Sunday, April 06, 2014

This was the processional hymn at St Paul's Cathedral, Dunedin this morning and, except as the choir processed past me, I felt like I was singing a solo.
However I needed this to restore some faith in why I, for the time being, remain committed to Anglicanism.
In searching on Youtube I began to believe it might be a Catholic hymn. There are hundreds of versions there, many as part of Catholic services, but this one, although posted by a Baptist church with obviously US spelling, is sung by the choir of Norwich Cathedral and I was pleased to learn it was composed by an Anglican, George W. Hitchin and sung in Winchester Cathedral in 1887.
It lends itself to Cathedral processions with the cross held high at the front.

Oh how I wish I could be in St Paul's Cathedral, Dunedin next Sunday when I am sure it will be packed.  Present will be the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and I was offered a ticket. Sadly, several months ago I chose next weekend for our hikers' camp in the Catlins and as I am the chief organiser I can hardly absent myself.

A number of events in the past week have caused me to wonder if I want to be associated with any church anymore.

First a matter that does not really concern me, except for a number years I found consolation in a Catholic environment. When Sydney Anglicanism had me in despair, I found acceptance among the Catholic brothers and lay teachers with whom I worked.  I knew then that the hierarchy were not supportive and that Cardinal Pell in particular was abhorrent.

Earlier this year there was a newspaper article writen by a previous Premier of NSW, Kristina Kenneally.
Some excerpts were very apt.

He's a product of a particular time and culture in the Catholic Church. I can't imagine he was overjoyed as Bishop of Sydney to have me, a theologically-trained Catholic feminist Premier on his hands.
Some people swear the Cardinal has a great sense of humour. I suspect those people are men. In my interactions with him, I never saw evidence of it. pleased for Cardinal Pell as he takes up a significant promotion to oversee the Vatican administration and financial operations. It's a serious job that will place him at the centre of the Church's operations.
But I am more pleased with Pope Francis for making such a clever choice.
The Pope has likely tapped the right man for the job. But the Pope has also given Australian Catholics a reason to breathe a sigh of relief as their local Cardinal now heads off to Rome.
Since coming to Sydney in 2001, Cardinal Pell tried to force the Australian Catholic Church into the shape he wanted it to be: conservative, doctrinaire, and authority-based. If Mass attendance is any indicator, Australian Catholics voted with their feet – or perhaps, their knees – and rejected Pell's approach.

he has not responded well as a pastor, and that he lacks evident compassion and humility in the face of story after story of failure in the Catholic Church to deal with the sexual abuse of children. Unfortunately, his public statements indicate an inclination to protect the institution rather than the vulnerable.

Then this week came this bombshell.

George Pell wants to insure priests against being sued for child sexual abuse. My head is still rotating on its axis. Our man in purple, our alpha priest, moral paragon. Our Vatican princeling, just days from taking up his dauphindom in Rome: he said that? He dropped this fissile solipsism on our public debate and left, smacking the dust from his hands like, we're done now, right?
Does he think child sex is some unavoidable occupational hazard? Something a priest will sooner or later fall to? An accident? If you wanted to maximise the damage already done to countless children, you'd be hard put to find a surer way, or crueller.

I think Pope Francis is very wise in burying Pell in some dusty Vatican office where he can be out of sight, out of mind and perhaps achieve some good for the Vatican finances. He is a disaster out in the real world.

However idiotic statements are not the prerogative of Catholic Archbishops. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is giving Pell a run for his money.

I have stated before that I found his predecessor, Rowan Williams, a great disappointment.  I actually thought Justin Welby, although an evangelical, might be better.   I have been proved wrong.
He has stated that if the Church of England were to accept gay marriages, it could lead to "catastrophic" consequences for Christians elsewhere, particularly in Africa. He implies that the advances in acceptance of homosexuality in the Episcopal Church of the USA and the Anglican church in Canada have led to massacres that have already occurred.

I have been unable to put into words my utter disgust with this man who is suppose to be the leader of my church although I regularly try to make it clear that he has no authority in Aotearoa/New Zealand, Australia or other provinces, Thank God.
I can only print the comment I find online to express my outrage.

I find the ethics of this very straightforward. It seems to me that the ethics of the Anglican Communion, of the churches in the UK, of the churches in North America, of the governments of the nations in which we live – these cannot be determined by those who bear the bullet and the bomb. The Archbishop of Canterbury seems to have been suggesting that our policies should be dictated by murderers.
The trouble is, it is an attempt to deal with the reality and horror of violence by appeasing the violent. It is giving those who murder, a moral authority that they can never be allowed to hold.
If that is true then the only Christian response is to condemn the violence and do so publicly, loudly and endlessly. You don’t keep your mouth shut and try to turn the clock back on progressive attitudes on the other side of the world as a response to it. The claim is that these people were killed because their opponents believed that if they left Christians alive then they would be “made gay”. If this is true then those people were killed as a result of homophobia.  It is homophobia of the worst, most violent sort that killed the people in the Archbishop’s story.
You condemn it, Archbishop. That’s what you are called to do.

and then Malcom French, a priest in the Anglican Church of Canada, who, like me, would be less polite.

There is no denying that there is sectarian violence in many parts of the world. The causes are generally complex and go back several generations. It has to do with religious extremists who want to establish theocratic states. It has to do with previous ethnic rivalries now cast in religious form. It has to do with local demagogues - both religious and political - who divert attention from massive corruption by inciting violence against LGBTQTS. It has to do with cycles of violence where religious communities attack each other. It has to do with the particular sociopolitical pathologies of particular countries. Muslims in Sub-Saharan Africa kill Christians (and Christians kill Muslims) for a constellation of reasons. But the suggestion that Muslims kill Christians because North Americans treat LGBTQTS like human beings is a lie from the pit of hell.

Oh, I have no doubt that, at some point, some Muslim rabble rouser has used endemic cultural homophobia to incite listeners to violence. So have Christian rabble rousers. They may even have referred to the advance of LGBTQTS rights in the West.

But if it hadn't been homosexuals, it would have been something else. To the limited degree that bullies and terrorists need a reason to bully and terrorize, they can always find one. After all, violence between Christians and Muslims in most of Africa predates Gene Robinson's 2003 consecration by some decades.

Archbishop Welby reminds me of the people who tell victims of domestic violence that they must have done something to provoke their abuser. He is scapegoating, pure and simple. His comments are utterly disgusting and without any moral credibility. 

Finally there is the publication of the Me Whea Report yesterday but I have written enough today so that will have to wait while I digest it more fully.

Meanwhile as I despair of Church leaders, I can only sing "Lift High the Cross" and pray that the Love of Christ will be proclaimed (for all people whatever their race, ethnicity, sex or sexuality) until all the world adore His sacred Name.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Marvellous News from The Hague

The UN's International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that the Japanese government must halt its whaling programme in the Antarctic.
It agreed with Australia, which brought the case in May 2010, that the programme was not for scientific research as claimed by Tokyo.
Japan said it would abide by the decision but added it "regrets and is deeply disappointed by the decision".
Australia argued that the programme was commercial whaling in disguise.
The court's decision is considered legally binding.
Japan had argued that the suit brought by Australia was an attempt to impose its cultural norms on Japan.
Science 'myth' Reading out the judgement on Monday, Presiding Judge Peter Tomka said the court had decided, by 12 votes to four, that Japan should withdraw all permits and licenses for whaling in the Antarctic and refrain from issuing any new ones.
It said Japan had caught some 3,600 minke whales since its current programme began in 2005, but the scientific output was limited.
Japan signed up to a moratorium on whaling in 1986, but continued whaling in the north and south Pacific under provisions that allowed for scientific research. Norway and Iceland rejected the provision and continued commercial whaling.
Nori Shikata, political minister at Japan's UK embassy, said Tokyo would abide by the ICJ decision The meat from the slaughtered whales is sold commercially in Japan.Japan has clashed repeatedly with Australia and some other western countries, which strongly oppose whaling on conservation grounds. Japan has argued that minke whales and a number of other species are plentiful and that its whaling activities are sustainable.A spokesman for Greenpeace UK, Willie MacKenzie, welcomed the ICJ's decision."The myth that this hunt was in any way scientific can now be dismissed once and for all," he said. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Opera, Sol3Mio and Kauwiti

I fell in love with Opera when I went to see "This is Cinerama". I must have been about 10 years old. One section of the film showed La Scala Opera theatre in Milan and the Grand March from Aida.
While I have discovered some of that film on Youtube, I cannot find the Grand March section.
I attended many performances of the Australian Opera at the Sydney Opera House. Far too many to list. The most wonderful were with Joan Sutherland. I can remember Norma, Lakme, La Fllle du Regiment, Les Huguenots, Lucia di Lammermoor, Tales of Hoffman and the Merry Widow.
I have seen Aida several times, the most recent here in Dunedin on Film from the Met.
I have never attended a performance at La Scala.
I have attended a number of Operas at the Vienna Opera. Der Rosenkavalier in 2008 and Werther and La Boheme last year. I have tentative plans to see more there in 2015. I have also seen a few productions at the Vienna Volksoper. Barber of Seville in 2000, Land of Smiles in 2008 and Der Wildschutz last year. In 2008, I saw a production of The Magic Flute in Berlin and way back in 1974 I saw Die Valkerie at Covent Garden.  I stood for that performance, the Sydney Opera House had only just opened and I had only previously seen a few operas at the old Elizabethan in Newtown.

Unfortunately the only way to see opera in Dunedin is on Film from the Met. However we do get to hear some young opera singers with symphony concerts. Jonathan Lemalu was born in Dunedin and Anna Leese studied here. They are both making international names for themselves.
I attended a farewell concert for Kawiti Waetford, a young baritone now studying in Wales.
I have a ticket to hear Kiri Te Kanawa on her farewell concert tour here in June. I heard her sing with José Carreras at the Last Night of the Proms in Hyde Park, London in 2010.

Last Saturday night, I saw a thrilling performance by Sol3 Mio here at the Regent Theatre. I have seen these 3 remarkable young men on various news items and bought their CD before Christmas. Pene and Amitai are brothers and Moses is their cousin. They have all studied in Wales. They have just finished 15 sold out concerts throughout New Zealand and have added 3 more this week in the 3 largest cities using bigger venues.
Here they are singing "I am Samoa" the unofficial national anthem of Samoa. 

Their story is on NZ Story. I am not sure this will be viewable outside NZ.

Last night on a news program there was an item about a 16 year old Maori boy from Northland, Kauwiti Selwyn, and his meeting with Sol3 Mio. Perhaps there is another great opera singer of the future.

Meanwhile at the concert on Saturday, we learnt that this year Moses will be singing in France, Amitai at Salzburg and Pene at the San Francisco Opera.  I have found that he is singing the role of Gascon in La Traviata the night I will be there. I have purchased a ticket.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

At last the NZ Archbishops speak

Finally there is a response to the disgusting laws recently passed in Uganda and Nigeria

Dear Friends and Colleagues in Christ,
Anglicans throughout Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia continue to wrestle with divergent views on many aspects of human sexuality, and on a Christian response to the marriage or blessing of same gender couples in particular. However, we believe that all Anglicans are united in condemning homophobic attitudes or the persecution of people on the basis of their sexual orientation.
Many of us will have seen reports this week (eg: ) that Uganda’s President has signed into law a bill that toughens penalties for gay people.
This new law includes the provision of life sentences for certain of these new ‘crimes’, and the legislation appears to have been passed with the encouragement of Uganda’s Joint Christian Council – which includes the country’s Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican bishops.
We recall Resolution 1:10 from the 1998 Lambeth Conference, which encouraged Anglicans throughout our Communion “to minister pastorally and sensitively to all, irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals...”
We note with dismay these developments in Uganda, and encourage you to remember that country, those placed further at risk by these laws, and those who lead the Church and the state in Uganda, in your prayers.
Archbishop Brown Turei
Archbishop Philip Richardson
Archbishop Winston Halapua

Saturday, March 01, 2014

A Pox on all their Houses

Just over 2 weeks ago, the House of Bishops in England issued a statement which, to put it mildly, was disgraceful.  A torrent of abuse has rightly descended upon them. Now the academics of the Church of England are pointing out that it contains downright lies.
There is only one courageous bishop speaking out and, as he is a Suffragan bishop, he is not a member of the house. Bishop Alan Wilson of Buckingham is worth all the rest put together.
As he says
"But, being English, the powers that be prefer to freeze me out on a naughty step and occasionally patronise me, than actually to talk about the subject in a grown-up way, which would be unbearable."

It seems that only Assistant bishops are willing to speak out. As far as I know the Assistant Bishop of Auckland is the only Bishop in Aotearoa/New Zealand to speak up about the horrific laws in Uganda and Nigeria which to their shame have been applauded by the Anglican (and Catholic) bishops of those countries.

To get back to the House of Bishops in England. One of their number, in fact number 2, will soon be in Dunedin and plans to wander about the Diocese with out own bishop.  Almost makes me want to pray for snow, sleet and hail.

The main reason, we presume, for the statement was to continue to pander to the GAFCON churches. And all to no avail.   Their spokesman, the archbishop of Kenya has criticised them as not being tough enough. He probably is disappointed his own country is fairly mild in comparison to neighbouring Uganda (only 14 years imprisonment instead of Life and they wanted death).

And I am expected to welcome "missionaries" from Kenya at the end of this month. I will be going nowhere near my church while they are here.  They are supported by the Church Missionary Society.
A search shows me that the most homophobic dioceses of the Anglican church were all established by CMS.  I note that it had only a small influence in South Africa which has a totally different view.
This was seen in Archbishop Desmond Tutu and has been continued by his successor Archbishop Thabo Makgoba.

CMS is this year celebrating 200 years since Rev Samuel Marsden first preached in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. Of course, having grown up in Sydney,  I have always known that Samuel Marsden was the "flogging parson" a figure of scorn, no advertisement for the church.

Meanwhile back in the Church of England, you can bless cats and dogs, you can bless ships but not loving monogamous gay marriage.
And they wonder why surveys show that people under 50 are rejecting the church.
And do not upset the hate filled, murdering, bishops of Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Congratulations to new Bishop of Waikato & Taranaki
I am not sure if the vieo can be viewed outside of NZ.

The first English woman to become a bishop was ordained in Hamilton today.
Right Reverend Dr Helen-Ann Hartley today became one of three female bishops in the Anglican Church in New Zealand, and the second to be ordained here.
She also became the first ever female priest trained in the Church of England to be ordained as a bishop.
Dr Hartley could not have taken this step in her home country of England, where the Church is still debating whether it wants to allow women to be bishops.
"They will get there, and they will get there soon, and I hope today will be an encouragement for all those people who are working hard for the ordination of women," she says.
But Dr Hartley says she didn't move to New Zealand to break any glass ceiling in the church.
"This is not a career move or ambition, it is a calling that the church and God had bestowed upon me," says the new bishop of Waikato and Taranaki.
However, she admits it does send a very public message.
"It is significant, it is an affirmation that this is a job that men and women can do equally," she says.
"This is a huge day, this is a life-changing day in many ways."
Dr Hartley would not be drawn on whether gay and lesbian worshippers should be able to be ordained, saying that is something for the Church to debate and decide on.

I am not surprised at her final comment but do note the interest in the media on the matter of LGBT acceptance in the church. We wait until General Synod in May.

My own bishop, whose wife features prominently in the video, holds the same line despite his previous sermons on the matter.
I have already stated that I would not worship in England until they allow women to be bishops which is not much of a threat since I have no plans to visit before 2016 but after the recent deplorable statement by the English bishops I still might only enter churches and cathedrals as a tourist unless there are major developments in that time.

Friday, February 21, 2014

NZ Army shows the way

I am not usually one to compliment military forces but am glad to see this news item in the local paper.

Please take note Anglican Church of Aotearoa/New Zealand

As I have noted  the churches are the last bastions of homophobia in this country.

NZ military most tolerant to gay soldiers

New Zealand has topped a new global index ranking armed forces for inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexuals and transgender soldiers, with Australia rating in fifth place.
The LGBT Military Index assesses admittance, tolerance, exclusion or persecution of homosexuals to measure 103 armies worldwide, the Hague-based Centre for Strategic Studies think-tank said.
New Zealand topped the index and the Netherlands and UK ranked joint second with Sweden coming in fourth.
The US, at 40th, ranked below Romania. Nigeria came last in the survey.
The think-tank noted that New Zealand had produced a video for the "It Gets Better" project, which reached out to young people struggling with their sexuality.
In the video, introduced by then Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, nine defence force members spoke of being scared to tell their friends and family about their sexuality.
"I was gay, and that was how it was, and it wasn't going to change for me," says a corporal.
"Could I just live with a girl anyway, and still have the kids and the dog and the white picket fence?" says a flight lieutenant.
The video ends with each member saying things get better.
At the start of the video, the NZ Defence Force says it is proud to be an organisation that accepts its LGBT staff.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Yesterday I saw the movie "Mandela- Long Walk to Freedom"
A bit long and one does know how it ends.  I really learnt more about Winnie and why their marriage broke up than any other history from the film.
However I found myself being very angry at the white supremacists in the early part of the film - the insufferable woman who objected to being interrogated by a black legal counsellor and, of course, the police and jailers.  I hoped but doubted they lived to see Mandela become President of South Africa.

I found my anger being redirected to those who would continue to discriminate against LGBT people today.
Coincidentally I found an article today, now nearly 10 months old, interviewing the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev Nicholas Holtam.
He states
“Sometimes Christians have had to rethink the priorities of the Gospel in the light of experience. For example, before Wilberforce, Christians saw slavery as Biblical and part of the God-given ordering of creation. Similarly in South Africa the Dutch Reformed Church supported Apartheid because it was Biblical and part of the God-given order of creation. No one now supports either slavery or apartheid. The Biblical texts have not changed; our interpretation has.”

“The possibility of 'gay marriage’ does not detract from heterosexual marriage unless we think that homosexuality is a choice rather than the given identity of a minority of people.
“Indeed the development of marriage for same sex couples is a very strong endorsement of the institution of marriage.”

While I hesitate to equate black oppression in South Africa during the era of apartheid with discrimination of homosexuals in Western countries today, I have seen gay friends commit suicide and it is quite clear that both forms of discrimination have been due to Church teachings especially by Evangelicals.

I read that Bishop Holtam, despite his statement, has not been willing to flout the official position of the Church of England.

Similarly here in New Zealand, while most of our bishops would happily see an end to discrimination of LGBT people within the church, most are very quiet in face of opposition from the evangelicals, notably in the diocese of Nelson but also found in a few churches within each diocese eg St Matthew's here in Dunedin.

Today in New Zealand, now in Scotland, and soon in England and Wales as well as Canada and a number of states in the USA there is no official discrimination of homosexuals EXCEPT WITHIN THE CHURCH.

I can no longer remain a member of an organisation where I suffer discrimination.  It is not so much for my own sake, I long ago realised that I had no future within the church despite my aspirations as a teenager and young adult.  I think it is very unlikely I will ever want to be married.  When I was young society, supported and encouraged by the churches, victimised me. Today any young gay person can find acceptance in much of society as long as they stay away from the churches. The churches lament their declining numbers among young people yet clearly reject one group based on their God given sexual attraction.

Much of this comes from those who place a few verses in the Bible above the clear biblical instruction to love. Wilberforce is one of their heroes but they do not follow him.

I have read the Bible almost daily from when I was about 13 until the middle of last year.  I now no longer read the Bible except in church.  I blame Evangelical teaching for any psychological problems I may have, largely overcome but no thanks to church teaching or at least not in evangelical circles.
Evangelicals, whether they be the Vicar of St Matthews, Dunedin, the Bishop of Nelson or the soon to arrive CMS missionaries from Kenya are my enemies and I figuratively spit on them. They are emulating that great apostle of hate, Bishop Peter Jensen.

If they and their kind are able to prevent the General Synod in May of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa/New Zealand from making changes to the church position in regard to ordination of GLBT people and same-sex marriage, I will visit my lawyers to change my will and will seek some way in which I can still receive the Eucharist but no longer openly participate or be associated with the Anglican church.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Thank you Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

Finally a clear statement from The Episcopal Church of the USA about the vile laws in Nigeria and Uganda.

The Episcopal Church has been clear about our expectation that every member of the LGBT community is entitled to the same respect and dignity as any other member of the human family.  Our advocacy for oppressed minorities has been vocal and sustained.  The current attempts to criminalize LBGT persons and their supporters are the latest in a series, each stage of which has been condemned by this Church, as well as many other religious communities and nations.  Our advocacy work continues to build support for the full human rights and dignity of all persons, irrespective of gender, race, national origin, creed, sexual orientation, physical and mental ability or inability.  To do less is effectively to repudiate our membership in the human community.  No one of God’s children is worth less or more than another; none is to be discriminated against because of the way in which she or he has been created.  Our common task is to build a society of justice for all, without which there will never be peace on earth.  Episcopalians claim that our part in God’s mission is to love God fully, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  That means all our neighbors.

Full Marks to her.

In comparison the statement by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York is barely worth 50% and far too little, far too late.
They were probably, as usual, trying not to upset the GAFCON bishops too much and as usual they were unsuccessful  as is seen in the typical replies from those individuals.

Meanwhile, here in Aotearoa/New Zealand the silence is deafening. I know it is just coming to the end of the silly season when in Australia and New Zealand everyone goes on holidays but we wait to hear something.
I expect they will wait until  the General Synod to be held in May when there will finally be a report from the Gender Commission.
Discovering what is happening in the local diocese, let alone the province, is almost impossible.  I am very fearful the many on Synod who say they are welcoming of LGBT people will be too afraid to upset the fundies and just extend the process.  I am unwilling to wait any longer.

Here in New Zealand the only remaining establishments of discrimination are within the churches. I am finding it more and more difficult to justify being a member of such an establishment.
Depending on the decisions of the Synod in May, I could need to withdraw my support from the Anglican church of Aotearoa/New Zealand including my regional diocese and my local parish.

Unlike many gay brethren who have broken all contact with the church, I would be unwilling to forego regular participation in the Eucharist so hope it will not come to that.

I am dismayed that there is some news that our church will be welcoming visitors from the GAFCON church of Kenya.  It is some bizarre form of reverse evangelism.  It is under the auspices of CMS.
I regret my youthful support of CMS. I have written before how a previous Rector left my parish in Sydney due to his feelings of same-sex attraction. He became the diocesan leader of CMS. The lack of support from that organisation led to his subsequent suicide.

While CMS may have provided some medical and educational benefit in the areas in which it worked, I consider most of their efforts to have contributed to the benighted churches that exist in those areas today.  It is a longtime since I have directly supported any overseas missions run by a church.  I much prefer my money to go to secular work such as Medecins Sans Frontiers.
We have been asked to pray that these Kenyans are granted visas. While happy for them to come to our beautiful land as tourists, that prayer is not on my list.  If they do arrive, I will not be at my local church those days.