Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Moving Motion 30 Forward

Trevor Morrison, responding to a post of mine, way way back about Motion 30 - the GS motion setting up the working group to work on a Way Forward for our church, has made a post on his blog which raises some pertinent and timely points for us all to consider.

The post is his so head on over there to read how he arrives at this conclusion,

"The great ecumenical councils of the early Church – Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon – defended the faith against errors that in various ways would have silenced God and/or stripped Christ of his eternity. The Church Fathers assumed and used the Word of God in their deliberations, but they did not give us a creed or a synodical letter that summarises what they believed the orthodox doctrine of the Word should be. Can the ACANZP work now to produce a unified statement regarding the word of God – a statement that is scrupulously careful not to destroy the ramparts that those early councils raised, and that will allow us to hear the Word of God together once again?"
Please comment on his post on his site but if you wish to comment more generally on Motion 30, the Way Forward, how your own synod is approaching the matter (Christchurch synod meets later this week), then I will accept comments here.

Thanks Trevor!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Scandal within and the politics of Jesus - Monday 1 September 2014

If the week before last was a long time in politics, last week was even longer, at least for John Key and co who had work to do all weekend, including (effectively) sacking a minister, Judith Collins for being found to be too close to the bete noir of this campaign, Cameron Slater. (Yeah, ok, in shades of black, Nicky "I make profits from stolen goods" Hager is just a little bit less black).

We now have a 'scandal within' the government, albeit with many claims unproven, and the key (pun intended) question of the remaining 19 days to the election is not, dear reader, going to be how much tax we pay or how our younger generations access housing, but whether the scandal blow torches more than Judith Collins.

I admit to being shocked by some aspects of the unfolding drama. Not shocked that some skulduggery goes on behind the scenes in politics. Not shocked that some people use unguarded language in private emails. But shocked at the lack of transparency from media pundits who imply they are interested in transparency as they 'expose' stories and challenge partial truths while, it appears, being in the pay of masters they do not disclose.

Thus yesterday we had a story about Slater and a fellow blogger 'Cactus Kate' (real name Cathy Odgers) being in the pay of Mark Hotchin, a failed financier, in order to pursue a smear campaign against an official appointed to a government office requiring probity and integrity. Slater on his blog Whaleoil (you will need to google that, I refuse to link to it) comes across as high-minded in the pursuit of truth, justice and the Kiwi way [he does have some interesting posts on hunting!]. But it appears not. It is not just the Hotchin story but also the possibility that some campaign posts against plain paper packaging have been paid for by the tobacco industry. [I am a tolerant and liberal man, as you all know (!), but never get me started on the evils of: smoking, drug taking ... once you are in the employ of those industries you are working for the devil. I know that is intolerant, but there you go].

However beyond that shock I have been amazed, shocked to discover, thanks to a (worth reading) post from the left - on The Daily Blog  - some things about Cactus Kate herself (via links in a comment to the post).

Cactus Kate, in a twist in the weekend's plot, almost certainly the person who supplied the email which led to the final downfall of Judith Collins, is someone who has in the past when blogging seemed on the moral high ground of promoting pure capitalism. But it now seems there may be a connection to some of the murkiest racketeering of our times. This Naked Capitalism post is not necessarily for the financially faint-hearted (re details, details and more details) but opens up a can of worms. If the pursuit of capitalism equals making a virtue of Russian money laundering then, give me back communism any old day of the week.

What would Jesus say? This, of course:

'If your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness' (Matthew 6:22-23) 
'... for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known' (Matthew 10:26).

If there is good which comes from the mire National is now in, it is this: future governments will realise that emails, all emails, private/personal as well as official need to be as able to be inspected by the public like any other ministerial documents, that contact with media, any media, needs to be able to held up to the light of investigation, and that ministerial office cannot be used to influence secretly the course of events otherwise in the hands of the public service.

The great problem with scandal of this kind is that it obscures important issues at stake every time the public renews the social contract via election.

Matters of child poverty, housing, education and the like are no longer covered by media slavering over the latest crumbs of murky deeds falling from the political masters' table.

It is not just that we do not discuss the issues properly via public discourse, it is also that we are liable to assume that because the present government has mishandled some aspects of political life, suddenly the alternative government is transformed into paragons of political virtue, without examination of whether that proposition is true. The previous Labour government had its problems on the virtue front ... at the heart of the current imbroglio re an OIA request re the SIS is the almost forgotten question whether a past leader of the Labour Party lied or not ... a Labour led government after 20 September could involve support from the Internet MANA Party (which wants marijuana legalised, which is backed by a moneyman who enjoys collecting Hitler memorabilia ...) ... to say nothing of the role Winston Talk About the Pot Calling the Kettle Black Peters could play ... and we still do not know who funded David Cunliffe's leadership campaign last year!

I must finish. In conclusion, for some thinking about the real issues in this election, I commend consideration of a recent essay by our Archbishops. I do not agree with everything they say, but they make some great points and offer food for thought.

PS This handy chart may help readers unravel the connections opened up in the last few days ... sourced from NZ Herald.

PPS For what it is worth, I think the left and the media should take care about overplaying 'dirty politics' allegations if they want to win the election (as the media wants to ... there is more mileage to 'National loses' than 'National wins again, boring'!). My impression is that not many are convinced that the left has no dirty linen, few supporters on the centre-right and right think that Judith Collins has been treated fairly by the 'lynch mob' feel to the public discourse of the last few weeks, and the chances are high that any disaffected National supporters will fall into the arms of the Conservatives or NZ First.

PPPS The other great scandal in this election is how Dotcon has bought himself a party whose real agenda and policy is at his beck and call, all in the name of revenge. You don't believe me? How about listening to what one of his - now obviously rogue - candidates says about the Dotcon/Internet/Mana brand, here.      

Links - Monday 1 September 2014

A variety of talks and articles available and I hope all is well and prayers for the coming week

1. The bells of Coventry Cathedral

2. Choral Evensong from Chapel of Cheltenham College with the fourth of this year's Eton Choral Courses - BBC Radio 3

3. Sunday Holy Communion livestreamed from St Helena's Church, Beaufort, South Carolina at 10:15 am Eastern Time, 3:15 pm London Time

4. Sunday Worship from  Fisherwick Presbyterian Church, Belfast - BBC Radio 4

5. Sunday Hour - BBC Radio 2

6. Archived choral services from the chapels of King's College Cambridge
and St John's College, Cambridge

7. Education - Hugh Palmer - All Souls Langham Place Audio [Proverbs 4:1-9]

8. Parts 4 to 6 of The Sons of Zebedee: Two Galilean Fishermen - talks by Professor Richard Bauckham at the University of Otago
Part 4: Called to Fish for People - Video [mp4]
and audio [mp3]
Part 5: Sons of Thunder - Video [mp4]
and audio [mp3]
Part 6: Jerusalem - Video [mp4]
and audio [mp3]

9. Miracles: Is Belief in the Supernatural Irrational? - Professor John Lennox - Veritas Forum Video

10. Another Road, Another Chance - Billy Graham in 1992 [starts 20 minutes in]

Please pray for Christians and all facing persecution and crime in Iraq and Nigeria; for the persecuted church in the Middle East; for peace in Ukraine, Israel and Gaza; for wisdom in dealing with the Ebola outbreak in Africa and for the Diocese of South Carolina.

11. Iraq Region: Update from Canon Andrew White
more Media Reports from FRRME
How Long O Lord - a prayer for those in danger in the Middle East

12. Nigeria: Boko Haram beheaded six-year-old Christian boy, group reports - Christian Today
Report from Bishop Dogo of Kafanchan
‘Future of Church in NE Nigeria also threatened’ says Chibok leader – WWM
Australian comment – ABC

13. Topical Prayers - Church of England
Prayers against Ebola - Lent and Beyond
Prayers for South Carolina - Lent and Beyond

14. Sunday Programme - current affairs with Edward Stourton - BBC Radio 4

15. Food for thought
Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden - The King's English
A Student in Arms: Lessons from one Christian who died in the Somme - Mark Woods
Analysis: The Challenge of Responding to Jihadi Islam - John Azumah - Lapido Media
12 Amazing Virtual Tours of the World’s Most Spectacular Churches – ChurchPop

16. Iraq - the Beautiful Home - Sat 7 video

17. Mario's prayer for Iraq and Arab countries - Sat 7 Video

18. In Christ Alone - All Souls Orchestra

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Should the church(es) be involved in political statement making?

For a week or two, as I drive out of the Anglican Centre/Theology House precinct based at St Peter'sm Church Corner, Upper Riccarton, I have noticed the following sign:

If you cannot read the statement it is, 'Average CEO salary 200 times lowest wage ... OOPS!'

To be honest, I thought the flagged background meant this was a billboard erected by the NZ First Party (which can have a leftwards lurch to some of its economic policy). It turns out the sign is erected by some group in the church(es) (Methodists?) and, obviously, it has received permission to be on Anglican land.

David Farrer at Kiwiblog has posted about the sign and churches campaigning during the run up to the election. He concludes with a confrontational comment:

"That reminds me that I must find time after the election to work on a members’ bill to remove tax free legal status from churches in New Zealand. They should have no special status beyond that of any other NGO."

Given that David Farrer is a responsible and influential blogger and media pundit with strong links to the National Party, this is not necessarily an idle, inconsequential threat. His threat does not fall on deaf ears as you can read in the comments, many of which object to the church having any role in 'politics' though charitable works to help those who suffer because of 'politics' is fine!

One response that I have to the statement - now that I recognise its provenance is not that of a political party - is that it is a confused and confusing message. Confused because it falls into a trap of taking a selective statistical statement and using that to highlight a message without offering clarity as to what the message is. That CEOs should be paid less? That CEOs being paid up to 199x the lowest wage is okay but a line is crossed at 200x? That we are an unequal society? But we are an unequal society when a CEO is paid 5x the lowest wage. That we are a grossly unequal society?

The message is confusing because, as already noted above, it has more capacity to imply a political party is making the statement than that a church or coalition of churches is making the statement. That is, the billboard does not convey any particular message about a church or churches caring for the state of our society.

My final critique of the statement is that it does not convey much sense of what we are to do in response. Avoid voting for ACT (the party most blatantly supportive of economic inequality)? Vote generally leftwards because ... well, which party on the left has any policy to control CEOs salaries or salary packages? Vote for a better society? Why not actually say that? E.g. 'This election vote for the best NZ ever' or 'Vote this election for a NZ which cares for the poor'.

Of course, I could be wrong ...

Facing Mecca

As we attempt to understand what is going on in the world as we 'face Mecca', whether trying to understand events in Mosul or dynamics in a local Mosque, what do you think about these thoughts?I am initially posting two items but will add others as I come across them.

Dark and demonic forces are driving a situation seemingly out of human control? Steve Bell writes ... but prayer is vital.

Dialogue is difficult, according to Cranmer.

Monday, August 25, 2014

I think I can post this on our cathedral

I have mostly said nothing here about the ongoing dramas and controversies about our cathedral but I think I can post a couple of links here without fear of over-egging the controversy per se (with H/T to my colleague Gerard Jacobs).

First, a lovely opinion expressed by Will Harvie which makes some splendid points about what a future new cathedral could offer, based on the precedent the architecturally significant Transitional (Cardboard) Cathedral has set.

Secondly, that opinion piece includes a note to a book I had heard was being written but had not known till now is available, Shigeru Ban: Cardboard Cathedral by Dr Andrew Barrie, published by Auckland University Press.

Electronic Eucharist

Yes, right here in NZ, this weekend past, at the Abbey (an ACANZP youth event).

Go Spanky!