Parish Prayers as Jesus meets the woman at the well (John 4.5-42)

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God of all peoples,
just as Jesus and his disciples journeyed through Samaria to reach their appointed destination;
teach us to how to walk through strange, foreign places,
how to meet people different from ourselves—
that they we might say to them "come and see".
You bypass no one; in this may we follow you.

May we also be like the Samaritan woman: willing to examine our lives in Jesus’ presence
that we may continue to true worshipers of the Father in spirit and in truth,
that we may share with those we know what it is like to meet with Jesus.
The truth revealed her faults, yet liberated the unnamed woman.
This Lent, may your truth reveal us to ourselves and set us free in you.

God of the nations, lead and direct so that truth and truthfulness may direct our leaders, inform our nation, govern our business and our everyday lives, that we may live in justice and peace together.

Give us and all who thirst for you that living water of your Spirit:
water of refreshment,
water of healing,
water of cleansing,
water of life.

Avoidable gas “+crisis”

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The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is responsible for operating Australia’s largest gas and electricity markets and power systems, including the National Electricity Market (NEM), the interconnected power system in Australia’s eastern and south-eastern seaboard. The AEMO has released its 2017 Gas Statement of Opportunities (GSOO), intended to assess the adequacy of gas infrastructure, reserves and resources to meet demand in eastern and south-eastern Australia to 2036.

The GSOO finds that declining gas production may result in insufficient gas to meet projected demand by Gas Powered Generation for supply of electricity from summer 2018–19. To meet electricity supply needs, the NEM requires either increases in gas production to fuel GPG, or a rapid implementation of alternative non-gas electricity generation sources. If neither occurs, AEMO projects that declining gas supplies could result in electricity supply shortfalls between 2019 and 2021 of approximately 80 gigawatt hours (GWh) to 363 GWh across South Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria. Overall gas production for the domestic market is projected to decline from 600 PJ in 2017 to 478 PJ in 2021.

The 2017 GSOO highlights a projected decline in gas production at a time when withdrawal of coal-fired generation in the NEM is increasing reliance on GPG to maintain reliable and secure electricity supply
and meet emissions reduction targets. AEMO forecasts that sufficient electricity generation alternatives, relying on fuel sources such as black coal, will be available to meet electricity demand until summer 2018–19.

The stupidity in all this is that what is now a crisis was entirely predicable and solvable with half-way decent collation of information, coordination of policy and political cooperation.

Ethan Hethcote about the scars that bullying leaves on young gay people

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Vlogger Ethan Hethcote offers some thoughts about the scars that bullying leaves on young gay people, offering a powerful personal story that may resonate with a few of you. His remarks are a reaction to an article by Michael Hobbes published by Highline on HuffPost entitled Together Alone: The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness, which is about that subject, but also about the pressures of rejection faced by gay men once they are "out". Notwithstanding advances in rights and legal equality, Hobbes notes, "e;the rates of depression, loneliness and substance abuse in the gay community remain stuck in the same place they’ve been for decades."

Writes Hobbes:

Gay people are now, depending on the study, between 2 and 10 times more likely than straight people to take their own lives. We’re twice as likely to have a major depressive episode. And just like the last epidemic we lived through, the trauma appears to be concentrated among men. In a survey of gay men who recently arrived in New York City, three-quarters suffered from anxiety or depression, abused drugs or alcohol or were having risky sex—or some combination of the three. Despite all the talk of our "chosen families," gay men have fewer close friends than straight people or gay women. In a survey of care-providers at HIV clinics, one respondent told
researchers: "It’s not a question of them not knowing how to save their lives. It’s a question of them knowing if their lives are worth saving."

Ethan has some interesting and heartfelt thoughts about his own experience:

My two Christmas requests

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My two Christmas requests; a little late, but it is not yet Candlemas, it is but the fourth day of Christmas: (1) May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. (2) The complete obliteration of Santa Claus and and everything to do with him.

My submission to the Senate Select Committee on the Exposure Draft of the Marriage Amendment (Same-Sex Marriage) Bill

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This is a submission to the Committee with respect to paragraph (1) of its Terms of Reference, particularly "the nature and effect of proposed exemptions for ministers of religion, marriage celebrants and religious bodies and organisations".

I submit that the draft bill has two defects in relation to the proposed exemptions for ministers of religion, marriage celebrants and religious bodies and organisations.

First, the draft bill greatly overcomplicates the wording of exemptions. In its present form, section 47 of the Marriage Act 1961 already (and quite properly, in my view) provides ministers of religion with very considerable discretion concerning whether or not to solemnise a marriage—regardless of the reasons. This provision could be strengthened to apply "despite any law" and also applied to other marriage celebrants.  The following would suffice:

Ministers of religion and marriage celebrants not bound to solemnise marriages.
Despite any law, an authorised celebrant, (whether or not a minister of religion) may refuse to solemnise a marriage.

Similarly, the provision relating to exemptions for religious bodies and organisations could be simpler, more comprehensive and more straightforward, for example:

Religious bodies and organisations may refuse to make facilities available or provide goods or services
Despite any law, a religious body or a religious organisation may refuse to make a facility available, or to provide goods or services, for the purposes of the solemnisation of a marriage, or for purposes reasonably incidental to the solemnisation of a marriage.

Secondly, the identification of same-sex marriage as a ground of exemption is:
—redundant in view of the overarching nature of available exemptions; and
—itself hurtfully discriminatory, particularly as it is in any case redundant.