Friday morning, I had today’s service and my talk all prepared. Friday evening, I had nothing to offer. The unthinkable, the unimaginable had happened. New Zealanders had been cast out of the Godzone with tears streaming down our face and our hearts broken. Our Muslim brothers and sisters lay dying and bloodied in a house of prayer. This couldn’t happen here, yet graphic news stories and social media told us otherwise. It has shaken us to our core even more than the earthquakes that had come from previously unknown fault lines in Christchurch. As traumatic as those were, they were natural acts. This act of hatred had not previously happened here. We didn’t think it could in spite of plenty of evidence that the deadly virus of white nationalism had become epidemic around the world. No house of prayer was safe if its worshippers were the marginalised or people of colour. Homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and racism has crawled out from the rocks they have been hiding under to be greeted as mainstream by right-wing political leaders and print and social media. But we thought we were better than that. We thought that was not who we are.
Last Friday was International Women’s Day. What better example of persistence is there than women resisting the dehumanising evils of patriarchy for over 5000 years?
As an example, I offer Senator Elizabeth Warren, a senator from Massachusetts who is currently seeking the Democratic nomination for president. Two years ago, she was a fervent opponent of President Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, Senator Jeff Sessions from Alabama.
When recently selecting topics for my March talks I was intrigued by historian Yuval Harari’s subtitle to Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, the sequel to his book Homo Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. The downside is I would have to read it first in a hurry. I wasn’t disappointed as it ticked my boxes for a good read: it was well written, it was entertaining, I learned lots of things, and it made me think critically. What I wasn’t prepared for were the chilling possibilities he laid out for the future of human beings. To my mind it makes 1984 and Animal Farm larks in the park suitable for bedtime reading to children.
This week a Royal Commission rolled out proposals to the Government to change the tax structure with the goal of addressing income and wealth inequality. Part of their overall recommendations was a capital gains tax on investment income. As I understand it distinguished and varied experts in these matters don’t think it would be the end of the world if unearned income was taxed at the same rate as earned income. I’m pretty sure you have heard about it. Even if you live under a rock the sound and fury expressed in the media’s megaphones has been deafening, presumably by those who have investment income and the power and privilege to have their grievances heard far and wide.
Pride Month in Auckland has always been celebrated in this community. As your minister I have always invited members of the LGBTQ community to speak to you, for as someone who self-identifies as a male-gendered heterosexual I have not felt it was my place to speak about an experience that wasn’t mine. Beside it has gotten so much more complicated than it was for someone who began puberty in the fifties. Then there were only straights, gays and lesbians and the last two were spoken of in mostly dark, derogatory terms. It is hard to keep up in a world where our understanding of gender and sexual orientation has become more fluid and self-determined, adding ever more letters to the list of those who makes up the Rainbow Community.