Monday, November 27, 2023

CS Lewis on Scripture (and other musings)

 Tim Chesterton, vicar in Edmonton, Canada, has written an excellent post on authority and inspiration of the Bible according to the words of CS Lewis.

I commend it to you (and of course it can be discussed at his site).

Other musings

The terribleness of war continues to destroy lives, notably in Ukraine and in Gaza/West Bank. I find myself able to pray for a lasting, just peace in the Middle East, and constantly refraining from commentary on Twitter/X - it is, to use an over-used but often accurate word, complicated. For instance, I am sure the Palestinian people need a better deal; but would a Palestinian state under Hamas rule be a good thing? It seems to me that such a state would be Iran 2.0.

Here in NZ we have a new government with a very tight policy agreement binding the three coalescing parties. Some of the policies to be enacted take us back to 2016 (i.e. before our previous Labour-led government), others (some pundist are saying) will take us back to 1986! Some policies will undo significant steps taken in recent years to level the social and economic playing field between Maori and Pakeha. Other policies may do that, but may, nevertheless yield better outcomes for Maori. There is a lot to consider. But I note that a lot of commentary seems to be "oh, no, the new Government is going to do THIS to us." Shouldn't the commentary be, "THIS is what we voted for, do we still want it, now that it is going to happen?" Governments respond to the people and are hired and fired by the people. Criticism of the new policies should be self-criticism of us, the people of NZ ... shouldn't it?

One policy is both terrifying and intriguing. That policy is not to proceed with some drastic restrictions on smoking of cigarettes in NZ, to have been enacted in a couple of years time. The terrifying bit is that the new Finance Minister sees some good in a higher tobacco tax take because more rather than fewer people will buy cigarettes. (I am not saying the FM wants people to smoke cigarettes; just that she has calculated benefits to the balance streer through predictable consumer habits).Whether or not we should legislatively restrict cigarette consumption, surely we all want no one smoking cigarettes? 

Anyway, the intriguing thing - IMHO - is that the situation highlights this possibility: if citizens of our fair land non-violently resisted this policy, by voluntarily giving up smoking (or not starting smoking), then two things would happen:

- the tax take assumption would fail;

- the assumption that legislation is the only way to control desired social and economic outcomes would also fail.

On a much brighter note, we had a lovely ordination service on Saturday morning in our Transitional Cathedral, for three new deacons (Jo Cotton, Sammy Mould, Matt Maslin) and a new priest (Andrew Butcher).


John C said...

"Shouldn't the commentary be, "THIS is what we voted for, do we still want it, now that it is going to happen?" Governments respond to the people and are hired and fired by the people. Criticism of the new policies should be self-criticism of us, the people of NZ ... shouldn't it?"

Very true for all voters in their respective countries

Anonymous said...

Peter, the 'commentariat' and the voters are often two quite different constituencies. The kind of people who become journalists and news presenters in the legacy media, at least in the Anglosphere, tilt pretty strongly to the secular left, as every study of that demographic shows.
Why is this? Is it because conservative-leaning students would rather be accountants or run businesses?
The self-appointed gatekeepers of 'News' - or, as somebody once lauded on The Colbert Show put it, 'the sole source of truth' - decide what things can be spoken about and how you may speak about them. Such monopolies need to be challenged.
One of the first questions we should always ask about public life is: 'Whose filters am I seeing the world through?'

As for other matters: I hope we are all agreed that having a Maori grandparent doesn't confer on an individual an inherent competence in water catchment and conservation. New Zealand doesn't need its own version of the Nuremburg Laws.

Pax et bonum
William Grenhalgh

Peter Carrell said...

Hi William
Your last paragraph is not a helpful comment.
It is trivial that mere ancestry does not confer competency but that is not what Te Ao Maori input into such matters is about - and invoking the Nuremburg Laws is insulting.
We are a nation seeking to work out what it means to be two peoples in one land, with a different history/context to anything the early to mid century Germany was perversely trying to work out.
The involvement of Maori in, e.g. water management, is about protecting our waterways so that the fish God created can swim in them without dying and the people God created can swim in them without getting sick - a pretty laudable aspiration and one I (as a Pakeha) share. Maori from the perspective of Te Ao Maori (i.e. not about personal genetic history) have a vision for NZ ecology which is an important contribution to growth and development of our land and waterways for future generations.

Anonymous said...

Peter - no, just a breath of (provocative) realism. The Nuremburg laws created two classes of Germans on the basis of race, something wholly abhorrent to the Gospel, as Pius X complained in 'Mit brennender Sorge' and something Dietrich Bonhoeffer opposed with the Confessing Lutheran Church. Of course, St Paul said it first in Galatians and Ephesians. Equality under the law is something most secular people also once understood.
Having a Scottish grandfather didn't bequeathe me any competence in bagpipes, shortbread or tartan, and fortunately nobody has ever asked my opinion on tbese vital matters. If I was concerned about protecting fish stocks and water purity (as everyone should be), I would want the care of them to be in the hands of the best ecologists and scientists of whatever race (including young Indian and Chinese New Zealanders). Fish conservation and controlling pollution have nothing to do with race (including 'traditional knowledge') and everything to do with science. "Three Waters" had no basis in science; it was an attempted political power grab by an elite, dressed up in an unreal, romanticised idea of Maori today.
Yes, there are real and serious problems about Maori inequality today in education, health, income and prison population. But the way out of poverty and deprivation has always been the same: stable, two-parent families, valuing education, and developing strong character in children and adolescents, valuing work and thrift and steering clear of drink and drugs. Christians have always understood this, and should never be embarrassed about the regenerative power of the Gospel.

Pax et bonum
William Greenhalgh

Peter Carrell said...

I do not agree with you re water, William.
Two differing cultures and expectations are significant drivers in what is going on (along with steady scientific findings etc), and we need to find a pathway for both cultures to engage in the challenges and opportunities.
Nor do I think this situation is wholly explained by talk of "power grab" or "elites".

Tim Chesterton said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Peter.

From the soon-to-be-former rector of St. Margaret's Edmonton!

liturgy said...

I am not as convinced as you that "THIS is what we voted for", Peter. 94% of us did NOT vote for Winston Peters & NZ First; 92% of us did NOT vote for David Seymour & ACT. Yet the 85% of us who did not vote for either of those parties are seeing the 15% as having disproportionate impact. cf. FPP!!!

I am reminded of other (ecclesiastical) coalitions being not about what they were *for* - more what they were *against*. Kiwis may have voted *against* Labour and are now surprised: "oh, no, the new Government is going to do THIS to us." Even many who voted National can be understood to be surprised!

One of the three partners called another "New Zealand's most untrustworthy politician", there were also suggestions of one of the partners sitting on the cross-benches and voting issue by issue. When executive positions became real options, those comments were walked back.

I continue to think that for MMP to work properly (rather than what we are clearly seeing currently with too much weight given to 15%), we need to separate the executive from the legislative, and furthermore not simply cast around the House of Representatives for someone who grew up with a &^% to be the Minister for *&^! With the Ministers not being members of the House of Representatives, we can then have that House debate and vote issue by issue.



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
I could and should have been clearer about what I meant by "we voted for this" (absolutely agreeing that most of us did not vote for certain policies now agreed to be government policies).

1. We voted for MMP (I voted for MMP).
2. We understand that mostly MMP will yield coalition governments.
3. We understand that coalition governments will make compromises to gain an agreed set of policies as part of forming the government.
4. In this particular case, 2023, anyone who voted for National or ACT or NZ First understood, or should have understood, that, subject to each party crossing the 5% threshold (or gaining an electorate seat), the government formed would be a Nat/ACT/NZ First government (or a Nat/ACT government) - polls before the election did not indicate likelihood of any other combination.
5. It is not reasonable for parties before an election to both campaign for their own policies AND set out what they would or would not be committed to in a coalition arrangement.
6. Thus, anyone voting for Nat or ACT or NZ First (i.e. as it turned out, forming a majority of voters) was voting for the possibility that the resulting government would have objectionable policies (again, it being unreasonable to think that only agreeable policies would make the coalition agreement).

liturgy said...

I see your response to the comment I sent in, Peter - but I (and others, I presume) seem to not be able to see my original comment.

Peter Carrell said...

I am not sure what is happening with "lost" (hopefully now found) comments - this has been happening for a few weeks now!