Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas at Church

I am back in cool Dunedin. Thankfully Christmas day was cool in Sydney and it was the wettest Christmas day for 70 years although I felt sorry for the many who would have planned to eat outside and in parks and on beaches. Choral Eucharist at St James was packed and the choir sang beautifully. However as I get older I do find it hard to stand through their rendition of Palestrina and am happy to join my sister and other oldies sitting down. I do though enjoy all 8 verses of 'O come all ye faithful' including the first in Latin as a processional hymn with a stop to bless the crib.  I am thinking seriously about next Christmas. I wish I could afford to fly over for just a few days.  I would miss Christmas at St James and lunch with my sister but prefer to be away from Sydney in Summer. I have a reunion of my class of 1973 (every 10 years) at the beginning of November and would not miss that for the world so might stay in Dunedin for Christmas next year.

Yesterday I went to Sung Eucharist at St Paul's Cathedral, Dunedin. A contrast as the numbers were small. Some tourists, possibly from the cruise ship in port, came in late. That was okay as they stayed for the service but one rude man walked around taking photos during the sermon then departed.
The final hymn was also a favourite of mine, obviously Londonderry Air but I also find the words moving. I was surprised to find it was sung at the same Songs of Praise in Belfast as ''Tell Out My Soul' a week ago.
'I cannot tell why He Whom angels worship'
But this I know, the skies will thrill with rapture,
  And myriad, myriad human voices sing,
And earth to heaven, and heaven to earth, will answer:
  At last the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is King.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sydney Hate merchants

They are at it again. A letter this week in the Sydney Morning Herald by Rev Nigel Fortescue, who continues to try and put himself forward as next Bishop of Sydney.

In places where the Anglican Church has abandoned the biblical teaching on headship, sexuality and church roles, it is dying. Where they are upheld, it's thriving. Why not check out your local Anglican church this Christmas and see for yourself?
Nigel Fortescue Senior minister, Campbelltown Anglican Churches

A reply the next day
All that your letter really indicates, Nigel Fortescue ), is that a proportion of the community, including many parishioners of conservative churches, are living in the past, when women had no rights and people of alternative sexual preferences were often stoned to death.
Christ preached a gospel of love and inclusion, which many found, and still find, difficult to grasp or practise. Conservative Christians seem to forget he ''knocked around'' with people on the fringes of society and was criticised for associating with ''sinners''. Perhaps you should examine your version of ''reality'' and ask yourself if it is really valid.
Derrick Mason Boorowa ( a country town outside the dicoese of Sydney)
My email to Fortescue
Three years ago I migrated from Sydney to Dunedin. While I enjoyed worshipping at St James, King Street, a vibrant yet inclusive church which often has women preaching  generally priests from outside the diocese, I found the journey too long.
I moved to the diocese of Dunedin where Penny Jamieson  was the first diocesan woman bishop in the Anglican communion. Juan Kinnear, a  same sex partnered(over 20 years) man had recently been ordained a priest. He was an associate in the cathedral but this year has moved to assist in a nearby parish, he has a full time job at the university.
The vicar of St Johns Roslyn welcomed me although he was full aware of my sexuality. He is now Bishop of Dunedin. In the interim we had a woman archdeacon running the parish. The new vicar is similarly welcoming of me.  Two women  in the parish have been ordained as deacons in 2012 and will probably be ordained priests next year. 

My main point is I find parking hard on sunday morning outside the church. St Johns, Roslyn is a growing vibrant Anglican church even though women are in positions of leadership and homosexuals are welcome.

Moving from Sydney to Dunedin was the best thing I have done for my spiritual life. They preach a gospel of love not hate as found in Sydney.  I am back for family at Christmas and will again enjoy worshipping at St James, King Street on Christmas day, certainly I will not go anywhere near the cathedral.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Approaching Christmas

I am now in Sydney counting the days until I can return to Dunedin next Thursday. The forecast there is for 12'C on Thursday, perhaps a bit extreme for mid summer but much preferable to the heat and humidity of Sydney. It is only 28'C now but the humidity is high.

I have now bought a new MacBook Air. The salesperson convinced me it would be all I needed for my purposes. I needed to buy a superdrive despite Mac now believing we no longer need CDs and DVDS and I also bought an external hard drive. That was a bit like shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted.

I had problems connecting to my sister's wifi and we decided the modem/router I purchased for her just before moving to NZ, 3 years ago was on its way out.  So yesterday we bought a new one which led to about 6 hours of frustration trying to get it to connect.  It now works well except some sites are blocked. There is no obvious reason eg Dunedin newspaper but not the Sydney paper, some banks but not others.  I have disabled the firewall without success and it now seems we will have to ring the ISP support tomorrow.  Perhaps life would be easier if we did not have computers.

I went to Sung Eucharist at St James, King Street this morning.  I had hoped to hear a sermon by Rev John Beer.  He is an associate priest and often helped maintain my sanity with his acerbic comments about those who run the Sydney Diocese.  He could be more open as his day job was a teacher, he is now retired.  He was invited to the investiture as Presiding Bishop of Katharine Jefferts Schori so obviously has little in common with the archbishop of Sydney and his demand that women be submissive.
Anyway I was disappointed that he only preached at 7.45am and 11am and we had the children's pageant, my second in 8 days. At least it was fairly brief and we still had Eucharist.

I realised I am now more at home at St John's Roslyn.  None of those officiating were present in my time and yet none asked who I was or welcomed me as a visitor.  While St James does liturgy and music very well, it has never been a friendly church despite attempts to remedy the problem.  Much of this is due to the congregation coming from all over Sydney (seeking a real Anglican experience) and it still having a status as the society church of the city.

Last Sunday evening I attended 9 Lessons and Carols in the cathedral at Dunedin partly to recover sanity after the children's pageant that morning.  While only a small congregation, there were others from Roslyn and people I knew from my other activities in the city.  That is the advantage of living in a small city of 130,000 rather than one which has passed 4 million.  I now greet passengers on the train from the cruise ships as being welcome to the "best little city in the world".

St James has 9 Lessons and Carols this evening. It promises to be packed as usual but as my sister is still recovering from a painful knee operation just over a week ago, she is saving up to make it there on Christmas morning.  I went alone to Eucharist this morning.

I am looking forward to a full Choral Eucharist at Christmas. That will be St James at its best.

However the final hymn this morning was one of my favourites, of course appropriate for Advent being based on the Magnificat.  I love to sing it at full volume.
"Tell Out My Soul"   Enjoy

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mini disaster

I know my problem is nothing compared to typhoons in the Phillipines or people dying of cancer, however.
I bought my current laptop way back in 2007. My previous desktop is sitting beside my desk but I have not switched it on since shipping it to New Zealand. The big mistake was in July 2011 when I bought an Ipad2 instead of a new laptop. I have hated the Ipad and only used it under duress when travelling. I did not realise it is not a substitute for a proper computer just a very poor but light for travelling accessory.
In January this year I upgraded my laptop to mountain lion or whatever the latest version was (there is now another update). It was much easier when the just used numbers, 10. 6 is obviously an upgrade to 10.5 but who knows where one is with lion, tigers, cougars or whatever.
I was horrified to discover that my much loved AppleWorks program had disappeared. I had to buy and learn Pages and Numbers. They are far too complicated for my small needs. My Christmas card list was on a database and that has completely gone. I use to love Apple, now it is a swear word.
I took the database on a thumb drive to Australia and printed it out.

The week before last I composed my 2012 Christmas message. Last Monday I began to print it out. While it was printing, I decided to create a spread sheet of the names and addresses previously on the database. One address was very long and not complete on the printout and so I thought I would email the person to obtain their correct snail mail address. Disaster struck as the computer completely seized up. I tried to restart and a blinking question mark appeared. I had not seen that since the bad
old days in the early 90's when I ran a bank of apple computers in a school library. Then it appeared almost weekly on one or other machine. I searched and tried all the repair methods I once used. No success. I took it to the local Apple dealer and paid $30 to be told the hard drive had collapsed and
was unrecoverable. I took it to another repair shop and paid another $30. They rang to say they also could not repair but could send it to a forensic lab with a high success rate. Only problem it will cost $750 to $800. However it holds all my photos of travels from 2007 to 2011. The only photos on the lipad are my travels this year. Also my accounts but I think I backed them up in September. I am not sure as I cannot put the USB drives into an ipad.
Having been assured I only need to pay if successful, I agreed and should know the worst by the end of this week.

I have always intended buying a new machine when I go to Sydney next week. They are cheaper there because GST is 10% in Australia and 15% in NZ. I was thinking of buying a MacBook Air  and selling the Ipad on trademe. Now I will buy a MacBook Pro and continue to struggle with the Ipad when travelling. At the moment I am backing up the Ipad and this years travel photos onto ICloud but it has been going for over 24 hours and still says another 6 hours to go.

I have friends my age who do not own a computer. I am beginning to envy their uncomplicated life.
I have drawers full of slides taken on holidays from the 70's and 80's including 3 trips to Europe. I never look at them but have plans for one day. I even brought the slide projector from Australia for that one day. Photos of the 90' s and up to 2006 are printed outand in folders, more easy to access but still rarely checked. So why should I worry about these on the computer? It is just nice to know they are there and some are still a bit too recent to lose.

If I had my laptop, I would research and include a cartoon to illustrate but do not know how on an Ipad. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Hard drive is completely wrecked and data unrecoverable. Unsure whether to be happy that I have saved $750 or sad that all my photos including 3 trips to Europe and one to North America have gone. Only exception are those on this blog.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Before I came to New Zealand, I had only attended one ordination, that of the 2nd group of women in Australia to be ordained priests at Goulburn in 1992.   I always say that the first group in Perth was a bit far. As it was, I drove nearly 3 hours each way to be present.

I had friends from university days who became priests and a close friend from childhood, for whose wedding I was best man, also became a priest but we had drifted apart by the times of their ordinations.

Shortly after arriving in Dunedin I attended the consecration of Bishop Kelvin Wright and this year I have had the pleasure of attending the ordination as Deacons of 2 women in our parish.

However tomorrow night there is to be an ordination to the priesthood in the cathedral of a man.  My only reason to attend would be to protest so  will not be there. 
David Booth is a member of St Matthews Dunedin , a parish which protested at the ordination in 2006 as Deacon of Rev Juan Kinnear, the partnered gay man who is now an associate priest in the cathedral.  At the time I wrote to them and told them that when I moved to Dunedin I would not be worshipping at St Matthews.  As I have told Juan, he is one of many reasons why I moved here.

Worse, David Booth wrote an article in September objecting to any recognition by the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia of gay partnerships.  I have removed it from my computer but remember being very angry at statements that homosexuality was a choice and could be changed.

I have found this part
“In this paper I have highlighted the results of methodologically sound research that shows homosexuality is a product of social rather than biological factors and that gay relationships are significantly different to heterosexual relationships as far as love, trust, fidelity, and monogamy are concerned.
The evidence so far suggests that non-monogamy is essential for satisfying the male homosexual’s need for ever more satisfying sexual partners, and for ensuring the longevity of committed male same-sex relationships. The evidence also suggests that non-monogamy is a significant factor in there being higher levels of psychological disorder in homosexual households than in heterosexual households."

A response from Dr Nora Dowse, more learned than I, included.
'it is a collection of studies and writings based on anecdotal evidence dating from 45 years ago, with the inevitable question about qualitative methodologies from that era:'

She also stated and I can agree that
Many of us know people who are in loving, loyal, committed gay relationships.

The recent developments in England and the sad  tenure of Rowan Williams as Archbishop pf Canterbury show that we cannot reason or compromise with fundamentalists. They need to be opposed. This week I have read that, while we should pray for our enemies, we are not suppose to have no enemies. Jesus had enemies.

I have never met Rev David Booth but, from his writings, he is my enemy and I object to his being ordained a priest.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


That is it. I do not care who is Archbishop of Canterbury. I am a parishioner in a parish in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and do not give a damn who is in the Church of England. We should break all ties with them.
I will not darken one of their doors next time I go to England.
However I will pray for the women and many of the good men in that church.

If a church decided that black people could not be bishops, no one would expect me to share in Christian worship with them.  I believe sexism to be as great a wrong as racism.  I left the Sydney diocese with its misogynist leaders for whom I had absolutely no respect. I would never enter an evangelical woman hating church. Hopefully none of my friends will be buried from one. But then most of my friends, except for those I meet at church, rarely enter a church and consider my regular attendance as a particular interest of mine similar to our membership of walking or movie or garden groups. The headlines that will follow this decision in England will confirm their beliefs.  In the English papers already the atheists are crowing with glee.  The cartoon by Bishop Alan Wilson says it all.

Some comments from Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary's Cathedral, Glasgow in the Scottish Episcopal Church (Note NOT the Church of England) which reflect my thoughts precisely.

The Church of England looks foolish and we all end up being tarred with the same brush.

The abject failure of Rowan Williams’s archepiscopate is now complete.

Looking on at the passion of the Church of England from outside, one finds oneself trying hard to substitute compassion for pity.  

The Church of England gets its chance to prove that it worships at something other than the altar of compromise.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


Prime Minister is a disgrace

It must be just 4 years since I brought my sister to Dunedin to check where I had chosen to live.  I remember watching the US Presidential results on TV while in Manapouri.  We also watched the NZ election results in the same week.  Those results made me consider whether I was making a mistake.  I had just finished living through more than 10 years of John Howard as Prime Minister of Australia.  I opposed nearly everything he stood for. Now I was watching a Labour Prime Minister, Helen Clark, whom I admired from a distance, being replaced by a conservative John Key.  I hoped he would not be like John Howard and thankfully he has not been.  However he needs to control his language.

Last week while speaking to a group of school students in Dunedin he said English footballer David Beckham was "thick as batsh*t.
I do not know nor care much about David Beckham but this is not Prime Ministerial language especially in front of school students. When I was a teacher I would have reprimanded any student who used such language about another person. 

Worse, last Friday  he teased a radio presenter by saying his red sweater was 'gay'. 
After the criticism that naturally arose, he dug himself deeper by saying  he used the term "gay" to mean "weird".  He continued "Young people use it all the time, I don't think too many people would be offended by it"

Sir Ian McKellen warned Key that his language was "careless" and could damage lives.

In an open letter to Mr Key the NZ Post Primary Teachers Association's "Rainbow Taskforce" said the Prime Minister's use of gay as a derogatory term belittled a vulnerable group of young people.
The taskforce had been developed to educate secondary teachers about the challenges lesbian, gay, transgender and intersex youth faced in classrooms and on playing fields at schools.
The focus of the campaign was getting teachers to challenge the use of homophobic language, specifically the use of the word "gay".
"So we are saddened to hear the leader of our country not only use this homophobic language but then explain it away with, 'young people use it all the time, I don't think too many people would be offended by it'.
"You are perpetuating the harmful use of such a simple word," the teachers said.

I totally agree with them.  His language was offensive.

 I end with a statement by comedian Guy Williams.
"John Key is quickly becoming to New Zealand what Borat was to Kazakhstan."

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012


I will be glad when the USA elections are over and we can return to normal for a few years at least.   It is a bit bizarre the way the whole world becomes interested in who is President of the USA although we have no say in the process.   Elections in other powerful countries - for example Russia, UK and France are just of mild interest in comparison.
I am glad I do not have a vote as I would consider President Obama as right wing and believe First Past the Post voting (as also used in the UK) to be quite undemocratic. It usually means that there is little point in having 3rd parties and independents as they just split the vote.  Of course the current situation in the UK disproves my point.

Some of the statements made by US politicians also have me shaking my head.  They would only come from the looney right in Australia or NZ, ridiculed by the majority, with little chance of election.  Occasionally such people are elected by some strange twist (eg Pauline Hansen) but they are usually ignored by the major parties unless it suits their purpose for a brief time. They are unlikely to gain a second term.

I also see that US citizens retain the right to vote even after they have migrated elsewhere. I no longer have the right to vote in Australia as I have declared my intention to remain away for more than 6 years.  I could have hidden the fact, I still maintain my address at my sister's home for financial matters but, as voting in Australia is compulsory, I would have had to request absentees ballots to be posted to me or send an explanation for not voting.  While I would be interested in Commonwealth elections, and did vote last time in 2010 as I was in Sydney the week before the elcction, I have little interest in the State election and none in the local council.

I do, however, have the right to vote in New Zealand.  I would not have had that right if I had gone the other way.  In fact, as a permanent resident, it was compulsory to register in NZ but not to vote.

The main point of my post is to share the wonderful news that a married gay man has just been elected to the parliament of the state of NSW.  I was a little confused to read he was married then discovered he and his partner were married in Argentina. Not sure I agree ith that if neither he nor his partner are citizens or residents of Argentina.  However that is beside the point.

The election was only held because the Liberal Government brought in a law to prevent people from holding office in both the state government and local council.  The previous member Clover Moore has been the independent member for Sydney since 1988.  In 2004 she became Lord Mayor of Sydney and was recently elected for the 3rd time.  The new law meant she had to resign as State member.  She has always given one of her salaries to charity.  Clover has always championed gay rights and endorsed independent Alex Greenwich.  He gained 48.5% of the first preference votes. The Liberal candidate gained 29.8%, the Greens 17.7%, another independent 2.1% and the Christian Democrats (anti gay rights) a whopping 1.9%.
So, with Green  preferences, Alex Greenwich has won with a two party preferred vote of just under 65%. A slap in the face for the Liberal Government.
Wonderful result

Friday, October 26, 2012

Across Australia 7 Derby and Kimberley Gorges

We based ourselves in Derby for 3 nights and took another trip on a 4WD bus. It was along the first section of the Gibb River Road which takes a more scenic route 700 km back to the town of Wyndham. However this is the description.
The Derby Visitor Centre recommends use of high clearance robust vehicles, preferably 4WD, for DRY season (May to October) travel. Towing of any type is not recommended. However, well constructed off road trailers may survive the often corrugated conditions in the DRY. Caravans are definitely NOT recommended.
Wet season (November to April) travel can be severely restricted by flooding and road closures as the countryside can become very waterlogged. Access to the gorges is very often not possible and, if travel occurs, is restricted to the Gibb River Road itself and not to the sidetracks into the gorges. A 4WD vehicle equipped with a snorkel is essential once the rains have started.

Certainly not allowed in the rented motor home.

First we stopped at a very old boab tree and were told all about them.

 It is a deciduous tree that grows from 29 to 39 feet tall, and has been known to grow to 16 feet in width. In the spring, it grows large, white flowers. The boab doesn't develop annual growth rings, and stores water inside its trunk. Some are 1500 years old, so are the oldest living things in Australia.
Aboriginal Australian peoples used the hollows of the boab to collect water, the leaves for medicine, and the fruit for food and in art. We were given some fruit to taste. I am afraid I spat it out, uggh.

We went on to Windjana Gorge which was very spectacular and saw more freshwater crocodiles. These were smaller so we went within a few feet of them .
We were told the story of Jandamarra who led an armed rebellion against the whites in the late 1890's and hid in the caves in this area.

After lunch we went to Tunnel Creek Cave where Jandamarra was killed. This involved wading through the stream which can be above your waist but thankfully was only up to my lower thighs. I had to buy a pair of shorts in Derby in preparation. I never wear shorts.

The following day back in Derby we checked out the very high tides at the wharf.

Derby has Australia’s highest tides and one of the highest in the world.

We went to the Mowanjum Art and Cultural Centre.  Finally yet another sunset across the tidal flats.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Last Sunday I attended Evensong in St Paul's Cathedral, Dunedin.

Time was, in the dim dark distant past, when Evensong or rather Evening Prayer but there was just as much if not more singing than in the Cathedral on Sunday was my main weekly time of worship.  Yet last Sunday was probably only the third time I have attended in the past 20 or more years.  I attended at St James King Street, after a lecture on the Wesleys,  I think in 2007.  Then I attended midweek at St Paul's Cathedral, London in 2010, mainly I must admit as a way of getting in for free.

Back in the 1960's, first at St Phillips Eastwood then at Holy Trinity, Concord West the church was packed. It was the main service on Sunday when the main choir sang. It was preceded by Youth Fellowship.  Generally if you were Anglican and a teenager, you went to Youth Fellowship.  There has been discussion on Liturgy regarding the stats that show Christianity is declining in the Western churches.  In the 60's most shops were closed on Sunday, so were movie houses and there was no organised sport. TV had arrived 10 years earlier but it had not yet completely taken over.  I organised the building of a coffee shop in the church hall which had real percolated coffee and was open after Evening Prayer. Also, at the request of the Rector, we began dances with live bands in the hall one Saturday each month.  There was some opposition to these from within the parish and I sometimes had to call the police to remove troublemakers.  I wonder if they were the cause of my tinnitus today.  It was much easier to attract young people to church and church activities as there was not a lot else available.

Those young people in the 1960s would now be between 55 and 65.  They are hardly crowding into the church today so in most cases their attendance back when they were young has not produced lasting results.

I attended last Sunday because our vicar was preaching and our choir was singing with the cathedral choir.  The sermon is here.   I was disappointed at how few did attend.   I guess it is much nicer to stay home with heater and TV on a cool showery night.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Across Australia 6 Bungle Bungles to Derby

We continued across the North West, generally called the Kimberleys.

The small town of Halls Creek (pop.1200, 70% indigenous) is the only town for 600km. We just stopped for petrol and continued on to Fitzroy Crossing, altogether driving 470km that day. Fitzroy Crossing is a bit bigger with 1,500 people in the town (60% indigenous) and another 2,000 in nearby aboriginal communities.  It, however, has a very nice camping ground so we spent the afternoon relaxing and stayed the night.

The next morning we went to the nearby Geike Gorge for a boat cruise.

Yet more freshies

A shy kangaroo.
and bird

Then we drove the 300 km to the town of Derby on the coast. It seemed quite big with over 3,000 people.  Derby is known for the Boab trees and this one is the most famous.  It is known as the prison tree. I use to think Aboriginal prisoners were kept inside but they were just chained to it.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Vatican II

I read it is 50 years since the Vatican II council opened.  I do not write much about the Roman Catholic church as I have a number of Catholic friends both online and in real life who I greatly admire and I respect their faith.

Growing up in the late 40's and 50's Catholics and Protestants mixed very little.  I played with Catholic children in the street but they went to different schools and church so were seen as being different, our parents were friendly to each other but generally did not socialise together and as we grew older and went to our respective high schools we had little in common.
At University there was more mixing and I got to know some Catholic brothers in teacher training and remember being invited to an all male production of "HMS Pinafore" at the monastery which I found highly amusing. 

My family was a bit different as my grandfather's second wife was Catholic. They were apparently married behind the altar in the Catholic cathedral and he remained a strict Methodist.  My sister finally married a Catholic after 8 years of 'going out' as she insisted on being married in an Anglican church.  It however has always been a problem, they decided children would cause strife and he will only enter a protestant church for weddings and funerals.  He is still very much of a pre Vatican II mindset.

Two things I remember about Vatican II.  I drove a fellow teacher to work each day and she was excited about hearing the mass in English and singing some of the more familiar (to me) hymns.
The second was more important.  My Anglican church, where I was youth leader,  was across the road from the Roman Catholic church but 'never the twain would meet'.  I am not certain, but think the initiative was from my Rector.  I received a visit from the assistant parish priest one Saturday morning when I was still in bed and we arranged a combined Fellowship Tea.  It was decided the speaker should be from Alcoholics Anonymous to avoid any difficulties and the only prayer would be the Lord's Prayer which they of course called the "Our Father".
I think the priest said grace.  Naturally we went off to our own churches afterwards. I do not think it was ever repeated, certainly not in my time there.

Many years later I took a teaching position in a senior Catholic Boys High School and taught there for 15 years.  I became friends with and came to respect many of the brothers. It was a time in which, due to State aid, many more lay teachers were being employed. Quite a few were ex brothers who had married.  In the later years I was completely "out" and actually was helped by some of the religious while I think others would have preferred I went away to solve problems.  As I was experiencing complete exclusion from the evangelical Anglican parishes, I began attending Catholic masses.

I took communion after a Jesuit priest told me I was welcome as I was a member of the community and in fact he chose me to distribute the host on one occasion.  I am sure other priests would not have been so welcoming but I worked on the principle of what they did not know would not hurt them.  The bishop of Dunedin,  in my previous post about his pilgrimage on the Camino,  mentions regularly attending Mass on the journey but not partaking.  This makes me sad and I am proud that the Anglican church welcomes all Baptised to communion.  There have been news items about Catholic priests refusing the sacraments to LGBT people and I have known Catholic friends who have been excommunicated due to divorce and remarriage.  They naturally left the church. My brother-in-law seems to regard his marriage in a protestant church as having condemned him. He only attends church now at Easter and Christmas yet does not want to compound the problem by attending a protestant service unless necessary due to family obligations.

I believe the participation in the Eucharist is between the communicant and God and no one else. This and a few other reasons meant I did not pursue some thoughts of converting to Catholicism.  My evangelical upbringing made the devotion to Mary a problem but I would find that less so today.  Transubstantiation was no big deal. I have always regarded the Eucharist as more than just the memorial service I was taught to believe. My view is probably closest to the Lutheran belief of sacramental union.  However this post will be far too long if I go into that matter.

After 4 years away from Catholic schools as I studied to be a librarian, I returned to work in a junior Catholic high school where all the staff were lay. There were a number of Protestants teaching and we were encouraged, even obliged, to take part in the religious programs.  At staff retreats the sacrament was often offered in both kinds and I was amused to see it was usually only the protestants who took the wine.  I actually taught Religious Education one year but, as the course only involved Old Testament studies, mainly 1 and 2 Samuel to 12 year olds, it presented no problems.  I taught there for 8 years and much of my casual teaching for the next 8 years was also in Catholic schools. My main source of income today is from the Australian Catholic Superannuation Fund.

My greatest objection was to the role of the Pope. That is also why I am strongly against the Anglican Covenant.  While I am willing to listen to and consider wise guidance from bishops and vicars, I consider my beliefs to be between me and my God. While in Sydney I found acceptance from Catholic Laypeople and Religious and knew they privately disagreed with many of the official decrees of the church, yet publicly they had to toe the line.  In the Anglican church there can be public disagreements with the bishop even by rectors in the Sydney diocese although it is not good for their future advancement. And one can always move to more agreeable dioceses. Heaven forbid that we should all have to follow the line of one Archbishop of Canterbury or even a committee of World Primates.

It is sad to see that so many of the changes brought by Vatican II have either stalled or been reversed. I read in an interesting article that was largely due to the death of Pope John XXIII and the fact that while Paul VI was supportive, he was less willing to stand up to the reactionary forces in the Vatican.  Thankfully despite the sometimes distressing news of conflict within the Anglican Communion we are not dependent on the views or personalities of one man (or woman).

As for the Catholic church. The above article states:
The Vatican II vision is still ''out there''. Catholics have grasped the possibility of the church as a local community based on Jesus' message of love, co-operation, tolerance and service to others.
I will pray this vison might one day prevail. 

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Now Here is a Bishop

I spend a lot of time criticising the bishops of Sydney for good reason. But unlike a certain mad priest in England who, because he was badly treated by one bishop has it in for all of them, I know that most of them are doing a good if difficult job.

Back in 2006 or 7, when I first began to seriously consider Dunedin as my future home, I discovered the blog of then Archdeacon Kelvin Wright, vicar of Roslyn and was impressed.  I followed his blog as he planned to complete the Camino de Santiago de Compostella.  In 2008 all was put on hold as he dealt with prostate cancer but he and his wife, Clemency, completed about half in 2009.  

I first visited St John's Roslyn on my second trip to Dunedin, this time with my sister,  in November 2008 and introduced myself to him.   I was a bit astounded and had mixed feelings when it was announced in late 2009 that he had been elected bishop of Dunedin. So I was only a parishioner for 4 weeks before he was consecrated bishop and left the parish.  I attended his consecration and was amused to find myself seated next to the wife of the bishop of Nelson.  Nelson would be the one diocese in New Zealand where I would not feel comfortable. It has a history of a close relationship with evangelical Sydney but, while the bishop has aligned himself with Gafcon, he has not been as obnoxious in his comments as Jensen.  We, (his wife and I) had a pleasant conversation while waiting for the service to begin. 

Now Kelvin and Clemency have just completed their pilgrimage on the Camino and I have followed his blog with interest.  It has not been without incident.  First Kelvin had problems with his achilles tendon but after prayer by other pilgrims he seemed to make a remarkable recovery.  Far worse,  a few days later, Clemency fell in the shower and they had to make an ambulance trip to hospital.  Thankfully there were no bones broken but she had to complete the pilgrimage (just over 100km of the total 800km)  by bus. 
Although you may not have time to read his day by day description, I do recommend "Why Pilgrimage"
Part of his comments there follow:
Personally, I am not convinced that prayers said in front of the bones of some dead bloke are any more effective than any other sort of prayers, even in the highly unlikely event that the skeletal remains belong to one of the apostles. I don´t think that the sheer hard work of walking hundreds of kilometres across a foreign land earns any sort of favour with the almighty. But I know that making pilgrimage is a spiritual practice.

All spiritual practices have this in common: they confront us with the limits of the false self, so that we can recognise those limits and grow past them, and this is precisely what the Camino does. It is a tool, in other words, whereby we make real Jesus invitation to leave ourselves behind in order that we might find ourselves. The Camino Santiago de Compostela  is not a pleasant and refreshing walk through beautiful Spanish countryside. It is not an interesting historical and cultural walking tour. Or at least, it is not just those things. The Camino challenges  and searches and judges. The Camino exposes us, we who answer its call to pilgrimage. The myriad defence mechanisms we call our personality are opened up and shown for what they are and the result is not diminution but expansion; a contact with the true self and with the great one whose ground, Says Meister Eckhart, is the same ground as that of the true self. 

And then after finishing and greeting Clemency on the final day, they went and worshipped at the cathedral in Santiago with the amusing but emotional  Botafumeiro

The first thing for me to do was to visit the crypt and pray before the bones of St. James. I´m not entirely sure why, as readers of previous posts will know, but somehow, for me the Camino was not complete until I had done this. There in a small cellar, down a flight of steps was a silver casket containing James´ mortal remains. A young woman prayed before them and then pushed several copies of her CV through the grill to lie before the coffin. Unemployment is high in Spain, and I guess both her faith and her intention were obvious, and I found the sight intensely moving. I knelt there and remembered several things. A parish priest who, at the end of his pilgrims blessing had asked us to pray for his parish when we got to Santiago. Then a farmer tending some strange (to me) crop on a sunny hillside. I smiled and waved to him and he stood, raised both arms and cried out
¡Hola! ¡Bien Camino!¡Rece por mí cuando llegue a Santiago!
Hello! Good Camino! Pray for me when you reach Santiago
So before I spent time holding my children, my grandchild, my diocese, my family, before God I remembered that farmer and his nameless crop and the parish of Arzua. Bless them all, my Lord and make of them what you intend.

Thanks be to God for their pilgrimage and thanks be to God for directing me to this diocese. Kelvin is not Anglo-Catholic although the Jensens probably think he is but he is open to the Mysteries of our faith.  He is very much into meditation.  He is inclusive although more circumspect on such matters since becoming a bishop.

A few months ago I met him in the local hardware store and had a brief chat, then 5 minutes later we met again in his local supermarket and, as it is not mine, he was able to direct me to what I wanted. Now that is a helpful bishop.

I probably would have small disagreements with him at times, we are both human,  but I am very grateful to be in the Diocese of Dunedin.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Across Australia 5 Lake Argyle to the Bungle Bungles

My original plans for the day at Lake Argyle were to go on a late morning cruise down the river below the dam followed by the sunset cruise on the lake.  However the river cruise that day was cancelled and we were transferred to the following day.  Luckily we had only planned to drive 70 km to the town of Kununurra.
So that morning we boarded a smaller boat to travel down the river.  It was faster and slipped through the rapids so was great fun.  As we left from just under the dam, a party of kayakers were loading their craft for several days of travel down river to Kununurra.  Fortunately there are only freshwater crocodiles in the river as there is another small dam or barrage at Kununurra which backs up the water so it can be used for irrigation and it prevents salties from coming upstream. Saltwater crocodiles can live in freshwater but not the other way round.

We passed the kayakers very slowly, on our way back.  I think our guide was disappointed that they were still upright and dry and had not turned over in the first rapids as he expected.

The freshies had been completely uninterested in them as they went past.

We were surprised at the lack of size of Kununurra (basic pop 7,000 increasing to 10,000 in dry seasonal due to tourist activities and farm workers.)   It was Saturday afternoon and little was open.  Fortunately the supermarket was open but I had broken my thongs (jandals in NZ, Flip flops in USA?) and was lucky to find one pair my size in the smallest Target (variety) store I had ever seen.  We drove up a hill to look over the town.
The nearest town of any size is 500km east in Katherine and 1200km south west in Broome.  You would not want to live there if you were a shopaholic.

Sunday morning we passed farms growing melons and mangoes and the new crop sandalwood but visited a zebra rock gallery. These are the natural rock colours.

We both bought a small piece each for a souvenir.

Then we drove towards the coast and the town of Wyndham (pop 800).  It is 100km from Kununurra and on the coast so is  the port and the oldest town in the region.  Great views from a hill overlooking the estuary with 5 rivers and extensive mudflats but very misty (salt?) so I will not post any photos.
Instead we returned to the main Great Northern Highway and drove for another 380km to our next night's stop. There was just 1 roadhouse in all that distance. My sister drove for an hour so I took the following photos as the road went on and on .

Where we stayed for the next 2 nights was a very strange campsite. It is underwater in the wet and so is portable.  Everything is set up at the beginning of the dry season and taken down again at the end.  It is the entrance to the Bungle Bungle National Park with its beehive shape striped formations.  The proper name now is Purnulu National Park.  It was only discovered by a film team in 1983, became a national park in 1987 and was put on the world heritage list in 2003.  It is only accessible by 4WD so we had to join a bus tour which took 2 hours to drive the 52 km from the highway where we camped to the boundary of the park.  The park covers 2,500 square km.    Many tourists view it from the air but both cost and my fear of flying in anything with one engine meant we only saw it the hard way.  In the morning we walked to Cathedral Gorge (4km return) which was spectacular.

In fact still photos do not do it justice so I will try to post a movie.

Another shorter walk nearby led to a great view over the park.

Then after lunch we drove to the other end of the range and visited the Echidna Chasm. It was a shorter (2km return) walk but rather rough so my sister gave it a miss. It is a very deep narrow chasm so was better in the afternoon heat.

Then it was time to retrace our steps in the bus back over that 52km rough road to our van parked near the highway.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Fifty years

Ah, those days.

It is 50 years since The Beatles released their first single - a moment that changed the music world forever.

Monday, September 24, 2012

No to Homophobia

I have just discovered that the following advertisement was shown at the AFL Football in Melbourne.
Apparently its airing was pushed by an openly gay footballer.

Also this weekend I read an obituary for the man who was my music teacher at high school way back in 1959. 
Denis helped develop my love of music, however I was struck by the following.
Denis Condon is survived by his partner of 47 years, Robert Mitchell.

I wish he could have been openly gay and therefore a role model for me. Of course, in those days,  he would have been sacked and possibly worse if he had come out.
Sometime I have to pinch myself at the changes that have happened since I was growing up.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Across Australia 4 Katherine to Lake Argyle

After 2 nights at Kakadu National Park, we began generally heading in a south west direction.  We drove 265 km to Katherine where I had spent a few hours on the train trip north.  On the way we stopped in Pine Creek where there was a museum in the old station. The new line bypasses the town.

We were in Katherine (population 10,000) for lunch and then restocked our van.  I find the town depressing as there is a very large Aboriginal population, many sitting on the pavements especially outside the government welfare agency, and I had to get out of the way of one woman, obviously off her brain with alcohol.  In the Northern Territory your driving licence is scanned before you can buy alcohol in bottle shops.   One man told me the Aborigines call the welfare payment "sit down money" but then another said why shouldn't they sit in the shopping centre just as much as in the parks.  While some work in national parks, they do not like being guides, very few are seen working in stores. I do not know what the answer is.
We went to the Katherine Gorge but both of us had been there before, even if 30 years ago, so just took a walk around rather than a boat trip.  I climbed to one lookout and took some photos.

Then we headed west to the Victoria River 190km.  There is no town there, just a Roadhouse with camping ground.  There are no allocated sites so, having found a flat space under a tree, we decided to stay there for a lazy afternoon rather than drive a few km north for a walk up the escarpment.  I was glad I left this till the following morning as it would have been a very hot climb.  You cannot take a dip in the river unless you want to be a meal for a saltwater crocodile however the escarpments around were very spectacular especially as the sun struck them at dawn.
The next morning  I took the 3km return Escarpment walk which was quite steep and rocky in places.

My sister did about half of it. Here is the view of the river from the top

Then we drove a further 319 km to our next night stop. There was only one "town" on the way. (pop 230).  This and the Victoria River Roadhouse are the only settlements in the 519 km between Katherine and Kununurra.  We bought petrol there and fortunately saw the sign that it was cheaper at the supermarket than the hotel (20 cents per litre cheaper). No service, you put your credit card in a machine which was heavily barred and prepaid the amount required.
We did however drive up to a scenic lookout over the town and found a memorial to the Nackeroos.  In formal army language they were the North Australia Observation Unit, a rough and tumble, bush-hardened bunch of soldiers who patrolled the north of Australia during WWII.  They were also know as Curtin's Cowboys.  Curtin was Australia's wartime prime minister.

I loved this plaque as it states well my feelings about this area of Australia.

Somewhere in Australia, where the sun is a curse,
And each day is followed by another slightly
And the brick red dust blows thicker, than the
shifting desert sand;
And the men dream, and wish for, a fairer, greener

Somewhere in Australia, where the mail is always late,
And a Christmas card in April, is considered up to
Where we never have a payday, and we never pay the rent
But we never miss the money, cause we never get
it spent.

Somewhere in Australia, where the ants and lizards
And a hundred fresh mosquitoes reinforce the ones
you slay,
So take me back to good old Sydney where I can hear the tramway bell.
For this god-forsaken place is just a substitute for hell!

Just after lunch we crossed the border into Western Australia and turned south for Lake Argyle.

Lake Argyle is Australia's largest artificial lake by volume.  It normally has a surface area of about 1,000 square kilometres and the dam was built in 1971.  The irrigation scheme has been controversial as there were many problems with tropical diseases and the native birds fed well on the rice crops.  However more successful crops have been found recently and the irrigation area is being extended.
The next morning we visited the old homestead, which has been moved from its original site now well underwater and also a went to a lookout then in the afternoon we took a sunset cruise seeing freshwater crocodiles. These are harmless to humans but I would not like to meet one in the water.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Across Australia No 3 Litchfield and Kakadu

It is hard to choose which photos to post. My Sister and I picked up the van which was to be our home for the next 20 days. They gave us an upgrade. The main advantages were a TV which only worked in a few places and a BBQ which was much used.

We headed 100 km south of Darwin to Adelaide River which is now only a very small settlement but was a big army and airforce base in the 2nd World War after Darwin was bombed in 1942. We visited the war cemetery.

Then we went to Litchfield National Park for 2 nights and spent a day driving 200 km through the park first seeing Magnetic Termite mounds which in the natural environment take the place of native grazing animals in these savannah grasslands.So instead of the vast herd of antelope, zebra etc as in Africa you get miles and miles of these.

We took walks  to 3 different waterfalls. First the Florence Falls,

Where I climbed down lots of steps to the bottom and walked along a delightful cool stream.

My sister joined me for a walk a few kilometres over the plateau to the Tolmer Falls.

And finally the most popular, the Wangi Falls where we had lunch, took a walk through the rainforest but decided not to continue in the heat right around to the top of the falls but returned and bought a cool drink.

They must be very impressive in the wet season. I also visited a deserted tin mine.

Then we headed east to Kakadu National Park.
Covering nearly 20,000 square kilometres of exceptional natural beauty and unique biodiversity, Kakadu is one of very few places World Heritage listed for both its cultural and its natural values. Kakadu National Park is managed jointly by its Aboriginal traditional owners and the Director of National Parks.
We stayed at Yellow Water and were on a bus at 6.15am for a short drive to the jetty where we boarded small boats for a sunrise tour of the lagoons.

I could post lots of bird photos but as I did not take notes, many names are forgotten.

The other lagoon inhabitants are less pleasant. we did not trail arms and legs over the side. My photo shows a female "salty" bearing her throat to the large male to indicate she does not want to be dinner but is available for other pleasures. 
 He did not want either so she sulkily came over to check us out.