All posts by Clay Nelson

It’s hard to be a humble Unitarian

with Rev. Clay Nelson

It’s hard to be a humble Unitarian
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Clay Nelson © 15 November 2020

A year before jumping from Anglicanism to Unitarianism, I exchanged pulpits for three months with the priest in an Anglican Church in Barcelona. It was not easy for either me or the congregation, for they were of the evangelical branch of Anglicanism. They were quite certain of their conservative Christian beliefs and were none too happy that their vicar had foisted a heretic from New Zealand on them.

It turns out they have Google in Spain too.

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The elections are over. Phew! Now what?

with Rev. Clay Nelson

The elections are over. Phew! Now what?
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Clay Nelson © 8 November 2020

My advertised title for today’s musing was “The elections are over. Phew! Now what?”. After the predictably chaotic US election I think a better title would have been “The elections are over. Phooey! Now what?” But. upon reflection, I am now leaning towards “The elections are over. It was a curate’s egg”.

You may not be familiar with the phrase. I wasn’t before coming to New Zealand. It goes back to a cartoon published in Punch by the Victorian era’s most celebrated cartoonist, George du Maurier, grandfather of novelist Daphne du Maurier. The cartoon shows two clerics having breakfast. One is a bishop and the other is a curate, the lowest of the low in Anglican Church hierarchy. The bishop apologises to the curate, “I’m afraid you got a bad egg. Mr Jones.” To which the curate responds, “Oh no, my lord. I assure you parts of it were excellent!” The joke of course is that if part of a boiled egg is bad, all of it is bad.

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Leaving a Mark

with Rev. Clay Nelson

Leaving a Mark
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‘Faded coat of blue’ by John H MacNaughton (1865)

My brave lad sleeps in his faded coat of blue
In a lone solemn grave lies the heart that beat so true
He fell faint and hungry among the valiant brave
And they laid him sad and lonely within his nameless grave

He cried, “Give me water and just one little crumb
And my mother she will bless you in the many days to come
Oh! tell my sweet sister, so gentle, good and true
That I’ll meet her up in heaven, in my faded coat of blue.”

No more the bugle calls the weary one
Rest, lonely spirits in thy grave unknown
I’ll know you and find you among the good and true
When the robe of white is given for the faded coat of blue

Long, long years have vanished, and though he comes no more
Yet my anxious heart will start with each footfall at my door
I gaze over the hillside where he waved his last adieu
But no gallant lad I see, in his faded coat of blue

No more the bugle calls the weary one
Rest, lonely spirits in thy grave unknown
I’ll know you and find you among the good and true
When the robe of white is given for the faded coat of blue

Clay Nelson © 1st November 2020

It might strike you as odd that I open these musings with a lamentation on what most of Christendom celebrates today as All Saints’ Day. Faded coat of blue was a folk song written by J. H. MacNaughton following Gettysburg, the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War. I do so because it is about remembering. Ultimately All Saints’, All Souls’, Samhain, Dia de la muerte, the Buddhist celebration of Obon in Japan, Chuseok in Korea, Gai Jatra in Nepal, Pchum Ben in Cambodia, and Hungry Ghost Month celebrated by Taoists and Buddhists all centre on remembering the dead.

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Plaguing Interruptions Redux

with Rev. Clay Nelson

Plaguing Interruptions Redux
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Clay Nelson © 25th October 2020

As I shared last Sunday, there are times when the preacher loses control of his talk, not unlike a wild horse taking the bit in their teeth, hellbent to go where they will. Last week was a wild ride like that. While surprised to have my intended journey interrupted I was not unhappy where my musings took me. I saw some unexpected sights. Even so, I am going to try again to reach my intended destination.

Like many of us I have spent considerable time thinking about how Covid has changed the future both in the short term and for the long term. I don’t have a crystal ball for this task. And if I did, this being 2020, it would malfunction: Filling with smoke before rolling to the floor and smashing into smithereens. What I do have is current events and, more importantly, history to offer insights.

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Plaguing Interruptions

with Rev. Clay Nelson

Plaguing Interruptions
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Clay Nelson © 18th October 2020

I find myself feeling a little more at peace this morning. We have once again eliminated Covid 19 from the community. And the election season that felt like it would never end is now over for another three years. Perhaps now life can go back to the way it was, a 2019 normal. Phew! I wasn’t sure how much more I could take, for neither pandemics nor elections necessarily bring out our better angels.

But who am I kidding? We will never turn back the calendar. The way it was has been irretrievably interrupted by a plague of biblical proportions. How will it play out? It is a question that has been explored as long as there have been pandemics.

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