Hobbit spotting

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I am finding no incentive to report on lectures at the moment.  Perhaps it’s where I am.  There have been a sudden flurry of opportunities to house-sit for friends in the latter part of the year.  A friend visits his partner in China for a month in winter.  I house-sit for him and care for his cats.  Another friend hears of it and I jumps at the opportunity that I could care for her sixteen year old cat while she is on leave overseas in Europe.  I’m happy to provide for them and sit here typing into their spare laptop while Glitzy Candle-bears curls up beside me.  A happy situation.

Friends ask me if I still have a flat.  Yes, I visit my studio room to keep my pot-plants watered and cared for.  They look after themselves.  I will go stay there for a couple of weeks in October and then I go house-sitting again.  This time with chickens instead of cats.  This should be a challenge.  Chickens are a specialised highly evolved form of dinosaurs.  We kept chickens when I was a kid.  I should manage.

Other than that life goes on.  I heard today one retired minister at Opoho is going into Ross Home Hospital in the interim.  It sounds like he will be permanently moving there.  Another death has happened in the congregation.  Unfortunately at this stage I will not be getting to the funeral.  We have too many people away from the Archives this week and I will be the only permanent staff member on that day.  I feel I need to be at work.  I will have to put in my apologies.

Current Brithenig project: translating words from Te Wiki o te Reo Maori (Maori Language Week).  I going to have to stop at the university library again and look how I want to create a word to mean ‘pass’ in ‘boarding pass’.  I thought passedig would do it, but that means ‘walkway’ or ‘drive’.  The usual word for ‘passage, ride’ is pas, and I know that the word I want to isn’t that.  I will look again to create the word I want.

Hocken Lecture 2015: Archives, Public Memory and the Work of History

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Professor Tony Ballantyne, Department of History and Art History, University of Otago, New Zealand

Professor Tony Ballantyne, Department of History and Art History, University of Otago, New Zealand

This lecture was given by Tony Ballantyne, Professor of History and Head of Department of History and Art History, before an audience of nearly two hundred people on Thursday the 6th of August.

How do archives shape the past?  Historians rarely share their stories of archives in public.  Nor do they list the archives they have worked in.  Archive stories shape a historian’s story of the past.  Primary source research takes a historian into the gossip, controversy and arguments of the archive records.  Ballentyne has discovered the violence that occurred among first generation missionaries with limited resources and their own personal politics; and the transnational history in the exchange of letters, books and notes that occurred in an empire that crossed the globe, the rule of paper in communication.  The life-blood of empire was the networks of exchange connecting collectors in a global system.  The rise of national processes obscures global colonisation.

New history must emerge as the archives of colonial collectors are investigated.  Our history under the Waitangi Tribunal has been an investigation of the enquiry whether the Crown breached the Treaty of Waitangi in the colonisation of New Zealand.  As this question is resolved for this generation, at least, a new singularity emerges.  The opportunity arises to research the role of colonials hidden in the nation-building story.

Historians can only find what is in the archives.  There will be complexities and silences that affect the historic writing, the things the collectors never mentioned, who is included, and who is marginalised.  The reading of a cursive style of writing, ‘joined-up writing’, most of us no longer practice or read.  Marsden Online gives the historian access.  They also have to remember to see and handle the original document.  Electronic retrieval is not enough.  Historic figures in archival collections must capture historians.

Questions remain.  Is it inevitable that the archive stories and research become biographical?  How much more can historians do to encourage their students to come to the archives, to see and handle the original documents?

Changing our mind on the LGBT Issue

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David Gushee, from davidpgushee.com

David Gushee, from davidpgushee.com

A lecture with David Gushee in Dunedin, July 30 2015.  As his positioning himself as an advocate for LGBT inclusion was recent, within the last year I understand, it was interesting to have and hear him on a tour of New Zealand.

LGBT inclusion is dominating political life in USA and New Zealand, among other countries.  It is personal politics.  Gushee is the first Evangelical New Testament Ethicist to break ranks and move into advocacy for acceptance.  He was formerly a subscribed member of the Southern Baptist Church. Gushee uses the LGBT label.

I’m sorry he didn’t dwell on a description of the Southern Baptist Church, both an enormously popular national church, with over 10 million members; and perceived as conservative to the point of being fundamentalist.  Outside of America this can only be a mythical beast, both the paradigm of true Evangelical Christianity that others aspire to emulate, and the paradigm of Christianity’s toxicity to others.

Gushee has been teaching Christian Ethics for 22 years.  Over half that teaching career has been without contact with LGBT people.  This changed when a career move brought him in contact with the First Baptist Church of Mercator, a non-rejecting Baptist Church both accepting of LGBT members and providing them with pastoral care.

The classic paradigm of LGBT within the church is: grow up within the church – discover LGBT identity – face struggle and rejection – go into exile from the church – find ways of safe return.  I find myself reminded that any marginalised and rejected people who choose to remain in a church culture is an act of grace by the rejected.  Mild rejection alienates sexual identify, including relationship and eroticism.  To remain a bystander is to endorse the harm done by alienation.  Even in cultures of toleration degrees of bullying, criminalisation and discrimination continue.

The texts of hate: the gang rape of angels; man on man same sex taboos; the vice lists including the soft and the man-lying-with-man – exploitation and dominance in a slave-based culture without mutuality and reciprocity.  The Romans 1 text written to a church in a capital city where domination sexuality is normal for its emperors (Caligula and Nero), and a male and female binary,  and a heteronormative binary are accepted as the paradigm.  The stubborn fact of the existence of gay people is a road bump in the narrative.

So we try ex-gay therapy, celibacy and moral exclusion.

What if covenant trumps creation design in a broken world.  We proclaim a gospel that god’s love is available to everyone; include the marginalised; be a faithful people to Christ that confounds Romans 1.

Every advance leads to greater reaction.  Fear responds to progress.  It is not enough to legislate, legislation can be reversed, inclusion must become a given fact, intrinsic to society.  Schism may be inevitable and straight flight from inclusive churches may accompany white flight from coloured communities.  Covenantal ethics may prove to be ultimately transitional.  I suspect this to be true, but there is no need to fear what comes.  What comes will test the capacity of Christians to think theologically in an exclusive hermeneutic.  We enter into the shame of the marginalised, which should have been where we were in the first place, not at the seats of power, with the emperors.  Our goal is to be partners in liberation and seek an end to suffering.