Monday, 29 June 2015

Would that I were like her!!!!!

Katharine Jefferts-Schori will finish her term as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church  USA in a few weeks
She is adored by many (me included).  Hated by (probably) many more!
I think, when history tells its story, she will be seen as one of the great Anglican Bishops, not only of the 21st Century but of the whole Anglican era!
Here is a great reflection by Diana Butler Bass on her period of office.
I compare many of my reflections on Bishop Katharine  to the career of the first female Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.  
We look back and we see that we got very tangled up  and found that we were dealing not only with the fact that this was a stunningly bright star on the horizon, but that SHE was also a woman!
The debates in the Church and in politics are so couched in masculine tradition that we are and were deeply confronted by soeone who led us in a different way.  
And, not only that, but was able to lead us with: energy, intelligence, justice, spirituality and joy!
 She was, I believe, treated appallingly  by the English Church when attending Southwark Cathedral, the Lambeth Mafia prevented her from wearing a mitre.
She may have been an Anglican Primate, but she was not allowed to be recognised as such! (This article may give you a sense of just HOW RIDICULOUS  this all is)
She has had to deal with churches which have thrown fits of pique and decided they would leave, even though they then have been told they couldn't "take the ball with them"....she has remained steadfast

Preached well and intelligently. (She is after all is not just a theologian but a scientific doctor too!)  But of course this didn't really matter...one could suggest that some gender bias was slipping in.

Anyway the Church has continued the "thorn in the side" tradition
They have elected a black guy to succeed her!.
All I can say is Hallelujah!

Bishop Michael Curry says " This the church in which I was baptised (and more importantly)  this is the Church where I learned about Jesus....Keep the faith!"

Friday, 12 June 2015

A great joy

My dear parishioner J. did tell me after last Sunday's sermon that she didn't agree with me!!!
My goodness someone actually listened!
And she and the lovely H still continue to come week by week and sit in the front pew!

#marriageequality THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS

A letter appeared through Sydney's (Roman) Catholic Diocese this week
(Offensive letter see here)
I take some exception to its purporting ( or seeking to purport) to speak on behalf of all religious people about marriage equality.

Please note it uses the pejorative terminology "same-sex marriage" ( see a previous blog) rather than the eirenic  term 'marriage equality'

This letter should at least begin " Dear Mr Abbot: As leaders IN (sic) some religious groups...." 
This is a partisan, incomplete and non-representative group of individual religious leaders! (It could not be otherwise!)
To tackle the presumption in my particular denomination for example:
The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney,  is NOT the "leader" of Australian Anglicans.  It is quite clear that though he may speak for a number, particularly Conservative Evangelicals, he does not ( and cannot presume to) speak for all / most Anglicans. 
He is NOT the Primate. And Evangelical Anglicanism does not typify the views of many, if not most Australian Anglicans in the 21st Century
I am interested to note that a number of mainstream Christian Churches  have obviously chosen to not identify with this . Equally well, moderate Jewish and Islamic traditions are not represented.  The Buddhist and Hindu traditions are not there. Where are the indigenous voices, and the Maori and South Pacific traditions
It will be the case (unfortunately) that we will continue to struggle with this in Churches, long after the rest of the world has got over it!





Sunday, 7 June 2015

The Queen's Birthday


Personally I don't have any animosity towards Mrs Elizabeth Mountbatten (aka The Queen).  She once smiled at me! 
But I don't think she should be our Head of State. And no matter what the Royalists tell you she is still our Head of State. 
The Governor General is the Viceroy.....[I wonder what the feminine is (and that IS an issue)  perhaps former GG Quentin Brice was a Vicereine!]
The Governor General is NOT the Head of State.

In a country like Australia that just seems ridiculous. 
For 'we are young and free' . And we should be free of the shackles of monarchy. Well at least that's what I think!
I have no desire to assassinate the monarch (indeed though my family is associated with the Kościuszko Uprising there is no desire to stake any claim)

I just hope we all just have a nice day off.  Cabaret Festival,  Lunchtime concert at St Mary Magdalene's, fun with family etc. etc etc


Thursday, 4 June 2015

Misleading, subtle, or downright confusing language

There is absolutely NO DOUBT that the marriage equality discussion is duplicitous.
You might note that I, and others,  always strive to us the expression
MARRIAGE EQUALITY
rather than
Gay Marriage
or Same Sex Marriage.
There is quite a lot of philosophical differences that are contained in these terminologies
It might well be  added that those who oppose marriage equality, consistently and deliberately use the terminology Gay Marriage or slightly less controversially Same Sex Marriage .  Make no mistake, this is deliberate.
There is an insidious side to this, because what it is doing is appealing to homophobia.
No one, presumably objects to "equality" but people do object to Gay don't they?
Pay attention to who uses what terminology!

I was likewise aware that the so called  Islamic State...ISIS, was using the word "State" to give itself an authenticity that clearly it lacks.....but deeply desires.
It is not a State, by any reckoning of the International law. But it took the world a while to wake up that it should stop calling it "Islamic State"
The ever-heavy-handed PM of Australia insisted on referring to it as "A Death Cult". I am inclined to think that by so doing he gave it an authenticity that we could well have done without. He seems to have stopped doing it!
(Might I say I have "linked" A Abbott, above, in a way that also demonstrates how words are not neutral! Perhaps rather to make the point)
Most people don't get the import of Semiotics....the use of pictures, words and signs.  The average sociologist would suggest  it is a damn sight more important than we imagine. We believe what we read, see, and hear....sometimes in a most irrational way

Don't ask, don't tell

Marriage Equality is obviously a vibrant issue in Australia today :

I added this comment to a website today

I am a priest of the Anglican Church. I have  numbers of gay people in my congregation (St Mary Magdalene's, Adelaide)One much highly regarded couple has been in a committed relationship for 40 years (we have just celebrated the anniversary)  Their extended family is highly supportive, and they themselves are at the forefront of promoting family values in their own familiesI am aware that the Anglican Church does not officially endorse marriage equality, nor do we ordain gay people...[THIS IS ALL BESIDE THE POINT BUT:the  latter fact means for the last 100 years we have adopted the ethically dishonest policy of "Don't ask, don't tell!"My impression is that if we had not ordained people who are clearly homosexual ( some of whom married to normalise the perception of their lives) then about 50% of us would not have been ordained.I often suggest that when I was a seminarian my estimation is that more than half the students were homosexual. Many, if not most, have moved on to be excellent pastors.....the Church has chosen to play to the game!]
I do want to assert that many, if not most of the clergy of our Church, apart from the Sydney Evangelical Puritan heartland, are open to Gay couples....would be happy to marry them...and/or certainly be prepared to solemnly bless their relationships. We just need to stop being so lily-livered

You might like to add your own comment http://www.australianmarriageequality.org/

Friday, 29 May 2015

Marriage Equality---


This is a reblog of a post from September 2014

I had a very thoughtful and charitable letter from A who "respectfully disagreed" with my views about same-sex marriage.
I think it is now better to call it "equal marriage"
I wrote in reply
A
Thanks for your response to my blog
I have made a number of posts over the years …you may not have tracked them all down
On my blog a link might be:
http://stephenclarks.blogspot.com.au/search?q=gay+marriage

I have a high view of marriage, [ this may surprise you] and part of my discussion about equal marriage opportunity is about encouraging commitment, morality and in particular an environment in which children may be nurtured  with the assurance of love and security. This latter principle is one that is explicitly stated in the Anglican marriage services.
It does seem to me that the gender of the parents is secondary to the parents’ commitment to love each other. This is the primary environment out of which children will know that they are loved. And in that love to allow the children to know that they are loved.
We are all well aware that many homosexual people live immoral lives…..I want them to live committed, decent lives.
Sorry,
I could also re-write that statement :  
We are all well aware that many heterosexual people live immoral lives…..I want them to live committed, decent lives.
I have experienced a couple of extraordinary things in the last year. A homosexual couple (male) who have embraced twins into their lives. They seemed to think it was going to be a breeze, and it wasn't…my observation is that it has transformed their relationship. They are deeper people, more loving, more capable of embracing carefully the lives of the fragile.
Most gay people do not “choose to be gay”…they are born that way.
Did God want them to live a life doomed to failure? With all due respect, I don’t think God is like that. God does not make life particularly hard for 10%…!
It is not as if we have a God who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses! (Heb 4:15)

I do not think homosexuality is a weakness, any more than heterosexuality is. We struggle with both! We are after all made in God's image. Male and female God created us, ...is it too presumptuous to say "gay and straight" God created us!


Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Marriage Equality

Like all issues of substance and social change this will not go away.
What is happening at the moment is political brinkmanship and various other sorts of posturing.
I actually agree with Mr Pyne who said this morning that the issue of marriage equality would better proceed by political consensus. That of course, also, is a ploy.
Our nation's referendum history, for example, suggests that we are loath to change. Inertia! A body will  remain at rest unless acted upon to do otherwise
[Today is the anniversary of the passage of the 1967 referendum to recognise the rights of Aboriginal people. One of the few to have passed]

Or maybe it is that we are happy to change, but don't like formalising it!

Even if the Shorten/Plibersek Bill gets up ( and "smirking Tony" seems to have the nouse to recognise the above-mentioned 'inertia principle' may well work in favour of his apparent opposition) it will not ease MY problem.
The discussion in our Church has been studiously  (or is that 'stupidly') avoided.
Hijacked, I would suggest, by fundamentalist evangelicals  who in my opinion do not represent mainstream Anglicanism.   I would go further and suggest that they do not represent the compassion and humanity of the God who became human and dwelt among us....even to the point of death

None of this will go away!
Just as the refugee crisis will not go away!
The scandal of the rich continuing to grow rich at the expense of the poor!
The failure to see the marginalised!
....this will not go away while the politicians posturise
and the church men and women
mutter into their beads (as I do)

and continue to say a prayer "We do not presume...."

while we presume so much!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

An obsession

I have never for a moment doubted that I lie within the Apostolic Succession  though I don't imagine anyone else could care less.
Apostolic Successsion! [ that is: the idea that Jesus chose disciples who chose disciples, who in turn chose disciples who chose the next generation of  disciples  ( what's called in Maths a Geometric Progression!)....and so on for 2000 years!]

It is a way of keeping in touch with the idea that what we are supposed to be on about is not our business but the business of Jesus, as Jesus handed it down.

Some have interpreted this very mechanically;
in particular Jesus chose his apostles who chose other people who chose others and they chose others..........and so on.

I don't even begin to suggest that Jesus had this idea in mind!

This "choice" is signified by the laying on of hands  by  a person who has (in their turn) had hands laid upon them,  who before that had hands laid upon them..... (A Bishop)

It is not hard to imagine that all this has got out of our  imagining.
There are people who can list their succession, like a complex family tree, back to the Apostle Peter. And you can find certain sites where these are listed  with incredible detail ; detail that we must understand is more wishful than truthful!  
[But there is ultimately  no credible documentary evidence for the Bishop Martyrius (457 CE) and the subsequent transition to Peter II (464 CE).... and many more of the lines 

There is every now and then an attempt to correct the "succession" by ensuring that present at a Bishop's consecration is someone who is clearly in "the line of succession". In particular, Anglican/Episcopalian Churches have linked up with Old Catholics of the Union of Utrecht who have 'regularised' Anglican Orders. There is in my mind no real need to do this.....the objections of the Roman Church as stated in the rather shallow Papal Bull Apostolicae Curae...that Anglican Orders were "Absolutely Null and Utterly Void!" have been seriously critiqued  by prominent Romans ( eg Cardinal Basil Hume )
And the great Scholar JJ Hughes argued that it was essentially a good thing for the Roman Church to formally invalidate Anglican Orders; as it exposed the paucity of scholarship  and process, and indeed the whole idea of Apostolic Succession as a mechanistic transition of God's grace.

While there is some  sense in the ideas, in the end God is not going to be confined by the sort of legalism that mechanistic transmission conveys.

And, as I said in line 2... I don't imagine anyone else could care less. Certainly not God!



Thursday, 14 May 2015

Faithful priests

Chris Grey was a very significant priest and one of my colleagues has reminded us about him  
I have a fund of stories ...but now is not the time...
Chris was an extraordinary priest. He gave away the idea of 'advancement'; more concerned that the Church should do a good job. 
He was a 'blunt instrument' ( that is, he called an incompetent Archdeacon....a bloody fool!) 
I used to ring him up in winter and he would be 'in the car'....the warmest place in their living arrangements. 
He could be difficult. (sometimes just didn't hear what people were saying). 
But he loved the Lord, and the Lord's people and wanted the Church to succeed. 
A graduate of St Barnabas, he was proud of the training he had received, and wanted theological education to do well!
As for most clergy, he succeeded with the support of Molly his wife. Even in the Church, (or maybe particularly in the Church) we overlook how important husbands and wives have been

Even as you wave goodbye


On a mountain somewhere,
lifted up for all to see
you went
Just when we were beginning to have fun.
So, as if to comfort me,
a little while
you promised to be with me
not just now but always.

How could I have believed you
(fool that I am)
“I’ll be with you always”
as you waved goodbye.

Now on that same mountain
years later,
and then a little while,
why do I stand looking up
wishing, waiting, wanting
your return.

My soul longs for you.
And as I stand there gazing
I look sideways,
left and right,
and backwards
and see you standing here with me.

While that for which I am least grateful
tries to tell me
you deserted me
That for which I am most grateful
reminds me
that you enlivened me
you thrilled me
summoned me.

Not to float away
but to remember
that with you
a promise is a promise

even as you wave goodbye.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

A great Bishop

The bishop belongs to all.
Let no one be scandalized if I frequent
Those who are considered unworthy
Or sinful. Who is not a sinner?
Let no one be alarmed if I am seen
With compromised and dangerous people,
On the left or the right.
Let no one bind me to a group.
My door, my heart, must be open
To everyone, absolutely everyone.
The Most Reverend Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara
former Archbishop  of The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife

This is taken from the installation of Bp Katherine Jefferts-Schori many years ago as the American Presiding Bishop

She has in my mind been a great leader during difficult times. Her time is coming to an end.
There is much to be thankful for about her leadership.....
...refusing to be bullied
...remaining steadfast in the faith
...and apart from all that   seeming to command a sense of humour

Faith is actually a victory

I John 5:1-4...a cryptic but profound passage. 

Faith might mean 
that I stop trying to control
other people, circumstances
those who I want to love.

Faith might mean 
that I open myself to a new way of living

Faith might mean 
that I submit to the universe
it is, after all, God’s universe!

Faith might mean
that ‘might’ might mean
that I can trust God

surely I know that by now

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Pour a libation

It is not so often that priests in Adelaide publish books, but a slim volume of poems Pour a Libation by Dawn Colsey has just recently been released.

I came by mine a couple of days ago, and each day find there is yet another good poem! No indeed every day I have found a great poem!

My impression is that it is a fine and perceptive collection of poems by one who is a priest, a mother and a grandmother (Good Mother’s day present!). A careful observation of life

I hope it doesn’t breach copyright to share one with you on this True Vine Sunday

I drink Sevenhill wine

soft merlot, velvet red
It takes me to the beloved place-
prayer within the walls,
the work of vines outside-
wine-making in slow time-
patience, stability infused into fruit-
bliss made liquid
to ease the heart


For about $20 I note the book’s available from Book Depository, 


and I got mine from Dawn herself, and there is a Kindle version available on Amazon
And the Publisher Ginninderra Press

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Who should own my poems

Never quite sure whether my 'poems' are prayers or sermons
or  just the yearning  of my heart


Any way this week


We want considerably less
for ourselves
than God wants for us.
We want 
Stuff

God wants us to have
Life. 
But
we are some what afraid
of Life.

God wants more for us 
than we are brave enough
to want for ourselves.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Death Penalty


A day of sadness and shame for the Asian-Oceanian region


There is surely no excuse for a a modern state: Asian,  European , African, American....and certainly not Oceanian...to support the death penalty

On a day when we are all concerned about the heaving casualties of great human tragedy in Nepal....our hearts are opened to  "a country like this......a  city like this" .
Our common humanity should remind us that we are citizens of a Common World. where  it is convenient to suggest we are privileged to live in security.

We will forget most likely about Sukumaran and Chan, executed this morning in Indonesia,......the stupid boys who became men in prison and then were slaughtered.

While there is some evidence to suggest that the 'ordinary' Australian community still has a hefty proportion of people who think it's OK to execute people.....if nothing else good has come out of this latest injustice in Indonesia it is that Australian political will appears to have been galvanised.
 against the death penalty. Equally well there is a serious issue about the way popular media has or has not aggravated this situation

One moderate commentator said this morning when the argument that "they had been rehabilitated" was again being put forward....'Well they were not there to be rehabilitated but to be......." and the conversation sort of tailored off.
I presume he was going to say punished!
Having been to Gaol in the last couple of weeks (here) I tried to talk about the process of reconciliation that the modern gaol is supposed to be on about. Mobilong Gaol seems to be doing pretty well in rehabilitating others.

Gaol is not just about punishment....though that is legitimate....we also should be about rehabilitation.

Both Chan and Sukumaran  appear to have been seriously and wonderfully rehabilitated...almost against all odds... there seems little reason to think that this is anything but genuine.

There are bigger questions too:  China continues to be the biggest executor . Dare we confront this powerful trading partner
The US, our most powerful ally,  is the most shameful and strident country participating in executions.  Where is our criticism of them?

There is much more to be said about this.


Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Good doctors!

I am privileged to know a number of good doctors.
I have at least 3 practising Doctors in the congregation, two retired Doctors...one of whom is a world recognised Neuro Surgeon. My Best Man is a nationally acknowledged specialist in Paediatrics, particularly the paediatrics of disability & rehabilitation (he thought it a great privilege to meet the formerly mentioned Neuro Sugeon)

Any way this morning I went to get a B12 injection at a modern Mid Western practice and I was very impressed. The newish Registrar system  put me in contact with Dr A.
I was indeed very impressed.
..if what’s been detected is remedied by the same then I could be possibly dangerous!  
  

However the fine Registrar well on her way, I suspect, to being a a great GP also thought I should have a flu injection as well. Feel OK so far! 

Far cry from my success in getting every child in the clinic to cry at the mere thought of a polio injection!  (I was 3 or 4)  Thank God I was unsuccessful

Very good Doctor today!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Interesting times

This is sometimes said to be both a Chinese curse or a blessing.. may you live in Interesting Times.. personally I am inclined to think it is better to live in interesting times.
It has been an interesting week.
A funeral of a friend who died quite quickly.
I was called to bless a dog that was going to be put down.
Australia is besotted by the centenary of ANZAC at Gallipoli.
The Dr told me my "blood" was OK but I have a B12 deficiency (reading the Wiki entry it seems to describe me to a T)
I have been reading The Narrow Road to the Deep North  a very good book to read in this ANZAC week  (read Thom Keneally's review here)
I attended one of the many Parish Nomination Committee meetings [I have become  a "professional Diocesan nominator"...and the level of vacancy makes it rather taxing... I take this role very seriously, and I am glad that His Grace seem to do so also] The church is changing, morphing, declining, growing....those things may seem contradictory...but church is rather like that

Interesting times!
In the meantime...I live with an interesting person (my daughter!....lest you forget!) , I married my niece. I visited a jail. And greatest of joys...I went to fix my daughter's shower....and was able to hold the most precious member of our family in my arms. I like that better than anything else (even better than the sound of my own voice!)

Interesting times! Interesting times?
A curse, but most likely,
a blessing

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Prison versus gaol

It was a privilege last night to go to Mobilong "Correctional Facility"/ "Prison"/"Gaol or Jail".

It was another graduation service (the second of the week for me...the first being a University Graduation) but on this occasion for a group of about 20 prisoners in one of the State's prisons.
This is run by Kairos Prison Ministry. An ecumenical endeavour to prisoners, a short course, and weekly contact with those in jails. (we are still having a debate about jail  or gaol) 

The guys who did the course spoke about "what they had learnt" and "how they had changed". In some senses fairly trite questions...and the guys recognise this...but they roll with it.

Some of my observations:
These dot points have grown too long... I hope you read them all
  • We had a good conversation in the car on the way home about the way language is used. We had all noted that the,  otherwise, very excellent speaker from the Dept. of Correctional Services used the lingo of her Department.  These were "offenders", and we and they  were told that Kairos was one step towards them getting back on the right track.  This is the language of the Department, I guess, but fairly heavy handed
  • My first impression....and this is not the first time I have been in a gaol... as I looked at the security is that:  if this is 'medium and low security'  then what  is high security?  It all looked awful to me
  • I was struck by the male membership of the Kairos team and supporters. This is not something that you always experience in the life of the church. It is good to see that  good men think this is valuable ministry
  • My friend, Rob, had lured me by the assurance that the guys who would speak would be a  profound experience
  • It was indeed,. Groups spoke...and then there was Open Mic ( as a person who does funerals I think this is a big mistake.) But today.......the groups Matthew, Mark, Luke and John....I wonder where those name came from.... and then (sometimes with a little reluctance) from individuals came very interesting reflections
  • Most spoke about Forgiveness.  The guys spoke about three things:   How they needed to seek forgiveness.  Well yes!  
  • how they needed to forgive...well that's a bit more challenging and complex...they are not only Offenders but are also Victims....some of them were able to even articulate that their families of origin didn't really support and/or love them.    This is bitter stuff. But they needed to forgive... the failures of those who should have done better
  • They spoke mainly about the need to forgive themselves .....pretty deep stuff for guys who we may so often think of as hopeless!
  • Finally,  and this is not everything I thought,  an APY guy played guitar and  about the Cross. he sang (I am told) in the Pitjantjara language (Were I a producer I would be signing him up today!!)
  • I found myself pained, as one who has artistic proclivities, what do you do if you are denied the outlet of your life.   If there is no gyuitar in your room. If you cannot pen the poem that is in your heart (my particular issue)
  • I am thankful to shake the hands of those guys...who had to return to lockup
These dot points have grown too long... I hope you read them

Friday, 10 April 2015

My own mother

I love these three women!
They are....(centre)...my Mother Lil Clark  and on left  my Aunt Annie Kermeen...  Mum's younger sister
I always thought of her as a great stately lady ..... which she certainly was
And then (on the right) there was Aunty Mil  (Mildred Woodend) she was bold and brazen and  a totally lovely woman.
When I went back to England in 1975 she took one look at my hair ( several inches below collar length...as it was in the 70s) and promptly cropped it!!!
Five years later she and Uncle Jim, a great Trade Unionist, visited us when we had young children. They were vaguely embarrassed when I referred to them in my sermon. When I suggested they were faithful....as they were most certainly

I was really saying ....life  goes on and it is robust!

Some years earlier Annie had been flummoxed about how I, as a priest, seemed intent  on being a "sinner"...or as we might call it a 'drunk' (had a bit of a problem with DUI in the 80s)

All of my mother's sister, and she herself retained a deep commitment to overseas mission of the church, as mission secretaries, and enthusiasts for The Missions to the Blind, the Jerusalem Mission, CMS and ABM.
I am fortunate to be surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Who do our MP's represent?

Today Queensland Member for Cook, just expelled from the ALP, has notified everyone that he is staying on as an independent.
It is his right!  Although elected as a member of a political party (the ALP)...he is actually elected as himself, Billy Gordon!   He is not without controversy.
The Labor Premier called on him first to leave the party, he did ( or was expelled)! And then to do the "right thing" and resign and allow a by-election....even though it might cost her the leadership of the State. 
This is brave of Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk. I am impressed by her integrity and courage. Two virtues which appeal to the Christian heart...integrity and courage.
And, which I would admit, we have not always been good at.
I have met recently with a person who knows her well, his representations to me assure me she is (as 1066 and All That might say....a good thing). I will leave that to you
One of the issues this sets before the electorate, both in Queensland and, throughout the nation at both State and Federal level is whether a person is elected as an individual or as a member of a party ticket.
Inevitably when trouble occurs people frame their answer to meet their own circumstances.
So, Mr Gordon has quite rightly exercised his legal prerogative that he is elected as an individual!
Now he is an "Independent" ie. he has been cut free from the party which no-doubt funded much of his electoral campaign....he can do as his will and conscience require.
Ms Lambie, and Mr Lazarus did this, various others have left their parties after they have been elected.
And it is their right.......Apparently

But is it RIGHT!

Although Queensland does not have an Upper House, the Federal Parliament does and other States do.
We have been, at Federal level, given the option to vote, say, 1 to 16 "Above the line"  or 1 to 133 "Below the line".  
One gets the impression that most people vote Above the line.  Which is decidedly less complex and laborious. That is, they vote for the party and the Party's particular preferential choices.
So when an elected person who may have been elected No. 1 on the Labor or Liberal ticket .....or Palmer United Party....a case referred to above.....decides to jump ship what should happen?
The candidate inevitably says ....I was elected because I was me, and how fabulous am I because of my profile.....and the Party inevitably says .....They should resign because they were elected  on the Party Ticket.
Ms Palaszczuk was rather suggesting this about Mr Gordon...and Mr Palmer certainly wants Senators Lazarus and Lambie to capitulate to his strident influence, I draw short of calling it bullying!

In the end I think ABOVE THE LINE VOTING is iniquitous. It is a ploy of the Party System to manipulate numbers. So it serves them right when it backfires...as, increasingly, it seems to do


Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Words of wisdom (2) more of Frederic Buechner

Buechner (see below) often deals harshly with himself when he comes to talk about his faith journey.
He does this it seems to me for quite good reasons.
First because he is a saint!  And like all good saints he realises that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And he understands that this starts at his own front door.
Second because he also realises he has stuffed up.  One might even want to admit big time! He is very frank about the pastoral, intellectual, moral and personal mistakes he has made as a man, an intellectual, a pastor and a theologian. One could add  as a husband and a father.....but as I don't know him personally that would be presumptuous! And am only going on comments from his writings.
Third because he is critical writer and academic he invites genuine critique of his life and work 
In today's reflexion he continues one of his interesting dialogues with the one he calls the "interlocutor student"....personally I would call him/her the pretentious sh&t!

We read
 "You know, you were just getting down to the one thing people might be interested in," he says, "because it is always interesting to hear why a man believes what he believes. But then instead of giving it to them straight, you started paraphrasing from a work of your own fiction. I've heard you do the same sort of thing in sermons. Just as you are about to reach what ought to be the real nub of the matter, you lapse off into something that in the words of one of your early reviewers is either poetry or Williams' Aqua Velva. I would hesitate to use the phrase "artful dodger" if you hadn't already used it artfully yourself. Why don't you really tell them this time? 

As I say the pretentious sh&t or the unknwoing ba&t@#d!

Buechner's  saintly wisdom is herein contained (with none of the sort of anger that you or I might feel)

Without somehow destroying me in the process, how could God reveal himself in a way that would leave no room for doubt? If there were no room for doubt, there would be no room for me.


The commentator on this photo says humorously(and wisely)
Will someone wise up and cast Anthony Hopkins to star in a film about the life of Frederick Buechner, before they both die?

A blog dedicated to Frederick B

Monday, 6 April 2015

Words of wisdom (1)

I am quite taken by Frederick Buechner, American writer and theologian. A very wise and gentle-man. Novelist, theologian, and (even) Presbyterian. He seems to me to talk sense, and with a great humanity.
I read from one of those books of daily reflections each day ....yesterday's (Easter Day's) happens to say
" I am a congenital believer, a helpless hungerer after the marvelous as solace and adventure and escape."

We need to think about what he is saying here. 
He is NOT saying, I suggest, that he is an escapist! (This is the mistake that the Richard Dawkins of this world and even the S.Freud's make. They think that religion is about escape)

Buechner goes on 
"I am also a fabricator, and I am willing to believe that the whole business of God in my life may be something I have fabricated out of my need for solace and adventure if not for escape because religion has never seemed escape to me. Escape would be for me to get out of religion— with all its demands and promises—rather than to get into religion. " 
and concludes 
"Such faith as I have, where did it come from and why?"

This all seems to me much more profound than Dawkins' shallow dismissal of everything spiritual and religious as imaginary


Sunday, 29 March 2015

And beyond

There is not much love for me
and beyond.
Not much deserved
desired
demanded.
So, today, I feel
....cool
not in the modern sense
but rather
that there is no one
to cuddle up to.
Today
I feel cool

Saturday, 21 March 2015

On being overwhelmed

This week we had what is called in parish circles, a major funeral!
This takes up days of a priest's time...and might I say GLADLY!
This man, Wally Brice, was one of those people who everyone who knew him fell in love with him!
This clearly caused no small problem in his early life....and numbers of children later.
He would be the first to confess!
Perhaps he also reminds us (this is very incorrect...politically) that 'families' are good at absorbing their mess.
Certainly Wally's family was.
He met his principal son only 12 years ago (some 25+(?)  years after he was born)
And yet he gave himself to that relationship. Always ecstatic to see him, as he was was Z his younger brother. For whom he waited 24 hours (it seemed) and then could die
The Middle Class are nothing if not judgmental about the ordering of human relationships
Wally was a free spirit. This is both good and bad.

Personally I give thanks for the clarity of what he spoke at Mass week by week

May we love others 
as God loves us.


Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Yami Lester





I was privileged some years ago to meet Yami Lester. Some of you will know of him. As a young boy he worked, as many indigenous lads did, looking after animals (goats I think) in remote northern South Australia.



But how could he? According to the government of the day there were no indigenous people living in the region north and West of Maralinga where the British Government tested the "bomb"
In the 1950s, while still a young boy, he was blinded by a "black mist" from the south.

This continued as a myth for 3 decades and one day a hapless Minister on Alice Springs radio was confronted by Yami Lester who rang in and said "Well I was there!" and ..... to cut a long story short with people being caught with their pants down..... Yami was vindicated.

He had been blinded by the fallout. Others, we suppose, died unacknowledged.



Yami went on, despite significant physical impairment, to lead and inspire the charge and  recognition of the travesty that was nuclear testing in lands occupied by people who no one cared two hoots about.



He is now nearing the end of his life. A life we can give thanks for. But which we wish had not been so early curtailed.



Lots of follow up stuff in the links below!


  1. Check out
  2. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/verbatim/yami-lester/3588840
  3. http://www.papertracker.com.au/radio/interview-with-yami-lester/
  4. http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2013/01/23/maralinga-compo-collapse-prompts-calls-act-grace
  5. https://bobinnes.wordpress.com/tag/uluru-handover/
  6. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/songline-at-heart-of-secret-mens-business/story-fn59niix-1226360712409
  7. Paul Kelly's song about Yami, Evie & Maralinga ...
  8. Paul Kelly-Maralinga-Rockwood Music Hall, NYC- 3-8-2012.MTS
  9. If  time permits (for both of us!) I am planning to pay a brief visit over the next month to sit and have a c

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Spiritual healing

In the way of these things, Facebook decided I must be interested in Spiritual Healing!
I suppose I am. I pray almost every day for someone's healing. And see a lot of people who are quite sick.
Any way, I got directed to a page which tells me about EVENTS and WORKSHOPS...their shouting... for Adelaide Spiritual & Wellbeing events.
Entry 1..... someone wants a "house clearing" I am waiting to be able to post so that I can ask. Do you mean an Exorcism?
We who have a little experience in this stuff know that there is more to exorcism than meets the eye.
It is very easy to make too much of this but it is not just getting a broom and sweeping cobwebs away.
Equally well you can make too much of this stuff. Jesus just tells them to get knicked! and that seems to work!
It needs to be said that every time I have baptised a person, the parents and Godparents are questioned and then the the prayer of power is said. Most people don't realise this is an exorcism, sometimes I tell them, other times you see them hear the words, and I try to do this as dramatically as I can
Almighty God deliver you from the powers of darkness
and lead you in the light of Christ
to his everlasting kingdom.
And, as the Pentecostal preacher would say....and all the people said  Amen 

and so I say it boldly, often a little fearfully, sometimes catching the eye of someone who knows that we all live on the edge of evil.
But I am confident that when each is baptised, as Poppy will be soon, the forces of death, evil and fear are vanquished.

So I am waiting for CW to contact me about the 'house clearing'; believers have nothing to fear. I'll take my 85 year old friend with me (as I did the last time objects were being hurled around the room!).....I trust her faith more than my own. But together we work quite well!