Island Life by David Slack


The World Is Full of Cu*ts

I can't say I'm surprised to hear that Brian Tamaki doesn't like people using the word cu*t.

In my last conversation with him, I used a pithy exclamation to express my surprise at a story he was relating.
I could have said to him: No way!
I might have just as likely said: You're kidding!
Or: Crikey!
As it happened - and because I am ill-mannered, uncouth, and from rural Manawatu - I said to him: Shit!
Which really means: My word, Bishop! Do go on.

But he did not go on. Rather, he stopped mid-sentence and stared at me. He might have raised an eyebrow quizzically.

I was full of TVNZ red wine. It took me a moment to register the silence; another to realise that he was waiting for me to apologise, and finally another to deduce that the apology was expected for uttering a profanity in the presence of a holy man. I stifled a guffaw and said Oh. Sorry. He paused a little longer, meaningfully, before he resumed his story.

The one other time we met we had a long, long talk. He was accompanied by his wife; I was accompanied by my tape recorder. I liked him in the way you might like a weird cousin you don't have to visit more than twice. The following Sunday I watched him give an interminable sermon, long on Vegas show-man, but not anything that would make your mind move any faster than a Sunday stroll to the shop for a packet of Rothmans.

Still, I admire what lies at the heart of the enterprise: they mend broken lives. I wouldn't use the word cu*t. I would use the other one: enterpri*e. It seems a bit off to be making money out of Christian charity.

The world, though, is full of cu*ts. Take the Catholics. According to this sign we saw in Carcassonne, they get the tag.

Perhaps the Bishop is propelling himself towards some kind of power mania that will yet culminate in harm, but I don't see it.

Consider the alternative possibility: enterpri*e. Let us turn to tax law.

Income is taxable. Gifts are not. Give enough and you, the giver, will pay gift duty. Donations, what's more, now enjoy greater deductibility.

So if - say - 500 people each year each decide to give you $1000 as far as I can see, you get that money tax free.

500 grand, TAX FREE. Shit! That can get you the baddest-ass metallic black chrome-plated jetski in all of Christendom.

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