Recent Topics and Materials

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Each week we record a short summary of the material considered and some of the points raised or learnings prompted by it.

We have lost a sense of Mission as traditionally understood in the last 100 years. It’s no longer ‘saving souls’.  It’s something that the church helps, prepares, trains members to do.  We are in a new axial period so there is no clear path as to the future direction of … (read more…)

This challenges the traditional view that forgiveness is the embodiment of the Christian message; in some situations, it is not appropriate eg abuse of children, rape, lack of guilt.  Acknowledged that forgiveness is a laudable and a real Christian characteristic.  Forgiveness allows those … (read more…)

Wangari won the Nobel Peace prize in 2004 for her work in Kenya.  Wangari first came to some prominence when she started a movement (The Green Belt) to address a shortage of firewood for cooking in villages, by simply planting trees.  The villagers collected seeds and propagated them and nurtured … (read more…)

This last chapter starts by considering prayer.  If god in non-interventionist, is prayer a waste of time? We thought not – it clarifies and calms our thoughts, stimulates the brain to a higher consciousness, calms a troubled mind – via the rosary, Taize chants.  Is there some spirit in the … (read more…)

With the backdrop of the Presidential election in the US, we discussed the seemingly dawning of a post-factual, post-truth age; lies are put forward as truth, those that wish to believe do – the rejection by non-believers is not important or relevant.  The lies are ‘revisited/re-interpreted’ … (read more…)

Chapt 8 is titled ‘Stories’.  We are creators of meaning from nature and history.  Reality is only what is perceived by our senses and then ‘interpreted’ by our brain.  (The story of a blind person trying to interpret the form of an elephant through touch.) This led to the thought that … (read more…)

Chapter 7 is titled ‘Back to Humans’ (compared to biology & Physics).   Sharman makes the point that we are much more than our constituent parts, that view is too reductionist, we have self consciousness, sentience.  If the universe is to have meaning does this imply the reality of God?  … (read more…)

These chapters consider the operation of our brains.  Does the brain operate in the coherent, predicable, mathematically way Lionel proposes?  Some brain functions are innate, most from ‘experiences’ – both are stored in the brain.  How much is the brain like a computer – some functions … (read more…)

Lionel identifies 6 features which encourage him to attend church – we couldn’t disagree with any. He poses some searching questions – are events in the universe all determined by cause and effect?  Are our bodies also subject to the same laws as the rest of the universe?  What is the nature … (read more…)

Brian responded to the questions posed very gently, calmly and positively.  These were his views but he wasn’t about to force theses on others or expect others to agree.  He started his Christian journey as an ‘evangelical’ but became unsatisfied with ‘standard answers’ to difficult … (read more…)

We considered Maslow’s hierarchy and its completeness and relevancy in today’s times and society.   How seriously does the church accept the Physiological needs?  Each congregation will (should) react to local needs; there are also national umbrella groups making submissions to Select … (read more…)

The lecture was recorded under the auspices of the St Andrew’s Trust for the Study of Religion and Society, Wellington on 1 September 2014.

Some quotations worth recording:

  • At the bottom of great doubt lies great awakening – no doubt, no awakening!
  • Doubt in any area of … (read more…)

This is one of a 3 part theme of Meyer’s which is also the theme of a book of the same name.  The 3 aspects are Resistance to Ego, to Orthodoxy, to Empire.

Jesus is Lord ie Caesar is not.  Jesus’ mission was to challenge the established ‘church’ and its acquiescence to Roman rule.  … (read more…)

The search for ‘truth’ somewhat counters the need for ‘faith’.  If one knows the truth one doesn’t need to have faith to believe – one already knows.  Faith is built up by experience, so one’s life and work and experiences shape our views on what is true/truth.  When one steps out … (read more…)

The key point Ehrman makes in this lecture is that if the context is different the meaning of words change.  As an example “I love this course’ can be interpreted in the context of a golf course, a course of study, a meal course, a river course.  By emphasising the word ‘love’ it could … (read more…)

The accompanying notes to first first lecture include: ‘The New Testament is undoubtedly the single most important book in the history of Western civilisation, whether seen as a religious book of faith or as a cultural artefact.  It is probably also the most widely disputed and misunderstood.’ … (read more…)

This book has a provocative title and is part of a series of “How to be a Bad ….” where ‘Bad’ has the implication of being non-conformist compared with the established behaviours of the particular book’s subject matter.  In this case the author’s position is to expose the differences … (read more…)

As a change from discussion, we watched the film ‘The Visitor’.  This is a moving account of ill-legal immigrants, who had been in the country for a number of years, apprehended after a no-fault incident, held in a detection centre and eventually deported despite the best attempts of friends … (read more…)

We are not as open a society as we once were – witness the demise of front-facing verandas (moved to the great privacy of the back garden) to be replaced by (automatic) garage doors and or 1.8m high fences with keypad operated gates.

We acknowledged that the idealistic image of veranda-sitting … (read more…)

We considered the similarities and differences between dining at Know college and the work of Mother Teresa’s order in Kolkata.  Both offer hospitality involving serving and receiving, start with prayer, are communities with a spiritual dimension, discussion and person-to-person interaction takes … (read more…)

We explored some examples of ‘hospitality’ – suggestions included welcoming, acceptance, open, being active, social, interactive, spending time.  We acknowledged that hospitality is easier to express with people we know.  How to offer hospitality with neighbours and people we don’t know?  … (read more…)

We enjoyed a light hearted discussion of our best loved/remembered symbols, carols and mementos of Christmas’s past. Our memories are sometimes very different reflecting north/south hemispheres and cultural practices.  Underlying all were the common themes of love, joy, peace and hope embodied, … (read more…)

Prejudice and Bias: Us vs Them

  • natural among humans: People are swayed by feelings toward their own ethnic group

Holocaust – was this the result of a tragic flaw on Germans? Exaggeration of what is normal in all of us

 

Stereotypes- not arbitrary

– based on … (read more…)

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