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Holiday Thoughts

Buddhism & the Bible

I’ve been away having some vacation time on both main islands of NZ, visiting cities, towns, villages, and rural areas. Such time travelling, as usual, gives me a different perspective – and extra time for reflection.

I noticed…

Never once did I publicly see a single person wearing a clerical collar or anyone in a Religious habit. Church buildings were generally locked. Yes – some were open. Not a single one of the open ones had anyone inside. One was unlocked, and when I opened the door, it set off the alarm!

I stayed in hostels, back-packers, motels – not a single one had any information about churches or church services. This used to be standard, both in the information book in the room and often on cards or brochures in the lobby.

Many still had a Gideon’s Bible. One had both a Gideon’s Bible and a (very attractive) Buddhist book (photo above). One had this Buddhist book and no Bible.

Here’s a thought: Why do vicars write a reflection on the weekly pew sheet? The ones I saw were (as they so often are) a mini-sermon, a meditation. Some could do with being run through a spell and grammar checker. If they are being delivered to a large number of non-church-attending households – they have a different function than addressing the weekly, in-the-pews, faithful. That, I suspect, was the origin of this habit – the vicar reaching beyond the church building’s walls. That’s not the tone of what I read. And I don’t get the impression that these pew-sheets are being dropped off around the neighbourhoods in large numbers. Also, in our internet world, I invite you to rethink this habit…

Walking along a street, I had a conversation with one person which began when I commented on her dog. She brought God, her church, and her church’s website naturally into the conversation. It was unthreatening and unforced – we need a lot more people to be like this…

Looking around at the age range and the style of music at a (Anglican) service, I realised (read ‘suspected’) that a lot (majority?) of these people were running on the afterglow of the 1960s Billy Graham’s crusades and charismatic renewal. We need renewal again in our own day, appropriate for these new times. Have we, perhaps, missed God’s movement (by our focusing on and emphasising what is less important – majoring on minors)…?

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6 thoughts on “Holiday Thoughts”

  1. I stayed in two hotels in Perth (AUS) recently, and there was no sign of a Gideon’s Bible in either place. And the visitor guides had nothing about local church services of any variety.

  2. I used to do this when I could still walk!

    All the churches were always open back then in Europe, anyone could go in and pray or rest, one time I remember in the middle of nowhere in Yorkshire there was a pedal church organ and I played hymns all alone for a while. Another time I was taken to the cathedral in s’Hertogenbosch in Holland, and I spent hours looking at the Hieronymus Bosch paintings. There’s one here at the MFA in Houston.

    It’s ironic he was painting the end times and hell, now we americans may be living them!

    I hope you write something about the book of revelation some time ( or maybe you have ) it’s always been the least comprehensible to me, so I kind of skim over it.

    Of course I like the synoptic gospels the best, especially sermon on the mount, and some of the Bible poetry, but revelation does seem to describe what we are dealing with now, the corruption, evil, natural disasters one after another. I wish I could make sense of it.

    Where did it come from Bosco? What’s the earliest copy, do you know?

  3. I’ll try and find some more about revelation, thanks for the link. Many of the oldest surviving bible texts ended up in Ireland, Dublin I think. They are just fragments of the synoptic gospels.

    I would love to go there!

    I always questioned the last verses of the Bible, where it says ‘ If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.’

    It makes it sound like the Bible dropped whole from an angel, not that it was constructed in bits by humans.

    I took something away from every cathedral I ever visited, St Paul’s and St Patrick’s after 9/11 ( New York ) ‘the missions’ in San Francisco and San Antonio.

    I love cathedrals!

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