Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Belief Media

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  • Ben Curran,

    I always find the word respect an interesting one in these discussions. There's a spectrum of meaning attached to the word respect. It can be used to denote due regard for the feelings/rights/traditions of others, in which case I fully condone it's use. It gets tricky when it is confused with one of it's other meanings though - in the sense that it can be used to denote admiration for someone/something.

    As someone who doesn't believe religious idea's should be exempt from critical appraisal, I find it troubling when used in that second context - in that sense, religious belief being something I do not have any respect for. Disagree with what you say, yet willing to fight for your right to be able to say it sort of thing.
    Anyway, I shall watch with interest.

    Since May 2011 • 44 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ben Curran,

    I always find the word respect an interesting one in these discussions. There’s a spectrum of meaning attached to the word respect. It can be used to denote due regard for the feelings/rights/traditions of others, in which case I fully condone it’s use. It gets tricky when it is confused with one of it’s other meanings though – in the sense that it can be used to denote admiration for someone/something.

    Very much (a).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18824 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ben Curran,

    regard for the feelings/rights/traditions of others

    or even just recognising that other perspectives exist.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16608 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    There is no doubt this country has developed over the last 200 years under the direct influence of the christian faith. Practically any connection with other world religions was nigh impossible. There is no doubt this so called “god given” and “god’s own” country is now being watered down by other religions and god rejecting heathens – commonly they call us atheists.

    Rather than progressively pander to all and sundry, the rational approach is to assert that public NZ should be a fully secular country where individuals are entitled to partake in their own weird practices but ensure the rest of the country’s day to day operations (from employment and education upwards) go ahead prayer free.

    So for starters, eschew christmas, eschew easter.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1494 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ross Mason,

    now being watered down

    or enriched

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16608 posts Report Reply

  • Robert Harvey,

    The thing which tends to bug me about discussions in which religion is an element, is that people's beliefs seem somehow to have more weight, more significance, than (mere) facts. It's as though more energy is behind things that (by definition) you don't know, than behind things that just are. And the result seems to be a tendency for theological issues to be discussed as though they are more important than perceived reality, which to me is back to front. I have no problem with people having beliefs, but I do have a problem when these are treated as facts, or as more important than facts.

    Westmere • Since Nov 2006 • 39 posts Report Reply

  • Will de Cleene,

    I have been pondering something I heard Lloyd Geering say at a secular conference some time ago. He gave a wide interpretation to religion, way beyond the official nomenclature of denominations. More of a "Tao", a way of life.

    It's an idea I find comforting, as it prescribes some protection for atheists and other secularists to enjoy the protections of human faith without the requisite spaghetti monster alibi.

    Raumati • Since Jul 2011 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ross Mason,

    There is no doubt this country has developed over the last 200 years under the direct influence of the christian faith. Practically any connection with other world religions was nigh impossible.

    Not really true. As I wrote a few years ago:

    I’ve been reading Sir Keith Sinclair’s A Destiny Apart: New Zealand’s Search for National Identity, which makes some fascinating observations about the practice of war remembrance that developed here after World War 1. A conventionally religious flavour was gradually squeezed out in favour of the Dawn Service, which, says Sinclair, “might, indeed, have been some pagan ceremony.”

    The concrete symbols of remembrance that dot the country even now, he notes, “are neither churches nor chapels; the cross is rarely employed. Rather, they look back to the Greek cenotaph, the empty tomb or to the column. The Auckland War Memorial, like the National Museum in Wellington, was inspired by Greek Temples. Each is placed on a hill, like the Acropolis. The obelisk looks back to ancient Egypt. Some monuments are arches, like the triumphant arches often erected in nineteenth-century New Zealand to welcome distinguished guests. These too, derive from the pre-Christian world. In many countries, these war memorials played a major role in strengthening nationalism. The nation was imagined as a community in which everyone shared, and to which everyone owed an equal duty. For men, that duty, included, if necessary, the supreme self-sacrifice.”

    There are few things more bound to our sense of national identity than Anzac Day, and yet it is really not a Christian occasion.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18824 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    I have always felt that by the time someone has reached their late teens (I'm approaching that now) they've established a world view that either does (most people) or does not (a minority) allow them to function as part of society.

    Dealing with those who have not established a world view that works for them it takes a skilled professional to help them find a path, it's not a job for amateurs.

    For me that leads very simply to the concept that actively trying to disrupt someones belief system is not a nice thing to do to someone. That's where I get grumpy with organised religion as an entity. I have no problem with anyone believing anything if it makes them happy and does no harm to others. But if they try and convert another person ... then I don't think that's a nice thing.

    I know my parents loved the religious freedom they had when they immigrated, in their case the freedom to have no religion. And while I have no religion, I like that in my suburb (Mt Roskill) there is just about every religious group you can think of, and they all seem to get along and cook for each other. As an aside why do we only have a cross on Mt Roskill, why aren't there 27 other symbols up there, or none?

    To me that's an important part of being a New Zealander (whatever that is), the idea that it's OK if your neighbour thinks something different from you so long as your kids can still play together without causing too much damage to the vege garden.

    If that diversity and tolerance plays out in the media then that has to be a good thing, doesn't it?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3320 posts Report Reply

  • Will de Cleene,

    Dr Bill Cooke of the NZ Humanist Society would also disagree. Most of NZ's European immigration in the 1880's was in the age of Darwin. Most of the godbotherers had already gone to the US. Hell, European immigration wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for Cook's scientific funding to study the Transit of Venus.

    NZ had its missionaries, but it was largely founded by whalers and sailors, followed by others who just wanted the space and freedom to do their own thing without all the baggage encumbering Europe at the time - be it religious, historical, caste or racial.

    Raumati • Since Jul 2011 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • Will de Cleene, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    To me that's an important part of being a New Zealander (whatever that is), the idea that it's OK if your neighbour thinks something different from you so long as your kids can still play together without causing too much damage to the vege garden.

    True dat. In NZ, it ain't no thing for a Jew and an Arab to be friends.

    Raumati • Since Jul 2011 • 105 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    who both offer their take on this kind of work in this CBA promotional video:

    And it reeks of studied stupidity, no offence 'n all

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1208 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Melchior, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I have no problem with attempts at conversion, within proper bounds. A healthy society will always have people trying to convince others of new (or old) ideas and so it should. It's the proper bounds that mean that the kids can still play.

    As for Ross' idea of getting rid of Chrimas and Easter, I don't think so. I've lived in Singapore twice in my life and while there is a ot of things about their society I wouldn't emulate I think their practise on religious holidays is pretty spot on. Cover off every major group (in their case Christian, Muslim, Hindu and "Chinese"/Buddhist) and then have a smattering of shared national holidays. In NZ's case, that means more or less what we have and I don't think anyone is really suffering because of it.

    I'm an atheist - hardcore and dogmatic. But I don't care about Easter or Christmas - we have widespread, largely secular traditions built around both holidays (eggs and presents) and they're not doing anyone any harm.

    Melbourne • Since Nov 2006 • 30 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Will de Cleene,

    godbotherers

    You know what, Will, far be it from me to tone police anyone but you think that's a particularly helpful turn of phrase in this context?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11910 posts Report Reply

  • vangam, in reply to Russell Brown,

    There has been something of a reaction in NZ history against Sinclair’s secular interpretation. Some contemporary scholars believe he underestimates the importance of religion in early NZ; I think it is Dunedin scholar John Stenhouse who leads the charge in this respect.

    Rangiora • Since Jun 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to vangam,

    There has been something of a reaction in NZ history against Sinclair's secular interpretation. Some contemporary scholars believe he underestimates the importance of religion in early NZ

    Like much else, and with no disrespect to Sinclair, I think historiography is in large part about people drawing bold lines, followed by others to shade in the nuances, ambiguities and down right contradictions that make human beings so delightful. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11910 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Petra Bagust...
    ...in this CBA promotional video:

    When I discovered that Petra Bagust was a Christian, the Devil in me thought
    "What a shame"

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4783 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Voisey,

    I'm really stoked that you're covering this, Russell. I remembering hearing years ago that Radio Rhema was the biggest radio network in NZ - I'm sure that's not the case now - but it was a surprise to those at the conference at the time.

    How can I put this politely? I'm glad that so many commenters feel such conviction about the place of religion in their lives. I'm sure that you, Russell, are more interested in hearing than being heard. Gutted I can't be there tomorrow night - will catch the podcast.

    Since Jul 2011 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    godbotherers...
    You know what, Will, far be it from me to tone police anyone but you think that’s a particularly helpful turn of phrase in this context?

    Depends on the definition. To me, they are the ones that knock on your door... in the night... with strange pamphlets.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4783 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    When I discovered that Petra Bagust was a Christian, the Devil in me thought
    “What a shame”

    When she walked into the lift at work I thought "she is really tall" and then "WTF is she wearing a lab coat for ... and doesn't she know they should not be worn in the lift"

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3320 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Ummm... Late last year I was interviewed on Breakfast about marriage equality, mostly on the strength of an op-ed I wrote for the Dom Post about it. I was arguing for full formal equality for all New Zealanders. Petra Bagust asked me if it was a matter of morality vs. equality. She didn't quite know how to respond when I replied, "Whose morality?"

    I suspect that she is so entrenched in Christianity that she can't quite perceive any other way of doing morality.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1303 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Another piece I wrote for the Dom Post, this time arguing that we should be doing away with statutory holidays for Christian holy days. Not on-line, alas, but I have a scan of it here: Giving faiths equal rights under law not difficult.

    Mind you, I am very much looking forward to having Friday off!

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1303 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Genuine question, perhaps for the show if it fits: do religions evangelise differently in NZ than elsewhere? How does a culture of tolerance interact with a purpose of persuasion?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16608 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Deborah,

    really well argued, thanks.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16608 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Yes, I'm inclined to reserve "Godbotherers" for people who bother me about their god. I don't even especially mind the door knocking Godbotherers, unless it's before 9am on a Saturday or Sunday, but it's the ones who won't just go away when you say politely, "No, thank you." that annoy me. Or the ones who thrust pamphlets at my children. Or the ones who say they will pray for me....

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1303 posts Report Reply

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