I’m on the bridge – Support for Same-Sex Marriage from within the Church

The post I wrote last week about marriage equality was partly brought about by the movie Selma.  The movie documents the three marches (or part marches) from Montgomery to Selma in 1965. It’s an incredible movie to watch – it brings the civil rights movement to life – and it also impacted me as an example of how intense and dangerous the fight for any civil right can be. As I covered in my previous post, one of the key leaders of the Selma march, John Lewis, has publicly stated that he thinks the resistance to marriage equality for the gay community comes from the same “fear, hatred and intolerance” he himself witnessed in “racism and bigotry” during the civil rights battle in the sixties.

The movie depicts the first march, often referred to as “Bloody Sunday“, which had 525 black protesters who began the 80 kilometre march without Dr. King at the helm. At the outskirts of Selma, on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were stopped by Alabama State Troopers who were ordered there by Governor George Wallace. The Troopers turned back the protesters with brutal violence – you can read about it here from a reporter on the scene – it makes for horrific reading.

In complete contrast, the third march was safe and legal with a federal Judge ruling in favour of the protesters saying it was a Constitutional right for them to march and that right could not be quashed by the State of Alabama.  On the third march there were no police roadblocks, no legislative restrictions, no legal way for the march to be stopped. 25,000 people marched to Selma. It was an incredible moment.

But it is the second march, known as “Turnaround Tuesday”, that I think is the pertinent march for the church at this time...more

It’s Time

Change. The church has been doing it since she was born. We are a responsive creature. We move, adjust, transition, re-configure, re-imagine, re-group, adapt, alter, and transform. It’s a sign of life.

Here’s a potted history:  Pentecost, Constantine, Polycarp, Clement, Iraneaus, the Council of Nicaea, Arianism, the Council of Ephesus, The Nestorian Schism, the Iconclasts, monastic reform, the Inquisition, the East-West Schism, the Crusades, John Wycliffe, the Protestant Reformation. Each name or event a marker for a moment of tumult.

Some versions of church history will have you believe that it was all plain sailing after the Reformation. But let’s not forget the Catholic Reformation, the conflicts between Lutherans and Calvinists, the Council of Trent, the Puritans of the New World, Wesley, the Great Awakening, Pentecostalism, Mormanism, William Wilberforce, the Missionary movement, Vatican II, and the development of Ecumenism. All moments or inceptions of change.

Now cast your minds back over the vast range of issues that have caused the church to divide and re-make itself in the last two centuries alone; slavery, segregation, mixed-race marriage, the sexual revolution...more

 

Marriage Equality is the New Civil Rights Movement

It’s probably been fairly obvious for a while that I am a supporter of marriage equality.  I have always viewed same-sex marriage as a cut and dry case of civil rights. I believe that marriage is a governmental institution, not one that belongs to the church. Marriage, in its many forms, pre-dates the church. And as discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal in New Zealand, it is obvious to me that to deny same-sex couples the right to marry is discriminatory.

I myself got married fourteen years ago, on a bright winter’s day in June. I hardly thought about marriage as a right back then. All I knew was that I was in love with a beautiful girl and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. It was a case of opposites attract, and we had no idea how much work our love was going to take, but here we are all those years later, and the cliché is true. We are more in love than ever before.

For us, marriage was a right of passage, the beginning of a journey that forced us to grow up like nothing else could. Statistically speaking, marriage improves every success marker for the couple and the children that may come from that marriage. Marriage done well makes everything better – and I can vouch for this. Marriage is also the ultimate gift. There is no other commitment quite like it. Marriage is the fullest demonstration of love that can be given from one person to another. It’s an amazing, life-giving transaction and it can only build stronger families and therefore stronger communities. Why would we want to withhold this incredible gift from anyone?

After watching Selma recently I finally came to the conclusion that the current battle for marriage equality is akin to the fight for Civil Rights in the 1960’s...more

Next week we’ll talk about Same-Sex Marriage

I began writing a post on my position on Same-Sex Marriage, and it’s relation to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, in March. I have come back to the post on several occasions only to still be here 2 months later. I was inspired to write this after watching the movie Selma and think there are many parallels to be drawn between the two fights for equality. What I have decided to do is break the piece into three posts that will be uploaded next week. The posts will be as follows.

  1. Marriage Equality is the new civil rights campaign
  2. It’s time to get on the bridge
  3. Don’t be a George Wallace

I also intend to challenge you to get off your backsides and get involved in advocating for this sector of society being discriminated against. Even in places like New Zealand where Same-Sex Marriage is legal, there is still a battle to be had, especially in the churches, and we need people to stand up and take a stand for what is right.

begin posting and aim to have all three up by the end of the week.

As an aside, I realise that some won’t like this post, or this idea, but I am actively choosing not to engage in debates or arguments around my thoughts, if you disagree that’s fine however I’m too old and tired to try to convince anyone who is ardently in their position and, to be honest, don’t want to try. If you do want to genuinely converse about anything I have written about I welcome it, but if you want to troll me or my thoughts then I’ll leave you to do that on your own blogs and social media which I am sure you’ll respect.

As someone who has held these beliefs for a long time I have suffered discrimination (in a very minor way) and exclusion from some Christian groups and individuals I have works for and with and to be honest I think I have been somewhat cowardly in not speaking more publicly up until now thinking that it may effect an income stream or opportunity for me somewhere in the future amongst the Christian community.

I am not going to worry about that any more. I am going to be me and speak my mind as I see it and if it means I loose people or opportunities that that will be my cross to bear.

I look forward to engaging with you next week

New Zealand is heading back to Iraq, let’s talk about war!

Prime Minister John Key has announced today that NZ will be sending troops to Iraq to help train Iraqi soldiers to fight ISIS.

We are prompted to ask the question again, “is there such a thing as a just war?”

The genesis of elephantTV was born out of this question so it’s passionate to us and we want to make available to you our War episode for free to help this conversation happen in your churches.

If you haven’t heard from us before, elephantTV is a place to have safe conversations, a place to talk about the elephant in the room, where we look at perspectives within the church and educate one another about what our brothers and sisters might think about the issue. We have put elephantTV: War up on Youtube and will leave it there for a wee while for you, and your congregation to access. The episode is well balanced, and as always we do not take a position on the issue, we allow our experts to put their case and leave the positions with you to continue the conversation yourself.

The ‘War’ episode has Paul Stanaway, an Iraqi veteran now working as a chaplain for the NZ Army, Adrian Leason who is most well know as one of the Waihopai 3 who, as a faith based action, disarmed an American operated, NZ located spy base. We also have two academics, Dr Chris Marshall and Dr Glenn Peoples who take pacifist and just war positions respectively.

You can click here to go to Youtube and view the episode, please feel free to connect with us if you need any further information or help. We’d also love to hear from you to hear how you used the resource.

Please connect with us on Facebook and twitter as well 

We welcome you with open arms…until you want to join

This is a letter written to John Shore who has posted it on Patheos about a gay couple that has been welcomed into a church, then told they couldn’t officially join.​

Have a read

Hello John,

First I want to thank you for your book, UNFAIR. I only wish I had read it before meeting this past Tuesday with the new pastor of our church.

Due to the very things you write about, I left the church many years ago, as I could find no place within it for a gay man. My partner of thirty-three years did not have the church upbringing I did, and in the past had some bad experiences of his own with Christians and Christianity. So it took God working double-time to get us back into church.

We met several people in the community who, with genuine love in their hearts, invited us to visit their church. We eventually started attending there. The people of the church welcomed us in. After six months of regular attendance, we also started attending the church’s Sunday School classes.

At the end of April I had a heart attack, and found out two weeks later that I had cancer. The people from the church—including its new pastor of seven weeks, who prayed for my recovery—rallied around us, giving us love and support.

We were both feeling like we had really found a church home.

After church two Sundays ago, our new pastor asked to meet with my partner and me. We set up a Tuesday afternoon meeting with him.

My partner did not feel well that day, so (feeling pretty weak myself, due to my chemotherapy), I went to the meeting by myself.

It started out as being what I thought was the new guy getting to know his church-goers. Thinking that he was my spiritual counselor, I opened up and shared with him the abuse I suffered as a child and teenager at the hands of people in the church. This is something I rarely share with anyone.

About thirty minutes into our discussion, the pastor shifted positions in his chair and said, “You’re not going to like the direction this conversation is about to go.” He proceeded to tell me that since my partner and I are homosexual (which he said like it tasted bad), he wanted to save us the embarrassment of being publicly refused when, as he knew we intended to do, we requested to officially join the church.

“We don’t allow homosexual members here,” he said. He added that we were, however, welcome to continue worshipping there on Sundays.

I was floored, hurt, and not sure what to say when he then asked how I could justify saying that I was a Christian homosexual.

Then he asked for my thoughts on what he’d said.

All I knew, and know, is that God loves me—which for me just then meant having to get out of there. Saying there was nothing left to say, I rose to leave. He stopped me, asking how he could he have handled this differently. I said, “Well, you could grow a set and stand up for what is right.” As I was walking away, he came after me again, wanting to know if we could talk again sometime. I shook my head no.

I came home that Tuesday afternoon devastated; I cried, and I cried some more. All I wanted to do was go to church, help out if needed, and enjoy Christian fellowship. Now I have been made to again feel like a second-class half-Christian again. It brought back so many old feelings of self-worthlessness and damnation.

Then I got on the computer and started searching for answers, and God led me to your book. Next time I get clobbered with scripture, I will have some clobber verses of my own.

When we told the people who invited us to the church—the ones we knew before we started going there—what happened, they were all hurt deeply by their pastor’s words.

I am not going to let this weaken my spirit, but I am so wary of organized religion, it will take a big push from God to get me inside again. I continue to read my Bible and pray and search for that safe place where we can learn about God’s plan for our lives, and I pray for His mercy.

Thank you again.

Here are my only real thoughts around this issue. Show me anywhere the message of Jesus that people came away from interactions with him with “feelings of self-worthlessness and damnation”...let me help you out here, you won’t find it.

I have long held the belief that if you are commanded to love, then the person who is the ‘target’ of that love, need to feel loved. If a person has an interaction with you, and goes away feeling anything but loved, then you have not loved them.

Many in the church over the years have hidden behind cliché, unbiblical sayings like “love the sinner, hate the sin” to spout hate, bigotry, and judgement at people in their communities who they are commanded to love.

I have used this clip before, but it might be a good time to remind us all today of the message that Tony Campolo gives about a ‘gay son’, I would say this relates to not just the LBGTI community, but any group that the church chooses to condemn whilst they hide behind ideas like ‘hating your sin’ 

John Shore is a blogger and author. His latest book is UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question which doesn’t seem to be in any NZ Christian book stores (strange that) but you can get it at Fishpond.co.nz

Who would Jesus smack?

Benjamin L Corey has written a brilliant piece on Patheos this morning about smacking and challenging the Christian community about smacking (or spanking as Americans call it) and the harm it does to children. The thing about his article is that it is not focused on ‘the rights of the children’ as many who support smacking would then roll their eyes, it’s focused on a study done by Columbia and Princeton that shows many negative links between smacking your child and what that then statistically can lead to.

Firstly let me say that I don’t want to get into a conversation about ‘it never hurt me’ as that attempts to negates the research and implies if it was not damaging to you, then it’s not damaging to anyone. What this research shows is the links between smacking and issues like ​“mood disorders, depression, alcohol abuse and anxiety disorders were associated with adults who were spanked or physically punished as children, at a higher rate than adults who were not.” What this also means is that if you survived smacking undamaged then you are lucky and you should be fighting today to help parents understand that the research is clear and smacking should not be a tool in a parents discipline armoury. You should be fighting for children today that are not as luck as you and will be damaged by it.

Here are some selected sections from the article

==========

Christian culture often seems addicted to corporal punishment (something Matthew Paul Turner calls the “false gospel of spanking“), and like so many of the other Golden Calves, folks grow incredibly defensive when one tries to question or critique the practice. However, if we are to call ourselves Jesus followers, I believe we must continually question everything as we seek to further develop ourselves into the image and likeness of the one we are attempting to emulate: Jesus.

And so, would Jesus spank kids? The very thought of that seems absurd to me, and the image attached to this article certainly strikes me as a Jesus foreign to the Gospel accounts of the New Testament. I can’t fathom Jesus doing what Adrian Peterson did– taking a tree branch to a small child and beating them six ways from Sunday. I can’t imagine Jesus ever whipping off his belt, drilling holes in a paddle, or advocating that we actually hit people to teach them that hitting is wrong. I believe it is time for Christians to reject spanking, and here’s why:

Studies on spanking kids reveal that Jesus was right– the use of violence only creates a cycle of more violence.

A study conducted by Columbia and Princeton actually revealed a shocking fact: aggression and unwanted behaviors are directly linked to spanking. In the study, spanking only escalated the presence of unwanted behaviors at future ages, triggering what the researchers called an “arms race” requiring the parents to actually spankmore, which in turn triggers more of the negative behaviors (including violent behavior), locking the parent and child into a hopeless cycle. The study states:

“Even though the study shows that spanking and misbehavior tend to feed each other, the investigators also found strong evidence that spanking a child within the first year of life likely is the catalyst that starts the cycle.

These findings put an end to the “chicken or the egg” debate over which comes first, the spanking or the childhood misbehavior, said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental & behavioral pediatrics at Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

“I see it starting with the egg, with the egg being the spanking, and then the spanking then leads to more aggressive behavior, and the aggressive behavior then leads to more spanking,” Adesman said.”

The key to having a well behaved child at the benchmark ages of 3, 5, and 9? The study shows the key is nonviolent parenting. This shouldn’t be a shock to us however, because Jesus taught 2,000 years ago that violence only creates a cycle that cannot be broken until one opts out of the violent system completely. This means that Jesus invites you to opt out of hitting your kids ever again.

 

Other studies have shown the link between childhood spanking and higher rates of mental illness as an adult (as well as lower IQ’s and decreased cognitive ability)and Jesus obviously wouldn’t want you to do anything that could knowingly trigger life-long hindering, and potentially fatal illnesses in your child. The study from the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics reveals:

Finally, and this study is perhaps the most tragically ironic: spanking is shown to actually damage the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The damage caused to the brain is a reduction of gray matter, which is directly linked to depression, addiction, and other mental disorders. Furthermore, and this is where things get really ironic, we must ask the question: what is this importance of gray matter in the prefrontal cortex of the brain? According to a study in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, here is the sad correlation:

Let that sink in: the more you spank your kids, the less gray matter they have in their prefrontal cortex. The less gray matter they have, the less they are able to evaluate how to make a wise and good decision. This means that spanking is getting you exactly what you do NOT want: a child who is less able to make good choices.

“Mood disorders, depression, alcohol abuse and anxiety disorders were associated with adults who were spanked or physically punished as children, at a higher rate than adults who were not.”

“The more gray matter you have in the decision-making, thought-processing part of your brain (the prefrontal cortex), the better your ability to evaluate rewards and consequences…”

Combine that with other studies showing they’re less intelligent and more depressed, and you’ve got a pretty damning case.

==========

To read the article in its entirety click here

 

There are some in the media world who speak up on the importance, and right, of smacking you child, most of them, the vast majority of them are Christians. I hope they get a chance to read Benjamin’s article and I look forward to their response.

 

What would Jesus Vote?

On Good Friday I was on radio in New Zealand asking the question “What would Jesus vote?”.​

If you are a follower of the green ideology you’d vote Greens, if you were a follower of John Key you’d vote National, if you were a follower of free market philosophies you’d probably vote ACT…what if you were a follower of Jesus?

We first spoke with Laidlaw College lecturer in the New Testament Mark Keown to set the scene for who Jesus is.

We then spoke with two politicians, one from the left and one from the right, who are both very active in the Presbyterian Church, as to how their faith leads them to where they are on the political spectrum.

First David Clark from the left

Then Chris Auchinvole from the right

We then spoke with a Pastor out of South Auckland, a Labour stronghold, as to why after 30 years he is switching allegiances from the left to the right, and why he is encouraging in South Auckland to do the same.

Finally we went to America, the home of partisan religious politics, with Eric Barreto, who is a contributor to the Huffington Post, on “What would Jesus Vote?”

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, or on our Facebook page, to the question “What would Jesus vote?”

Walking Through: Idoya Munn

I walk through two narrow and windowless rooms every day on the way from my classroom to our department workroom. The desks in there are almost always empty, the computers that sit on them barely used, and the rooms are dark. The only light comes from either end; the hallway behind me where I’ve come from, and the hallway I’m heading towards. There’s a light switch but I never bother looking for it.

It has become a ritual of sorts, this regular walk through the quiet darkness. In the early mornings the darkness of dawn is matched by the darkness of my corridor; I begin the day at one with myself. Later, having just walked out of a bright and noisy classroom, the silent dark presses in as I walk through it, and my senses relax. It is a moment of peace, a walking meditation. I find myself again.

A long time ago I would have said it was wise to avoid darkness, in all its many forms. I’ve spent most of my life pacing the well-lit corridors of the stories I told myself about myself, never daring to go  more than a few steps into the dark that was my deep unknown, my unconscious self.  I would stand in the doorway and imagine I knew what was in there.  I couldn’t see any point in venturing in. Until I had no choice.

My daily walk through the narrow dark has become a small and tangible image of my own internal journey. It reminds me that although I’m still trekking those deeps, I am heading somewhere. And that the darkness, disconcerting as it is, can be peaceful. There’s no point rushing down there, no race to be won, no performance necessary.  There is no audience in the dark but myself. And in the end I find that it is myself that I must discover on this long and dim walk. No monsters lurking in shadows. Just a girl; patiently waiting.

The gift is to keep moving towards her, the treasure found in the walking, in the journey forwards. The movement doesn’t need to be consistent, or even necessarily in the same direction; there just needs to be some measure of mobility. This is grace, as I understand it. To be in shadowed, unfamiliar territory and still be able to take the next step.

This grace that keeps me moving is the sense I have of being part of something that is bigger than myself. And Easter, that strange ending that becomes a beginning, is the most eloquent image I have of this wider, wilder knowing. The one I find myself inextricably bound to, despite my moments of unbelief.

We  scoff at the idea of resurrection; the grand embellishment on a story full of embellishments. A clever trick played by a few grief-stricken apostles,  desperate to keep their hope alive.  But the motif of death and re-birth is nothing new.  It has been with us since the beginning. We’ve painted it, created rituals to celebrate it and told stories to remind ourselves of it, over and over again. If Jesus knew the significance his death would take, then he knew that in dying he was speaking a universally understood language. And if he knew that something waited for him beyond the doorway of death, then his death, that one solitary loss, holds meaning for as many of us who’ve heard it told. The moment he gave up his breath becomes an invitation from one to many. An invitation to move from death to life.

And there’s that idea of movement again. The same one I consider every time I walk through those narrow, windowless rooms.  I’m on my way from some where to some where else but I’m also, in a funny otherworldly sense, inhabiting a space that exists within me all the time. That space I walk through on the way to myself. But it’s a glimpse of something bigger too; that wider movement I will never escape. The same wider, wilder movement that we are all part of by virtue of being alive.   The one that Christ became part of on that infamous Friday, that tied him to all of us, as we live and breath and move and die.  Over and over again.

Idoya Munn is an author, teacher and co-producer of elephantTV. Read more of her writing here or follow her on Twitter

Being Gay and Christian

Justin Lee is the Executive Director of the Gay Christian Network sharing his perspective on whether you can be Gay and Christian with conservative Catholic talk host Michael Coren.

 

It of course made me think of our speaker for the Same Sex Marriage episode of eTV Dr. Stuart Edser who wrote a book called ‘Being Gay, Being Christian

If you are interested in checking out the episode on Same Sex Marriage go here

A Beginners Guide to Lent: Linda Burson Swift

Lent, a widely observed season of the Christian church’s’ story spans over a six week period leading up to Easter.  It parallels Jesus’ 40 day journey into the wilderness, his time of fasting and deep reflection as he faced the reality of his mission, his passion, that for which he was called. Lent culminates on Easter Sunday with a celebration of the fullness of life that he share with all humanity, at his resurrection.

The history of the Judeo-Christian church is eclectic and colourful. It belongs to the great faith traditions of the East and West that have evolved over the past 2000 years; Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant. Each of these traditions with their various liturgies and rituals have been shaped out of the Story found in Scripture.

Yet Tradition and Scripture can only be validated by the lives we actually live.

How do we find their relevance unless we are able to experience the beauty they offer. The journey of faith can only make sense if it is embodied, connected to the whole of ones being; body, soul and spirit. Scripture, tradition or experience alone are not enough to bring meaning to our existence.

The practice of Lent is something we do, whether we give something up or include something new in our daily routines. We feel it as a lived experience, and this in turn brings a sense of connection and belonging to the bigger stories and greater traditions of our faith journey.

In the words of Franciscan Priest Richard Rohr,

Scripture as validated by experience and experience as validated by tradition are good scales for one’s spiritual worldview” – Rohr

Linda Burson Swift is a Senior Minister at Edge Kingsland. Visit Edge Kingsland’s Facebook page every day of Lent to read a new thought for the day

Destiny: The Life and Times of a Self-Made Apostle Conversation

Professor Peter Lineham has recently completely a book on Bishop Brian Tamaki and Destiny Church called Destiny. The Life and Times of a Self-Made Apostle. Professor Lineham and Massey University hosted an evening conversation where Professor Lineham spoke, along with the Pro-Vice Chancellor for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Massey, Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley and Bishop Tamaki himself.

Below is the audio graciously provided to us by Professor Lineham from the evening 

 

 

Totally Biased: The God Debate

​Thought you might be interested in checking this 7 minutes out

Same-Sex Marriage Episode now FREE

With New Zealand looking to be on the verge of legalising Same-Sex Marriage we thought that we would take this opportunity to try to help the conversation along by giving away our Same-Sex episode for free. 

We think this episode will be of great help to many as we continue this conversation in NZ (and around the world) as we get closer to changes in laws around marriage. Please share this link with as many people as possible.

elephantTV:Women in Authority out now!

Ready to download and enjoy now.

Have a conversation with us

​We have just launched a Forum on our facebook page so we can continue to have conversations outside what we film…and you watch. Please get involved but remember what we’re about…intelligent and gracious conversations, respect is a must. Iron sharpening iron.

Congratulations to Mathilde Noordzy

Congratulations to Mathilde Noordzy who this morning had her name drawn and is the luck recipient of the iPad Mini​

Listen below

elephantTV:Women in Authority due for release tomorrow

Final chance to win the iPad Mini

Just a final reminder that we are giving away the iPad Mini tomorrow morning to a NZ resident.

There are three chances to win.

 

1. Like us on Facebook

2. Follow @elephant_TV on twitter

3. Go to our contact page, scroll down and join our eNews team.

If you do all three, then that’s three chances to win!

We will make the draw at 9am, and post the results shortly after.

Good Luck!

 

elephantTV:War available now

​Head to the downloads page. or get your copy of elephantTV:War here

War episode uploaded by Saturday morning

​Just a quick note to say the episode on War will be available from Saturday morning. Please check back here before attempting to download the episode from our downloads page.

We will update this front page as soon as it’s ready to go.

elephantTV:WAR available this Friday

 Adrian Leason, one of the “Waihopai Three” who disarmed a US spy base in New Zealand, is accompanied by Dr Chris Marshall, pacifist academic, Paul Stanaway, a chaplain with the NZ Armed forces who previously fought in Iraq, and Dr Glenn Peoples, an academic who specialises in the Just War theory. Pat asks some very difficult questions as our four contributors grapple with one of the most serious issues our world faces today. Is there ever such a thing as a just war?

Pat interviews Paul Young, author of ‘The Shack’

Pat got a chance to sit down with Paul Young, author of The Shack during the Parachute Music Festival

elephantTV:Evolution available this Friday

For many Christians the evolution/creation conversation is an issue that is peripheral to their faith, to others it is the cornerstone of their beliefs. This episode presents four different perspectives on Evolution from four articulate, passionate and knowledgeable professionals, including Dr Graeme Finlay from Auckland University, and Dr Don Batten from Creation Ministries. This is a heated discussion, in many ways, and there are vast differences of opinion between the contributors. If you don’t hold a firm position on the Evolution vs Creation debate, you will do once you’ve seen this. If you already have your mind made up, you’ll find plenty of food for thought here, which ever side you sit on.

It’s a girl!!!!!!

It’s been a long weekend of hard labour. What with the initial problems with rendering, and then the complicated failed attempts at uploading our file to our distributor in the States, it wasn’t until early this morning that we had our baby in her place on our downloads page. She’s here, she’s here, and she’s beautiful! Thanks to all of you for hanging in there with us, it was worth waiting for. We’ve told you before how excited we are about this episode, but really, after having to work so hard to make it finally happen, we’re even more excited. There isn’t anything else like what we are doing, and this first episode is no exception. It’s the beginning of a conversation that is vital for our communities. 

There’s still one little quirk, but we think you can humour us. At the moment our paypal shop is set up as if we were in the States so when you enter your address you’ll need to add a state and a zip code. You might like to put California, 90210, as we did. wink

 

 

 

 

anyone got any spare sleep they could share?

​We’ve had a pretty gutting time over the last two days trying to get the first episode of elephantTV up for you. We’re so excited about showing you our new baby, and it’s frustrating beyond words (well words that a “good Christian” should use) that we can’t show her to you yet.

It’s been one thing after the other, starting with a problem with the rendering after we finished the final edits on Friday. Then there were problems with uploading, first at our producer’s place, then again when we tried at ours. It’s an enormous file, so we’re talking about ten hours plus of upload time, and to wait and wait and then after all that time realise that it hasn’t worked…. I’m gutted.

So send us your blessings for our sanity and our technical issues…. we really appreciate it! And hopefully we’ll be back with good news some time on Monday. 

It’s coming!

​We’re all set to release episode 1 “Same-Sex Marriage” this Friday 18th January, and we’ve just put up our official trailer on youtube. Have a look, tell us what you think. See you on Friday!

What’s your big question?

Exciting news everyone – we will launching series one of Elephant TV at Parachute! We’ll have our own tent, in the café area, next to the Tip Top tent and we’ll be asking “what’s your big question?” Imagine you had God sitting across the table from you, flat white in hand, and you could ask anything you wanted. What would your question be?

We’ll have some pretty clever people with us who’d be happy to have a go at answering your “big questions”, and we’ll have a spot where you can record your questions and post them to us… because we really want to know what you’ve been thinking.

There will be an iPad Mini up for grabs during the weekend, and we promise we won’t make you think to enter that competition… that one will be easy peasy!

To help us launch Elephant TV we’re looking for twenty very special people to be part of our launch crew. You’ll receive an advance copy of one of our first episodes, a limited edition t-shirt, and we’ll throw in some stickers and postcards too, just because we love you. All you need to do is to let us know in 100 words or less why you’d like to be part of our team and how you are going to tell the world about us. Send your thoughts to info@elephant.TV before January 10.

Finally, we’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Take care of your clever selves, and enjoy this time with the ones you love. Keep them close and tell them how much they mean to you. And just because it’s that time of year, we wanted to tell you how much you mean to us too… true. You lot are our home team, our first supporters. You heard about us and liked what we are doing first – and your support means everything. So enjoy the celebrations, and see you at Parachute 2013!

Editing in progress

​As we edit the first two episodes we thought you’d like to see a short, unedited, snippet of the Evolution episode. A conversation between Pat, Dale, Graeme and Don about how important their belief in evolution or creation to their ‘faith position’ and what would happen if they were swayed. 

We’re all done…for the moment

Well after nearly five years in the planning, three months of sixteen hour days and two days of filming we have four episodes of elephantTV “in the can.” It was weird to see Scottie from Nogginfilms walking away last night with 1.3 terrabyte of footage which is the culmination of all that work. It was like watching our baby go home with someone else.

Thanks so much for everyone who helping out with the production, by being in the audience and , financially, emotionally and spiritually…it was exhausting but well worth it. If you want to see some pics of the two days you can head to our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/elephanttv

We will now have a few days to catch our breath and then we get into editing the footage. Our aim is to release two of the episodes this year (feel free to let us know which ones you’d like to see first) and then we are planning to film another episode at the Parachute Music Festival in January 2013.

Thank you once again, we’ll keep you posted here with updates on the first releases.

Here is our full list of contributors

​We now have up online our full compliment of contributors for the four episodes that we are filming this weekend. See who is speaking to us on Friday night and during three sessions on Saturday here  http://www.elephant.tv/index.php/episodes/page/ There may still be some walk up tickets available if you have not booked, check back here Thursday evening for information on that. 

Application for Tickets

​Hey team, please just remember that if you want to attend a live filming then go to this url  http://www.elephant.tv/downloads/come_to_elephantTV_live.pdf, print out and fill in the PDF, then scan or photograph and send it back to us. We need this for our filming, and in case demand for seats outweighs supply. Also we are doing everything we can to keep this a balanced conversation as opposed to a scrappy debate so please fill in the wee survey on the PDF as it will help us get an understanding of where our live audience sits on the topics at hand. If you feel like coming to more than one filming that’s cool, just rank them in order from the one you most want to come to…to the least. And finally, spread the word, we want as many people to come as possible to be a part of the filming of what we hope will be the first of several series of elephantTV.

it all starts with a question

​About four years ago a US paratrooper was given an honorable discharge. He’d had a religious experience which left him convinced that as a Christian he could no longer shoot and kill another human being. Pat was doing talkback at the time, and the event lead to some interesting conversations. He asked his listeners the question “Can a Christian participate in War?” and found that he had several callers who used the same passage from the bible to support both an affirmative and a negative response. It got him thinking about the contentious questions the church has a hugely varied response to. The reality is that we can be sitting “in the pew” next to others who hold completely different views to us on certain issues. Can a Christian participate in war? Can a Christian be an evolutionist? Can a Christian be Gay? These are just a few of the questions to which the response from Christians across the church would not be unanimous.  How can we love each other as Christ commands us to when our ideas about our faith are so different? How can we respect each other as individuals and fellow Christians while we disagree on so many things? The answer begins with a question. Do we really understand each other? Jesus liked questions. Through the gospels we read time and time again that when people came to Jesus with a problem, he responded with a question. After he’d calmed the storm, he asked the disciples in the boat “Why are you afraid?”  When Jesus encounters a blind man, he asks him “what do you want from me?” When Jesus walks by John and two of his disciples, the two disciples follow after Jesus and he turns to them and asks the same question. “What do you want?” What do you want? A question is empowering. It passes the baton of conversation onto the other person, and gives them the power, in that moment, to speak. In the art of conversation a question shows interest in the other person, it puts attention onto them rather than the questioner. But more than anything a question is respectful. A question expects that the person being questioned has the ability and the resources to answer. I’ve experienced in my own life, through spiritual direction, that the right question can be a gift. It can lead to new understandings, new ways of thinking, and a fresh perspective. It can sometimes even be the key that unlocks a whole problem. elephant TV is a simple idea that was borne out of a simple question; “Can a Christian participate in war?” There are endless varieties of that same question, and we’ve set up elephantTV to explore some of them. Our motivation is not to cause division but to help us to understand each other better. To be a resource that enables us as Christians to love each other, despite our differences. It all starts with a question…

on air with life fm

Pat has a chat with Bjorn from Life FM about elephantTV.

spooky connections

Check this out for a spooky connection. I do some work for the Rhema network and each year they have a fundraising drive. Someone who was involved with that drive just sent me these comments that relate to my work on Rhema. Notice the spooky connection to elephantTV “Rhema is a light in my day, I just love it, especially the Pat Brittenden Mornings. I like that the talkback will go places in terms of what or where they are willing to go, whereas in the past open discussion about many of these topics would have been frowned upon; I think they call it talking about the elephant in the room, that you can’t ignore an elephant in the room, like a moral or biblical issue, a political issue. They are often difficult to talk about without upsetting or offending some people, but the Pat Brittenden show gives a really balanced perspective. I think it is an outstanding and very good show.”  Platitudes aside (which I appreciate) I only got this today…and it’s someone who is saying the importance of speaking about ‘the elephant in the room’...how crazy is that.  Probably be an appropriate time to say that the Rhema Group has nothing to do with elephantTV. There is, of course, a natural crossover as we will be speaking to a similar audience, but please be aware this is my product and I, with my wife, am executive producing, distributing it and own it oursleves :o)

contributors

Over the next few days we will be featuring some of the contributors that will be in the first ever series of elephantTV. Some exciting guests from around NZ and some that have travelled internationally just for us. Please feel free to share our page on your page, we would like as many people as possible to know about us and don’t forget out twitter account either @elephant_TV. This weekend we will also upload a document that will allow you to come along and be a part of the live studio audience on October 26/27.

tweet tweeps

Righto we have started a twitter account, will you be my first tweep? We are going to offer you the chance to ask questions of our episodes by either using our twitter account, or the hashtag #elephantTV - we love technology!

Location Location

Been working hard today, went back to the location for the first series with the production team…pretty excited…and a little freaked out as well. Currently looking to get rights to some footage from NBC and HBO in the States, ABC in Australia and RevelationTV in the UK…phew!

Ready, Set, Shoot

We are spending the next 6 weeks getting ready to shoot our first four episodes. They will be on Women in Leadership, WAR, Evolution and Same Sex Marriage. Keep an eye here, share the link and wait for our website to be uploaded (currently under construction). We will need a live audience so if any of those topics interest you please stay close so as to find out how to get tickets.


Elephant TV supports the work of Tear Fund.