Aug 12 2014

Newsletter August 2014

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091011.SOFimageSea of Faith – Dunedin
Exploring Meaning in Life
Newsletter AUGUST 2014


Next Meeting

Biting the Ballot

Marjorie Spittle &

David Kitchingman

Thursday, 28th AUGUST

Highgate Church buildings,

Maori Hill

Tea and Coffee will be available
between 5.00 and 5.40 pm
Food will be available
$7 for as much as you want to eat plus rent
$4 if you come for the meeting only
The programme will start at 6 pm


We Start With…

A two minute period of silence.


From the Chair

Prof Richard Jackson (Peace & Conflict Studies) spoke to our July meeting about his brand new novel ‘Confessions of a Terrorist’, though he didn’t really get onto the book very much. Richard explained how his early life experiences had brought him face to face with terrorist activity, and that this experience had informed his career since then. After asking us ‘If you could ask a terrorist a question, what would it be?’ the meeting developed into a conversation as we explored what it is that might ‘radicalise’ a person, how we could define terrorism, what its root causes might be, and what the world could do to reduce terrorism. Concerning one of the most frightening and difficult issues in the world today, the meeting was fascinating, enlightening, and gripping. We could have listened for much longer to Richard’s message and wisdom.

For those who missed the meeting, there is a very good feature article in the ODT

For those at the meeting who wanted to send Richard’s book to those movers and shakers who would get value from it – Barak Obama and John Key were mentioned – here’s a suggestion to meet your goal while not involving Sea of Faith (which prefers not to support particular causes): if you would care to give a sum, say $10, to the Sea of Faith meeting chair, she will pass the money on to Richard. This way our collective action can have some impact, and we combine our efforts with others to get Richard’s book out ‘to useful people’. I will start the ball rolling with $10 (but I won’t be the chair for the August meeting – watch this space :) )

Gretchen 03 473 0031

Our Next Meeting

According to Linus in the comic strip Peanuts, politics is one of the three great taboo topics, along with religion and the Great Pumpkin.

But next month is the election, so we’re going to bite the bullet.

Marjorie will make some observations on the political scene that we face as September 20th approaches and attempt to introduce some of the questions Sea of Faithers may be asking as we make our way to the ballot box.

David will skirt around the subject (and even touch on one of the other two tricky ones) by reviewing a recent book by Jonathon Haidt on The Righteous mind: why good people are divided by politics and religion.

There will be plenty of time for discussion.


These are good opportunities to look at places with different values and to look at the way one’s own values might have changed.

I was in Norway and visited a Lutheran church built in 1745 and most uncompromising on the outside but very ornate inside. The builder who wanted a simple design died after the outside was finished and before it was fitted out internally. In the event, some parts of the interior are baroque – it seems incongruous, but what struck me most was that everyone in the community had their place to sit. The king had his royal box, the local notables had padded seats on the ground floor, lesser notables had unpadded seats on the first floor and the silver mine workers had planks on the top floor. I was told that if any of the workers fell asleep during service, there was a person with a long stick who would give them a poke to wake them up. I sat in the miners’ seats and couldn’t see the Minister or Organist or Reader. Does that layout determine the way the community works or reflect it? Fortunately, social progress has taken place and no-one now has to sit in that rigid pattern.

In Guilford about 2000 (two thousand) worshippers celebrated the creation of 14 new Deacons who were going to new parishes. Their old parishioners and new churches were all there in force to wish them well. What a great spectacle of colour as the Bishop and entourage processed in to the tune of so many voices and a very good choir. At the cathedral, one person in the congregation told me that the attendance at cathedrals in England was increasing.

In the Herefordshire village of Yarpole, the 14th century St Leonard’s church was down to about 12 weekly attendees and was facing closure but has re-invigorated itself by getting rid of the pews and making the space flexible for activities on just about every day of the week (Tai-Chi seems most popular), it has a shop staffed by village volunteers, a post office and café. The place was a hive of activity every time I visited with people coming and going to collect the papers, bread, milk and having a gossip.

I also attended a Quaker meeting in London and then had lunch in their library. They gave me a reference to a BBC radio programme dealing with conflict over the proposal to erect a statue to Ghandi in central London. The argument seems to be whether Gandhi was always the kind peaceful, inclusive man we know from Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of him in the film or whether his earlier attitudes whilst in South Africa brand him as racist. Statues, like canonisation of popes, surely don’t mean that the entire life was blameless but that on the whole, more good than harm was done. We have a statue to Gandhi in Wellington already. I left some white ‘peace poppies’ with the Quaker family who hosted me there.

Involvement with things spiritual is on the increase then – Dover Beach and all that.

One sign of the times that might come here… you remember the milkman used to deliver to our homes when milk was in recyclable glass bottles? No home deliveries now for most of us. In some parts of England, the daily newspaper delivery has stopped as the youngsters are no longer prepared to work for the low wages associated with the job. I hope that doesn’t catch on here. I really love the ODT at 6am with breakfast.

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

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