Long White and Cloudy

Long White and Cloudy: In Search of a Kiwi Spirituality by John Bluck, (Hazard Press, Christchurch) 1998, RRP $24.95, is reviewed by John Goffin.

This handy little book, by the Dean of Christchurch Cathedral, is written in a light journalistic style, and aimed at those without a church background. Don't look here for a scholarly or deep treatment of the subject, but you will find a series of short attractive chapters which paint pictures of what a Kiwi Spirituality might be made of. As John Bluck says, the subject is "about as slippery an eel as you can find, now you have it, now it's gone".

There is some analysis of the Kiwi tentativeness and awkwardness about the subject, and insights into what we Kiwis are. Spirituality, he says, is made up of sense of history, time and place, and the trusting sharing of life, all of which we are still finding our way with.

John Bluck has made an honest and fairly effective attempt to bridge the gap and meet with those who have never thought of themselves as "spiritual", however the question arises whether those on the other side of the gap will respond. It is clear that spirituality is to be found in the ordinary and mundane things, in surprising ways, and this is an important message, He encourages readers to look for these things and develop a sensitivity for them., such as ANZAC memories, cultural diversities, "green" things, rites of passage, family and community stories, familiar places, the engagement and chaos of urban life. Spirituality in this book is grounded and all pervasive in the here and now.

This book would fit nicely into a holiday suitcase, and without being demanding, would stimulate a good feeling for living more alive and "spirited".

(Dean John Bluck spoke and introduced his book to a good crowd at the Christchurch Sea of Faith Group in November)

John Goffin