My original subject for today was Gonna lay down my sword and shield, which was about concentration camps in World War 2, and how this appalling story was the background to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
But it was such a complicated story I couldn’t get my head around it. And I was looking for a new topic.
And then Jacinda came up with the idea of resigning …. And it was obvious.
Anjum Rahman, Founder and Project Co-Lead of Inclusive Aotearoa Collective Tāhono, who must be the best known Muslim leader in the country, due to her frequent interviews on TV. She has also advocated for religious studies and the end of Christian religious instruction (Bible in Schools).
A couple of days ago I heard about a friend who was 80 years old and said he had aged more in the past year than the previous 10 years. He had a heart attack and prostate problem in the same year.
I had a similar experience this month. I went to my GP for my routine checkup, but I took a longer than usual list of questions: five of them. Two of these were old issues, up to about eight years ago, but had got so used to them I didn’t bother reporting them any longer.
When Shirin Caldwell learned the topic I had chosen, she asked, did I realise that she, Jonathan and Brenda had already covered it a few months ago. I did hear their report and it was excellent However, I believe this topic is so massive, it needs to come up frequently, and from all angles.
The angle I want to speak about today is strategy.
Which are the actions we could take that would be:
Usually when I preach in church it’s because I’ve done some homework on a subject and think it might be useful to other people. Today I’m in the opposite situation. I’ve done a survey on Christian karakia. But the problem is more complicated than I realised, so I would appreciate your input before I come to a firm conclusion. As a second step, I would like to take your conclusions to other groups, such as atheists, Jews and Muslims, and then to the government.
My sermon today says Let’s stop making apologies for God. She’s a total nuisance.
In the Christian circles I grew up in, people were constantly saying how good God was.
They blindly ignored all the grief and harm in the world, and if anybody drew attention to it, they’d come up with excuses. Like: God sent this to test you.
If you pointed out that God did nothing whatever to help you through these troubles – after you prayed for help and nothing happened, they’d say: God aways answers your prayers: Sometimes the answer is Yes. Sometimes it’s no, and sometimes it’s wait.
I was not very old before I realised this too was crap, because that means absolutely any thing can be called God, and in practice that’s the same as there being no God at all.
So I’d like to talk about the claims religious people make for God, and the major excuses they make when she doesn’t deliver.
When I agreed to preach at this service a couple of weeks ago, I had to pick a topic off the cuff, so I said I’d talk about how we can help people who are especially hard hit by the lockdown. In our Prime Minister’s words “Be kind”.
But eight days ago that story was overtaken by Brian Tamaki running his protest against the lockdown ….
So I’ve changed the topic a little: Be kind, most of the time.
In July I was surprised to get a call from a member of the Association of Rationalists and Humanists asking if I had written a submission on the government’s new hate speech proposal. I hadn’t, but I was grateful for the suggestion.
I had written a a similar article a couple of years ago – taking a free speech approach, and found my thoughts had shifted a little in between.