Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Marriage equality- playing politics

The curious  Attorney-General, George Brandis, had the cheek to stand in thew Senate yesterday and yet again berate his fellow Senators (berating  seems to be a standard tactic of the Right these days...we are berated by Brandis, by Abbott, by Joyce, by Pyne...and poor Malcolm does not seem to like this tactic, but is increasingly seduced by his fellows to become the Berater -General!)
Brandis stood in the Senate and whined "Stop 'playing politics' with the lives of gay people"
His dubious argument being that (despite weeks of notice) because the Senate core: the Labor, Green and certain cross-benchers (NXT, Derryn and others)...did not capitulate to the berating ..they were 'playing politics'
Neither Brandis, Turnbull or Pyne and others have answered the criticism that The idea of plebiscite itself is a political ploy. And indeed a highly cynical political ploy.
There are two or three points I would like to make:

1. The Plebiscite Proposal of itself was a cynical political ploy of Abbott,  Brandis, Pyne, Abetz and Joyce et al .... ( as members of the inner group) by implication...
This proposal was shifting  the decision from the party to the amorphous voter...
It is noted in Western democracies (like the UK and indeeed Australia and elsewhere) that when decisions get too uncomfortable for the lily-livered..they then suggest plebiscites.  Get the people  to decide. Then the cowardly politicians, who are paid big bucks to dcide on our behalf, don't have to take the heat
Now mind you we pay the people ( in the Australian case) at least $200, 000 a year to be 'decision makers'
To me, not a politician, but an humble presbyter....it seems that the pollies who are paid this way should do what they are paid to do.
The cynical political ploy is to NOT do what you are paid to do.

2.The Pragmatism of Democracy.  This is a dogma much espoused in the Coalition: "Politics is the art of the possible"  we change and bend to accomodate changed circumstances.
Now circumstances have changed you need to accomodate the possible.
Yet there is no shift...why not? You would prefer to whine that Labor have denied this opportunity ...despite the fact that the LGBTIQ communities have steadfastly said they don't want it done like this...they want a direct vote NOW

3. In reality this vote could happen today! The Coalition can allow a direct vote today...this could be a Party Vote...then we would see how the Party is directing its members to vote.  Or if it allowed a conscinece vote..then how would individuals vote?
It does not allow this becaue of the POLITICAL PLOY of the factional right that knows on either scheme it would nbe defeated


Don't berate me George Brandis about playing politics with people's lives...you and yours  started this.
It is now up to you, and those who have any sense of decency and integrity left to STOP PLAYING POLITICS

Saturday, 5 November 2016

More language of marriage

Marriage doesn't need adjectival qualification.

Indeed the only qualification that I have any sympathy with is "underage"; and indeed that is already covered by the law. Like namely it is NOT a marriage under law.

And we wouldn't for a moment  think of qualifying marriage of two people in their 70s as "Pensioner Marriage"---I have incidentally conducted such a wedding. The Bride's mother was also there (aged 95), and her daughter, and her granddaughter who was with child ...so there is an excellent photo of 5 generations even if the youngest is ion her mother's womb....

I myself was once party to a marriage of people born in two different countries....it has never-ever been referred to as "interracial", or even "international" or "cross national"..we were just married.

I likewise have married people of different races...it would be offensive to call this "interracial".

I have married quite a number of interfaith couples; and indeed couples of no faith (an expression, I suspect, which is devoid of meaning...yet full of import)

I have never enquired about people's sexual predilections; so I have no idea whether anyone of the 400+ people  I have married are same-sex attracted, racially attracted, religiously biassed (I have discovered latterly...and surprisingly...that a few are some of these things).

To my mind everyone should have opportunity to marry... this is not about sex, race, nationality...

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Some more reflections on the language of marriage

The Marriage Equality debate for me is one of social justice.
Everyone should be allowed to have a committed relationship which is protected by law and which might allow for the nurture of children.
I  ( and most other commentators) am not at all convinced (along with mainstream political and language/linguistic) theory that language is neutral.
Basically...you open your mouth, or your pen hits the the paper and you have already declared a whole lot of stuff that you you may or may not wish to have disclosed.
So The Marriage Equality (my preference) discussion is subject to all sorts of renaming..eg:
Gay Marriage
Same-sex marriage
These both suggest that there are different types of marriage.
Obviously 'different types' of marriage does not suggest equality!

As a Christian I am well aware that conservative, right wing groups do not represent me (see below).
They are very strident and specific about using exclusive terminology 
as long as we describe marriage with other descriptors eg same-sex or Gay   then we are capitulating to the idea that marriage is not a Universal right, or that there are different types of marriage. Which is nonsensical!

To me I reiterate:
Everyone should be allowed to have a committed relationship which is protected by law and which might allow for the nurture of children.

But let me also add a discourse about the dilemma for Christians...particularly those of us who are NOT of the narrow/fundamentalist/evangelical/Pentecostal, right-wing perspective




Let me not begin to treat on the so-called Australian Christian Lobby, (ACL) I have already made a number of posts here, and occasionally written a few letters to the paper (see below(1)) about this misnomer

They are indeed "Australian"...
but "Christian"  is not an accurately inclusive descriptor...most ACL members are one or more  of evangelical, fundamentalist and pentecostal.
This may be a controversial statement...they (ACL) are no doubt Christian, but are they Universal (ie representative of ALL Christians)?  I would suggest No!

Indeed I, and many others in mainstream Churches are not only unrepresented  by ACL but at odds with their narrow, legalistic, moralistic, puritanical version of Christianity.
Which seems to me at odds with the Jesus who welcomed prostitutes, sinners and tax collec
tors

In traditional parlance  the universal term for all Christians is Catholic (not Roman ...which is only part of the Universal)
The Catholic Church consists of ALL Christians (not just the Roman). The ACL is certainly not representative of that Universal Church


________________________
(1)Extract from: Letter to the Adelaide Advertiser 12/9/16
I do not identify with conservative and fundamentalist Christianity.To caricature all Christians as being steadfastly opposed to this change is wrong. I suspect that proper investigation would surprise the community at large. The church of ordinary folk is much more tolerant than its caricature.So who then will receive the ‘equal funding’?.  I ,certainly, am not happy for extremist conservative Christians (the Australian Christian Movement & Family First, for example) to represent me, and do not believe that in any sense they represent 'the Churches'.  They are not  the representatives of Australian Christians.

\

(1)Extract from: Letter to the Adelaide Advertiser 12/9/16
I do not identify with conservative and fundamentalist Christianity.
To caricature all Christians as being steadfastly opposed to this change is wrong. I suspect that proper investigation would surprise the community at large. The church of ordinary folk is much more tolerant than its caricature.
So who then will receive the ‘equal funding’?.  

I ,certainly, am not happy for extremist conservative Christians (the Australian Christian Movement & Family First, for example) to represent me, and do not believe that in any sense they represent 'the Churches'.  They are not  the representatives of Australian Christians.

Monday, 31 October 2016

And then there's Halloween

The greatest thing about Halloween  is that the youngest Clark once said when kids come knocking for trick or treat (Does anyone in Australia understand how Trick or Treat works?) ...any way she said that we should not give them anything and say "We don't believe in Halloween, it's against our religion!"
I feel so efficient as an indoctrinator! I did have 5 or 6 kids knick tonight...and would have happily given them a Mars bar,but I had not a lolly in sight. They accepted my grumpy old man and I was a bit sad to tell them, I had 'absolutely nothing to give them' ( I realised after they could have shared my rice pudding which I had made to satisfy my own sugar craving!....perhaps not!

I don't think we should be so cruel, to Tricker and Treaters. 
The oldest child says she thinks Trick or Treat will be BIG this year. This is probably divined from the internet
Any way I am thinking we shpouldhave had saint cards available and a lolly or two.
As I understand it it is not so unChristian a feast.

Halloween is a contraction of All Hallows Even, or the Eve (day before) All Hallows Day (Nov 1st). 
Naturally as we think about the glory of heaven on All Hallows (All Saints) Day we also think the day before of the other side of the coin...and so the ghosties and ghoulies and four legged beasties and things that go bump in the night get to capture our imagination.
But as blessed youngest S Clark would have you know... we don't believe in this.... it's not that we don't believe in the dark world so much, as we don't believe it exists with the sort of forces and powers that the movies and imaginations gone wild would have us imagine. In fact quite the reverse orthodox Christianity believes that when Jesus died he defeated all that sort of evil.
We need to believe this I think.
One of my colleagues once said to me, these things have the power we give them. The unfortunate thing about horror as a genre is it tells a lie about how powerful these things are, and gives them power they do not have.
So any kids who come deserve  to get  a nice saint picture....and a lolly too

The language of marriage

Let's make no mistake that the nuance of language does matter
I have been trying to encourage people to use correct ...perghaps the expression is more accurate ...language in regard to the present discussions about who is and who is not allowed to get married.
For me there is a universal human right that all adult human beings should be allowed to enetre into lifelong marital relationship.
More than this, I would maintain that traditional Christian doctrine has a high view of marriage as an agent for social stability and for the secure nurrture of future generations of children

In marriage a new family is established in accordance with God’s purpose, so that children may be born and nurtured in secure and loving care, for their well-being and instruction, and for the good order of society, to the glory of God.
N and N have now come here to be joined in this holy union to which God has led them. They seek his blessing on their life together, that they may fulfil his purpose for them; and they ask us to support them in this prayer. If anyone can show why they may not lawfully be joined in marriage, speak now, or hereafter remain in silence.
(The Australian  Anglican Church's current prayerbook)

If you dig back into this statement we well know that the social supposition has for most of recorded history  assumed, and indeed asserted, that  "N and N"  have actually been  Mary and Mark, rather than Mary and Margie, or Mark and Mike.

But I want to dig around that in the next few articles.

At the heart of my thinking is equality, social stability and, primarily, the secure and loving care of children.
This does not seem to me to be intrisnically linked to: the age difference of the parents, the racial or credal difference, the intellectual compatibility (or otherwise) and finally (the cause of the current dicussion in Australia) the requirement for N & N  to be  of different gender



Here's a couple of links to other interesting articles on this issue
http://splash.abc.net.au/home#!/media/1163914/presenting-a-point-of-view-about-marriage-equality

https://www.theguardian.com/media/mind-your-language/2015/sep/25/gay-or-straight-lets-embrace-the-language-of-marriage-equality

Monday, 12 September 2016

Equal funding

There is a lot of misleading nonsense being spouted about ‘equal funding’ for proponents and opponents of Marriage Equality.

Those who say “both sides” should be funded make the false assumption that there are only two sides. 

I, as you know, am a priest of a City Anglican Church, and am clearly aware that many of my colleagues in my denomination and other  denominations throughout the country are in favour of Marriage Equality. 

I do not identify with conservative and fundamentalist Christianity.

To caricature all Christians as being steadfastly opposed to this change is wrong. 
I suspect that proper investigation would surprise the community at large. The church of ordinary folk is much more tolerant than its caricature. (see here for example http://www.australianmarriageequality.org/a-majority-of-christians-support-marriage-equality/)
So who then will receive the ‘equal funding’?.  

I, certainly, am not happy for extremist conservative Christians (the Australian Christian Movement & Family First, for example) to represent me, and do not believe that in any sense they represent 'the Churches'.  They are not  the representatives of Australian Christians. And should nto be the ones who are the beneficiaries of such arbitrary largesse from government

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Plebiscite schmebiscite..this post is worth repeating

In democracies, by definition, plebiscites must be almost always:  deceitful, deceptive, manipulative & unhelpful

 In a democracy we delegate responsibility to our elected representatives...occasionally we have a Referendum...when matters are so great that it is good to get whole-community consensus

Plebiscites, it seems to me, are when our elected representatives are so weak-kneed that they lack the courage and conviction to do what they were elected to do...that is DECIDE
To not be too cynical, it is the sort of thing our Lords and Masters ( for they are largely male) do when they are too lily livered to actually make a decision...God forbid that they might actually declare their hands!

Sooooo....the dilemma we now face in the Parliament which looks increasingly hung is this:

  • Turnbull has declared that there will be a Plebiscite  
  • Shorten, whilst not committed  to a Plebiscite, suggests that there should be resolution of this issue within 100 days
What it seems to me.....neither of these luminaries rate this issue as primary within their present DIFFICULT PARLIAMENT scenario

Even more importantly, neither Shorten nor Turnbull, seem to be able to  actually effect their agenda...

So my, SAD,  suggestion is that the expectation about Marriage Equality is not going to be addressed by either Turnbull or Shorten...they will both have their reasons.

None of them will resonate with people on either side.

I suspect it will make Australians seem like Luddites.
The people of a generation  a hundred years or more ago!...no wonder we don't trust them

Monday, 29 August 2016

The nonsense of the mandate

I grit my teeth every time the modern politician talks about a mandate.
The truth is the Westminster system does not deliver mandates.
It delivers government.
We elect a team to govern, not simply or only to implement the declared and limited list of policies that may have been identified during the election campaign.
I am not saying that these should be disregarded, ....but I will come back to that in a moment...
Then truth is it nonsense for any party to say it has a mandate to implement every single policy that may have crossed their lips during an election campaign simply because they happen to have been elected (and in this latter case by the slimmest of majorities)
Just let me walk you through my logic.
During the last election campaign, just to take the presently elected team, they talked about: Marriage Equality, Superannuation, Budget Reform, Submarines, Education, Refugees and the hideously named  lie "Border Protection", let alone the duplicity on both sides about Health Care
Now I agree with them about some things..and indeed some aspects but not necessarily all of their policies. I do not agree with them about some others
Now I, and everyone else, did not get a chance to say what I was particularly "giving a mandate" for.

Indeed I was NOT giving a mandate! I cast my vote for an individual and/or a party whilst not necessarily agreeing to absolutely everything they were promoting.

Indeed I actively disagree with both major parties about their hideous policies to do with refugee resettlement.

Though they can erroneously claim that they have a "Mandate"...they have no way of knowing which of the broad range of policies people actually approve.

I would suggest that most Australians...however they voted... did not give "mandates", they thought some things were good and other things were not.
We vote not a "mandate" ...but on balance.
Indeed we vote for the team.
We recognise that not everything is solved, or sorted. But by and large one team has got the balance we prefer.  This does not commit us to support the details.
Rather we empower the team.

We do not implement the mandate. We elect a government.

This would rather expose the  current Marriage Equality discussion.

There is NO mandate to implement or not implement Marriage Equality; there is no mandate for a plebiscite.

What there is, is a requirement for the elected member to exercise their conscience.
And not to hide behind the false wall of the illusory mandate.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Laying awake

A dear young friend lay awake this week 
I invited his macho-self to be a bit poetic ...reminding me of this poem I wrote a decade ago...I think it's pretty good...but you should always be wary of your own judgment





NIGHT'S MIDDLE

If I could live at night's middle
instead of running rather ragged
and drilling at the day
then my vision would be brighter
and the voice of God heard clear.
This morning, even,
the moon's fullest beam
shone bright as day.
total stillness
haunted dead trousers on the line
until the softness
of the Spirit's coolest breath
walked them gently
and I shuddered, not with fear
but with delight
as my too warm breast was cooled
by the lightest of touches.
Who can faint while such a zephyr
reminds me of my own aliveness.

I did not rise.
almost disciplined
to stay in bed
to the point of pain
lest, in embracing
the middle of the night,
I devoured the day
which still demands my full attention.
And so, I crept
as early as I could
to put pen to paper.
visions fleeing,
God's voice whispering
"Wiedersehen!"
and by a few lines,
the rising of the sun,
the plaintive magpie
and the start of the traffic
night's middle
had gone.


Written Feb 2006

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The plebiscite

In democracies, by definition, plebiscites must be almost always:  deceitful, deceptive, manipulative & unhelpful

 In a democracy we delegate responsibility to our elected representatives...occasionally we have a Referendum...when matters are so great that it is good to get whole-community consensus
Plebiscites, it seems to me, are when our elected representatives are so weak-kneed that they lack the courage and conviction to do what they were elected to do.
To not be too cynical, it is the sort of thing our Lords and Masters ( for they are largely male) do when they are too lily livered to actually make a decision...God forbid that they might actually declare their hands!

Sooooo....the dilemma we now face in the Parliament which looks increasingly hung is this:

  • Turnbull has declared that there will be a Plebiscite  before the end of the year
  • Shorten, whilst not committed  to a Plebiscite, suggests that there should be resolution of this issue within 100 days
What it seems to me.....neither of these luminaries rate this issue as primary within their present HUNG PARLIAMENT scenario

Even more importantly, neither Shorten nor Turnbull, can actually effect their agenda...

So my, SAD,  suggestion is that the expectation about Marriage Equality is not going to be addressed by either Turnbull or Shorten...they will both have their reasons.

None of them will resonate with people on either side.

I suspect it will make Australians seem like Luddites. The people of a generation  a hundred years or more ago!


Monday, 4 July 2016

The Briggs Brag

Interesting article in today's Australian about the defeat of the brash Mr Jamie Briggs in the seat of Mayo.   More than one journalist has commented on the fact that Mr Briggs seems to blame everyone (in this case Julie Bishop) other than himself.  Which I think rather goes to the point that he just doesn't get it...like a lot of career Liberal politicians, his predecessor included; and his colleague in the electorate of Sturt.
The best comment I heard on morning radio was from  the redoubtable Senator X...he was asked why do you think your (the X Team's) candidate Rebekah Sharkie won?...the dialogue went something like this:

X: "Well she is a local, she lives in the electorate  and she worked the local community  for 6 weeks"
Interviewer: "Well so is Jamie Briggs, he lives locally and has been very visible"
X: "Yes" (and this is the killer...so pay attention to his nuanced comment said sotto voce ( which is my only explanation for why this perceptive comment has not been picked up in the press)
X: " The difference is that the more she went round the electorate people warmed to her, and liked her more..."
He left us to wonder what happened as Briggs went around his electorate! I will leave you make your own connection

One of my observations about the culture of the Liberal Party is that it is such a "boys club"  typified by snide remarks,  inhouse jokes, deprecatory slurs, and arrogant proclamations of their own 'rightness' as opposed to 'righteousness'

AD (Briggs' predecessor in Mayo ) used to caricature my predecessor in another position, Ron Williams: innovative missionary, bishop, & ethicist as Ron the Red!
I actually think Ron was not worried...and would have been bemused, knowing what schoolboy antics this boy's club gets up to.
But I think the use of the tactic which dismisses people so glibly is shallow and patronising.

Equally both the bumptious Mr Briggs, and the prissy Mr Pyne used to opine about Senator X.
They hated the fact that he was able to catch the public imagination...often by stunts    and DID!

It was the cry of a political establishment being furious that THEIR message did not impact like the good Senator's.

Well there are lots of messages to be learnt

Saturday, 25 June 2016

New Age.. .Reblog

(Facebook threw this up today..worth reblogging)


I get New Age self-help books, which are often looked down upon with disdain by religious folk.
But personally I think that  books and podcasts that encourage folks to attend to the inner life should, on the whole, be encouraged.
A couple of years ago in the lon vacation (ie: Christmas in Australia) I read about The Sedona Method, and felt quite enamoured of the discussion of the curiously named Hale Dwoskin (he of the very irritating laugh!!... sure he would be the first to admit it) 

 I ran a short course in our parish to explore The Sedona Method in a Christian context.
BUT, (and this is probably a big BUT) my course also encouraged people in the Ignatian Examen. Indeed it seems to me that Herr Doktor Dwoskin, and Blessed Inigo have quite a lot in common.


Dwoskin asks people to attend to the emotions that drive and govern them.
Control, Acceptance, Approval...Can we let these needs go?...will we let these needs go. When? Now?


As a process (slightly more comprehensive) this seemed to help me quite a lot.
And, I think, those who shared the course.
Let's release unnecessary attachments (New Age) to those things which falsely give us hope (idolatry)

BUT Blessed Ignatius (also known as Inigo) invites us to an active participation in what the Holy Spirit might be doing in our lives.
At its simplest: stop twice a day and ask yourself

How is God present to me?
What do I have to be thankful for?
What's been going on (emotionally/spiritually)?
How is this inviting me to live today?
What am I going to do tomorrow to live out of this insight?
This may seem simple, some might even say simplistic'
It is, of course, also profound.
Asking us to make scrutiny of ourselves at the most basic level.
This is perhaps what made me make the connection with the Sedona Method.

BUT...and again a big BUT.......it is also the point at which the Christian tradition departs from the New Age
( and what deeply unsettles me about the NA). 


All that Ignatius is asking the believer is:
 "What is Jesus speaking into this situation?"


By and large the New Age stuff (like Sedona) is what Christians would call
Gnostic...a word which is known but profoundly misunderstood by the modern world.
It suggests that Jesus is a sort of spiritual principle to be encountered or absorbed
they often use expressions like "universal energy"
as if Jesus is some sort of spiritual power-plug.



Forgetting that the whole point of Jesus being human 

is that he is personal, 
that he is known as friend, brother and indeed son of God. 
Very "personal" language
When Mr Dwoskin talks about Jesus he talks about him in this way, 

when other New Age writers like Wayne Dyer (here) do likewise
They do not seem to talk about Jesus in the same way as the Christian faith does...not as the "word made flesh" 

but as some sort of spiritual principle...which has no embodiment, and is indeed  more like wish fulfilment, and (as Dyer puts it himself) 'magic'.

So, amidst all this
I am drawn back to the reality of Ignatius 

who calls his sisters and brothers (you and me) back to what it means to have a relationship with Jesus of Nazareth..... 
not some disembodied spiritual principle but a real man...
How does Jesus speak to me? How is he speaking to you?

I often say to my folk...if you find this hard to do ask yourself the question
 "If Jesus was speaking to me today what would he be saying about ....work, school, family, relationships, ....here put what ever is going on....day to day life"

That is probably closer to the truth than real magic!!!

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Enjoyed going to the pictures yesterday to see Money Monster...a film directed by Jodie Foster about modern financial travesties.


Tuesday, 3 May 2016

I've been slow

Sorry to have been slow about debriefing about the intensive Vipassana course.

10 days..,.We arrived on Monday evening and settled in.
The air was electric...everyone got there early ( well most did)...and so we had 3 hours small talk (meditators are not good at small talk).
I had the joy of taking Maria in the car...part of the ride-share.......this in itself says something about the commitment of participants to each other....we were glad to offer lifts.   Maria was really nice. Though an Australian by birth, she returned to her family's homeland aged 8, and ultimately ended up in that country's army...working in Brussels for NATO
Some how she discovered meditation.
We rather hit it off...though I  am not sure she thought my driving was that great as we drove through the lovely road to Walker Flat...a narrow strip of the River Murray.

In the evening we had an easy supper...soup (vegetarian) and toast a la garlic.
We were led into the Meditation Hall men on ne side and women on the other. And then the Noble Silence began.

A word about The Noble Silence
Absolutely NO talking between anyone other than students (eg me et al) and teachers or managers.
The two older guys I was billeted with agreed that we would observe the Noble Silence...(personally I would have been crapped off if they had thought otherwise).
Well one of us struggled almost immediately with the Noble Silence.  Half way through the night both of the other guys were snoring.  And V got up about 1.45 a.m. and shook G...who was startled at being untimely awoken.
"Mate, mate...you've got to stop snoring, I can't get to sleep"
I didn't think this boded well, at the very least what was going to happen was that we were going to seethe in silence, unable to do much about the two people we shared with...who we didn't really know.   And we had to be up by 4 a.m..

Any way we settled back to sleep and true to form the gong was struck at 4 and we bounded into the shower to be ready to go at 4.30 a.m.!

Two hours meditation, the last 45 minutes being recorded chanting which after 4 or 5 days got to me and I left them to it and went to either meditate on my bed! Or just to sit quietly.

Breakfast at 6.30 a.m.  Separated dining areas for men and women. I observed at the end that it was quite OK to be separated...a lot less stressful. Though it's amusing to be with 20 guys vying for food . All food was vegetarian...breakfast is easy like that: Porridge, stewed fruit, muesli, various types of seed, yoghourt, ...and then those guys (panicking that they are not going to have enough food) have to make bulk toast!
So now it's 6.50.....and we've already been up for 3 hours.
Proper rest...learnt that it was good to actually go back to bed for an hour....more coming

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Veganism and meditation

I think I accidentally ate a piece of bacon this morning.
I am not a vegetarian or a vegan. Though I like both styles of food.
One of the curiosities of the forthcoming Retreat is that we will eat only a little food (some people even report that they lose weight... could drop a couple of kilos quite happily)
The food will only be vegetarian and erring on the vegan side. The difference is that vegans don't eat any animal products. No milk, butter or eggs. No cheese, yoghourt . You cannot eat most lollies (they have gelatine...made from calves hooves) and you can't have honey. Some vegetarians eat fish but vegans don't, and certainly not poultry.
Having been the principal chef for a vegan child I have learned what to do to get a balanced diet. and to get protein into the diet, and (probably more importantly) flavour.
So I can make a good lentil burger.

And have made a couple of dozen in the last few days. And taken time to cook rice properly, with herbs and spices.

This week in preparation for Boot Camp I have been addressing the Vegan Calculus (that is, reducing the intake so that animal products tend to zero...mathematicians might get this not very funny joke) 
Of course Asian food embraces plant foods. The lentil, the Soy Bean, Coriander, garlic, ginger, cumin, Bok Choy. I don't imagine our retreat food will look quite as exotic as the picture above.
But our focus is not on food...it is on meditation.
In truth Westerners are horrified that we might not eat bulk meat. We are terrified that we might have to eat a little food rather than enormous quantities...All you can eat...has become the catch-cry of the obese generations that look to be a serious threat to Western life.
So I did what I normally do, ate a piece of bacon that was just there, without any intention, reflection or indeed thought!

Friday, 1 April 2016

Preparing for Vipassana

I am about to start some of my annual leave and am going to spend 10 days on an intensive mindfulness retreat in the Vipassana tradition.
I would like to say "this will be fun" but it won't, it will be hard work. Including things like meditating at 4 a.m.  The teacher suggests you do that because later in the day everything gets crowded out.  I find this to be true.
There is a good article here about how it works.((http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/mar/31/meditation-retreat-vipassana-new-zealand-exhausting-silence-spiders?CMP=share_btn_fb#_=_
)pretty scary!

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Coffee spoons

One of the most perceptive comments about the movement of life is the oft quoted linee oTS Eliot's poem The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock ..I have measured out my life in coffee spoons.
Some days seem like that to me, I go from one cup of coffee to the next...though perhaps I could more accruately say I have measured out my life by radio programs.
There are certain things I like to listen to and they rather punctuate the week.
Sometimes I find myself organising my life around them...being in the right place at the right time....or being close to the radio at the right time.
Mondays are often like that...because I like to listen to political commentatorst making comment about the ridiculous carryings on in our nation's capital.
Then sometimes, like Eliot, I look back and see how pathetically small it all is
Contrast that with a a few years ago when we  had a rather overwhelming family week .
When we had the funeral of the last person in a generation. So now in that branch of the Little family (my mother) I am part of the oldest generation. That is secretly overpowering I think.
We had a wedding, and the matron of honour decided she would give birth...not during the ceremony, ....but a new generation continues. The wedding was terrific and there was a real sense of family.
At one stage we had a "Clark photo" and though there were thirty odd of us I suppose (and could have been more) there were only my immediate family who are actually still called Clark. And in that curious way that things go on, I realised because I have daughters and my brother has no children...it is unlikely that our name will be perpetuated any way.
Does it matter?...Is it coffee spoons...or radio programs? Maybe. But important to one's own family

Monday, 29 February 2016

Another remarkable man

Another remarkable man and Anglican, Malcolm Boyd,  who is also a priest ( oh my goodness you lay people have it easy) died this week.

Boyd was 93. He was one of those wonderful thinkers who was able to challenge the community of faith to "look/live outside   the square". That is,  to think creatively. (a full newspaper eulogy in The LA Times is here)
Part of the article tells us quite a lot 
" Boyd was elected president of PEN, an advocacy group for writers' freedom of speech. He started living with Mark Thompson, who was a senior editor for the Advocate, a national gay and lesbian newspaper. At the time, it was generally expected that gay Episcopal clergy remain celibate.
Twenty years later in 2004, when Boyd and Thompson renewed their vows in a church ceremony, the majority of Episcopalians had approved of gay marriage at a national conference. Boyd's anniversary service was held at the Episcopal Cathedral Center of St. Paul in Los Angeles with five bishops among the guests and Bishop Jon Bruno presiding.
Boyd and Thompson married in July 2013, after Proposition 8 was overturned and same-sex unions resumed in California.
“Malcolm lives on in our hearts and minds through the wise words and courageous example he has shared with us through the years,” Bruno, bishop of the six-county diocese, said Friday in a statement. “We pray in thanksgiving for Malcolm’s life and ministry, for his tireless advocacy for civil rights, and for his faithful devotion to Jesus who now welcomes him to eternal life and comforts us in our sense of loss.” 
In his later years, Boyd was writer-in-residence at the Cathedral Center of St. Paul. He also worked as a chaplain for AIDS patients and helped to establish a gay history archive at USC.
He continued to write. In a 2014 Huffington Post column, he asked, in his down-to-earth style, for a chat with Pope Francis about religious discrimination against gay people.
"Is this asking too much?" he wrote. "Pope Francis, are you on board?
"I'd like to spend a reflective evening with you, send out for a pizza from a great place near the Vatican, open a bottle of Chianti, put our feet up, relax, and share thoughts and aspirations."
RIP another good priest.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Religion is not a "private pursuit"

We do not live in isolation.
The slightest thought of the manifestly intelligent person should help us realise that religion is not a personal or private pursuit. 
I mean religion is essentially a community activity, it's about relationships, family life, society....etc and etc.


It's a big call to question the Pope's right to make observations about outrageous things that people say from a religious perspective.

Let's face it, Trump doesn't seem to have any qualms about questioning the Pope or  anyone's bona fides on anything. Certainly  he doesn't seem to think there are any limitations on his right to comment on things that he is manifestly not qualified to coment about.
As for the furphy that religion is private and leaders should not offer political critique, try telling that to Mary...who saw her son crucified. 
Or to Mohammad, peace be upon him, who never felt such compunction. Or to George Bush who blatantly exploited his evangelical credentials.
Or to Barack Obama who sang with true faith of God's Amazing Grace. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IN05jVNBs64)

Friday, 12 February 2016

Mr Human Rights and Cardinal Dicky Heart

An excellent article with some strident observations from Elizabeth Farrelly about Ruddock's appointment to UN human rights representative for Australia. She rightly questions his credentials.
I also make the observation:

One would also wonder why at age 72 he needs another appointment any way. And I wonder how much it pays.

He has after all been in safe seat Parliament for 40+ years. That would seem a significant pile of superannuation and other benefits which Parliamentarians have so readily afforded themselves,

Farrely observes:
To anoint Philip ‘children overboard’ Ruddock as our special envoy on human rights is an irony of breathtaking proportions. It’s almost as bizarre as allowing George Pell’s dicky heart to distance him from those whose hearts he helped break. In both cases, Australia looks weak, venal and mean.


The WHOLE ARTICLE  is here


Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Partisan and unlovely

It is interesting to go to a meeting of those who belong to the same club/group/church/association ....or what ever, as you.  And you realise that within that shared community you are also in some respects on different sides of the fence.
The word we use is "partisan".
I belong to one party
and you/they belong to another.
It is not quite the right way to name it.
I went to such a meeting this afternoon.
The "Boss" of the meeting is not in the same party as I am.
The other participants are in many respects also at the the other end of the spectrum.
We are, however, all members of inner city parishes that seek to reach out to the homeless, the disenfranchised and what are now customarily called "the unlovely". Those people who society could not give a sh&t  about.
They are by and large lovely people. They are broken, and there does not seem like any easy, or even,  a possible, solution.
I can only think that I, and my friends who get it too, will just try to stick with the 'unlovely'
I am not a fan of WWJD ...but I suspect he would  actually want us to realise that in our hearts and in our  minds, he would want us to do so much more than just offer platitudes.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Who's in detention?

I wrote to Matt Williams  (MP for Hindmarsh, SA) about the present Government policy concerning immigration detention

Dear Mr WilliamsI have always been glad of your replies (even if sometimes taking a few weeks) to my questions.Can you tell me what is your understanding about the number of children who are in detention in the so called "arrangements" with Nauru and Manos Island. In particular I would be interested if you can you tell me how many children have been shifted from the mainland to Nauru and Manos to make it look as though we have actually reduced the numbers of children in detention, even though we have added to those on Nauru and Manos.



He replied :
Dear Stephen Thank you for your email. At the moment there are 79 children in detention which includes 72 children who are scheduled to go back to Nauru. The Immigration Minster has been working hard to get that number down to zero as quickly as possible. In some cases parents of the children have adverse ASIO assessments. We will not be releasing that parent out into the community but we are trying to make arrangements for the mother and children to go out. Like you and the Immigration Minister I want all children to be out of detention and the Government and Immigration Department are working very hard to achieve this. I discuss this matter and other migration issues with the Minister during our regular meetings in Canberra. Thank you again for raising this matter with me. Yours sincerely
Matt

I leave you to decide whether this is satisfactory. 

As for me. It is not!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

An exposé...Clive Palmer exposed

Hopefully this will expose Clive Palmer
"I won't be repaying sacked workers the money I used to further my own political ambitions/self-interest"
Shame on him!

Thursday, 21 January 2016

For Dawn











A birthday is a gift,

when you are our age. 

A gift because we can share, 

our lives , our loves, 

with those who mean so much