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Farewell of the week goes to my dear friend L’Enfant de Jeu.  She has left for Australia to work in IT at a small university in Canberra.  What a blow!  My cynical soul tells me that this year I have lost two women that have helped me move between various flats: one due to an unfortunate death; the other to Australia.  At least I know that Ms. de Jeu is watching out for me.  I want her to spread her wings, there is so much she could accomplish.  I will be watching out for her.  Hobbit-spotting will become a link back to the dirty ol’ town.

We met up at the Poolhouse on Filleul Street and took over two tables to say farewell.  What a wonderful evening!  Several of us were epochally dire at pool.  Put several of us on a table and we could keep wacking the white ball bouncing around the table, occasionally pocketing other coloured balls until the table was cleared and somebody technically lost by missing the black.  What a way to enjoy an evening.  Can I adopt Ario?  We can be the Smith Brothers, the World’s Worst Pool Players!

Saturday night I visited Brockville Community Church as the parish inducted the minister into permanent ministry there after 5 years commitment to temporary appointments.  An interesting parish, Brockville is a working-class part of Dunedin.  It is evident that there is also a university-related community up there of staff who favour the area’s available housing.  Anyway the induction was well attended, and the catering was good too!  Five tables of food!  Despite the financial constraints on the parish it felt like from the service that it was a growing community.

Today’s diversion was a concert by the Southern Consort of Voices at St Joseph’s Chapel, Of shadows on the stars.  New music to me, it included the Cantique de Jean Racine by Gabriel Fauré, a piece I was not familiar with.  The Consort used the opportunity to position themselves around the Chapel to create a soundscape of voices for several pieces.  It was worth hearing.

At the end of a warm spring weekend and I’m still listening to pieces of Verdi’s Tosca and finding things I haven’t noticed before.  It’s obvious I haven’t listened to it often enough.  I picked out some Rajasthani dance music from my collection to play randomly this evening, and now I’m wondering if I should add in Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble to compliment it.

Peace and Missionality

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The local Buddhists have an exhibition this week at the Community Gallery.  I visited at the weekend to see if I found it interesting enough to stay for events.  I didn’t.  Mind you there is a session next Saturday on Tibetan script so I would like to sit in on that.

The Dunedin Abrahamic Interfaith Group invited Rabbi Adi Cohen of the Wellington Progressive Jewish Congregation to address their annual peace lecture.  It didn’t strike me as a substantial lecture although I noted down some points:

  • Peace as the absence of non-peace is disturbing
  • The world changes and our hopes should change with it
  • The other person is created in the image of god
  • dialogue does not begin between worldviews; dialogue begins between persons of different worldviews

The Rabbi is in New Zealand because he did not want to see his son grow up to serve in the Israeli Defense Force; and a Palestinian woman in the audience brought her family to New Zealand to escape her environment of violence.  Does it take to escape to the margins of the world for dialogue to begin?

Dunedin Cluster Group of Southern Presbytery last night, we were talking about mission, again.  There were things from which to learn and listen.  I wonder if more from Opoho need to hear these things?

The staff of the Presbyterian Archives and the Hewitson Library got a letter about the merger of the two organisations on the Knox College campus.  It was a rote business letter and not particularly sensitive.  There is no assurance that positions will continue or that staff members will remain.  The Principal of the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership and the Assembly Executive Secretary will meet with us in two weeks.  At the moment I wait.

I am thinking my alternative is to return to Invercargill so I can be closer to my mother and other members of my family.  We will see if I take up that option.



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WordPress tells me that this has been the 34th time I have used this title.

I’m looking at my diary now.  There have been a week of events to report.

  • I went to Te Tumu at Maori Studies at the University for the launch of Mana, Maori and Christianity.
  • At the weekend I travelled to Invercargill for the annual meeting of Presbytery.  I was an overnight visit and I didn’t see enough people as I would have liked.  I heard through the grapevine that my mother in Invercargill is not so much unwell as in advanced old age and not seeking the help that she should.  That’s a bit of a worry.  I phoned her while I was there but did not see her in person.  We are both looking forward to the beginning of the Metropolitan Operas in November.  As for Presbytery, I don’t know if enough business was discussed to make it worth the amount of travel involved.  I did spend some time at the Queens Gardens, a childhood landmark.
  • Irish and Scots Studies had a lecture by a visiting professor from Glasgow on Robert Burns in the 21st Century.  Move over, Buck Rogers, the Bard is back and as bad as ever!
  • Theology and Public Issues talked about fair trade.

Those were the high points.  The weekend looks good too.  I can think of three evens on which I can look in.

Face to Face and Side by Side

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Irrefutable Proofis getting spam from Arabland that ends with the salutation ‘thank you in your sweat’.  I’m sure that’s a metaphor that works better in the original arabic.

I went to another meeting at Leith Valley Church.  This one was publicised as a Dunedin group meeting.  It involved visiting church consultant Caroline Kitto from Australia.  I listened carefully as I would have to report to my parish council and gave consideration to what she said.  Much of it was the same or similar to what I had heard at Yearly Meeting of Presbytery last year.

  • Christianity was successful in its first centuries because it took seriously a commission to take care of the sick and their neighbours affected the plagues that afflicted the Roman Empire.  I remembered a quote from Philip Jenkins’s The God Wars who noted that in the early centuries monks renounced the Romans’ public baths as pagan and were ripe unto heaven.  Philip Jenkins is a Christian historian and not a hostile critic of the Church.  It’s easy to say Christians did the charitable stuff better, but doctrine soon stacked up.
  • Christianity flourished in the cities.  Studiously omitting the fact that urbanisation collapsed in the western world for over a thousand years until the modern age.  History does tend to get in the way.  The collapse was less dramatic in the Asian world, where Christianity was so embedded.
  • To invite someone to church you must be their friend.  Okay, good advice, and I will consider where should Opoho church invest its resources and gifts?
  • Society rearranges itself.  It is changing at an increasing rate.  One of my favourite Sci-Fi writers, Charlie Stross, argues that we are at least a generation into future shock, and also that it’s not letting up any time soon.
  • Phyllis Trickle was quoted that Christianity shifts every 500 years, from the Fall of Rome, to the Catholic/Orthodox Schism, to the Reformation, to now.  The scale of the shift wasn’t noted.  From tribal society in biblical Israel, to local, regional, national, and now global culture.  This impacts.
  • If my church, Opoho, is a traditional worshipping church with a liberal, broadminded theological mindset, then does it count as a in-group or and open-boundary group?  Arguably it has characteristics of both.

Hobbit Spotting

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That was the week that was rather busy.

Monday: Lenten Study at church

Tuesday: a meeting to organise a Parish Review into faith and worship at church

Wednesday: An induction at another church, there is a trend emerging here, and I may be the only person who think that Hillsong choruses sound like car ads

Thursday: the Presbyterian Research Network met for a public lecture on Christian Missions and Modern Western Science.  A little rambling and broad for a subject.

The week started well.  Now I want to sit down for a bit.  My brother The Phantom is doing the Icon Tiki Tour down the South Island and arrives in Dunedin from Greymouth sometime tonight.  Since he texted me about Eleven o’clock last night he could be late.  I hope to travel with him on the last stretch tomorrow:  Dunedin-Tuapeka-Gore-Mossburn-Clifden-Invercargill-Bluff.

Next week should prove to be more varied, I hope.  It will still be active.

Dear Diary

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I’m over a week behind in updating my hobbit-spotting activities.

  • The Dunedin Abrahamite Group hosted Chris Marshall for its annual peace lecture
  • I visited Brockville Community Church for a meeting on parish self-review procedure
  • The Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies hosted a lecture on the archaeology of Shetland and Orkney Island groups: Living on the Edge
  • The Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies hosted a second lecture was on the relationship between Yeats and T. S. Eliot
  • I joined eleven other people to observe a prayer on the Museum lawn for the Feast of Saint Francis

Some of these activities deserve greater detail.  I may do that in a future update.

And The Brook Ran Dry

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Yesterday the Archivist was organizing some sermons for a visitor who wanted to examine them.  They were typed in shorthand on little bits of paper.  I tried to read one and I found it hurt my eyes.  During her work she read out the title of a sermon And The Brook Ran Dry.  I considered it for a moment and said, Old Testament, Book of Kings.  I was right.  I am disturbingly fluent in some parts of the Bible.  Of course when I recounted this story to others at a meeting of the local members of Presbytery last night I had it confirmed to me that the prophet in question was Elijah and the name of the brook was the Cherith which survived as the name of Trust in England.  I have a fun job.

We were at a meeting last night for a discussion about insurance policies after the Christchurch earthquake.  A consequence is that the cost of earthquake insurance has skyrocketed to shocking levels.  The Book of Order requires that each parish must have adequate insurance.  In the case of an earthquake not all church plants are going to be replaced.  This has led to some parishes arguing whether they want total cover insurance or not.  There appears to be a lot of evidence that insurance companies can be cunning as a pharisee when it comes to paying out on total cover insurance.

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