#Rio2016 is a fairly good result for NZ

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Over the past few days I have begun to hear commentators and ‘pundits’ talking about how well we are doing (or ‘not’ as the case may be) at #Rio2016. Like those commentators I also had the feeling that we were performing pretty poorly this time round so I thought I’d do some research as to how terrible the New Zealand Olympic Class of 2016 is…and found out something quite interesting.

New Zealand, as New Zealand, has been competing at the Olympic Games since 1920, up to an including the 2012 London Olympics that is 21 appearances competing against the rest of the world. Over those 21 Olympics New Zealand has won Gold 41 times. By my account there are a total of 71 New Zealanders that have won a Gold Medal at any Olympics, including when we competed as Australasia. There have been four occasions when New Zealand has not received any Gold Medals (1920, 1924, 1932, 1948) at an Olympic Games and only twice where New Zealand has won over 3 Gold Medals (8 in 1984 and 6 in 2012).

If you add all these numbers together you understand that New Zealand averages just under two Gold Medals at every Olympics and if we get more than three it is an extraordinary event.

Which means if we look to #Rio2016 with this understanding we will see clearly that as we currently have two Gold Medals, and the chance of more to come, we are doing pretty well. Yes I agree that with 6 Gold Medals at the #London2012 we would have liked to see growth, but it is unrealistic when looking at the history of New Zealand competing at the Olympics that all of a sudden we would go from winning two or three Gold Medals to consistently winning 6+.

So well done to all the New Zealand Olympians and all you couch commentators remember if we can hit 3 Gold Medals that is a great result for New Zealand.

Oh an by the way, I still haven’t seen Mahe’s Gold Medal from #Rio2016 with the bullying control that SkyTV has over the footage…but that complaint is for another day.

 

Where does a progressive charismatic go?

Adversaries 1So many of you know, in fact for many of you it may be the primary reason we are connected, that I am, for want of a better word, religious. I have never fitted well into any box. Most other people use the word ‘Christian’ when they talk about me but I don’t and never really have as I feel it doesn’t represent me accurately, especially when so much of my work over the past 20 years has been in a public setting and that public setting has already decided what the word ‘Christian’ means, and their definition is not what I am.

One of the reasons I have never felt comfortable with the term “Christian” is that I look at the community that identifies with that word and I don’t see people like me, who think like me, who act like me, or who represent their faith in the way I represent my faith. So if I’m nothing like them, then I’m not one of them…right?

As someone who hopes to constantly grow in his beliefs, opinions and perspectives on “life, the universe and everything“, I have come to the conclusion in recent times that it doesn’t seem that I fit…because I don’t fit. Simple really.

As with the word “Christianity” I really hate labels as I find them too encompassing, but for the sake of conversation I will try to expand on where I see myself fit in the church.

My personal beliefs, theology and faith fit more comfortably with what many would describe as Progressive Christianity…but my natural style of worship (read ‘style of church’ for you non-religious) is much more like what many would see as Charismatic Christianity. Let me state this for the record to make it very, very clear before the Christian trolls decide to have a crack. I am neither Progressive nor am I Charismatic, but they are areas within the faith that I gravitate towards for aspects of my personal journey and therein lies the problem.

In New Zealand, progressive churches (which support the LGBTI community and treat women as equals) are typically very traditional (think hymns, organs, choirs and a liturgical, repeated service each week) and seem to be to have less of an interest in what the bible describes as “Gifts of the Holy Spirit.” On the other hand, a charismatic church will have more life, more youth and have more my preference in style of music. However a charismatic church is much more likely to be very conservative in its beliefs (think anti-same sex marriage, limits on women’s participation in the church) and there is often an implicit message that input from outside the bible is something to be avoided, and everything in the bible is ‘literal’. I realise I am being unfair to pigeon hole all charismatic churches like this, but if you lined up a hundred of each, these trends would be very obvious to see.

So for someone who wants the style of a charismatic church, but the intellect and theology of a progressive church what do they do? What do I do?

In an ideal world I would be finding a church that has progressive leanings and a charismatic style but it would seem that in Dunedin that kind of church doesn’t exist. When we first arrived in Dunedin I tried to attend a church that has progressive leanings knowing that the style wasn’t me, and I hoped that I could make a space for myself and others who wanted more of what I was looking for. Offers were made and accepted, but those doors were quickly closed so here I sit on Sunday morning at my desk with no church affiliation…but still feeling like I want one.

I decided this morning that I actually want to find a church here in Dunedin. In my investigative efforts so far I have failed to find what I am looking for and what I’ve decided to do is start by finding out where churches sit theologically. Obviously I can find out about their style of worship is by visiting. I have three questions to ask the leadership in the churches I am going to approach.

  1. If one of my children was to come out as gay at 15 how would they be received in this churches congregation?
  2. If my child, then as an 18 year old, wanted to be the leader of the youth group, how would the leadership approach that?
  3. If my child, at 22, then wanted to be married to their same-sex partner in this church, by the Pastor, how would that be received by the leadership?

Whilst many know that my connection with and defense of the LGBTI community is a very important part of my faith, it’s not the be-all and end-all. However I find that asking questions around this issue is very enlightening – it gives me a pretty good indication of where the church sits on other issues important to my faith.

Let’s see how I go.

 

 

If you are interested in interacting with me about this post you can comment below, follow me on twitter or facebook or email me directly.

What would Pope Francis do?

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I am a product of the Catholic schooling system although have not been a part of the Catholic Church since I was 16 and have not considered myself a Catholic since then. I am proud of my association with my old schools (St Peters College Years 7 to 9 and Sacred Heart College, Years 9 – 13) and have nothing but good memories from them especially whilst boarding at SHC.

I have never wanted to associate myself with the Catholic Church once leaving school, not for any particular reason other than I found it boring,  not very relevant to my life and lacking in inspiration. However recently I have found myself drawn to the new Pope and am excited about the direction he seems to be taking the Catholic Church in and whilst I am not fully ‘on board’ with everything he says, it’s obvious to me that the direction he intends to take the Church in is less regressive than previous Popes.

One of my greatest joys in recent times was hearing Pope Francis talk about the dangers of capitalism, the need for the wealthy to look after the poor and the concern for what he calls the “idolatry of money.”

It is with the knowledge that the Pope has significant and public concern about how the poor are treated, and the obvious links he is making to money and how it should be distributed, that I was extremely disappointed at receiving an email from SHC this week asking, among other things, for donations towards a $70,000 Grand Piano for their new music department.piano

Now looking around $70,000 might be a very good price for a top end Grand Piano, I spoke to someone today who sold them as was told that they can range between $150,000 and $350,000 so I am not saying this is not a “good deal” I am challenging SHC on whether it is important at all.

I found a Grand Piano online for under $12,000 and I am sure the best upright piano, that many music departments would drool over would be far less than $70,000. What would Pope Francis do?

I don’t want this to turn into a ‘smash the Catholic Church’ conversation, it’s not my intention to give them a black eye, but as someone with 17 years ‘behind the pew’ I think I can gently tap you on the shoulder and say, “have you really thought this one through?”

SHC is in the suburb of Glen Innes which is one of the poorer suburbs in Auckland. If you look at the make up of the community you will see that the only demographic it is ahead in compared to the Auckland and National averages is “people earning under $20,000” and that nearly 60% of the homes there are not owned by those dwelling in them. This is a struggling suburb.

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On top of all that with there being a lot in the news at the moment about people sleeping in cars I have to wonder how a school, who claims as a part of their Special Character that their culture “is centred on the person of Jesus Christ” can bring themselves to be comfortable with spending $70,000 on a single musical instrument.

Many will also ask about the wealth that the school is literally sitting on. SHC is situation at 250 West Tamaki Road, Glen Innes. The records show that this property has a Ratings Valuation of $65,500,000 of which the land alone is worth over $40,000,000. Again I understand the idea of being ‘asset rich’, but your property is likely worth over $100,000,000 on an open market. At what point do you stop and at the very least ask a question about liquidizing some of your assets to better your amenities?

I also do not want to suggest that being charitable, and giving to whatever cause you deem important, is not a good thing and I understand how much not-for-profit groups, schools, charities etc…rely on donations. All I am asking is that if Pope Francis had that $70,000…what would he do?

Here is an idea SHC, and I’m not being a curmudgeon here and saying “Don’t do it” to your Grand Piano. How about you raise the $70,000, purchase the one I found for $12,000 and then cure over 130 people from leprosy?

At the moment you can donate $432 to the Leprosy Mission which cures one person from leprosy. The cure includes locating them, caring for them, curing them and then supporting them into positions where they can support themselves. What would Pope Francis do?

If you don’t like the Leprosy Mission, how about World Vision, what about Rainbow Youth, do you like Tearfund? There are a myriad of opportunities out there that, in my opinion, would be grateful for the help to help others, all whilst the students of SHC can still sit at a $12,000 piano that 99% of New Zealanders would never be able to afford and 99.99% of New Zealanders wouldn’t hear a difference between.

And if the question “What would Pope Francis do?” is a bit existential, then what about “What would Jesus do?” maybe that’s a little easier to figure out.

Reasons why Clinton, and every other Democratic supporter, must insist Sanders stay in the race

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton

So before I start this post I need to remind you of a couple of things. The first is that I publicly stated 10 months ago that Hillary Clinton would be the next President and the GOP knows it (although I did also state back then that the only person who could trip her up was Donald Trump). Also I want to reiterate that I think the best person to be President is Bernie Sanders, even more than his political ideology I think it would be a fascinating 4 years letting someone run the country who is not only outside the establishment, but also has a consistent track record of doing what is best for the people of America.

As I sit here today, over 15,000 km from the capital of the state of Vermont, I still think that Hillary Clinton will be President. I think that Trump will give her a much closer run than many did, and are yet to, give him credit for which they do at their own peril, and I have to say from my daily grind whomever wins will not change my life one iota. In saying all of that there are some very important reasons for every supporter of either Democratic candidate to insist that Bernie Sanders stay in this race right up until the convention.

The first, and most important, is that he could still win. I’ve already posted that it was improbable when he needed 57% of the remaining vote and now that he needs 66% it’s even more unlikely but it’s still not, as some are saying, mathematically over. He still has a shot to win so why should he pull out. When the Highlanders (that’s rugby for you Northern Hemisphere folk) are 20 behind with 10 minutes to go I don’t want them to walk off the field, I want them to fight for as long as the have a chance.

The second is that Hillary Clinton is currently under Federal investigation. Please don’t buy into the lie that the Clinton Campaign is feeding the media that it’s not an “investigation” but a “security inquiry.” There are currently a minimum of 12 FBI agents working full time on this case, there are important participants being given immunity to any potential charges. The FBI Director James Comey put this whole suggestion of “inquiry” to bed when asked by a reporter of this was actually an investigation. He responded by saying he was “not familiar” with the term “security inquiry” and put the nail in the coffin when pointing out that all the FBI did was investigations by saying, “it’s in our name.” So if Clinton get’s charged with anything and Sanders is not there, hello “President Trump!” Now most are saying that it will be hard to prove “intent” in this case, which means the FBI needs to prove that Clinton intended to show classified files to people who didn’t have clearance, but nonetheless the investigation is ongoing.

The third who all Democratic supporters should want Sanders to stay in the race is that if he was to bow out, then Clinton’s oxygen from the 24 hour news cycle. The main reason she is getting so much coverage at the moment is that this race continues and the GOP race is over. Once there are two candidates and the “news” media are looking for a lead who do you think they will go to? The establishment candidate who is trying to not rock the boat too much or the rodeo clown talking about chem trails? If you are a Clinton supporter, and Sanders was to bow out, your candidate will get zero coverage compared to Trump. News these days (unfortunately) is info-tainment in which Clinton might be the “info”, Trump definitely is the “tainment” and it’s the tainment that rates. Clinton gets far more oxygen whilst Sanders is still there.

The fourth reason reflects a little bit reason number two. It’s not that I think anything will be in the report, but it has just been announced that the House Report on Benghazi will be out before the conventions. Is there anything in there to hurt Clinton? Probably not but then I probably won’t be in a car crash when I next drive my car, but I still put on my seat belt. Sanders is the Democratic seat belt at the moment.

As an aside, there is potentially another “seat belt” out there at the moment who maybe the establishment is lining up should one if these scandals hit Clinton hard and that’s Joe Biden. Why else would he be coming out at this point in the political cycle telling the people of America that he would be the best President of the whole class of 2016…watch this space.

Finally to those people who are calling for Sanders to step aside because he is “doing Trump’s work” then let me ask you two questions.

  1. What do you think that Sanders has said about Clinton that Trump already doesn’t have in his barrel? What secret angle or piece of information does Sanders have that a man that would bring up Bill Clinton’s sexual past, and blame Hillary for it, doesn’t know, have or is willing to invent?
  2. Why would you support a candidate that some off the cuff remark, or opinion spoke about them, or truth be said about their record might be enough to lose this election to a maniac? That candidate doesn’t sound like a particularly strong candidate to me.

If you want to see a President that comes from the Democratic side of the isle, it’s pretty clear to me (and hopefully you now) that it is imperative that Bernie Sanders stay in the race.

 

Donald Trump finds his equal(s)

It seems Powershop has found the equal(s) of Donald Trump from within, what appears to be, the NZ Pre-School community

 

Ironically it’s not that far from the truth as the study, ‘A Readability Analysis of Campaign Speeches from the 2016 US Presidential Campaign’, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University’s Language Technologies Institute (LTI), who analysed a number of transcripts for each candidate, including campaign trail speeches, victory speeches and defeat speeches, found that Donald Trump has the vocabulary of an 11 year old.

He could be the leader of the free world, and he comes off as grumpy and difficult, but I can only assume that it’s because he hasn’t had his afternoon nap yet

It’s been confirmed, the lunatics are running the asylum

Gender_Neutral_AP_c0-66-700-474_s885x516I’ve had many people I’m connected with ask me if I am going to make any comment on laws like HB2 in North Carolina that, among other discriminatory actions, bans transgender individuals from using the bathroom they identify with.

When I was working as a talkback host, one of the most important questions I would ask my callers who had strong opinions was “then what?” The classic example I remember is about a house in Porirua that was frequented by gang members, that was occupied by a solo mum and several kids. There were calls a plenty to get them out of the state house etc…so I would ask “ok, then what?” Often people would be a bit stumped by that question so I would go on, “let’s say we get that solo mum, her kids and other associates out of that house…then what? Then where does the solo mum and her kids go now that they are on the street, or are they in another state house that might be next to you, or are they in a caravan that gets parked at the end of your driveway…then what?”

What the question did was cut through all the bullshit and rhetoric and make people look at the issue from a real world perspective. As you will probably understand some talkback callers didn’t like to be challenged to go a but deeper in their overly-simplistic ideologies.

So as soon as I saw the goings on in America, under the guise of ‘religious freedom’ laws like North Carolina’s HB2, my first reaction is “okay, then what?” What happens if a transgender woman, who was born male, uses bathroom facilities that now by law they are not allowed to use, then what? Is someone going to be standing at the door looking for evidence? Are the police going to be called if someone needs to wee? If the police are called and it’s confirmed that this woman was born male and she is sitting in the cubicle next to my wife peeing..then what?

Well one of the ‘then whats’ is that people start calling the police when they think a transgender woman is in their bathroom, the police turn up and remove that person from the bathroom even though they are female and were born female as shown in the video below.

 

She is a lesbian and dresses in what could be described as a ‘butch’ way, but she is legally entitled to be in that bathroom but as someone didn’t think she looked ‘female enough’ she was kicked out of the bathroom by the police. Madness! As an aside if she was born male the “show me some ID” cop needs to learn that you can re-apply for your driver’s license and even birth certificate and change you name and gender marker from ‘m’ to ‘f’ (as revealed in a recent ‘I am Cait’ episode) so it wouldn’t have been evidence one way or the other anyway.

A lot of this xenophobia is coming from the religious right who are using phrases like “Men should not be using the bathroom with little girls” as a way to increase the level of fear among the ignorant which then leads to situations like the video above, when a woman doesn’t look ‘womanly’ enough to someone, gets accused of being a man at birth. So it appears the law is to protect women from having to use the bathroom with men…or even people who are suspected of once being men…ok, so then what?

What about when this guy walks into the women’s bathroom

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Surely if the woman in the video above cause so much panic that the police turned up, what happens when he uses the women’s bathroom?

Well this is Michael Hughes and he is transgender, yes that means he was born a she and now laws like HB2 are forcing Michael to use women’s bathrooms…because that’s what religious freedom is all about, kicking our lesbians from the bathroom they have to use, and forcing men like Michael to use one they obviously should never be in.

Madness!

 

In a similar vein let me introduce you to Ella Giselle, she is 19 and was born male, she now, by law use the mens’ bathroom. I think that if one side of this conversation is allowed to use the “men with little girls’ scare tactic then I think it’s perfectly valid for me to ask “why you are forcing young, vulnerable women to use that bathroom with dirty, redneck truckers…are we not concerned for their safety?”

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The other more sinister side to this conversation is that what laws like HB2 allow is for a vulnerable sector of society, a sector of society that research shows over 40% attempt suicide compared to under 5% from society as a whole, to be put in a situation where they could be at their most vulnerable.

When using public restrooms the transgender individual is statistically the only one at risk of being attacked as research shows zero…that’s zero…reports of cis-gender people being harassed by transgender people using bathrooms for which they identify and, on top of that, “roughly 70% of trans people have reported being denied entrance, assaulted or harassed while trying to use a restroom,” according to a 2013 Williams Institute report.

So who is at risk with these so called bathroom laws? It’s not the ‘little girls’…it’s the transgender community.

I have a lot more to say about those who would like to bring in what I call “Yahria Law” (Christian Sharia Law) to the West, as you can imagine, when they look for ways to discriminate against minority groups within their society, but for today I wanted to highlight for you the ridiculous nature of laws like HB2 and how, to me at least, it’s now evidence that the lunatics are now running the asylum.

Bernie Sanders should get out of the race! Really???

So since Hilary Clinton won the NY Primary convincingly there has been chorus after chorus after chorus of Clinton campaigners, surrogates and supporters  calling for Bernie to drop out as it’s “mathematically impossible to win” which is both incorrect and hypocritical.

As you know from August of last year I have said that I thought Hilary Clinton would be the next President of the United States. but the rhetoric coming from the Clinton campaign is ridiculous.

So two charges aimed at Clinton supporters.

The first is that it’s mathematically impossible to win. No one is saying it’s now not improbable or unlikely for Sanders to win but impossible is a measurable statement that is pretty easy to dispute. If you don’t count super delegates, and you shouldn’t as none of them have voted yet, Bernie Sanders is currently 246 delegates behind Clinton and there are still 1668 delegates to be allocated to either Sanders of Clinton. For Sander to draw level on delegates before the convention he would need to win 957 of them to Clinton’s 711. That’s just over 57% of the remaining delegates. Improbable…but not impossible. That would then leave both candidates just over 200 delegates short of the majority needed which would then go to the super delegates. Unlikely, yes, but not impossible.

The second charge is the hypocrisy coming out of the Clinton camp. In 2008 when Hilary Clinton was running against Barack Obama, with Obama in the lead she refuse to suspend her campaign until June 7th and only when Obama had gathered enough delegates (including super delegates) to pass that majority number. Even with the delegates who have indicated they would go with Clinton (yet I say again haven’t officially cast their vote yet) she is still about 400 short of the mark. Sanders is also performing much stronger that Clinton was at the same time in 2008 when she refused to drop out.

So, whilst it seems the chips are certainly stacked against Bernie Sanders, he is very much still in the race and calling for him to get out is undemocratic, unconstitutional and hypocritical for anyone involved with the Clinton campaign.

 

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