All posts by Clay Nelson

The need for identity

with Rev. Clay Nelson

The need for identity
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Clay Nelson © 12 May 2019

When the man stopped for the amber light as he legally should instead of gunning through the intersection trying to beat the red light, the woman behind him laid on her horn, opened her window screaming abuse at him while giving him the universal finger of outrage for preventing her from running the light. While waiting for the light to change there was a knock at her window. It was a constable inviting her out of the car. He put her under arrest. At the station she was finger-printed and put in a holding cell.

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Revisiting Ramadan

with Rev. Clay Nelson

Revisiting Ramadan
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Clay Nelson © 5 May 2019

If you live in Aotearoa New Zealand there are a few positives that have resulted from the horror of March 15, which doesn’t mean the price wasn’t way too high. New gun laws passed nearly unanimously within a couple weeks that have banned automatic and semiautomatic weapons. National and international efforts are ongoing to reign in social media as platforms for hate speech. In depth debates to distinguish free speech from hate speech fill public discourse. And in my mind, a greater recognition by non-Muslims that Muslims are not the threat they have been painted to be since 9/11 and continue to be by Trump and other politicians. They are more often the victims of violence than its perpetrators. They need protection from every religion’s far right fundamentalists as much as anybody else. The outpouring of support for the victims and the Muslim community shown at vigils, burying the local mosques with flowers of condolence, the raising of money for the victims’ families, concerts in support of the Muslim community, the government’s paying for the funerals and fast-tracking visa applications, non-Muslim women wearing hijabs in solidarity with their sisters, and mosques opening their doors to their non-Muslim neighbours to share their faith to build bridges have been transforming acts. We are not who we used to be. From my perspective, we are better than we used to be before March 15.

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ANZAC — the other side of the story

with Rev. Clay Nelson

ANZAC — the other side of the story
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Clay Nelson © 28 April 2019

Last Sunday we focused on the Easter Story. This Sunday we focus on the ANZAC story.

You can be forgiven if you are experiencing spiritual whiplash, for they are oppositional narratives. While I’m sure it is only coincidence that they are juxtaposed so closely to each other, it is a helpful reminder of our human condition and our predilection for redemptive violence. For one is a white poppy story and the other a red poppy one.

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Can a Unitarian be resurrected?

with Rev. Clay Nelson

Can a Unitarian be resurrected?
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Opening Words are We Don’t Know What Happened
by Unitarian minister Daniel Budd.

Clay Nelson © 21 April 2019

I may have told this story on Easter before, but the Easter story has been recounted a couple of thousand times. So, I have precedents.

My daughter had little choice when she was young about being active in church. She went to a church kindy. She went to an Episcopal School for girls her first two years in primary while I finished seminary. She went to Sunday School. She sang in the choir and earned awards as her skills improved. She was an acolyte when girls were first allowed to serve at the altar. She was active in the church youth group. As she was showered with love, affection and attention by the congregations I served, she didn’t seem to mind her life as a PK (a preacher’s kid).

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Being “Othered”

Being “Othered”
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Clay Nelson © 7 April 2019

Sometimes a sermon just won’t behave. It refuses to accept its fifteen minutes of fame are over and go quietly into that dark night with a whimper. Last week’s sermon insists on being chewed on and savoured but never swallowed. It prefers to haunt the recesses of my mind demanding, not closure so I can move on unchanged, but discomfort, daring me to move forward into a deeper understanding of who I am. I want to scream at it to go to its room, “bang the door if you like, but go.” I need some respite from all the uncomfortable questions the tragedy in Christchurch has wrought like a snow globe vigorously shaken. “Too bad,” the cheeky sermon taunts me. “You will have no peace of mind until I give you a piece of mine.” And so, it goes. I relent. Last week’s sermon has reclimbed the pulpit, to tell us, “Ahem, let us do go on.”

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