Posts

Showing posts from July, 2009

Shakespeare and the Bible

Image
I have just finished reading Shakespeare and the Bible, by Steven Marx. 
It looks at where and how Shakespeare may have drawn on Biblical narratives in some of his plays, and where he makes allusions to the Bible. It also places some of the plays alongside books of the Bible, allowing such an exercise to evoke discoveries about both the Shakespearean and Biblical texts.  I found it an interesting exercise.  I didn't agree with all the conclusions, and I am not convinced that we can make claims about Shakespeare's purpose in using texts, or the comments he was intending to make. But what we can do is explore how biblical and Shakespearean texts handle similar themes, and consider what the texts say, and how they contribute to our own meaning making.  Marx puts The Tempest alongside Genesis and Revelation, examining how Prospero is a god-figure, themes of creation and resolution of the/a world. He then explores the historical types of Moses, David and Henry V, concluding that both b…

another post from Assembly - one day to go

OK, it's been a busy day again, and I've been making notes of the things I want to record in this space. Last night I went out for dinner with friends I made on the trip to the UK last year, some who are at Assembly and two others who met us here. We ate at a lovely Lebanese restaurant in Surrey Hills, called The Prophet, and it was a great evening. Firstly, to be away from here, in a different space emotionally and physically, and secondly to reconnect with some new friends who shared a significant experience.  I was going to write about the Cato lecture that we heard on Saturday night, from Daniel Smith Christopher, but I think I'll leave that for now. I will come back to it, but I'm still processing.  We had another approach to delivering the bible study this morning, this time framing the discussion with a poem from Thomas Keneally called 'I thirst'. The discussion was also interspersed effortlessly and without too much quoting of chapter and verse with words…

My heart is heavy, my hope wavering

Yesterday afternoon was a difficult session. So many people felt hurt, unsafe, confused. We were considering a proposal to amend the preamble of our constitution. The amendment would include the story of the Indigenous people of this land, and their relationship with the Uniting Church (and the three uniting traditions). It is a difficult story to tell; a hard truth to hear. And there are clearly still issues of misunderstanding between Aboriginal and Islander people and other members of the church, particularly around how we name our experience of God.  By the end of the session, I was in tears, and my heart was heavy. I am so disappointed that we couldn't hear the pleas of Indigenous and non-Indigenous members to hear this proposal as a request from our sisters and brothers to help us all live out our covenant relationship (the covenant came out of the 1994 Assembly meeting), and for the rest of the church to accept that request with grace.  We have adjourned the discussion on the…

more from Assembly

Today has been long, as has every day at Assembly. I'm about to go to the public lecture to be given by Daniel Smith Christopher, talking about prophets, and other things. 
I was struck this morning at how much more difficult it was to engage with the Bible study presented in a more lecture type manner than it was to engage with yesterday's (given by the same people). Yesterday, the study consisted mostly of an imagined conversation between a Jewish man and a Samaritan woman, who meet by chance at a public well. This dramatisation was offered as a reflection on the story of Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at a well. It was very well done, and didn't get preachy, though offering as it was these characters' reflections on meanings they had gleaned from the Hebrew Scriptures and also from Jesus' teaching (for they discovered that they were both followers of the Way). I thoroughly enjoyed it, as did those with whom I have spoken about it. I think that what…
I am at the 12 Assembly meeting - the national council of the UCA - at Uni NSW in Sydney. Last night we installed (yep, that's what they call it, Alastair said he felt like a light bulb ...) Alastair Macrae as our new President. The opening service at which this happened was amazing in its multiculturalism - seamlessly incorporating people from some of the main cultural groups represented in the UCA. Particularly members from the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, which is the Indigenous Congress in covenant with the Uniting Church, but also people with Korean, Fijian, Indonesian, and heaps of other cultural backgrounds. Some of their languages appeared on the screen at various times, and Story was told in one of the Indigenous languages. The music was really good - words I could sing without cringing, two violins, three guitars, two singers, brilliant pianist and drums. The singers were great! At one point they added some singers and did a more chant like song in…

The LIttle Brewing Company - Port Macquarie

Mmm, beer. We discovered a local brewing company today - actually we saw their name in some of the brochures, and being a beer fan, and having many friends who also like their beer, I thought I should check it out. We drove past Sunday afternoon to discover that the cellar door was open Monday to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday when they are there. This Sunday they weren't. We drove past again Monday, but were greeted by another sign, this time regretfully announcing that the cellar door wouldn't be open that day due to illness. We drove past again today, my last opportunity before leaving for Sydney tomorrow - and we got lucky. They were open. Just. Poor Kylie, one of the owner/operators, was really not well, but she managed to lead us through a tasting of their beers, and give us some history of their business.  The Little Brewing Company has been open for two years, is run by three people, and produces excellent beer. They use only the best ingredients, local as much as possibl…

whale watching in port macquarie

We went out on a boat into the Tasman Sea this morning to watch humpback whales on their journey north. They are lovely creatures. We saw them in twos and threes, and a pod of five or six, and we travelled with them for about two kilometres or more. It was captivating. Such grace and beauty displayed by such large creatures.  It was a little disappointing that the operator of another cruise was cutting the whales off, breaking the pod up - our skipper said this is actually illegal behaviour, not to mention how disrespectful it is to the whales themselves.  Which brings me to a point I can't quite reconcile. I am dead against activities like horse racing, which explicitly exploit animals in service of human greed - and yes, I feel this is exploitation in a different way to farming animals for food. That seems to me to be more about the survival systems of creation, whereas training horses to run fast around a track with a rider on their back, for our entertainment, and more, for the …

the weaving of stories

Image
Reading Psalm 49 this morning, I was struck by the thought that there is no ransom we can pay for our lives, that our fate is the same as all things that die - namely, death. But God chooses to 'pay the ransom' and receive us to Godself. It's interesting to find this image in the Hebrew Bible, where mostly the thought is that when we die, that's it, we are separated from God, so please God don't let me die. But here is a hint that Sheol / the pit may not be the ultimate fate, it may be possible that God will take us to Godself, and that our fate may not actually be that of the animals that perish. Interesting. Of course for a Christian, the language of ransom resonates with the story of Jesus, who gave his life a ransom for many (Matt 20:28, Mark 10:45).  I don't know that I necessarily find the language of ransom very helpful - for instance, who is the ransom paid to? it's not a metaphor that can be taken too far. anyway, the point is that all life ends in …

The Sacred Story : A day of workshops

We had a successful day of biblical storytelling workshops on Saturday. The participants did well to get up early on a Saturday, but were supported in their efforts to wake up with coffee and tea, and yummy morning tea.  Our opening worship time invited us to bring our passion, our storytelling gifts, ourselves to this community for a day, making a beautiful bouquet as individual flowers do in a vase.  Andrew McDonough led us in some reflections on the dangerous side of stories before lunch. In the struggle to bring about the reign of God, Jesus models a subversive strategy, as opposed to a warrior who will overturn unjust empires. The subversive way of Jesus is the way of Story, planting stories in the hearts of listeners that will weave their way into the fabric of their lives, transforming those with ears to hear with the Spirit of love, justice, peace.  On a wintry day, soup and rolls warmed our bodies, and filled our tummies, before the afternoon workshops.  I was in the one on Godly…

The Esther Project – Business or Community?

I've been thinking a lot this week about how we approach this new venture that I've begun. Is it a business, which we need to register, draw up a constitution for, and manage? Or is it a faith community, whose mission is the business of telling stories, managing theatre projects, gathering around meals, welcoming, encouraging and affirming experiences of the Sacred, each others' stories, creative / artistic / less conventional ways of expressing our praise, thanks, wonder at the Holy One? I began from the first point of view, but have turned now and see the Esther Project as the latter.  The challenge for me, its student minister, is to hold both the community nurture, teaching, woshipping alongside the theatre project, and offer care to both the members of the community and to the workers involved in the project (some of whom will fall into both categories).  It's been good to work through this, and continue to clarify the goal and vision of this project, my placement, …

pub church conversation

Image