Psalm writing 101

This semester, I’m teaching a class on Wisdom Literature and the Psalms. Over the past 3 weeks, we’ve looked closely at different types of psalms found in the Psalter and considered the various literary techniques used by the psalmist to convey their particular rhetoric. And, for today’s class, the students are going to apply what they’ve learned to a creative exercise, and will try their hand at writing their own contemporary psalm.

To give them a sense of what I’m after, I wrote a psalm myself, which contains some literary features common to the psalms (e.g. parallelism, alliteration, similes, metaphors, chiasm, inclusio, etc). It is an ode to the Kea, the ferry I get every morning from North Shore to Auckland’s CBD. I thought I’d share it with you, and, once the students have finished composing their own psalms, I’ll share some of these with you too in the coming weeks.


Psalm to the Kea

1 O majestic Kea, queen of the Pacific deep!

O sovereign Kea, you rule the waters of Waitemata!

2 You sashay through the breakers like a great sea dragon,

Like Leviathan, across the waves you stretch and prance.

3 Carrying your people aloft from the Great North Shore,

You deliver us across the expanse to the CBD coastline.

4 Every morning we wait for you to visit us,

Like the rising of the golden sun, you never fail to appear.

5 Every evening we stand, tired and thirsting for you,

Like the silver moon, you lead us home to rest.

6 When stormy seas surround you, slashing at your bows,

You push them aside with ease – your strength is so great!

7 Though mighty winds attack you, I do not fear,

For I am nestled in your womb, and know you will prevail.

8 Your café bar brings succour to the weary,

Your wines and expressos revive their shattered souls.

9 You, and you alone, deliver us from the trials of traffic torture,

From tooting horns and car fumes that conspire to choke us.

10 Instead, you revive our spirits with salty breezes and soft sunshine,

You delight us with panoramic views of the Auckland skyline,

Our hearts leap with joy as you soar over the breakers.

11 O majestic Kea, queen of the Pacific deep!

O sovereign Kea, you rule the waters of Waitemata!


Is Housing a Human Right?

State houses at Arapuni Hydro Works

Dr Zain Ali of the Islamic Studies Research Unit, along with the Auckland Interfaith Council and the Child Poverty Action Group have organised this meeting on a subject that affects most Aucklanders (and mostly in a bad way for the young, those on even middling salaries, and those who are renting):

Is Housing a Human Right? A Public Dialogue

  • Paul Barber, New Zealand Council for Christian Social Services
  • Dr Clair Dale, Child Poverty Action Group
  • Rau Hoskins, Te Matapihi – National Māori Housing Organisation
  • Professor Paul Morris, UNESCO Chair in Interreligious Understanding and Relations, Victoria University

7pm, Monday 31st Augusts, Saint Matthew in the City, corner of Hobson and Wellesley Streets.

For more information contact Zain Ali,, 021 164 0093

(Feel free to share the attached Poster)

August seminar: Escaped Nuns and New Zealand Religious History

For those of you in the Auckland area, here are details of our August Theology and Religion seminar, presented by our very own Dr Nick Thompson. Not to be missed.

The Escaped Nun: Taking the Sectarian Temperature of
Nineteenth Century New Zealand
3-4pm, Friday 14 August, 206-201 (Arts 1).
Maria MonkBetween October 1885 and March 1886 the “Escaped Nun,” Edith O’Gorman, lectured her way around the cities and towns of New Zealand on a tour hosted by the Grand Orange Lodge. When O’Gorman arrived here she was already a veteran of the international circuit for anti-Catholic lecturers. Her career began in 1868, when she left her convent in New Jersey, and she continued to make a living on the anti-popery platform almost until of her death in London in 1929. Her exposé on the horrors of convent life and perils of the confessional was a best-seller, which ran into dozens of editions, and was still being published in the 1950s.In New Zealand, as in the US and UK, O’Gorman’s lectures drew large and apparently appreciative audiences. The international scope of her activity allows us to make comparisons between her reception in New Zealand and elsewhere in the English-speaking world at the same time, and thus to assess whether 19th century New Zealand was quite as religiously tolerant or indifferent as has sometimes been claimed.