Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Great Christians

Brian Harradine has died.
As a Christian I have always felt we should 'flex our muscle'...that is we should not just feel that Christianity requires us to be 'nice'. But that the principles we hold dear should be brought to bear in the national debate. It has not always been possible

Brian Harradine certainly sought to do so. Not everyone, not every Christian, or even Catholic, would agree with all his stands on the wide range of issues but here Frank Brennan talks about him in a rather balanced sort way (listen to Frank here)

Butting in!

Holy Week Day 1 and 2 completed. Am trying to give myself to it, but life's changes are butting something wicked.
That too is a Holy Week message

Monday, 14 April 2014


I started watching Game of Thrones last week.
What an epic journey that is. Some will hate it and others obviously love it. I haven't quite made up my mind! But I think I'm being sucked in
Many of you will already know that I announced yesterday that I am to become the Parish Priest of St Mary Magdalene's, Adelaide in a couple of months (here)
That too will be an epic journey. Having been at Coromandel Valley for  over 18 years it was strange to say yesterday
" This will be the last Palm Sunday and Holy Week I will be here !" More than half of the Easters I have spent as a priest have been in this parish.
They are likely to be more exotic in the next few years!
So the journey of Holy Week, itself important in my life, will be compounded as I think (occasionally this week and then furiously next)  about the way I extract myself and two of my children from the house. AAgh!.
Will require a certain ruthlessness.  Makes G o Th look mild by comparison!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

The bothersome world of same sex parents

I wonder if the world is bothering us at the moment.
I know two men who are in a committed relationship to each other. They have decided that they could become parents. I have mixed feelings about this.
My ‘mixed feelings’ are that:
  • this is not how it happens, these two men would both appear to be moral and responsible. They happen to be what today we call ‘gay’! (I don’t really like the terminology, it is casual and inaccurate) but two men can’t have a child in their own right.

On the other hand, and particularly being a parent myself I also think:
  • shouldn’t any mature adult be allowed to experience the privilege of parenthood

These two guys would seem to be potentially responsible parents holding down well paying jobs, and indeed one would even suggest they are ‘socially conservative’ (more so than me!).  They are well-educated and can provide well for their children (they plan to adopt two babies)
I am still of two minds 

BUT I also think this bothersome world does not put everything in my control (thank goodness!)
Others will make decisions which don’t necessarily conform to the narrowness of my world view...again “Thank goodness!”
SO my response is to do what I can to support these two people in their desire to be parents.
When it all boils down to it no one, not even a royal family, can provide a perfect environment into which a child might be born.  We do what we can with what we have got. And that is part of the mystery and the grace that God has committed to the human race.

No human situation is perfect. Let’s do what we can, I suggest, to support all those who find themselves in the position...however they get there....to enjoy the privilege of parenthood!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Go to the Fringe!

K and I had a lovely evening after work on Monday, cheap tickets for a show (you can subscribe to a daily email list of half-price shows...cost me $9....cheaper than the pictures!)
Dinner at Taj Tandoor on Rundle Street, 4 entrees between two...best way to eat Indian food!
The the Best of Edinburgh on the balcony at PJ O'Brien's....an amusing space looking out on the Farden of Unearthly Delights
Must say PJs is dingy...but they do serve Guinness (maybe the two go hand in hand!)
But the balcony/veranda is a very atmospheric space. K did note that they didn't actually have seating they just kept putting seats out for the extra customers!  And we prayed the creosote covered balcony didn't collapse under the weight!
Three acts under the compereship of Allan Anderson (Rolf Harris look alike....for reasons he will explain) The standout Ian de Montfort psychic comedian (given that I am also a 'de Montfort' descendant I think he is presuming a little too much) ...I liked the mad boys "Foil, Arms and Hog"   (Fr Ted on crack?)
But will certainly understand that they are not everyone's cup of Guinness!

Friday, 14 February 2014

vanity your name is video

There is a certain vanity in watching video of oneself. I am conscious that I have carefully watched a video of one of the recent funerals I have taken....and I think I probably was looking at how well I preached!
Or not.
It is made worse because I was sent it by a son who has not yet been able to bring himself to watch it.
if he did he would see how well he spoke in the eulogy, and his brother and his sister. and how  the grandchildren spoke prayers and poetry...and how splendid the family looked as dignified pall bearers.
he would also have heard my beautiful daughter sing. a wonderful tribute  to lady she loved. and who had prayed for her and all my family
But I am also struck about how powerful funerals are . Apart from my vanity, let's take that for granted, I was deeply moved by those who worshiped on that day, and who laid tributes on the coffin.
lingering hands that told that we are not quite ready to let go, but let go we must...and did

as for me, I think I spoke well enough. I was pleased to hear that my words did not sound, to me at least, trite or shallow. And that I invited people to share in the Gospel truth that we have a God who loves us, and a brother, Jesus, who is always with us.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Politics and sport!

Listening to British Radio in the middle of the night...because you can! ...there was an interesting discussion  on The Moral Maze about the forthcoming Sochy Olympics.

The interviewer asked one of the panelists, who had the auspicious, but strange, title of "Professor of Politics in Sport" at some English university (begs the question of how you get funding for such a position!)
"I suppose you think that politics  should be kept out of sport"
"Of course," declaims the good professor
(One wonders what he would then do for a job!)

But another panellist, who I think was Giles Fraser, priest and all-round good thing observed...

"My question is ...Don't you think that sport should be kept out of politics"

Trust a priest to ask a curly question by getting things round the other way.

In South Australia it would seem that political parties are all too ready to get on side with Sport,  so we get an upgrade to Adelaide Oval that destroys one of its iconic features...viz the link with the cathedral. Because of Cricket.

We get a bridge over the River Torrens, which people are still wondering what it is all about.
The great Pleurisy Park  becomes a cash cow for State Football.
I don't have any problem with money being spent on sport, but it seems so often that Giles Fraser's penetrating question...is that sport should be kept out of politics, as well as vice versa.
I also want equivalent funding for the Arts (see one earlier post here...and you need to go to the comments on the post for the fireworks !)

And yes, I think sport should be kept out of politics, but tend to think (looking back to the period before the end of Apartheid) the reverse should not be true!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Walking the dog

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!

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Anniversaries....birthdays...ordinations....deaths...baptisms....wedding... etc

I was ordained a deacon by Archbishop Keith Rayner on Feb 2nd 1980.
At the time I was wondering why I was being ordained a deacon....since I knew I was actually called to be a priest! (That ordination happened ...as is our Anglican custom a year later)
I did realise two or three years later that as a parish priest...I spent most of my time doing the work of a deacon. Of the 60 hours or so I usually seemed to work a week...ten were probably specifically priestly and the rest were diaconal functions...seeking out the needy, the poor and tending to the sick.
Since this card (alongside) was designed, too, women have been ordained as deacons...and indeed also as  priests ...in  Anglican and other churches. Though some still perpetuate a prejudice and discrimination which the scriptures seem fain to support.
That's a whole other question.....
On this weekend we celebrate ..the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (Feb 2nd...sometimes also called The Purification...but that's another sexist story!)
It is an opportune time to think about vocation. Mary and Joseph ...presenting Jesus in the Temple (40 days after his birth)[ see for example Luke 2:22-40] meet a couple of spiritual folk..Simeon and Anna...who say  .....It's good for you to bring your child for God's blessing!   But God has more in store for your child...than you do!!
Those of us who have children know how true that might be.
It is certainly true of my own 'vocation'
What ever else I thought God should endow and bless
God's plans have always been some what different..absolutely better. Not always to my liking.
But always right.
I have not found it easy to be a priest (or a deacon) but the sense of God's love and support, of God's purpose has only strengthened through adversity.  I suspect it is so for most of us who celebrate anniversaries of ordination at this, and other, times

Friday, 31 January 2014

He's a good Premier!!!!

You know, Jay had a bitch of a day. I was really pleased  as an ex-Whyalla resident to see him deal with a totally stupid  press contingent, who weren't listening to what he said. And only wanted him to say something stupid!
And you know Jay didn't fall into their infantile trap!
They kept asking asking ......don't you and every living person in South Australia owe their existence to Don Farrell. Labor-Rightist and Union Power Broker.
Gee! as a leftist and totally impotent member of the general public that really irritates me!
Any way, the Premier bested the power broker...with humility and without arrogance. Take a lesson in  proper politics....

I am sure my opinion matters for nought. But I just think that what they've missed
Is not that he's the faction of the left or the right
But that HE is the one the people actually like!!

Seems to me like an election winner!

Friday, 24 January 2014

A home amongst the gum trees.

It is easy for those of us who have grown up in a European Australia to think that all’s well with the world.
We only require a cursory glance to recognise that this is not necessarily quite this straightforward
Despite years of well meaning government policy we still wonder why?
The life of expectancy of traditional Aboriginal people  is 10-20 years less than white Australians
The educational achievements of many remote indigenous Australians are considerably below those of the general population!
Governments continue to posture, but don’t actually seem to improve outcomes for indigenous Australians.

What can we do?
Stop stuffing around! Aboriginal people are more than ready to respond  to  initiatives which will maximise their possibilities (Even as I write these words I am aware I am jargonising......for goodness sake, can’t we just try and get the best outcomes for all people.)
Particularly the indigenous !
The truth is, no one needs to feel guilty for sins of the past; but we do all need to take responsibility  for failures in contemporary policy.
If we will not take responsibility for our present ills then who will?

But more than that!

We actually have a hopeful future!!!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

A good priest ....and I like him!

Some of us remember a famous Election Synod in the Anglican Diocese of Adelaide where a dear friend of mine, Spencer Dunkerley got up and said of one of the candidates .  "He is a good priest...and I like him...He is an intelligent priest...and I admire him...but [essentially] ...he's a bloody heretic!"
He went  on to become not only the elected Bishop and Archbishop, but ultimately the Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia!

I would want to say about David Covington-Groth, whose commissioning I am about to go to....He's a good priest and I like him!
I doubt he has ambitions to become the Primate but the Parish of Mitcham is privileged to have him as their new Rector.
He is an imaginative and thoughtful priest with a strong social conscience. All things I think are very important.
The parish of Lockleys have been well served by this priest and it should hearten us all that their are good and faithful sons and daughters called to be priests in todays church.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014


I like to get comments on my blog.
But any blog writer will tell you that this is a mixed blessing. Have had a couple of "Anonymous" comments recently....I actually think I know where they come from, a rather arrogant person who seems to think that his view should pervade....and indeed that he has the right to be heard 'ad nauseam'     He is often boring, and usually nonsensical.   This doesn't particularly bother me, but I don't think I should be required  to take note. I do read such comments. But don't always feel that I agree. Though sometimes I am given cause to reflect!
I am less likely to think the comment should be noted if it is "Anonymous" as so often Mr C's comments are. With arrogance he declares that if I delete his comments (have done so 3 times recently...because they were pathetic and drivel!) that I am being high-handed or closed-minded.
Quite frankly I think that if you post comment anonymously then you should not expect it to be respected.
Anonymity is cowardice! Put your name to it and then it might be given some consideration!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Losing track

"To lose track of those depths...to lose track of the deep needs beyond our own needs, and those of our closes friends; to lose track of the deep mystery of our separate selves...is to lose track also of what our journey is towards and of the sacredness and high adventure of our journey"

Frederic Buechner

Too much interference!

"The chief thing that struck me today before the Blessed Sacrament: I have put my fingers too much in the running of my own life"
Thomas Merton
"Entering the Silence"

Monday, 6 January 2014

What is happening to blogging?

One of the things I failed to do in 2013 was to get a handle on Twitter!
I sort of understand how it works. But can't get it to work for me....perhaps I need media support(are you watching?)

But I actually suspect that we have had a  not too subtle  shift, blogging doesn't seem to work the same way it did twelve months ago.
I used to be able to say "more people read my sermon blog than actually hear it!"   That is still true (according to the analysis)....but I have rather become unaware of who the readers are....which is different!
It would appear that attention spans have grown ever shorter and that Twitter is now the way to go.
So someone please contact me (here) and explain to me about Twitter!
Because I just don't get it!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Simple gifts

I am listening to "Once in Royal" which speaks, of course, of the great gift of God.
I have had three and a half weeks of joy and sadness with my friends and fellow parishioners . A number of folk have died.
The beloved M gave me 'a little token of our gratitude' after I had conducted T's funeral.
I wish they were better photos of the cufflinks which I will wear as I celebrate the Holy Eucharist tomorrow.
M's first gift to her new husband T.
Simple (but lovely) cufflinks and shirt studs.
She told me this was the first present she gave to T as they left Bath on their honeymoon!
I receive this gift with great humility, no one I know who I have told has been unmoved.
This is not a simple token.
It is for me a great privilege...and I feel humbled...for all sorts of reasons which are too complex and awful to go into here.
Thank you to both T & M , for having had the privilege of sharing in two such wonderful lives. And to M, A, & S ...their descendants...who brought them such delight.  And who will soon bless us with a grandchild.
For this small human story I feel privileged, and indeed deeply moved.
M writes....'he received them from me over sixty eight years ago'
Such a privilege! Such a joy!

Saturday, 28 December 2013

On death and dying…the saga continues

I am very thankful for the very many people who have expressed their condolences to me. because so many people I know have died in the last six weeks!
I feel faintly embarrassed …and will not be surprised if you 'unfriend' me for fear of your life!
Let me try and catalogue it! (I think I mainly traced it on my homiletic blog…coromandelpreachings.blogspot.com.au )
There was first all my bikie friend!
Who died a few months ago,
when I first came here he was so excited because I was born about 30-40 miles (for so they were in those days) from where he was born
His colouring, accent, private manner, joviality
betrayed our common humanity
He was of the same ethnicity as me…a Cumbrian!
Sometimes we spoke our traditional language
much to the bemusement of his beloved Heather
who was an easterner!
He had the same Cumbrian hair and complexion that I do
and the  freckles
and knew the Lakes
much better than I ever did.
A truculent but very fine Christian man!

And there was Peter
who I dubbed (I hope not too patronisingly) the Tidy Priest.
whose attempt to be a faithful Christian father
was sometimes earnest
perhaps too earnest
but whose faithful ministry involved
thinking it was important to care for the people of a few small country towns
Bordertown, Port Elliot, Goolwa
And who earlier (in this parish as a Lay Reader) thought it was important that small communities
Clarendon, Meadows, Scott's Creek…and others
should have at least Morning or Evening Prayer.
In his latter days he was one of the 5 or 6 who prayed daily for people
who were sick, in strife, or just in need.
Few think this intercession is important today

And then there was Tomreader and arguer
who just simply declined.
Very sad and much loved
but a firey, and perhaps, difficult man
who had an expansive intellect
and is much loved and a great loss.
Since then Nancy has died, and then Kay
And amidst all this my erstwhile father-in-law
Ron Ingleton has died.
he and I, quite close,
will miss each other.
So my earnest petition
is that in this Christmas season
Please no one else die!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The best poem

I consider this to be the best poem I have ever written….well today I do. Thank you for those who tolerate my poetry

O spotless virgin 

O spotless virgin
you should have been more careful
of your son
to place him
amidst all that straw
which could have scratched his skin
or worse still
poked his eye out.
what where you thinking?

O sinless son
you, too, should have been more careful
of your mother
to get blood
all over her best dress.
what were you thinking?

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.
Sensitive skin
best dress
fragile lives
what were you thinking?

in line 25 the original version said “Jerusalem Dress” still conflicted about the best alternative!

written Christmas 2002

Monday, 23 December 2013

Check it out!

Can't believe it is Christmas Eve-Eve (think about it)
Am nowhere near ready …checkout the words of wisdom here …on my reflection/homily site

I try and think of something different to say for each service (so you could come come to all 4 and check!)…but so far gave done about one and a half and it's 10.45 p.m. on Christmas Eve-Eve (This time tomorrow I'll be chuffing up the charcoal for the billowing clouds of incense….ahh well maybe next year…as S Sondheim reminded us in his workshop about Send in the Clowns, another story I think…..

Friday, 20 December 2013

Which composer?

ABC FM….wonderful gift to the nation…has on its page a little divertissement….which composer are you?
Using the Myers-Briggs test (free version here) and their suggestions about who is what ….!(I am an INTP)
So therefore I am LvB….Pretty happy with that!

They say that Beethoven's mother used to plunge his head in a bucket of cold water….not quite sure why…washing, punishment, German discipline…..
The real sadness of that is that some suggest that this was the cause of his deafness.
The cause of my deafness, by and large, is that I hear what I want to hear!  Suspect Ludo had the same problem…and to better effect!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

On being on your own at Christmas

By lunchtime on Christmas Day I am usually pretty whacked so I don't mind having a rest for an hour or two. It sometimes better than trying to stay awake at the Festive Board. 
But it can be a difficult time for some people who see absolutely no one for what is often a long holiday.
Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary's Cathedral, Glasgow blogs some important suggestions :

I find myself wanting to write something about being single at Christmas. After all, I’ve got some experience to draw on. There was a time when I used to find being on my own at Christmas a tricky thing to think about, but these days its one of the times of the year when I genuinely think I can be thankful for my single status and would prefer to sit down to a nice Christmas dinner on my own than to be a guest any number of other people’s tables.
Here’s a bit of what I’ve been learning.
If you like being with others on Christmas Day and others invite you to join in then go for it. However, decide some time before the big day what you want to do and stick to it. If you don’t want to be with others then make your mind up to resist all invitations. Don’t be frightened of saying to people that you like your Christmas and you wouldn’t want to miss out on it. They will look at you in awe and wonder. They may tell you that you are brave. Smile in a knowing kind of way and murmur, “No, I’m vulnerable too sometimes” and this will confirm them in their view that you are more valiant than Braveheart or the Bruce.
Being on your own at Christmas is one of those things that can seem daunting. However, if you make it through and enjoy it, think how pleased you’ll be. Remember the first time you went to see a film on your own, or sat down in a restaurant on your own and got a kick out of it? (Not achieved this yet? – stay tuned and I may write about it in the new year).
If you don’t want to be on your own, but find that you will be, do some planning before the day. You might like to volunteer to help other people out. You might opt to work if your place of employment offers work on Christmas Day. Otherwise, make some choices and decide to do something that reflects what you would most like to do if given the gift of a bit of time to yourself.
I work a lot over Christmas doing what I love – celebrating in sign and symbol and razzmatazz the good news that God is come into the world. If you’ve never gone to church much at Christmas, don’t be shy. There isn’t a congregation the length or breadth of the country worth its salt that wouldn’t welcome you in to whatever they do. Cathedrals offer lots of special things at this time of the year and are very used to people coming on their own. One of the reasons that Cathedral congregations are perceived to be doing relatively well at the moment is that single people are welcome through the year. Its a place where it ain’t odd to come on your own and you can choose whether to scoot out of the door the moment the organ plays at the end or hang around and chat afterwards. Safe topics of conversation are – the weather, the music and how glamorous the Provost looked in that cope. If you really want to blend in, seek out some of the servers and ask them to show you some thurible tricks in a quiet corner.
When it comes to spending Christmas Day on my own, I tend to make sure that I’ve got good food in. I also am apt to buy a couple of treats in case I want entertainment – a DVD of an obscure film that no-one else would want to see, a salacious book (other than the Bible) and a pot of Waitrose custard are all it takes to make me sure that I’ll be OK these days. Nice magazines and mud-based face-packs for a sneaky spa afternoon are optional but highly desirable.
Be assured that you don’t have to play by anyone else’s expectations. If you want pea and ham risotto rather than roast a whole turkey for yourself, who is to stop you? And risotto is such comfort food at this time of the year. But stir it slow now,  stir it slow.
Decorate as much or as little as you like. I tend to like a minimalist Chirstmas with trees firmly in place and decorated at church but not at home. However I knew someone once who did out his whole house in pink feather boas and twinkling lights just to celebrate the birth of the Bethlehem babe.
In all your planning, remember the golden rule of coping at Christmas on your own: It is your choice.
Make it.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The box

I have just made my Christmas Confession!
What a good guy my confessor is…who speaks not of judgement but of God's love and mercy.
We don't easily get this…..God is not out to punish us for being bad….but to encourage us to live life with freedom.
Though we think 'inside the box'
God is already outside the box….yes I am talking about the Confessional….not to live as if the bad stuff we do is what defines us.
But rather  to recognise that the Confessional Box seeks to help us go outside.
I am not too good at this. I deal rather harshly with myself. And with others.
The reality is that Mr Jesus, is not like this at all. I have been bold enough to say in the past that jesus doesn't care about our sin. I rather think this is true.
Jesus wants us to move on. We are inclined to think that maybe we should deal with the sh*t!
He seems to think he has already dealt with it!…
He, of course, is right!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Quite important

In confession there takes place a breakthrough to true relationship. 
Sin wants to be alone with people. It takes them away from the Life of Jesus in others. The more lonely people become, the more destructive the power of sin over them. The more deeply they become entangled in it, the more unholy is their loneliness.
Sin wants to remain unknown. Sin and those committed to sin shun the light. In the darkness of what is left unsaid sin poisons the whole being of a person.  

D. Bonhoeffer

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Weasel words

The Scottish Church writes about Civil partnerships (here)
I reckon this is an advance…but it is not straightforward!  For heavens sake, you Bishops stop being so pathetic. Start aligning yourselves on the side of right…and not on the defensive!!
I long for the day when we will affirm that there will be no difference between the way we treat gay and straight people
And that Bishops might feel free to go to what ever functions they like!
I am 61, and I have decided "Bugger it!" (I am an Australian after all) I am going to do what I think is right. There must be some privileges in getting old. If the Bishop (of Adelaide) wants to take me to the High Court and contest my tenure for contesting his discriminatory and arbitratory rules (about classing same-sec unions and/or marrying same-sex couples) then so be it,   let him do so!