Weekend Report

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Three events:

I went to the march against youth rates.  A small group of people met in the Octagon, less than a hundred.  I felt I should attend as I see no advantage for young people attempting to establish themselves as independent people and having their income reduced for somebody else’s financial advantage.  The group that turned up was dominated by the socialists, a rather elect church with its own ceremonies from what I make out.  Like most people on the Left I have my own sect, and these people didn’t represent me.  I lean towards being a Labour independent.  They marched down the street to the National Party office, where no one was in, and chanted.  There was some good speeches, reflecting that our anger is not just against youth wages; there’s the attack on trade unions, on the Hillside Railway Workshop, and the oil prospecting off Otago and Gisbourne that is causing anger as well.  When I decided that I could leave they were wondering What can we do now.  Let’s march back to the Octagon!

Oh, dear.  That feels a little undirected to me.

Then in the evening the Midwinter Carnival was in the Octagon.  That was fun.  One thousand candle-lit lanterns proceeded around the Octagon twice which was full with spectators.  They were led by Maori stick-form.  I would love to learn that.  The first lanterns were stars, then chrysalids and bumblebees and ladybirds.  The cutest would have to have been the bumblebee with fangs.  I saw that one on the second circuit.  Above them were larger lanterns: owls and moths and weta, and stilt walkers including a land-strider.  Drums provided the main music, any other music provided by insectoid musicians could not be heard a couple of metres away.  Maybe they need amplification.

I met friends at the Dunedin Art Gallery today where there was a well-attended talk for the Regency Fashion exhibition today. They suggested that the Midwinter Carnival could do with a master of ceremonies figure to guide it around the Octogan, a Lord of Misrule to encourage interaction with the audience as Dunedin crowds tend to be stolid and unresponsive.  There was a showing of a documentary about the life of Jane Austen.  It included the interesting thought that in the fun and romance of her stories we need to know that her heroines are marrying well so we know that they will survive and flourish on their income.  They are like the rest of us in that respect.

The Demon Drink and the Christian: Yesterday and Today

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Temperance was a wheelbarrow issue for the churches at one time in its life. A wheelbarrow issue is something on the agenda that everyone is pushing, if not in one direction then in another. The wheelbarrow has moved on. No guesses for what it is today.

I found Geoff Troughton’s talk last week interested me on what happens to a wheelbarrow issue when the wheelbarrow pushers have moved on and the wheelbarrow is rusting in the garden.

At one point temperance was not in the wheelbarrow. One hundred and fifty years ago British Baptists were advertising whiskey in their national periodical. I do not endorse this, whiskey reminds me too much of the smell of varnish that I do not enjoy it. (Don’t ask about my varnish-drinking habit!)

Then the issue of temperance and alcohol reform began a public issue for protestant Christians. It took upon the fervour of revivalism. This comment made me wonder if the current touch-paper issue for Christians will also become historic dampening as society continues to evolve.

Church practice adjusted to preclude the consumption of alcohol on church grounds and the replacement of sacramental wine with grape juice.  Sacramental wine revived during the war period when grape juice was restricted.  The Presbyterian Bookroom offered a light wine.  I wonder who bought it?

Temperance was once considered a progressive position, including leading free-thinkers in the nineteenth century.  It was a faction in the church and lead to the creation of new parishes, whether by moderates or teetotalers.  Perhaps it could be compared to the charismatic movement in more recent history in that effect.  One leading Presbyterian, William Salmond, published a tract against it, Prohibition: a blunder.  It was funded by liquor interests, including Speights.  Some things don’t change.

Society changed.  Temperance and the Six O’clock Swill became unfashionable.  Temperance and alcohol reform was absorbed into the Public Questions Committee, a suspect group in the eyes of evangelicals and conservative Presbyterians.  With the demise of Public Questions there is no champion for Temperance.  The submissions to the Alcohol Reform Bill was widespread but naive, not thought through or presented with depth.

I wonder if that has ramifications for the leadership debate simmering in the national church at the moment.  It may be that it will not go away or be resolved for an inclusive church.  If temperance can still be an issue although we don’t know why or articulate it then I doubt the church will become an inclusive body at the national level.  It may allow exceptions and become more tolerant as society progresses one way or another.  But I think it has taken its position on sexuality and this has become historic.

Geoff Troughton’s paper to the Presbyterian Research Network can be read here.

Hobbit, distracted

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My attention to updating this blog recently has been diverted.  I picked my copy of A Descriptive Dictionary: Bislama to English off the bookshelf recently and looking through it I realized it had descriptions that I could adapt to the eclectic language on which I had been working as a project.  The two blend nicely.  Unfortunately for readers I am only in the As so this could take some while.  Time is limited at the moment so I’m enjoying expanding lexicon descriptions over the weekend.  Perhaps some of this might be posted to a blog at a later date.

At the same time I enjoyed watching a performance of Il Trovatore from the Metropolitan Opera today.  I will post my description of that story at a later time.  Tomorrow I’m busy at church as we are looking at a new candidate for the parish’s ministry.  All very exciting, and eventful.


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I was going to write up my notes on Geoff Troughton’s address to the Presbyterian Research Network: The Demon Drink and the Christian: Yesterday and Today. The Archivist has suggested that I put this up on the Presbyterian Research blog which has been inactive.  Instead I will give you a fragment that I wrote for the Writing Different Worlds workshop a couple of months ago.  I haven’t done anything further with it.  I’m coming to like the direction I think it is going in.

The morning sun was shining through the curtains.  They did not close completely, a line of light shone between the curtains into the still dark of the room and across the bed.  On a fine warm morning the boy enjoyed the luxury of being under blankets while still not fully awake.  He emerged into consciousness at his own leisure.

It was not to last.  A voice broke through his reverie.  “Johnny! Johnny!” A women entered the room and she was pulling the drapes open. The sunlit sky illumined the room.  The last snatches of sleep were expelled.  The boy protested, snuggling deeper into the blankets.

Still it was too late.  She pulled the blankets back.  “Johnny, it’s time to get up. The porridge is nearly ready, and I need you to go down to Mr Potipher’s.  There’s no milk.”

Johnny groaned and tired to pull the covers back over him.  His mother was firmer.  “None of that,” she said.  “There’s work to be done.  Get up and get dressed.  Here’s some money.”  She left a handful of coins on the drawers.  Now she was wasting no time pulling him out of the bed.

“But mum!” he wailed.

“No nonsense,” she said sternly.  “Everyone is else is up.  Now get up and go.”

He was up and pulling on clothing.  Everyone else was already out of the house, probably down the section.  He had time to give himself a quick wash in the bathroom and was out of the house.

They lived on the edge of town.  North of most of the shops, but at least out of the shadow of the towers.  Mr Potipher’s shop was on the very edge of the inner district.  It was a stone building and had always been there.


Doctor Who: The Doctor’s Wife

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There is so much to write about again.  It happens to me by surprise.  Several things I decide I want to write about happen at once.  This is good.  It means another burst of entries.  I’m fascinated by what people want to read.  My entry on the Concert for Christchurch is still getting hits.  Apparently nobody is writing about these things.  I wrote to tell people I was there.  Maybe when I do more reviews I’m interesting.

Of the things I wanted to write about I picked tonight’s episode of Doctor Who.  It was the famous Neil Gaiman episode.  I didn’t pick that detail up until I checked it on Wikipedia afterwards.  I had gone to see who was the voice of the House.  He sounded to me like someone out of Douglas Adams.  I liked that thought.

I’m not a fan of Neil Gaiman as an author of books.  Instead I consider the strength of his work is in his ability to write scripts.  In hindsight this one was a classic piece of his writing: fantasy, whimsy, and extending the myth of the Time Lords.

Some thoughts:

Outside the universe where we’re never ever been  Not true, the Doctor and his companions have been to pocket universes before, or bubble universes as the Doctor calls them here.  I remember the E-space adventures.

The Tardis has been drained of power before.  Most famously for me in a Dalek adventure in the City of Exxilon, one of the more memorable adventures of my childhood.  It could have been my earliest encounter with Daleks.

Explanation of the matrix as the soul of the Tardis.  Sort of helps explain what the matrix was doing on the Tardis in the Doctor Who movie.

Another Time Lord episode: so there were other ‘good’ Time Lords who fled Gallifrey.  It is unlikely that we will ever meet any of them.  It’s also mentioned that the Corsair, another Time Lord, has been male and female in various incarnations.  Now that this has been added to the canon it will add fuel to the fans.

The Doctor ran his fingers over the console of his Tardis; the Tardis ran her console over the fingers of her console, not a quote from the episode, rather from one of Missing Adventures, a line stuck in my head.  The idea that the Tardis has persona, or can be a person, is not a new one.  It has been explored else where.

I take you to where you need to go, I have always suspected that.  The Tardis can deliberately land the Doctor directly in the path of danger.

Morning Report

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I was listening to Richard Lewis, the spokesman from the Destiny Church, talk on the radio this morning.  He was saying that they have a social arm that rivals Presbyterian Support in scale.  A bit of a misleading comparison, I thought, as very early on in its history Presbyterian Support created itself into an independent organization of the church.  It continues to take personnel from the church and has the right to address the church courts and parishes, but it can also choose its own social policy.  I doubt whether the bishop of the Destiny Church will give it that freedom.

It’s always the controversial leaders and spokesman in any idealogical world-view that the media wants to quote.  I wish that they would take a more sensible approach.  Not going to happen!  If wishes were horses…then hobbits would fall off them more often!

Sherlock and The Great Game

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Sherlock will forgive anything, except bad grammar.  Will Mrs Hudson make him pay for the damage from the explosion too?  He is being impossible.

John still has the girl.  Good for him.  His blogging has been so successful that everyone reading about Sherlock and his foibles.  He is correct.  Most of us don’t live as if the earth goes around the sun.  He’s more focussed about it than others.  I’m with Sherlock on this one.

Then a boy’s shoes from a murder twenty years earlier turn up.  An early case for the consulting detective.  Did his adversary wait twenty years to set up this duel?  It must have been boring.  This is what happens when people get bored.  Is the bomber another diversion to keep Sherlock from being bored?  When Sherlock loses, somebody dies.

What’s with the spare change girl?  She’s from the Homeless Network; the 21st century equivalent of the Baker Street Irregulars.

They can’t get their planets right.  They are showing Jupiter and playing the Mars suite.  Although the Holst medley is fun.

Behind the conspiracy of whispers, Moriarty is revealed.  The three episodes, and the series end with a stand-off.  Nice cliff-hanger!

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