Thursday, May 29, 2014

Maya Angelou

In November 1999 I attended a conference organised by the International Association of School Librarians in Birmingham, Alabama. I had already attended a previous conference in Vancouver in 1997 and was later to attend one in Auckland in 2001. They were the stimulus for the renewal of my interest in overseas travel.

In Birmingham I heard Maya Angelou speak and I was astounded. I knew nothing about her before entering the lecture theatre. I laughed, I cried, I was inspired.
Since then I have bought all 6 of her autobiographical books (I have just learnt the 7th was published last year and have put it on my wish list). I also own "Even the stars look lonesome". They are in my main bookcase in the loungeroom with all books I consider important.  Sadly I have not read any of them since moving to New Zealand. I will remedy that this year.

After the conference ended I flew to Detroit and made my way to Chicago where I boarded the California Zephyr to San Francisco.  By coincidence my plans next Thursday are to again board the California Zephyr in San Francisco and travel as far as Denver.

There are lots of tributes on Youtube. I managed to find this small example of her inspiration which so affected me back in 1999.
May Maya Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Blue Mountains

Between Easter and Anzac Day my sister drove me up to the Blue Mountains where I lived for 28 years. We stayed 2 nights in Katoomba. Although all the places were well known to me, a few I had not visited for quite a few years before I left just over 4 years ago.

Of course the Three Sisters are the most well known view seen from Echo Point.

Mount Solitary. I have hiked out to there but quite a long time ago now.

I had to walk down at least part of the Giant Staircase to the Honeymoon Bridge. Being school holidays the crowds were offputting. Many times I have continued way further down another 1,000 feet to the bottom but not today.

The sandstone weathering is dramatic and some trees put up a struggle to survive.
Driving west past Narrow Neck. Often in winter school holidays  I would drive up here, buy lunch and eat it along the clifff looking over this view.

I have always preferred the view from Govetts Leap near the town of Blackheath.

And the Govetts Leap Falls
and the picnic area

Then to Mount York where the first explorers, Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson discovered they had found the way across the Mountains.

Finally to Wentworth Falls, the view, the falls and the lake.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Anzac Day in Sydney

I again spent Anzac day in Sydney. This has become a tradition for me. I accompany my sister to the Dawn Service at the Cenotaph in Martin Place. We need to catch one of the special trains that are provided. It means leaving her home about 3am. As usual the service was packed. I am always proud of the uniting of my country of birth and my country of choice and am proud to sing both anthems.

I have found this excerpt on Youtube. About 6 mins 35 secs the camera pans across the crowd with a clear view of my sister in red top.  I am only slightly in view behind her.
It begins just after the Governor has laid the first wreath. People are looking back at the large screen behind us. Only the very fortunate are able to sit.
This is followed by the most important part of the service - the reciting of the Ode, the sounding of the Last Post, a minute silence and the sounding of Reveille.

This year I was very pleased to discover the Sydney Maori Choir had been invited to sing as well as the Sydney Male Choir who have sung continuously at this service since 1930.
The Maori Choir sang Tama Ngakau Marie

Tama ngākau mārie
Tama a te Atua
Tēnei tonu mātou
Arohaina mai

Murua rā ngā hara
Wetekina mai
Ēnei here kino
Wakararu nei.

Takahia ki raro
Tau e kino ai
Kei pā kaha tonu
Ko nga mahi hē.

Hōmai he aroha
Mōu i mate nei
Tēnei ra e Ihu
Tākina e koe

Tēnei arahina
A tutuki noa
Puta i te pōuri
Whiwhi hari nui.
          Son of peace
Son of God
here we are always.
Show us compassion.

Wipe away our sins,
and unshackle
these evil ties
that are so troublesome.

Trample down
things evil to you
lest they gather strength,
all evil deeds.

Grant that we may have love
for You who died
May this be so Jesus,
that you lead us.

This is where we wish to be led
to a good end,
overcoming darkness
and attaining paradise.

This was the last time we will see the Hon Professor Marie Bashir as Governor of NSW at the Dawn service and later leading the march through the city streets.

She has been a marvellous Governor since 2001. The first woman in that role and I note she is patron of the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service.

As in the past we returned home to watch on TV the March through the city streets which takes about 3 hours. This was followed by the Dawn Service at Gallipoli which I attended in 2002. And following that, the Dawn Service at the Australian War Memorial in Villers Bretonneux, France.  I have already booked to be at that service in 2015.  I have visited the Memorial twice in 2002 and 2007 and my uncle who died on the Somme in 2016 is buried about 25 km away.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Thank God I live in a Post-Christian Country

Church people, including my own vicar, wring their hands that the church no longer has the influence it had in the past.  I am very thankful.

The Church has always opposed any move to make life easier for LGBT people. The Liberalisation of consenting sex between males in the 80’s and same-sex marriage last year were passed in parliament despite the opposition of the churches.
I know that not all church members were involved but very few had the guts to stand up and say so.

Back in 2006 the then Bishop of Dunedin, George Connor, was willing to ordain a gay partnered man, Juan Kinnear, despite opposition from both within and without the diocese.  I never met him but congratulate him.  He did not wait for the Province to be of one mind and despite a few protestors, the world did not fall in.  He was not even taken to church courts.  The present bishop, at that time archdeacon,  believed it was right in principle but also believed it should not go ahead until the Province allowed it.  That is still his view today.  He continues to license Juan, and others in similar circumstances but no names no pack drill, but will not ordain such a person.

He says he shed tears of joy at the bill passed by the General Synod of Aotearoa/New Zealand this week, I do not know why.  Any tears I had were of frustration.

The discussion of the Me Whea report was put down for Monday.  It was extended to Tuesday and then a small (9, 3 from each house) committee was chosen to fine tune the bill to which all agreed on Wednesday.  The discussions were all in private but I had some hope that there might be something worthwhile, better than Option J which is what I expected all along.

I was mistaken. They have apologised for the past but changed nothing. They might as well have said: "Sorry you have had to sit down the back of the bus in the past but just stay there 2 or 4 or more years and we might possibly find a seat a bit nearer the front".

A committee will be formed to develop a liturgy for blessing of same-sex partnerships which will be discussed in 2016 and sent to diocesan synods to come back in 2018 and then something MIGHT be achieved.

I do not expect marriages to be performed. I do not actually believe churches should be in the marriage business. As in France, marriages should be done by the state then those who wish can have a church blessing. I think the last wedding I attended was in the late 1970’s. I have never really appreciated flaunting of heterosexuality.

We all know some churches, not in Dunedin to my knowledge, have carried out same-sex blessings. There is already a liturgy, of course not official.

This bill says same sex marriages cannot be blessed but can be acknowledged if the local vicar wants as long as it is authorised by the bishop and the vestry.

I like what Bro David wrote in a comment on Liturgy.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today among the announcements to recognize that so-and-so and this other so-and-so were united in state sanctioned civil matrimony the other day in the presence of family, friends and just about everyone here, at the local rental hall around the corner and down the street. A good time was had by all!”

We have to find some humour in the whole tragic situation.

As I expected, and despite the measly concessions, the main comments have come from the conservatives, those Apostles of Hate.  They will never be happy unless the State reimposes jail sentences, perhaps even a flogging or 2.  I know from experience they preferred I went somewhere else or, even if I stayed, removed me from the reader list.

Rev Zane Elliott commented on Bishop Kelvin’s blog.  He has long been a major apostle of Hate.  He astounded many in the diocese with his vitriol a year or so ago,  At the time he was an assistant priest at St Matthew’s Dunedin. I have discovered he is now an army chaplain in the Diocese of Christchurch. Poor army. I wonder how he lives with the fact that the NZ Army has topped a new global index ranking armed forces for inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexuals and transgender soldiers.
That vile creature probably wants to change this.

By chance I saw the vicar of St Matthews, Archdeacon Stu Crosson, in the same coffee shop as me on Thursday. I felt like pouring my cappuchino over him but that would have been a waste of good coffee.

I knew about St Matthews  before I moved here, they staged a protest at the ordination of Juan Kinnear.  I have since learnt about St Mark’s Balclutha and St Luke’s Mosgiel.  I have heard them called the unholy trinity.

Unlike in Sydney where I had to travel 80 km to find a welcoming Anglican church, the good people of St Matthews can go an extra km or so. Our parish register lists 9 families from Mosgiel although it is 16 km away. I use to wonder why.  Even the poor people of Balclutha can go 25 km to Milton.

Bishop Kelvin let slip "our church was headed for a split, no question about it. I am told that some in our province have already been eyeing up new real estate."

I would be pretty sure it would be one or more of the unholy trinity. At least they do not want to take the silver like those in the USA.
Of course his view has to be different to mine which is “Go and Good riddance”.
The Episcopal Church seems to have weathered the storm and now attracts many from Roman Catholic and other illiberal churches.

In reply to my comment Kelvin wrote:

You are a child of God with an absolutely equal right to your place in the church. If that place involves marriage or ordination, sadly, it will be some time before we can shift the church to where we believe the Holy Spirit will eventually move it. Yes, that time may be too late for you. It will be probably too late for me, also, but it is coming, and it is coming as fast as we can possibly make it.

After much struggle, I came to the belief in the early 80’s that God loved me as he created me.  I do not even need to go to church to know that.  For some unexplainable reasoning I feel the need for regular attendance at communion so will not follow my gut feeling to steer clear of church altogether. My concern is for unchurched LGBT people today. I would never encourage a young person to go to church today. If they are gay that way lies misery.  I do not support church evangelisation but do support social welfare.

I find much more support amongst the other social groups with whom I mix.  They are straight, mostly over 60, but completely accepting.  Of course, most of them never go near church so are not tainted.

I am going to leave my local parish but attend Eucharist at another church which is far more open in acceptance of LGBT people. It is 3 km further but that is hardly here nor there.

I am also looking forward to worshipping in the USA over the next 2 months.  I will have Sundays in Denver, Salt Lake City, Washington (the National Cathedral). On the other 3 Sundays I will be in national parks or travelling.

I wish we had a gutsy Episcopal church in New Zealand.

Comments (something happened and the post was deleted)
Leonardo Ricardo commented
"After much struggle, I came to the belief in the early 80’s that God loved me as he created me. I do not even need to go to church to know that. For some unexplainable reasoning I feel the need for regular attendance at communion so will not follow my gut feeling to steer clear of church altogether. My concern is for unchurched LGBT people today. I would never encourage a young person to go to church today. If they are gay that way lies misery. I do not support church evangelisation but do support social welfare." = Noble Wolf
Powerful, yes, it's true. Imagine ANYONE deciding anything about OUR morals (after all we have been through to sort our character and conduct out over the years and SURVIVE). The haters have just begun the path that leads to soul-self-searching then forgiveness (themselves and from others) 70 years old I no longer have patience for the yammerings and the silly press interviews of Justin Welby, ABC, or the cowardly posturing of the ARchbishop of York...both are caught in the confusion/time-warp of the continued exclusion of LGBTI at Church (no matter how rescrambled to look *welcoming* to ¨Gays¨). Tiresome lot...where have they been for lifetimes? (and what is with +Victoria Matthews?) 

Anonymous commented
I read your comments about St, Matthew's, St Mark's and St. Lukes with some interest, being that I'm a member of St. Mark's. If you really want to find out what we think, come down and meet us. It's really easy to demonise those who don't agree with you when you base your view on assumptions formed from a distance. The ball's in your court.

Cheers - Chris

My reply
I am hardly likely to drive an hour to Balclutha to worship. Friends who know more about the diocese have given me an idea of waht it is like. I moved 3000 km from Sydney to escape evangelical Anglicans. All Saints will suit me much better thank you.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


I watched this video several months ago and was impressed.  Kelvin Holdsworth has just posted it on his blog for the International Day Against Homophobia.  I did not even know it was that day.
It is so true that we are all a little bit homophobic because of the way we are brought up. Yet, when I called another commenter on Anglicandownunder a homophobe, Rev Peter Carrell criticised me. I have not commented there since and only occasionally visit.  As a high school teacher for over 40 years I know what it is like to hide one's sexuality.  I was not very successful.  Recently, in a conversation over coffee with a lady I had only just met, I said I was gay and her reply was "that's obvious dear." Sadly I tried to analyse why.  To my shame I have always felt a little uncomfortable with drag queens. I should admire them for their courage.
Recently I was chatting with a gay man who is in his early 30's.  I said "I do not go into a room and announce I am gay".   His reply "I do".  Sadly, despite my best efforts, I am still the product of  70 years of homophobia.
Anyway try to find 10 minutes to watch the video.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

General Synod & Ma Whea Report

The Bi-annual General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand is commencing this weekend. Although I know 2 people in attendance my local Bishop and my local Vicar (as Vicar-general of the diocese), I will probably learn less than I could about the synods every 6 months in England.
Kelvin Wright is blogging but his blogs are more about his feelings than any specific details. My own Vicar has cut down on use of the internet so not much will be revealed there.
I can learn more from Liturgy although Rev Bosco Peters is not attending.

The Ma Whea report disappointed me as it just gave 10 options for synod to choose without any recommendations.
The options are:
Option A: Affirming Traditional Understanding
Option B: Preserving Present Circumstances
Option C: Bishops to Determine What Equals Right Relationships
Option D: Delegate to Diocesan Synods/Te Runanganui Power to Determine Right Relationships
Option E: Adopt a New Understanding
Option F: The Anglican Church Having Two Views
Option G: Dual Episcopacy
Option H: Planned Dismembering
Option I: Anglican Church to Add a New Rite of Blessing by Priests of Those in a Same Sex Relationship.
Option J: Adopt a Two Year Period of Focussed Discussion within Church Communities with a View to Making a Decision in (say) 2016

 If I was a betting man (which I am not) I would place bets on Option J. As some have said the matter has been discussed for nearly 60 years. No wonder that the main response I hear in my church is laughter. These are people who are not directly affected. I however have reached the end of my tether.

I moved from homophobic Sydney to a diocese where an openly gay partnered man had been ordained.  He is Priest-in-charge of one of our small parishes. he was ordained by the previous bishop but the present bishop would not agree, not for personal beliefs,  but because a moratorium has been declared within the province.  However I have met personally with another partnered LGBT priest and hear of yet a third. I cannot give details but their relationship is known to the bishop and they continue to be licensed.

The wink-wink, nudge-nudge situation is intolerable. I have openly stated that the only official area where I face discrimination in New Zealand is in my church.
I am suppose to be a full member yet if I was to be married it would not be recognised and if I was to ask for ordination it would not be possible (openly).
I am unlikely to want either but I would not recommend any young LGBT person become a member of the church today.
If Option J ( or A or B) is the winner, I plan to withdraw my membership of the church. I believe in the Grace bestowed in the Eucharist so will continue to attend in various churches but I do not want to be officially linked with an officially homophobic institution whatever might be occurring unofficially in  Don't Ask Don't Tell.
I have signed the petition at

There are many moving comments on the petition but one I want to post by Warwick

I was Christened at All Saints Ponsonby and Confirmed at St Lukes Mt Albert.
After 39 years of marriage, the inner struggle was tearing me apart: with a devoted wife, 3 adult children, 9 grandchildren, how could I break out of the societal expectations and test my innermost feelings?
Antidepressants for 20 years went someway to calming me and yet I knew there was a conflict I could no longer deny.
I am now in a same sex relationship of 5 years; we have shown our commitment to each other and our family by Civil Union, but we are denyed open acceptance by our Church governing body.
Surely, God knows who we are, how we feel, accepts us for our difference from a societal dictated majority norm.
We are best friends to each other, we share emotions, family, love of each other and of others.
We plead with the Anglican Church to fight the good fight for multicultural and sexual differences to be recognised as part of God's plan.
Recently I asked the hard question of a clergy in my local area, what should or could be my home church:
"are you an accepting church?"
Response: If you mean accepting of the word of God, then we follow the word of God absolutely: if you mean are we accepting of homosexuals, then again, we follow the word of God."
The result is that my partner and I will not return to St Stephens at Whangaparaoa!
This type of openly practiced judgement and discrimination is out of step with the knowing world; it is a continuation of the old testament dark age fable thinking.
Please Anglican Synod open your eyes, your eras and your hearts and spread the word of a modern loving and forgiving God whom we all want to believ in.
I am sorry that I do no know how to sign this below not being one who has that degree of computer literacy. This is a genuine and sincere, heartfelt response which I would still want to stand up and have recorded.

I have looked up  St Stephen's at Whangaparaoa on the web and there is plenty of evidence that it is an Evangelical church of the Sydney type although in the much more inclusive diocese of Auckland.
 The assistant bishop of Auckland, Jim White is particularly open (for a bishop) on his blog.

I can live with the existence of these type of parishes such as St Matthew's here in Dunedin as long as I never go into them but  I can no longer live with them imposing their narrow hateful beliefs on the rest of the Anglican church.  The attempts of many to accommodate them means LGBT people have no place in the church as it exists.
My comment on the petition
I am sad that the only official area in Aotearoa/New Zeland today where I face discrimination is in the church. In my youth, friends committed suicide as the church taught them they were sinful for what they could not control. Today young people just leave the church. I want to see the church openly welcoming LGBT people both into ministry and blessing their relationships

The comments are well worth reading, some are sad. At last view there were 713 signatures and (from reading the comments) most are in New Zealand.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Camp in the Catlins

A few weeks ago I led our 60+ Rambling Group on a long weekend camp to the Catlins, south of Dunedin. It was planned a few months ago and I was disappointed that it coincided with the visit to Dunedin by Prince William and Princess Katherine. I had an invitation to the service in the Cathedral.
However the camp went well. There were some showers on the Saturday morning but we adjusted our itinerary to suit.

Friday we went to Kaka Point and Nobby's Lighthouse before lunch.

In the afternoon we went to Purakaunui Bay

Then to Purakaunui Falls

Finally to our lodgings in Pounawea.

Saturday we went to the museum in Owaka, then the local cafe for Coffee followed by an Antique shop and Teapot land, returning to Pounawea for lunch.

The afternoon was fine but cool and windy so we walked the Coach track to Papatowai Beach

then to the Matai Falls.

We had dinner at the Lumber Jack Restaurant in Owaka

Sunday was fine but still a cold wind, we drove south to Florence Hill Lookout

then walked to Lake Wilkie and some nearby wetlands.

After Morning Tea we walked to the McLean Falls.

then to the comically named Niagara Falls

Onto the museum at Waikawa and  then Curio Bay.
 and a walk in the nearby woodland

After coffee at the Niagara Tea Rooms we walked over the dunes to Tautuku Bay.

On Monday group photos were taken near our lodgings.

Yes I was the only male.

Then we drove to Jack's Bay and walked to Jack's Blowhole. It was low  tide so not a good viewing of the blowhole but nice scenery.

Our final walk was to Barr's Falls

before visiting the Catlins Soap Factory where we ate our lunches in the grounds

before driving back to Dunedin.