Monday, March 7, 2011

Christ Church!

It's hard to not post about the recent Christchurch Earthquake so here we go on a tortuous path, as the fabric of New Zealand life changes!

#alttext#Firstly I would like to convey my deepest sympathies and thoughts to all of you who have been directly affected by the Christchurch Earthquake of the 22 February.

We're seeing amazing examples of the full gamut of the human experience, and it's inspiring as so many deal with yet another type of human misery [words used once by a work acquaintance Murray, a CTV victim, as we both looked in the doors of the Auckland Casino some years back].

How our political parties are starting to respond is just plain questionable though. At least all should be provisional while we work out just what recent events really dictate.

The track record is not good re. the Sept. shake up last year either. Fletchers apparently have sole control over meeting claims in a certain specified price range, and therefore insist the trades people work for labour only and they'll supply the materials. Friends tell me this has totally stalled the repair process all over. Not good! The phrase 'Gerry Built' is in many Twitter streams and does refer to the Right Honourable Mr Brownlee!

But what has got me really thinking was Valerie's Christian orientated blog that comments on, or rather asks how come all this is happening in a city whose name is 'Christ' church!?

Within this context just what does the word Christchurch really mean!?

I don't have the answer by the way, and of course there could be many interpretations, like one being the local wizard, and what role he has played if any, and the city in allowing him to do what he does.

But I also note that so many churches, like so many historical buildings of an iconic nature, have simply crumbled to the ground in two stages: first 'quake and now the second [is this a very practical message?], a bit like my perceptions once crumbled also:

Many many years ago while instructing in the mountains my companion of many adventures Neil, an academic, mentioned that in his work place often tea-break discussion revolved around how we as a western society were moving into a new age of spirituality.

A few years lesser I had this scenario visit myself, in what I call 'my transformation'. I was literally somersaulted into a new world containing phrases such as 'balanced ego' and words such as compassion...

When a local legend Rika, my primary mentor/friend, and a healer, was preparing herself to pass on, she said it was of great comfort to her that I was 'well on my way'.

I'm glad she never said I'd arrived! [Rather 'it' arrived on myself I reckon, and I'm not sure I was aware of inviting it!]

She did however say that 'they' were waiting for her on the other side, and it was all good. I took from this, and subsequent insights she verbalised, to not be fearful towards this point of inevitability we're all heading towards. Instead realising love is there.

At her subsequent farewell I smiled inwardly as a speaker described her as physic, for she'd often drummed into me that 'everything' can be explained by science, and what can't be right now, soon will be...

As the years have rolled on I've become quite convinced that like she postulated, we are indeed in an ever increasing acceleration towards what I'll loosely call spirituality, and that this is manifesting in ways that either enable us to progress on a spiritual path, or recoil and entrench through ignorance.

I write here of what I think of as a Universal Intelligence, well call it God if you will - [sometimes I tend to think it's a huge database, and we can only ask any question if the answer already exists in it!] Whatever... I don't mind. My point is I'm not talking about religion as such, but that which can be reached using it as a springboard, or by other means...

For as events occur unless we consider the current trends are part of a much bigger plan than we can comprehend, we'll witness a huge fear settling on many people, as what we don't understand to be part of our opportunity to progress, overtakes us.

Some thoughts on fear:

One comes from my mountaineering follies: in the face of a difficult scary passage such as this two wire bridge I once had to jump from when the bottom wire broke, calmness can be made present by engaging in a ritual such as fitting a harness as per a climbing situation, and preparing slings to be used as aids or anchors...

So does this not apply in everyday life, where so much is ritualised in light of fear of the unknown [death being the ultimate, or is it what may come afterwards]?

We have rituals everywhere! I'll leave you to think of some more examples over and above this happy setting...

But I also note many organisations and individuals have used fear with accompanying ritual as a control tool on the masses. Many examples with relationships that are too subtle for words exist everywhere - even today in New Zealand this is happening in an on-going manner.

I've also observed that what we believe in will be true, or work for us. For example astrology, [or science for that matter - and btw I trust it more]. And so if we're fooled from childhood onwards that fear is a rational tool, then this belief will work for us too, but dig a little deeper in the accompanying hole and we find it works against us, e.g. fear on steep ground makes us rigid in an environment that demands fluidity...

To recognise ritual in our everyday life is a challenge demanding observation of ourselves and all around us.

I consequently increasingly ask myself 'do we still need all the old rituals?' in light of the above thoughts.

And with a play on words: if light is bought into darkness [fear], then the dark simply vanishes. So too I reason if love and compassion are made a way of life, then fear diminishes if we are of the belief that the opposite to fear is love! [remembering that what we believe in works]...

So we've got a bunch of churches in Christ-Church wrecked by a nearly 2G accelerating ground wave, a world increasingly accelerating into spirituality [or conversely polarised the other direction into fear], and ritual needed to comfort [control] us, and keep us happy [or fearful].

Down the end of my street a new church has just been completed...

It was designed by my friend Sarah, and this is what her firm says about it on their website:
Wanaka Catholic Church
'A modern day church is a demanding assignment for an architect. Designing “a place of spirituality” as a modern style building, which must perform functions whose roots and traditions are in the past is an extremely difficult brief for any designer.'

Sort of makes me wonder if we should re-build wrecked churches in the traditional style, but instead go much more multi purpose!

Yes I do accept we need places to gather and worship, but 'roots and traditions are in the past' says it all. Where does the future sit in building in this specialised style I wonder?


It would seem that once again ritual rules!

I can't sense in churches old or new an environment that engenders reflection and meditation, like I find in our wild places! In fact they often make the statement 'we do things our way, with our rituals, and that is that'! But I'm in a fix: they do encourage groups to up the ante [or is it anti?] and thus make the world a better place through ritual and ceremony. It's just they don't transition all that well, and as my friend Paul points out, ritual grew when very few could read and write and needed knowledge [sermons] passed on [or down?] verbally, but now things are different, very different!

Personally this is more my cathedral of worship [and wonder], and typical of the places I like for quiet conversations with God. I do accept I can perhaps be maddeningly solitary and in a sense selfish. Somewhere between lies 'the way' I think...

Ha... somewhere along the way this blog has become a ritual, and you know fear is often present when I publish!

Fear of what I ask!?

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Blogger Shirley said...

Fear of people ridiculing your thoughts? Or ignoring them? It's always difficult to expose our innermost thoughts to strangers.

I have discussed the religious angle of the earthquakes with my brother who is well up on the Bible. He said mainstream Christianity understands that this kind of natural phenomena has nothing to do with God.

Old churches, like other old buildings, fall down because they were not built to withstand earthquakes.

March 8, 2011 at 6:22 AM  
Blogger Ruahines said...

Kia ora Donald,
Thanks for the thoughts and giving much to ponder. I have found a lot to be thinking about in both the reaction of our government and how our institiutions and beliefs come to play. And my own as well.
I was driving in my car when John Key came on for his first press conference. Literally the first words out of his mouth were describing the earthquake as a brutal and violent attack by nature upon Christchurch. As if it was a deliberate act of some sort upon humankind. It troubles me in that these words were written for Key, so he knew what he was saying, and with Nationals policy towards our wilderness and environment, almost tantamount to a declaration of war upon nature, and easy justification to attack the wilderness to extract the money to pay for all this damage nature caused. I hope we act with care and caution.
I also find it interesting that so many people whom survived the quake, describe the quake itself as an act of nature, but being saved and allowed to live, as an act of God.
I left the church as a young man at 15 when a few events in my life failed to be addressed to my satisfaction, or at all, by the faith I had been brought up in. It is never easy to search for a belief on ones own, and sort through all that is out there. And at age 50 I am not even sure what progress I have made. Suffice to write that like you, it is in the mountains where I find the most quiet, peace and solitude to contemplate. Yet I also know those very places can easily remove me from this earth at any time. Maybe it is that which I am trying to come to terms with. Sorry to ramble Donald, not even sure I have a point in all this. It just is what it is. Kia kaha e hoa.

March 8, 2011 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger Bob McKerrow said...

Dear Donald

A very thought provoking piece. I have been going through a whole array of emotions and thought since the quake struck. Perhaps I can contribute by directing you to something i wrote a few year back, As Essay on Faith.

March 8, 2011 at 8:09 PM  
Blogger Donald said...

Dear Robb

I suspect time will reveal you have made lots of progress. It's just that sometimes we have to step back and reflect and evaluate. There is much to be said for doing this in the mountains we love. The problem can be our society does not always give us enough time, and unlike other topics we won't always find a compressed 'course' we can attend to short circuit the learning!

Yes, there are already many web blogs of the opinion John Key will use our ground shaking changes as a reason to implement plans already in place. Trouble is they're 80s thinking and solutions rather than forward thinking ones for our times, which have changed so much from those days.

God and nature re who gets blamed is an interesting observation. I'd have thought to many people they're one and the same!



March 9, 2011 at 8:32 AM  
Blogger Donald said...

Dear Shirley

Yes there can be hesitation [fear] for many on a few fronts. We after all expose ourselves a bit blogging. But so far I agree with Mark Twain:

'I have known a great many troubles, most of which never happened'.

I'm not sure about the Bible side, but must read up on the Walls of Jericho, as it's come to mind re your brother's comments.

It's taken two lessons rather than the one in Sept. to get people out of those buildings and therefore safe. Very sad!



March 9, 2011 at 8:42 AM  
Blogger Marg said...

I agree that this is a thought provoking piece DOnald. Im interested in your thoughts about rituals. For me rituals sustain and nourish a person to the degree that these are consciously embraced and used to enhance ones life. FOr example my morning ritual of needing to start the day without people around me making conversation or expecting me to indulge int eh same is very improtant. IN a day that is too full of words I need time without words to gather my own thoughts and filter/relegate or marshall these into a useful place where I am free to be fully present to the later conversations and participation in the day ahead. So theres an example of ritual serving me well...

.. and now a terrible earthquake in Japan.... Cheers MArg

March 12, 2011 at 5:31 PM  
Blogger Donald said...

Dear Marg

As usual your way with words is a gift to behold.

In retrospect I think I wrote this post with too much going on in my brain. It could have been the basis for two posts, as mixing my topics if you like, made it too muddy for my liking.

However you're certainly correct - many rituals do serve us well, and better yet are thoroughly enjoyable!

One of my friends also verbally pointed out that from his back-ground of semi rural England, old churchs are very special places for him. He'd chosen such a church for his marriage here in Wanaka. So he asked me if I liked the setting as I was there.

Sure enough he made a good point, and I did like it. So I recalled the feelings: it was a place I could easily be at peace in, a place to reflect and meditate. Maybe it being very small was a factor.



March 30, 2011 at 9:28 PM  

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