All posts by Clay Nelson

Seeking Shalom: An ancient spiritual quest

with Rev. Clay Nelson

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Clay Nelson © 16th November 2018

I recently finished a fantasy novel. I used to think the genre met my needs for escape literature. Sometimes it does but often it invites me into nearly obsessive theological reflection. This particular novel did the latter. It had the prerequisite number of dragons, warlocks, mythical characters to capture my imagination. There were super villains and great heroes. As the novelist is a woman, there were at least as many women heroes as men — a refreshing change. There was another unexpected feature to the characters. The heroes were flawed and some had done horrible deeds in their past. The villains, on the other hand, were at times unexpectedly noble and self-sacrificing. Continue reading Seeking Shalom: An ancient spiritual quest

Is Free Speech Free?

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Clay Nelson © 9th September 2018

In 1964 I was 15, living in a remote community high in the Colorado Rockies. It had a been a tough year. We were still in grief over the assassination of JFK. We were beginning to grow more concerned about our increasing involvement in Vietnam’s civil war. But we had our diversions. The Beatles had just taken the US by storm. We just wanted to hold their hand and forget our troubles. Where I lived we were pretty isolated. We could almost ignore the rest of the world. But as we were preparing to get ready for the local fall college and high school football seasons, even our two TV channels couldn’t leave us in peace. September 1, we began getting news reports of student unrest at the University of California, Berkeley. This was something new. As both my parents had attended Berkeley, it caught our attention. News media and general public opinion were not positive. The students were demanding free speech. Of all the nerve! They must be unpatriotic trouble-making communists. General support was with the university’s efforts to stop their efforts to organise political demonstrations outside the gates of the university. They were accused of irresponsible free speech and not following the rules of those in power.

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Popping the Bubble

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Includes (at 4:50) an update from Paul Henriques on the Peace and Social Justice Group’s Dyslexia Aid Project in Samoa.

Clay Nelson © 2nd September 2018

I read recently that 96% of Unitarians in America now identify as Democrats. I’m not sure how reliable that figure is, but it sounds about right, especially after the last election. Those who were repelled by candidate Trump were stunned that he was now their president. They sought to make sense of this outcome and to find comfort with others wanting to live in denial of the reality of a President Trump. So, attendance at Unitarian churches shot up in the aftermath of the election. I blame their shock on their Facebook newsfeeds. All their friends agreed with them that Americans would never elect him. The people who supported him weren’t numbered amongst their Facebook friends. How could they take seriously anyone who watched Fox News and quoted Sean Hannity?

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Passing the Flame 2.0

with Rev. Clay Nelson

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Clay Nelson © 19th August 2018

In preparing for this Sunday I made the mistake of looking at what I said the last time we welcomed new members. It was a mistake because I pride myself in never using a sermon a second time, but I have decided that much of it bears repeating. (Apparently pride goeth before the fall.) The reason being, declaring yourself a Unitarian comes with a problem. Friends and relatives, or just about anyone in New Zealand you meet who learns you are a Unitarian will ask you what is that and what do they believe. While other religions evolve over time, they consider that the revelations that began them as fixed and final in the past, never changing. But oh no, not Unitarians. We consider ours to be a living tradition. The truths we pursue are continuing to unfold. So, how to answer the question, “What is a Unitarian?” requires acknowledging the answer is constantly changing. Continue reading Passing the Flame 2.0

Down the Rabbit Hole

with Rev. Clay Nelson

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Clay Nelson © 12th August 2018

Reading: Jabberwocky

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Many observers of the Age of Trump liken it to an Orwellian dystopia—a perfectly sound metaphor, I agree. However, I prefer another author. My father was a lover of words. The complete Oxford English Dictionary or OED was at his fingertips whenever he was writing articles, a book or a lecture. But also, readily at hand, were the works of Lewis Carroll. Continue reading Down the Rabbit Hole