A Conversation with Justin Duckworth

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This was the first event of the year for the Centre for Theology and Public Issues, a conversation with the new Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Wellington.  He created interest from the local media for being at his installation the barefoot bishop with dreadlocks.  Despite being a sunny day in Dunedin, surprising in itself as the country gets high on unremitting sunshine for ten days, an unexpected summer treat, attendance was, also, high.  Perhaps I wasn’t the only one who wanted to know if this was the second coming of James K. Baxter.

He was here for the national meeting of bishops in Dunedin, the one city in New Zealand where he wears jandals, too much glass on the streets.  On the other hand he described the city as most likely to be Hogwarts.  Potter and Dumbledore are just around the corner.  Beware of low-flying wizards!

He described his background as not just being unchurched, but pagan.  This is just like being unchurched but everyone thinks it involves goats.  Then he got Youth For Christ (YFC).  This group gave him three values

  1. Live in missional obedience.  If Jesus says from heaven Jump! then the believer responds How high Lord?
  2. Live in community.
  3. Recognise the gospel’s preference for the poor

The way the church exists these values have become optional for many Christians.

A life lived this way has provided the Duckworth family with a rich and deep experience of living hospitably.  The home should be neither a castle nor a motel.

Discernment is necessary in the supermarket of faith. He values using liturgy for quiet-time practice.  I understand that, I do the same in my own practice.  The contrasts he makes against this are with a fizzy, burpy Christianity, and a dispassionate society.

The faithful need to culture-shift their decision-making authority to those who are remaking the church.  I think that that may involve discernment too.

Our authority doesn’t come from our financial power, our lives are the currency that pays the price to gives us a right to speak out.

Is it right for the profit-makers to have the greatest voice?  They try to seduce us with affluence, entertainment and security.

The conversation was an introduction to Justin Duckworth, the shiny new bishop (with dust on his feet?) of Wellington.  My bias towards liberal religion has heard how his faith and theology has grown from that beginning.  There is more to know.  He is not James K. Baxter returned.  A person only walks this earth once.  I think we may have heard someone who can teach us how to be transformed.

Exchangetide Greetings 7

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I had thought that the last of the Conlang Exchange Cards had arrived.  I had filed them away in my collection.  So I was quite delighted when there was a beautiful postcard arrived today from Marcus Shiu in China.  It is a blue card written in silver in its own script, the Akul language.  I will display it on the mantelpiece before I file it away with the rest.  There were some addresses in China and Taiwan that I have not yet received.  Perhaps it is possible that they will come.  I am hopeful.


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Lisa from Friend-Link arranged for me to catch up with my friend Graeme.  She took us out to Port Chalmers and took photos of us out there for memories of the day.  I asked if she could send some of them to me by email to share.  Here’s some of the images:


I’m standing with Graeme on the observation site overlooking the harbour at Port Chalmers.  We are looking at the Diamond Princess in dock.  What a fascinating sight.  It’s really a big hotel on top of a boat.  I think we worked out it had about four decks above the hull and two more below.  The funnels on top of that look like something about of steampunk.  If you look closely you can see the Dawn Princess is in dock behind the Diamond Princess.

I’m glad I don’t see how thin my hair is getting on the back of my head all that often!


Look to the left at the town of Port Chalmers.  The heritage church Iona is prominent in the photo.  It is a land-mark of the local community.  My work at the Presbyterian Archives means I am familiar with its collection.  It is the second oldest Presbyterian congregation in Otago and Southland, the first daughter church of the First Church of Otago in Dunedin.


The observation site is next to the Hotere Garden Oputae.  We went in and had a walk.  Here we are standing in front of the artwork Black Phoenix II, a memorial to the fire-burnt boat, the Poitrel.


The garden has a view of the harbour in the opposite direction of the port and we went and stood in it for a photo.  I’m not sure if that is Quarantine Island or Goat Island in the background.


Afterwards we went around to Careys Bay Hotel and ordered a small beer each.  Graeme had Speights and I had a Bookbinder’s.  We had a view of the seagulls in the carpark outside the window and a painting from the Hunting of the Snark above us, “Then the bowsprit got mixed with the rudder sometimes”.

Thank you, Lisa, for a pleasant afternoon’s outing which we all enjoyed.

Beauty and the Beast Episode One

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Cat Chandler is working her way through college in a bar.  When her battery is flat after a late shift she calls for help from momma.  Momma gets shot by the knight-rider team, Chandler survives because a monster in the wood rescues her from her attacker.

Jump nine years.  Chandler is now detective and driving something the size of a small continent.  She’s just dumped her two-timing boyfriend, and that was a well-played move.  She’s got a post-Buffy Cagney-and-Lacey routine with her police partner Vargas.  There is some good chemistry and sassy repartee going on between those two.  I hope it is developed.

Chandler tends to shoot her mouth off.  “I promise to be quiet.” Yeah, right! I’ll believe that when I see it.  Shut up, already!  She can spot her attackers.  I would say that she has a working spider-sense.

I’m trying to work out forensic guy’s accent.  What’s his back-story?

Vincent  turns up again, the superhero in the shadows.  He’s a Afghan veteran who went to war because his brother died in the fall of the Twin Towers.  The conspiracy pumped him up with something that gave him fast and deadly.  Now they want him dead and he’s hiding from them.  They rewrote his DNA, which is weird science shorthand for superhero, or monster. I don’t think that science can ‘rewrite DNA’ without altering the personality of the patient.

“I know what it is to lose someone you love but you need to move on.”  Oh, come on! Look who’s talking!

In the end they catch the villain behind the crime of the week.  It turns out the victim’s widower is bit of a philanderer.

A rummage around the internet proves that viewers are divided into two camps: those who remember and love the series with Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton; and those who are watching this new series as it is presented.  I’m in the first camp.  I have fond memories of the 1980s series, including the third season when Linda Hamilton was killed off because she had success with Terminator.  In fact I think some of the best story-telling was in the third season as Vincent has to rescue his new-born son from Gabriel, a bigger monster than him.  Ron Perlman’s Vincent is one of my favourite characters.

For me then, Jay Ryan’s Vincent Keller is in the shadow of the original Vincent.  He doesn’t live under New York, recite poetry and literature, nor listen to opera.  The series looks to fall into the mold of a crime series rather than a romantic fantasy.  The chemistry between Chandler and Keller hasn’t emerged in the first episode.  I think I should lay aside my bias and continue watching.  However as American television companies are flailing around trying to find the series that is going to be the breakthrough for them in the first season from what I’ve seen I won’t be upset if it proves that this title is cancelled after one season.

Doctor Who and the Snowmen

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I caught this episode again when it played again.  This time I took notes.

The Doctor’s face has returned to the opening credits.  Nice to see him returned there.  Will the heated tube return next?

“Winter is coming” Thank you Ned Stark.

Madame Vastra and Jenny are ‘married’. Would somebody explain that to me please?  ‘Victorian Values’ are dismissed in this episode.  In truth the Victorians often were more tolerant in their private lives than they are made out to be.  The Victorian characters in this episode and its prequels are incomprehensible when faced with marriage between the scaly-skinned woman and her female servant.  Presumably they are married under Silurian custom rather than a nod to modern values of marriage equality, or to Victorian practice which had enough trouble with sodomy let alone trans-phylum marriage between a saurian and a human.  I suppose it’s like marrying an ostrich, birds are the only dinosaurs we have left in the modern world.

“Not your salvation, nor your protector…once he saved worlds.” The Doctor’s in retirement.

“There’s a man, called the Doctor. He lives in a cloud and he spends all his days stopping children from having bad dreams.” The Doctor is not just a story-book figure, he is the one who stands between the children and the nightmares.  Moffat seems interested in making the Doctor appealing to children in his audience.  He comes when they call him.  Quite literally in two previous episodes he has arrived as an answer to prayers by children.

Up the stairwell in the clouds and into the Tardis.  The Doctor lives in a magical land above us all.  The architecture of the Tardis has changed, more meccano than the white sets of my childhood, still an improvement on the cringe-worthy Heath Robinson sets of recent seasons. Clara does a run around the outside of the Tardis.  I think that is nod to Rose Tyler doing the same act the first time she flew away in the blue box.

“Is there a kitchen?” “Another first!” Not quite true.  The Doctor’s first companions made use of a food-supplying machine while the Tardis was in flight.  There is also a stasis box where the milk is kept.  It was 20 years old and still fresh when K9 analysed it. “I love making soufles.” Clara is revealed as soufle girl.  I expect it is easier to find eggs in the Tardis than in a Dalek asylum.

The big bad is revealed to be the Great Intelligence.  I had wondered if Dr Simeon’s G. I. Institute stood for those initials. Older adventures where the Doctor battled robotic abominable snowman in the London Underground in an earlier incarnation are given an origin story.

And Clara is the Woman Who Died. How long can she keep doing that, now that the Doctor is coming looking for her?

The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone

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I’m left with two thoughts from this book.

The Have-Nots do want to live like the Haves.  It’s not that they want it for free.  They will make sacrifices if they can look successful and have the right kind of plumage to attract mates.  The message our society broadcasts is the Haves have more toys and this is promoted as the way that everyone wants to live.

I try to live comfortably. I doubt that the way I live is seen as desirable by others.  That is fine to me.

Other thought, class matters.  Working class people want to live practical lives; Middle class people want to live educated lives. They have different goals.

Exchangetide Greetings 6

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Another card today.  This time from Carl Miller.  On the back it says Made in Safiria by Carl Miller.  There’s no mention whether that refers to the font the card is written in, or to the language. No information  is supplied to the translate the greeting or give context.  The greeting is a wish for the Goddesses to smile on the recipient at Winter Solstice.  The cover image looks like an Angel in falling green snow.  Perhaps this pretty image represents the Safirian goddesses?

I will check my collection.  I think I have received cards from Carl in previous years and this might add more information.

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