

A two minute period of silence.


From the Chair

‘A conversation is when you hear yourself say something you’ve never said before’ – from a precious book by Theodore Zeldin that I can no longer find on my shelf.

Some of the best Sea of Faith meetings are those on a single-word topic, such as our one this month on Prayer. With wise and gentle guidance – as will be provided for us by Ian Fleming – we find that hearing others’ views, and giving our own, starts a conversation and exploration that takes us places we’ve never been before. Open-mindedness, flexibility, interest in new ideas, and generosity – these are features of Sea of Faith members, and conversations, that make our meetings very special.

Wearing another hat, I am a member of the Otago Tertiary Chaplaincy Trust Board, which provides chaplaincy services (alongside their Catholic colleagues) to students and staff at the Polytechnic and the University.

The OTCTB had its first meeting 50 years ago, and appointed the first chaplain, Rev. Lewis Lowry, in April 1964. So we are holding a prolonged 50th celebration, starting with a celebration dinner on 27 November this year.

There may be members of Dunedin Sea of Faith who have contributed to, or benefitted from, or otherwise have some interest in, Otago’s chaplaincy service, and who might enjoy attending the dinner. Held in conjunction with two relevant conferences, we expect a good attendance and a very pleasant evening.

Tickets are $65 each. I will have tickets at both the September and October SoF meetings. If you would like to purchase one or two (or more) let me know and we can discuss payment – there are many different ways to pay these days.


Next Meeting

This session will be based necessarily upon our own experiences. It will depend entirely on what we each contribute to the discussion, in response to, (hopefully), helpful leading questions.

Prayer from hymns
Consider the following hymn lines regarding prayer:

  • Praise, my soul, the King of heaven.
  • Now thank we all our God, with heart, and hands and voices.
  • Sweet hour of prayer
  • Take it to the Lord in prayer
  • One thing I of the Lord desire … oh make me clean.
  • Oh for a heart to praise my God
  • Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, unuttered or expressed.
Types of prayer
The Lord’s Prayer. The serenity prayer. Also: public, silent, repetitive, extempore, read, and chain prayers as well as praying in tongues.
Occasions of prayer
Prayer on our own, prayer led by others, prayer in worship, in prayer groups, for healing, for guidance, for blessing, on other occasions.
Compare: praying for a car park, a prayer of love and adoration, a cry for help facing imminent danger and relief for deliverance afterwards.
Prayer can be performed standing, walking, sitting, prostrating, lying, (other?). Hands clasped, arms outstretched, eyes closed, head bowed, (other positions?).
Prayer in development
How has our experience of prayer begun, developed and changed over our lives until now? – From infancy, through childhood, adolescence and adulthood, and through many life changing situations; to the point where now we may or may not pray, and if the latter, we may or may not miss it.
Have any of the above promptings – or other experiences – been of special significance?

The Wikipedia article defines prayer as an “act that seeks to activate a rapport with a deity, an object of worship, or a spiritual entity through deliberate communication”. Prayer can go all the way from primitive magic incantation to the highest form of community worship.
The article is usefully extensive. I came away thinking that prayer seems almost intrinsic to the human species. Or maybe only in the past? And only to some?

Ian Fleming

Last Meeting

David Kitchingman led us through a recent book of Jared Diamond’s “What we can learn from traditional societies”. David worked in PNG for five years and Jared worked there over a long period observing and talking to the local people (who speak 1000 of the world’s 7000 different languages – how they evolved is told in Jared’s “Guns, Germs and Steel”). When David first went there he observed a people who were slim, fit and relatively healthy (no diabetes or hypertension). Over time, the western diet high in salt, sugar and saturated fat has physically changed people dramatically. Their genes, suited to the traditional lifestyle, have now become lethal for them. Not only their bodies but their religions have changed over time, adapting to different environmental constraints, and this has also been a trend in European-type communities. Jared Diamond, like Ian Harris and Lloyd Geering sees religion changing. Perhaps providing comfort in times of pain and death being its most valued modern contribution.


Newsletter Editor:
Alan Jackson
55 Evans Street
Ph: 473 6947

No responses yet

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply