Holy Week 2023

Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper in Milan (seen in 2010)

It’s now Sunday April 2nd, 2023, Palm Sunday. Kia ora!

This morning I went to church. Last night we turned our clocks back one hour, it was the end of Daylight Saving here. We are plunged into shorter days and darkness.  Sadly, last night the movie on Te Whakaata Māori was Marley and Me.  It wasn’t a great movie but JD likes Jennifer Aniston.  I didn’t sleep that well and accordingly listened to lots of podcasts.  One of them, Lawfare’s Rational Security podcast, had the co-hosts in discussion with Benjamin Wittes. One of their topics (this podcast was recorded before the Trump indictment announcement), was Trump’s choice to go to Waco for a rally on the thirtieth anniversary of the disaster there.  Although I remember this incident, the co-hosts were children or young people, as in the 2003 invasion of Iraq; consequently, their attitudes are coloured by not having lived through it. Ben Wittes quoted some wag who advised not to worship in a compound, and not to believe the leader is the Messiah, if the Bible is true. 

Last night it rained, but it became fine during the day, and it’s not cold.  At church, the organist and the pianist played together, which was quite wonderful, as they’re not seated close to each other. Quite a bit of practice must have been required! At church we were reminded of the distinction between Palm Sunday, and Jesus’s procession to Jerusalem, and His Passion on the Cross, as we head into Holy Week or Passion Week. The texts were Philippians 2: 1-11 and Matthew 27: 11 – 26, about Barabbas being released instead of Jesus, although Pontius Pilate could find no evil in him.  At Sunday School, the children had a Passover Meal, and we shared the leftovers after the service.  The Minister gave me a copy of Huia Come Home by J. Ruka to read, about the introduction of Christianity to Māori. I read several pages on my way home. There was confusion between me and JD as to whether he could pick me up or not, but as my usual bus was cancelled I caught a bus into Wellington Railway Station, and then caught a train to Johnsonville, and a bus after that. I managed to fit in a flu vaccine at Johnsonville Shopping Centre along the way.  As a child, I loved the huia. I had a pad with the huia (even then extinct) on the cover; it took a long time to get through one pad, and they featured native birds on the frontispiece, back in the day.

I have been reading an interview between Jon Meacham, historian and friend of President Biden, and David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker magazine. Thankfully, for once, I was allowed to read this one!  It was well worth reading. Meacham spoke about the current state of American politics, i.e. the hold Trump has over the Republican Party and millions of Americans.  To many of us, this does not make any sense at all, except to be thankful that I don’t live there, and none of my family currently lives there.

It’s now Monday April 3rd.

This morning I went to the movies with a friend of mine. We saw Red, White and Brass – a movie about a Tongan brass band at the Rugby World Cup in 2011. It was a very good movie!  Afterwards, we went to Kaffee Eis in Wellington’s Cuba St before catching a bus home. It was raining heavily in the morning, but in the afternoon it was just drizzling.

Then  weekly Covid 19 report came our today. The numbers are still pretty awful; it’s not going away any time soon; there are still thousands of reinfections, and too many deaths.

It reads as follows: there are 12,202 new infections, and 5,149 of them are reinfections. There’ve been 25 further deaths, and there are 220 people in hospital, with 9 in Intensive Care.

It’s now Tuesday April 4th.

Last night I watched an episode of Succession on my laptop.  Well, there are no guns, but there’s plenty of bad language, and actually the clothes aren’t great, Still, it’s mesmerizing, in a strange kind of way.  I guess it makes me grateful not to be part of One of Those Families, although I have to admit the theme music is amazingly entrancing.

This morning I went to Bible Study. I sometimes go, sometimes not; it’s always different, but like most things, it takes a while to find one’s feet. This morning we were looking at Acts 10: 34 – 43, not Pentecost, but the opening up of the early church to all Christians. It comes after the conversion of Paul, the Damascene moment of Acts 9, and again states the coming of the Holy Spirit.  We talked about speaking in tongues! Most of us are really sceptical about this, but we had a good discussion. Afterwards, I did some shopping.

It’s autumn here, and it’s a really strange time for me.  My allergies are worse, for some reason; I think I’m better in winter, although I’ve enjoyed the fine weather without it being too warm. But I feel unaccountably sad, at this time. The reason why, eludes me.  But I have a strange, sad feeling; the end of daylight saving plunges us into darkness, or shorter days; the sky is a strange place, and perhaps it reminds me of something sad in my past, but I don’t know what, exactly. 

It’s now Wednesday April 5th.

This morning I got up early to go to hymn singing. It was beautiful, and we had a great turnout. We sang “O Sacred Head Sore Wounded” and “Ah Holy Jesu how hast thou Offended” to tunes from Bach’s St Matthew Passion, the latter being the tune from the final, beautiful chorus.

Here’s a recording:

Afterwards, noting that Trump had in fact appeared in court as required, I actually managed to ignore much of the hullabaloo.  In the afternoon, I note that Trump’s speech from Mar-a-Lago is highlighted, while I cannot find Alvin Bragg’s presser. I noted, however, that the journalists around Trump Tower outnumbered the protesters, and Marjorie Taylor Greene’s address was drowned out.  She was there for ten minutes, apparently. There were protesters on both sides – for and against the indictment. Yes, America, this is a big moment, but one would like to ask: Just When Will you Grow up?  I’ve been listening to an American Scandal podcast series about a 1950’s attempt to bring about the downfall of a democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran.  This is all so upsetting.  MSNBC are covering the incidents, of course; they screen Alvin Bragg’s comments listing the charges,

Meanwhile, Sanna Marin, former Prime Minister of Finland, has conceded defeat in the recent election to the far right; on the other hand, Finland will join NATO. You win some, you lose some. Here in New Zealand, former Prime Minister Ardern’s so-called legacy is being debated. It’s fair to say that most if not all journalists and opinion-writers are giving her a hard time. Many of us thought she was simply marvellous, and such a breath of fresh air.  We rejoiced at her handling of – most things, really – especially the mosque shootings in Christchurch, and then Covid 19.  It’s still really hard to get used to Chippy Hipkins, although he’s growing on me.

In Israel, there are troubles again, as Ramadan and Easter begin – both of which may not be relevant to many Israelis.  Rupert Murdoch has called off his fifth engagement. That doesn’t really matter, but it’s noteworthy, perhaps.

I went out to Queensgate Shopping Centre, despite my better judgment.  I wanted to buy a small container of hand sanitiser, since I keep leaving one behind; I also wanted to buy more disposable face masks, since I have carried a pack in my tote bag (they weigh nothing), but they’re all used up – I have lent them to many people as required. Sadly, you can’t get them now, except in a box. I had to go to Countdown for a small container of hand sanitiser. 

I went to the Warehouse, but it’s pretty awful shopping there. But I did find a Butler’s Café there, with plenty of room!  I hadn’t noticed it before, but it’s probably nicer than any of the other eating options at Queensgate.

It’s now Maundy Thursday, April 6th.

This morning we had our last Thursday morning singing session for the term, and we enjoyed a delicious shared lunch afterwards.

Then I went shopping in Khandallah. It was bedlam there! The store is to be closed for Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, but not for four days like when we were first married! I bought some things, having asked JD to pick me up. My music was very heavy, too. I sat outside the store so JD wouldn’t have to enter the carpark, but of course he didn’t see me. Still, we caught up eventually.

In between times, I’ve been listening to various podcasts about Trump being formally charged with 34 felony counts by New York DA Alvin Bragg. Trump duly appeared, as promised, but he did not look like a happy man.  There’ve been some delicious headlines: Individual 1 gets his day in court; the Trump show moves to the courthouse; and so on.  A protester hoped Trump would be well-treated by Marjorie Taylor Greene’s “gazpacho police”. There was a really funny The Daily Show episode chaired by Ron Wood Jnr, with an appearance by Jon Stewart; MSNBC scrapped their normal programs to screen a special with their main anchors as team hosts.  To be honest, I was upset when several spoke at once; it reminded me of CNN programs before the 2016 presidential election.

The most interesting podcasts were a Lawfare Emergency podcast, and Lawfare host Benjamin Wittes appearing on the Bulwark podcast and Stay Tuned with Preet (those were the two he chose to appear on).

Just by the way. Nicola Sturgeon’s (former SNP Leader) husband was arrested; (he’s now been let go), and it wasn’t the end of Western democracy. I don’t think there was even a protest.

It’s now Good Friday, April 7th.

Last night I went to the Maundy Thursday service at my church. It was very moving, as it was last year. But I think there were fewer of us there than last year.  We washed each other’s hands, and then had Communion. Then we went into the church, which was progressively darkened, as the candles were extinguished.  We left in silence. This time a friend’s husband picked me, and JD picked us up afterwards. I should have asked him to come a but earlier! I am now very tired indeed.

It is hard to find out just what services are on today. Our church does not have one, although the Johnsonville Churches (Uniting, Catholic and Anglican) are to have a service combined with a walk at 10:45 am.  Coming from a background where Christmas and Easter were not celebrated, I guess I have a bit of a “take it or leave it” attitude. Public re-enactments don’t alter the fact that Jesus suffered for me, and on my behalf.

This morning I have been listening to more podcasts – it’s Stormy (Daniels) weather!  And the pointy heads seem divided as to whether this first indictment has merit, and if so, how much.

It seems that Ashli Babbitt, a Trump protester who was shot by a black policeman during the January 6 riot, has become a martyr for the Far Right in America (although she carried a knife); this reminds me of the Horst Wessel story in the 1930’s in Germany, where he became a political martyr.

What’s happening in Ukraine? Again, I don’t know, and I don’t know how this ends, although I assume it will. Of much lesser importance was the protest in Parliament Grounds here in Wellington just over a year ago. It became evident that cold and stormy weather was not going to move these folk; even throwing excrement at the police was not going to move them, but look, they’re gone now. Thank goodness. There is a huge feeling about one’s right to so-called “free speech”, here and in the US, despite Prince Harry saying that the first amendment (of the US Constitution) was “bonkers”. I believe that one should always be careful about what one says; that one should endeavour not to hurt anybody, and to claim one’s views as one’s own. At the time.

That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini! Nga mihi nui.

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