Advent II: Jesus is coming, look busy!

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Thoughts on the Death of a Gentleman

He had been an interior decorator.  The four principles of his career had been: Colour! Comfort! Cosiness! and above all, Suitability!

Advice for living after a death:

  1. Grieve wisely
  2. Say Yes when friends and those who want to help ask.   They usually mean it.
  3. Nurture hope

Mai i Rangiatea

Maybe we can learn something about how native people use mythology.  Is it useful?  How can we use it?  Our tikanga (practice of culture) rises out of our mythology, or theology as we call it in tikanga Perehipiteriana.  Story-telling will change the world.



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I had the opportunity to attend a Requiem Mass yesterday.  It was at a high-church Anglican parish.  It was a service for an Anglican priest whom I had known.  It was the first time I had attended a requiem.  Quite literally it involved bells and smells.  When the priest and the censor circled the altar I imagined the Benny Hill theme song in my head.  It was my first time in a service with incense.  Is this what it’s going to be like in heaven?

All Christians in the congregation who were in good communicant standing with their church were invited to participate.   I decided against going forward.  It is not my practice, at least at funerals.  I felt it was an invitation for the local faithful to eat and drink with a beloved friend one last time.  It was their moment, not mine.

Whenever I attend a funeral I reconsider how I would like  the arrangements to celebrate my departure from the planet.  Not high-church for me I think, and I should avoid the weepy funeral hymns.  Something lively and upbeat.  What a Wonderful World is still on my list, and Rainbow People by Colin Gibson.  Suggestions welcome!

Patriotism is not enough. I must not have hatred or bitterness towards anyone – Edith Cavell

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Starting to worry about getting out to Karitane for Grace’s memorial service on Saturday afternoon.  I think I shall have to contact the people out there to see if they can connect me up with somebody travelling out.

Two lectures on this week:

Transforming the Rainbow Serpent into the Rainbow Spirit

An attempt to create an aboriginal theology in Australia.  The theologian Norman Habal met with Aboriginal Elders to formulate a theological document based on Genesis chapter 1.  For the Rainbow Spirit Elders, as they called themselves, the Rainbow Spirit is the same as the Rainbow Serpent.  The Lutheran Church objected to confusing the serpent from Genesis with the serpent from an aboriginal cosmogony.

The representation in art of the Rainbow Serpent is the wandjina, a phallic symbol representing the male/female human being.  I wondered if this is the equivalent of the Adam in Genesis, created in the likeness of the first ancestor (god), before being separated into male/female bodies.

The criticism of this theology is a fudging of context.  The Rainbow Serpent is a generative force involked in initiation ceremonies across Australia to allow youths to enter into kinship groups, rather than the first ancestor of the Genesis story.  So does this mean that Christians, in their own initiation ceremonies, baptism and confirmation, create new kinship groups?

Creative Responses to Extremism

If you go looking in Dunedin you can create your own public lecture time table.  This week’s lecture from the Centre for Theology and Public Issues was a discussion on recent events in Norway where a blond Norwegian from uptown Oslo killed 80 people.  The monster turns out to be one of us, a member of the minority dramatically imposing an agenda on the majority.  Instead of dividing the Norwegian people the act has united the majority as recognising and embracing the Muslim community that lives among them.

I wonder if Anders Breivik is another sick figure like Clayton Weatherston, or the death of the New Zealand girl by her English boyfriend, or Osama bin Ladin watching videos of his speeches in hiding.  The trial means his derangement, if it is so, does not excuse his motives.  The investigation slowly reveals his darkness to scrutiny in  the light.  His extremism must justify itself.  There is a challenge for the limits of freedom of speech.

If violence is an unacceptable alternative for individuals then why is it acceptable to nationstates, the representation of the lawgiver, to act with the instrumentality of violence.  We live with the acceptance of such instrumentalities in our daily lives, in drama, and at play.  So, is peace studies the end-goal for a just world?  How would my nation respond to a similar atrocity in our own country?  Not very well, I suspect.


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This week: two funerals. The first was for a home economics teacher who lives in South Dunedin. Her parents are members of my parish. She had leukemia. It went into remission for a while and when it returned she decided against further chemotherapy. Essentially she chose to step through, to Aslan’s country. Her death came suddenly as she had only gone to the hospice for the final stage at the weekend. The church at which her funeral was held was packed. At her request it was No Flowers, Bring A Plate of Favorite Food. Believe me I haven’t seen catering like that in a while. The tables should have been groaning under the weight!

The second funeral was for a retired minister of religion. He was one of the founders of the department of religious studies at the university. A delightful man with an impish smile, he could listen to anyone and genuinely say at the end That’s Very Interesting, and mean it. He also loved jazz and introduced students to the work of Sadao Watanabe. Now he has gone into the eternal moment of an unfolding future. He shall be missed.

A Dunedin photoshop went into receivership today. Photos from the Knox College collection had to be retrieved from them very quickly. Too late in the day and it would have become difficult as they would have been considered assets of the business.

I have noticed a number of people saying that getting back into their gym training after the holidays is a gutbuster. Better to start gently and work back into it. I was alright over the holiday season as I kept up my practice during that period. I’m still trying to catch up with my week away in Wellington. That put me back.