Friday, March 24, 2017

Resistance and Innovation: Native Christianities in the Pacific conference

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I spent today at the University of Auckland, participating in the Resistance and Innovation: Native Christianities in the Pacific conference. There were about 35 folk in attendance and I was one of 18 presenters. There were papers on Samoan born diaspora church, Maori Christologies, Chinese indigenous churches, along with numerous papers exploring the relationship between Maori and the Latter Day Saints. So it’s been an excellent workout on the complexity of interaction between religion and culture, especially indigenous Pacific cultures.

I went for a number of reasons. First, it was part of my return to New Zealand is listening again among Christianity and New Zealand and the conference provided a chance to connect with contemporary research and networks. Second, it was a chance to use work twice, taking a paper I had presented in Korea in 2016 and offering it again. Third, it was a chance to be in a University context.

My paper went well and the questions were helpfully clarifying, mainly in reminding me of the specific limits of what I am doing: reading literature, specifically one book. Here are the questions

Q: Your paper focused on the identity of Jesus. What about the death of Jesus?

A: I was wanting to be faithful to the themes of the book.

Q; You explored the complex relationship between fact and fiction in the work of author, Drusilla Modjeska. Can you apply any of that learning to the Scripture?

A: I’ll need to think about that more. The approach I used in terms of Scripture was to focus on how Israel understood the Canaanites, as an indigenous faith. I am pleased with the creative space that approach opens up, the way it makes sense of the book of Genesis and the Rahab narrative.

Q; Does your argument emerge only from the text of The Mountain? Should it not also emerge from the local context of indigenous people?

A: I am using a literary text. Methodologically, I am using Paul Riceour’s notion of each text having a surplus of meaning, in which the reader might see things beyond the scope of the author’s intention. My approach seeks to move beyond an either/or: universal faith that generalises or local faith that particularising. Every local context lives in more fluid relationships with other worlds and I am seeking to explore those textures in my paper.

Q: I’ll have to read this book, The Mountain.

A: Yes.

It was a privilege to have anothers engage with me around some of my current research. Here’s the conclusion to my paper:

I have examined The Mountain and outlined ancestor agency, gift child and the richness of “hapkas” as a “native” Christology. I have noted recent Biblical scholarship regarding the Genesis narratives in the Old Testament and placed the Christological title “(‘good’ man true”) in critical dialogue with the “big man” and “great man”. My argument is that post-colonial theology must pay attention to native Christianity, including cultural hybridity and indigenous innovation. Or in the words of The Mountain: a “hapkas” Jesus who is “good man true” for PNG.

Posted by steve at 06:57 PM | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Where does mission come from? The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1 as deep mission

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-> Journal article submission today:

Where does mission come from? The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1 as deep mission

Abstract

We inhabit a geographic region in which for many cultures, genealogy is essential to knowledge. Given that Matthew begins the story of Jesus with genealogy, what are the implications for mission?

Three missiology texts are examined – The Biblical Foundations for Mission, Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission and The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative – to understand how they conceive Matthew’s genealogy. Genealogy is then considered in two indigenous texts, one located in Aotearoa New Zealand (Tangata Whenua: A History), the other in Australia (Colonial Contexts and Postcolonial Theologies: Storyweaving in the Asia-Pacific). Both demonstrate how genealogy functions as an essential way of knowing, in which ancient memory is structured to clarify relationship with people and place.

The implications of genealogy for missiology are tested, through teaching mission in one indigenous context. This clarifies the vitality of Matthew’s genealogy in framing mission as an ancestor story, a structured transmission in which God as the primary actor is weaving ordinary and indigenous people into the Messiah’s story.

Posted by steve at 05:46 PM | Comments (0)

Monday, March 20, 2017

Unassuming, penetrating, pragmatic and humble: Built for change review

builtforchange Here is the 9th review of my book, Built for Change. This one comes from the United States. Since the book was written with a focus on stories of change from New Zealand and Australia, to have such a positive review from a third country is wonderful.

For lay and clergy leaders looking to rediscover relevancy for the North American church, practical hope comes from down under.

Unassuming, penetrating, pragmatic and humble, Steve Taylor has given us a place to start in “doing church differently,” not for the sake of being different, but for the sake of meaning, for ourselves and others. Accessible, fresh and above all honest, Taylor has expressed in appropriate balance the realities of change, innovation, collaboration and learning so necessary to make sense in this world, a sense-making enabled by biblical wisdom woven with insights from his own direct experience.

There is wisdom here–understanding, not “overspending”–not only for congregational and individual renewal, but for an even broader audience too often seduced by the noise of leadership theory. This is pure signal amidst all the noise. This little book holds a voice you can trust if you are trying to make sense of change, especially if you are wise enough to try to make sense in collaboration with others. Thank you Dr. Taylor for sharing your experience, taking the time and care to reflect upon it, and offering it up to us all.

“Built for Change” by Rev Dr Steve Taylor is available in Australia through MediaCom Education Inc. or New Zealand through Angelwingsresources@gmail.com. It is also available on Amazon Built for change: A practical theology of innovation and collaboration.

Review 1 here. Review 2 here. Review 3 here. Review 4 is here. Review 5 is here. Review 6 is here. Review 7 by Darren Cronshaw is here. Review 8 by Uniting Church Moderator, Sue Ellis, is here.

Posted by steve at 09:13 PM | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Seeing Silence as Cinema

I presented a paper at the Seeing Silence: Interdisciplinary perspectives symposium today. My paper was titled: Seeing Silence as Cinema. In August 2016, in Korea, I had presented a paper on Silence at the International Association for Mission Studies. At that time, Silence the film had not been released, so my paper in Korea was somewhat limited, drawing mainly on Silence the book.

With Silence released in New Zealand in February, my paper today was a deeper engagement with the movie as cinema. My argument was that movies are a visual discipline, so we need to “see” Silence. I used a number of scenes from the movie, including the capture scene, to argue that movies allow us to pray with our eyes wide open. This was based on the quote from Martin Scorcese – “I made it as a prayer, an act of worship. I wanted to be a priest. My whole life has been movies and religion. That’s it. Nothing else” (A Matrix of Meanings: finding God in pop culture: 155).

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Another key resource was Lloyd Baugh, Imaging the Divine: Jesus and Christ-Figures in Film and his types of “Jesus: the movie star” movies. So for example, the capture scene is a fusing of three types: Christ figure, historical Jesus and Jesus art. As a result, Scorsese is changing the fundamental stance of the viewer, from watcher to immersed participant in the reality of God in silence.

My paper was one of six papers at the symposium.

Friday, 17 March, 7.45 – 8.45 pm
Linda Zampol – The Early Modern Jesuit Enterprise in Japan
John England – A Deeper Faithfulness than Martyrdom

Saturday, 18 March, 9.30-10.30 am
Roy Starrs – The meeting of Buddhism and Christianity in Silence
Lynne Taylor – Our Being becomes us: practising Ignatian Spirituality and becoming Christian

Saturday, 18 March, 11.00-12.00 pm
Richard Goodwin – Silence and Presence: The sacramental style in film
Steve Taylor – Seeing Silence as Cinema

The six papers, accepted after peer review, fell elegantly in three pairs – historical, religious and cinematic – and ensured a very rich conversation. We also gained permission from Fuller Studio to show a interview with Silence director, Martin Scorsese, which added a further rich layer. The audience was a mix of lay and academic, which definitely enhanced the conversation.

The event was part of the Christianity and Cultures in Asia series, a joint venture sponsored by Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, the Otago University Department of Theology and Religion, and Presbyterian Research Centre. Each partner brings distinct resources and ensured a thoroughly worthwhile conversation about how to live faith faithfully.

Posted by steve at 04:57 PM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Hidden Figures: a social justice film review

ticket-1543115-640x480 Monthly I write a film review for Touchstone (the New Zealand Methodist magazine). Stretching back to 2005, some 120 plus films later, here is the review for March 2017.

Hidden Figures
A film review by Rev Dr Steve Taylor

“Hidden Figures” offers important insights in how to fight for justice. The time is the 1960’s, the place is the South of the United States, the backdrop is the Cold War. “Hidden Figures” weaves together four stories, of three African-American women who help NASA in one race to space.

After a slow start, the movie hits the rocket burners, deserving Oscar nomination for Best Picture. With the race to space essential to US national identity, it is the mathematical brilliance of Katherine Johnson (played by Octavia Spencer) that will calculate the orbit of spacecraft Friendship 7. She will also re-confirm the mathematical figures for re-entry and touchdown that enable John Glenn (played by Glen Powell) to become the first American to orbit the earth. Such is the hidden skill that powered the American space race.

In the celebration of hidden talents, “Hidden Figures” also showcases the multiple ways by which oppressed minorities can stand for justice.

First, there is the public anger of Katherine Johnson. Publicly, powerfully, in front of her all white work colleagues, she names the reality of her lived workplace experience. She is direct, describing her mile long walk to a segregated bathroom. She is honest, exposing what is being hidden by the separate coffee machines. Katherine Johnson reminds us there are times for public anger.

Second, there are the skilful words of Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae). To train as an engineer, she needs changes in state law. She acts in ways polite and pragmatic, seeking a respectful leave of the court to remind the judge of his place in history. “Your honor, out of all the cases you gonna hear today, which one is gonna matter hundred years from now? Which one is gonna make you the first?” Mary Jackson reminds us there are times for skilful manouvering through individual and persuasive legal argument.

Third, there is the shrewd foresight of Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer). Aware of changing technology, she acquires from the library a book on how to programme the newly computer. Next she works with her colleagues, helping them upskill. Finally, she announces she will not offer her newly learnt and suddenly essential computer skills unless all her colleagues are employed with her. Dorothy Vaughan reminds us there are times for solidary, when sacrificial leaders act with shrewd foresight and then stand with and among those they lead.

Each of these women face injustice. Each find different ways to respond. Together they are a reminder of the diverse options available in the fight for justice.

Director Theodore Melfi skillfully weaves together these four stories of three women and one astronaut in the same workplace. Opening and closing scenes are essential. In the beginning, the three women are together, needing to overcome the obstacle of a broken-down car on the way to work at NASA.

In the end, the three women are apart. From different places they watch a single event, the return of John Glen to earth. The women have grown. Each one has have found unique ways to connect their inner courage with external action. Such is the power of “Hidden Figures.”

Posted by steve at 06:11 PM | Comments (0)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Seeing Silence: Interdisciplinary perspectives programme

Seeing Silence: Interdisciplinary perspectives symposium has come together beautifully. Silence: A Novel is a historical novel. Written by Shusako Endo (1923-1999), one of Japan’s foremost novelists, the book offers an absorbing, albeit bleak, meditation on the inability of the seventeenth century Jesuit mission to establish religious change on Japanese soil. The book is currently being made into a movie, directed by Martin Scorsese. This symposium welcomes a wide range of disciplinary perspectives on the themes of Silence. The call for papers last December has resulted in a historical, religious and cinematic feast.

Friday, 17 March, 7.45 – 8.45 pm
Linda Zampol – The Early Modern Jesuit Enterprise in Japan
John England – A Deeper Faithfulness than Martyrdom

Saturday, 18 March, 9.30-10.30 am
Roy Starrs – The meeting of Buddhism and Christianity in Silence
Lynne Taylor – Our Being becomes us: practising Ignatian Spirituality and becoming Christian

Saturday, 18 March, 11.00-12.00 pm
Richard Goodwin – Silence and Presence: The sacramental style in film
Steve Taylor – Seeing Silence as Cinema

There will also be a panel discussion and a video interview with the director, Martin Scorsese.

The event is part of the Christianity and Cultures in Asia series, a joint venture sponsored by Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, the Otago University Department of Theology and Religion, and Presbyterian Research Centre. Registrations ($20) to murray dot rae @ otago dot ac dot nz.

Friday 7:30 pm, March 17, until 1 pm, Saturday, March 18, 2017.
Venue: Otago University

Posted by steve at 08:18 PM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Converting empire: theologies of church and state in the encounter between British and Maori

News today that my paper proposal for Australian Association of Mission Studies (AAMS) 2017 gathering, in Melbourne, July 2-5, 2017 was accepted. The paper was sparked by my reading over the holidays of The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800-2000 by Vincent O’Malley. I was fascinated by mention of Wiremu Tamihana’s use of Scripture in responding to the claims of empire. I tweeted and within a few minutes, was in a fascinating, and affirming, conversation with the author, Vincent O’Malley. I wrote some thoughts for SPANZ and also shared some of my thinking at a conference in Clevedon in January. Again, I was encouraged by the response.

The AAMS theme, Re-imagining home, seemed an ideal occasion to share my thinking in an academic context, using the tools of post-colonial analysis, in which the focus is on the creative adaptations and innovative practices of resistance used by indigenous people as they respond to invasion. It is also relevant given our current political context. Amid anxiety about how to respond to global imperialism, what can be learnt from the witness of indigenous people in history?

Converting empire: theologies of church and state in the encounter between British and Maori

Following Jesus in someone else’s country is inevitably complexified by cross-cultural transmission. This was certainly true of indigenous peoples navigating the effects of colonisation. This paper examines how political categories introduced by British expansion in Aotearoa New Zealand were appropriated by Maori resisting the advance of Empire.

In 1861, faced with increased conflict and the settler lust for land, Waikato Maori were presented with an ultimatum: retain your land only if you are strong enough to keep it. In response, Maori leader Wiremu Tamihana used Ephesians 2:13 to offer a theology of church and state which defended Maori political initiatives, reconceived international relationships and reimagined home.

A missiological reading of Tamihana’s theology yields important insights.

First, a creative public theology. Christians often turn to the kings of Israel, the two-sided coin in Matthew 22:15-22 or Romans 13:1-7 to conceive the relationship between church and state. Tamihana’s use of Ephesians preserves difference, seeks justice and offers a different understanding of religion and politics.

Second, the reversal of home. In Ephesians, those who are “once far off” are the Gentiles, whom God acts to redeem. Tamihana interprets those who are “once far off” as the English, brought “nigh” by the blood of Christ. Maori are understood as Israel: a creative reinterpretation.

Third, the power of Scripture translated. By 1835, Ephesians had been translated into Te Reo. Translation allowed Maori to read Scripture for themselves. As a result, Tamihana – in 1861 – used the Scriptures the colonisers brought to challenge colonising behaviour. Such is the power available when people are able to read Scripture in their own language.

Hence, from this example we see that central to mission studies is neither missionary nor method, but the creative work done by indigenous cultures in converting the message and resisting the power of empire.

Posted by steve at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Religion and politics: Learning with Wiremu Tamihana

I’ve just had a piece published in SPANZ. In the midst of concern about how to do theology after Empire and be the church in violent and unstable times, there is much reference to theologians in Europe, like Bonhoeffer. Why not also look here in New Zealand and learn from indigenous people who in times past have confronted colonising power wielding military might?

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Religion and politics don’t mix. It’s like mixing ice cream and manure, says Tony Campolo.

Over the holidays I read The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800-2000 by Vincent O’Malley. It’s a brilliant book – meticulous in research, clear in argument, attractive in presentation. The fast facts are sobering.
• War in the Waikato brought more British troops to New Zealand than were available for the defence of England.
• WW1 killed around 1.7% of the NZ population. Yet in the Waikato War, 4% of Maori died, including alarmingly high numbers of Maori women and children.
• Some forty years after the war, 3,549 Maori remained landless through land confiscation.

The Great War for New Zealand documents how Maori mixed religion and politics. In 1861, faced with increased conflict and the settler lust for land, Waikato Maori were presented with an ultimatum: retain your land only as long as you are strong enough to keep it.

In response, Maori leader, Wiremu Tamihana pointed to the presence of kings in Russia, France and Tahiti. If these kings were not required to submit to Britain’s Queen, should Maori? Tamihana then turns to religion, noting the “only connexion with you is through Christ” and quoting Ephesians 2:13 (KJV), “In Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

Given this Scripture, Tamihana asks the British Crown to leave the Maori King and let the results “rest with our Maker.” For Tamihana, religion and politics clearly mix. Christ brings people together, God the Maker judges all leaders for the behaviours that result.

Tamihana clarifies his understanding of religion and politics in a later exchange. Placing two sticks in the ground he declared that one was the Maori King and the other the Governor. Across both he placed a third stick, representing the law of God and the Queen. Finally, he traced on the ground a circle around both sticks, [saying] ‘That circle is the Queen, the fence to protect them all’ (The Great War for New Zealand, 143). Again, we see the mixing of religion and politics. Again, God is the judge. This allows for differences, provides protection for all peoples and makes leaders accountable under God.

Reading Tamihana’s theology of religion and politics three things stand out.

First, the creative way in which religion and politics are mixed. Christians often turn to the kings of Israel, the two-sided coin in Matthew 22:15-22 or Romans 13:1-7. Tamihana’s use of Ephesians creatively points to ways that religion mixed with politics can preserve difference and ensure justice.

Second, the reading reversal. In Ephesians, those who are once far off are the Gentiles, whom God acts to redeem. For Tamihana, those who are once far off are the English, now “made nigh” by the blood of Christ. This connects Maori with Israel. It means those who arrive in New Zealand are brought by God. As such, their actions and ultimatums are judged by the character of Christ.

Third, the power of Scripture translated. Ephesians had been translated into Te Reo by 1835, the entire New Testament by 1837. Translation allows Maori to read Scripture for themselves. The result is Tamihana in 1861 challenging colonising behaviour from the Scriptures they have brought. Such is the power when people are encouraged to read for themselves in their own language.

As 2017 begins, our talkback is full of active discussion concerning race, identity and politics. In the months ahead, we face New Zealand elections, the reality of Brexit and a new President of the United States. Tamihana offers much wisdom. Religion and politics mix best when they appreciate difference, look to Christ in bridging between diverse groups and consider all peoples accountable to the character of Christ.

Posted by steve at 08:27 PM

Sunday, February 26, 2017

liturgy of sighing

to sigh: emit a long, deep audible breath expressing sadness, relief, tiredness, or similar

Mark 7:34 Jesus looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”).

A few weeks ago, I was asked to provide a brief welcome to a KCML training event. It was an event focused on training children and youth workers and about 55 folk were present. Some had driven over four hours, while others had flown from the North Island. As we began, I wanted to not only welcome, but also to locate our day in prayer.

The lectionary reading from the day before described Jesus healing a blind man. Reading it, I had been struck by the fact that Jesus sighed. I live in a family of audible sighers and it was nice to realise we shared our humanity, our sadness, relief and tiredness, with Jesus. In my own prayer, I had spent time thinking about the things I was sighing about.

Standing to welcome folk, I noted the need to begin with prayer. I described the very common human experience of sighing and invited us as a group to pray be sighing together!

Since it was a gathering focused on children and young people, I invited us to think of a young person that we were currently sighing about.

And to sigh together. And we did.

Since it was a gathering of leaders working with children and young people, I invited us to think of a leader in our ministry that we were currently sighing about.

And to sigh together. And we did.

Since we were a gathering of people thinking about mission and ministry into our communities, I invited us to think of something in our community that we were currently sighing about.

And to sigh together. And we did.

Since we were a gathering of people aware of politics and politicians, I invited us to think of a politician that was making us sigh.

And to sigh together. And we did.

I then read from Mark 7:34.

And I prayed: that our day together would result in our eyes being opened; opened to see healing and change in our young people and our leaders and our communities and the politics of our world; a prayer prayed in the name of Jesus who signed, and saw the reality of lives “being opened.” Amen.

It was a simple liturgy. It orientated us around Scripture. It acknowledged the humanity of ministry, that it causes us to be sad, relieved, tired. It placed us in context, inviting us to focus on people and community and real life. It was individualised, inviting people to pray for what was on their heart, what was causing them to sigh. It was participatory, a whole room of people sighing together. It used the senses, the physical act of sighing, the audible hearing of others sighing around us. It invited God to be present, to open eyes and situations in revelatory ways.

A liturgy of sighing. Feel free to join our prayer, to sigh also at things you wish to be opened.

Posted by steve at 07:56 PM

Friday, February 24, 2017

theology of foraging

It was John Calvin who called nature God’s second book. In creation we catch a glimpse of the Creator. I follow a daily lectionary pattern, reading from the Psalms and Gospels daily. It is a way for me to pay attention to God through Scripture. But if nature is God’s second book, then what might a daily creation lectionary look like?

I pondered this in the cool of a summers evening this week as I harvested wild blackberries. These were brought inside, mixed with lemon yoghurt and served with great delight in the team Taylor household. Such is the joy of eating freshly foraged berries.

IMG_4581 Every year, around the 21st of February, foraging blackberries for instant eating becomes possible. They grow wild on the roadside beside our driveway. Every year, without any effort, I am blessed by abundance. It is a gift, something to be enjoyed without any need for weeding, pruning or spraying. Such is the abundance of creation.

So, as I enjoyed the berries, I pondered God’s second book and foraging as theology. I found myself naming other moments of grace, of unexpected gifts, things I had never worked for and can simply enjoy.

I shared the story and the theology of foraging from God’s second book as the KCML team gathered the next day for our weekly prayer and community building. I offered around the room the berries that had ripened between the cool of the evening prior and the morning next. I invited the team to reflect on a recent moment of unexpected blessing. As we shared, our week past seemed shot through with the abundant grace of God.

Scripture of course has a number of instances that broaden and deepen a theology of foraging. In Israel’s book of Law, the sides of fields are to be left, to be foraged by the alien and landless. It is a fascinating approach to social welfare, providing ways to feed the poor without diminishing their humanity through handouts. It is such gleanings that provides for Ruth, the migrant from Moab and makes possible her encounter with Boaz. In the Gospels, the disciples forage on the Sabbath, picking corn. They gain the disapproval of the Pharisees, but Jesus turns the foraging in a teaching moment, affirming that sabbath is for humans, not humans for sabbath. In other words, in the abundance of grace is how we are to understand ourselves and our relationship to creation, to humans and to religion. The encounter with God begins in the blessing of unexpected gifts.

Such is a theology of foraging, the gift of wild blackberries in the cool of a summers evening, the blessing of God’s book of nature. I wonder what else could be part of a daily lectionary reading of nature?

Posted by steve at 03:29 PM

Friday, February 17, 2017

Structuring Flipped learning: The use of Blooms taxonomy in the classroom experience

A new experience for me today, submitting a proposal to offer a poster to the Australia New Zealand Association of Theological Schools. I’ve not ever offering an academic poster before. However part of my Flinders University 2015 Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching included evidence of practical classroom teaching. It is the sort of material best communicated visually. ANZATS has a stream on Learning and Teaching Theology, so I’ve offered a poster, titled

Structuring Flipped learning: The use of Blooms taxonomy in the classroom experience

This poster will demonstrate the use of Bloom’s taxonomy in structuring the classroom experience in the context of flipped learning. Desiring to personalise the ability of students to consider their own role in the teaching and learning experience, Bloom’s Taxonomy was used in a Christology class to structure content delivery.

The poster will outline the classroom practice. In week one, Bloom’s taxonomy was introduced to both explain flipped approaches to learning, but also to inspire and motivate students to undertake the pre-reading. A set of questions generated discussion and agreement around the types of behaviours that enhance learning, resulting in the development of a shared class covenant in participating in a Flipped Learning Experience.

The poster will further outline the subsequent weeks, including how the classroom experience was structured in relation to different parts of Bloom’s taxonomy. This provided students with choice and also opportunities for immediate formative self-assessment.

Finally the poster will analyse student feedback and the role of the lecturer in engaging class interaction in feedback loops.

Hence the poster will thus provide a visual demonstration of the practice of teaching in dialogue with theoretical engagement with learning theory and interaction with student experience.

Now I’m looking forward to the challenge of communicating all of this visually. It should be a fun, growing, new challenge – if accepted. And something to hang on my wall!

Posted by steve at 03:33 PM

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

a daily sabbath: urgent, important, necessary and restore

The last 15 days have been very intense here at KCML. A Pre-intern block course of 6 days to bring our incoming interns up to speed was immediately followed by a Summer block course of 9 days. In addition, KCML:Dunedin hosted a variety of public events, including our inaugural lecture and winetasting, a creation care workshop and a Christian education event resourcing children and youth workers. All told, we’ve resourced over 130 people over the Summer blockcourse, engaging all sorts of ministers, leaders and lay folk from the wider church. It’s been great.

I woke this morning aware that in the intensity, a good number of tasks have been left undone. “This is a really busy spell, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can,” has been a necessary, and valid, response. The result is a building inbox of necessary and urgent tasks. Equally, 15 intense days mean I’m personally tired and drained. Yes, I will take time off to relax. But this tempts me into a binary: days working either on relaxing or on the necessary and urgent.

In recent days, I have also been pondering the creation story of Genesis 1. At the end of six days work, God enters a sabbath rest. Hurrah for weekends. Yet equally, during every day of work, God is also pausing, to name things as good. Every bit of hard work is enjoyed not in hindsight, while relaxing, but also in the moment. In other words, in Genesis 1, a sabbath pattern is both daily and weekly.

Pondering this, I found myself drawing a quadrant with four parts – urgent, important, necessary and restore.

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This gives me a way to structure my day. Daily, I will seek to spend time in each of these four quadrants. For every urgent task, I will also undertake a necessary task. For every necessary task, I will undertake a restoration task. As I gain energy from some restoration, I will invest that in an important task. And so on, around the quadrant: a daily sabbath pattern.

I have run off copies of the quadrant on the photocopier. As I finished work today, I used a copy and reflected my way around the quadrant.

  • Important and I noted the sending of an email about work needed for a meeting next Wednesday.
  • Urgent and I had supplied some words to a colleague needed them for an event on Friday.
  • Necessary and I noted thankyou letters written to three folk involved in our blockcourse.
  • Restore and I recalled lunch outdoors in the sunshine and an end of work drink with the team.

Tomorrow when I arrive, another day will await me. I will write out my to-do list, making sure there are tasks in  each of the four quadrants. In so doing, I will be entering a daily sabbath pattern.

Posted by steve at 08:54 PM

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Moana film review

ticket-1543115-640x480 Monthly I write a film review for Touchstone (the New Zealand Methodist magazine). Stretching back to 2005, some 120 plus films later, here is the review for February 2017.

Moana
A film review by Rev Dr Steve Taylor

Moana is family fun and as such, has much to commend it. Moana is the daughter of Chief Tui and yearns to sail the ocean deep. Forbidden by her father, she finds inspiration in the stories of her sailing ancestors, the encouragement of her grandmother Tale and the resources of the ever-playful ocean. Setting sail, Moana seeks the demi-god, Maui, who is a needed companion in the question to return the heart of Te Fiti to its rightful place, thus replenishing food and fish for her dying village.

Moana is animated and as such, offers a rich and playful colour palate mixed with voice overs and catchy singalong songs. New Zealand actors are well-presented, including Temuera Morrison (Tui), Jemaine Clement (a greedy coconut crab called Tamatoa) and Rachel House (Tale).

Moana has many moments worth applauding. It skilfully tells a Pacific story. It provides resourceful, determined female characters, notably Moana and her grandmother. It affirms that leaders can be female and, in the interaction between generations, points to ways by which cultures might innovate and change. The power of grandmothers to bring change in cultures is a similarity shared with Maori films, Whale Rider (2002) and Mahana (2016) (reviewed here).

Consistent with Pacific understandings, in Moana the ocean is a character, playfully guiding Moana’s quest. On this ocean, Pacific people are highly skilled wayfarers. Watching Moana encouraged me to reach for Karin Amimoto Ingersoll’s, Waves of Knowing: A Seascape Epistemology. She argues that for Pacific people, the ocean is not only a place for swimming and fishing. More importantly, it is a way of knowing and being in which are resources that help Pacific peoples resist the rising tides of colonialism, militarism and tourism.

Alongside these redeeming features, Moana glosses over a complex set of Pacific realities. In the real world of Kiribati, the ocean so glamorised in Moana continues to rise. This nation of 37 islands, none more than three metres above sea level, with a capital city more densely populated than Tokyo, desperately needs not only a demi-god returning Te Fiti’s heart, but people and nations willing to embrace more sustainable ways of living.

Another reality check comes as Moana is placed alongside 2011 movie, The Orator. The differences are stark. With Moana, Walt Disney invested over $150 million, to tell in English a story from another culture. In The Orator, Blueskin Films spent $2.3 million, to tell in Samoan a story of its own. One brings into focus a chief’s daughter, the other a dirt-poor taro farmer named Saili. In Moana, the animated bodies are beautiful, while in The Orator, Saili is a dwarf, bullied by taller Samoan villagers. In The Orator, hierarchies are challenged, not with the help of demi-gods, but by actions of courage, resilience from those on the margins of village life.

See Moana. But may it not be the only Pacific movie you watch as this new year unfolds. And please God, may each of us, and every viewer of Moana, find ways to act for climate change on behalf of the people of Kiribati.

Posted by steve at 04:19 PM

Monday, February 13, 2017

Thornton Blair Research Fellow at KCML: Rosemary Dewerse

Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership are delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Rosemary Dewerse to be the Thornton Blair Research Fellow. Rosemary is a highly trained missiologist, a skilled theological educator and experienced academic administrator.

R Dewersereduced In a rapidly changing world, the need for ministers and leaders to keep growing is essential. The Thornton Blair Research Fellow is a new initiative of KCML, designed to enhance delivery of life-long learning. The Research Fellow will listen among key stakeholders and design life-learning opportunities that will integrate professional standards and higher education post-graduate requirements. Two pilot offerings in Christian leadership will be tested in 2018.

After advertising in November and interviewing in January the interview panel were delighted to offer this fixed, two year, 0.6 position to Rosemary Dewerse. Rosemary was raised in the Presbyterian Church where her father was a minister. She has written and worked in the area of church as an intercultural community. She is the author of Breaking Calabashes: Becoming an Intercultural Community which offers four practices for creating communities that welcome and enable all people.

Rosemary will be part of the KMCL team, based in Auckland.

Who is Rosemary Dewerse? In making the appointment, the panel outlined a number of essential and desirable characteristics. Through the application material, referee comments and interview, Rosemary demonstrated a track record of competency in every area. She has a passion for the Gospel as good news for the church and world. She is married to Roelant and has two children.

From 2012 to 2015 Rosemary worked as the Post-graduate Coordinator at Uniting College, Australia, which serves the Uniting Church in Australia (a partner church of the PCANZ).  This involved leading over 60 postgraduate students working in both University and private higher education roles. She continues to maintain an active post-graduate supervision role and spoke of this being an area of great love, because of the sense of journeying together in mutual learning.

Rosemary has completed a PhD in intercultural leadership development. She has successfully applied for re-accreditation of post-graduate qualifications. This involved not only redesigning the post-graduate courses in light of stakeholder feedback, but also gaining the best ever accreditation results in the process.

Rosemary has taught in theological education for sixteen years in four different cultural contexts. She has published in partnership with indigenous theologians in both Australia and New Zealand.  Rosemary’s referees affirmed her teaching skills. Her written work presented as part of the application process showed a creative re-working of a taught course, to enable engaged mission learning in Aotearoa New Zealand.
 
Rosemary is in demand in Australia and New Zealand to speak in areas of mission and leadership. She has an extensive record of publication, including a book on intercultural leadership entitled Breaking Calabashes: Becoming an Intercultural Community and articles on indigenous theology, missiology, and online curriculum design.

Rosemary has, with permission of local iwi, published in areas of Maori theology and missiology. She has studied Te Reo for three years and taught in a Maori theological context.

Rosemary has designed and taught online courses for Laidlaw College and Uniting College. She has been part of a review team that redesigned the online learning at Uniting College and was commended by her referees for her skills in this area. She has published in this area, reflecting theologically upon online curriculum redesign. She has worked as a former trainer of ministers in seminaries in Central Asia, Australia and most recently St Johns College.

In the interview, Rosemary spoke of a call to come home and believed that applying for this role was part of that call, given her roots are in the PCANZ, having grown up in the manse in urban, small-town and rural communities and worshipped as a young adult at St Pauls Trinity Pacific (Christchurch) and Fairfield Presbyterian.
 
The panel were struck by her connections with the PCANZ historically and with NZ cultural contexts. They found Rosemary personable and engaging, possessing a grasp of the complexity of the project and a track record of experience across all the desired and essential outcomes.  They sensed a deep commitment to listen and to mutual transformation. They recognised an energy, the ability to be a self-starter and a strong sense of passion for the future of the church. In Rosemary they are confident is a person who can fulfil the expectations of Thornton Blair, and deliver a project birthed in listening to the church, yet able to sync with the complexity of professional standards, ministry realities and post-graduate higher education processes.

How was the appointment made? The Thornton Blair Research Fellow concept was agreed by the KCML Advisory Board in October 2016. A funding application to the Thornton Blair Trust had been agreed by Senatus in August and recommended to Church Property Trustees in late November.

The role was advertised and an interview panel of five shortlisted in early December. The panel asked three applicants to provide further information, including a sample of writing, a one page plan for stakeholder engagement in the first two months, further referees and to be interviewed in January 2017.

The panel prepared a list of set questions.  At the end of the process, the interview panel were unanimous in affirming that Rosemary had the gifts and graces for this unique role.

Who was the interview panel? The KCML Advisory Board appointed a panel of five:
·         Dr Glen Pettigrove – Chair of KCML Advisory Board
·         Dr Hugh Morrison – Advisory Board member and University academic in field of education
·         Rev Dr Tokerau Joseph – a Presbyterian minister who has completed post-graduate research in the intercultural nature of the PCANZ
·         Rev Margaret Garland – a Presbyterian minister representing Leadership Sub-Committee and Senatus
·         Rev Dr Steve Taylor – Principal KCML
 
Approved by Rosemary and all members of the Interview Panel

Posted by steve at 04:02 PM