Monday, December 30, 2013

Gays and Fathers

I have been reading about a woman evangelical in the UK, Andrea Minichiello Williams.
She has been speaking in Jamaica advocating they maintain their draconian laws on homosexuality.  I have yet to personally meet a woman who is so opposed to homosexuality.  In my experience it is usually men.
However what has angered me most is her statement that an Olympic diver who recently came out is gay because of the recent death of his father.  This is another of the many stupid myths propounded by homophobes.

My father died when I was 30 yet I can remember sexual feelings about men from at least my mid-teens.  I did not really understand in those unenlightened days until I went to University and began to study Psychology.   I went to see a psychiatrist when I was still at University probably aged 19 or 20.  I told my mother a few years later.  To my knowledge she never told my Father.
I had to hide from him the fact that at the age of 25,  instead of teaching, I spent a week undergoing therapy.  Thankfully, in order to hide it from him, I did not stay overnight in the hospital but returned home which was a problem as my Mother became sick with pleurisy and he could not understand why I still stayed back (apparently working) late each afternoon.

A much better example of the stupidity of this statement is the case of a close friend, David. We have been good friends since university days and he is a leader in his church.
He has 4 children, 3 boys and a girl.
In 2003, my closest friend from school days, Peter,  died. He had originally introduced me to David.  I travelled to the memorial service in Canberra with David and his wife.  Peter knew I was gay but I had never told David although Peter assured me there would be no problem.

Peter had 3 children who all spoke at the service from a Christian perspective.  On the way home I mentioned that it must be wonderful in this day and age to know all one's children are still believers. I assumed it was the same for David.  He then told me his 2nd son was gay. David was and is completely accepting and only regrets that his son took a long time to tell him because he assumed his father, being involved with the church, would not accept it.
David is a great advocate for gay acceptance in his church.

His eldest son and his daughter are both married and he has 4 grandchildren.  I have long had thoughts about the youngest son who is now in his early 30's.
A few months ago David told me that his youngest son has also now come out.  This year's Christmas message mentions both gay sons' partners along with other family news.

David has recently told  me that the older gay son has just decided to have a commitment ceremony with his partner of 8 years. The partner actually asked David and his wife before popping the question.
 They are, naturally, delighted. Unfortunately they do not live in enlightened New Zealand so it cannot be a marriage.

I see no evidence of a missing father in the gay lives of these 2 boys.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Worship

My first Christmas in Dunedin.
As related, I visited Sydney at the beginning of November for a reunion of my class of '73.  Therefore, while happy that Air New Zealand is making a profit, unlike Qantas, I was not happy to assist it any further by flying over again so soon, espcially when it would have been a Virgin Australia flight anyway.

I was undecided whether to attend the service at St John's on Christmas Eve at 11.30pm or Christmas Morning at 9.30am. The fact that I had to be out at Glenfalloch on the peninsula before midday to have Christmas lunch with others from the 60+ club who have no family in Dunedin and I was told that the Christmas Eve service was more popular and more of my friends would be there swayed my choice.
Never again.
 I am usually in bed by 9.30pm and although I laid down at 8.30pm and set the alarm for 10.30, I felt dreadful. At the conclusion, just before 1 am, everyone naturally rushed home so having friends there was not such an advantage anyway.
However the service was choral Eucharist, traditional and Anglican.

Of course the same would have been true in St James, King Street, Sydney where I usually worship on Christmas Day with my sister.  In fact the procession, incense, choral singing would have been wonderful.

However the problem with St James is the distance.  While my sister lives much closer than I did, attending the 10 am service means catching a train slightly after 9 am and not returning home unti 12.30 pm at the earliest.  Sadly I must also admit that St James is not a friendly church.  Almost no one speaks to my sister when she goes by herself.  When I worshipped there regularly,  I only knew a few people slightly and while Fr John, the assistant priest is wonderful, I have worried my sister would stop going.

She decided this Christmas, being by herself, she would attend the local St Stephen's Willoughby.
I was keen to hear her report.
Probably 10 years ago we took our mother there one Christmas.  We could not get to the 8am "traditional service"  due to Mum's age and attended at 9.30 am
I was horrified and walked out, followed about 10 minutes later by my sister and mother.
It was not communion and I did not recognise anything of the service except the Creed. When the Rector, dressed in a lounge suit and tie asked us to put up our hands if we were saved, I left.

I wrote and complained and was informed the 8 am service was traditional.

We are not sure if the Rector is the same but my sister hoped she would experience a traditional Anglican communion at 8 am.
She tells me the service was, thankfully, from the prayer book but the priest and his assistant  were in suits but did wear clerical collars. He did not even put on a stole to celebrate communion. Grape juice was offered as well as the traditional cup.
During the sermon the priest joked that Anglicans were traditional and did not like change.
She tells me she glared at him on the way out.

I have researched and suggested she try worshipping at St John's Gordon, just 10 minutes away by train and one of the other few Anglo-catholic parishes in Sydney.

Googling the rector I find this from 2009.

"The rector of St John's Church, Gordon, Father Keith Dalby, said diaconal and lay presidency contravened the type of church services and ministry role as prescribed in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which is the ultimate standard of worship in the Anglican communion.

''By allowing for diaconal and lay presidency you collapse the office of deacon and priest into the one order so you actually effectively destroy the traditional threefold order of deacon, priest and bishop, that has been upheld way back to 110AD.''

Father Dalby does not seem to be in favour of change.  I pray my sister can find a welcoming parish there.

Friday, December 20, 2013

God and country part ways

An excellent item by Chris Trotter, a left wing columnist, can be found at:
I read it first in the local Otago Daily Times. At first I thought it was the usual gloating over the decline of the church in society which I acknowledge but saddens me. However the conclusion is quite otherwise. I am just going to post parts of the article with my own bold.

New Zealand is no longer a Christian nation. The results of the 2013 census confirm the steep decline in Christianity since 1996. Seventeen years ago 63.8 per cent of New Zealanders belonged to a Christian faith. The latest census puts that figure at 44.5 per cent.

Does it matter? Should we be worried, or relieved, that we Kiwis are an altogether more secular and sceptical bunch than the Americans - two-thirds of whom reject Darwin's theory of evolution in favour of ancestors fashioned by the Almighty out of dust and clay?
Is it not more reassuring to know that nearly 40 per cent of us remain unmoved by religious belief, than to contemplate a religious establishment so strong that, within the living memory of most New Zealanders, it wielded a power sufficient to sway governments and outlaw ''sin''? 

I am proud to be part of that vast generation, the baby boomers, who dared to call the religious establishment to account for its sins.Not religious sins, you understand, but for the moral crimes born of unchallenged authority and heartless hierarchy.
For the lies that were told; the cruelties inflicted; the young souls twisted by sectarian hatred; the old souls unredeemed by Christian love. Right by human right we pillaged the Christian establishment: the right to contraception; the right to abortion; the right to love a member of the same sex (and, eventually, to marry them); the right to express oneself sexually without religious condemnation or secular punishment; and, finally, that most important of all human rights, the right to seek for the meaning and purpose of human existence on our own terms, and using the whole of the natural universe as our bible. 

Yet, in perusing the census data, I have also experienced an uneasy feeling of loss: of slowly drifting away from familiar shores. In my mind's eye, running like a family video, are memories of the past, of my childhood, flickering and fading. Of a little limestone church in Herbert, North Otago.

Of the farming families and their children, all wearing their Sunday best. Of the low murmur of the organ; voices raised in song; and simple New Testament sermons about love and forgiveness. I recall my years at Sunday school and learning the Bible's many stories: Moses and the burning bush; David vanquishing Goliath; Daniel in the lions' den; Jacob wrestling with the angel; Joseph and his coat of many colours. And, every December, I remember, the familiar stories and carols of Christmas. Mary and Joseph and their long journey to Bethlehem .The Magi and their search for the one foretold, Emmanuel, meaning ''God is with us''. The shepherds keeping watch in the fields by night. The heavenly host singing Glory to God in the Highest. I remember them all, and that little community, glowing through the lengthening summer shadows with peace and goodwill.
And I ask myself, as we sail away from all those little churches, those devout congregations, those simple sermons of love and redemption: ''Quo vadis?''I ask it of myself; of my family and friends; of my entire and beloved country, New Zealand: ''Quo vadis? Whither goest thou?''

Monday, December 16, 2013

Beautiful Karitane

Two weeks ago our Rambling group held our Christmas lunch and walk in Karitane 40 kilometres north of Dunedin. Here are some photos I took.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Take a break, Take a train

I love this advert. Helped by the fact that the duet 'Au fond du temple saint' (In the depths of the temple) from Bizet's 'The Pearl Fishers'  is my favourite piece of opera.
Also I love train travel. I have just booked 8 days and 5 nights oftrain travel in the USA next June-July.  Finally, of course, I never tire of New Zealand scenery.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Go Grafton

It has been announced that Reverend Dr Sarah Macneil will become the 11th bishop of Grafton, NSW.
Dr Macneil is a former Dean of Adelaide and archdeacon in the Diocese of Canberra-Goulburn. She is presently Senior Associate Priest at Holy Covenant in Jamison, ACT.

The news agencies are getting everything wrong.  Dr Macneil will be the first woman bishop in Australia to lead a diocese.  Not, of course, the first woman bishop.  There are 4 other women bishops in Australia in the dioceses of Perth, Melbourne, Canberra-Goulburn and Brisbane.  However they are all assistant bishops.
I was under the impression that the General Synod of Australia had not yet approved women as diocesan bishops due to the continuing opposition of Sydney and some others preventing a 2/3rd vote in favour.  Apparently this has been overcome.
It is customary for bishops to be consecrated by the provincial archbishop, in this case Sydney.

Jensen declined to even attend the consecration of Bishop Genieve Blackwell in Canberra-Goulburn and she was consecrated by the Bishop of Newcastle.
It will be interesting to see what the newly installed archbishop Glenn Davies does.

If he also declines, he can change his name to Canute.

Friday, November 15, 2013


Every 10 years my senior class of 1973 holds a reunion. Even though I moved 3000 km away I did not want to miss it this year. I do not know about 2023.
Besides teaching them Geography, I also led the Travel Club which during 1972 raised money for 66 students and 10 teachers to go on a month's camping trip to New Zealand.

The Travel Club was started by another teacher in 1965 (to Central Australia) and at the end of 1966 (my first year of teaching) I joined it for my first visit to New Zealand. I still keep in touch with some of those students.
In 1967 we went to North Queensland, in 1968 to Central Australia and Darwin then I took over and led another group to NZ in 1969.
In 1970/71 we went to Tasmania and in 1971 to North Queensland again.
Then followed this 3rd trip to NZ and it was the biggest group. At the end of 1973 I took the following year group back to Tasmania and then, to the annoyance of many parents, I set off on my own trip to Asia and Europe in 1974 and the club folded. Such trips would probably be impossible today due to the red tape demanded now. 

Anyway I flew to Sydney 2 weeks ago, stayed with my sister and joined one of the students, Graham, in a hotel for the weekend. Graham and I became very close and later I was best man at his wedding. We drove to the Southern beach suburb of Cronulla for afternoon drinks on the Saturday followed by a dinner/dance then back again on Sunday morning for a breakfast cruise of Port Hacking. I am told over 80 ex-students attended and there were over half the students from the trip to New Zealand.

Here is a photo of those in the Travel Club who were present at the dinner. I am holding the blackboard.

Then there is a photo taken of the original group in New Zealand in January 1973. I am on the far right back to van, aged just 29.
You will have to click on the photos to see them properly

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Central North Island

After visitng the Auckland Botanical Gardens on Day 12, I began driving back south but disaster struck when, after driving over 160 km, I stopped about 1pm for lunch in the little town of Tirau and realised I had left all my shirts hanging in the cupboard back in Auckland or actually Manukau (20 km south) where I had spent Sunday night.
I immediately began the drive back and, although delayed by an accident on the motorway, collected my shirts about 3.30pm, rang my accommodation for that night to say I would be very late and drove back stopping first  for petrol and coffee and later a hamburger.  I arrived Turangi just after 8pm having driven over 650 km instead of the planned 306 km.  Obviously I have no photos from that journey.

I stayed 2 nights in Turangi and so on Day 13 walked about 8 km along the river in the morning.

In the afternoon, I drove past the 3 volcanoes on the plateau to the skifield at Ruapehu.  I had only been there in summer previously.

1. Mount Tongariro 1,978 metres, erupted in August and November 2012

2. Mount Ngauruhoe, 2,291 metres, last erupted 1977 and is better known as it was filmed as Mt Doom in "Lord of the Rings"

3. Mt Ruapehu, 2797 metres, last erupted in 2007 but there have been regular warnings in recent years

 On it's slopes are Chateau Tongariro

and the Whakapapa skifield

On the way back to Turangi there is a great lookout over Lake Taupo.

On Day 14, snow was forecast so I hurried along the Desert Road which is often closed by snow. I drove on the other side of the volcanoes and stopped for morning tea just south  of Taihape with a view down to the Rangitikei River.

Rain had set in as I stopped for an hour  in Palmerston North and I had lunch in Levin then drove down the Kapiti coast to Upper Hutt.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Disappointing News

On my first visit to Dunedin in November 2006 I worshipped at the Cathedral and was taken in more ways than one by the Dean, David Rice.

He was in the local news defending the recent ordination as deacon of Rev Juan Kinnear, a man living openly in a gay relationship. Juan later became a priest and was associate priest at the cathedral. He is now Priest enabler at St John's Waikouaiti.

I was disappointed when I finally moved to Dunedin in 2010 to find David Rice was now Bishop of Waiapu with the cathedral in Napier where I worshipped last month.

However he was still able to support the cause of GLBT people in the Anglican church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Waiapu has been a leading diocese in this development.

Last year the Diocese of Waiapu put forward the following motion to General Synod.

The diocese of Waiapu, which covers Bay of Plenty and Hawkes Bay, has put forward a proposal for dioceses which wish to be able to bless same-sex unions to be able to do so, and for gay priests to be ordained.

The Diocese of Waiapu strongly believes that sexual orientation should present no barrier to ordination, the Motion says.

As a diocese, like others, we have experienced first-hand the ministry of gay and lesbian clergy, some of whom have been in faithful, loving, committed same-gender relationships, and believe them to have enriched the life of our Church.

We are therefore grateful that successive bishops have discerned within the lives of these people a call to ordination, and acknowledge this work of discernment is a serious and significant aspect of episcopal ministry.

We have become concerned in recent years that bishops of this and other dioceses appear to have come under pressure to withhold discernment for ordination because of a person's sexual orientation and their living out of that orientation with a loving, faithful relationship, the Motion continues.

As a diocese we believe such pressure runs contrary to the traditional understanding that the responsibility for discerning and acting upon the call of the Holy Spirit on an individual to a life within the holy order of priests or deacons rests firmly in the hands of the bishop of the diocese /hui amorangi.

We therefore ask that:

This General Synod / Te Hinota Whanui affirms the long tradition and practice of episcopal autonomy in the discernment of a person's call to ordination.

The Diocese of Waiapu has also put forward a Motion for the General Synod to:

Move forward with the provision of an authorised liturgy for the blessing of same-gender relationships to be adopted for use by those dioceses which wish so to do.

So I am sad to learn that Bishop David is to return to the USA as provisional bishop of San Juan. I know San Juan needs all the help it can at this time but pray that a similarly brave bishop is appointed to continue the good work in Waiaipu

Friday, September 27, 2013

Around Auckland

I spent 4 nights in Auckland.

On Day 10 of my trip I travelled on the ferry to Waiheke Island passing Rangitoto Island, one of the extinct? volcanoes.

I took a walk around the coast of the island. Unfortunately I did not take my stick and walking boots and the track was very muddy and slippery so I only completed about two thirds.

On Day 11 I attended Eucharist at the Auckland cathedral.

Then I drove north to Piha Beach on the west coast. It is regularly featured on TV surf rescue programs.

I then drove to Muriwai also featured on TV but not so pretty.

On Day 12 I visited the Auckland Botanical Gardens.

On two evenings I attended concerts in the Town Hall. The first was an organ recital by Dr Indra Hughes of Bach's the Art of Fugue. I like organ music but Dr Hughes gave a very involved lecture beforehand of which I understood little and the piece played was very long.
Much better was the 2nd night when the Australian conductor Richard Gill led the New Zealand Youth Orchestra playing
LOGAN Zhu Rong Fury!
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No.3

It was a marvellous night.

I had also been fortunate when I stayed in Napier.
I purposely left Dunedin the morning after attending a concert by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. They toured the South Island with a Mozart performance
MOZART The Abduction from the Seraglio: Overture
MOZART Sinfonia Concertante
MOZART Symphony No.40 in G minor

At the same time they were touring the North Island with a Beethoven  performance
BEETHOVEN The Ruins of Athens Overture
BEETHOVEN Symphony No.2
BEETHOVEN Symphony No.5
and it was in Napier at the art deco theatre opposite my hotel on the night I was staying there.

Therefore I attended 3 marvellous concerts within 2 weeks.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Day 6 and I drove to Whakatane with a view of Mt White offshore which is New Zealand's most active volcano.

Then I bypassed Tauranga and drove onto the Coromandel Peninsula. A short stop in the town of Whitianga.

I drove across the peninsula to the town of Coromandel.

I stayed 2 nights and spent Day 7 driving to beaches north up the coast

Then inland to a stand of Kauri trees which covered this area until logged by white settlers.

There was  a view of Castle Rock.

Then I backtracked over the hills to the beach at Whangapoua and I could look back at the other side of Castle Rock.

(Note for non-Kiwis - in Maori Wh is pronounced F)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Travelling Further North (and to the East)

In the afternoon of Day 4 I headed into new territory towards East Cape.

I passed through Wairoa and spent the night in Gisborne.

Day 5 I drove 360 km right around East Cape through Tolaga Bay with the longest wharf in New Zealand.

Then to Tokamaru Bay with a reminder that Spring was upon us.

I visted the delightful Maori Anglican church at Tiki Tiki. This area is largely settled by Maori and was one of the first areas reached by the early Maori when they sailed to New Zealand.

Te  Araroa is the most easterly point of New Zealand I am likely to visit. From here a 20 km gravel road leads along the ocean edge to East Cape Lighthouse. The oldest and largest Pohutakawa tree is in the school grounds. I must return in November/December when the Pohutakawa are in full flower.

The scenery was great all the way to my overnight stop in Opotiki.