The Song of the Earth

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Weekend round-up again.  I caught a concert on Saturday, the Berlin Philharmonic performing Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde.  It’s a piece I had been wanting to see.  Mahler was once described to me with George Bernard Shaw’s quote about Wagner, He has wonderful moments, but long periods.  One of symphonies is still popular as repertoire which fits this description.  So it was nice to hear this piece.  They were songs of youth and age, spring-time and wine-drinking.  I believe that the songs come out of the Chinese humanist tradition.  I haven’t investigated them.  I do know a version of them was done in which they are sung in Chinese.  I haven’t found that version.  I would like to.  I suspect that they are influences in the Book of Songs in the Humanist Bible.  I survived the production although I was nodding off towards the end.

And I finished Indirections by Charles Brasch today.  I sat outon the verandah in the end of winter sun and read the last chapters.  It can go onto my shelves now.  I liked that he finalized it covering the first part of his life and then ends with the hint that his acconplishments lie ahead of him.  As it did with in his editorship of New Zealand’s longest running poetic journal.

So I’ve been to the library to get some things that I would like to finish.

The hits on this site are up again.  There does not appear to be an order to when they come in.  It’s interesting to see what angles people are coming in from, and to know the readers are out there, including the R. S. S. feeders.


Per Crucem asked me today if I liked having my new blog on Word-Press.  I’m quite happy here.  I haven’t figured out who’s still reading me.  I hope at least three or friends are still reading me.  They should know who they are.  The hits on this site have been dead for the last couple of days even though I’ve been posting stuff.  Never mind they are up again today so I’m happy.  People are finding me so I’m happy here.

I hope the person who came looking for the quote ‘when I have money I buy books’ found a link that attrributed to Erasmus.  That’s who I understand said it first.

Keep MMP in Dunedin

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The lingering effect of last week’s cold weather is that I still have a cold.  It started off as an irritation in my nose with sneezing, mucus, a headache and a dull pain.  All that remains now is the mucus and I’m hoping that will go away soon.

Also I attended a meeting of the Dunedin Campaign to Keep MMP.  I was the first to arrive and the guy in the office recognized me by sight.  Nice to know I’m still distinctive!  Other interested people turned up and I was sitting with one of the campaign’s national spokespeople Philip Temple.  Best line of the night was his story about emailing an MP who was advocating SM to point out that SM in the form advocated for  New Zealand would increase the Maori seats from six currently to nine.  Aforementioned MP has since revised his opinion.

Second good story is that the Dunedin seats has done well out of MMP with several MPs on the lists over a range of parties across the right-left spectrum deserving respect as representing the local electrates.  People in the campaign are ready to advocate for the MMP referendum in Dunedin so that is a positive move.

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I did not mention that the snow from last week was gone within a day.  It became too wet for it to settle and fortunately it did not freeze and become black ice about which I was worried.  It would have made getting off city rise and into town difficult.

I needed to buy something on Saturday for Graeme’s birthday which was in June so I visited the Christian bookshop.  I am intrigued that so much of our Christian material culture is based on text.  I didn’t feel that this was appropriate for Graeme.  As a intellectually-handicapped man he is pre-literate.  I was happy to find a fridge magnet painted with flowers and the single word JOY and a bright birthday card and a couple of little Jesus cards which I thought he would like.  I had to explain the little cards to him.  They weren’t immediate recognition, which surprised me a little.  I know he would have liked me to buy him a cross.  He said he was wearing one of two he owns.

Also on the same visit to the Christian shop I was pleased to buy a copy of the CD The Best of Rich Mullins, a selection for which I have been looking for several years.  In hindsight I don’t find his lyrics as exceptional as I originally thought.  I found myself still enjoying the music.  It contained two pieces that I was happy to hear again Awesome God (which was the reason I was looking for this collection) and Calling Out Your Name (which was a forgotten pleasure).

Week-end Round-up

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It looks like the review of my work-place, the Presbyterian Archives, is going ahead.  We had a meeting on Friday.  Apparently we come under human resources.

Anyway onto happier things.  I met with my old friend Graeme on Saturday at Saint Clair Beach.  He is the intellectually handicapped friend that I sat with at Opoho Church.  He is now across town at Taieri Road and goes to Flagstaff Church.  They pray for him every week and make the sign of the cross on his forehead with holy oil.  That’s progress.  At Opoho we used the minister’s drinking water to make the sign of the cross.

In the evening I took up an invitation to the Al Quds Mosque in Dunedin to join in the daily breaking of the fast for Ramadan.  We arrived in time for sunset prayers.  It was the first time I had seen the Muslim community at prayer.  It was interesting because the prayers are formal and follow a liturgy of word and action and at the same time it is flexible with people arriving all the time and the young boys appeared to join in when they are ready.  Then we sat down on the floor for a prepared meal of rice, coleslaw and meat.  It was an example of Muslim service and hospitality.

I was amused to see the Imam preparing for the later evening prayers with a laptop in front of him.  We truly are in the 21st century.  The man next to me also said he uses an iPod!  I really am behind the times.

Interestingly most of the men of the mosque present are middle eastern.  So close to the university I imagine most are attending it.  Some of them might be here for the long-term rather than returning home.  As one of the men I was sitting among was Iraqi I suspect he might be one.  It is going to be interesting to watch the emergence of Dunedin’s first generation of home-grown Muslims.  The immigration to Dunedin happens quietly and contributes to the diversity of the society among which I live.

I hoped to catch the talk at the Art Gallery for the Nollywood exhibition today, a creepy display of photos from the Nigerian film industry.  Imagine  Buffy the Vampire Slayer with explicit violence and nudity.  The threat of snow meant the speaker hadn’t arrived.  A pity because the talk was going to be about the influences of this film industry, the world’s third biggest, after Hollywood and Mumbai I guess.  They produce loud violent movies with a fantastic fusion of traditional and Christian religions.  After a look around I went to the museum to look at the Hard on the Heels exhibition of Rugby photos.  The Rugby world cup in New Zealand begins in less than 20 days and already it’s getting inescapable.  Also the display of glass work up in the People of the World wing was definitely worth seeing.

As I post this I’m counting down to my 1000th posting on my blog.

Day two of the Snowpocalypse

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Archives office down to two people today.  The snow was still powdery so two of us could walk in.  Others phoned in and stayed at home.  We kept in touch with the archivist all day.  If the snow turns to ice tomorrow then I will be leaving later for work.

Finished reading Michael King’s History of New Zealand.  I’m no historian, it still made enjoyable reading and what I know of my history all slotted in the right places, from the coming of the Maori 800 years ago to the beginning of the new millennium.  I think I can recommend that one as a modern history.  I will have to return that one to D. when I see her next.

What to read next?  I am still involved with Charles Brasch and am on the verge of his departure from New Zealand to further his studies at Oxford in England.

Snow and Frost, Stormy Wind fulfilling his command!

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The stars aligned again and there was a visitation of Great Noodly Elders upon the town of Cromwell.  The body count is as yet unknown, probably lesser than that of Yobbo-Shoggoth in the recent London Uprisings.  The Southern Presbytery gathered for its second annual meeting, this time in central Otago.

A ride had been arranged and I left at ten past one.   Tolerably on time considering I had mistaken last Friday for the departure and spent an hour waiting outside, including in the rain!  Comfortable traveling and good company.  The regions of the south were well represented with only a handful of parishes not sending a representative, oh, and the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, ahem!

The catering was good.  The worship was evangelical.  I was disappointed at the lack of liturgy in the worship.  I enjoy liturgy and re-use in my personal devotions at home.   This was straight into the choruses and it was unremitting.  It was supported by musicians (guitar, electric organ, drum set) and I am more accustomed to piano and organ accompliment in worship.  So the worship didn’t work for me.  That is personal taste.  As the Presbyterian Church is in the midst of a generational change I have no doubt that I am in the minority.

It was also useful to look around the church plant.  It is a new one.  Cromwell was affected by the damming of the river to create Lake Dunstan and part of the old town was flooded.  The church built on a new site and promoted itself in the national church newspaper as being erected in one weekend.  I found Cromwell interesting as the buildings of the new town are all of the same age and design.  Is this is what the earthquake recovery for Christchurch is going to be like?  The architecture of the new church suffers for the fact that it does not stand out from the buildings around it.  I would suggest that it needs a steeple so it can be identified as a church.

I decided to be billeted with church members while I was there overnight so I could have some appreciation of the church members.  I expected to reflect the evangelical ethos of the congregation and they were very full gospel; comfortable, warm accomodation, and a cat which visited me in the night.  It didn’t stay.  I woke to frost on the ground, mist seething on the lake, dawning light on the mountains, and watching a bonfire in the field.

There is a lot of business to report to the Parish Council and I won’t go into it here.  Before we left I got to have a ride in the back of a classic Rolls-Royce with the license plate MI MINI.  The smell of the seats and the breeze blowing through the open windows took me back to memories of my childhood when we owned a Rover.

Home again and I keep stopping to take a photo of the snowfall outside Manono House.  I’m glad we got home a day before it threatened to close the roads.

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