Bible in Schools

Leave a comment

This programme for religious education in New Zealand has come under controversy recently.  The programme works by allowing coached volunteers to teach Christian knowledge in schools.  It is not done by the school.  The teachers remove themselves from the class because the secular education system does not endorse being used for Christian education.  For some volunteers this is a ticket to chaos.  The programme has come under controversy because it has been revealed that some volunteers are doing it to convert children.  Shock! horror!

Opinion is divided between two missionary positions: the glazed-eyed ones who want to convert everyone to their particular religious opinion complete with burning heretics; and the glazed-eyed ones who who won’t be happy until they have purged society of every stain of religious inclinations and crushed it underfoot.  Once the debate is public on the internet and reaches the commentariat then recognition that opposing opinion are people too is forgotten.  It’s us versus them all over again.

It’s forgotten that religious education in this form has been available for a hundred years.  At its introduction the desire was to avoid introducing sectarian instruction into schools.  So they set up a system that avoided prayers before lessons and allowed some introduction of the children to story-telling from the Bible.  If parents wanted more than that then they could send their children to a church school.  And how private schools got into the position of sucking off public education, I don’t know.  I don’t even want to touch that one.

Today I understand it’s under the oversight of the Churches Education Commission.  My impression of them is that they represent a nice middle-class cardigan-wearing Christianity.  That could be wrong.  Soft Christianity is on the back foot in New Zealand currently.  My own feeling is that Bible in Schools has had very few converts.  My own feeling from my school days in the 1970s was that it was the same sort of story telling and role-playing as happened in Sunday School at church.  I came out of that religious background.  Sometimes it was the same people.  I doubt it wins many converts.  I had one adult tell me that his conclusion from Bible in Schools was that God in the Bible stories knew how to pull one over other.

The kids I have seen liked the stories and the flash card and the colouring activities.  I once worked in a school library where there were some children with permission to opt out: Jehovah’s Witness kids getting their own instruction, and some loud boys working on a project.  That’s the alternatives.  Meanwhile appreciation of how we got here, and who we were, quietly retreats.

Face fuzz

Leave a comment

I can’t be bothered scraping my chin for a while at least so I’ve ended up growing a goatee.  My face is already not symmetrical and from my side of it growing hair on it hasn’t made a difference.  I had a beard for several years which was bushy enough to be an Old Testament minor prophet by itself alone.  This time I’m keeping it closely trimmed to the point of stubble.  No commentary on it so far.  I suspect when I go down to Invercargill for regional church council some of the usual suspects down there will provide some.  They know who they are!

A Game of Thrones Episode 2

Leave a comment

The young prince doesn’t understand sympathy and somebody needs a blunt instrument to explain it to him.  Throughout the episode he shows himself to be stupid and cowardly.  His House, the Lannisters show their true colours.  The word sociopathic was invented to describe these people.

The boy Bran has seen too much and must be punished for it.  Fortunately he has a protector when the assassin comes calling; and so does his sister Aria.  Unfortunately as a consequence one of the girls’ dire wolf cubs is driven off to save its life, and her sister’s cub is killed.

With its death Bran wakes up.  There’s no coincidence in story-telling.  This could mean that the plot curve is ramping up.

And what’s with the clockwork credits that open the episodes?  In a mediaeval high-fantasy drama?  Are they supposed to represent the byzantine mechanations of the story?

A Game of Thrones Episode 1

Leave a comment

This was on the television where I’m house-sitting. I had been meaning to review this series as I watched it.

My first reaction to the survivor of the undead attack was that he escaped.  My second reaction was No, they let him go.

“The White Walkers have been gone for thousands of years” but the Ice has not, and Winter is coming.  I know that the premise behind this series is that the Big Bad is coming back and the people who should be expecting are gearing up for their own civil war.

The runt is saved.  That’s cool.  My first dog was the runt of a corgi litter.  Always back the underdog.

“Close the door!” There’s a draft?  Well put some clothes on.  From this episode this series looks to have a high meat and no vegetables ratio.  I’m not talking about the mediaeval diet.  I’m talking about the number of naked bodies into co-ed wrestling with no cutlery.

Who but Eddard Stark can protect the King.  Of course Stark is played by Sean Bean, an actor whose made a career about playing roles that don’t make it to the final credits.  The exception being Sharpe.  This being a high fantasy the politics is about ideology.  It’s I’m the King and I’m right, and rights in this case mean Droit de Seigneurie.

It turns out settling differences at a Dothraki wedding is considered respectable.

Big Fat Greek Protest or Malaysians dancing in the rain

Leave a comment

I had read that there was going to be another protest against the privatisation of state assets in the Octagon.  I had a time, which was reported in the Otago Daily Times, but no details.

Before going I visited my flat at Manono House, and took my books to exchange at the library.  It was a successful visit: Mothstorm by Philip Reeve, a new David Brin, and Edgelands, a poetic meditation on the liminal spaces between urban and rural landscapes that proving to be rather cool.  I had four books in total so my bag was weighed down.

It was also raining, a rather heavy drizzle, quite dreich.

I got to the Octagon early.  There were no protestors there.  I did seem some interesting people in the lower Octagon.  The Otago University Malaysian Society were having a day out.  I gave them a penny to go to the Malaysian World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and one of the displays gave me a free notepad, which I have in my pocket, and a set of postcards.  I can’t complain about free stuff!  The second postcard displayed Malaysian food.  I understand from my friend John Roxborogh that food is important in Malaysia.  I appreciate that.

There were briefly some protestors in the gazebo in the upper Octagon.  I did not see them go.

I didn’t stay in the Octagon long.  I walked through the dental school cul-de-sac, a usual rallying place for protests.  No activity there.  I decided to walk back to my house-sitting in North-East Valley.  I see from the newspaper today that the protest did go ahead.  About one hundred people gathered in the Octagon to break plates as a symbolic Greek protest.  The paper also reported about the same number of people involved in the Malaysian celebration.

Talking about it at work we felt the whole protest had been poorly advertised or coordinated.  I still don’t know when the protest took place.  I read that it happened in the Octagon.  I was not there for it.

Stick Figures

Leave a comment

Second week of house-sitting in North East Valley.  The cats still tolerate me.

I saw on the back of a car a window sticker where a group of stick figures were being chased by Jason with a hockey mask and chainsaw.  The caption under the image read No one cares about your stick figure family.

While the humour was twisted enough to amuse me I had to disagree with the sentiment.  Stick figure families intrigue me.  They are on the back of a family car looking for an identity.  People can choose which figure represents them: the shopper, the well-dressed, the gardener, the barbecue, the body-builder, the mountain biker, kids on bike or active at sports, pony-riders, and cats and dogs.  Democracy allows us to identify ourselves within the bounds of simple imagery.

Where do they come from?  I have no car, and I have no stick figure family.

Pentecost 5

Leave a comment

I notice the inevitable day has passed.  The spam counter now reads higher than the number of posts on this blog.

I caught up with one friend on Saturday before he leaves next week  for a month with his partner in China.  While he’s away I will be house-sitting for him, looking after his three cats: Bao-Bao, Qin-Qin and Niu-Niu, not necessarily in that order.

After that I saw my old friend Graham who’s now across town at Taieri Road.  We had drink and chips sitting on John Wilson Ocean Drive and I threw the crunchy bits to the gulls who caught them on the wing.  Graham has had another birthday and looked forward to breakfast at church.  Perhaps I should buy him a gift before we meet again.  Lisa from Friend-Link arranged for us to get together because she had a day free from other commitments.

At church today I found myself thinking of the poemJesus of the Scarsby Edward Shillito after World  War I.  I know it through the works of the troubador Garth Hewitt.  A search on the internet finds that it is well known and others have also set it to music.

If we have never sought, we seek you now…
We must have sight of thorn-marks on your brow,
We must have you, o Jesus of the scars…
Show us your scars, we know the countersign…

Have a good week.