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.