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

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

No way to Australia

I live in the swinging (but very ethnically diverse of Hindmarsh)
I wrote recently
"Dear Mr Williams
I 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."                                        

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Now this is an endorsement you would want...NOT

Guardian Australia reports that Sarah Palin, gun toting Governor, has endorsed  Mr Trump.
Big question about whether this is the sort of endorsement you actually want
Quoting Guardian 
In a rambling 20-minute speech, Palin praised Trump and expressed her desire to “Make America Great Again”, using the opportunity to go on a rambling and confused attack on both parties. She condemned Barack Obama’s foreign policy and the Iran deal, and went on to say that under the current administration, “we kowtow and apologize and then bend over and say ‘thank you,enemy’.” Instead, Palin said we should “let our warriors do their job and go kick Isis’s ass.” She also attacked Obama for his 2008 “hopey changy stuff.”

Umm, I like hopey-changey stuff too!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

In the Darkness


It is in the darkness 
that he comes:
an open stable
a dangerous garden
an empty cave

We barely see the shimmer
and fail to recognise 
the challenge
we just as easily 
walk away
unmoved, unrealising
that it is in the darkness

that life is changed

Sunday, 29 November 2015

The remaindered life

WE wonder rather
what our life is like!
Is anyone taking the slightest bit of notice!
or have we passed into the area that no one could care less

It is a problem that clergy, and other caring professionals face every day
who even cares about  what we say or do?

Personally it worries me a little that I am so easily discarded
I presume to think that I have quite a lot of important input to offer into the human condition.
Things like ......death is must not be sacrificed......don't allow political  correctness to tells us that... this or not important

I now have a  granddaughter....and to my mind she is the MOST important thing in the world
I think most, if not ALL, grandparents get this

More important  than my children (much as I love them),
more important than World Politics,
and more significant than theology, philosophy and any of the serious academic pursuits
If we don't get it right for our kids and grandkids
then we have most likely lost the plot!

I don't fully understand  this...but I know it to be true.

She (and her ilk) must be the focus of the world

The fact that many of us have the same reflexion is pretty great.
Our grandchildren are more important than anything

This might just save the world that is hell-bent on self-destruction

Monday, 16 November 2015

Discursive terrorism!

I have some sympathy with the lovely British comedian Jason Manford who got caned by Facebook (shame on them) for declaring that these 'idealists'  are in actual fact cowards.
To be fair he said a bit more than that but I don't think his observations were misplaced

To open fire on unarmed civilians, is not bravery and idealism.
It is total and utter cowardice

It is bullying and thuggery.

I imagine the prophet Mohamed, peace be upon him, would be deeply ashamed of the evil that is perpetrated in his name. 
I have been interested about my own reflections, and those who live hand-in-glove with me about what this means.
As I drove into Adelaide yesterday (quietly on Sunday at about 8 a.m.)  I thought about how we might feel about such awfulness. Then cast my mind back 24 hours....the Christmas Pageant.
My granddaughter (10 months old ) was present....and loved it. 
200-300K people present just celebrating their community life....what if a bomb? or a gunman..?  it doesn't bear thinking about.   But my conversations led me to believe I was not the only one who thought this thought!

So I don't emir from J Manford's sentiment

Equally well, as my eldest daughter and I were practising speaking French, we spoke about the Tour Eiffel.   How it had been evacuated; and how easily three or four well-placed bombers could have taken it out.....shudder!

Surely these mad boys ( for such they are...BOYS....will blog about this shortly) don't want to live in a world in which families cannot have lunch together, or friends laugh with each other....

Having been a boy, I know that boys are not that bright!   They get enthused. But we are a bit thick!

Easy targets for unscrupulous propagandists who convert their stupidity to misguided 'enthusiasm'...which is a most dangerous thing!

Sunday, 15 November 2015


The last time I went to Europe I came back and said....I don't need to go to Rome again (don't let me fool you...if you'll pay I'll go!) and I don't need to go to London again (see above) 
BUT if I never go to  Paris again then I will feel diminished 
This last attack threatens that.
I do not want to never be able to go to Musee D'Orsay, to the Picasso Museum, the Rodin Gallery...and to Notre Dame.
Mind you (going back to Rome) I love the Lateran Basilica and assisted at Exposition for a week!

Monday, 2 November 2015

Traversing the eternal web

It is always difficult to traverse late October to early November for a Christian.
The focal feast is November 1 which is All Saints Day the derivative celebration is Halloween (Oct 31) when for some reason we seem to focus on "ghosties and ghoulies and long legged beasties and things that go bump in the night" but here's a go.
Personally I think that Hollywood etc can lionise  ghosts, and demons.
But the Christian reality is that they don't hold sway.
There is no doubt lots of stuff that can be said about demons, dibbocks, and personal devils.
The truth is that Christian theology says Jesus says this stuff is powerless.
In reality ....were OLJC less sophisticated  he would say it is bu&&s&^t!
So, I am confident in a couple of things(from my pastoral ministry)
1. Jesus has won!
2. The forces of evil and deception will try to convince us that they still hold sway

As OLJC might say this is  bu&&s&^t!

Evil has NOT won. Demons have no power!  Tell them to nick off, and turn away.

In return do good. Seek to do charity. Care for the poor. And talk to Jesus

(you lovely friends who are not Christians...won't get this...but bear with me!)

Friday, 23 October 2015

Have you got round to reading this great novel

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 was an interesting week earlier in the year.
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 read The Narrow Road to the Deep North  an amazing read for Australians intent  on misunderstanding the involvement we had in WW1 & WW2 :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

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Bullying of women....

I rather agree with an early February comment in The Australian that the report of the Human Rights Commission into asylum-seeker children in detention is two years too late. Gillian Triggs, the chair admitted this herself.
But to witness the attempted humiliation of  Dr Triggs before the Senate Estimates' Committee earlier in the year  is outrageous.It is to her credit that she has not been cowed by the bully-boy (I use that term advisedly, almost always it is "boys" who don't like it when women stand up to them)

Her reputation as an international lawyer is impeccable but the findings she released did not suit the narrow political agenda of the Abbott government.
It does not seem to me  that she was in any way partisan. By and large she says that Australia (not any particular party) should be ashamed of its treatment of children seeking asylum.

Yet the Government of the day (very much under siege on all sorts of fronts) chose to demand her resignation. Some of them deny this but the evidence would seem to contradict this.
What I find offensive is the patronising behaviour  of certain members of the commitee with some of the male Senators constantly referring to female witnesses as "my dear" and the, what would seem like, bullying tactics by some of the elderly male Senators who seem to think that women should be seen and not heard!
"I thought you might like to hear a man's voice!"   says coalition Senator Barry O'Sullivan after he thought women had been speaking too long
I would assure Sen O'Sullivan that there is a lot of catching up to do. Men have been allowed to out -talk women for decades in the political arena.
Well done Dr Triggs!

She has continued to speak out, and may she long do so!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The change in my life- The Popstar

This first week of 2015 was a monumental week for me 
A couple of years ago, probably when I was feeling a bit down, 
I prayed the prayer of a patriarch (look up Abraham, Isaac and Jacob if you need to understand the Jewish Christian heritage.)...but there are plenty of other Patriarchs & Matriarchs....
I think of Henry  & Lillian Clark for example, 
who would never have thought of  themselves as such 
and yet parented 4 daughters, 2 sons, 9 granddaughters,  4 grandsons who in turn have parented  8 daughters & 7 sons...
this will at least give L something to check and tell me I have got the numbers wrong
I prayed as Abraham and Sarah had prayed...

or tried to... that I too would be the father of a generation.
She's looking pretty good so far, 

more than one person has commented that she would appear to have her eye on me....
and those long curly baby fingers...
well I am pretty well wrapped around them!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Knowing then what you know now

I am actually quite fortunate in that I went to two "quite good"  secondary schools.
When we moved to Australia I went to Whyalla Technical High School
But in those days country schools had no conception that  "country students" might do more than work on the land, or at the steelworks, or in the shipyard.

Let's face it ...this was never going to be my fate!
I came from England with two other languages in tow....French and German....but could only pursue French.  ( I can just get by in both...,.this is a case of how 'education' may well have destroyed a native talent!)
The Science and Maths was Ok and the English was OK.  Music was virtually non-existent,  

as a mediocre cellist there was no-one who could take me to the next step. 
As a quite reasonable singer, there was no one to train my voice.
I didn't even really realise this was happening....I was too busy learning how to smoke!
I lament these things. But life's like that
Whitehaven Grammar School was a classic school of the English Grammar School tradition.
My French and German would have been cemented and I would probably have got a grounding in Russian.
I learnt only later in  life that I have  a bit of flair for languages.
I can now struggle by in Hebrew, NT Greek ...and my German and French are still OK.
I lament the lack of Russian!, as you do,
I have had a little contact on Facebook 

with former school contacts.
I remember that  

I played the Cello in the orchestra for Trial by Jury in 1967, 
that I was a policeman & a pirate of Penzance
That I had been H. Higgins in Pygmalion along with Lynn Breuer (formerly Raymond...and speaker of the Legislative Assembly....who was much better than me !) 
That I had been a Duke both in Merchant of Venice,  and in Twelfth Night
That I had conducted  B.Britten's Let's Make an Opera! I can't complain.
Just sort of wish I'd known then what I know now!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Oh Dear!...looking back

#stephenclark In the way of these things I have worried a little about my personal blog
Does it still connect?
I have been less than diligent, once upon a time I blogged every day...second thing I did after prayers .....but it has been more spasmodic of late
I have just gone back  through the last 6 or more months and realised that maybe I have made more significant comment than I had thought.
So let me just review some of this over the next few days:
I am thankful that I had a modest education (  I wish it had been more rigorous. Particularly from the arts and music standpoint...but it was OK ! (just!)

Friday, 4 September 2015

Not just a pic

The beautiful young boy, and do not forget his sister and mother who also drowned actually has a name:

This fine soldier whose heart must break
He too is  a father!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Bumping into a scholar

As I was crossing the road in North Adelaide this afternoon, I saw  Doktor Erich Renner.   He is 90+. I said  "good afternoon Dr Renner". He was, as usual, totally distracted....not knowing for a moment who I was. But he waved and continued on his  way.

He is one of THE great Australian scholars of the Hebrew Scriptures. Even though I now guess he is 93+!   I was a bit shocked that he is still with us!

_....I met him on the first SA Council of Christians and the 80s  and particularly remember sitting in an excruciating meeting when a 20 + American Rabbi lectured this great Scholar about the book of Ezra.
I was thinking...Renner knows more about the exegesis of the Scriptures than you will ever know
Renner, ever the gentleman,(even today as he crossed the road he was wearing jacket and tie), sat quietly and waited to make his measured, polite and respectful response.

The young American rabbi, who had never for a moment considered  that a Lutheran may actually know more about the Scriptures than he did....despite a 50 year age difference, continued to lecture us unaware that he knew less than most of us sitting around the table. . I was just embarrassed!

It is of course difficult for Christians in Christian-Jewish dialogue to advocate for our scholarship and insight into the Hebrew Scriptures.  And particularly difficult if you happen to be of German background....despite the fact that the good doctor was born in or around Dimboola in the Wimmera.
The best Jewish scholars, of course, fully understand that Christians take the Hebrew Scriptures seriously...and indeed have been responsible for most of the serious scholarship of the last century.

Erich, today,  waved...and continued on his way

Marriage equality

You can contact the Senate about their committee on Marriage Equality

I have recently written to them

I am an Anglican priest of a city parish in Adelaide and write to support the cause of Marriage Equality.

I would make 3 points:

1. The assumption that all church people and their ministers and priests are opposed to the marriage of people who are of the same gender is incorrect. I am quite clear from personal support I have received, that many Anglican priests would be privileged to 
I myself believe that there is no scriptural or theological impediment to the same.  
"Church rules" are another matter; I am sad to say that it will take my particular denomination an interminable time to work through this issue ( as it did through the issue of ordination of women)   

2.I have in my congregation a number of gay people. At times I wonder why people bother with the Church; which is  often uncaring and unsupportive. I am proud to say that we are not!  One couple has been in a stable relationship for over 40 years, they are well-accepted, normal and fine men. In fact their support of their wider family is exemplary.

3.I believe that the call for a Constitutional Referendum is a delaying tactic.  
Even the plebiscite would not seem to be much better, since it is neither binding nor indicative of intention.

This issue should not be derided because it is one of "equal rights". Surely all Australians should have equal rights.

Respectfully and sincerely yours

Parish Priest
St Mary Magdalene's Church
26 Moore Street
SA 5000

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Holding the Man

There is an adequate review of the soon-to-be-released film (of the biog) Holding the Man here on Eureka Street

The film is about to be released.
I must admit that I found Tim Conigrave's slim volume deeply moving when I read it many years ago.

I do make the additional comment on ES's page

"Feel a little bit sorry about the crassness of some of the comments above eg. "Please advise: How did John get AIDS in the first place? Is the movie frank about this? ....." 

What is the suggestion here?  That Caleo and Conigrave's story should not be told because they both died! [Please note it is inaccurate to say that they "died from AIDS" What's with the prurience about whether or not they had relationships 'on the side'? If that's a test then probably 75%++ of the population of Australia stands condemned]
 The book, I would suggest , is already an Australian Classic. 

The first time I read it I was in tears by the end. My impression is that the play had the same effect on people, and that the movie is likely to take the world by storm. 
Not because it is about confronting homophobia, which it is; 
nor because it is about promoting marriage equality (which it says nothing about). 
But because it is about allowing people to have the freedom to love, and to recognise that love and tragedy will go side by side. Surely that's a profoundly Christian message. Replying & writing as a Christian! Stephen ....etc.etc

Monday, 17 August 2015

Let's move on..... but doesn't look like we will

I just wrote to Warren Entsch about  marriage equality

Dear Warren

I am an Anglican priest and stand in awe of your commitment to promote the cause of marriage equality even against the strident views of the Prime Minister, which I would suggest are more in touch with conservative Roman Catholicism than the view of the people. 
I would, and do, regard myself as a conservative and orthodox  Christian; this does not preclude my agreeing with you about the justice of this issue.

And this email is really to let you know (as I am sure you already do) that not all Christians think Marriage Equality is wrong. 
I am sure that this will eventually pass into law. The Church, sadly in my opinion, will struggle with this for some what longer. I would happily marry a same-sex couple tomorrow! (even today!) but the laws of our Church are slow to catch up.
In my congregation ( a city congregation in Adelaide) there are a number of people who are same-sex attracted. One couple, much loved by us all, has been in a stable relationship for over 40 years.

My impression is that most middle of the road Anglicans, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, & Uniting Church people  and many others  even Baptists and Churches of Christ folk…..long to love and allow love to prevail.

The ‘conservatives’ in all traditions will try to tell us otherwise.

Frankly the secular community couldn’t care less about the irrelevancies of the various religious bodies' internal machinations; 

So stick in there!


Stephen Clark

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The different rule of law

I find it difficult to believe that our leaders might suggest that if they "pay back" their fraudulent claims then that is OK.
This began with the Helicopter doesn't matter that it was wrong as long as I paid back the money....equally well Opposition  MPs make the same claim....if  I am caught out  but I then pay it pay it back then that fixes it  up . To use Rhyming Slang...this is WOOL KNIT...
If a burglar ...before a court, said 'I will give the stolen goods back'...or 'I will repay those who had their goods stolen'   I am not convinced that  "paying back"actually deals with fraud

Carrots extraordinary

Did think I needed to do something with the carrots that needed to do more than just go black.

So I have peeled them!
Cut them into long segments
and am now marinating them in

brown sugar,
balsamic vinegar
& liquid (home made ) yoghourt [you could use butter or oil]

Am planning to roast the carrots for dinner....and promise to post an actual photo of what they look like!!!

Friday, 24 July 2015

#racism My theory

My theory is that Australians have always struggled with multiculturalism.
This is hilarious if it were not so serious!.

Let me however trace (inadequately)  my 40+ year experience of living in Australia
We came to live in Australia in 1967. It was MUCH more ethnically diverse than rural NW England.
There had been lots of Italians, Spaniards and Yugoslavs (as they were wrongly termed  then....see flags attached of kingdom break up)
In my High School class there were Anglo-Australians, Maltese, French & Spaniards.
In later years I went out with an Italian, my sister with a Croatian, and we ended up marrying into an Italian family; a Polish, Welsh Family; an early Yorkshire and Australian family; we have not yet married into an indigenous family, nor an African family, or an Asian family.
My daughters mock me (surprise surprise) " "Dad wants us to to marry an indigenous or Asian person". I would be more than happy
I suspect that this is the experience of most 'Australian' families.
My dearest (Welsh) friend was married to a Latvian Gentleman.  I use the term 'gentle' deliberately. He was highly intelligent. He was gentle and respectful.
Anton, I salute you!   As his extraordinary wife died, her faith; his partnership  was outstanding.

I have gone on.

My point is.......all our lives were transformed...when we encountered people who were outside our comfort zone. But
I would suggest
truly enriched