Happy Easter 2023

A variety of Easter Eggs

It’s now Saturday April 8th, 2023. Kia ora!

There’s lots of news out of the US. While I try not to let it eclipse important other things, like the fact that it’s still Holy Week, as well as the initial indictment of Trump on 34 (!) felony charges, it’s been revealed that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has benefitted from huge donations and trips from a republican donor, that were undeclared; Mike Pence has agreed to testify (to the January 6 Committee?) after all, two black democrat representatives have been expelled from the Tennessee legislature, and a Texan judge has invalidated the CDC’s approval of the abortion drug, mifepristone. How does all this even happen?  I listened to a Bulwark podcast yesterday where Charlie Sykes spoke to a reporter who gave a terrifying picture of Trump supporters who are armed and have been “given permission” to be nasty, to say nasty things, to be racist, and implicitly, to rough people up. Some pastor referred to his gun as his “rod and staff” (Psalm 23). I’m sure the Good Lord did not intend that we would protect ourselves from other parishioners with arms! Mind you, Charlie is conflicted himself: he frequently appears on MSNBC, as do other Bulwark characters (Tim Miller, Mona Charen, Bill Kristol), and is rather rude about the MSNBC green room. He really wishes that republicans would go back to – what, exactly? What is “true conservatism” any more? Everything has changed, as pointed out by the white woman, a former teacher, who was not expelled from the Tennessee legislature. By the way, the three Democrat representatives were protesting about guns, and their ease of access, given that just days ago there had been a mass shooting at a Nashville Presbyterian school, and three nine-year olds and three adults had been shot dead – with an AR15, which now seems to be the weapon of choice. The brave white woman democrat had previously survived a school shooting! I think that’s the bulk of it. There are still podcasts giving reaction to Trump’s indictment; I am so glad that I don’t live in the US, wonderful and terrible as it is. The Texas judge’s ruling about the abortion pill has only just come out, although it’s been expected for some time. It seems so ironic to me that the pro-life (i.e. anti-abortion) brigade don’t seem to care about destroying existing lives or fertility, be it that of the mother with an ectopic pregnancy or another life-threatening condition, or doctors who would treat such women and provide safe abortion care.

Actually it’s the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement over Northern Ireland, which was just huge. The Rev Ian Paisley and Martin McGuiness, two men with extremely different views, somehow came together and the violence, religious and political, that had characterised Northern Ireland and Great Britain, for the most part, came to an end. This was immortalised in the film The Journey. The Guardian had a very interesting podcast where a mother and her daughter (born 25 years ago) both spoke. The mother spoke about the gauntlet she navigated just to get to school, and how she was used to the violence, and thought it would never stop. Here’s a link:


In February 2010 we visited Leeds Castle, in Kent, where the Good Friday Agreement was signed.

In Napier, my daughter is painting eggs for Easter. Last year she painted eggs with masks on! This year there’s no need for masks, unless you go to a chemist or a medical centre. One of my sons is visiting Napier with his family, and they plan to go bowling!

It’s now Easter Sunday April 9th, 2023. He is Risen!

Today is a beautiful fine day in Wellington, after a cold start.  There is a good turnout at church (I don’t know how many came to the 7 am Dawn Service).  It was lovely; JD brought me and a friend brought me home.  I felt the warmth of great friends there. Anyway, the sermon was about the joy of the risen Christ, and about our being commanded to spread the good news, that salvation is open to all on earth who believe in Jesus Christ.

The friend who gave me a lift home is another Marilynne Robinson reader!  I checked in my book room for any of her four novels, but I couldn’t find them – I’ve either given them away or got them from the library. She’s written five novels: Housekeeping (made into a film in 1987 and shown on the then Māori Television), Gilead, Home, Lila, and Jack.  The last four are related, although you can read them individually, of course.  The down-to-earth Christianity espoused in Gilead, in particular, related very strongly to the Christianity I was brought up with.

In the afternoon we went to see a painting exhibition at the Academy Gallery on Queens Wharf. It was very quiet there; very quiet in Wellington city, actually.

I have been watching a lot of Ozark on Netflix.

It’s now Monday April 10th.

I watched a sermon by Bishop Robert Barron for the Easter, It was entitled “Let Christianity be Weird”. It was a wonderful sermon, as his Easter ones always are, but he mentioned that he had been speaking to Tom Holland, the author of Dominion, which I have recently read. He spoke about his wearing of a cross pendant, and of the enormous influence of Jesus’ crucifixion on the world.  Here’s a link:

I also listened to another Bulwark podcast (The Next Level), featuring Frank Bruni, an American journalist and op-ed writer.  He used to feature on the weekly The Argument podcast with Michelle Goldberg and Ross Douthat. Their differing opinions and intelligence made for very interesting listening. I was sorry when Jane Coaston took over. I no longer listen to this podcast. Anyway, Frank Bruni had a stroke at the age of 52, and permanently lost the sight in one eye. He’s written a book about this: The Beauty of Dusk: On Vision Lost and Found.  He spoke eloquently on the shock of having a stroke which damaged his optic nerve and losing his sight in one eye (with the potential to have another stroke and lose sight in the other), and the later transformation to give thanks that things weren’t worse for him, and a different appreciation of losing one’s capabilities as one ages. One of his issues is memory loss. He’s quite open about this.  I have some blank spots in my memory, too, which have been a source of great embarrassment.

It’s interesting how Easter is celebrated in different countries.  In the US, Good Friday isn’t a public holiday; the Bulwark podcast was delivered as usual.  That seems odd to me!  On my Youtube feed, there isn’t much in the way of celebration. I have listened to Bach’s St Matthew Passion, again, and that keeps coming up on my phone. Is the celebration diminished, or is it just that stuff’s not coming up for me? Actually, I wrote about the troubles in Israel; of course, they celebrate Passover now, and many Christians eat a Passover meal too. But Easter and Ramadan don’t have the same significance for Jewish people as they do for Christians and Muslims, respectively.

I have been listening to The Rest is History podcast – their series is currently about the Black Prince, the 100 Years’ War, and the character of chivalry. The Order of St George of the Garter is one of the highest honours the reigning English monarch can bestow, and yet no one would now expect the recipients to go off and be a super-hero in war (or would they?)  The tradition of knightly chivalry (not a woman’s world at all) is still alive and well in the British Royal Family. I think that nobles are required to swear allegiance to their new monarch; an interesting question, in this day and age. Still, King Charles III seems pretty harmless. Queen Camilla, on the other hand, should take another name, in my view!  Queen Camilla will always remind us that he preferred Camilla Parker-Bowles over the troubled but extremely beautiful Princess Diana to whom (however unwisely) he was married, and who was the mother of his two sons.

It’s now Wednesday April 12th.

Yesterday I went to a Bible study, and had coffee with two friends afterwards. This morning I got up early to go to hymn singing, and then caught a bus into town. I resisted the impulse to buy another book at Unity Books (Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and Ben McIntyre’s Operation Pedestal were contenders), but I bought a birthday card for my eldest granddaughter – in Māori!

This week the latest Covid 19 numbers were reported.  It was a public holiday on Monday (Easter Monday), so the report was published yesterday.

There were 12,129 new cases of Covid-19 reported in Aotearoa in the week to midnight Sunday, and a further eight deaths. The eight people added to the Covid-19 death tally brings the total number to 2695 people.

Of the new cases last week – nearly half were reinfections – 4973, according to the figures from the Ministry of Health today.

There were also 219 people with Covid-19 in hospital as of midnight Sunday, with seven cases in ICU. The seven-day rolling average of cases is just down at 1729.

Last week 2202 new cases were reported and 25 further deaths attributed to the coronavirus.

The government has decided to retain the 7 day isolation requirement for the Covid 19 infected people for a further two months. As usual, with Covid 19 restrictions, there are voices urging to get rid of isolation requirements, and others to keep them.

In town I had a beautiful toasted cheese scone with my first coffee of the day at Smith the Grocer, then I visited a jeweller to get my bracelet fixed – it was my birthday present, and we bought it duty-free in Melbourne!

I also got a pair of sneakers from the Hush Puppies shop – they were having a sale, and it was too good to ignore comfortable shoes that fit me well.

It’s now Thursday April 13th.

This morning I was to see a movie with a friend. We caught the 10 am train from Johnsonville to Wellington, and then tracked through the tunnel to catch a No. 83 bus to Lower Hutt. We got off in Jackson St, and arrived at the Lighthouse Cinema in Beach St with time to have coffee before the movie. We saw Driving Madeleine, a French movie. It was great fun, with French spoken slowly enough to understand, for the most part, but the key character had a very sad life, and there was some distressing domestic violence.  I’m glad I saw it, but it could have been quite upsetting. The review and the trailer did not indicate this. Still, I’m glad I saw it.

It’s now Friday April 14th.

Last night we watched a movie called Inside Man. I think I’ve seen it before. This morning someone from Access was due to come and do some housework. She was rostered to come last Friday – Good Friday – but Access rang me on Wednesday to say that she’d come on Thursday before Good Friday instead. Well. Thursdays are no good for me, as I’ve told them several times. So I had to cancel. As she was rostered to come today, I changed the towels, put two loads of washing on, folded JD’s washing, and did some general tidying up. I had an Art Group meeting, but decided not to go as the cleaning lady was due to come. Well, by 2:18 pm she still hasn’t come, and I wish I’d gone to the Art Group meeting.   That’s just so annoying. It’s almost impossible to talk to these people, and I suppose the arrangement will be reviewed in May – am I better yet?  Sadly, not. But whatever I say to whoever rings me (always someone different), doesn’t get translated to the person who comes to my house.

Internet access has been really poor here lately. I hope I don’t need a new phone – I think our Wi-Fi is dodgy sometimes. As it’s slow on my PC too, I suspect the connection, but it’s really annoying.

I’ll leave it there. IN Ukraine, fighting grinds on. I wish there could be an honourable peace.  Still and all, there are some advantages to living in New Zealand, even though it’s so far away – from anywhere!  Slava Ukraini! Ngā mihi nui.

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