Thursday, February 22, 2018


I am not long back from a lovely three day retreat-come-business meeting in the Wairarapa (southern North Island). Relaxing and work seemed, in certain ways, far away. Back into the fray and I notice some items, perhaps bound together by the theme of "endings."

Billy Graham has died, as noted by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the New York Times. I once heard him speak and then very briefly met him in person - Dunedin 1969. I was a young boy, he was world famous and, meeting me and my brothers, he said, "God bless you."

On Cranmer there is a good article about the dignity of dying - timely for a current debate in NZ society re euthanasia  and a bill doing the rounds through Parliament. On this issue the NZ Anglican church is quite united, as far as I can tell ... [that is not a cue to discuss That Topic on this thread].

There is nothing directly theological or ecclesiastical about a longish post I want to draw your attention to, but indirectly, should we Christians not be concerned by our country's relationship with China (which recently has forced the Roman church into some terrible contortions re episcopal appointments)? When an academic dissident (on NZ Chinese policy) has her office and home broken into, in one's own city, it is not a theoretical matter to consider what might be our Christian concern about our peculiar dissidence ... are we on the verge of an ending to the freedom we Kiwis have enjoyed as a liberal democracy?


Gene Packwood said...

I was one of the NZBC DNTV2 crew on the television outside broadcast of that Billy Graham event in Dunedin all those years ago. How times have changed. Would a public broadcaster do that in this day and age?

Andrei said...

Beware the yellow peril

Points to ponder

Your own mother Church has its Bishops apppointed by the Government of the UK is that ok because they are White Anglo Saxons with impeccable "liberal" credentials doing the appointing rather than yellow people? Glass Houses...

Realistically China has the biggest economy in the world and a population nearly five times that of the USA, manufactures the majority of the baubles we import and we are a nation that relies upon agricultural exports to maintain our standard of living.

Tourism is important too and after Australia it is the Chinese who provide the largest source of tourists to these isles

You think we shouldn't be polite to them?

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Andrei
I see nothing in my post which encourages rudeness.
Nor anything about my disagreement with how English bishops are appointed.
Recently I saw an item about Chinese banning children from worship (the old folk will die out ...): is that okay?
I entirely accept two things about the Chinese:
(i) the authorities there have a great fear of fragmentation (let alone civil war) and rule with an iron rod to keep a nation of diverse peoples united;
(ii) they are a great power, especially in the Pacific.
I do not accept that authoritarian fear of disunity requires China's heavy handedness towards peaceful religions; nor do I accept that Chinese power in the Pacific requires Down Under quiescence on so many matters.

Anonymous said...

"I see nothing in my post which encourages rudeness."

But your post and the post you link implies the Chinese government is behind a Christchurch burglary (and perhaps police disinterest in it is an example of realpolitik)

No nation is perfect or even close to perfect - there are evils going on in this land we ignore or perhaps are even oblivious to

And you have to be careful when reading things in the English speaking press about foreign lands far away about strange people with strange customs. At best you get distortions and at worst outright lies when there is an ax to grind

Think about this

(1) in New Zealand we are very rich compared to the rest of the world

(2) the majority of the worlds population lives in East Asia and they manufacture the majority of the worlds consumer goods and a great deal of the world's heavy industrial equipment

(3) The people of East Asia who make most of the "things" aspire to a life more closely resembling ours and why shouldn't they?

Is the Vatican working with the Chinese authorities on the appointment of Bishops sinister? The conjunction between Church and State is always tricky of course but Church and State must co-exist

It is my guess 100 years from now, if humanity survives the next century, New Zealand will be Asian, one way or another

And is our Prime Minister any more religious than Xi Jinping?

Andrei said...

Btw the anonymous comment at 8:09 was I, that is Andrei

Andrei said...

"Recently I saw an item about Chinese banning children from worship (the old folk will die out ...): is that okay?"

Where did you read this Peter? The Daily Mail has a lurid account of it based upon third party sources which they further exagerated

Working back the original source seems to be a blogger named "Peter" who claims it is happening in remote areas in a couple of provinces and it is the actions of over zealous local officials acting outside of Chinese law reagrding religion and the freedom of people to raise their children in their own religion

Meanwhile here in our South Pacific Paradise we have a Prime Minister who refused to swear on the Bible or invoke God in taking the oath of office - and given you stated goal is to examine the state of Chritianity and Anglicanism in particular in these islands might have been something you could have noted in a post

WE also are witnessing a concerted push to remove all teaching of the Bible from New Zealand State schools and while the propgation of Maori Culture is seen as worthwhile and worthy thing in school, knowledge of the Bible, the King James version in particular which is a cultural trasure of the English speaking world is to be completely suppressed is the zealots get their way and they are definetly winning this one.

What percentage 18 year olds in New Zealand could tell you who Moses was do you suppose? What percentage of that demographic could recite the Lords prayer in 2018?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrei
Each country has its own internal challenges about how it orders society and how church (and other religions) fit into that society.

Generally we do not raise questions about what happens internally for other countries, though sometimes doing that (e.g. re apartheid in South Africa) leads to change.

I am raising questions re China partly out of concern for brothers and sisters in Christ (as I once had concern for the same inside Soviet Russia) and partly out of concern for what China's external influence on our country might be.

I would be surprised if China was worried about the external influence of NZ on it. We are a very small minnow. China is something of a leviathan in the Pacific by comparison.

Father Ron Smith said...

"Meanwhile here in our South Pacific Paradise we have a Prime Minister who refused to swear on the Bible or invoke God in taking the oath of office"
- Andrei -

Have you ever thought, andrei, that htypocrisy was one of the sins of the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus constantly referred to.

There is no law in Aotearoa/New Zealand that Prime Ministers must be Christian. We are not a theocratic state - like Iran and other places where great evil is done in the name of their god. I know which I prefer.

Christianity is one Faith community among many in New Zealand. We do not have a monopoly. We have to earn our credibility with serving the good of the common people - not any sort of domination where human rights are diminished by subjugation to hierarchical sectarian laws.

Jean said...

Hi Peter

I hope you escaped the worst of the weather in the Wairarapa...

All significant happenings you have listed. Amazing life Billy Graham lived, appreciated reading some of his later in life comments as they gave an indication of a very down to earth character. Submissions close on the End of Life Bill next month : ) ... It is not hard to see how in some situations it appears the most merciful action, however, as it involves changing ones own and societies outlook on the value of life letting the law pass is making a crack in a dam whereby a flood of other consequences will follow - not necessary foreseen.

As for China, now that is another can of worms. Caution would be advised especially if there was any political or policy interference being allowed. I remember learning a couple of years ago how a NZ student (Christian) given perrmanent residency was taken from a flat in ChCh by officials from his home country Saudi Arabia (possibly to face the death penalty for converting) with seemingly little outcry from our police or other authorities. A similar situation I would say where the risk of ‘offending’ the other countries appears higher than making a fuss. Not much consolation for those involved.

My sisters friend returned from China two years ago. Her and her husband are Christian and attended an ‘unofficial’ house church while there. It was interesting, listening to her speak about the ‘power and control’ of the government. She ended up in jail once when her newborn was three weeks old for having an incorrect visa for a particular province. It was clear from the conversation that freedom of religion and even opinion and movement is not encouraged. Obviously so much of our commodities come from China and keeping trading and political relationships on an even keel is good, at the same time though I think as a country is would be best to keep an eye out and make sure any trade-off’s don’t jeapoardise our autonomy or our people.


Andrei said...

There is no law in Aotearoa/New Zealand that Prime Ministers must be Christian. We are not a theocratic state - like Iran and other places where great evil is done in the name of their god.

Iran is a democracy Fr Ron - it is guided by the princeples of Islam. It is no paradise but then again where is but it is orderly

Life in New Zealand is great for middle class vicars, but it also has one of the highest incarceration rates in the Western world, life is not so good for those prisoners. BTW that bastion of freedom and democracy the USA has incarceration rates that leave the rest of the world in the dust and American prisons are horrors

In truth Fr Ron we all need a framework to guide us else anything goes and the framework that guided New Zealand was the Christian Faith - whether you like it or not.

The opening prayer for Parliament, nominally has MPs look outside themselves to God for guidance so that good and just laws maybe enacted

And the things we may be proud of, such as the abolition of slavery were driven by Christian men guided by Christian principles

Bryden Black said...

Re China. From a local missionary on furlough from China: while it is difficult to estimate due to 'authorities', there are at least 85 million Christians in China, and quite possibly as many as 135-140 million, and growing either way. And these are NOT nominal folk but hard-core! Think "Watchman Nee" or "The Heavenly Man". So; let's pray for them to be/become true salt and light before their nation.