On parenting

Have been thinking a bit about this during the week, and especially so having just dropped my daughter off at the wharf to go sailing with her classmates on the Spirit of New Zealand for the next five days or so. The Smiggle bit made me smile, and I could imagine having this conversation in the article with any of my children.

At a profound level, she was absolutely correct. I’m nothing without her. All children change their parents’ lives to the extent that sometimes they replace it. After the birth of his eldest child, poet C.K. Stead wrote that enduring line, “I do not want my life back.” We serve to protect them. They become the central fact of our existence. Food, warmth, love, junk from Smiggle – we break our backs to shovel it their way, and hope they say nice things about us after we’re gone.

Source: Steve Braunias: Father’s days – Life & Style – NZ Herald News

Insidious pedagogy: How course management systems affect teaching

This article is a little old now, but it does point out how the learning management systems we choose to use (or have thrust upon us by our institutions) shape how we actually teach, rather than being shaped by pedagogy that is appropriate to the topic and material being covered. And to which, I’d add the decisions about those pedagogical structures are often determined not by the teachers themselves, but rather by the institutional administrators in their quest for a uniform, efficient delivery of “content”. (And I’ve been guilty of enforcing that myself).

Course management systems (CMSs), used throughout colleges and universities for presenting online or technology–enhanced classes, are not pedagogically neutral shells for course content. They influence pedagogy by presenting default formats designed to guide the instructor toward creating a course in a certain way. This is particularly true of integrated systems (such as Blackboard/WebCT), but is also a factor in some of the newer, more constructivist systems (Moodle). Studies about CMSs tend to focus on their ease of use or how they are used by faculty: their application, for good or ill. Few discuss the ways in which they influence and guide pedagogy, and those that do only note their predisposition for supporting more instructivist methods.

See Insidious pedagogy: How course management systems affect teaching | Lane | First Monday


Spirituality and Cancer: Christian Encounters

I’m looking forward to the book launch next week of “Spirituality and Cancer: Christian Encounters”, edited by my friends and colleagues Caroline Blyth (University of Auckland) and Tim Meadowcroft (Laidlaw College). The book is a collection of papers delivered at a ‘Spirituality, Theology and Cancer’ Laidlaw/University of Auckland symposium held at the University of Auckland in February 2014.

Cancer disturbs most lives at some point. The contributors to this book all seek to find meaning within that experience, as carers, sufferers, medical professionals, pastors, theologians, and scientists. They offer no easy answers, but speak with an honesty that reveals the anguish and hope that arises from the presence of cancer in our world. The result is a rich reflection on the spiritual and theological meaning of cancer.

Book Contents

  • Caroline Blyth: Introduction

Part I: Personal Responses

  • Catriona Gorton: Public Faith and Private Pain: A Quest for Authenticity
  • Alistair McBride: Dancing with Cancer: A Different Metaphor
  • Brian Brandon: A Healer in Need of Healing

Part II: Practical and Public Responses

  • David Nuualiitia: The Practice of Presence in a Hospice Context
  • Hannah Walker: Soul Nursing in Palliative Care: Spiritual Care of the Dying
  • Caroline Blyth: A Pilgrim’s Progress: Learning to Journey with the Dying Patient
  • Briar Peat: The Physician, Cancer, and Spirituality
  • Stephen Garner: Jesus Heals? Faith Claims in the Public Square

Part III:Theological and Theoretical Responses

  • Jeffery Tallon: Physics, Free Will, and Cancer
  • Tim Meadowcroft: Eternity and Dust? Considering Humanity, Cancer, and God
  • T. Mark McConnell: The Disruptive Power of Christian Hope: Suffering, Cancer, and Theological Meaning
  • Sue Patterson: Fruitful Dominion or Hubris? Creation, Vocation, and Cancer
  • Nicola Hoggard Creegan: A Whole New Life: Hope in the Face of Evil
  • Bob Robinson: “Cancer is Not a Disease. It is a Phenomenon”: Finding God in a Cancer-Strewn World


  • Richard Egan: Spirituality and Cancer: “Not a Saccharine Additive”
  • Tim Meadowcroft: Finding Hope and Yearning for Love

For those in the Auckland area, this Spirituality and Cancer volume will have it’s official launch on 13 November. The invitation is below and consider yourselves all warmly welcomed. RSVP to Accent Publications (e-mail included below)


The book will be available at the event and later through the Accent Publications web site: http://www.accentpublications.co.nz/shop/

Modern academic theology needs to rediscover God

Some interesting comments on being a theologian in either the academy or the church. Some similar reflections to a paper I presented a month or so back.

Why are they so insecure? Contemporary academic theology today operates between the Scylla of academic scorn and the Charybdis of ecclesial disdain. In seeking to avoid the shoals of one, much academic theology has driven itself into the whirlpool of the other, and as a result been destroyed by both.

Source: Modern academic theology needs to rediscover God | Catholic World Report – Global Church news and views

Transhuman Films

The blog’s been pretty quiet while I’ve been concentrating on other things. One of those other things is a research project looking at post- and transhumanism in popular culture, and particularly in film.

One of those projects has been the development of a couple of blogs to track that. The first of these is underway now and can be found at:


Screenshot 2015-09-11 21.38.44

So far I’ve added two films in the last couple of days, but will be adding to that as write up films I’ve already watched, and get around to watching some more.


If you’re interested in seeing where Laidlaw College is going, and what’s available for study in Semester 2 2015 (and in 2016), then come along to this on Thursday evening. Past the RSVP point now, so just turn up if you’re interested.


Thursday 21 May (Henderson) | 7 pm

You are warmly invited to celebrate with us as we officially launch Laidlaw College’s School of Social Practice (an amalgamation of our Counselling and Education Schools), as well as the newly named School of Theology.

As many of you know, Laidlaw has undergone some significant changes over the course of the last six months, and we would like to take the time to inform you of these changes, including the challenges and the opportunities they bring with them. We truly value your support and your connection to the College and would welcome your presence, your insight and your questions.

This event will also be functioning as one of our Open Nights for potential students, and will include some great “taster talks” by some of our faculty – addressing topical issues in “Ted Talk” style. After the talks, there will be plenty of time for those who are interested, to talk to lecturers, find out about our programmes and have questions answered.


Date: Thursday 21 May 2015
Time: 7 pm
Place: Laidlaw College Henderson campus, 80 Central Park Drive, Henderson
RSVP: For catering purposes, please email events@laidlaw.ac.nz by Monday 18 May