The real truth is that "Out of 144 countries, New Zealand is rated as the world's most peaceful land. It is followed by Denmark and Norway." at least according to the Radio Netherlands Worldwide report. So people, you can not only study with the lowest fees and lowest cost of living in the developed world, enjoy skiing, golfing, surfing and other hobbies at prices ordinary mortals can afford. Not only study at universities that regularly get rated in the top 50 or 100 worldwide, but also live while you study in the world's most peaceful country, while enjoying scenery that inspired the movie version of Lord of the Rings. Whatever are you waiting for?
Just to get you started here is a random picture from our holiday snapshots:
Paul (Windsor the retiring - in the sense of leaving a job soon) principal of Carey is starting his new job with a Forum to encourage thought about "Kiw-made" preaching. Here are the details, sorry it is not cut-and-pasteable text, but the graphic is what they sent (just click to see it bigger).
The World Names Profiler is a fun toy. First I found that New Zealand is now the most popular place in the world to be called Bulkeley, with the UK and USA offering very poor competition to get the silver and bronze spots. The map below also shows a creditable score for India, which given that the scores are in frequency per million may mean that there are more Bulkeleys in India than any other country!
It was also interesting to discover that, although in NZ as a whole names like Smith, Wilson, Brown, Williams, Taylor, Jones... filled the top ten, with only the possibly amgiguous Lee at number ten suggesting the non-Anglo-Saxon component of contemporary NZ, looking at Auckland City gives a very different picture with only half the top ten being Anglo names, and Patel, Lee and Wang all in the top five.
Mike Crudge has walked the Abel Tasman track, one of NZ's most stunning natural beauties, every year since he was a mere child. Every year he takes friends along. Every year I wish I'd organised for us to go with him. Mike is also a very good photographer, and he has put some of the best of his Abel Tasman photos into a book, The Abel Tasman Coastal Track: The best bits of New Zealand the book has reproduced the photos superbly and it would make a nice present for anyone who has been there, or who might enjoy beautiful coastal scenery, NZ bush or unspoilt places.
I wish his website looked less "commercial" and I wish I could provide one of his photos here to show you how good they are. But to compensate for his uptight attitude to intellectual property Mike's book is thoroughly green, locally printed on paper made from sustainable forests ;)
Mike, if you give me permission, and I can choose a suitable photo, I'll do another postadvertising the book in a week or two (even closer to Christmas).
Society for Biblical Literature International: Powhiri
SBL International has begun. The first papers are not due for another half hour, but the conference began yesterday with a powhiri (Māori welcome ceremony) and a reception. For the SBL International in Auckland, the challenge was "Kamate Kamate" somewhat oddly since this haka was judged too bloodthirsty for international rugby matches (ka mate means death!) - apparently International Rugby is wimpy compared to International Biblical Scholars ;-)
It was great to begin this first ever SBL in New Zealand in a culturally appropriate way with the visitors being welcomed to the University Marae, to the University and to the country. As so often though my delight in powwhiri was tinged with saddness, of only Māori custom could unbend enough to produce a geniuinely bicultural powhiri one for example in which the speeches were tailored to the presence of 90% of the participants who are not fluent in Te Reo (the Māori language) so shorter and accompanied by brief summary statements in English (like subtitles) so that the 90% could understand and appreciate the ceremony. Such a powhiri if regularly adopted for bicultural occasions, would I suspect take NZ by storm and become the only appropriate way to formally welcome visitors. Instead too often what we have is a mere cultural show - which ends up turning Māori into museum exhibits, rather than partners in a bicultural society.
Yes, Tim. I was right up the front of the crowd waiting to go through the arch onto the marae, so I heard the two Maori explaining to the SBL president what was going to happen and what his role was in it all, so I had some idea what was happening. There are also some similarities between the function of the powhiri and the function of an Aboriginal Australian message stick, which is carried by visitors into the country of other peoples, so I had some 'hooks' to hang the experience on, but it was still a bit odd not hearing what had happened until after it had happened. I do hope our hosts were right about the ability of the powhiri to improve the standard of our conference presentations!! :-)
Elementary, my dear Watson!Well, they are all doing it, first (I think) in "our" circles AKMA, then JPS both of whom run genius level blogs! Susanne gave us a brief round up, though the best anyone except John (who, I am reliably informed, cheats by pasting lots of Hebrew into every post) could achieve on her tests was Postgraduate Level. So I gave in to the temptation (I blame it on the marking it makes me go all light-headed) and tested Sansblogue. You can see the result on the right...
So, for those whose heads are aching from reading all those Genius-level posts, just come over here for a rest!
In the meantime, I have four exegeses and about thirty blog assignments to mark, so you'll be on a diet of pictures for another few days yet, which will probably lower the reading age required even further ;-) but should encourage some of you to book for SBL International in this beautiful land next July!
Today's "wish I was there" photo is of Kaikoura (where we went whale watching and saw loads, but were very sick, they said the sea was "very lumpy", they were right :(
So, for anyone who fails to follow my audio blog, and so will miss out on my thoughts on "Ezra and the foreign wives" (one I prepared earlier as the cookery shows say) here is a consolation, still at Okarito, this time the sea:
I'm busy marking, but the end is (if not in sight, or nigh, at least) not too far off and after the marking the summer holidays. As a reward for two assignments marked, here is a view from last years January holiday.
Okarito Lagoon, just before our nature tour on the flat bottomed boat!