• Transitional Church

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/adselwood/4378869850/

    I guess there is hardly anyone in New Zealand who has not heard some part of the debate about the future of Christchurch Cathedral, and probably most of them have an opinion. It’s good that all of Christchurch regards the building well, but it’s clearly been a double-edged sword for decision-makers. Most churches just have to serve the needs of the people who worship there, and the rest of the population are happy to ignore them, scoff at them, leave them alone or otherwise treat them as they choose.

    And I guess that the people of Christchurch too, have generally been happy to ignore the spiritual function of their landmark while it got on with adding to the church of God. But it was visible, and indicative of history, and when its owners had to decide what they should do, the people had an opinion. Or several.

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  • Whose World?

    This month marked the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic, lost along with 1517 lives in April 1912. I was reminded of it by a piece of classroom work a girl was doing about it.

    It’s remarkable how the Titanic has stayed in the public mind. It’s not history’s greatest maritime disaster — it’s actually number 5, with the greatest single loss of life just on three times the Titanic’s. So, why the fascination still?

    The girl’s teacher had an interesting insight. “Gripping story,” she said. “It’s a whole combination of tragedy, romance, remoteness and I don’t know what else. Hubris, heroism — you name it.”

    I guess that’s equally true of most disasters. But among her quick-fire snapshots, I especially noticed hubris. It’s not a word you hear every day. It means pride; specifically, the sort of pride that makes you act as if you were God.

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  • Turning to God from idols

    And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia — your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God — I Thessalonians 1:7-9.

    Gurung was born into a family of Gurkha warriors in a small village under the shadow of Mount Everest and, as he grew up, he learned to trust in the power of the “kukri” sword that his father had placed in his hand when he was just a lad. With his other hand he also learned to spin the prayer wheels in the Buddhist monastery near his house, fully believing that every spin of the wheel would carry his prayers to God and ensure him a safe and prosperous life. But neither the kukri sword nor the prayer wheels brought him the good karma that he longed for. The sword soon provoked fights and got him into increasing trouble with his neighbours and, however hard he spun the prayer wheel, he could not seem to find any way out of his problems. Gradually he descended into depression and another god — “Rakshi”, or Nepali whiskey, came into his life and took it over. Slowly his health deteriorated and eventually he landed up in hospital.

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