2016 - a new year

​Hello team and welcome to elephantTV 2016,

We hope you’ve had a great break hanging out with the people you love. We are really looking forward the year. We’ve got some new ideas coming your way - an audio podcast is in the pipeline and we are currently working on getting our current episodes on some new platforms like Netflix, iTunes and Amazon.  We’ll let you know that goes.

I was visiting a church this morning and met someone who told me they were visiting the church because they’d told someone they felt like they believed in “something,” and that person, who was an atheist, had challenged them to put their belief into action.  It was exciting to meet someone who was searching for genuine answers to questions they had about religion and spiritual ‘things’. It reminded me how passionate I feel about the hard questions in life and about good, honest conversations.

If you’re visiting us for the first time elephantTV is all about asking the tricky questions about faith that many of us have, and about looking at those questions from a variety of perspectives. We firmly believe that ‘Church’ is not a one-size-fits-all community and there are people sitting beside you in your congregation that believe the polar opposite to you in some areas- perhaps on some things you find pretty important. One of our foundation questions is: how do we move forward together as a body of believers while acknowledging our differences? We created our first elephantTV series specifically to support the church to look at the hard questions, and to understand each other’s differing perspectives. If you haven’t seen it yet, two of our most popular episodes are on Youtube at the moment. You can check out my own favourite - our episode on War here or go to our episode on Same Sex Marriage here.

Idoya and I recently moved to Dunedin from Auckland. We’ve been in transition mode not just physically but also theologically, intellectually, and creatively. When we began elephantTV I hoped that plenty of people from all parts of the church would want to watch the elephantTV episodes. What we have realised is that the number of people who genuinely want to understand an alternative position to their own is smaller than we thought. Plenty of people give lipservice to the idea of discussion but in reality are resistant to hearing anything that challenges their own tightly held beliefs. Perhaps deep down this actually comes from fear. 

In the sermon of the church service I was in today the speaker talked about Ezekial 47, the description of Ezekial’s vision of the temple where a river flows out from within the temple. In the vision, the river’s depth is measured at various distances as Ezekial walks through the water, a river which ends up being so wide it holds “large numbers of fish” and is so potent that it heals the land it covers - “where the river flows, everything will live.” A common reading of this text in charismatic circles is that to walk deeper and deeper into the water signifies movement and progression in the spiritual practices of our faith - such as prayer and worship. But what got me thinking about this text was the realisation that the distance Ezekial was walking through the water was massive. It wasn’t just a brief stroll. A thousand cubits equals just under five hundred metres. In the vision, Ezekial walked about two kilometres in total through the water, until it was so deep he couldn’t walk any further.  Which means he walked over a kilometre in water that was above his knees and rising with each step. That’s a challenging walk! Now what if instead of thinking of the significance of the water only as relating to our spiritual practices we considered what it could mean if we thought about it as relating to our intellectual engagement with our faith? What if the depth of the water related to the depth of our thinking and questioning? Getting our minds engaging actively with our faith is not always as simple as it sounds. And yes, wading through waist-high water is hard work. So is thinking. Sometimes it seems easier just to go along with what everyone else is thinking, or to just believe what we are being told. However, this can lead us to a shallow faith which may not last the distance. 

Many of you know that Idoya and I have spoken out strongly about some controversial issues.  I have at times been accused of not being willing to consider opposing views myself. As a former talkback host and someone who really likes nutting things out, I can only say that I am passionate about conversations where everyone gets heard, and where we work hard to understand where each other is coming from. I know that sometimes I come across as pretty blunt, and I can be very emphatic about what I think (Idoya points this out to me all the time!) but it is always my genuine desire to create open and respectful dialoque. In saying that, there are some issues which I feel very strongly about and it would be disingenuous of me to hide my true feelings. However elephantTV as an organisation does not take a firm position on any of the contentious issues that we encourage conversations about. Our aim from the start has always been to promote and facilitate dialogue, and we will continue to do so. What we will do more clearly this year is differentiate between elephantTV the organisation, and Idoya or I as individuals speaking from our own personal viewpoints.Through it all, our heart is still to move forward with the Church as a body, recognizing that there are different interpretations, beliefs and perspectives on what it means to be a follower of Christ.

We are really enjoying living in the South Island. If you are a mainlander and you or your church or community group would like to connect with us, please get in touch. If you want to chat with us about anything, from facilitating a public conversation at your church, to passing on contacts to support you having those conversations yourself then we would love to help in any way. We are also happy to make any episode available to you if you’d like our resources to be a way to begin these conversations in your church. We’d also love to hear from anyone who has a story they’d like to share about something they’ve changed their minds about, or a learning journey they’ve been on in their faith. Get in touch and give us an outline of what you’d like to share and we will look at publishing it on this blog and on our facebook page.

The easiest way to get hold of us is via the contact page or visit our facebook page.

All the best for 2016,

Pat and Idoya


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