I was in Burns Hall at First Church of Otago for this event.  The Centre for Theology and Public Issues had organised the event with the Dunedin Resource Group.  A panel spoke on the themes of Alcohol; National Identity; Families; and Crime and Punishment.

On the issue of families I felt the speaker let us down.  We are not going back to the model of two parents and two children.  One question from the floor pointed out that neither Jesus in the gospels, nor the Holy Bible in its telling limits families to that model.  The speaker admitted that the whanau (extended family) model of family is more biblical.  I would wish for a greater respect for the diversity that exists in families.

As for raising corporal punishment in families.  Excuse me!  It wasn’t an Anti-Smacking Bill, it was a Repeal Reasonable Force Bill!  I hope that we are undergoing a paradigm shift in this country that the use of violence against children is unacceptable.  I wish I could have thought of a suitable question to challenge such old-fashioned attitudes.  I don’t want to see it remaining entrenched among Christians.

One member left early to stand with the protesters in the Octagon and to cover them with love as Occupy the Octagon people had been given trespass notice and advised to move on by eight o’clock.  She returned before nine o’clock to say that the Police had not appeared to force them out of the Octagon.  This may be an example of the policy of Policing Excellence.  Instead of pushing people through the court system (an excellent way of introducing young people to a lifetime of visits to law-courts and prisons) seek ways so that they do not re-offend.

I have heard today from one nearby business that they would be happy to see the Occupy the Octagon movement out of the Octagon.  Local people feel that the grass is being turned to mud by the protesters’ tents; and they are using the storm drains in public to dispose of human waste.  This is not a good look and shows poor communication.