November Spirited Conversation 

7 November at the Thistle Inn

Paul Barber engaged us in a spirited conversation about “Elections, Equality and other things starting with E – a pre-election primer on the issues”.

The election campaign is in full swing and it is time to make some choices about what is really important to us as a nation. Reducing inequality is one big issue for this election and we will start the conversation with an outline of this and some of the other election issues that are important. Then there will be the chance to hear from you about what is important to you at the election.

Paul Barber works for the NZ Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) and specialises in social policy issues. NZCCSS is promoting the Closer Together Whakatata Mai – reducing inequalities programme and has produced a Guide the Election Issues that will be available in early November

Seeking the Sacred in a Multi-faith World

Thursday October 13th, 6pm to 7:30pm. Dr. Val Webb visited New Zealand to be the keynote speaker at the Sea of Faith Conference in Christchurch.

“From earliest times, people have asked the same questions and come up with different answers depending on their time, place and world view. The big question has been: Is there Something More and can we make contact with that Something?”

Dr. Val WebbVal Webb is a pre-eminent Australian progressive theologian. She was a keynote speaker at the Common Dreams Progressive Religion Conference in Melbourne last year where her lectures received high acclaim.

Val's latest book is Stepping out with the Sacred and the lecture will be based around the theme of the book.

Bishop John Shelby Spong says of this new book: “Val Webb is one of the most exciting Christian voices in the 21st Century. Brilliantly she penetrates beneath the surface of traditional religious formulations and discovers the power and purpose of words as having the ability to point to a realm of truth that words cannot finally capture.”

Today, our doctor may be Muslim, our lawyer Jewish and our best friend Buddhist, a plurality of encounters multiplied by global travel and politics. In her last book Like Catching Water in a Net, she discussed how humans have described the Divine. This companion book describes how humans have engaged the Divine across religions and centuries, through rituals, art, sacred places, language and song. She has included her own experiences, both personal and observed through travel in many countries, meandering along winding trails, talking over the fence and drinking wine with strangers, both literally and figuratively.

She has also drawn on centuries of theology, literature and travel writing. conscious that, to engage the Sacred-beyond-description, we need all the stories we can find, even if only to remind us of the distance still to go and the limitless (and sometimes unsuccessful) journey. As a teacher of world religions and art, and an artist herself, she has tried to create a woven-together, reader-friendly, vividly-painted, theologically reflective reading experience.

The Bible in a Post-Christian World

In addition to other celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, the St Andrews Trust presented the Rev. Dr. Greg Jenks in:

  • * an all-day seminar on Saturday 1 October
  • * a Sunday Reflection on 2 October
  • * a Spirited Conversation at the Thistle Inn on October 3

The Saturday seminar was based on progressive Australian religious scholar Greg Jenks’ most recent book, The Once and Future Bible.

  9.30am   Unholy Use of the Holy Bible
10.30am   Morning tea/coffee
11.00am   Reclaiming the Bible for Today
  1.00pm   Lunch
  1.45pm   Reading the Bible with Critical Imagination

Unholy Use of the Holy Bible explored some of the ways that the Bible is abused by those who claim to care about it deeply. The loss of interest in the Bible flows as much from its abuse by people of faith as from wider changes in western societies over the past couple of centuries.

Reclaiming the Bible for Today explored ways that religious progressives can reclaim and redeem the Bible so it functions as a source of spiritual wisdom for shaping holy lives in the twenty-first century.

Reading the Bible with Critical Imagination – Freed from the western obsession with the question of what really happened, how can we work with an imaginary conversation between Job on his ash-heap and Jesus on his cross? Can we move into the open space of post-critical naivete to exercise our imaginations in our reading of the Bible?

Greg Jenks is Academic Dean at St Francis Theological College in Brisbane and teaches biblical studies in the School of Theology at Charles Sturt University and author of The Once and Future Bible.

Lloyd Geering attended the launch of the The Once and Future Bible in Australia and warmly endorses Greg’s work 

Spirited Conversation with Rev Dr Greg Jenks

LIVING AT GROUND ZERO: Armageddon, Then and Now
"Armageddon" has entered the public imagination as the archetypal battle at the end of time. The term derives from the ancient Hebrew name, Har-Megiddo (Mt Megiddo) of a strategic location controlling a key pass used by traders – and armies – moving between Egypt in the south and Mesopotamia in the north-west.

This was the original ground zero, and the site of numerous major battles in ancient times. The modern state of Israel finds itself living at a new and larger ground zero, surrounded by neighbours who reject its right to be there, and supported by fanatical Christian Zionists in the USA who see a Jewish presence in the ancient biblical lands as a necessary condition for the end of the world. With friends like that, who needs enemies on all the borders?

Dr Greg Jenks is an Anglican priest and religion scholar who visits Israel/Palestine regularly, and has close friends among both the Jewish and Palestinian communities. He is a specialist in early Christianity, and was awarded his doctorate for research into the origins and early development of the Antichrist myth.

He is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Theology at Charles Sturt University, and a co-director of the Bethsaida Archaeological Excavations in Israel. In this Spirited Conversation, Greg will reflect on the interplay of history, religion and politics in the Holy Land.

Monday 3 October, 7pm, Thistle Inn 


The senior minister at St Andrew’s on The Terrace, the Rev. Dr. Margaret Mayman presented a two-lecture series:

  • Liberation with Compassionate Action Christianity has moved beyond liberalism and secular Christianity in its recovery of spiritual practices which empower the living out of the ethic of Jesus. If progressive theology is to be made more than “right thinking” or a new theological orthodoxy, it needs to engage deeply with the spiritual practice and thought of liberation theology and to take seriously the claim that another world is possible through active compassion.
  • Liberation with Safer Spirituality The institutional church is both obsessed with sex and terrified by it. Almost everything the church has to say about sex is framed by as a list of rules. This lecture will explore how we got into this situation by examining biblical and historical sources of sex-negative Christianity. It will develop a way of surviving and thriving within a sex-negative church for progressive Christians.

These were preceded on September 5 by a Spirited Conversation with the title Progressive Christians and Community Politics: Engaging the social capital of progressive faith communities which was conducted by Margaret at Thistle Inn.

“Individualism and loss of community are marks of contemporary western societies. One of the characteristics of progressive churches is the celebration of community. I have seen this in my congregation as people have discovered and enjoyed the mixture of people who come together to join in liturgy and to share their search for meaning with others who share their relationship to the Christian story and their ethical commitments to social justice.

“There are few such opportunities in contemporary western cities. An unexamined possibility of progressive faith communities and interfaith organizations is their potential as incubators of broader social engagement. What would it mean if we saw ourselves as communities that fostered citizens who engaged actively in community politics? How might we begin to do that?”

Great and Manifold

On August 27th, Wellington clergy and the Centre for Public Theology at Otago presented a major event to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible entitled Great and Manifold.

Held at Parliament Buildings, the event saw the presentation of a number of papers on the Bible and the King who arranged its publication from a panel of speakers that included David Norton, Chris Marshall, Andrew Bradstock, Wyn Beasley, Peter Lineham and Graham Redding.

In the evening, Jacobean music was performed by the Tudor Consort, concluding with dinner in the Grand Hall of Parliament at the invitation of the Minister of Arts, Culture & Heritage, Hon. Chris Finlayson. Full details here.

Jung, The Unconscious and Us

A series of four lectures presented by Professor Lloyd Geering focussed on how the ideas of Carl Jung, the pioneering depth psychologist, has helped us to understand ourselves, our culture, and even our future.

  • Jung and self-understanding
  • Jung and religious experience
  • Jung and the archetype of God
  • Jung and global unity

 A DVD of this lecture series is available HERE. 



Engaging With World Tragedy

A lecture was given by insight meditation teacher Eric Kolvig reflecting on the tenth anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001

“With our minds we make our world. Our minds have made most of our tragedies: personal ones like ruined relationships, social ones like injustice and war, and global ones like earthquakes and climate change.” Eric Kolvig suggested how we can master these all-important minds, moment by moment, in order to create well-being on our planet, and also in our societies and in our personal lives.

Eric is a practitioner of socially engaged Buddhism Born and raised in New Hampshire by his Cook Islands mother and Danish-American father, Eric Kolvig has been teaching in the vipassana Buddhist tradition since 1985, leading meditation retreats and giving public talks around the United States.

He has a particular interest in grassroots dharma, building spiritual community in democratic, non-authoritarian ways. He is interested in the special value of spiritual practice in the natural world. Eric lives in a rural intentional community in northern New Mexico.

Some of his writings, and other material can be found on his website here.

Of particular interest are his reflections on a journey to the Cook Islands in search of his mother's roots, and his piece “Crazy and Free”, on living as a gay man with mental illness.

Eric was brought to New Zealand by the Aotearoa Buddhist Education Trust.

Ethics for the Sexually Perplexed: A Twenty-First Century Christian Response

The Geering Lecture Series for 2011

  • What Makes “Good Sex” Good?
  • Is It Still Adultery if the Spouse Has Alzheimer’s?
  • What Do We Have to Learn from, as well as Teach, Young People about Sex?

Full details here.