Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Belief Media

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  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Living in America has been quite useful for ironing out my internal "X is religious? But they seemed so *normal*!" response.

    And people wonder why I've got a fair amount of scar tissue on the inside of my bottom lip.

    So every time McCroskrie appears in the media from now on, Satan pulls the wings off an angel. Got it.

    I don't know what the hell Satan does for shits and giggles, but McCoskrie has a distant and hostile relationship with truth, good taste and common decency. More than enough to go on with.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    It's hard not to dig jesus, especially if you have him as a childhood role model, he's ace.

    Yea but it was always understood you'd never ever be like him or as pure, good, all the rest was it noble? I wont go into the just lunatic shit healing lepers, curing the sick, raising the dead.
    So set yourself up to feel inadequate, yep good role model.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1891 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Jesus' hate for zombies is strangely endearing too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    I like this current trend of talking about ethics etc. Don’t think we do enough reflecting on what it means to be human, and how we relate to each others as members of the community of humans. There was a Bioethics conference at the University of Otago in January, organised by the Bioethics Centre at the university, with many interesting papers and perspectives, and the Bioethics Centre has a lively twitter feed. There’s another conference on legal ethics coming up soon in Auckland. The Nathaniel Centre is a group which encourages discussion on ethics (from within the umbrella of the Catholic Church). The Health Research Council overseas research ethics. Even Closeup had a little go at medical ethics yesterday.

    I have a personal and professional interest in research ethics.There are some major changes coming up in the Ministry of Health ethical review processes, which are causing some angst and active discussions within the sector, and which are likely to impact on humans as research participants.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3229 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to andin,

    So set yourself up to feel inadequate, yep good role model.

    Coupled with the fact that even if we knew that he actually was - which is at best about 50/50 - we have absolutely no idea what he really said, did, thought or anything else.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3284 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I don’t know what the hell Satan does for shits and giggles, but McCoskrie has a distant and hostile relationship with truth, good taste and common decency. More than enough to go on with.

    The truth would probably have McCoskrie on the first trip to the insolvency office. Fear and loathing is essentially on his business card.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5445 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    I find organised religion repellent in most cases - I have a sincere belief that any true religious feeling should come from within rather than being imposed (for some level of 'imposed') from without.

    Being raised in an essentially secular household who nonetheless were dragged along to church on Sundays until we were about 12, I saw the hypocrisy of many members of the congregation 1st-hand and I stopped attending church. Then, shortly after starting secondary school a good mate got me into going to Bible Class (I vaguely think I saw it as a way to meet girls who I wouldn't ordinarily encounter) and I got sucked into Youth For Christ which at that stage was led by Ian Grant who has since featured in various family-focused organisations.

    The YFC tactic for garnering new recruits was basically to stir up the emotions in big rallies & get the non-committed to "come forward to receive jesus christ as your personal saviour" and I wasn't strong enough to resist the mob hysteria (collective will, call it as you see it). It only took a couple of weeks & I realised I had been conned & it wasn't for me, but I have since had a distaste for the method of recruitment, especially when it seems they are preying on young people at a particularly vulnerable time in their lives.

    Since then I have had a deep cynicism for all forms of organised religion and a distrust of the adherents thereof. Most of them are genuine in their beliefs, no doubt, but it strikes me that the basis is all wrong. Or maybe just wrong for me.

    <rant>
    As for the term 'Christian', I believe it is often a complete misnomer. Many of the so-called Christians of a more fundamentalist bent have no truck with the tolerance, compassion and love that the bible tells us were characteristics of Jesus Christ and are instead deeply mired in the judgemental, vengeful and downright nasty elements that comprise much of the Old Testament. I'd like to see 'Christians' being sub-classified into OT and NT branches where the NT ones believe in the values espoused as being Jesus Christ's values, and the OT's being the vengeful nut-jobs.

    </rant>

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Touche Stewart. I got involved with a girl at high school and she was a member of the school bible class so I bowled along with her to a camp. Ngaruawhahia I think. There were a few sessions with the ear bashing hell fire and damnation recruiters. One was a guy on crutches from Auckland. Quite famous back then apparently. We had wonderful stare-me-out sessions between him and me. The girls (especially) were quite emotional around me but whether it was my influence or not they did not "go up". I had great fun reciting back all the usual verses of the bible back at the team leading "assistant recruiters" had even greater fun watching their response to this no god loon

    It was a defining moment where I just could not bring myself to be a lemming.

    PS. Interestingly, apparently I am hard to hypnotise.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1590 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Stewart,

    Then, shortly after starting secondary school a good mate got me into going to Bible Class (I vaguely think I saw it as a way to meet girls who I wouldn’t ordinarily encounter) and I got sucked into Youth For Christ which at that stage was led by Ian Grant who has since featured in various family-focused organisations.

    I was hoping Youth for Christ/Campus Life would come up. I went along for a little while at secondary school, mostly because some of my friends did. I even went to a Christian ski camp, which was fun, because it included not only skiing, but furtive fumbling in a bunk in one of the girls’ dormitories. I gather Parachute is like this writ large.

    As well as the activities, there was discussion in small groups in the evenings. I don’t think any of it distressed me, but there was a degree of implicit pressure to start discovering Jesus. I still recall explaining to the group that while it had been most thought-provoking, I would be remaining “cheerfully agnostic”.

    The YFC tactic for garnering new recruits was basically to stir up the emotions in big rallies & get the non-committed to “come forward to receive jesus christ as your personal saviour” and I wasn’t strong enough to resist the mob hysteria (collective will, call it as you see it). It only took a couple of weeks & I realised I had been conned & it wasn’t for me, but I have since had a distaste for the method of recruitment, especially when it seems they are preying on young people at a particularly vulnerable time in their lives.

    I went to one such rally, at the Christchurch Town Hall, and that was the end for me. I was actually outraged by the way the opening speaker/preacher demeaned other religions, and when some of my friends stood up to go forward and take the blessing, I did not. I don’t think I went to another meeting after that. The social pleasures of the group were outweighed by things with which I was not comfortable.

    ETA: Ironically, there's no doubt that these activities were challenging and useful for me. Not least in that they obliged me to make a decision to openly differ from the group.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    I'd just like to say that while I am not religious in any regular sense I have an appreciation for the natural world that borders on reverence and I would like to be a better person in terms of adhering to the principles that are attributed to Jesus Christ.

    But, in truth, I am a selfish, self-indulgent bastard with attitude. Falling short, as it were.

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I went to one such rally, at the Christchurch Town Hall, and that was the end for me.

    The one I went to was at the Wellington town hall and I was an eager-to-please 12 or 13-y-o who got sucked in with the emotion of the moment. Commit in haste & repent at leisure...

    Once I was old enough to realise how contrived the whole scene was I felt very pleased that I had walked away from it all. Happy to have some similar values, but not happy to be part of their way of walking in the world.

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • rjal, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Living in America has been quite useful for ironing out my internal “X is religious? But they seemed so *normal*!” response. It hasn’t gone away, exactly, but I’m learning to not assume that being non-religious as the default until told otherwise.

    There’s a line in an NZ mental health TV comercial, which I saw a few years back, that has always stuck with me: “and he’s a christian – not that I hold it against him.” (I’ve spent a bit of time on YouTube trying to find it, but can’t seem to track it down.)

    I think it says a lot in a few words about NZers somewhat uneasy relationship to people of faith in NZ, myself included.

    Since Dec 2011 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    And people wonder why I've got a fair amount of scar tissue on the inside of my bottom lip.

    I'm not saying it was a *good* attitude for me to have. It's basically a manifestation of the classic human assumption that other people hold the same attitudes they do unless there are strong signals otherwise. A number of circumstances in my life have meant that this particular assumption was not a bad one most of the time, thus reinforcing it. But those are the sort of assumptions that trip you up the worst in edge cases, so it's better that it's taken a few knocks.

    I was hoping Youth for Christ/Campus Life would come up. I went along for a little while at secondary school, mostly because some of my friends did.

    It may be illustrative, now I think about it, that the people I knew to be religious during my NZ uni career basically fell, with a few exceptions, into three categories: a) Muslims b) people from Campus Life c) very non-practicing Catholics. Of course, there were probably a bunch more I didn't know about because it didn't come up and I assumed.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Hey Zeus...

    Coupled with the fact that even if we knew that he actually was – which is at best about 50/50 – we have absolutely no idea what he really said, did, thought or anything else.

    perhaps they had excellent name suppression laws back then, too?
    and if only he'd had access to Twitter© ...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    I’m not saying it was a *good* attitude for me to have. It’s basically a manifestation of the classic human assumption that other people hold the same attitudes they do unless there are strong signals otherwise. A number of circumstances in my life have meant that this particular assumption was not a bad one most of the time, thus reinforcing it. But those are the sort of assumptions that trip you up the worst in edge cases, so it’s better that it’s taken a few knocks.

    Sure, and I didn't mean to a dick in your general direction. I find it hard to imagine you being really obnoxious about anything and I certainly didn't mean to devalue or wave off your own experience.

    Believe it or not I can argue about anything except religion. It's a very intimate and complex part of my life, and I don't really like using it as cocktail party argument fodder.

    And you're right, we all make assumption like that. It's character-forming to be on the receiving end, now and them. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Stewart,

    The one I went to was at the Wellington town hall and I was an eager-to-please 12 or 13-y-o who got sucked in with the emotion of the moment. Commit in haste & repent at leisure…

    And right on cue: story and video from an Arise church service at Wellington Town Hall.

    It's way more like an actual gig or a rave than the Youth for Christ things used to be -- and it presumably goes down that way every Sunday.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    The local Presbyterian church had a very inclusive youth group to which they invited Oscar when he was a teenager. The young men taking it even came and collected him the first time as he was reluctant to try something new. After that he was happy to go along every week. Over the years he went to youth camp and to some YFC type events in the Town Hall. They were good Christians - ie their behaviour was probably inspired by the actions of the historical Jesus.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3229 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    I remember YFC and another lot whose name I don't recall being given stage time at our school assemblies to promote their evening rallies. They would do a couple of covers of popular songs and say something quite mild but people who went to their main events often came back scared and upset. I always thought it was a bit dodgy that they were allowed into state schools and given a captive audience.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    Coupled with the fact that even if we knew that he actually was – which is at best about 50/50 – we have absolutely no idea what he really said, did, thought or anything else.

    I was fascinated to read Philip Pullman’s The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ which might also interest some here. It re-imagines the life of Jesus as if lived by twin brothers, Jesus and Christ, one gentle and naive, the other political and unscrupulous. It’s full of surprises and raises some complex issues.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3895 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Isabel Hitchings,

    I remember YFC and another lot whose name I don’t recall being given stage time at our school assemblies to promote their evening rallies.

    Certain Sounds, perhaps? They were a Christian rock band -- or brand, really, given that the lineup changed from year to year -- who toured schools.

    They would do a couple of covers of popular songs and say something quite mild but people who went to their main events often came back scared and upset. I always thought it was a bit dodgy that they were allowed into state schools and given a captive audience.

    The whole pentecostal thing was quite new at that point, and I suspect schools just didn't get what was going on. You'd hope the rallies aren't quite so scary and upsetting now too -- the experience of finding something dark in the big YFC rallies of the time doesn't seem like an uncommon one.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The whole pentecostal thing was quite new at that point

    Not my recollection. The avowedly pentecostal Elim and Assemblies of God churches were very well established and actively recruiting in NZ by the end of the 1960s.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to andin,

    set yourself up to feel inadequate, yep good role model

    aren't most 'role models' stretching us beyond what we are?

    Falling short, as it were.

    however it is quite a useful business model for a church.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Isabel Hitchings,

    I always thought it was a bit dodgy that they were allowed into state schools and given a captive audience.

    Same. Regular 'religious instruction' sessions (inevitably mono-Christian) always struck me as a dereliction of school responsibility, just to maintain the fiction of independence. I'd like to have seen a range of faiths brought in as part of an organised, moderated programme led by the school as part of the curriculum.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    some major changes coming up in the Ministry of Health ethical review processes

    I'm guessing ethics committees aren't a 'front line' service. So where's the harm in gutting them, a bean-counting dunce might ask?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Sacha,

    I'm still on one for a couple of months so can't comment publicly much. But here are some details from the Health Research Council's Ethics Notes.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3229 posts Report Reply

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