Thursday, June 29, 2017

Compromise: the Anglican Way Forward in All Things

We are but a few days out from our latest Way Forward report/recommendations (I am going to the TAB on a 4 July release). Compromise is in the air, obviously. But what kind? Does the devil lie in the details? Patience!

Meanwhile, as an appetizer and a reminder of the subtle art of Anglican compromise, we could consider a proposal coming out of the CofE which I am sure ACANZP will be interested in. This one concerns Methodist/Anglican recognition of mutually interchangeable ministries.

A bit like cold fusion, ecumaniacal AngMeth-ecclesiologists have been working on this for ages without success. Until now. Is this the moment?

I hope so. Our journey on earth to the kingdom of heaven becoming the kingdom on earth involves (among many things) finding Christian unity. As I now often say, there are not separate sections in heaven for different kinds of Christians, so why not begin now to live the unity we will live in for eternity!

Not that it is easy, this search for elusive unity, but then Jesus never promised the way forward would be without challenges.

Back to our challenging life in ACANZP where differences abound on a range of topics: blessings, (NZ) Methodists (with whom we have a covenant), and a certain cathedral.

My thoughts lately have been about the importance of recognising that as Christians we are always in a coalition - a group of people with striking differences yet making compromises to be in coalition rather than in opposition to one another. At its broadest our coalition is simply that we are Christians (and not atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, etc). Like it or lump it, we cannot within this coalition dismiss Christians we disagree with. We are Christians in disagreement and with differences in this coalition. And even if we are tempted to dismiss Christians we disagree with, we find that outside the coalition, the world (whether atheists or Islamists) does not side with "us" or "them": it simply sees us as Christians who do not get on very well with each other.

For a few centuries Anglicans and Methodists have coped with differences between them by being a coalition of Christians rather than (say) a coalition of (diverse) Anglicans or a coalition of (diverse) Methodists. Now, at least in England, the possibility is that Anglicans and Methodists are moving into a "coalition of Anglicans-and-Methodists".

What will the impact of the forthcoming Way Forward report and recommendations be on ACANZP as we receive, digest (our local synods) and approve or not (General Synod, May 2018)? Will we remain the coalition we currently find ourselves in, of Tikanga, of churchpersonships, of theological differences - a coalition under one Anglican name for these islands?

Or some other kind of coalition?

But, make no mistake, whatever the future holds, we will be a coalition of one kind or another.

Personally I am voting to remain in coalition under the one Anglican name.

As far as I can tell, that is what Bishop Richard Condie of Tasmania is working on re the Anglican Communion as a whole!

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Politics of Jesus (1917/2017)

In 1917 the Russian Revolution began and in 2017 a Russian Question rumbles through American politics while a Russian Presence permeates Middle Eastern politics centred on Syria.

Also in 1917 T.E. Lawrence helped to lead the Arab Rebellion against the Ottoman Empire (6 July is centenary of Battle of Aqaba) and in 2017 the results of that rebellion continue to play out in the turmoil of Middle Eastern politics in which Saudi Arabia stirs the pot in Qatar and other places. Turkey, of course, is a key player in what is going on these days, including, today, I notice, defending the interests of Qatar against the meddling of Saudi Arabia.

Here in NZ, 1917 might be best remembered for 850 soldiers killed at Passchendaele on 20 October, the greatest loss of life in a single day in NZ's military history. Back home, in 1917 there was a Reform Party government, led by William Massey. In 2017 we have a National Party government led by Bill English - National is a successor party to the Reform Party.

We might also, to keep comparisons going, compare 1917 and the British government being in a bit of a muddle about how to bring the war in Europe to an end with 2017 and the British government being in a significant muddle about how to extricate itself from its current "war" in/with Europe.

The above paragraphs represent one way of doing history, focusing attention on the big picture, key events, and named leaders. From that perspective it is fascinating, possibly depressing to think how much 2017 looks like a rerun of 1917.

Another way of doing history is to consider ordinary people and the way their lives are lived - social history. From that perspective a number of things are wonderfully changed and life today does not look at all like it did in 2017. (The following apply to the Western world, but also in much of the rest of the world) think healthcare, standard of housing (for most, but not all), ease of producing meals, laundering clothes, moving from one place to another, communication, entertainment, access to consumer goods. Even with wars still occurring, the chances of 850 Kiwi soldiers being killed in a single day this year is almost zero. (Only "almost" because there are rogue states with worrying policies around missiles, nuclear weaponry, etc).

But the point of politics is not to proudly remind people how wonderful life is compared to 100 years ago. The point of politics is to organise society today towards better outcomes tomorrow than were experienced yesterday. From that perspective, our lot could be better. Here in NZ we are concerned about improvements which many other countries also wish for: to housing, to health, to education, and to economic well-being (both lifting individuals out of poverty and improving general circumstances of whole countries).

Our General Election on Saturday 23 September 2017 focuses our minds on whether we should change the government to secure wished for improvements or retain the current government because it is promising to fulfil those wishes.

I hope to keep a Monday series of posts on the theme of "The Politics of Jesus" going until the election, exploring the question of what Jesus' politics mean for us as a democratic people with the ability to apply Jesus' politics to our situation and our wish to see improvements.

But today I note simply that where there are politics there are politicians. And, unfortunately, a desire to see improvements to politics involves, necessarily, improvements to politicians and their ability to deliver better outcomes for people.

On that score the last week has been salutary. We have seen our media hold our key politicians to account and they have been found somewhat wanting. I salute our media (they have done their duty) and I despair of our politicians (at best they have reminded us that politicians have a remarkable ability to tell lies and lots of them).

Should any politician being reading this column, I offer these verses from yesterday's Gospel reading, and ask that you recite them to yourself everyday you are a politician:

"26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs."

Tell the truth, dear leaders, it is the best way to avoid one lie leading to another lie.




Friday, June 23, 2017

Can we put to death the Euthanasia Bill?

Recently a private member's bill re euthanasia was drawn from the parliamentary ballot and so we are a nation facing the possibility that our parliament will do what it is has not done before and legalise the assisted taking of one's own life.

I am instinctively against such a bill because the "key" it offers, choice about the time of one's own death, opens the door to later social compulsion to die at the time of one's family's choosing. Even, when rationing of resources kicks in, at the time of one's government's choosing.

For details about the bill and the objections of the Inter Church BioEthics Council (ICBC) to it, read here.

I agree with the ICBC. This bill should be euthanased at this time so that the current select committee process runs its course.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Make Christians? Build church buildings!!

Fascinating article here about some surprisingly high UK stats re young people becoming Christian converts because they have visited a church building (esp. cathedrals). The underlying research is here (H/T Bosco Peters).

I leave it to you, dear reader, to make what you will of the stats but if there is something in them then we should revise our cliched formulae about "church is people, not buildings."

Just maybe, perhaps and possibly church buildings contribute to making church people.

For myself I am confident that buildings are not just bricks and mortar when they are churches. Church buildings point people to God, they symbolise the gospel, they witness to the existence of God, they offer spaces in which people experience special encounters ("sacred space") and they assert the presence of Christian people in the surrounding community.

Yes, the church is people in the sense that church does not stop because (say) church buildings are demolished (as we have experienced in Christchurch).

Yes, the church is people in the sense that if you are down to your last $100k and have to choose between paying the vicar and the youth worker or repairing the church building, then invest in people and not bricks and mortar.

No, the church is not only people because the people of the church are the church when they gather together. And gatherings in many climates need a roof, walls, windows, doors and seats. Rarely is the crunch church building or people. Normally it is both, with reasonable arguments about what size church building and what quality of building.

Of course that brings me to our Anglican cathedral here in Christchurch and our forthcoming debate in our Synod, 7-9 September.

I am committed to having a cathedral in the Square which is the heart of our city. Our forefathers envisioned a city built in ways reminiscent of Oxford. *That vision led to a predilection for stone buildings in the Neo-Gothic style. While not original to that vision, the early settlers settled on having a cathedral at the heart of the city. Doing so underlined the "Christ" and "church" in "Christchurch."* Whatever kind of cathedral (reinstated, brand new) it should be there and not somewhere else.

Imagine if we let go of the site and a mosque was built on it instead ...

Postscript: Brian Law, former director of the Cathedral Choir, argues cogently in this morning's Press about the deficiencies in the cathedral that was while pressing the claims of Miles' Warren's proposal that the cathedral be rebuilt according to the original George Gilbert Scott design.

Footnote:
*The original post read, between the asterisks, "Our forefathers envisioned a city built around a cathedral and it was a great vision." This is not accurate as the original vision was for an Oxbridge type college at the heart of the city (i.e. what is today Christ's College).

Friday, June 16, 2017

Benedict Option Wrong for Down Under?

In a week where days fly past and major issues in Kiwiland remain untouched herein, notably further developments re the Christchurch Cathedral and the imminent question of legalisation of euthanasia, the least I can do is point you to a superb and, for me, persuasive, argument from Michael Bird (Ridley College, Melbourne).

Against a background in Australia of increasing hostility towards Christianity, Michael Bird argues in a North American magazine, Christianity Today, that the Benedict Option being debated there - concerning engagement between Christianity and secular society - is not apt for the Down Under context.

NZ is not Australia. They are not as good as us at rugby (for instance!). So I am interested in readers' comments about the Benedict Option versus the Thessalonian Option for consideration in our Kiwi situation.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Bizzy

A few verses from Job 9 in the daily office this morning help explain infrequent blogging of late ...

"25“My days are swifter than a runner;
they fly away without a glimpse of joy.
26They skim past like boats of papyrus,
like eagles swooping down on their prey."

(Except the "without a glimpse of joy" bit ... I am a happy camper in the midst of terrific bizziness.)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Dunedin's Successful Global Search for New Bishop

He will come from London to be the next Bishop of Dunedin - but Steve Benford is no stranger to the city.

Archbishops Winston Halapua and Philip Richardson have announced the election of the Rev Dr Steven Benford as the next Bishop of Dunedin.

Bishop-elect Steven, who is 56, currently serves as vicar of St Joseph the Worker, Northolt, in the Diocese of London, where he is also a Bishops’ Advisor for Ministry, a new incumbents’ ministry mentor and spiritual director.

The archbishops today confirmed Steven Benford’s election, which has been ratified by General Synod, after he was nominated by the Diocese of Dunedin’s Electoral College held from May 26-27.

It is an appointment which signals a return to New Zealand for the qualified doctor who worked in Otago in the early 1990s. His wife Lorraine was born in Dunedin.

Making the announcement, Archbishop Philip Richardson welcomed Steven’s appointment.
“I look forward to welcoming Steven back to Aotearoa New Zealand.”

“His experience of living a vocation in the service of others will be invaluable as he leads the clergy and people of Southland and Otago to develop creative ways of serving their communities in the Spirit of Christ.”

Archbishop Philip recently met with Bishop-elect Steven in London. The new bishop describes himself as a ‘people person’.

“Steven is a very warm and engaging priest with a heart for mission,” said Archbishop Philip.

“He will be sadly missed in Northolt, whose people speak highly of his leadership, hard work and creativity.”

Steven Benford’s career has been shaped by a dual vocation to ministry and medicine.

For 29 years he served as a medical doctor, specialising in anaesthetics since 1990.
Steven’s medical career initially took him to Leicester, Leeds and Gibraltar. Then in the early 1990s, he and Lorraine – who grew up in Gore – brought their young family to live in southern New Zealand.

From 1991-95 Steven worked as a GP in Oamaru, where he also established a free clinic. Over those years, he kept his hand in hospital-based medicine, working one day a week at Dunedin Hospital. In the family’s last six months in New Zealand, Steven served in the emergency department at Tokoroa Hospital.


Despite his love of medicine, Steven felt God’s insistent call to the ordained ministry from a young age. In 1996, he entered the ministry discernment process in the Diocese of York and was ordained there in 2000. In his first four years as a priest he served as a curate in a three-church rural cluster, while remaining a full-time specialist at Friarage Hospital, Northallerton in Yorkshire.

(This is the Official Media Release, also at Taonga, where the suggested headline in the media release is followed, "Dunedin Elects New Bishop".)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Yeah, right, Oz Equip!

(In the light of a fair comment below, what follows is a revision of the original, unkind post.)

Each year in Sydney there is a conference for women called Equip.

The most recent one had a dose of restlessness, as you can read here.

About short hair.

And extending submissiveness to men in the workplace.

Intriguingly on the Equip website, I see women involved with the running of the conference with short hair!

The age old intra evangelical debate re relationships between men and women, in marriage and in the church, complementarianism / egalitarianism, continues around the globe.

But is this latest call, as reported above, a step further than warranted even by a complementarian reading of Scripture?

I have my own thoughts on the matter. What about yours?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Western civilization undermined by gospel memes!?

Excellent post here, well worth reading.

Why?

Krish Kandiah takes us through six hope-filled ways in which the recent post Manchester bombing charity concert led by Ariana Grande was permeated with Christian themes.

Now, let's get real. Ariana Grande and (e.g.) Miley Cyrus sing songs (I won't link to lyrics) which represent the nadir of our sex-obsessed, personality-driven, ego-maniacal post-Christian Western civilization. They are not quasi-saints. Nor some of the other characters on stage with them. But bless Krish, he has found the ways in which Christ's gospel cannot be driven out, either by secularization or by Islamification.

Incidentally, I realised with this beautiful Crowded House song below - go Kiwi music! - that Ariana Grande and Miley Cyrus do have voices to die for ...

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Pentecost Conspiracy

Two lovely sermons yesterday, heard by me.

One introduced an idea I had not heard previously. That Pentecost is God's conspiracy with us. To conspire is to breath with, and in the Holy Spirit, God is breathing with us, our breathe one with God's breathe. This is good conspiracy. Of course most uses of the word "conspiracy" today have a negative connotation: people plotting to overthrow the established order of things.

Speaking of which, overnight we have another act of terrorism in the UK. Thoughtful words on this come from John Schindler who argues that what Britain is facing is not terrorism but "a protracted insurgency."

And we need thoughtfulness as Christians. When Pentecost marked the end of the "Thy Kingdom Come" period of intensive praying from Ascension to Pentecost, where is God when the advance of another kingdom is made visible in the rivers of blood flowing on the streets of London?

What is God saying to us in such times about the advance of the kingdom? Such advance is both a matter of praying as though everything depends on God and acting (love, justice, peace-making) as though everything depends on us. Are we being challenged to act differently than we have been?

What is the breathe of God breathing into us in our crazy world today?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Saving an iconic church

No, this time I am not talking about Christchurch Cathedral. Travellers through NZ may have noticed (frequent travellers on SH1 between Blenheim and Kaikoura will have noticed) St. Oswalds, Wharanui.

A small, picturesque stone church - a memorial to a member of the Murray family who have farmed in the district for generations - on the side of the highway, offering, I have often felt when driving by, a witness to Christ to travellers.


But it was badly damaged in the November 2016 earthquakes. My friends Leicester and Laura Murray are spearheading a Murray family campaign to raise funds for its restoration.

A couple of news items are here and here.

Facebook page is here.

And, Givealittle page is here.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Ecumenical Support for Bishop Victoria Matthews

The Press reports on a letter published in the Press letters' page today, signed by eight church leaders of ministries here in Christchurch/Canterbury.

"Presbyterian moderator David Coster wrote the letter as he felt the media and politicians unfairly criticised Matthews. .

"The bishop is being blamed in a way that all the Christian denominations felt was unfair. We have remained silent until now," he said.
Coster said the letter was written independently.
"The bishop has had nothing to do with this whatsoever," he said.
"We wanted to say publicly to the bishop and the community we serve that we are concerned about how she has been treated."

The letter states church buildings are primarily places of worship.
"The costs – spiritually, emotionally and financially – of all our buildings are borne by those for whom these places of worship are their spiritual home," the letter states.
"First and foremost the Cathedral in the Square, like all Christian church buildings, is a place of worship to the God we know in Jesus Christ and a reminder to the wider community of God's presence. The reason why all churches exist is to make Jesus Christ known and to enable people to gather in community and worship. The church is not primarily a landlord tasked with caring for stone or wooden edifices."
It was signed by Coster, Methodist district superintendent Kathryn Walters, Catholic diocese administrator Rick Loughnan, Grace Vineyard Church senior pastor David MacGregor, Elim Church lead pastor Nu Telea, Salvation Army divisional commander Ivan Bezzant, King's Church senior pastor Ken Shelley and Baptist regional mission leader Maurice Atkinson."

My bold

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Islamism found to be surprisingly contextual and challenging [UPDATED]

Brilliant, careful, challenging (but long) reflective article on Islamism here, by Colin Chapman.

Colin is a Christian scholar of Islam with first-hand experience of living in the ME.

UPDATE: my friend Steve Bell weighs in on the question whether Islam is "the problem"?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Islamism found to be surprisingly religious

Understandably and properly politicians take great care not to fuel anti-Muslim bigotry when faced with yet another terrorist event. The vast majority of Muslims are as aghast and horrified by the recent Manchester bombing as non-Muslims are.

But politicians have been criticised for underplaying the role of Islam as a religion in terrorist events. The gist of what many have said is terrorists are not driven by their religion but by their ideological convictions. The form is Islam, the latter is Islamism and the relationship between the two is tenuous at best.

The truth we need to face, however, is that Islamism that drives Manchester-type terrorism (technically most accurately described as Salafism) is deeply Islamic. Here is the chilling, terrifying ISIS media release re Manchester:



Here the West is "the Crusaders" or militant Christians, down to every last teenage fan of Ariana Grande. All soldiers in this centuries old religious war. The bombing is "revenge for Allah's religion." The concert arena is "shameless" meaning it transgresses Islamic values of purity and holiness. The next event will be worse, "more severe on the worshipers of the Cross and their allies." Everything happens within an Islamic religious worldview, "by Allah's permission."

The Islamism of terrorism is not an ideology it is a religion. A terrifying, rogue strand of Islam. And, seemingly, ultimately well funded by Saudi Arabian money (to which you and I have contributed with "donations" at petrol pumps). Saudi Arabia, not to forget, being the country in which Mecca is found.

This religion has one particular religious enemy: Christians. So, in the past couple of days, we learn again of another atrocity against Coptic Christians in Egypt. Ruthlessly gunned down for their imperialist foreign policy.

Let's be clear about two matters these events highlight.

(1) We cannot in the West feign innocence about our contributions to Islamic terrorism. Both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are correct to identify that Western actions have exacerbated the threat to Western countries from Islamic terrorism. However well intentioned we have been about military actions in places such as Libya and Iraq, the resulting chaos has been fertile for terrorist recruitment. Not one Western country (and certainly not NZ) has ever taken a decisive stand against Saudi Arabia and its shadowy role in these matters. Trump's fawning visit to Saudi Arabia recently underlines the importance we Westerners place on this country. The West is not responsible for Islamic terrorism but it has contributed to the conditions in which it has been conceived, birthed and nurtured.

(2) Even if we overcome our feigned innocence, put matters to right in Libya and Iraq and deal to Saudi Arabia, Islamism will still be at war with Christians. Coptic Christians have no foreign policy to fault. They were not European Crusaders sweeping down on the Middle East. They are a minority people in a majority Muslim nation. But they worship the Cross. That is enough to warrant death. For Islamism there is only one way. Until we submit to that way, or are killed, Islamism will never give up. Allah requires the submission of every last person on the planet.

Islam, dear politicians, is surprisingly religious in its convictions.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

More, a cathedral way forward? UPDATED

Cathedral pros, cons and inbetweens continue unabated. Here are some links:

- a Q and A in the Press which may help catch some up with the issues and questions in the matter

- a TV One News item (though it mixes recent written text with a much older interview with Gerry Brownlie)

- a sympathetic response to the church's dilemma, prompted by an execrable Martin Van Beynen column in yesterday's Press (and other Fairfax papers), written by Michael Reddell at Croaking Cassandra

UPDATE: Winston Peter's gets that old time religion!

MONDAY UPDATE: Bishop Victoria herself being interviewed by John Campbell on Checkpoint.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A way forward?

No, not back to "the" way forward our church at large seeks on Another Issue but is there a way forward for our cathedral in the Square?

On the one hand, Bishop Victoria has written an op-ed for the Christchurch Press, online here (and, presumably, to be published tomorrow in the print edition). She has also been interviewed tonight on Seven Sharp (here).

On the other hand, tonight a cross-party political group of local MPs has announced it is united and determined to "break the deadlock over the Christ Church Cathedral."

That doesn't sound like a group of democratically elected MPs intent on respecting the parliamentary democracy of the church!

UPDATE THURSDAY A.M.

In the Press this morning:

This frontpage article

This assessment of power and influence (which inaccurately describes her power within Synod as "She has a third of the vote at the synod." A bishop of a diocese does not have a third of the vote but has the power to veto a decision sought by the other two houses - the same power which each of those houses has. In practice, at least on matters not doctrinal, bishops rarely if ever use such a veto. The critical vote at Synod will be the majority not the vote of anyone individual.)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Cathedral decision to be made by Synod [UPDATED]

Last Wednesday evening at our clergy conference at Pudding Hill we had a full and frank discussion of the matter of the cathedral in Christchurch Square. One outcome of that discussion was a unanimous recommendation by those gathered that the matter of the cathedral be referred to our Diocesan synod, whose next scheduled meeting is in early September.

Bishop Victoria clearly took that recommendation on board because late Saturday afternoon just past a pastoral letter was sent to all parishes with request that it be read out the following Sunday morning. The substantive action proposed in the letter was that the decision about the future of the cathedral would be made at our September Synod.

Below I give (i) the Diocesan Media Release about this; (ii) some links to media reports; (iii) a citation of the express power in the Church Property Trustees (2003) Act for Bishop Victoria to make this referral.

Press Release:

"Media Release
Diocese of Christchurch
21 May 2017


Decision on ChristChurch Cathedral will be made in September 2017

Members of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch’s Synod will make the decision on the future of ChristChurch Cathedral at its meeting in early September 2017.

Synod is the governing body of the Christchurch Diocese and is made up of more than 225 members representing the entire Anglican Diocese of Christchurch.  
Making the announcement today (Sunday May 21) Bishop Victoria Mathews said, “We are very aware that the city and beyond is very frustrated with the amount of time it has taken to reach a decision on the future of our beloved Cathedral. Church Property Trustees (CPT) and the entire Diocese share that frustration.
“After much thought and prayer I have decided to reserve the question on the future of the Cathedral in the Square to September 2017 for our diocesan Synod’s decision.  This means that the members of the Synod will decide on the future of the Cathedral, rather than the Church Property Trustees.
’As the ChristChurch Cathedral is a church building above all else, and a place of worship, the decision on its future should be made by the membership of the Synod comprising the gathered clergy and laity of the Diocese who will be using the Cathedral forever.
“One of the factors that influenced my decision was the strong recommendation of the diocesan clergy at our recent clergy conference to take the matter to our Synod.  I acknowledge and thank the clergy who were present for their prayer, support and advice.
“To date the view of the Church has been that we should proceed with a contemporary Cathedral. In 2013 our Synod voted for an inspirational Cathedral. Recently the Standing Committee expressed its view that a new Cathedral, costing no more than the insurance proceeds received for the Cathedral building in the Square, is its preferred option.”
Members of Synod will make a decision on whether to accept an offer to assist with reinstatement from the New Zealand Government or construct an inspirational contemporary cathedral to a design that is, as yet, undecided but the cost of which will be within the $42 million insurance fund.
“For the past six and a half years Church Property Trustees and its staff have done extraordinary due diligence on different options regarding the future of the Cathedral.  This includes engineering investigations, quantity surveying and research into fundraising options.  Along the way there has been active and passionate debate on what should be done.

“We recently undertook a scientific survey of public preferences among residents from Greater Christchurch on the future of the ChristChurch Cathedral. The results of the research were clear. People’s preferences change when they are fully informed, but there is still no overwhelming preference. People are still divided over whether to reinstate the Cathedral building in the Square or to commit to building a contemporary Cathedral that is inspirational and fit for purpose. We will soon release the survey results.  

“Church Property Trustees have carefully sought expert advice on all aspects of a possible reinstatement and considered the Government’s offer towards potential reinstatement,” says Bishop Victoria. “A majority of the Church Property Trustees are inclined to support the contemporary option however these preferences are still not decisive.  This is a vitally important question for our Diocese, the Canterbury community and impacts the regeneration of Christchurch which is why I have now made the decision to take the vote to Synod.”


Background
·         The Anglican (Diocese of Christchurch) Church Property Trust Act 2003 allows the Chairperson of the Church Property Trustees to reserve matters before the Church Property Trustees to Synod for its decision

·         Membership of CPT comprises Chairperson Bishop Victoria Matthews and eight trustees, who are members of the Church elected by the Synod. CPT Trustees are elected by Synod. 


Timeline
·         The Church Property Trustee’s decision to build a contemporary inspirational cathedral in the Square was challenged in the courts by the Greater Christchurch Building Trust (GCBT) in 2012 and led to two years of CPT defending its decision.

·         In June 2014, the High Court lifted the stay it issued in November 2012 on deconstruction of the Cathedral. This meant CPT could continue with its plan to progress the idea of building a contemporary cathedral in the Square.

·         Although there would be significant consenting issues, a beautiful and highly functional inspirational and contemporary cathedral, incorporating features and materials from the old cathedral, could be built within the $42 million of cathedral insurance funds then available.

·         This earlier key decision made a commitment to building a contemporary cathedral in the Square. The decision had been based on numerous engineering, costing, risk and other professional evaluations for which CPT sought advice for different options. All key reports were made public.

·         In May 2015 CPT's decision to build a contemporary cathedral was paused following a request from the GCBT to further discuss engineering and costs of a rebuild. At that meeting, GCBT's experts agreed with CPT's advice that the approximate cost of a rebuild would be approximately $100m (not $67m as GCBT had been publicly claiming), that base isolation is preferable, and the rebuild project would take approximately seven years.

·         CPT approached the government and suggested it might like to become involved. The Crown decided to appoint Miriam Dean QC to assess the situation.

·          In a previous conversation with Minister Brownlee, the Bishop and the Trustees present explained very clearly that they believed CPT might do well to move towards a compromise – a build of old and new materials despite the Diocese and CPT stating it had a preference for a contemporary build. 

·         The Trustees were open to reinstatement as long as when completed the project did not leave the Diocese or CPT in debt. In particular, it was highlighted that CPT could only commit $30m as it needed significant endowments to pay for the maintenance of such an expensive building and also to cover the cost of full replacement insurance, which is estimated at up to $360k a year.

·         In January 2016, CPT's decision to build a contemporary cathedral was again paused, following an approach from the Government to review the feasibility of reinstatement. CPT committed to good faith engagement and rescinded its standing resolution to deconstruct the Cathedral. 

·         The Government's Cathedral Working Group's report confirmed CPT's advice that the cost of reinstatement (rebuild) was approximately $104m (plus $4m fundraising costs), base isolation is preferable, and reinstatement would take approximately seven years.

·         CPT then agreed to a Government request to negotiate a funding and delivery model to reinstate the Cathedral. In late December 2016, CPT believed that an agreement was in place and were ready to sign.  However in November we had the Kaikoura 7.8 earthquake and the following month the Prime Minister resigned. 

·         By December 21, 2016, the offer on the table which CPT was prepared to sign  was changed to an entirely different document – a Statement of Principles. 

·         In March 2017 the Government clarified the terms of its new offer - $10 million grant and a $15 million loan and legislative assistance for reinstatement.

·         On 21 May 2017 Bishop Victoria Mathews announced that the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch’s Synod will make the decision on the future of ChristChurch Cathedral at its meeting in early September 2017.


Note: Individual Church Property Trustees are not available for any further comment.

Media inquiries
Communications Advisor
Jayson Rhodes
021 661319"

Media Responses:

NZ Herald

Stuff

The Press (which does not quite square up with the final sentence of the Media Release above!)

Radio NZ

ADDED TUESDAY:

Two Press articles: here and here.

Press Editorial here. (a bit odd, in my view, calling for a decision to be made yet not acknowledging that when a decision was made, it was challenged!)

Authority to Make Referral (from here):

"
6. Chairperson may reserve matters for consideration of Synod
  • (1)The chairperson of the Church Property Trustees may reserve for the decision of the Synod any matter raised for consideration by the Church Property Trustees.
    (2)The Synod must not decide under subclause (1) to rescind or cancel any contract or agreement or any sale, mortgage, lease, or other disposition of any part of the property.
"

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Tremendous Gospel Reading Today - The Best Gospel Reading

I am heading off to a lovely church at Mt Somers (Mid Canterbury) this morning to preach on the lectionary readings and to preside at the eucharist (blessed to be able to do so to enable the local priest and deacon to have a lovely holiday (they are married to each other).

The RCL gospel today is tremendous, the best gospel reading (now, who talks like that???):

John 14:15-21

"”If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
”I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”"

The resurrected Jesus is alive and well and inside you. "The resurrection" is not an historical event if by that we mean that the resurrection only concerns the raising of a dead body on such and such a date from a tomb in the vicinity of Jerusalem. It is both that event of transformation of Jesus of Nazareth and the event of the transformation of our own lives as believers in whom Jesus Christ dwells by the Spirit, "another Advocate."

Christ is alive, Alleluia and he is living in me, you and us the church. Slight awkward implication, however! That means the most direct evidence for the resurrection of Jesus for the disbelieving world around us is, er, um, me, and you. and the church. The church as "the body of Christ" is not an ideal notion of the chummy unity of Christians: it is, literally, the living Christ in the world.

Does the world see the living Christ when it sees the church?

Yes, well, awkward question when we think of the scandals, the shortcomings and the silliness of the church (yes, not one of those funny hats we wear, constitutes evidence for the life of Christ).

But then the point of reading the gospel, to say nothing of preaching the gospel is that we hear and learn again what we are meant to be. Our confession and penitence is our opportunity to say to Jesus, "Here I am Lord. Sorry! Renew your life in me that my life may be your life in the world." Actually, also our confession is corporate: "Sorry, Lord! But here we are, renew a right spirit in us, that we may be the body of Christ, real and not ideal, attractive and not a turn off."

Our eucharistic participation is our feeding on the life of Christ that we may become what we eat and drink: Christ!

And this gospel reading tells us the amazing news that Jesus - the same Jesus who walked the dusty roads of Palestine - wants to live in us and us to live in him.

And, the reading gently challenges and encourages us about what this means: it is not a question of whether we feel Jesus is in us. It is a question of keeping Jesus' commandments.

Am I keeping Jesus' commandments? Are you? Yes? Then the life of Jesus is being lived out within us.

Very cool. The best gospel reading :)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Cathedral views

The Press carries a major article today about the possibility of a new cathedral in Christchurch, depending where the settlement of cathedral issues settles. Some bloggers familiar to readers here are cited from blogposts in 2013.

Not unrelated to me there has also been this view in the Press this week!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Best Ever?

For obvious reasons I don't like to place a headline on this blog "Out of Town, Out of (straightforward) Internet, Out of Action" so I didn't broadcast on Monday that I was heading to Pudding Hill (foothills of the Alps, 1.25 hrs from Christchurch) for three days of our annual Clergy Conference.

There I was able to post comments (there was internet) and even initially respond to a few. But then work on a presentation for our "Respectful Conversations" involved some transfer of videoed material to my One Drive (i.e. cloud synchronizing file system) and I realised that if I used my phone as a "hotspot" for laptop internet connection I would blow my monthly limit higher than nearby Mt Hutt. I was out of straightforward internet dealings with this blog and only last night at home responded to comments. (I also note this morning a message from One Drive saying it is nearly full!)

Anyway, as someone intimately involved with the running of the conference (led by Bishop Victoria, and with several others heavily involved in the work before and during the conference), it was very gratifying by the conference end to have some "best ever" comments. Not least because I thought the past two conferences were also "best evers" and it is pleasing to improve on already high standards.

Best ever conferences involve two important factors, I suggest. One is the content of the conference and the other is its mood. Content (culture, money, social justice, discipleship, respectful conversations) was outstanding with excellent input from mostly local "homegrown" speakers and the one out of Diocese contributor, Sue Burns, superbly led a "dry run" of our Respectful Conversations. Mood. Well, you cannot choose the mood of the conference in the way you can choose a slate of speakers, but the mood was great: a happy, convivial, congenial family of colleagues. Whether we were focused on difficult issues of our day or engaging in casual conversations during breaks we did so cheerfully.

Now back into the ordinary work and plenty to do. Not least on pressing forward with our "Respectful Conversations" across the Diocese in June. These conversations are about same gender relationships in the life of the church, as requested by our Synod last September. In order to be respectful they need to be structured, in order for the structure to work we need trained facilitators (which we now have) and in order for the whole diocese to be covered we need a programme of dates, which we are currently organising. No, do not comment on this paragraph. The moratorium is still in place. Once we get to c. 1 July the moratorium will lift. Patience ...

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Ecclesiology: Everyone does what is right in their own eyes?

The "embarrassing evangelicals" at Jesmond Parish Church (JPC), Newcastle, England - ordaining a bishop without requisite orders to do so - have stirred up a hornet's nest of posts and counter-posts, radio interviews (perhaps TV also), and have even made the news in Christchurch's Press. A good round-up of posts is at Thinking Anglicans. TA also reports on moves towards a new structure here.

Back to my post below: I finished it thus:

"I think in this situation there are also significant episcopathological questions about what we Anglican evangelicals understand ecclesiology is. I will leave that for another post, save for this teaser:

Is it not strangely "Catholic" rather than "Anglican" when we go outside our national church boundaries to secure the ordaining hands of another bishop in order to have a bishop "of our own"?"

Needless to say some others have been getting there before me:

(1) On the matter of what the ordainers and their supporters think about what they have done ecclesiologically, see this paper, Credible Bishops. Its fine and non-controversial point is that faithful leadership needs faithful uber-leadership. But what it misses, I suggest, is this idea: faithful uber-leadership to support faithful leadership does not require a bishop. A senior and respected priest will do the job. A General-Secretary (lay or ordained) or a relevant organisation for reform and renewal will assist greatly. Anglican history is replete with examples of faithful uber-leadership who were not bishops: Newton, Simeon, Stott, Watson, Green, Philip Jensen and here in NZ, Canon Orange.

(2) Andrew Goddard, the voice of centrist evangelical reason in the CofE today, exposes the irregularities of the ordination here. And, SPOILER ALERT, makes the point that the ordination is not only not in accord with CofE canon law, it is not in accord with the canons of REACH SA itself.

(3) We voices from Down Under are plural, with Mark Thompson, Principal of Moore College, Sydney, chiming in with fervent support for the ordination and the reasons for it taking place, but recognising that nevertheless the ordination is "irregular" which strikes me as precisely the point Andrew Goddard makes (though Mark Thompson does not understand how the ordination even breaks REACH SA's own rules).

(4) We had better balance the Goddards out by including the liberal one (if I may so speak) and Giles G makes a point here which is not far away from the point I would like to make re the ecclesiology of this specific episcopathology (the study of the conditions under which episcopacy may be a flourishing form of life, including whether that flourishing is like the multiplying of bacteria or the multiplying of fruit ripe for harvest).

(5) [Added later]: JPC itself has published its thoughts in a Q and A document about "new style bishops."

Here goes, and quite briefly because it is The Week of Clergy Conference and There Is A Lot To Be Done Before Heading to the Wilds of Mid Canterbury (and slightly less than flourishing internet):

(1) bishops oversee the church in large chunks (dioceses, provinces, national churches, Communions) and thus need to be drawn from the chunks by a process the chunk is agreeable to;

(2) bishops offer a focus of unity and work for unity of the chunks of the church they are appointed to oversee and thus their appointment (and ordination before appointment, if not already ordained a bishop) should be according to the agreed processes (orders, canons, liturgies) of the chunk concerned so that this focus of and work for unity begins with unity;

(3) bishops are definitional of churches which have bishops: (among other definitions and distinctions) Anglicans are not Presbyterians because we believe in individual bishops rather than the corporate episcopacy of the Presbytery; but we Anglicans are not Roman Catholics because we believe that (a) bishops may be married; (b) need not be submissive to the authority of a single bishop for the whole world, though should be submissive to some authority whether a more local/national archbishop/primatial bishop or to a local/national General Synod (Convention).

Wise owls among us will add further points, but three is a fine number, standard for sermons and bless by the Trinity. On the first two counts the ordination in Newcastle is jolly well irregular (at best) because it involves zero process of involvement according to agreed protocols of the wider church (whether that is the CofE, REACH SA or the network of churches Bishop Pryke will be bishop of).

That is, bishops, even evangelical ones, must have a catholic (agreeable to the whole church) character to them and in the case at issue, this character is missing. There is a strong sense in this case where a few have chosen a man to be ordained bishop and the ordination has taken place in a secret location, unknown to the many, that "everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes."

On the third point, I suggest that we do not beat about the bush or South African veldt working out whether the Overseas Bishops Measure or Canon X,Y or Z applies. When canons are disregarded in order to have a new bishop, we have a new church in process of being defined. (Cf. Giles Goddard's article). Let's not bewail the irregularity of Bishop Pryke's ordination. Let's beseech those who seek a better way for the orthodox in the CofE to leave now, following the new bishop. It is the honest thing to do.

However all the orthodox who want to stay in the CofE, who want to work within the rules of the church, who wish to both influence if possible and then abide by the resolutions of the General Synod, let them stay. Let them give their bishops a good old hurry up if they should stray from the way of Christ. But let them not go down the path of irregular ordinations ... unless, see the paragraph immediately above.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Embarrassing Evangelicals?

Warning: I am well aware that beneath the issue(s) I draw attention to here is "the issue" of the day for the Anglican Communion. Do not discuss that issue here: the moratorium remains in place. Do not mention it in passing. If you do, your comment will be deleted. Please comment on matters ecclesiological, episcopathological, vagrantes and flagrantes bishops, the imminent triumph or failure of evangelical Anglicans, Anglican evangelicals, Anglican churches here, there or here-and-look-now-also-over-there.

In the last few days Anglican news has taken an unexpected twist and turn. About a week ago the GAFCON Primates announced that they were thinking of ordaining a bishop for the British Isles. Cue wondering who that might be, which country they might come from, where their support would be and whether or not they would in some way be recognised by the powers that be.

But a couple of days ago it was announced that a senior priest/presbyter in the Jesmond Parish (Diocese of Newcastle, England), Jonathan Pryke, has been ordained a bishop by bishops of the Reformed Evangelical Anglican Church of South Africa [REACH SA] (formerly known as the Church of England in South Africa [CESA]). This church, for the record, has orders recognised by the CofE.

At this point, because you will be bursting with episcopathological fervour to know more (sometimes also known as epistemology), I need to point you to some articles and press releases and what have you, because "why" Jonathan has been ordained a bishop, "where" his territory (or even simply his focus) will be, "what" his relationship with his licensing bishop (as a priest/presbyter) will be, and "to whom" he will be accountable as a bishop, to say nothing of "whether" he will be disciplined and "by whom" is quite beyond this bear of small brain.

Try here, here, here and here. Also, fascinatingly, here for the relationship of REACH SA, CPSA and the CofE. Note also this report which suggests that despite ad hoc action(s) taking now or proposed now, a larger plan is being worked out. Also Andrew Brown on the case here.

Update: Ian Paul kindly includes this post as an introduction to his own thoughts on the matter at Psephizo. And Cranmer also comments here.

But here is what I do get about this situation, as an evangelical Anglican I am embarrassed that:

- other evangelical Anglicans have taken unilateral action ordaining a bishop without transparently informing proper authorities (the Bishop of Newcastle, the Archbishop of York) of intention to do so. Does not basic courtesy and commitment to living in the light require that?

- when GAFCON and its English partner, AMiE, had another plan, this action is unilaterally taken against that plan. What is it about fraternity and coherency that these English and other evangelicals do not get?

- also, in terms of walking in the light, how could Jonathan Pryke, on the executive of AMiE, not inform his fellow executive members of what was going to happen? Are they not on the same side? Why hide things? In what way does such manner of doing things enhance the reputation of evangelical Anglicans?

It is not unknown for evangelicals to operate factionally rather than coherently, it is a bug in the feature of the Reformational DNA which spawned evangelicalism!

I think in this situation there are also significant episcopathological questions about what we Anglican evangelicals understand ecclesiology is. I will leave that for another post, save for this teaser:

Is it not strangely "Catholic" rather than "Anglican" when we go outside our national church boundaries to secure the ordaining hands of another bishop in order to have a bishop "of our own"?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Will NZ blasphemy laws be Fryed?

Following up the post below, NZ anti-blasphemy law ("who knew we had one?") may change.

I am with Archbishop Philip.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Which one will Fry after judgment?

I leave it to the Irish juridical authorities to determine whether their blasphemy laws have been broken or not by Stephen Fry. On the face of it, he is unlikely to be found guilty, as any case against him would need to consider the full extent of what he said when he accused God of being a "maniac". 

And that full extent is pretty standard fare when we see that what he said, albeit colourfully, is simply that he would like God to explain why there is suffering in the world. Even theologians discuss that problem!

"Asked what he would say if he was confronted by God, Fry replied: "How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault? It's not right."It's utterly, utterly evil.
"Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?"Questioned on how he would react if he was locked outside the pearly gates, he responded: "I would say, 'Bone cancer in children? What's that about?'"Because the God who created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac, utter maniac."Totally selfish. We have to spend our life on our knees thanking him? What kind of God would do that?""
 Fry's point in terms of "blasphemy" is that either God does not exist (so blasphemy cannot be an offence) or God exists and the suffering in the world is what is offensive. Dear God, please explain.

All, by the by, nicely illustrating C.S. Lewis's point about the modern age: we are no longer in the dock, being judged, but God is in the dock and if he should come up with a plausible explanation for suffering then he might get off. But we would need to be persuaded in the face of mounting evidence for the prosecution.

The question in my mind, and I suspect in yours also, is not whether Fry has been blasphemous but whether we can answer the charges he brings against God.

(Very, very briefly, on a subject on which much has been written) one thought that strikes me is that within the household of faith we often meet this kind of challenge by talking in terms of "mystery."

Why God permits suffering while being the God who is love is a mystery (i.e. we do not understand). How God through the incarnate Christ dying on the cross identifies with us in our suffering (or, more generally, in the suffering of the world) is a mystery. And, noting a further Fry charge, God is not selfish or self-centred: the command to worship and to give thanks is precisely something we joyfully respond to as that which rightly belongs to God because God is God (and not an ego). God is neither a maniac nor selfish but God is mysterious.

Clearly this kind of talk does not wash with Stephen Fry. His logic means there is no mystery about human suffering. God being God should and could do something about it, especially the remorseless evil of bone cancer killing children. The only mystery is that some crazy Christians won't admit to the obvious truth: if there is a God then God is a maniac. Maniacs meet the Maniac.

Fry, in other words, is challenging the household of faith about its witness to the world. Whatever it may mean within the household to talk about the mystery of suffering in the face of the God of love, the household has a credibility chasm talking about it to those outside. I suspect Fry actually speaks for millions of atheists and agnostics who refuse to commit to the God Who Will Not Adequately Explain Why Children Suffer.

Thoughts about our "external" language to the world around us?

Also you may like to go to this link.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Paul, Paul, who are you, what did you really mean and what do we do now?

If one scholar in the 20th century turned New Testament scholarship on its head, then a good argument supports that scholar being E.P. Sanders.

Michael Bird, an Ozzie cobber from across the Ditch, gives us choice insights into E. P. Sanders' latest book on Paul.

Plenty to think about.

If you do comment, do not comment on the You Know What section of what Sanders' says. I will not publish such comments. As previously stated in a post below, there is a ban until July-ish ...

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Contra Trump, breaking down the walls that divide

Anglicans involved in beatification?

Catholics sharing the platform?

Lovely story here!

Walls can be broken, Donald! Actually, didn't Ronald Reagan say something about tearing down a certain wall?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Is Brexit the key to understanding the English Reformation?

Or is it the other way round?

Either way there is a brilliantly written review by Giles Fraser of Eamon Duffy's latest attempt to argue that the English Reformation was a very bad, and quite unnecessary thing.

Read here.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Edging closer to my dream of a common date for Easter

I may be a nobody in the greater scheme of things re bringing Christians together, for example, by agreeing to a common date for Easter, but a couple of slightly somebodies in the great scheme have just edged us closer to a common date :)

In a Twitter exchange last night about this my "Twitter memory" reminded me that I have previously argued for a fixed date for Easter, so yes, my grand ecumenical plan is:

1. securing a common date for Easter (West/East/Middle East)
2. Fixing the date for Easter (second Sunday in April please).

Monday, May 1, 2017

Gender Justice - Down Under Bishops

Seven female Trans-Tasman bishops have met on Raymond Island off the coast of the West Island of New Zealand. A report of their meeting is here on Taonga and their communique is here.

This was an historic "first" such meeting and ACANZP was represented by Bishop Victoria Matthews and Bishop Helen-Ann Hartley.

One question they raise is when there might next be a female Primate in the Anglican Communion. In theory that could be any time soon, in practice it probably won't be straightaway. Will it be within the next five years?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Extending the Ban on Talking About ...

It has been good these past seven weeks or so to have a moratorium on talking about You Know What here on ADU.

So good that I want to extend "the ban".

It appears that we can have some reasonable hope that the General Synod Working Group on Same Sex Blessings will have something to say by early July, the plan, you may recall, being that such a timetable allows us to read, mark, inwardly digest and warmly if not heatedly discuss their proposals as we prepare for and engage in our local synods (c. September 2017).

So here is the extension: no comments to be published here re You Know What, and no posts to be made by me, until we can publicly sight and cite whatever it is that the Working Group will publish to us.

As practice, COMMENTS ARE CLOSED to this post :)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Portfolio of interests?

Good news for the Diocese of Llandaff, after a bit of a saga [about which I will NOT publish comments], it has been resolved by the Anglican Church of Wales that June Osborne, Dean of Salisbury, will be its next Bishop. The announcement is here.

Now I do not like pouring cold water on the cheerful celebrations of such an event but my convictions on matters of principles and important truths shall not be tarnished.

This is the last part of the announcement:

"Her interests include the arts and football.  A lifelong supporter of Manchester City, she is looking forward to adding rugby to her portfolio of interests."

Rugby is NOT, I repeat, NOT something that can be added to a portfolio of interests. By all means dislike rugby, show no interest in it, have no understanding of the great game. Blanch at the thought of what goes on the scrum. Refuse your sons and daughters any participation in the game, steering them towards gentler pastimes such as football. Do anything you like against the game of rugby.

But do not add it to your portfolio of interests.

Rugby is passion not interest. It is bedrock to culture in places like Wales and New Zealand. It is a matter of DNA in the body and of legend in the body politic. It is not something you add to your interests because you have a new job in rugbyland.

Oh, and all this grizzling on my part is nothing compared to the grizzles I and many others in Anglican Land are having about the latest absurdity of the Church of England/Anglican Mother to Us All. Cranmer nails it here. Really!?

What is the point of having a C of E national press officer if he or she cannot stop these nonsenses before they reach the media. Once there they are difficult to explain away ...

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

NZ's Most Televised Rural Priest

I do not imagine that I would get much traction if I went to the executives of one of our TV channels and said, "Could you please do a sympathetic profile of one of our hard working rural priests, at least ten minutes long, and show it at prime time viewing?"

However there is another way to achieve the same end!

Imagine an interesting farmer, the interest of our world famous in New Zealand "Country Calendar" in that farmer and that the farmer was also a priest, and maybe ...

In fact, this past Sunday evening, Country Calendar featured Tracey Peters, a farmer on land between Taihape and Waiouru (central North Island).

For the first part of the programme we were taken on a televisual journey of her farms, her varied interests and the challenge of farming on her own account since her husband died many years ago. Then the Rev Tracey Peters emerged!

Among her "varied interests" it turns out that Tracey is 0.25 FTE priest in the Parish of Taihape (Diocese of Wellington) and the remainder of the programme sympathetically portrayed her shepherding of the flock in that parish.

The title of the programme is "Tending the Flock."

You can read about the programme (and some of its dialogue) here.

You can watch the whole programme "on demand" here.

Since the ministry of our rural priests does not get much airtime I think Tracey now qualifies as "NZ's Most Televised Rural Priest"!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Infinite Stupidity Which Lies Behind ANZAC Day

"Einstein famously said, “Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity.” Then he added, “And I’m not so sure about the universe.”" So begins a brilliant Moth story about maths, romance, astrophysics and the unity of all things, which you can read here (or see on the YouTube clip embedded in it).

The bit about infinite stupidity sprang to mind when later in my Monday reading I came across an enlightening post about the origins of ANZAC Day ...

I have read a bit about Gallipoli and the ill-fated attack begun on 25 April 2015. I have been familiar with the facts of its general stupidity as an operation: a prior naval attack had failed to set the situation properly for a military attack; the landings were mucked up; the strength of the Turks was underestimated; too much was decided in London.

But I had thought the general strategy was not stupid, that securing the Dardenelles would lead to the securing of Constantinople and that would provide the way for a new flank to open against Germany and shorten the war.

But reading this post at "Not PC" I now realise that much, much more stupidity was at work. The plan was less about opening a new flank against Germany and more about cravenly offering the Russians a vital conquest in their geopolitical strategic plan. To say nothing of the stupidity of thinking that in return the Russians would meekly give up other parts of that plan. As if!

Worse, from the stupidity point of view, there was no particular need to help Russia in this way at that time.

So, as the Not PC post points out, somehow a futile battle for a faulty plan led by fallible generals and politicians not our own - a plan we Down Under blithely went along with, like good colonies, eager to please their masters - becomes the myth of the forging of new, proud, independent nations.

Well, we weren't particularly "new" as a result of WW1 (see what we did in WW2) and we certainly did not become "independent" soon after (and are we yet a republic with our own Head of State?) but we do have reason to be "proud."

Whatever happened before, during and after Gallipoli from a geo-political or military strategic perspective, our men (and our women nursing them) fought bravely and sacrificially.

We will remember them.