Thursday, July 29, 2010

Travel Plans Part 3

It is just over a week until I leave Dunedin. I have mixed feelings. Never thought that after only 6 months I would be feeling sad at leaving both the city and my new friends.

I have made some changes to my New England plans and there are some problems with Nova Scotia. I discovered that I could catch a train from Albany to Port Kent in upper New York State and from there travel across the lake by ferry to Burlington. I was able to cancel the hotel reservation in Springfield. After the 3 days in Burlington I will catch the train to New Haven and then the next morning to Boston. I hope to visit both Salem and Concord.

After flying from Boston to Halifax I plan to catch the bus to Baddeck the same day,  do a tour of the Cabot trail the next day then back to Halifax.  However the Tour operator will not take a booking until they have at least 2 people for the trip so I need to ring closer to the date.
I am wondering if it will be better to just spend 4 nights in Halifax.

I am booked on the overnight train from Halifax to Montreal. After 2 nights there I have a train ticket to Quebec for 3 nights then back through Montreal to Ottawa for 4 nights.

From Ottawa to Toronto for 2 nights but I have booked a full day return by train to Niagara Falls so I will not see much of Toronto.

Then I fly to San Francisco for 2 nights before tackling the long overnight journey back to Auckland, of course losing a whole day in the process.

I will arrive Auckland on October 31 at 5.45am and catch the 7.15am plane arriving Dunedin at 9.30am. Sorry I will not be at the 10 am Eucharist but will have to wait until the afternoon to collect my car as it is being stored in the garage of one of the church wardens.

I am keen to see friends back in Sydney and excited about the Norway cruise, the Proms in London and the Passion Play. It will be great to meet people from online as I travel through the USA but I am feeling I may be a bit deflated  by the time I reach Canada and just want to get home.
It is just hitting me that I will be away for 12 weeks which is longer than any time away since way back in 1974.
All up I will be in  Australia 12 nights
                             Thailand 1 night
                              Germany 5 nights
                              Denmark 3 nights
                              Norway 14 nights
                              England 8 nights
                              Luxembourg 1 night
                              USA 21 nights
                              Canada 16 nights
                           Ship between Denmark and Norway 1 night
                           Ship between Denmark and England 1 night
                              Plane between USA and NZ 1 night

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Church in the World Today

An interesting article in today's Otago Daily Times

Stale views cause church to shoot itself in foot

"Come back to the Buildings!" Readers who remember the BBC comedy series Take It From Here will recall the recurring plea for "Professor" Jimmy Edwards to come back to the working-class tenements where he had grown up.
Now, suddenly, we hear the same message (though not the same words) from Pope Benedict as he calls the unfaithful of the Western world back from their unfaith.
Last month, he established a Pontifical Council for New Evangelism in a bid to reverse the massive outflow that has accompanied the secularisation of the West over the past 200 years.
The grave crisis that spurred his response is not peculiar to the Catholic Church. All churches have been grappling with it in their own ways, from doing the old things more fervently to innovative outreach, from televangelism to fine-tuning liturgies.
Hardest to face are the root causes of what the Pope describes as a sort of eclipse of the sense of God; and, along with that, the reluctance of so many churches to rethink ancient certainties in the light of new knowledge. Without that, efforts to roll back the secularising tide will be as effective as King Canute's.
Claiming supernatural authority will certainly not work in the new secular setting. Popes, synods, councils, assemblies have all tried that at various times - usually to resist change and entrench conservative views, sometimes to ward off threats to unity if alternative views were to prevail.
The dilemma is that it is those same conservative views - on biblical interpretation, the role of women, creationism, contraception, abortion, stem-cell research, voluntary euthanasia, homosexuality - that turn the secular citizenry off the church.
Rightly understood, however, secularisation is no enemy to sound religion. It merely produces a new context for religion to be practised. Indeed, our modern secular societies are the offspring of Europe's long exposure to a Christian understanding of the world and humankind, so the churches should embrace them.
For secularisation is the process whereby activities once initiated and run by the churches have been gradually removed from their control - and thereby hugely extended. Think education, hospitals, poor relief, marriage, funerals, philosophy, science.
Two major elements of Christian thought have contributed to these changes.
One is that the Judaeo-Christian tradition took the gods out of nature, and over centuries this opened the way for scientists to explore and experiment with the natural world without fear of supernatural retribution.

The other is Christianity's most distinctive doctrine: that God became human in Jesus. This revolutionary vision of human worth confers a unique, even eternal, value on each human life. Its implications are still being worked out, now in secular settings and especially in the modern emphasis on human rights.
Take these together, and secularisation reinforces the view that this everyday world of space and time (that is what secular means) is where religion must be experienced and lived. The church's job is to help them do just that, without necessarily invoking a supernatural world beyond.
That inevitably impacts on ideas about God. Counter-productive in the secular present is the concept of an all-powerful, all-knowing being who intervenes from a world above to change the course of events below.
In place of that, some theologians suggest that the value of the God concept today lies in what it points to in human experience - its heights and depths, whatever is ultimate in the values people live by, their understanding of life and its purposes, the mystery that lies beyond knowing.
That is worlds away from the God of the 17th and 18th centuries, for example, when science and theology seemed mutually supportive. oth seemed to point to a supreme intelligence behind creation, the designer and controller of all that is, the energy present in nature. But as English scholar Karen Armstrong observes, this had the effect of reducing God to a scientific explanation.
So when science later began to find explanations of natural phenomena without any reference to God, the churches were caught flat-footed. The very discoveries that once seemed to confirm their understanding of God now undermined it.
Instead of rethinking the term's meaning for a changing world, however, the churches insisted on the eternal truth of ancient concepts and creeds.And in doing so, they contributed to "a sort of eclipse of the sense of God".
Today's challenge to all churches, therefore, is to fundamentally rethink their heritage in light of the new secular reality. People will never "come back to the Buildings" if all they find there are old men keeping fossils warm.

- Ian Harris is a journalist and commentator.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Walking on Otago Peninsula

It is 6 months next week since I moved to live in Dunedin.  I am still in love with the city.

On Tuesday my walking group climbed up the Otago Peninsula. I was not sure I would be able to go as on Monday there was a severe frost and when I drove down the hill at 12.30pm the paths on the shady side were still white. The council spreads grit on the road but there are still warnings about black ice. However Tuesday was much warmer and there was no sign of frost. It was a beautifu lday and I took the first two photos from the top of the peninsula looking out at the mouth of Otago Harbour and across the hill called Harbour Cone which we plan to climb in November after I return from my world trip.

We had lunch under one of the many old trees and later as we descended we looked back at the city.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

National Icons

From my lounge room. they are usually located opposite sides of the CD-player.

The Kiwi is wearing an All-Black jersey. Even our Eucharist began by the priest announcing we were all glad of the recent news. The All Blacks beat the Springboks 32-12.
A passion for Rugby Union is not something I share with the residents of my new home. However I was cheering madly for the All Whites in the World Cup.