Christchurch Shattered.

Canterbury is dear to my heart, as I lived there from 2001 to 2010, working for HP for most of that time and attending the large Vineyard church. One of my friends and colleagues is trained in Urban Search and Rescue and is understandably busy. Unfortunately I have only heard from a few of my other friends so I fear for the safety of those who are not replying. As I’m based in Auckland these days about the only thing I can do is donate and pray, but I might fly down there when things calm down a bit to offer some support if possible.

This video was dedicated to the Haiti quake victims but the sentiment applies to the crushed city of Christchurch also.

Lyrics:

[…] Said, said, said I remember when we used to sit
In the government yard in Trenchtown
And then Georgie would make the fire light
Log wood burnin’ through the night

Then we would cook cornmeal porridge
Of which I’ll share with you
My feet is my only carriage
So I’ve got to push on through

But while I’m gone
Everything ‘s gonna be alright, everything ‘s gonna be alright
Everything ‘s gonna be alright, everything ‘s gonna be alright
Everything ‘s gonna be alright, everything ‘s gonna be alright
Everything ‘s gonna be alright, everything ‘s gonna be alright
[…]

So woman no cry, no, no woman no cry
Oh, my little sister, don’t shed no tears
No woman no cry

I remember when we use to sit
In the government yard in Trenchtown
And then Georgie would make the fire lights
As it was, log would burnin’ through the nights

Then we would cook cornmeal porridge
Of which I’ll share with you
My fear is my only courage
So I’ve got to push on thru

Oh, while I’m gone
No woman no cry, no, no woman no cry
Oh, my little darlin’, don’t shed no tears
No woman no cry,
No woman no cry

Oh my little darlin’, don’t shed no tears
No woman no cry
Little sister, don’t shed no tears
No woman no cry

Psalm 46 is also worth remembering at times like this.

1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

See also:

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On the loss of a friend

Meditation XVII, by John Donne

The church is Catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another.

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
John Donne, Meditation XVII

Martin Luther King, Strength to Love, 1963

Midnight is a confusing hour when it is difficult to be faithful. The most inspiring word that the church must speak is that no midnight long remains. The weary traveller by midnight who asks for bread is really seeking the dawn. Our eternal message of hope is that dawn will come. Our slave foreparents realized this. They were never unmindful of the fact of midnight, for always there was the rawhide whip of the overseer and the auction block where families were torn asunder to remind them of its reality. When they thought of the agonizing darkness of midnight, they sang:

Oh, nobody knows de trouble I’ve seen,
Glory Hallelujah!
Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down,
Oh, yes, Lord,
Sometimes I’m almost to de groun’,
Oh, yes, Lord,
Oh, nobody knows de trouble I’ve seen,
Glory Hallelujah!

Encompassed by a staggering midnight but believing that morning would come, they sang:

I’m so glad trouble don’t last alway.
O my Lord, O my Lord, what shall I do?

Their positive belief in the dawn was the growing edge of hope that kept the slaves faithful amid the most barren and tragic circumstances …
The dawn will come. Disappointment, sorrow, and despair are born at midnight, but morning follows. “Weeping may endure for a night,” says the Psalmist, “but joy cometh in the morning.” This faith adjourns the assemblies of hopelessness and brings new light into the dark chambers of pessimism.
Martin Luther King, Strength to Love

Hat Tip: Tongariro 2008

Easter Songs

[REPOST from 2008]
“Easter Song” was a two minute number that became an anthem of the Jesus movement. Written by Annie Herring in 1972, “Easter Song” was one of those that “just came out,” Annie recalls. “At first, I didn’t think it was much of a song. I loved it, but I didn’t think it was a song for us. I thought it was a choir song. I even said to the Lord, ‘Oh Father, that sounds like a song that a lot of people should sing.’ But with a drum beat and electric organ, Easter Song became the signature tune of the band “2nd Chapter of Acts“. When the band began singing, audiences would grow strangely silent. Some time later, someone approached Annie and said, “We’re really sorry we didn’t applaud — but we’ve never heard music like that before!” Many others expressed that they had never before experienced worship so keenly.

Easter Song

Hear the bells ringing, They’re singing that we can be born again
Hear the bells ringing, They’re singing, “Christ is risen from the dead!”

The angel upon the tombstone said, “He has risen, just as he said.
“Quickly now, go tell his disciples that Jesus Christ is no longer dead!”

Joy to the world! He has risen, Hallelujah! He’s risen, hallelujah! He’s risen, hallelujah!

Youtube: Easter Song performed by The 2nd Chapter of Acts, Phil Keaggy, and “A Band Called David”, in the summer of 1977

Here’s another favourite of mine, by Third Day:

This is arguably U2’s greatest song:

And finally, some serious chillout music with the theme of hope threaded through the Easter message:

Which fifteen books have stuck with you?

Rules:

  • Give yourself no more than 15 minutes think of books you’ve read that remain in your mind, for good or ill.
  • List the first 15 that you think of.
  • Try not to repeat authors!

I am quite a dreamer so my list is pure enjoyment, not much serious stuff..

Jack Kerouac, “On The Road
Antoine St. Exupery, “The Little Prince
Donna Gillespie, “The Light Bearer
Brian Tracy, “Maximum Achievement
Tracy Kidder, “The Soul of a New Machine
Orson Scott Card, “Ender’s Game
Isaac Asimov, “Foundation (series)
Weis and Hickman, “Dragonlance Chronicles
Tolkein, “The Hobbit
Stanley Jaki, “Science and Creation
The Bible
Steven Pinker, “The Blank Slate
Stephen Lawhead, “The Song of Albion (series)
Bill Watterson, “Calvin and Hobbes
Winkie Pratney, “The Nature and Character of God
Niall Ferguson, “Empire
Maurice Gee, “Going West”

Anyone else want to share?

(Hat-tip, Not PC)

Flesh and Blood are GOOD

Christian history has grown increasingly divided and conflicted, flesh-hating, body-despising, woman-fearing, sexually neurotic, and earth ravaging – the litany of consequences of our failure to truly eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Humanity is too long and too tragic to bear at times.

Kings X - Bread and Wine

[We have attempted to solve the mysteries of Christ] as a rational problem. And the effect of all this left-brained rationalising is to sever the Eucharist from its roots, from the ground in which it is nourished, to drive it higher and higher into a latter-day scholastic cloud. And that is where Eucharist, and for that matter the whole of the Christian gospel, has gotten lost – a critical factor in the widespread disillusion with institution-based faith. Like the disciples in Luke’s picturesque account of the Ascension, we are gazing upward, into the skies, looking in the wrong place. “Why do you stand looking up toward heaven?”

I too have assumed that Spirit comes down into matter, after the fashion of the metaphor of the annunciation to Mary, to name just one of many such images. And if Spirit comes down, much as a person of high social status might condescend to visit underlings, it was inevitable that I would assume that the goal of religious life is elevation, ascent, an upwards movement, a rising higher and higher. And many scriptural texts seem to support this strictly one-way traffic in religious intercourse between the human and the Divine. Indeed, even John’s text paradoxically contains this strange little aside which has probably inspired much Christian flesh-hating: “It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless.”

Likewise, many of the church’s prayers, doctrines, rituals, and pious writings lend support to this rocket-ship spiritualising. And the inflating effect of all this is actually devastating, so I have finally recognised. And how I wish that I could undo some of the worst of its consequences in my own life! In fact, flesh is the vital element! Not up-high-in-the-clouds Spirit, but down on the ground flesh! Now I see that at precisely those moments when I have been ‘spiritual’, up high, flesh has invaded. For this is the necessary compensation for an inflated, one-sided, excessively spiritual religion. When our feet are off the ground it is flesh which will save us from ourselves, flesh which will make us whole and complete. This must be why Jesus says that unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood we have no life in us.

And that is precisely the gift and the mystery and the scandal of the Eucharistic sacrifice. We are offered salvation from our one-sidedness, by the eruption of flesh. And not merely the flesh of a 2000 year old historical legend, somehow preserved through memorialising and high piety. The communion Jesus undergoes with himself, eating his own flesh and blood at the last supper, as Saint John Chrysostom observed in the fourth century, is the communion which all humans are invited to undergo. Those who eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Humanity, which is all humanity, will indeed have eternal life 5 – because one-sided and excessive spirit is made whole through the medium of humbling and grounding flesh. In the Eucharist what each of us must eat is not a 2000 year old memorial – as the Book of Common Prayer tragically enshrines – but that part of our own despised fleshiness which we have excluded and rejected.

Extract from “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?“, Fr. David Moore, St Lukes in the City, 23 Aug 2009

John Ralston Saul | The Collapse of Globalism and the Rebirth of Nationalism

Harpers Magazine 2004 | John Ralston Saul | The Collapse of Globalism
Grand economic theories rarely last more than a few decades. Some, if they are particularly in tune with technological or political events, may make it to half a century. Beyond that, little short of military force can keep them in place. The wild open-market theory that died in 1929 had a run of just over thirty years. Communism, a complete melding of religious, economic, and global theories, stretched to seventy years in Russia and forty-five years in central Europe, thanks precisely to the intensive use of military and police force. Keynesianism, if you add its flexible, muscular form during the Depression to its more rigid postwar version, lasted forty-five years. Our own Globalization, with its technocratic and technological determinism and market idolatry, had thirty years.
And now it, too, is dead.

Despite the almost religious certainty with which it was conceived, nation states have not become extinct, international trade has not created real wealth that has spread across society and many dictatorships have not changed into democracies. In this groundbreaking book, the distinguished philosopher John Ralston Saul examines where we go from here. As the hope of global prosperity fades and the problems of immigration, terrorism and the collapsing economy cause the world’s nations to rethink their relationships, Saul’s exhilarating investigation into the collapse of globalism is essential – and timely.
(tags: globalism economy)

Our Place in the Universe

Antennae galaxies
The epochal work of Galileo Galilei still reverberates in the modern mind. It required an iconoclastic temperament to continue asserting his revolutionary ideas in the face of traditional understandings and ecclesial opposition.

The Earth held pre-eminence in the cosmological model of the time. Geocentrism appeared self-evident; the Earth was the great Firmament fashioned directly by God; Man, clearly the apex of all living beings, was formed in the Creator’s image; and History was encompassed entirely in the ancient Scriptures. Galileo’s profound shift relegated Earth and humanity to a peripheral role orbiting the Sun. Galileo’s heliocentrism placed the Sun at the centre of the Universe.

But it got worse than that. Later work (Kepler, Newton) showed that the Sun itself was not the cosmic centre; all bodies in the cosmos are in relative motion. An unknown “Luminiferous Aether” permeating the universe was postulated to represent absolute ‘rest’. The Sun was displaced and Ether was now the ground of all being.

Ether held its place until fairly recently (1887) when Michelson and Morley attempted to measure its effect and came back with null results in every direction. There is no such thing as absolute rest.

Searching farther into the sky than ever before, astronomers showed that Earth pales into utter obscurity beside the Galaxy in which we reside. The Hubble telescope has reduced us by yet more orders of magnitude; our Milky Way is but one grain of sand in a vast glittering skyscape of galaxies, illuminating the cosmic emptiness with their pitiful, short glimmers of life.

The Cosmic Background Radiation, and Big Bang theory, proposed a great Singularity that would serve as a philosophical ‘centre’ of this immeasurable realm. But no, cosmologists deny us even this! There is no centre of the universe — space itself is expanding equally in all directions, as far as we can tell.

Carl Sagan grasped the essence of our very humble place in the universe, when he saw the “Pale Blue Dot” and wrote his famous soliloquy;

On [that pale blue dot], everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings,[ …] every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.”

The mind-blowing scale of the universe, and our vanishingly small role in the immensity of spacetime, is a very significant challenge to the theistic notion that humanity has a special place and a meaningful destiny. The strongest possible theological response is needed, to reaffirm our role and reassure our hearts — It can’t be a knee-jerk defensive reaction (such as Galileo experienced) or a carelessly quoted cliché.
(I’ll be thinking about this in the next few days).

Note: this post is a tangential response to various discussions here, here, and here.