76.1 kg

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I’m putting on weight again. Not good. I must be getting slack.

Weather muggy, promise of what’s to come.

Archivist away next week to Canberra. We will discuss tomorrow what I can carry on with if I finish the First Church collection while she is away.

Apparently there is a bouncy castle on the First Church grounds at the moment. I met friends coming down Bell Hill. They had been up there because it was one of their children’s birthdays. I was on my way to Otago Church Books. They have moved from Princess Street to upstairs on the the corner of Lower Stuart Street and Moray Place. Nice rooms. I expect the church books part of the store will continue to decline in favour of the Rebound second hand books. I ordered two books while I was there: one for my mother, which they will have to send away for, so she won’t get it straight away; and the other for myself, a commentary on the Gospel of Mark by a friend who died before it could be completed. Now the pre-publication circulars are coming out and I want to make sure I get a copy.

Tessa left the worse of her dags on the carpet. They went outside straight away. Must remember to vacuum at the weekend. She herself has involuntarily gone outside. She started wheazing and I don’t trust pets that do that. Sure sign something is coming up.

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Tessa is a stinky bum. Long-haired cats get ‘bits’ in their fur.

Four new comics this week:

Strange: I read the first issue on Mile High Comics website so I have only scrimmed it without taking it in. Actually I’m finding it deserves a slower read.

Elric: adapted for comics by the character’s creator Michael Moorcock, and drawn by Walt Simonson. It should be good. Instead I find it lacking in comparison to the simple elegant interpretation of the Elric saga that Charles Vess did a couple of years back.

Astonishing X-Men: please, Mr Whedon, write more comics!

Hero: issue # 20. A modern version of a much older DC title. I have only just decided to pick up this title. The Hero device allows the user to turn into into any any hero that the creative team or fans can think of that doesn’t infringe on franchise copyrights. Currently it should belong to two slacker dudes. Unfortunately it has been stolen by a two-dimensional supervillain from a computer game with ‘issues’. After one issue I like the characters and the story feels like it’s going somewhere. Fortunately for me Bag End has back issues.

Gym at the end of the day is a busy time.

I heard from Nick. We reckon that in three week’s time I should have earned the flybuys points to travel to Wellington for Christmas. He reckons by that time he should have earned enough on his card for me to travel back, maybe after New Year. I think seeing the celebrations in Wellington should be neat.

Piano, violin and cello

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My mother rang in the evening and gave the question for this week’s quiz on Concert FM. Now that spring is here I have been getting up a little earlier and the competition question is announced while I am in shower. The question is: what instruments play in a piano trio.

I still haven’t used my flybuys points to book a ticket to Wellington over Christmas. One way will cost me 495 points. I currently have 480.

Archivist working at home today on the paper she is presenting to a conference in Canberra. Office very quiet. Ploughed my way through a pile of newsletters from First Church, Dunedin.

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Joe had to go into town early today for jury duty. This is the third time he has been called upon. Maybe it is a mutant ability or something.

The Archives staff are in a state of dismay over the Assembly decision. The Archivist is tempted to resign and be done with it. By the end of the day we were all in a better frame of mind. A theological student who regularly uses the Hewitson wing for study space came downstairs to the basement to see what was down there.

After work Felicity took me to her office and with Robert we worked together on his memoirs.

17th Sunday after Pentecost

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I should have realised what was going to happen at Assembly. On the night before the vote was taken the commissioners were free to go into town for their evening meal, none was provided. I went into town with the School of Ministry students. They were present at the Assembly as observers, in charge of the microphones that the commissioners used. They were on their toes all the time, a slight advantage over the commissioners who had no choice but to sit through the whole Assembly.

We went into town, to the buffet floor of restaurant. Fourteen of us around a table. As the evening went on it was clear that the students did not favour the inclusive motions that were before the Assembly. Thinking about what was coming meant I did not sleep well that night.

The Earthdawn game was postponed a day late, on Saturday. Having escaped escaped the Elf King of Three Peak’s clutches our party took a job to investigate an unopened kaer, a cross between a mediaevil village and a bunker. The kaer proved to be horror-tainted. We cut through the villagers’ cadavers; the writhing wormy horror caused us to flee in terror. Now we have retreated to what appears to be the only untainted building in the kaer. We don’t know if there is a way out.

The evening ended with a party to celebrate a birthday that happened two months earlier. First we went out for alcohol. I bought a bottle of white wine. Later some bottom drawer stuff came out. The vessel was passed around. I declined. Its aroma filled the room, sweet and fermenting, not dissimilar to constipation. Later in the evening I decided to walk home to clear my head and rest before I attended church the next day.

The service was on the parable of Dives and Lazarus. “The poor will always be with you,” quoted Jesus, omitting the second half of the Deuteronomist’s saying: “Open your hand to the poor and needy in your land.”
The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them, high and lowly,
And ordered their estate.

Redacters have struck out the verse from the hymn. The institutions in society that create inequality in the first place endure.

We had a prayer for Graeme when he arrived. He was still upset after his tantrum the day before. The unhappy man is victim of his own insecurities.

After church I spoke to the Adult Study Group about what happened in the debate at Assembly. I don’t think the parish council will vote for the ruling when it comes before us.

Since returning home Outlook Express has beening giving me problems on Bagend. There is an error that will not allow me to delete messages. So I have transferred my email account to Endeavour. All my files are still on the linux box, the only thing I was using the windows box for was email and blogging. Now all tasks are operating on Endeavour again. There’s some flakiness on this motherboard which means I will have to replace Endeavour‘s box soon.

My gregorian CDs have returned.

Further on Assembly

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We met in dialogue groups for two afternoons. I knew it wasn’t going to go well when I identified at least three members of the group as conservatives. In our second session we discussed the notices of motion on the homosexuality issues that were going to be presented to Assembly. The two opposing views, to allow gay people into leadership or not, were not going to agree it came down to a show of hands. The group was divided between four who were in favour and nine who were not. This proved to be uncomfortable for all who were involved.

The actual voting took place on the floor of assembly on Thursday. The motion of the Council of Assembly, The Way Forward was presented first. The Council of Assembly wished the choice of calling or rejecting gay people in leadership to be the decision of individual presbyteries and parishes. We took out our ballot papers and voted. It was lost.

Next up was a motion from St. Lukes Remuera, an inclusive church, requesting that the assembly make no decision on this issue. The Rev. David Clark was given right of reply after the debate was closed. He said, “You can pass all the rules you like, we will always be among you.” The inclusion of ‘bloody well llike…’ in the Christchurch Press is a misquote. The vote was taken by ballot and the motion was lost.

The Assembly then voted to rule that the church may not accept for training, license, ordain, or induct anyone living in a sexual relationship outside of a faithful marriage between a man and a woman. This rules out openly gay people, de facto couples, and any future couples who register their relationship as a civil union when that legislation is passed. I voted for this thinking that this would reset the position of the church back to the point it existed in before the crisis caused by the judicial commission. Despite this many inclusive people advocated its rejection.

The motion was amended as not to prejudice any gay clergy at the time of the Assembly. There would be no witchhunt of existing clergy, there would be no admission of future gay clergy to the church until this ruling is repealed. It was carried.

One clause was taken separately: That this ruling be adopted ad interim. I voted against it as it was unnecessary. Even so it was still passed. It was at this point that I realised that a change in the church’s make-up. The numbers who supported inclusivity had grown to small. The mind of Assembly had turned to the Evangelicals.

Someone worked out that the difference between carrying and losing the motion was eleven people.

At this point the Moderator announced that all other motions on this issue had lapsed. He invited the chaplains onto the platform to pray on behalf of the minority whose vote had been rejected. The chaplains expressed their grief. I was indignant as they could not express the anger that I was feeling. I did not want to grieve. I did not bow to their prayers. Later someone pointed out that they were praying for themselves.

On Friday, the final day the Assembly joined together for a closing service of communion before we departed. We were invited to gather together in our dialogue groups. I was reluctant to share communion with these people. I went anyway. Then I discovered that the people I was travelling back to Dunedin were wanting to leave before they were caught up in the traffic of departing people. In friendship I gave the members of Dialogue Group 7 each a hug, which was the best I could do and we left.

General Assembly

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Well, I’m back from Assembly. It’s over now. The consequences will continue to affect the church for some time to come.

The General Assembly is the highest court of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand. It meets for six days every two years to discuss the business relating to the governance of the church. The assembly met at St. Andrew’s College in Christchurch. 378 commissioners appointed by the parishes of church were in attendance, plus other who were observers or guests. This brought the numbers to well over 400. There is a certain pleasure to be gained from meeting with so many people united for the same purpose. I immersed myself in the affairs of the church completely for one week.

Above the stage were two screens on which they projected noitices, or images of what was occuring on stage. It made the people look like televangelists. I was always expecting an altar call.

The day started with a communion service in the chapel at eight o’clock in the morning. About the same time the coffee bar organised by the students of the college opened. I always suspected the conflict of interest. The Assembly ran on coffee breaks. For the first time in my life I have come down with a taste for instant coffee!

The significant issue of this assembly was the homosexuality and leadership debate. It has become a divisive issue in the church. In response to a crisis of policy, the conservatives have sought to reinforce a ruling that the church will not ordain gay leadership in the church. As such a ruling demands a 60% vote by the Assembly this is significant. The changing demographic means that the emergent church is the sixty percent church. The Evangelicals do not yet realise the influence that they control. When they do then I am fearful for the nature of the church. We risk becoming increasingly sectarian. They could chose the direction of the future.

None of this makes any difference to the relevance of the church in modern New Zealand society.

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