New Zealand Corner – Autumn 15
As I write this, the leading edge of Cyclone Pam is just starting to make its presence felt over Auckland. The sky is clouding over, the rain is beginning, and the rain radar predicts extremely heavy rain from about 1am. This cyclone has been described as the worst one to ever hit the Pacific, and tales of death and destruction are spreading, with winds of 320kmh hitting Vanuatu. Some newspaper reports are attributing its severity to the effects of climate change, a stance not taken by all, but one that continues to be aired.
This same weekend I read an article in our national newspaper about the dawning of a new epoch, where the planet is “officially” dominated by humans, according to geologists. We are currently living in the Holocene Epoch of the Quaternary Period, according to Wikipedia, but scientists are now debating the official beginning of this new epoch, labelled the Anthropocene.
Considering the possible connections between these two events brought to mind that intriguing snippet in The Urantia Book that refers to the possibility of complete planetary collapse. “If some physical catastrophe should doom the planetary residence of an evolving race, the Melchizedeks and the Life Carriers would install the technique of dematerialization for all survivors, and by seraphic transport these beings would be carried away to the new world prepared for their continuing existence. “ [Paper 51:2.3, page 582.3]. If the climate change predictions are correct, then this possibility is becoming more and more likely as each year and decade passes with no abatement of anthropogenic influence on the planet. I hope to have graduated long before the planet reaches anywhere near this state, but there is an infinitesimal chance that my descendants may be transported elsewhere (along with everyone else’s descendants, of course). As the rain outside increases in intensity, and the wind picks up, there is some small comfort in knowing that there are emergency plans in place across the Grand Universe, and no fledgling soul is ever abandoned to the storm.
New Zealand Corner – Winter 2015
Readers in New Zealand have gathered together this year for study and fellowship on a number of occasions, and we have forged stronger bonds as a reading community as a result. The first gathering was held on ANZAC Weekend in Taupo. One of our group offered her services as organiser and caterer, and we met in a very nice holiday home on a hill overlooking the lake. It was designed to be an informal get-together, so the weekend flowed along with sharing of our Urantia Book back stories, sharing of the cooking, and cleaning up, and walks in the neighbourhood, with almost constant discussion on many different topics as they arose. I felt that actually sharing a house encouraged a greater sense of being part of a spiritual family, and can strongly recommend this for any other groups of readers who are thinking about organising a regional event – we found our accommodation online at bookabach, but there are many such sites in Australia too.
International Study Day Reflections
After the ANZAC weekend, we set up a Urantia NZ Facebook page, which is reasonably active and continues to maintain and extend our sense of community. When it came time for the International Study Day, we arranged for three readers to Skype in from around the country. Auckland readers met in our regular study group location, and readers from Hamilton, Masterton, and Otago (in the South Island) joined us with a Skype connection. Although there were some technical difficulties, generally this worked very well. We had an excellent discussion on the first part of the Rodan paper- We discussed at length our understanding of ‘urges’, ‘maturity’, and the differences between humans and animals. We felt that empathy and the ability to exercise foresight were key abilities that differentiated us from our four-legged companions. We also focused on the importance of having social relationships for our mental, physical and spiritual well-being.
Wellington Readers’ Gathering, 30th May.
Recently, a group of lower North Island readers gathered at a Petone café for a bite to eat and some socialising. It was a real reminder of how our revelation can bring us together and provide plenty to talk about. Subjects discussed included the growth of personal faith, our current political climate and how papers like Government on a Neighboring Planet can provide some insight into remedying some of the social issues that the majority of nations face, and how satisfying it is when our creative streaks are given an outlet. It also was a chance to rekindle our enthusiasm for sharing the Urantia Book, and a regular study group for those in the region was planned. Here’s hoping that God continues to guide, coordinate, integrate and enlighten all of our journeys.
Matthew Hall, Masterton, New Zealand
New Zealand Corner – Summer 15
Thanks to the NZ members for electing me as your representative on the ANZURA Governing Board. Or, since I was elected unopposed, maybe I should be saying thank you for not standing against me. I am honoured to be awarded the position and, for the next two years, am determined to live up to the trust you have placed in me.
I would like to thank Marion Steward, our outgoing NZ Rep, for her four years of dedicated service in the position. Marion was obliged to relinquish the role this term because it can be held only for four years running. If this had not been the case I suspect that she would have been willing to continue and would have been elected unopposed again as in previous terms. Thanks Marion, you will be a hard act to follow.
The ANZURA annual conference held in Auckland last year had a galvanising effect on many of the Kiwi readers. Since then:
- There has been a 3-day national get-together in Taupo.
- An ANZURA-NZ local Facebook page has been started.
- Skype meetings have been trialled.
- Wellington readers have had several meetings.
- Recently the Auckland study group was hosted at Hamilton (a 90 minute drive from Auckland). This is something we are looking forward to doing more often.
- The Auckland study group has been experimenting with a software product called Trello to develop topics for study and to organise meetings.
Trello is a free Web-based product similar to Facebook, but its strength lies in assisting collaboration within teams of users. It can be accessed by any device (desktop, laptop, tablet or phone) that is connected to the Internet.
Teams (or individuals) can create one or more boards (like whiteboards) and then add a number of vertical lists to each board (usually entitled: “To Do”, “Doing”, “Done”). Lists then have cards (like “Sticky-Notes”) added to them. Cards also have a title and represent tasks to be accomplished by the team. They would normally be added to the “To Do” list where they can be dragged up and down the list to establish priorities. Eventually cards will be dragged to the other lists as their tasks are started and then completed.
Clicking on a card expands it and allows the addition of: description, checklists, attachments, Web links, team members responsible for the task, member voting, member comments (like Facebook, but on each task), due date reminders, email notifications, and more.
So far Trello seems to be well suited to allowing all members of a study group to participate in: suggesting, developing and voting for topics to study, arranging meetings and events, and recording minutes. It’s also possible that it could be useful for organising ANZURA conferences and other projects.
If anyone would like to see how the Auckland study group is using Trello please email me firstname.lastname@example.org