Monday, 26 January 2015

Arise Sir Prince Philip

I am sure that we were told when monarchist Tony Abbott reintroduced Knights and Dames, a pseudo-aristocracy, (perhaps something some Liberals miss) that it would be reserved for such as those who have received it. Two Governors General and an outstanding serving military officer in Angus Houston. Read his biography and you get some idea of what a modern Australian might be like.
He emigrated to Australia in 1968[ to work as a jackaroo on a cattle station in north-west Western Australia. It was there that his workmates dubbed him "Angus", due to his strong Scottish accent.[3
Houston joined the RAAF as a cadet pilot in 1970 and spent the early part of his career flying UH-1 Iroquois helicopters in various parts of Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia........his career goes on and you can read more. It is impressive. 
Mr Abbott's obsession with the Royal Family is bizarre to say the least.
But let it not divert from the reality that it points to.
Does modern Australia actually believe it should be a "monarchy" constitutional or otherwise

How does the contribution of the Duke of Edinburgh compare to such as Angus Houston, Peter Cosgrove or Quentin Bryce?  We have seldom seen him; 
there is little that is uniquely Australian to his contribution; 
in the United Kingdom 
he is often pilloried for making racist, 
and socially offensive comments. 

Does Australia really need or want this.
Some examples are below....and these are only a few.....
1. China State Visit,  If you stay here much longer, you’ll all be slitty-eyed

2. To a blind women with a guide“Do you know they have eating dogs for the anorexic now?”
3. To an Aborigine in Australia“Do you still throw spears at each other?”

The rest are legendary. And Prime Minster Abbott thinks he is the sort of role model who stands alongside Peter Cosgrove, Quentin Bryce, Angus Houston
If being the pro-genitor of our next King is his major accomplishment then perhaps that fact alone should say :bring on the Republican debate again!!”

I can think of at least six indigenous Australians who have offered more significant service and leadership to Australia, than this non-Australian citizen who happens to be married to the Queen.

Flags Australia Day 2015


Let the wind blow free
that flags may fly
flags of our nationality
flags of our aboriginality
High over the square
listlessly sweeping
political statement
under Victoria's benign gaze
(who would have thought the old woman had so much fun in her).
Let the wind blow free
lest we forget.

flying over Victoria Square Adelaide are two enormous billowing flags, the national flag and the Aboriginal flag.

Stephen Clark 2005

Saturday, 24 January 2015

We are a good country but are we Christian

I am interested in the current debate in South Australia about prayers at local Council meetings. And at this time of National Celebration, (Australia Day) the question about whether or not Australia is a Christian country. 
My oft-stated conclusion is that it is not!   But it is a great thing that people of faith (all faiths) and no-faith can live alongside each other

It seems to me that the time is long past to stop religious pretence. 
Part of that pretence has been  that reciting a formula of Victorian words before a Council or Parliamentary meeting somehow will invoke supernatural blessing.  This is, to my mind, superstition and idolatry.

[On a side note It is interesting to note that the prayers that are 'rattled off' before Parliamentary sittings, and I suppose meetings of local Councils...are in the language of the 19th Century...Our Father which art in earth as it is in heaven [this latter expresses a cosmology in which the Universe revolves around the earth....perhaps too subtle for most] observation is that very few members join in these prayers. The Churches have long ago tried to leave this language back where it belongs .Our Father who art in heaven. better expresses our belief in a personal God...and we do understand the wonder of living on earth ]

You may be surprised by these comments as I happen to be (as some will know) a priest of the Anglican Church. That Church been dogged throughout South Australia’s history by a sense of rubber-stamping government with God’s blessing; the formulaic prayers are part of that superstition.

I am not suggesting that people of faith (and we are many: Christians, Buddhists, Moslems, Jews, Indigenous people, Hindus…..) should stop carrying out their religious duty to pray for leaders, government and our country.  Some might think this is pointless, we people of faith don’t think that!  It's OK to disagree on such matters. Even a sign of health that we live in a country where it is acceptable to hold different points of view.

But in this week when we celebrate certain aspects of Australia’s history; keep religious pretence out of it. Indeed get rid of it!

And be glad that we who know and believe it’s not pretence will continue to pray! Even if you think it is a waste of time.
And give us room to do it.  Perhaps we should give our places of decision-making "a room" where people of faith might gather to pray for decision making. (One of the ways that the cessation of prayers before meetings of Government has been dealt with in democracies is for believers to gather of their own accord immediately before the meetings. I would encourage the pray-ers to do that.  How wonderful it would be if  that was ecumenical/interfaith/ cross cultural...but let's take what we can get!) 
Even though some don't believe that this matters, as a free and liberal country we should rejoice that the values that people take seriously are taken seriously.

In our churches, mosques, temples, and other sacred places. the rest of the population may be surprised to find that we pray for Liberal and Labor, Government and Opposition. Local, State and Federal Government. Australia and other nations

I think it’s good to stop the fakery of mimicking the shallowness of Victorian Christianity which was more about empire building than faith. But not to stop being people of faith

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Intimacy...Anglicans find this difficult

Anglicans are not good at intimacy!  We are, after all, stiff upper-lip British!

Today at our two Eucharists we were simply invited to approach the newly blessed holy water (for the Baptism of Jesus) and mark each other with the sign of the cross.

"I sign you with the sign of the Cross" I said to my friend and right hand man/person; Peter.

And both congregations had an intimate time. (I thought) as they touched and blessed their friends and fellow Christian travellers with a few drops of water

It should be more like this ....don't you think?

Saturday, 10 January 2015

My beloved grandaughter

This has been a monumental week for me. A couple of years ago, probably when I was feeling a bit down, I prayed the prayer of a patriarch (look up Abraham, Isaac and Jacob if you need to understand the Jewish Christian heritage.)...but there are plenty of other Patriarchs & Matriarchs....I think of Henry  & Lillian Clark for example, who would never have thought of  themselves as such and yet parented 4 daughters, 2 sons, 9 granddaughters,  4 grandsons who in turn have parented  8 daughters & 7 sons...this will at lest give L something to check and tell me I have got the numbers wrong
I prayed as Abraham and Sarah had prayed...or tried to... that I too would be the father of a generation.
She's looking pretty good so far, more than one person has commented that she would appear to have her eye on me....and those long curly baby fingers...well I am pretty well wrapped around them!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Another year- get a move on...there's more to review!

Adelaide had a great Fringe...and we just went to things spontaneously. It was a good way to do it, and I am looking forward to this year's particularly since we will be having a series at St Mary Mags (3 entertaining music afternoons Sundays 1, 8 & 15 March)

Lots of interesting questions about the blogosphere, is the traditional West (of which I count Australia a part) got any right to regard itself as "Christian"...the evidence is thin on the ground. Most people I come into contact with are  now happy or perhaps "brave enough" to identify as non-religious. I think this is probably better than pretending to be a Christian when most/many people have not the faintest idea of what that might mean.

The great political diversion was same-sex marriage. Perhaps better and more happily styled "marriage equality".  I hope we are moving to a society where everyone has the opportunity to make a lifelong commitment, if that is what they feel called to.
I personally feel that children (who are often the weapons used in this discussion) benefit not by the gender of the adults who care for them.....but benefit by having two people who commit themselves to see that they have support for growth in education, emotional growth and indeed humanity!
If two women (and many do) decide to parent children they are likely to do a good job.  I would like to have had two mothers!
I also think it is possibly a bit harder for men, (because we are not too bright!)  but certainly have encountered relationships in the last year of men who are deeply committed to their children, grandchildren and stable family life. Indeed the gay men I know best have been in relationships of 2, 3 & 4 decades...even Barrowman (who got married in 2013......) has been in a relationship for 20+ years.

But as I say all this is a diversion!

Monday, 29 December 2014

Another year(1)

One of the difficulties for me is that my blogging, my preaching, my ranting and my raving all get intertwined.
So forgive me if this .... isn't quite as clear as you might like it..... I am going back through (some of ) my blogs for the last year .
The fact that I am listening to Cleo Laine as I try to make this reflection tells you that at some points in my life I have got got stuck.......she is now 87.
There are two people who I have missed out on seeing...Cleo and also Dionne Warwick....I have left my run too late!
As I looked back on the last year on 20/12/13 the ABC  revealed that I was an INTP...this meant that using Myers-Briggs i am LvB...pretty happy with that. The greatest music ever (even better than Lane-Dankworth!!)
Each year I reveal the best poem I have written O spotless virgin....still think it is
The title is ironic and speaks much of my life

O perfect God
O perfect God 
you should have been more careful

of everyone

Why put them together so that mothers scratch their sons

and sons bleed over their mothers

We moved on because I ( and of course others) had a horrendous six weeks in which 6 friends died.
Christmas last year was almost excruciating
But I am always glad when you get to that point in preparing for funerals when we can be sad for the death...but rejoice in the life. Even with F...whose funeral was excruciating...the eulogy seemed like a story of a man no one had really known but who could have been . For his widow who is mercifully released, and for the children who still bear something of the awfulness which was his illness and still work through that.
Cufflinks were a such a privilege and a joy to be given by one of those who had died ...a simple gift. A lot of sadness but glad to have known Tom.
A lot of the the other ephemera you can read in  the earlier parts of this blog (go back to mid January 2014)

Have loved having our dog, Betsey...who has challenged us in all sorts of ways

I struggled to walk the dog this morning
She, ever ready, rustled as soon as I stirred to pee
She, always hungry, looked expectantly at me
Thinking, somehow, I am the provider
I have never been able to be.

Walking the park, she tugged and tugged
Sweeping this way and that
Once a duck, once a pup, never, thanks, a cat.
I, always, wanting control said "Leave it!"
Good luck with that!

In the park a gorgeous girl
Had a tiny pup
Shall we play or stir them up?
She was good, and her command
Got obedience  on the up

Betsey, Betsey, such a life
Such a dog and such a strife
Pulling this way, pulling that
more at ducks than at the cat

I struggled to walk her this morning
But it was, as always,
better for me than for her!

Jamie's was fun

We went here for a lunch on the Sunday after Christmas. [Father and three adult children and son in law] (Relatively easy to park in Myers ). Food was excellent  Particularly Polenta chips and zucchini tempura. Oooh!    I had mussels (obviously not South Australian since they were tiny) which were very beautiful. Interesting and good to see pasta being made on site. We all enjoyed tasting each others' dishes
Despite being warned that drinks were horrendously priced they were Ok. BUT there is absolutely no excuse in the middle of
 three major Australian wine regions for not having an amazing cellar....if there was it was certainly not being promoted!
Staff were great...all young ( surely there is scope for some staff in their 30s and 40s!)...there was a shift change while we were there and the first shift hung around and had coffee and a drink....obviously they enjoy the atmosphere too.
We'd booked and there seemed plenty of space on a Sunday afternoon. No wait and great service (from both shifts). Will go again!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Often we forget

We are pointed  (here)to  an interview on the BBC with Bishop Suheil Dawani, the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem

He notes that the Syrian conflict has probably meant that we have probably lost the Anglican Church in Syria.

He notes, too, the importance of Anglican institutions throughout the Holy Lands (see the footnote 1. below)

The Anglican Church has a number of important healthcare facilities including a significant medical presence in Nablus, {where a much loved Adelaide Doctor has worked}, Gaza {which has been the backbone of dealing with the medical misery of that sad place }[hospitals in each] and Zababdeh (The Penman Clinic {of course named after a former and much loved Archbishop of Melbourne...who was keen that we should not forget the awful suffering that the poor and disenfranchised suffer in a place of such political conflict )...all in Palestine .
Recent requests for support (eg. from the Anglican Board of Missions)  have not been to further political ends but rather  to ensure that the poor are cared for.

We also forget that most Christians, almost all Anglicans (as for example Bp Suheil),  in the Holy Lands are ethnic Arabs. Many of whom can trace their ancestry back to the time of our Lord. The same is true of Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics


1.      Please note it is appropriate to use the term Holy Lands (in plural form)  rather than Holy Land to refer to the places we hold so dear. Not all of the “traditional sites” of the Gospels lie within the modern state of Israel.  And it would be incorrect to suggest that the Hol Land is co-terminus with either the present bounds of the State of Israel  or what some radical Zionists consider to be the legitimate  border of a "potential Israel".  Bethlehem itself lies in Palestine, as do Bethany, and Jericho.  Of course cities such as Gaza, Ramallag abd Nablus, often in the news lie in PalestineMount Nebo (where Moses died  and was taken to heaven) is in Jordan……

Sunday, 21 December 2014

it's all down hill from here

Today was a day for picking tomatoes.
It was a day when we continued to reflect on the fact that we live in a fragile world. The Hostage Crisis earlier in the week was oveshadowed by an act of gross cruelty in Pakistan.
Children murdered by so called people of conviction. What sort of men pick as their victims the softest targets.
In the midst of that a family tragedy saw the death of eight children in Cairns...a woman their mother and aunt has been charged. There will be no joy out of that case.
And the deck chairs on the ship of State...have been shuffled . one has to smile at the comment that the number of women in the Cabinet of the Commonwealth has been doubled. Great! one would be tempted to say. Till we realise that it only required ONE more woman to achieve the doubling.
Still gross underrepresentation by any standards.
And in the mean time Christmas fever grabs the community.
It fees like downhill!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

No one for a moment suspected that this was more than a political witchunt

Don't hold your breath waiting for any Liberal politician to say "Sorry" for anything, 
(there will be nothing from Abbott, Morrison, Abeds, Pyne or Brandis....all children of the Howard) to say:
 They have form; caricaturing the weakest, blaming those not at fault. Thumping the lectern....saying "Little man  that I am, I will not say sorry for anything!!")
I turn my back on this awful government, along with my indigenous sisters and brothers. 
A Government which lacks compassion, cannot admit wrongdoing....and on top of that lacks compassion for those who are least powerful.
(Guardian story here)

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Food and other issues

I do understand about food
don't get me wrong
but in the end
no tomato
or banana
is going to hold you and say
I will
at least
try to love you

Sunday, 7 December 2014

My goodness and my new hero

Today I was cheered by someone interjecting into a sermon
"I am really angry....I didn't come to church to hear about politics"
(I had been suggesting we could better spend our energies educating the children of refugees rather than incarcerating them)
she continued "and I want you to stop!"

You mean someone was actually listening!

Even more cheered by the brave CC who then also interjected :

"Keep on going!"

But what would he know,
after all he has given up a lucrative money-raking career to advocate for indigenous people

It's good to be in a church where there is diverse opinion. (And I said that in my response today....we are not in the business of shutting each up!)

It would also be wrong for me to keep quiet, when I should speak out.

I was told on the way out of Church )by the interjector's spouse) that the Archbishop of Canterbury never speaks about politics.
So it was interesting to hear on the news Archbishop Justin "steps into austerity row with radical report"

Let me make it clear I have been no Justin Welby fan....but he's getting his act together. And I will be writing to him tonight!

I had also noted that Margaret Thatcher hated Bp David Jenkins, not because he was a radical theologian but because he spoke out as Bishop of Durham about the rape of NE England by the South in the name of economic rationalism [this is the same Thatcher who said 'there is no such thing as society'...... that of course absolves you from caring for your neighbour...if you don't have any neighbours.   because there is no society!]

She also hated and ridiculed  that saint, Abp Robert Runcie,  because he alone spoke out against the insidious violence that Britain inflicted on the order to bolster their own waning political ambitions. (read Runcie's powerful deathbed reflection here)

Can I reiterate what Archbshop Justin said in the Daily Mail (itself only slightly less right wing than Andrew Bolt) today
I have seen the hunger that stalks our country... it shocks me more than Africa: Stop wasting food and feed the poor, says THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

Saturday, 6 December 2014

An outstanding memory

When we were children ( we fondly reminisce) we looked forward to the amazing Christmas party at the now defunct factory where my father used to work. I imagine he paid a shilling a week so that his 5 children could have a fun-filled afternoon playing party games, eat bizarre party food we were never allowed in post war England, and then of course get an amazing present! [usually much more exotic than our parents would ever give or get us]
We used to think ti was just great!
So today we had our extended Clark family party, I'd wondered all week how many people might be there would there be ten or would there be 40.
Well there were certainly 35+.  This is a picture of the Christmas Australian and Cumbrian folk enjoy this South American tradition I don't know.   But the kids enjoyed
I am left thinking if our family kids (there will be one more next year) remember Christmas parties as I have done and think...Christmas was just great. Then we will have done well.. We did well today.
I felt exhausted...but it was very great to be surrounded by our loving, odd, and zany family....and kids beating the Pinata! (In the next year we we will welcome a maybe the Spaniard won't be quite so mad!)

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Not unconvinced

I am sure that I, like many, if not most, South Australians am disappointed about the loss of ABC production facilities from Adelaide.
The loss of State based 7.30 reports on Friday nights is really serious. More serious than we begin to imagine in a country which is voraciously dominated by the two East coast metropolises!
BUT, I am almost convinced by Mark Scott's explanation that we need to get real about the way we want News delivered.
Indeed I am well locked in to ABC Just In...which is not about my son Commodore Justin Stephen Clark...but about well documented local TV
Simon Royal is better than your average bear! May he not be cast on the scrap heap of political expediency!

BUT I do have to admit....I have stopped reading Print Media
I DO check the ABC for headlines  and Just In (sometimes even News Corp)
As always Australians are punching above their weight.
BUT, I also listen to enormous amounts of BBC ( as you can)....they have thrown nothing away for 50 or 60 years. How great it is to hear Kenneth Williams at his maddest but also such stuff as Round the Horn, the Burkiss Way...and so much more.
The BBC seems to have paid for this by the Licence Fee...despite my  general admiration for Gough..... this was a mistake. He got rid of it
But it meant that we lost a stream of simple funding which would have continued to enable...Blue Hills, The Mavis Bramson Show....and oh so much more
It can never be reintroduced. But let's try and dig out the archives the Brits have done

This will be a new period for us. But I hope that the ridiculous Canberra Government don't emasculate the creative potential of our nation

Friday, 21 November 2014

These are a few of my most deeply disturbing things....about PUP

Now forgive me if I have got this sort of wrong and this may be an essay in naivete
But Australia is a democracy!

We got really worried about J B-P in Queensland...when it became so person focussed that Peterson could essentially do what he liked.
I actually think that he had the welfare of the State at heart, but he didn't do too badly out the deal. As did other very strongly State focussed politicians such as Henry Bolte in Victoria, and indeed Tom Playford in SA who though a liberal conservative was derided by his colleagues
as a socialist.
This, I suggest, is essentially because he sought the welfare of everyone. I suspect he was a selfless human being and what we might have called in previous generations a Christian gentleman. Indeed a Gentle  man.

It is interesting to read about Playford's relationship with the young Don Dunstan
"So, after a late session of parliament at night, Playford would give Dunstan a lift home in his car. As Dunstan's home was situated on George Street, Norwood, it was only a small deviance from Playford's normal route to his home in Norton Summit. The topics that the two discussed were not ever completely revealed, yet Playford, according to Dunstan, would talk to him in a paternalistic manner.[134] The two built up somewhat of a relationship and developed a respect for each other, but due to the strength of their respective views (Playford was a liberal conservative, Dunstan a libertarian socialist), did not establish the same type of bond that Playford had with earlier Laborites." from Wikipedia
He was a pragmatist, no doubt, but also was seeking the benefit of the whole State.

What of Clive Palmer?
The multi-millionaire  would-be politician who can't be bothered turning up to acquit his Parliamentary duties.
Quite frankly I would have thought that if you are not going to go to (the admittedly often tedious) debates and votes in Parliament...then don't presume to get yourself elected.

I must admit that THE most disturbing thing about PUP is that it is named after a person..Palmer himself
Oh who was the last person to name a political party after themselves...that's right Pauline Hanson!!

Now as I understand it Mr Palmer is a member of the Lower House, yet he is the one who apparently calls the shots in dare he? 
Well he dares I guess because he is extraordinarily wealthy and is calling the shots. He is, no doubt, bankrolling PUP...the party named after him.
But let's not pretend this is DEMOCRACY
this is what is called PLUTOCRACY...the rule of the rich.
In an alleged democracy, plutocracy has no part to play
It is, and was always going to be, a farce.
But an rich as he is...and a member of the Lower limited as he is has NO RIGHT to direct Senators .
His personal charisma is fine, but we should be deeply worried if his personal wealth is dictating the agenda . That is NOT how Democracy works.

The new guard

It was good to attend a commissioning of a new priest at St Richard's Church, Lockleys last night. It is a church with which I have had quite a long association having been a best man in a wedding party there decades ago. My parents in law both are/were worshippers there, and indeed the last service I attended was the funeral of my father in law..
They have a new priest, Sue, who has an infectious personality and it looks like she will work really well in that parish.
One of the Wardens said that their last three priests...a wise young man with a pony tail..(David C-G) ...a  fine and highly educated African priest (William) ...and now a woman (oh horror!!!) testament, and indeed it does, to that little corner's community life. The Western suburbs of Adelaide.
Sue is one of the 'new guard'...perhaps it is more that I am feeling that I am one of the 'old guard' ...even though I feel 18 inside I am sometimes 70 I got to be so old I don't quite know!
In conversation with one of my older parishioners the other day it was observed that the Anglican Church may be passing out of existence. I suggested that my observation is that it is rather some the new shape is almost unrecognisable.
But to others, me included, I am quite excited that the new guard will have the joy of being a community priest amidst folk who are and have been faithful for not only years but decades...I think of Heather and Marguerite, of Ken and Barbara (the last time I saw her she was in the process of delivering the middle S Clark...who is about to deliver herself in a few weeks).
Sue will be a great joy to Lockleys....and they are lucky to have her!  Perhaps it is prayer rather than luck that got her there.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Simple A..B..C of the media

Like many/most people I have time shifted most of my media encounters. I listen to BBC radio at night, and catch up with ABC and SBS programs through iView and SBS On Demand. I can see all sorts of other thing on You Tube. I seldom say any more..."I have to be home by 8.30 to watch "Giggle and Hootch""   We almost always watch 'And live from New's Saturday Night Live' the cutting edge , must watch satire, comedy, political/social commentary that is available online within an hour of it's being broadcast in NY at 11.35 p.m. each Saturday Night .
I am particularly struck by the BBC, and the depth of its quality radio...which goes back now over 40 years. They have simply kept everything...and continue so to do. [Today it is easier because of digital technology ]
I am struck by how good that is.
Of course the BBC has largely been able to be funded by the iniquitous "licence fee"... once present in this country, and there is no way it will ever be able to be reintroduced ( politically)  in Australia.
So there is now little or no radio drama, almost all comedy has disappeared or been destroyed; both commercial and ABC;...what a pity Mavis Bramson and the Naked Vicar Show have disappeared. I even imagine that there are those who would long to hear replays of Blue Hills!

So now we are facing, yet again, cuts to ABC funding. What concerns me about this is the loss of culture.  
Economic decisions seem little concerned with the preservation of culture..
They do seem concerned with limiting political criticism...some Liberals are convinced that the ABC is out to get them.  It is surely part of their Charter to critique the sitting government...and think Mr Bernardi at al are being just a little bit precious

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Leaving us behind

 our children quite rightly left us behind
we wanted them to stay
and enjoy the joy we knew
but, looking blankly,
they never got it
the fun, the excitement
the rage

I am glad they found their own
and will find
that their kids too
will look blankly
wondering what all the fuss is about

In old age we might all sit around
with grandchildren and great and greater grandchildren
realising that each must its own discover

Friday, 7 November 2014

We have got lost

Some where along the way Facebook,Twitter, etc. etc. have all got very confused
We should be mindful that the Media Manipulators (aka spin doctors) are more interested in their outcomes than ours
Personally I am interested in  truth and justice! [ Not THE AMERICAN WAY] I want truth and justice for the disenfranchised, the indigenous, the poor and the real people


I am vaguely scandalised, but not surprised, by the lack of grace of the militant right (let's name it for what it is) who cannot extend to Gough Whitlam what better commentators have done.

Though the bland Prime Ministers of the past, Howard, Abbott, and Rudd ...poll driven politicians....sat there (almost bemused) yet WE know that the life after Gough is different
Noel Pearson nailed the change that has occurred.
"This old man"....he not only played one....he drew the nation to a new vision. Every Government since has lived out of the reality that Australia should be better. Have greater vision and seek a better future. I don't think Johnny Howard had a clue about this. And T Abbott is, as Pearson suggests, more interested in re-election than the welfare of the Commonwealth.