Wednesday, August 31, 2005

My Story - Selwyn Hughes

Selwyn Hughes

Soon after moving to Colchester something happened that caused me a good deal of personal embarrassment. I had gone into the town centre on some errands and, being unfamiliar with the layout of the town, I parked the church minibus I was driving at the time near the bus station. There were no parking restriction signs so I felt comfortable in leaving the vehicle there. Later, as I made my way back to it, I saw that the traffic was at a standstill – something unusual because at that time traffic flowed freely through the streets of Colchester. As I neared the bus station I noticed two policemen standing by my minibus.

One of them said, ‘Is this your vehicle, sir?’ When I said it was, he told me, ‘Well, you can see what has happened. Though your vehicle is not in a restricted zone, you have parked in such a way that the buses have not been able to make the wide turn necessary for them to get into the bus station. If you had parked it a yard farther on there would have been no trouble. I can see you are a man of the cloth, but I am afraid I will have to report you for this, as it has caused great havoc in the town over the past 15 minutes.’

I apologised and explained that I was new to the town, but this did not prevent me from being called before magistrates a few weeks later and fined. One of the magistrates said, ‘We are going to be lenient because you are new to the town, but we must give you a fine to reflect the seriousness of the situation. You brought the town to a standstill.’ I was fined thirty pounds. Back in the late 1950s that was quite a lot of money. Fortunately, a kind member of the church paid it for me.

Looking for a story, a newspaper reporter from the Colchester Express came to see me the day after my court case to try to get my view of how I had been dealt with at the court. When he arrived he found a fire engine outside our house. It was a fairly cold day and I had decided to light a fire in the front room. As soon as I did so the chimney caught fire and soon flames and clouds of smoke were leaping up in the air. When it had been dealt with, and the reporter had got his story about my holding up the traffic in town, his comment was, ‘One way and another you certainly have let everyone know of your arrival!’ Both incidents were reported in the Colchester Express.

Some time later, the editor of the Express called me and invited me in to his office for a chat. He said, ‘You have only been here a few weeks and your name is known all over town. I wondered if you would like to cash in on your notoriety and write something for our paper now and again?’ Later [I] went back to him with the idea of the ‘One-Minute Sermon.’ He was extremely pleased about this and began to carry it each week. Although I did not get any money for it, the fact that every week I was obliged to sit down and writer in a clear and condensed way, something meaningful and arresting that could be read in just a minute, was good preparation for a writing project I would begin a few years later.

From chapter 17 of My Story, published by CWR 2004

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Why Study the Past?

Rowan Williams

The history of doctrinal development could be described as a record of discarded solutions. Typically, a promising theory is advanced, explored, found wanting and left behind, with a legacy of terminological clarification and complexification to make the next round of discussion still more difficult. The definitions of the fourth and fifth centuries are not very stable compounds of these terminological experiments: a precariously balanced set of warnings and prescriptions, within whose boundaries we may expect to encounter the truth. To criticise them as unnecessarily elaborate philosophical theses is to miss their character entirely. The processes of debate give the terms their meaning, not some imagined philosophical hinterland; and they seek not to exhaust but to mark out where the risks and incoherences lie in talk about God’s revelations.

Frequently, as is often remarked, they react against a too tightly worked theory which leaves out of account some fundamental concern. Thus the popularity in the first and second Christian centuries of theologies that played down the humanity of Jesus left out the significance of the human locus of his divine activity. If sacred power is not alive and sustaining itself in the midst of actual human suffering, something essential is lost. And if Jesus is the earthly form of some great angelic power – manifestly a popular structure within which to interpret him in the first Christian generations – this fits neatly (though in slightly different ways) into the cosmology of both Greek and Jewish belief, but leaves open the question of whether it is God’s power we are dealing with.

Rabbinic controversies over the existence of a ‘second power’ in heaven reveal that these issues were not unique to Christians. Yet a theology that treated Jesus as a great human saint promoted to quasi-divine status for his achievement is – curiously to modern eyes – hardly in evidence at all. Even where the language of ‘promotion’ or exaltation is used (as in Acts or Hebrews in the New Testament), it is made clear that direct divine power is from the first at work in him and that the divine initiative is prior to any kind of reward for human virtue. When the most careful and sophisticated theory of all to date is advanced at the beginning of the fourth century by the Alexandrian priest Arius – a theory scrupulously grounded in liturgical language as well as terminological analysis – it provokes the most violent reactions to date.

From chapter 2 of Why Study the Past? – the quest for the historical church, published by Darton Longman and Todd 2005

Monday, August 29, 2005

I’m Not Crazy, I’m Just a Little Unwell

Leigh Hatcher

The Atlanta Olympics came and went, another six weeks of living on adrenalin and very little sleep.

It was my first Olympics, and at the Opening Ceremony I could hardly comprehend the heights of human creativity, performance and organisation on display. It was thrilling, brilliant, breathtaking. The sight of Gladys Knight emerging from under the ground in the very middle of the stadium singing ‘Georgia’ brought me to tears.

After two weeks of the best sport in the world, marred by a fatal bomb attack in the middle of one night, I returned to inform my News Director that I would be applying for a year’s leave without pay to study the Bible at theological college. ‘You what - ? he spluttered. He tried to sound supportive yet had clearly been hit for a six. It’s not a common request in television newsrooms.

So in 1997, liberated from the constraints of TV, I grew my hair to collar length and spent a marvellous year as a full-time student. It was challenging, unrelenting, high-end theological study that included learning the original language of the New Testament, ancient Greek. Learning a language was also a first for me, but a delightful and enthralling discipline.

The year was punctuated by the death of my father in September after a heroic two-year battle with cancer. I visited him and my mother most weekends at MacMasters Beach. They were constantly amazed and amused at this new student in their lives. They deserved some payback for all the anxiety over my lack of work during my school years. It provided some much needed relief and a good excuse for a chuckle during those very tough months.

At the end of my studies I gained a Diploma of Bible and Mission and returned to work at Channel Seven as promised. I went straight back into front line reporting and planning for the Sydney 2000 Olympics. As well, with all the new theological knowledge crammed into my brain, I was eager to take on what was already a packed-out year of speaking commitments.

Just two months later the viral hepatitis hit. There would be no more reporting, no speaking and not much of anything else for more than two years.

From chapter 2 of I’m Not Crazy, I’m Just a Little Unwell – my journey through Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, published by Strand 2005

Friday, August 26, 2005

Be Not Afraid!

Fredric M Roberts

Why, then, did we eventually put so much effort into our survey? And how useful will the survey results be to you? The need for this kind of survey emerged from our experiences in the initial months of our study. The people whom we got to know best, the most active participants in the congregations, repeatedly asked themselves and us: Why is it always the same group of people who do most of the work in a church? How can the other church members be transformed into active participants in congregational life? Obviously, collecting data on the lived religion of the worshipping community (all who attended Sunday services at least twice a month) would be of enormous interest to the leadership of these churches.

And the survey did, in fact, demonstrate that the commonly quoted figure – ’20 percent of the people in the church do 80 percent of the work’ – can be seriously misleading. It is also too crude a way to think constructively and creatively about the leadership and volunteer dynamics in your church.

Another major reason we conducted a comprehensive survey of the worshipping communities was to examine how the religious beliefs, values and attitudes of the most influential and active members of the congregations related to those of less engaged church members, whom we had far less opportunity to observe. In comparing ‘core’ with ‘non-core’ church members, we found very similar relationships in all our quite varied churches. This suggest that these relationships are relatively stable and the information we gathered can provide insights about key dynamics between core and non-core members in your own church.

From chapter 2 of Be Not Afraid! – building your church on faith and knowledge, published by Alban Institute 2005

Thursday, August 25, 2005

A Generous Orthodoxy,

Brian McLaren

Vincent Donovan was a Roman Catholic priest from the US who served as a Spiritan missionary in Tanzania for 17 years in the 1960s and 1970s, evangelising the Masai. Christianity Rediscovered, his memoir of ministry in Masailand is, I think, one of the most important mission-related books of the twentieth century, a treasure that too few have discovered. His experience there propelled him into [disillusionment] but as his title suggests, the disillusionment led to rediscovery.

Donovan found himself caught between the ‘heathen Masai’ and a very confident, well-oiled religious machine. That in-betweenness forced him to rethink the whole meaning of what Christians call salvation, much in the same way my experience amongst ‘unchurched postmoderns’ has affected me. He explains, ‘I was to learn that any theology or theory that makes no reference to previous missionary experience, which does not take the experience into account, is a dead and useless thing…praxis must be prior to theology. In my work [theology would have to proceed] from practice to theory. If a theology did emerge from my work, it would have to be a theology growing out of the life and experience of the pagan peoples of the savannahs of East Africa.’

Similarly, I have become convinced that a generous orthodoxy appropriate for our postmodern world will have to grow out of the experience of the post-Christian, post-secular people of the cities of the twenty-first century.

After some time among the Masai, Donovan described with some disillusionment, the version of Christianity he and other Western, Euro-American missionaries had imported into Africa: ‘an inward-turned, individual-salvation–oriented, unadapted Christianity.’ He became so disillusioned with this approach that he felt the need to move away from the term salvation altogether. One paragraph in the book especially intrigues me:

‘”Preach the gospel to all creation,” Christ said. Are we only now beginning to understand what he means? I believe the unwritten melody that haunts this book ever so faintly, the new song waiting to be sung in place or the hymn of salvation, is simply the song of creation. To move away from the theology of salvation to the theology of creation may be the task of our time.’

As I first read that paragraph, almost with tears, I thought, maybe his faint, haunting ‘unwritten melody’ was actually exactly what the hymn of salvation should be. Perhaps our ‘inward-turned, individual- salvation–oriented, unadapted Christianity’ is a colossal and tragic misunderstanding, and perhaps we need to listen again for the true song of salvation, which is ‘good news to all creation.’

From chapter 4 of A Generous Orthodoxy, by Brian McLaren

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A New and Right Spirit

Rick Barger

The people of the infant church in essence understood themselves to be both the embodiment and the continuation of the crucified and risen Christ in the world. As such, they lived as a contrast society. The world had one story. They lived out of another and organised their life together as a witness to their story. The story was their currency. Their witness included both investments in protecting the integrity of the story and the appropriation of their lives as consistent with the claims of the story. Their relationship to the story was thus dialectic. The story shaped their life together, and their life together reflected and solidified the integrity of the story.
As a window into the life of the infant church, the work of Yale professor Wayne Meeks, in his book The First Urban Christians, is especially helpful here. Using the Pauline corpus in the New Testament and other first-century texts, Meeks is able to put together a portrait of the life of the infant church. As one enters into the world of the infant church, one will see that some of the kinds of things that occupy the church’s imagination today are not in any way at stake in the early church. Recruitment of members, designing new programs, rescuing people from hell, enlisting people in causes, and providing spiritual self-helps to accommodate cultural lifestyles are not concepts within the infant church. What is at stake in the infant church and how it is ordered is authenticity – being who they understand themselves to be.

One of the issues that Meeks takes on is the claim made by some of the earliest people to attack Christianity. Attempting to discredit, they claimed that the first Christians came from the most illiterate and lowest class of people. Meeks’ textual evidence concludes that such a claim is a lie. Christianity was also not some Marxist-like movement among the proletariat. The social fabric of the infant church was essentially middle class. There were certainly people of poverty involved, and there were people of wealth, both men and women. The social status of the first Christians – determined by profession or trade, ethnicity, family reputation, urban or rural location, ability to read or write, and other considerations of more than wealth – discloses that they were neither a powerful group nor a collectively repressed group. As the title of Meeks’ book suggests, the people who made up the first two decades of the infant church ‘generally reflected a fair cross-section of the urban society.’ It’s the same today. The church is made up of all kinds of folks.

From chapter 4 of A New and Right Spirit – creating an authentic church in a consumer culture, published by Alban Institute 2005

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

40 Days and 40 Bytes

Spiegel, Armstrong and Bill

This short life span [of a computer] is something that most congregations do not realise. They think the machine they buy will last forever. Well, it may, but it will not be useful forever. There is no such thing as eternal life for a personal computer. After the useful life of a machine has ended the most economical thing to do is get rid of it. That is not something that many congregations do. Instead, they tend to pass older computers along to junior staff members.

If you think about this, then you see that it is about the worst thing you can do to an older computer – or a junior staff person. An example of why this is a bad idea is obvious is we take the scenario of passing down the church business administrator’s three-year-old computer to the preschool administrator. Chances are you are doing this because the business administrator has outgrown the machine. It is underpowered or lacks the ability to run the most current operating system or business software. So why do you want to pass this machine to another person? All that does is move a marginal machine from a skilled user who has been able to massage it enough to keep it usable to an unskilled, or at least lesser skilled, user who will not be able to use it at all.

Hardware is a commodity. Once it fulfils its useful life span, get rid of it! Or use it as a doorstop on the first warm day of spring. Yes, that goes against the grain in many congregations, where old, outcast stuff from furniture to computers is passed around until it ends up in the youth group room – as if they want it! This is one place where a congregation needs to act like a business. If you factor in the TCO [total cost of ownership], then at the end of three or four years the computer has paid for itself. It is time for a replacement.

From chapter 10 of 40 Days and 40 Bytes – making computers work for your congregation, published by Alban Institute 2004

Monday, August 22, 2005

Behind Closed Doors

Ngaire Thomas

[As a member of the Exclusive Brethren] if I didn’t marry before I turned eighteen, I would need to apply for exemption from joining a trade union. At the end of the 1930s, the Exclusive Brethren had taken the stand that belonging to a union was wrong. In those days trade union membership was compulsory in New Zealand. The Exclusives appealed to the government of the day against becoming union members on the grounds that they were conscientious objectors. I would be drilled on the correct answers to give to the inevitable questions posed by the Tribunal committee. What church do you go to? Are they a sect? Are you appealing because of your own conscience or because you belong to the Exclusive Brethren?

I had been drilled in the correct answers: ‘No, I do not belong to a sect; I am a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the absolute authority of God’s inspired Word, the Holy Bible.’ I would quote 2 Corinthians 6:15 about being unequally yoked with unbelievers. I would point out that submission to trade union influence accepts interference in the employer (master) and employee (servant) relationship, which is divinely ordained.

I didn’t like these answers that I was expected to learn off pat. I looked up the dictionary meaning of ‘sect’: ‘Confined or devoted to a religious denomination, adherents of a principle or school of thought.’ How could I truthfully declare that the Exclusive Brethren were not a sect? I sidestepped the issue by just not turning up for my union appeal. I had a year to wait before the next appeal, maybe I could think up an excuse, maybe I would be married by then, and would no longer be allowed to go out to work.

It was part of the Exclusive Brethren strategy that our lives should be so entwined with the fellowship that it would be very difficult to separate from it. This was seen to be part of God’s way of salvation. We were told it was His ‘provision’ for us. I felt like I was being swept along in a strong current, unable to stand alone but in reality seeing nothing stable to grab hold of to avoid being swamped or drowned.

Then I met Denis at some Fellowship Meetings, one Saturday near the end of 1961. Denis’s story is an almost lyrical account of Brethrenism at its best. I have included it here as a contrast to my own and to show that not all Exclusive Brethren families are the same.

From chapter 12 of Behind Closed Doors – a startling story of Exclusive Brethren life, published by Random House 2004

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Christians being human

Charlie Peacock

Many years ago I wrote and recorded a song title, ‘Kiss Me Like a Woman.’ It appeared on my Love Life album, a collection of songs with mostly male-female relationship themes.

A whole chain of stores sent my albums back with a note: ‘When Charlie Peacock starts making Christian music again, we’ll start selling it.’ Some stores held on to Love Life but initiated a policy of keeping it under the counter. This made it available to adults but kept it out of the hands of curious teens and unsuspecting children. The problem focused on the lyrics of ‘Kiss Me Like a Woman.’ What kind of lyrics could make followers of Jesus so wary, upset, and unsupportive?

Hello baby, this is your lover speaking, just as I promised you
I’ve been saving my affections for the beauty of one
One more time show me how love is done
Before we set the house on fire, let’s take the time to build desire
Kiss me like a woman and I’ll love you like a man
We can lie naked and unashamed, made one by divine connection
It’s good to know there’s a sacred trust when you give away your affections
It’s a beautiful place to be when you can trust each other completely.
Kiss me like a woman and I’ll love you like a man

Some followers of Jesus wonder why musicians would think it necessary to write these kinds of lyrics. They’re not alone in their wonderment. We’ve told and lived such small stories in front of the watching world that even they wonder why we enter the public square with this kind of artistic dialogue. When Sixpence None the Richer had their breakout hit with, ironically enough, a song title, ‘Kiss Me,’ the mainstream press took notice. ‘Look,’ the press wrote, ‘they’re abandoning their God songs for love songs. What a curious thing. What possible authentic interests do these artists have in such a topic?’ [Their] answer: ‘They’re simply suppressing their Victorian impulses to achieve popular success and infiltrate the devil’s playground of pop music.’

It’s all very frustrating, but I took special exception to a Wall Street Journal article with this tone and shot off a letter to the editor:

‘While the idea of a Christian singing love songs might be inconsistent with the ideology of much of the contemporary Christian music industry and its supporters, it is an idea perfectly consistent with the Bible (see Song of Solomon). Unfortunately, this truth and similar ones seem to find little acceptance within the Christian music community. As a result, Christian pop music has too often represented to the watching world a ridiculously truncated view of what it means to be a student-follower of Jesus. There are true artists such as Sixpence None the Richer who are trying (through their music and lives) to remedy this error. In contradiction to what your article intimated, artists such as these are not interested in creating ‘God-free content.’ They are interested in creating truthful and artful lyrics which represent their belief that all of life is lived out before the loving gaze of God – including kisses ‘beneath the milky twilight.’ The bottom line is this: Christians actually enjoy kissing. It’s no wonder some want to sing about it.’

From chapter 13 of New Way to Be Human – a provocative look at what it means to follow Jesus, published by Waterbrook Press 2004

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Marilynne Robinson

My father said when he walked into his father’s church after they came back from the army the first thing he saw was a piece of needlework hanging on the wall above the communion table. It was very beautifully done, flowers and flames surrounding the words ‘The Lord Our God Is a Purifying Fire.’ I suppose that is why I always think of my grandfather’s church as the one struck by lightning. As in fact it was.

My father said it was that banner that had sent him off to sit with the Quakers. He said the very last word he would have applied to war, once he had had a good look at it, was, ‘purifying,’ and the thought that those women could believe the world was in any way purer for the loss of their own sons and husbands was appalling to him. He stood there looking at it, visibly displeased by it, apparently, because one of the women said to him, ‘It’s just a bit of Scripture.’

He said, ‘I beg your pardon, ma’am. No, that is not Scripture.’

‘Well,’ she said, ‘then it certainly ought to be.’

And of course that was terrible to his mind, that she could have thought such a thing. And yet if those precise words don’t occur in the Bible, there are passages they could be said to summarize fairly well. That may have been all she meant.

I have always wished I could have seen it, that tapestry they made, if that’s what it was. He said there were cherubim to either side of it, with their wings thrown forward the way they are in the old pictures, and then, where the Ark of the Covenant would have been, those incendiary words, and flowers and flames around them and above them. I don’t know how those women managed to find the material for it, how much snipping and ravelling of their few best clothes they’d have to have done to make such a thing as that. And I’ve always wondered what happened to it. Material things are so vulnerable to the humiliations of decay. There are some I dearly wish might be spared.

One after another, when those women learned they were widows, they went back to their families in the East. Not all of them, but a good many. Some of them had buried their husbands and their children beside the church, so they felt they couldn’t leave. And some of those who left came back, even years later. Still, that congregation dwindled away finally, and the Methodists bought the land and burned the old building down because it was past saving.

From page 99 of Gilead [a novel], published by Farrar Strauss Giroux 2004

Monday, August 15, 2005

Terry Waite

Here was great excitement within the [Nigerian] Anglican community [at Dr Runcie’s visit], as some time earlier His Holiness the Pope had paid a state visit to the country and considerably boosted the image of the Roman Catholic Church, while at the same time depleting its fortune. (I refer, of course, to treasure garnered on earth. Heavenly treasure was no doubt increased immeasurably.) Our car slowed to allow us to pass through a triumphal arch that had been erected across the roadway. A rather sinister-looking picture of Dr Runcie adorned the gateway, but this proved to be only a preliminary indication of what was to come.

The street broadened into a wide boulevard with a thin central reservation. Along this narrow strip, stretching as far as the eye could see, life-size cardboard cut-out images of His Grace of Canterbury had been erected. The image portrayed was of the Archbishop in full ecclesiastical garb, clutching the Canterbury Cross and smiling somewhat cynically. Here was actual proof that the Secretary General of the Anglican Council had not been wrong when he indicated rapid growth in Nigeria. There were, at rough count, three dozen
Archbishops of Canterbury and probably more around the corner.

The Chaplain, who had been busy scribbling, glanced up from his labour and squinted at a street trader carrying a tray of colourful objects. ‘Good heavens,’ he exclaimed, ‘just look at that…and THAT!’

His attention had been caught by an item that had failed to sell out during the papal visit and was no on offer for the second time. It was a baseball cap carrying the inscription, Welcome to the Holly Father.
The Chaplain was a collector of hats, ecclesiastical and civil, and was reputed to be writing an authoritative work on the history of headgear. He pressed a coin into the hand of the vendor and took a cap for his collection.

He declined the second item, which was a balloon bearing the image of our employer. The intelligent vendor of this unusual novelty displayed a little card on which was written, ‘Support the Anglican Communion and blow up the Archbishop of Canterbury.’

‘Very droll,’ murmured the Chaplain as he rewound the window: ‘Very droll indeed.’

From chapter 1 of Travels with a Primate – around the world with Archbishop Robert Runcie, published by HarperCollins 2000

Friday, August 12, 2005

Patrick Snedden

Frank Sargeson lived on Esmonde Road, the conduit off the bridge. A right turn past his place and you were on the road to Devonport. Turn left and within a short distance Takapuna township appeared. I was not aware of Sargeson’s presence in my youth. Now, more conscious of his importance as a distinctively New Zealand writer and his early mentoring of the talented and now-famous, it is no surprise that the physicality of this island nation and its coastlines features so prominently in our Pakeha literature.

There are the dimensions of pioneer freedom in all of this, the need for simplicity, for getting along with one another and for the self-reliance so familiar to those making their living off sea or land. The classic statement of this was the bach or crib. If anything signalled our singular, untouchable, unregulated sense of self as Pakeha, this was it. At the bach the rules changed, the ambience becoming more primitive, uncluttered. The demands of the ‘other life’ became temporarily suspended, and time and order played no part save for the requiting of hunger and the maintenance of shelter. Skill at living off the coastline was an artform most admired.

In so many respects, the foreshore provided for many of us Pakeha a powerful and fundamental cultural metaphor of transition. It is the in-between space that can be both land and sea, but for a time neither land nor sea. Our beach life became our in-between life, our moment to be culturally tidal.

That in-between life as beach person is thus one of our most significant Pakeha cultural archetypes. It is archetypal because it goes to the very heart of our identity, so intuitively understood. Few words are required to explain it. While it may remain unarticulated for long periods, it resonance resounds when it is under threat. In 2004, as the debate around the ownership of the foreshore took hold, many Pakeha responded quite viscerally to the threat to public ownership of the beaches. As much as this was a taonga to Maori, something to be protected in respect of their rangatiratanga, so too was it an issue that put our Pakeha cultural identity under immediate threat. The response was widespread alarm and vigorous defence of ‘our’ coastline. In the resulting ferment the technical definitions of what constituted foreshore (the wet land between mean high-water mark and low tide) and seabed (everything on the ‘wet’ side of the foreshore) became immaterial.

Here a real contest of cultural values seemed destined for a legislative shoot-out, perhaps with only one winner. Was this inevitable? What was it the Maori were talking about?

From chapter 8 of Pakeha and the Treaty – why it’s our Treaty too, published by Random House 2005

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Marcia Stenson

The Court of Appeal ruled in on 20 June 2003, some six or seven years after the application was filed, that Maori could take a case to the Maori Land Court for determining customary title over parts of the foreshore and seabed, which then had the potential to be converted to a freehold title.

All the judges agreed that the Maori Land Court did have the jurisdiction to determine the status of the foreshore and seabed; it was not restricted to dry land. They agreed that the New Zealand common law was different from English common law and that the Crown acquiring sovereignty was not the same as owning everything. Therefore, Maori property rights, when proven, had to be respected and given effect to (Chief Justice Elias was very clear on this point).

A landmark decision, said the lawyers. The politicians and the public panic: have we lost our right to have a barbecue on the beach?

The Government proposes preventing the Maori Land Court from awarding a freehold title to the foreshore and seabed. It wants to exclude the potential for findings which could establish property rights.
Maori groups have differing views: some say due legal process should be followed; others want the role of the kaitiaki of the seabed and foreshores recognised; some see co-management, others exclusive rights. All are concerned about protecting cultural and spiritual sites and practice and coastal marine environment.

Some time after Mexico and Peru were colonised in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Spanish Court came to accept that it had an obligation to protect the property rights of indigenous peoples. That obligation developed into the doctrine of aboriginal title. . it became part of English common law, and by the time the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, the British Colonial Office accepted it too. The guarantees of article two of the Treaty are very close to a restatement of the obligations.

Shortly after the signing of the Treaty, the Crown realised that all parts of New Zealand were owned by Maori according to custom. Agreement would be necessary before the Crown could acquire land to on-sell to settlers. The Native Land Court (1862) was set up to translate customary title into a legally recognisable title. This would make it easier for the Crown to transfer ownership to Pakeha.

From chapter 11 of The Treaty: every New Zealander’s guide to the Treaty of Waitangi, published by Random House 2005

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Jamie Buckingham

The soft occasions do not bring out the deepest of a person. Only as we sink roots into the hard, rocky soil of the wilderness, only as we wait patiently for the bush to burn, only as we withdraw for our own forty days and forty nights of waiting, do we find the Source. The trouble, it seems, is that God is not in a hurry, and we are.

One of the great virtues learned in the wilderness is patience. In the desert you forget calendars. You leave your watch behind, for it is useless. You go to bed at sunset and rise at dawn. Meals are scheduled by body needs, not to satisfy clocks and appointments. In the desert, one learns to wait.

How programmed we are to produce! Goal-oriented, production-conscious, we have been trained to close each day with a question: How much did I produce today? Did I meet my quota? Everything is geared to what the production control people call ‘the bottom line’ – which is preceded invariably by a dollar sign. It is a mentality developed by a materialistic society that places the prime emphasis on doing rather than being.

But in the wilderness, you learn patience. Here you have time – lots of it. There is time to grow still. Time to pull aside and look at a bush burn. Time to sit with friends and talk. Time to pray. Time to rest. Time to walk long distances without the anxiety of having to be back to meet a schedule. In the desert you rediscover the precious commodity of time. As faith has been boxed in by religious rites, so has time been relegated by our hurry-up society into a framework of calendars and clocks. Only in the wilderness do you discover how precious it is to have enough time to do what you want.

God may be found in the wilderness. But the entire scale of time and place in the wilderness is ‘utterly other,’ apart from time and space as we know it in our rapid transit society.

In my times in the desert I have become aware of its agelessness and vastness. Each time I have entered the Sinai I have purposefully taken off my watch and left my appointment calendar behind. Here it makes no difference how old I am, what the date is or whether it is 9.00 am or noon. I have learned to get up with the dawn and crawl into my sleeping bag when the sun sets.

From Day 25 of The Promise of Power – life messages of great Christians, compiled by Judith Couchman, published by Vine 1998
Chris Grantham

After tea, Jesus told his mates to get back into the boat and head round to another town, so off they went.

Meanwhile, Jesus told the crowd, ‘That’s it for the day, time to go, catch you next time.’

Then he hiked up the nearest hill to have a bit of a pray. It was dark by now, he was praying, and the boys were out there rowing the dinghy. Jesus could see them in the distance, and as the wind was coming up rather worryingly, they were having a spot of bother. Jesus, being a compassionate sort of bloke, headed down the hill and started hiking across the lake – which wasn’t a particularly common activity in those days. He was just about to stroll on past them, but they saw him and were a bit spooked - and they yelled out in a fairly frightened tone of voice.

Jesus realised this. ‘Hey, you guys, it’s me, Jesus, no worries.’ He climbed into the dinghy, and believe it or not, the wind stopped dead in its tracks.

‘Well, blow me down!’ they said. ‘We’re still trying to understand how you fed that lot with a couple of whitebait and five bread rolls – and now you’re strolling across the water! What are you on?’ Now, that was a bit of a rhetorical question because they knew Jesus was trying to show them bit by bit something which they couldn’t yet get a hold of.

Eventually they got over to the shore at yet another reserve, hoping for a chance for their guts to settle down. But – you guessed it – the ubiquitous crowd materialised out of nowhere yet again. They’d picked it was Jesus, and many of them had already seen some of his acts. People came from all over bringing their mates who were sick, half dead or even worse. They were yelling out stuff like: ‘Hey, boss, all we need to do is touch your jacket and we’ll be sorted.’ And they did – and they were (sorted, that is).

From Bits of…the Kiwi Bible, published by Penguin 2005
[This book covers all of Mark, a little Matthew and Luke, and the first part of Acts]