Friday, June 9, 2017

Election Thoughts: "a country made for angels, not for men"

A beautiful winter morning in Dunedin: it is not as cold as we normally expect; not a breath of wind; this stillness; this calm clear light; this reach from hills to sea; and this little city with our harbour mill-pond of the moment – all this at a glance transcends thought and touches prayer. There is a kind of directness in such prayer: at its core is a surge in the heart, a sense of love and gratitude at something so freely given.

From such awareness come a sense of responsibility and recollection of one of poet James K Baxter’s early lines about this land – “a country made for angels not for men.” On such a morning that is a kind of truth that strikes the heart and holds me still - just wondering.

In an election year I ask what kind of country does one long for?  More than that, what dreams do others hold – and what possibilities might be on the cusp of realisation if we could just see them?  This is the heady stuff of a lifetime ago; of student talk in the pub; but also of hopes and dreams never quite lost, what Yeats called the rag and bone shop of the heart, and what I call the kingdom that is yet to come.

How may we imagine the future for this land and if we think of a trajectory that is the future is there also a trajectory for our deepest hopes and where may these lines meet?  That is more than mere dreaming; something I judge a primary spiritual task as our thinking and our prayers shape us and even start to shape something beyond us.

Which brings me to the point that I want to engage the Cathedral in for this election year: this Sunday evening on TVNZ1 at 8.30 pm and for 5 consecutive nights (11-15 June) there is a programme developed with the University of Auckland, featuring various ‘Futurists’.  The programme is called ‘What Next’ and, managed by Nigel Latta and John Campbell,  will consider the following questions: 1. Your Future and Technology; 2.The Future of our Environment; 3. The Future of our economy; 4. The Future of our Lifestyles.  Underlying all these questions are primary theological questions and I can’t wait to see how these issues are discussed and, in turn, what theological reflections will be raised for us.

So, in a word, I encourage the Cathedral community to watch these programs, take notes and ask how this program raises questions that I as a person of faith should address and reflect further on.  This is especially relevant as we near Social Services Sunday and our General Election in September.

Of course – who knows how this show will work – I don’t see any theologians in the Think Tank!  That does not matter, it is enough if we get jolted into thinking more deeply and engage in conversation.  The Think Tank will go live on Facebook if you want to check that out - Futurist Think Tank, check it out on TVNZ.

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