Monday, July 27, 2009

Prostate Cancer and Lung Cancer

Medical science probably hasn't become aware of it, yet, but I have identified a connection between prostate cancer and lung cancer. At this stage my research is just being developed but personal observations about the causative link are very encouraging.

Being on hormone therapy I have a large number of hot flushes a day and have to be able to turn on a fan or take off a jacket or cardigan very quickly to cool down. In a stuffy room for a large meeting or a party the best thing to do at this time of the year is to slip outside into the cool, still night air for a few minutes.

And what do I find out there these days? I am exposed to a gaggle of smokers polluting the environment with their exhaled carcinogens. If I dare breathe in while cooling off from the side effects of the therapy for one kind of cancer I am exposing myself to the risk of contracting another.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

On leaders...

Not long after we came to Paihia I planted a metre-high kauri tree in our bush below the house. It has grown quickly for a long-lived native and is now seven or eight metres high. But perhaps it has grown too vigorously. Some time ago, its central stem or "leader" got broken off in a storm. For a young conifer, that’s disastrous damage.
Will it now develop a new shoot from the centre or will one of the surrounding branchlets grow inwards and take its place? Or will the side stem and a revived central stem grow up side by side making our stately tree into a double-leadered freak, perpetually vulnerable to a complete split? Is it possible that the other outside branches will all compete to do the same so that the tree becomes a kind of multiple-header absolutely alien from its destiny?
I am watching it with much more than a little interest. And I’m reflecting on the possibility that, whatever happens this season or next, if our tree is recovered from some swamp 40,000 years after the Great Warming of the 26th Century the growth rings in its cross section will tell the story of what transpired in our front bush in 2008. The scar and the tree’s triumph or failure in dealing with the accident will be locked into its history.

I wonder what it tells us now about small churches which opt for a strategy of ministry based on just one leader?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Go Waiheke!

I have just heard on the news that the commission on Auckland "Super City" will be listening to the locals at Waiheke Island today.

The news item said that what Waiheke people want is their own local Board with its own Budget. I hope they make the case confidently and with a lot of persuasion. They are asking for the right thing.

Local communities, especially those as distinctive as Waiheke or Paihia, ought to have more say in their affairs. And the ultimate responsibility is money. Local Boards with local budgets.

Go for it, Waiheke!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rhodo time again!

It’s a bright and cheerful sunny morning here but of course it’s midwinter. And we have sure known that in the last few days.
Nevertheless, in the midst of the gales that have thrashed Northland and the month’s rainfall that we had in less than a day, one of our bush garden rhododendrons has burst its first buds. Right on time, second week in July, year after year.
But not both bushes. Another, apparently identical, will open its first flowers twelve days later.

How do they do that? What tells them that storm or sun, freezing or burning hot, today is the day to start opening up? And how is it that these two otherwise identical bushes are on different time schedules?
The natural world is full of such mysteries and we fail to see most of them. This tiny splash of colour outside our lounge window each winter reminds me of the mystery of my own living and dying. I am invited to open up my life and to celebrate my being and to invite others to do the same.
I’ll go out on the deck and see if I can get you a photo. Celebrate your life!

Friday, July 10, 2009

In and Out of Sync

Once when we were making a video of a important visiting lecturer at St Johns-Trinity in the 1980s we had a microphone failure and the entire tape had no sound on it. We did have an audiocassette of the same lecture so we put the sound from that onto the video. In the trade they say, “Oh, we’ll just fix it in post”, i.e. post-production in the studio after the shoot. Easy enough, you might think?
But in our case, everything except occasional shots of the audience required us to match the sound exactly to the lecturer’s image. It’s called “lip sync”. The problem was that even when we started off with picture and sound exactly “in sync”, the transport mechanism of the audio cassette was less precise than the video system. So, after a few seconds we would have to stop, back up and “get in sync” again. It took about ten hours of intensive work to “fix” this one lecture.
Life in the small church is a bit like that, only much more complex. Indeed the life of each individual is full of issues which have to be balanced and fitted together and made to run harmoniously. And when they get out of sync you sometimes have to start over.
But the great thing about the faith community and people of faith is that you can always stop, re-align everything and start again. That’s what saves the situation. Call it salvation if you like.
I think if my life story is ever published it’s going to be called “In and Out of Sync”.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

“So help me, God”

I have spent most of the last two days in Liquor Licensing Hearings and I think that of all the witnesses who were sworn in I was the only one who declined to swear on the Bible.
I take the Bible much more seriously than as a tool to ensure that people tell the truth. I think it is little short of ridiculous to ask people, for whom the Bible means nothing, to take it in their hands and swear that the God of the Bible will help them to tell the truth.
It is not just ridiculous. As a Christian, I feel that my faith is demeaned when the central story on which it is based is used in this way. It is offensive. I reject the idea that God can apparently be invoked by the State to persuade people to “swear” to be truthful.
I resent the monocultural implication of automatically offering the Bible in official Courts of this land in which all religions are supposed to have equal places in the sun.
So, on both occasions I testified, I declined to pick up the Bible. And the State has an answer: there was a simple and unambiguous statement asking me to “declare” that I would tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
And that I cheerfully declared. And went on to introduce myself and my occupation as a retired minister.

Nobody seemed to notice any possible irony.