I once had a rabbi friend who summarised life for me: “We spend the first half of our life accumulating stuff and the second half getting rid of it.” Well, one of the benefits of immigrating to a new country in my mid-fifties was getting rid of a lot of stuff well ahead of schedule. However, there were a few things I couldn’t let go of yet. One was a blown glass frog that is a work of art and the other is a large Wedgewood serving plate. While they are both beautiful and valuable, that is not why they now reside in New Zealand. They belonged to sisters. The plate was treasured by my maternal grandmother Flora Mae (AKA Granny) and the frog by my great aunt Velma Amanda (AKA Auntie).
” I was white, and I was pretty, and I had a big mouth. And for some reason, that was rewarded in Hollywood. I just never really questioned anything, because I thought I deserved everything. I’m clearly the beneficiary of white privilege, and I want to know what my personal responsibility is, moving forward in the world that we live in today…where race is concerned. I want to know how to be a better white person to people of color…”
I’ve made no secret of my
fascination with dragons. I’ve read a number of stories featuring
dragons to the children at “Time for all ages.” A film depicting
these flying fireballs armoured with scales is certain to entice me
to watch. If you were to browse my extensive audiobook library at
least one out of three are about the protagonists engaging with
dragons. As you will see, these turn out to be theology textbooks.
So, it was only a matter of time before I gave a sermon on them. That
time is today. What captured my imagination, the required first step
in writing any sermon, was encountering the phrase “Here be
dragons.” It is associated with ancient maps, but before exploring
realised I needed to learn more about them than the little I had
gleaned from one of my favourite dragon movies, How
to train your dragon.
tales are known in many cultures, from the Americas to Europe, and
from India to China.
In a sermon preached to the
Oxford Unitarian congregation, the Anglican bishop of Oxford, John
Pritchard, opens by quoting the writer Julian Barnes, “I don’t
believe in God but I miss him.” Barnes goes on to say: “God is
dead and without him human beings can get up off their knees and
assume their full height; and yet this height turns out to be quite
dwarfish. Religion used to offer consolation for the travails of
life, and reward at the end of it for the faithful. But above and
beyond these treats, it gave human life a sense of context, and
therefore seriousness… But was it true? No. Then why miss it?
Because it was a supreme fiction, and it is normal to feel bereft on
closing a great novel.”