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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Positive news

We often sit watching the news on TV and wondering aloud if the news media are somehow, consciously or unconsciously, brain washing us into believing that human beings are mostly corrupt and out do harm. Given that we know the power of copy-cat behaviour I find it astounding that such graphic detail is given, not only in the news but presumably in many of the TV programmes too. Just seeing the titles of the evening "entertainment" makes me sad and angry.
However, the title of this post is "Positive news" so let me get to the point.

The truth is: The news is not all bad. People are not all cruel, uncaring and about to kidnap, kill and destroy. But we need to hear about this goodness, see it celebrated, have it as a daily diet to balance the bad news (which of course we can't deny). I'm glad to see that TV1 has continued it's weekly "Good Sorts" slot and Seven Sharp has an ASB "Good as Gold" award. That's a start. But what about regular reporting of the many wonderful things happening world wide?

So here are some links to good news/positive news:

The Gratefulness site every month has a list of wonderful positive news: click here for five inspiring stories. I was especially moved by the second story. What one woman can do to transform a whole community...

Or how about knowing of courageous grassroots responses to terrorism:

And would you believe - there are many websites that feature positive world news - good old Google gives several options. Here's one I like and have only just discovered: Positive News  Did you know that in spite of Trump, US businesses are speeding towards a low carbon world?

And how about celebrating with Amnesty NZ's good news page?

Seeing and hearing positive stories encourages me to keep believing in possibility, people power and the significance of human goodness expressed in ways as simple as holding hands with a Muslim neighbour or writing a letter or having a great idea and believing it is worth sharing.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Hopeful imagination

Recently two people mentioned Walter Brueggemann's book Hopeful Imagination. I knew I owned it so I've started re-reading it. Written in 1986 it is surprisingly, and somewhat shockingly, pertinent to what we see in the world and in the church today. I'm still in the first of the three sections of the book focussed on Jeremiah and his prophetic awareness of the coming exile and the destruction of Jerusalem. Both political and religious security were at stake.
"Jeremiah lived in a time of turmoil. He believed it was a time of dying. He envisioned the death of a culture, a society, a tradition. He watched his world dying and he felt pain. What pained him even more was the failure of his contemporaries to notice, to care, to acknowledge or to admit. He could not determine whether they were too stupid to understand, or whether they were so dishonest that they understood but engaged in an enormous cover up. He could not determine whether it was a grand public deception or a pitiful self-deception. But he watched. The dying seemed so clear, so inexorable. Yet they denied. In different moments, he indicts his people of both stupidity (4:22) and stubbornness (18:12)"

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Good Doctor

Every New Zealander should read this book!

I've recently finished it and it both inspired and challenged me.

"The Good Doctor is the inspirational life story of Dr Lance O'Sullivan, the man who stood up to help those most in need when no one else would. Lance O'Sullivan is a man on a mission. Raised in Auckland by a solo mother, he had a modest upbringing typical of the time, if one chequered with difficulties. After being expelled from two schools, Lance could have gone off the rails. Instead, he found his way at Hato Petera College, connecting with his Maori ancestry, and going on to study medicine. After a brief but outstanding career working as a GP in the public health system, Lance and his wife Tracy quit their day jobs to set up a ground-breaking practice in the Far North that offers free healthcare to the many who can't afford it. For his work, Lance has been acknowledged as a Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leader, Public Health Champion, Maori of the Year and, most recently, Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year. Passionate, brave and free-thinking, Lance stood up when no one else would. The Good Doctor charts his inspirational, one-of-a-kind life story, while relaying an overarching hope for a better New Zealand."

Monday, May 1, 2017

On Being a "book-eater"

I'm drawn more and more to reading memoirs. Somehow the story of a real person is even more inspiring than a good novel. Though I hasten to add that I'm still into good novels!

I'm currently reading The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander.  As the blurb on the inside cover says: "The Light of the World is at once an endlessly compelling memoir and a deeply felt meditation on the blessings of love, family, art, and community. It is also a lyrical celebration of a life well-lived and a paean to the enduring gift of human companionship. For those who have loved and lost, or for anyone who cares what matters most, The Light of the World is required reading."

This memoir is written after the death of her Eritrean husband, Ficre. He died suddenly at age 50 leaving her with their two sons aged 12 and 14.

In one description of her husband and his love of books she writes: "Rabbi Ponet writes about Jews as a book-loving people, and the erotics of the book. He imagines us dancing with the books we find sacred. I can see Ficre dancing with the books he loved. When he was a child one of his nicknames at Italian school was "mangia-libro", book eater, he loved them that much."

I identify with being a "book eater"! Since early childhood books have been my delight and my refuge. When I spent many days home from school with bronchitis, books were my companions. I could enter the world of the Famous Five, or Heidi, or missionaries in darkest Africa, while tucked up in bed. Clearly my interests were well balanced!!

Books have been companions all through my life. Wide-ranging interests continue too. Currently I might be reading the latest science (lay person's version!), novels, memoirs, theology, ecology, mysticism...  More and more I like the idea of being a book eater because food that is eaten becomes part of the bodily substance and energy of the one who eats. I can easily forget the details of books I've read but I console myself that what is important will have been absorbed by a sort of "osmosis" - or, with this new image, "digested" - and somehow part of me.

Back to Rabbi Ponet and his comment about Jews... I call to mind one of the visions Ezekiel received where he was told to "eat this scroll":
"And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat.
Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” 
So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth." Ezekiel 3:1-3

The fact that I remember this rather obscure Scripture suggests that my theory is correct! I've "eaten" scripture steadily over the years too - and here it is, not totally forgotten, just filed away somewhere until I need it! (PS I did have to look up the chapter and verse!)