“In the 1980s New Zealand took to neo-liberal orthodoxy with a vengeance. People were told that there would be pain before they would enjoy the gains of a dynamic new economy. It was an orthodoxy that celebrated the markets, profit and risk.
Law Professor Jane Kelsey says that in New Zealand deregulation went so far, and so fast, New Zealand became known as the Wild West of financial markets. The FIRE economy – that is finance, insurance and real estate – is now the principal source of wealth creation.
Scouring the records of data, surveys and commercial information over the years Kelsey has put together a forensic account of just why this is the case, and what it might mean for the future, and the alternatives..."
You’ll find the July 2015, 30-min conversation here.
“It is impossible to a fortune-teller, but we do need to try and understand the forces shaping our future and adapt according. Otherwise we are in big trouble…”
You’ll find the often-humorous 54-min conversation with Hajkowisz here. His view on the future of bookshops and the importance of face-to-face community is thought provoking.
What struck me about both conversations was the need think and engage a lot more broadly than the typically too; to see the holistic and interconnected nature of all of reality. I wondered too around how we might weave a theological perspective into this large and interconnected reality we live in.
“Barbara Brown Taylor is a New York Times bestselling author, professor, and Episcopal priest. She has served on the faculty of Piedmont College as the Butman Professor of Religion and Philosophy since 1998, and has released such widely praised books as Leaving Church and Learning to Walk in the Dark. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Barbara and Sounds True's Tami Simon speak about appreciating the power of divine absence as well as divine presence. They talk about the value of becoming familiar with darkness and a “lunar spirituality” inspired by walking beneath the light of the moon. Finally, Tami and Barbara discuss the modern predilection toward busyness and how a dedicated Sabbath day can help alleviate the stress of everyday life. (54 minutes)”
You’ll find the podcast here. My favourite Barbara Brown Taylor book? Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith (pub. 2007). I’ve yet to read her Learning to Walk in the Dark, but have had a look through the book and warm to its themes.
I picked up and am in the process of reading Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes by Margaret Heffernan, and published by TED (pub. 2015). It’s a book about culture change, a book that takes seriously the importance of social capital, the weakness of hierarchies, the physicality of thinking, and workplaces as complex systems.
While written for a business audience, it has much wider application and could be profitably read by church leaders, not for profits etc.
You can watch Heffernan deliver her latest TED talk (May 2015) below:
Scripture points to the human body and lived experience as the preeminent arena of God’s continuing revelation in the world, says Luke Timothy Johnson. Attentively discerning the manifestations of God’s Spirit in and through the body is essential for theology to recover its nature as an inductive art rather than -- as traditionally conceived -- a deductive science.
Willingness to risk engaging actual human situations -- as opposed to abstract conceptualizations of those situations -- is required of the theologian, Johnson argues. He celebrates the intimations of divine presence and power in such human experiences as play, pain, pleasure, work, and aging, showing how theology can respond faithfully to the living God only by paying due attention to human bodily experience.”
To be published in August 2015.
-- Fordham University
“This beautiful book focuses like a laser on a theology of the body in the concrete. Laced with deep knowledge of Scripture and salted with personal experience, it makes the interesting case that the movement of God’s Spirit is expressed not only grandly in public events but also simply through events of the body. The human body -- at play, in pain or pleasure, at work, being exceptional, aging -- is a locus of divine revelation, and theology would do well to begin from that place. . . . Truly a gift from a wise elder.”
Busy times, but I got a chance last week to listen to this fascinating interview last week:
“Lionel Corbett is a professor of depth psychology at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, California. Drawing from the works of C.G. Jung, Lionel focuses on the integration of psychology and spirituality into a seamless whole. With Sounds True, Lionel has published the audio series Spirituality Beyond Religion: The Direct Experience of the Sacred. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Lionel and Tami Simon talk about numinous experiences and what they say about humanity’s innate need for a connection to the spiritual. They also speak on the role of suffering in our lives and how it can be seen as a call to move toward our respective destinies… (53 minutes)”
“Dementia affects more than 342,000 Australians - and many other people besides — their loved ones, their friends, and their carers. So what happens to people when they lose a sense of their selves? Can anything be done to help them reconnect with things that matter to them, like spirituality?
Dr John Swinton is one of the world's leading thinkers on this subject, what's called 'disability theology'. His practice stems from the belief that even though it may look to us like our loved one has gone, they haven't gone — the self is still there, it's just the expression of it that's changed. He says disability theology helps us to see properly what it means to be a human being, and that to be human is much more interesting and complicated than the simplistic way that culture tells us it should be.
Dr John Swinton is Professor in Practical Theology and Pastoral Care in the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen. He's the author of several books on dementia and theology, including 'Dementia: Living in the Memories of God', and he was in Australia recently as part of his new position with the independent Christian charity HammondCare, who he's helping to develop new practice in theology and spirituality for people living with dementia…”
Podcast here (ABC Local, Sunday Nights). Aired 12th July 2015.
Internationally acclaimed activist-theologian Brian McLaren visits New Zealand in August 2015.
Brian McLaren, internationally acclaimed speaker, author, activist and public theologian will be visiting New Zealand from 1 to 10 August 2015. He will be speaking in Auckland, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Wellington, and Christchurch.
Mr. McLaren frequently finds himself in the firing line for his often provocative vision of what it means to be a Christian in the 21st century. His was an early evangelical voice for the Church to engage in some of the key concerns of the day: poverty and resource distribution, ecological degradation, inter-religious conflict, peace, reconciliation and military spending, LGBT equality, and other social justice issues.
Mr. McLaren is a noted spokesperson for the Emerging Church, a faith movement that questions many of the expressions of belief of traditional Christianity. He says he is not advocating for a new set of beliefs, but rather a “new way of believing”. Instead of narrow doctrinal wrangling,
Mr. McLaren is calling for a rediscovering of the Jesus of the Bible in a fresh and liberating way.
Mr. McLaren is the guest of The Smallternative Trust, a New Zealand-based relief and development agency. “We are privileged to host a thinker of the calibre of Brian McLaren, and look forward to engaging all New Zealanders in thought-provoking conversations,” said Rob Kilpatrick, managing director of The Smallternative Trust.
AUCKLAND SUNDAY, 2 AUGUST Sunday Services Venue: The Upper Room, 10A Clayton Street, Newmarket, Auckland Times: 8.30am, 10am, 6pm More information: Mark Pierson, 021 815 303 / firstname.lastname@example.org Entry: Free
AUCKLAND TUESDAY, 4 AUGUST Evening Conversation Venue: Greenlane Christian Centre, 17 Marewa Rd, Greenlane, Auckland Time: 7pm – 9pm Registration & more information: Eric Holmes, email@example.com Entry: Donation / Koha $10
NEW PLYMOUTH MONDAY, 3 AUGUST Dinner and conversation with Brian McLaren Venue: New Plymouth West Baptist Church, 144 South Rd, Spotswood, New Plymouth Time: 6pm Registration & more information: firstname.lastname@example.org New Plymouth West Church: www.westbaptist.org.nz
HAMILTON WEDNESDAY, 5 AUGUST “Convermersion” (Immersion in conversation) Venue: Hamilton South Baptist Church, 131 Ohaupo Rd, Melville, Hamilton Time: 9am – 5pm Registration & more information: email@example.com South Baptist Church: www.hamsouthbaptist.org.nz
Please do not let the word "mystic" scare you. It simply means one who has moved from mere belief systems or belonging systems to actual inner experience. All spiritual traditions agree that such a movement is possible, desirable, and available to everyone. The experience of divine union is the goal of all religion.
The spiritual wisdom of divine union is first beautifully expressed in Sanskrit in the Vedas (the oldest Hindu text, around three thousand years old) as a "grand pronouncement": Tat Tvam Asi. This phrase contains condensed wisdom that could likely be translated in the following ways:
YOU are That!
You ARE what you seek!
THOU art That!
THAT you are!
You are IT!
As I understand it, the meaning of this saying is that the True Self, in its original, pure, primordial state, is wholly or partially identifiable or even identical with God, the Ultimate Reality that is the ground and origin of all phenomena. That which you long for, you also are. In fact, that is where the longing comes from.
Longing for God and longing for our True Self are the same longing. And the mystics would say that it is God who is even doing the longing in us and through us (that is, through the divine indwelling, or the Holy Spirit). God implanted a natural affinity and allurement between God's Self and all God's creatures.
Religion has only one job description: how to make one out of two. For Christians, that is "the Christ Mystery," whereby we believe God overcame the gap from God's side. God is saying in all incarnations that "I am not totally Other. I have planted some of me in all things that long for reunion." It is mimicked and mirrored in erotic desire and the sexual pairing of animals and plants. The biblical Song of Songs, Rumi, Hafiz, Kabir, and John of the Cross could use only highly erotic images to communicate their mysticism. Any notion of God as the "absolute other" will create only absolute alienation. Add to that any notion of God as petty, angry, or torturing, and the mystical journey is over. So God created similarity and compassion in the human person to overcome this tragic gap. God-in-you seeks, knows, and loves God, like a homing device that never turns off.
“Indie filmmaker Patrick Shen has made several award-winning documentaries, including Flight From Death (2003), a look at the human longing for immortality, and La Source (2012), an inspiring tale of an ordinary custodian’s efforts to provide his hometown in Haiti with clean drinking water. But it’s his current project that caught my eye: In Pursuit of Silence, a meditative film about the importance of silence for human beings — and the increasing noise that is drowning out silence in postmodern life…”
~ Carl McColman (from a written interview with the film’s director Patrick Shen, here).
Trailer (you might want to use headphones to listen – or, ironically, turn the volume right up)
You might also enjoy this brief article by Pico Iyer. Also his excellent column, The Joy of Quiet.
From the lads at Nomad, a podcast featuring New Testament scholar / historian / author N.T. Wright:
“…Tom Wright is unquestionably one of the most influential NT scholars of our generation. It’s hard to overestimate the influence he has had on the Church’s understanding of Jesus and Paul.
But what makes this great man tick? We asked you what you’d like to know about the man behind the theology. As a result, we ended up asking him everything from what his favourite childhood book was, to how he manages his work/life balance, through to which three people he’d most like to invite to dinner!”
This conversation was aired June 25th, 2015. Available as a downloadable podcast here (with links the previous Nomad conversations with NT. Wright). For articles, lectures etc by Wright go here.
A friend recently introduced me to the writing of psychologist John Amodeo PhD. Consequently I managed to track down a podcast so that I could have a listen and get a sense of where he’s coming from, and his areas of skill and insight. It was an interesting listen.
Interviewer: Now you say ‘spirituality’ is a hazardous word. What’s your definition or understanding of spirituality?
John Amodeo: The word spirit comes from the word breath. To me spirituality means being alive, being connected to what is, in the aliveness of being connected to life. So it’s not a spirituality where you’re just developing this serene disconnect... this kind of sereneness, this inner quiet that’s disconnected from relating. To me spirituality’s about connection, connecting with something beyond our ego, connecting with something larger than our self…
… People often think suffering is created by attachment which is simply what we’re learning now from neuroscience and how we’re wired is that we’re wired for connection. We don’t do well without loving, caring human connections. Our immune system suffers, our immune system doesn’t do as well, we’re not as happy. So, yeah, we’re wired for connection and a lot of suffering comes because we’re not attached in a healthy way to other people. Maybe the word we need to use here is ‘connected.’ Spiritual people tend to not like the word attached but what it really is, is connected. Suffering is caused by non-connection. It’s not caused by connection; it’s caused by non-connection, or non-attachment if you prefer that word. You know it’s a way to be healthily attached, healthily connected to other people, that’s beautiful and that’s a legitimate human desire. Not to be transcended but to be engaged with, to work with it, or I prefer to say, engage with it…”
You’ll find the downloadable podcast here, and the transcript (PDF) here.
I’ve long loved Palme d'Or winner Jane Campion’s Oscar-winning film The Piano. The film, which is set in New Zealand, is a thoughtful, multi-layered story full of rich and evocative image, symbol, and myth.
Many of the symbols and images have remained with me since I first saw the film, back in 1993. I walked the beach (which features in the opening scenes) last year, and again the story came flooding back to me. Much was evoked much as I walked and reflected on my own life.
I recently enjoyed reading a paper by Donald Williams, a Jungian Analyst from Boulder, Colorado. It’s a fascinating read and adds a lot to my experience of the film and the ways some of the themes and characters play out thematically in my own life.
Accordingly, I thought I’d share it for those interested in the film, and in particular a Jungian engagement with it. Interestingly Campion recently stated that her preferred ending was for Ada to drown after having been pulled over the side of a small boat by her piano. I’m pleased this ending didn’t make the film. I needed the hope that was present in the actual cinematic ending. It would have been too bleak otherwise.
Here’s the opening paragraph of Williams’ paper:
“Jane Campion says of THE PIANO, "I think that the romantic impulse is in all of us and that sometimes we live it for a short time, but it's not part of a sensible way of living. It's a heroic path and it generally ends dangerously." Certainly American culture shares this romantic impulse, and despite the Victorian setting of The Piano, we are no less isolated, constricted, even contorted, than the characters animating Jane Campion's film. We want to hear stories of passion but most of us learned to smooth over conflicts, to mute our excitement, and to express our sexual and loving selves guiltily or immaturely. Our values and impulses are as tangled as any Victorian tale. As a culture we value compassion and "good works" but we reward self-aggrandizing ambition. We value independence but reward the corporate deferential self. We champion individualism but submit to work in cubicles and go home to confining cells of credit card debt. We seek liberation from isolation and emptiness through the acquisition of money and consumer distractions, and when security and purchased pleasures fail to satisfy us, the fear of emptiness prompts a renewed, often more costly pursuit of happiness… The Piano holds a mirror to our constricted lives while at the same time sparking a silent burning will to feel passionately alive and to love fully…”
“Society rewards the assertive, the charismatic and the vocal. Our workspaces and classrooms are geared towards the idea that creativity is a result of group work or what author Susan Cain calls group think. But is it really the extrovert who comes up with all the good ideas.
Susan Cain argues that solitude is a crucial ingredient in the creative process and she laments that we’re under-valuing it. As she points out, as many as one third of us are introverts yet for years this entire section of the population has been told that the very foundation of their personality is a character flaw.”
You can find the 50min podcast (from ABC Big Ideas) here (originally aired in 2012). I featured Susan’s TED talk back in 2013 (here). For a brief explanation of the difference between Introversion and avoidant personalities have a listen here.