I was in England as a tourist in 1993 and, entirely by coincidence, I went to Portsmouth on 21 October. It was not until I was there that I realised it was Trafalgar Day. H.M.S. Victory, Nelson's flagship, which is in the Portsmouth naval dockyard, was flying the signal "England expects that every man will do his duty" that Nelson flew in the Victory at 11.15 am on 21 October 1805. I took this picture (scanned from a slightly dodgy print.)
Though in permanent dry dock, H.M.S. Victory is maintained in permanent commission as the flagship of the Commander-in-Chief Home Waters of the Royal Navy. The Commander-in-Chief's pendant is flying at the mainmast head. A commissioning pendant and the White Ensign designate the ship as in commission. The great cabin is fitted out for ceremonial dinners on great occasions. On Trafalgar Day, the toast is "The immortal memory." On Trafalgar Day, a wreath (circled) overhangs the spot where Nelson fell and flowers are placed in the orlop at the spot where he died.
In a unanimous resolution, the ACC said that it:
- expresses its profound concern about the deepening crisis in the Korean peninsula, consequent upon the announcements by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) that it is developing nuclear weapons and by the USA that it is contemplating the use of military force against DPRK in order to prevent this;One can hardly imagine that the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il cares much for the concerns of the Anglican Communion. But this is to miss the point. The Anglican Christians of Korea, along with all the Korean people, are to be supported as they strive for peace in their divided land. Reunification of divided Korea is controversial. But, overwhelmed as we are by the world's many crises, perhaps we fail to pray sufficiently for Korea.
- believes that for the sake of peace in North East Asia and the world, armed conflict in the Korean peninsula must be prevented, and to that end the DPRK and the USA should renounce the acquisition of nuclear weapons and the use of military force respectfully and endeavor to resolve the present crisis through dialogue and negotiation; and
- recognizes that the origin of the present crisis threatening peace in the Korean peninsula and North East Asia lies in the division of the Korean peninsula into two states, and therefore supports and encourages the Anglican Church in Korea in its work for reunification of the two Koreas.
The Anglican Church of Korea began with the consecration of its first missionary Bishop in 1889. Educational institutions, medical services and social work centers were created. Ways were sought to grow a indigenous church within the Korean culture. Theological training of local clergy began in 1923, leading, through several stages, to the eventual creation of the government-accredited (Anglican) SungKongHoe University in 1992. Some significant church buildings were constructed, notably the Cathedral Church of St. Mary the Virgin and St. Nicholas in Seoul.
The mission languished during the 36-years of Japanese colonial occupation and in the post-war years. But the consecration of the first native-born Korean bishop in 1965 began a period of growth and change. There were three Dioceses, Seoul, Taejon, and Pusan by 1974. There are now over 100 parish and mission churches with about 50,000 members. The Anglican Church of Korea became a Province within the Anglican Communion in 1992, finally becoming an independent national church.
Some more links
The Korean Mission Partnership was founded in 1889 by Charles Corfe, first Anglican Bishop of Korea, to support the work of the Anglican Church in Korea. It's website includes the current issue of its newsletter, Morning Calm, published regularly since 1890.
In Anglican Urban Network October 2004 Newsletter, Revd Ambrose Kim Hong-Il writes On the mission and spirituality of The Sharing House which seeks to reach 'new people' and 'new communities' through living with the poor of Korea.
Inter Faith Dialogue and Christian Mission in Korea is discussed by Revd Dr Guen Seok Yang of the Anglican Church of Korea on the site of the Anglican Network for Inter-Faith Concerns (NIFCON).
The Korean Anglican Community Centre in London, serves the Korean community there, including Korean students in London.
Often we have quite cold nights, followed by chilly clear days with fine sunshine. On other days, it is typical winter gloom. The chill reminds me of a verse by Judith Wright set in Canberra called "Going outside":
|I stepped out|
into the day without thinking.
It rushed at me
took me by the throat
turned me back
and slammed the door after me.
-- Blast you
can't you ever remember your coat and gloves?
The verse is part of a larger poem, "Brief notes on Canberra." Wright's sharp, whimsical, observations of our city are very fine, though now a bit dated as Canberra has become much more diverse than when these verses were published in 1976, a year after I first came to Canberra as a student. Here's the whole poem.
"Brief notes on Canberra"
by Judith Wright
from Fourth Quarter, Angus and Robertson, 1976, pp. 15-21.
|i. City and mirage|
The tawny basin in the ring of hills
held nothing but the sunlight's glaze,
a blue-blank opaline mirage,
sheep cropping, flies, the magpies' warble.
Burley Griffin brimmed it with his gaze.
Cloud-architecture in reflected image:
arena, amphitheatre, gallery
on gallery of quivering marble,
rose from his mind -- great circles, radials . . .
Over the clear-strung air his fingers played
conjuring a rhetorical opera-city
for that bald eagle, King O'Malley.
Fantasies of power. The grey sheep nibble,
dogs snap at flies. Shoddy officials
argue his job away, confuse his plan.
Mirages, changed to lakes, lap sewage.
Cities are made of man.
Canberra's sculptures are mostly
with cold metal claws --
waiting for handouts?
The one I like
has curves and no edges.
One sweeping closed line
describes that naiad.
Between the Reserve Bank
the Law Courts
and the insurance offices
she's cleared a space for herself;
she has a small fountain
and never stops watching it.
Maybe she daren't look up.
iii. Military aircraft
This basin in the hills
holds a lens of clear air.
Day looks down through it
like a blue-eyed jeweller.
Tiny invisible midges
draw over it
of glistening snot.
why don't you wipe your eye?
|iv. Nobody looks up|
specializes in clouds --
great haughty ones
small frisky ones
with snowmen by Thurber.
They act so extravagantly
swirling their cloaks
and striking great poses --
Look at me. Look at me.
don't seem to find them strange, but
maybe the newspapers
ought to review them.
v. Oaks, etc.
It isn't that I don't like
European trees. Why, my great-grandfather came from . . .
Some of my best friends are . . .
But huddles together
in clumps and plantations
or lining the roads
like an official welcome
they look a bit lonely
slightly on guard, rather formal,
wishing the visit was over;
like the staff of an Embassy
at a party they don't really trust.
vi. Going outside
I stepped out
into the day without thinking.
It rushed at me
took me by the throat
turned me back
and slammed the door after me.
-- Blast you
can't you ever remember your coat and gloves?
vii. Ecological comment
Considered as an ecosystem
Canberra is impossible.
No balance between input and output;
a monoculture community
whose energy goes entirely into organization.
Too little diversity
the scientists say.
Too many predators.
Too few producers.
Too little feedback
and very few refuges for prey species.
Somehow it continues to exist
as an ecological miracle.
Much as I love Judith Wright's poetry, I think she was a bit hard on our city! A different take on the so-called 'artificiality' comes from poet and long-respected Canberra resident Michael Thwaites.
"Psalm for an Artificial City"
by Michael Thwaites,
Part V of "A place of meeting: glimpses of a national capital", from The Honey man and other poems, 2d edn, Canberra: Trendsetting ,1993, p. 26.
When enemies cry against you
with vipers' tongues shooting malicious darts
sneering "unreal, alien, artificial",
rejoice, be glad
grapple their empty slanders to your soul
and glory, glory in being artificial
as are those Aboriginal artefacts
strewn in your valleys, shaped by human hands
aeons before such things as cities were.
Rejoice, yours is a noble sisterhood
as artificial as the brick and marble
on Tiber's seven hills, the Acropolis
wearing its Attic crown, Hangchou, the lake
man-made, the scholars' garden, Xanadu,
or Arnold's dreaming spires
where oxen found a place to ford the Thames.
Rejoice in man's and nature's partnership.
Be glad that from contending tongues of Babel
at length clear voices and wise choice prevailed,
that some, where others wavered, held their hope,
prophets of a wilderness that yet should flower.
Be glad that Burley Griffin,
before surveyor's pegs, huts, buildings, highways,
long before fountain, lake that bears his name,
stood on this ground
lifted his eyes to the hills, sun, mist, and cloud,
the singing light, the beckoning Brindabellas
and willed his plan the servant not the master
of a chosen place.
Founded in 2003 by Nathan Black, a published writer and student at Rice University in Houston, Different Religions Week helps us to be be less ignorant of other faiths. Ignorance too often leads to intolerance and violence. (Instance: Bosnia, Northern Ireland, etc., etc.)
There is no organised 'event'. During the Week. people are simply encouraged to find and attend an unfamiliar religious service at their convenience during the week. (Atheist and agnostic meetings count too.)
Nathan wrote about Different Religions Week in Christian Science Monitor, 7 July, 2003. The Monitor also published this graphic by Dean Rohrer.
The Different Religions Week website has more on the 'how' and 'why' of the movement and some links to local groups of many world religions (mostly American). The idea has been taken up officially by a number of States in the US, for example, Michigan, South Carolina and Tennessee, and is observed by people in many countries. Maybe write to your local newspaper and political leaders to commend Different Religions Week?
For quite a while I have been thinking of attending some Greek Orthodox and Quaker services. Different Religions Week is a good idea.
The Church Times explains that the closed session had used a secret ballot to substitute this decision for an earlier proposal that "The ACC . . . further requests that the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada withdraw their members from all other official entities of the Communion for the same period."
In its place, The Church Times says, was substituted a clause that spelled out the limits of the request to withdraw: "The ACC . . . interprets the reference to the ACC to include its standing committee, and the inter-Anglican finance and administration committee."
The original, more severe, resolution had been proposed by Stanley Isaacs (South East Asia), supported by representatives from several African provinces, among them the Most Revd Peter Akinola, Primate of Nigeria.
I note one comment at Thinking Anglicans that "the original ACC resolution was amended for one simple reason; they do not have the authority to tell the North Americans that they are banned from all positions of leadership within the Communion. They can only address membership within the ACC, and its committees, which they did."
Thus Inclusive Church says in a press release of 22nd June 2005, that it "welcomes the reinstatement of the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada within the bodies of the Anglican Communion." This is stretching things a bit. The decision of the ACC, in effect confirmed the suspension already in place.
However, the Revd Giles Goddard, Executive Secretary of Inclusive Church did have point when he said that, "The Church is not polarised in the way people have assumed. The simplistic characterisation of the Global South and the West has been shown to be false." The Revd Richard Kirker of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement makes similar comments, also in a press release:
This is a very significant vote. The narrowness of its success and the fact the Americans and Canadians decided not to attend as voting delegations shows the Communion does not have the heart for the agenda inspired by American conservatives and led by the Archbishop of Nigeria.Food for thought, methinks.
My hope is that they will stand back now and rethink. They may have forced this humiliation on their American and Canadian sister churches, but they can now see that they have not won the hearts of most Anglican Provinces.
We had been led to believe that the views of the conservatives were practically universal, that is patently not the case. After the presentations from Canada and America justifying their positive stance towards homosexuals, I talked to three delegates from Asia, Africa and South America, each said they had changed their view and were reconsidering their position.
There has been far too little open debate outside North America and Europe - hearts can still be changed.
(This discussion illustrates how easy it is to get information about events such as this while at the same time being unable to ensure that the information is complete and accurate. Electronic communication provokes commentary before we are even certain of whether we have the full facts. In the case of the Anglican church, we would be less likely to encounter problems and create misunderstanding if we had a quicker, more thorough and more comprehensive official church new service.)
(With thanks to Thinking Anglicans)
The Anglican Consultative Council:I believe the action of the ACC to be a disgrace. Even if the Americans and Canadians are sinfully wrong, the decision lacks charity and is a poor testimony of the manner in which the church should behave. Jesus was willing to sit with sinners. If there are sinners in our midst, since when should we not sit with them? None of the churches participating in ACC is blameless on every question of Gospel-based ethics. Sexuality is but one of the questions that could be raised with which to condemn each other. "Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone." I am disconcerted that such a decision should be taken in a secret ballot. In any parliament worthy of the name, members must cast their votes in full public view.
- takes note of the decisions taken by the Primates at their recent meeting in Dromantine, Northern Ireland, in connection with the recommendations of the Windsor Report 2004;
- notes further that the Primates there reaffirmed "the standard of Christian teaching on matters of human sexuality expressed in the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10, which should command respect as the position overwhelmingly adopted by the bishops of the Anglican Communion";
- endorses and affirms those decisions;
- consequently endorses the Primates' request that "in order to recognise the integrity of all parties, the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw their members from the Anglican Consultative Council, for the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference";
- interprets reference to the Anglican Consultative Council to include its Standing Committee and the Inter-Anglican Finance and Administration Committee.
Matthew 18:15-18 is not really a justification for the ACC's action.
If your brother sins against you,[a] go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.If some members of the American and Canadian churches have sinned, they have sinned only against God, and possibly against other Americans and Canadians. The other Communion members are not harmed by their actions (but if they are, they should forgive). Certainly the other churches have not been "sinned against in the terms referred to in Matthew. In any case, does not Matthew refer to the sins of individuals, not groups. Surely we do not advocate the concept of collective guilt -- that would simply be evil.
It is true that ECUSA had been cautioned that its actions may offend others, but 'offence' is not a sin worthy of expulsion. It has been suggested to me that ECUSA was told that Christians who live nears Muslims would be at risk for their lives, and that their mission would be hampered if ECUSA acted. [. . .] Therefore, I am told, in an act of charity, the larger body is acting to correct the deviance of the local body, to the health of the whole.
I'm far from persuaded that it is to the health of the whole to expel the Canadian and Americans now, by a slim margin of votes in a secret ballot, before completion of the "listening process" called for by Lambeth 98, the Primates and now the Anglican Consultative Council itself. And why is sexuality the only issue at stake here? Surely there are very many aspects of Christian life in the West offensive in the Global South and to Muslims. (I have lived as a Christian for two year in a Muslim developing country.) I am not persuaded that Anglican churches in countries with significant Muslim populations lack the wit and wisdom to draw distinctions between themselves and Christians elsewhere. The diversity within the church, thus evidenced, differs little from the diversity within other faiths.
Is the issue is not about being willing to sit with "sinners", but about communion with heretics? Heresy is a failure to uphold the foundational/essential tenets of the faith, though we may disagree on what they are. The American and Canadian churches have not disagreed with the creeds, for example. It is true, nonetheless, that creeds and other great statements of the church have been formed in response to heresy, as the church struggled to declare clearly what it understood to be the truth. In our context, I guess that is what the Lambeth Conference tries to do and most recently did in 1998. And it would be fair enough to say that the American and Canadian actions do not accord with Lambeth 98. On the other hand, in Anglican polity, Lambeth resolutions are not normative. So it is a messy tangle. In sum, perhaps we should take our time and get really clear and as much as possible in agreement about what the Anglican Communion as a whole believes to be essential to the very heart of the faith, before we start expelling each other from fellowship. We need to be prepared for this to take a long time. Some of the early church's disputes took centuries to resolve. The listening process requested by Lambeth and endorsed by the Primates and the ACC, which is yet to happen, should be patiently completed before disciplinary action of this kind is contemplated. I remain unpersuaded that the ACC has acted in a good and godly fashion.
On the difficulties of discussion with reasserters
I made some comments on this debate on titusonenine. In reply, one reader found that I am "hopelessly enculturated and demonically deceived." "Deal with that", he said, "as I deal with your contempt for those who disagree with you." I had expressed contempt for no one on the basis of disagreement. I trust that I guard myself from deception thought examination of conscience. I refrain from boasting of the fruits of my ministry. At the end, we all depend on the mercy of Almighty God.
I deeply appreciate titusonenine as a ministry that bring us all much useful information. I will continue to be a regular reader. But I have found once again that to comment there is impossible without subjecting oneself to personal attacks from the "Reasserters". These are even more difficult when people do not accurately read what others say before rushing in with abusive responses. Will it ever be possible to discuss the issues without ad hominem comments? So have spat that particular dummy. I will not comment on titusonenine again.
P.S. I have since relented on this decision.
The Episcopal Church of the USA gave ACC a statement of its theological thinking about same-sex affection in a document To set our hope on Christ (large pdf file). There is much that is good and encouraging in the statement. I am still reading and thinking it through, but I especially appreciate the views in the section Unity in difference: the church lives from and for the Holy Trinity. Some extracts:
[4.17] The unity maintained by Anglicanism, in contrast to other churches, has always been a unity in difference (Windsor Report 66), a rich and diverse unity (Windsor Report 62). A unity with this degree of internal diversity requires a communion that is exhibited and maintained, not by simple agreement among all parties, but by respectful listening to those with whom one disagrees (Windsor Report 65), by a willingness to render account to one another in love, and a readiness to learn from one another (Windsor Report 67). "At best the Anglican way is characterized by generosity and tolerance to those of different views. It also entails a willingness to contain difference and live with tension, even conflict, as the Church seeks a common mind on controversial issues" (Virginia Report 3.4). [. . .]On listening
[4.18] Rather than think of unity and communion as matters already achieved, we are consequently always on the way to greater communion and greater unity. [. . .] With the help of our bishops we are therefore to strive to become the Anglican Communion, not assuming that we already are, or were but are no longer that communion. We believe, moreover, that communion as achieved agreement, or unity in the form of an already established consensus, should never be presumed a final stopping point, a stopping point that might keep us from heeding a God who ever calls us beyond our narrowness of vision for human life, a stopping point that might inhibit us from following in faithfulness the lead of the Spirit who moves ahead of us in surprising ways. [. . .]
[4.19] At the present time part of the Church believes that it recognizes members of same-sex affection who are living Christ-like lives of generous self-donation, costly witness, and courageous acts of discipleship in conformity with the pattern Christ establishes for us. And this part of the Church is calling the rest to "come and see" if this isn't in fact the work of the Holy Spirit. It is according to this understanding of possible change in taken-for-granted views and of movement thereby towards greater unity and communion that the ministry of gay and lesbian persons is offered for the whole Church. [. . .] We believe that God takes our differences, which the world would wickedly harden into divisions, and embraces them by the power of Christ and the Spirit within those blessed differences-in-relation of the Divine Persons; in this way the Church's life of conversion and difference may become ever more fully a sharing in that blessed communion which is the life of God the Holy Trinity.
[4.20] Bishops are the symbol of unity and communion not by reflecting some easy prior existence of those things, but by symbolizing in their persons the way a life of mutual responsibility and love in Christ can be created and sustained in these between-times of brokenness and disagreement, before Christ comes again to bring us all final reconciliation and peace. We might reflect here on the place where Jesus builds his new community -- at the foot of the Cross. [. . .] We could do worse than to imagine meeting those from whom we feel most estranged at the foot of the Cross.
[4.21] The communion we all seek to share more deeply with one another can only be that which Jesus won for us at the cost of his passion and death. Putting our whole trust in him, we find strength, for the sake of a broken world, to reach beyond a unity of mere like-mindedness towards that blessed Divine Communion which alone can heal the world's divisions. Such communion is manifest and brought to light out of the diversity of voices through which surprising movements of the Spirit are discerned. [. . .] They are signs not only of the Church's unity but especially of its diverse and comprehensive catholicity. It is by way of this very diversity-in-unity, by way of all these diverse voices, including those previously unheard, brought together in a communion of mutual listening and learning, that we are brought more fully into the fullness of God's truth.
[4.22] The whole community benefits from the raising up of previously marginalized persons into leadership positions in the Church. In and through their leadership, the Spirit leads us beyond the little loves of ours that are idolatrous, into the greater, more comprehensive love that God has shown us in Christ. [. . .]
[4.23] Anglicanism at its best has been attentive to human fallibility, and has therefore especially prized humility and mutual forbearance as primary Christian virtues. The need for correction by others in a diverse Body of Christ and the need for openness to others in love, even and especially a respectful attentiveness to those with whom one most fervently disagrees, have always had a basis in this characteristically Anglican realism about the likelihood of moral and intellectual failure among the people of God. It is only in and through a diverse Communion that allegiance to any one particular viewpoint is prevented from replacing the allegiance that all of us owe to Christ, the one Head who alone can hold all of us, its diverse members, together in love. [. . .]
[4.24] "The experience of the Church as it is lived in different places has something to contribute to the discernment of the mind of Christ for the Church. No one culture, no one period of history has a monopoly of insight into the truth of the Gospel. [. . .]
The following "Resolution on the Listening Process, as requested by the Primates at Dromantine" passed unanimously.
In response to the request of the bishops attending the Lambeth Conference in 1998 in Resolution 1.10 to establish "a means of monitoring the work done on the subject of human sexuality in the Communion" and to honour the process of mutual listening, including "listening to the experience of homosexual persons" and the experience of local churches around the world in reflecting on these matters in the light of Scripture, Tradition and Reason, the Anglican Consultative Council encourages such listening in each Province and requests the Secretary General:Now, will there actually be resources (money) for this work and action?
- To collate relevant research studies, statements, resolutions and other material on these matters from the various Provinces and other interested bodies within those Provinces; and
- To make such material available for study, discussion and reflection within each member Church of the Communion; and
- To identify and allocate adequate resources for this work, and to report progress on it to the Archbishop of Canterbury, to the next Lambeth Conference and the next meeting of this Council, and to copy such reports to the Provinces.
I want to say to people, 'Please, please, please don't use such ghastly words,' because every human being regardless of their sexual orientation are standing in for God, each one of them is actually loved of God. And when you use language which implies they were not human beings who are you to do that because you did not create them?'I have commented previously that 'homophobia' is an inadequate word for all the many uses we try to make of it. That said, I much like Royce Clements' essay, How to avoid the charge of homophobia. In his summary, he says,
if you would avoid the charge of homophobia you must demonstrate:I have consistently found this last point to be the most difficult. Too often, people on either side of the debate confuse assertion with argument, using Scripture texts and aspects of tradition as though they were talismans. Clements continues,
- the sensitivity that chooses tactful words;
- the rationality that offers arguments rather than assertions;
- the consistency that expresses equal indignation about other social issues; and
- perhaps most important of all, the humility to admit that you might be wrong.
You may complain that pro-gay speakers and writers do not show such consideration to you. Instead your sincere moral convictions have been denounced as homophobic bigotry. I acknowledge that this could be true. But, however unfair the misrepresentation of your views, the situation is not symmetric. Christian gays are not trying to eject you from the Church or from ministry, you are trying to eject them.So I use Oliver Cromwell's famous words, from a letter to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1650, to say to those who think their case is proven 'beyond reasonable doubt', "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken."
In law a verdict of "Not Guilty" requires only the establishment of "reasonable doubt". Even if you feel the case against gays has been proved, there are other members of the jury who are less convinced. No one wishes to shut you up, but what you say and how you say it makes a huge difference.
From The Times, June 20, 2005
From Mr Tony Peters
Sir, You report (June 17) that women bishops and euthanasia will be debated at the General Synod. As separate items?
A. R. PETERS
Great Cubley, Derbyshire
Our Vision is to be a caring Christian community
which embraces and honours difference
and offers a place to celebrate and grow spiritually.
I have been licensed by our Bishop, the Rt Revd George Browning, to be a lay minister in public worship and preaching, within our parish of St. Phillip's, O'Connor. There was a simple commissioning as part of this morning's Eucharist. I especially appreciated the prayer:
Look with favour upon those whom you have called, O Lord, to be Lay Ministers in the worship of your Church; and grant that they may be so filled with your Holy Spirit that, seeking your glory and the salvation of souls, they may minister your Word with steadfast devotion, and by the constancy of their faith and the innocence of their lives may adorn in all things the teaching of Christ our Saviour; who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.This simple joyful beginning was also an end to what for James and me has been long story (told here, here, and here).
The commissioning service includes two questions:
- You have been called to a ministry in this congregation. Will you, as long as you are engaged in this work, perform it with diligence?
- Will you faithfully and reverently execute the duties of your ministry to the honor of God, and the benefit of the members of this congregation?
- The Immigration Minister's discretionary powers will be widened, giving her flexibility to free people into the community and to grant visas to people in detention.
- A limit of six months has been put on the processing of protection visa applications and reviews by the Refugee Review Tribunal.
- The Immigration Department will have to report six-monthly to the Ombudsman on people who have been in detention for more than two years. The Ombudsman will make recommendations to the minister, who will not be bound to follow them but must table them in Parliament.
- The Ombudsman will have full access to Immigration Department records to investigate cases and will be able to recommend release into the community, permanent residency, or continued detention.
- About 4,000 outstanding applications are to be finalised by the end of October. Almost all of them are expected to get permanent residence.
- All women, children and families currently in detention centres and residential housing projects will be freed into the community with reporting arrangements.
- When families are detained in future -- usually when they breach orders to leave the country -- they will be put in residential housing projects and assessed. This will have to be done within a month.
- The changes will be overseen by an interdepartmental committee headed by the head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (indirectly this is a censure of the Department of Immigration and Ethic Affairs). The committee will regularly discuss progress with Mr Georgiou and the other 'rebel' MPs colleagues fortnightly.
An irony of all this is that much of it will be achieved by extending the powers of the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. In much of what she decides, the Minister has little option but to rely on the advice of her department. Not only has there been argument about the rights and well being of refugees and asylum seekers kept in detention, but also about obvious mal-administration and negative corporate culture in the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs. (Opposition Leader Kim Beazley attacked expanding the powers of "an incompetent minister" and a "dysfunctional" department and renewed his call for a royal commission.)
There have been many cases, notably the of detention Australian permanent resident Cornelia Rau, the wrongful deportation of citizen Vivian Alvarez Solon, the seven-year detention of Peter Qasim and the recent mishandling of Chinese political defectors. In its editorial of 18 June The Age says:
The debate about Australia's treatment of asylum seekers has not lacked conviction or passion [. . .] What is lacking is a proper public assessment of the problems, which the Government admits includes Immigration Department culture. That fact has not been altered by the policy concessions that brought about yesterday's Liberal truce [. . .]. By resisting the need for a public inquiry, it is still denying Australians the information they need to pass judgement on policies and their impact.Also in The Age of 18 June, Dr Leslie Cannold, a fellow at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, makes the important point that "It needs more than public opinion to say our detention policy is right." Some edited extracts:
In times when governments shamelessly spin and cover up, an insistence on voters being able to exercise this right can seem almost quaint. Yet this is the basis of our democracy.
[T]he Government has confidence in its policies and the department, it should expose them to public scrutiny. It has no right to expect Australians, in whose name its border protection policies have been enforced, to accept secret inquiries into issues that divided the Liberal Party itself.
The time has come for some clarity in the minds of public figures and commentators about what public support for something does - and does not mean - in terms of morality. [. . .] The truth is that there is no necessary relationship between what's popular and what's right. At the end of the 1800s in the US, the majority supported slavery; last century most Afrikaners supported apartheid. Until relatively recently, in historical terms, many Australians gave the White Australia policy a tick. [. . .] [P]ublic support for a policy indicates nothing more than that most people like it.In a further ridiculous irony, in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, just a few days ago, Mr William Farmer, head of the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) "for service to the community through contributions to Australia's international relations and to major public policy development including domestic security, border systems, immigration, multicultural affairs and Indigenous service delivery." This less than three weeks after Mr Farmer had apologised to a Committee of the Senate for the actions of his Department.
To gain an ethical seal of approval, the policy must conform to more abstract standards about decision-making wisdom, maximal utility or principles that crudely reduce to the golden rule and a steadfast commitment to never using others as a means to our ends.
According to any such criteria, serious questions can be raised about the Prime Minister's claim that the Government's approach to unauthorised arrivals is "right". [. . .]
It's hard to argue that a person of good character would permit others who've committed no crime - and have good odds of eventually being found to be a refugee -- to be detained for lengthy periods or indefinitely. This makes the Government's migration policy problematic for those espousing Virtue Theory.
Utilitarians are about weighing overall benefits against harms. Present migration policy was adopted to contain the claimed risks posed by large numbers of bogus asylum seekers, yet since its inception, changed politics in the region have seen such arrivals slow to a trickle. The cost to individual asylum seekers, however, remains vast and includes physical and mental health problems that in some cases lead to self-harm, and - when it comes to children - what experts claim may be irreversible developmental damage. Negligible benefits and vast and significant harms: where's the morality in that?
Finally, at the heart of "do unto others" is a recognition of the human needs - and human rights - of others. Yet while the Government recognises the human rights of Australians, detainees are treated as though they are less than fully human, somehow deserving of the loss of dignity, justice and freedom they suffer.
I find little in ethical theory to persuade me that the Government's policy of mandatory detention is right. If the Prime Minister believes otherwise, he should welcome debate on the issue, rather than attempt to gag it, as a chance to make his case.
We profoundly regret what has happened in some cases. We are intensely conscious that our day-to-day business affects people, it affects their lives, and it is distressing and unacceptable that our actions have in respects fallen so short of what we would want and what we understand the Australian people expect. We are deeply sorry about that. (Senate Legal and Constititional Affairs Committee, Hansard, 25 June)
In truth, it is hard to see what purpose will be served by this charade. Positions on both sides of the gay row are much too deeply entrenched for that and indeed, at its deepest level, the dispute is as much about a political power struggle for control within American Episcopalianism as it is about what the Bible says about homosexuals.I join with others to pray that Bates may be wrong, though I suspect that he could be right. My concern is not so much the separation of the various national churches as possible fragmentation within national churches, especially in the West. The Australian church, for example, is divided. I've mentioned before the comment one Australian theologian made to me that it will take a century to resolve the 'homosexuality' question (just as it took many years to solve some divisive questions in the past.)
It is clear that the North Americans are no more going to retreat from what they [. . .] perceive to be a more realistic, tolerant and Christian attitude towards gays in the clergy, than that the bishops of the Global South will be struck by a blinding revelation that homosexuality does not have to be the defining, now-or-never, communion-breaking issue for Anglicanism.
[ . . . ] As in any divorce, schism or civil war, it is when the two sides not only stop talking to each other but also cease listening -- a process which implies the possibility of change and even reconciliation -- that breakdown is inevitable. They may not openly admit it, but too many people in Anglicanism just want to bring that on.
Well, the time has come. It is surely evident that the strains of keeping together an international communion, traditionally based on mutual affection and respect for each other's traditions and provincial autonomy, are just too great when stretched across societies of vastly different cultural, social and religious realities, particularly when it is evident that there is no mutual understanding and appreciation left to hold the show together.
Why then can't we just 'cool it' and wait for the Spirit to do the Spirit's work? Bates continues:
[. . .] there is no mutual understanding and appreciation left to hold the show together. And particularly when both sides -- but one side in particular -- is insisting on its own, exclusive, definition of orthodoxy. There is absolutely no sign that this is going to change in the next three years, so should we really wait for the Archbishop of Canterbury to make the invidious choice then of who is, and who is not, acceptable in his sight at the next Lambeth Conference in 2008?
[. . .] [P]erhaps it is time to face up to realities, cut through the hypocrisies, evasions and pieties, and work out a way to move apart with dignity and honour. It won't be a clean-cut break.
[. . .] But it would have the merit that the coercion, the bluster and the politicking could stop and that everyone could start talking about other things, like God, for once.
In the latest round of Australian honours, His Eminence Cardinal George Pell has been made a Companion in the Order of Australia (AC), "for service to the Catholic Church in Australia and internationally, to raising debate on matters of an ethical and spiritual nature, to education, and to social justice." Companion is the highest degree in the Australian system of honours and is "for eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service to Australia or to humanity at large." No more than 25 awards are made in a year (usually rather less). The process for making all awards is free of political patronage and governed by an independent Council of 19 members.
Cardinal Pell's contribution to "to raising debate on matters of an ethical and spiritual nature" has largely been to adopt the Vatican hard line on such questions and push it strongly within Australia. A very quick search will reveal the hostile relationship between the Cardinal and gay and lesbian groups, for example. Cardinal Pell expresses his views frequently and strongly (one cannot fault him for that). Here's a good example.
Dr Pell's friendship with the equally conservative Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Jensen, has been an example of local church cooperation, but has constrained ecumenical work at the national level, which requires a certain give-and-take, not only between churches, but between the differing points of view within each church.
I suppose the Cardinal has been "raising debate". But I would prefer that my country's highest civilian honour went to those who bring us together, not divide us:
- Revd Dr Peter Carnley was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1999, " for service to the Anglican Church of Australia and to the community through his contributions to theology, the nururing of ecumenicalsm between the churches and their faiths, and in the cause of social justice."
- Revd Tim Costello was made an Officer of the Order (AO) in 2005 ," for service to the community through contributions to social justice, health and welfare issues, international development assistance, and to the Baptist Church.
Emma Tom has written a particularly caustic commentary in The Australianof 15 June.
George Pell, Australia's most powerful Catholic, reckons the answer to widespread youth godlessness is for teachers to tell their charges to worship more. [. . . ] The Cardinal's views on solving youth heathenism were aired in the press this week when it was revealed that His Eminence was one of seven people to receive a Companion of the Order of Australia . . .
While it's important not to take these bureaucratic knighthoods too seriously (other recipients include bungling Department of Immigration officials), surely someone at the Honours Squad is having a go.
After all, George Pell's reign has been marked by disservice to the Catholic Church (he makes it look sclerotic and totalitarian) and quashing debate (he insists there is only one true view and obstructs liberal discussion within his organisation). The Cardinal's commitment to social justice is highly selective (oppressed homos and aspiring she-priests need not apply) and, if Operation Youth Worship is anything to go by, his approach to education is naive, bordering on witchdoctor-ish.
Ordering pubescents about is a spectacularly unsuccessful way to influence their behaviour. The Archbishop might have suggested decapitating chickens or juggling goat entrails for all the good his Worship More recommendation is likely to achieve.
But pragmatism is a dirty word on Planet Pell where hardline moral absolutism is seen as the only way to address an alleged "crisis of faith". As a result we continue to endure Pellisms such as homosexuality-is-more-dangerous-than-smoking, abortion-is-a-worse-moral-scandal-than-sex-abuse-by-the-Catholic-clergy and so on.
Well, here's an ethical and spiritual debate for you: What's the point of claiming moral superiority if your position does zip to help the causes for which you claim to be campaigning? Isn't it just self-indulgent hubris?
Ms Tom refers to a conservative American Baptist church called 'Liquid Ministry' that seeks a more productive approach. "[G]iven that the world's citizens are unlikely to abandon their disparate views and suddenly fall into uniform agreement on everything," Tom says," Liquid's intriguing 'third position' is probably the closest we'll ever get to the community unity so many church leaders say they're seeking. Who knows? Maybe it'd even encourage bucket-bonging youngsters to be more receptive to churchy messages of responsibility and consequence instead of writing such institutions off as dusty display cases for mono-minded fossils. Sorry to be rude. I mean mono-minded fossil ACs."
Link: Nominal Me discusses the possibility of a 'third way'
We ask your fervent prayers that the presence of the Spirit of Anglicanism -- the Via Media or "Middle Way" defined by Scripture, informed by Tradition and Reason -- be made manifest.
Representative members of the ACC from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada are attending in voluntary observer status only. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has invited several people to join these members to explain the theology of the Episcopal Church's decision that the celebration and blessing of committed, faithful relationships between two people of the same sex is within our common life as is the ordination of gay and lesbian people to the holy orders of the diaconate, priesthood and the episcopacy.
We ask that on Sunday, June 19, you light three candles -- one for each "leg" of the three-legged stool of Anglicanism: scripture, reason and tradition. You may choose to light all three candles on Sunday and use this as an opportunity to reinforce the teaching of the foundational principle of Anglicanism. [. . .]
We ask that you join us in prayer for all those in attendance, especially those who are presenting before the council [. . .]
We ask that you join us in this ancient prayer of the Church:
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light:
Look favorably on your whole Church,
that wonderful and sacred mystery;
by the effectual working of your providence,
carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation;
let the whole world see and know
that things which were cast down are being raised up,
and things which had grown old are being made new,
and that all things are being brought to their perfection
by him through whom all things were made,
your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Steering Committee of Claiming the Blessing
Swearing Allegiance to the Flag, 1854. Charles Alphonse Doudiet.
Though trivial in scale compared to civil wars elsewhere, Eureka has been an inspiration for many Australian artists, writers, composers, photographers and poets, transforming Eureka and its great symbol, the Southern Cross flag, into a legend. "Debate continues about the meaning and significance of Eureka. Was it a protest against the denial of democracy, a plea for a republic, a call for better working conditions, lower taxes or a 'fair go'? The Eureka is seen some as a defining moment in Australian history and has become a legend and part of our national identity?" (temporary exhibition web page) The Eureka rebellion had some influence in making the Australian colonial parliaments among the first in the world to have universal suffrage for men and women.
Read more at the Ballarat Fine Art Galley's Eureka page.
The most potent symbol of Eureka is its flag, which has often has been appropriated to promote various causes. I've written about it previously, here.
James Barrie was a curious and complex character. Anthony Lane has a very fine article on JM Barrie in the New Yorker of 15 November 2004. After the deaths of their parents from cancers, he became guardian of the Llewelyn Davies boys, the last of whom, Nico, died in 1980. Two of the five boys died before Barrie: George in Flanders during the First World War, and Michael who drowned in 1921 at Oxford, in the arms of a friend who may have been his lover. (The relationship between Peter and his friend Rupert Buxton is explored in Barry Lowe's play The death of Peter Pan.) The deaths of Arthur and Sylvia and two of their sons in such ways deeply saddened Barrie for the rest of his life, and also took its toll on esteemed publisher Peter Llewelyn Davies, after whom Peter Pan was named. He killed himself in 1960. In his article, Lane speculates whether it was coincidence that this was shortly before the centenary of Barrie's birth, which would have brought renewed attention to Peter Pan.
Barrie was to become wealthy and famous and was made Sir James Barrie, Baronet, and a member of the Order of Merit. The Order of Merit is more interesting than most of the other British honours, as its members are chosen by the monarch personally, not recommended by the government. It has a maximum of only 24 full members, who are honoured for achievement in the arts, sciences and other fields of learning and endeavour. The OM is one of the highest royal honours, above all knighthoods except than the Order of the Garter and the Order of the Thistle (which are also bestowed by the monarch personally).
This being her official birthday, the Queen has made three new appointments to the Order: naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, former politician and first woman Speaker of the House of Commons, Baroness Boothroyd, and military historian Professor Sir Michael Howard. There have been just 168 members of the Order since it was founded by King Edward VII in 1902, about half of whom have been appointed by the present Queen during her long reign.
The current membership is an interesting indication of the Queen's views on merit and distinction: (in order of appointment) The Duke of Edinburgh, Professor William Chadwick, Sir Andrew Huxley, Dr Frederick Sanger, Dame Cicely Saunders, Baroness Thatcher, Dame Joan Sutherland, Sir Michael Atiyah, Lucian Freud, Sir Aaron Klug, Nelson Mandela (Honorary member), Lord Foster of Thames Bank, Sir Denis Rooke, Sir James Black, Sir Anthony Caro, Professor Sir Roger Penrose, Sir Thomas Stoppard, The Prince of Wales, Lord May of Oxford, Lord Rothschild, Sir David Attenborough, Baroness Boothroyd, and Sir Michael Howard.
Now, he is speaking not just of same sex unions here, but also of societal devices that are used to make marriage temporary and easily dissolved (free unions, quickie divorces, and the like). In this sense, he is likely onto something, though I might argue that these innovations are less about devaluing the body and more about devaluing the nature of spiritual wholeness. But I see his point. However, the concept breaks down when monogamous committed and covenantal same sex unions are thrown into the mix. This displays a deep ignorance on the Pope's part as to the nature of these relationships. It comes, in short, out of the tacit assumption that the purpose and driving force behind all same sex unions is not 'the vocation of love' that the Pope speaks of so eloquently above but rather a kind of sexual fetish. He believes that same sex unions by nature are merely bodily, containing no spiritual or emotional weight.J-tron does me the honour of quoting a paragraph I wrote in my own comments on the Pope's speech leading to an exchange of comments with wb that bring out why it is so difficult for Catholics to take a reconciling position matters of sexuality.
wb (commenting on j-tron's post): I read [Benedict's] speech, contra not too much, not as characterizing homosexuals *themselves* as anarchic or libertine, but their behavior as *expressive of* an anarchic, libertine, and false anthropology. And this, to my mind, is an important distinction (and something altogether different, by the way, from the tired mantra 'love the sinner; hate the sin), because it bears directly on the issue of culpability. If I am understanding Pope Benedict, he is identifying a *teaching*, an anthropology, as libertine, anarchic, and (ultimately) sinful.
My response: I take the point. I should have said (and now do say) that "the Pope's generalised characterisation of all people who commit themselves to same-sex relationships, whether people of faith or not, as thereby expressing anarchism and libertinism , is simply mud-slinging and a disgrace."
wb: A latent assumption of Pope Benedict's [. . .] is the Church's magisterial commentary on scripture. In other words, the Pope isn't just making this up as he goes along, he's repeating and clarifying a consistent continuum of doctrine. This fact, combined with a catholic attitude toward the limina of hermeutical prerogatives, produces Pope Benedict's understanding of human sexuality. Its not even necessarily that he believes homosexuality is wrong (though I'm sure he does believe its wrong). Its just that he would be overreaching his authority to teach the logical compliment of a catholic dogma. He can't do it, because what the Church has already said is, in fact, the truth.
My response: I grant that the Pope "isn't just making this up as he goes along," and that he may perhaps be "repeating and clarifying a consistent continuum of doctrine", though there is some room for argument there, if one goes back far enough in history. But it is precisely because the structures of the Roman Catholic church do not allow it to change what has previously been said to be true (even though it may be an error), that it is obliged to maintain teachings that have become a disgrace to the Gospel message.
In other words, I deny root-and-branch the Roman Catholic Church's claim to magisterial and universally normative teaching authority. The self-revelation of God in truth and wisdom is its own authority and needs no other. The naming of that truth and wisdom is the task of the whole people of God, led and guided by the Spirit.
Wisdom is the application of truth for the good. As science and theology teach us about who and what we are, the Spirit of Wisdom allows us to repent of mistakes of the past and to use new knowledge for the good.
wb: "The self-revelation of God in truth and wisdom is its own authority and needs no other." -- What basis do you then have for criticizing, for example, the snake-handlers of Appalachian churches?
My response: Criticism of the snake handlers would, of course, have to be based on sound exegesis of relevant scripture, through the application of wisdom and reason. In other words, we seek to understand and apply what God has made known. But it is God's self revelation that is authoritative, not our humanly interpretation, which is always subject to error and correction.
wb: "The naming of that truth and wisdom is the task of the whole people of God, led and guided by the Spirit." -- I agree with you on that point. But I think Catholicism has a rather fuller notion of what constitutes 'the whole people of God, as they hold that it includes not just us, and not even primarily us, but the Communion of Saints too. And the discernment of God's truth and wisdom is the task of the WHOLE Church, militant and expectant. We have inherited from the Saints not just the nice bits of Christianity (love one another, the eucharist, the notion of sanctification, etc.) but the whole deposit of faith, what it means to be a Christian. For me, therefore, Catholic ecclesiology is the only one that makes sense. Because the whole notion of the Christian life is something we have inherited, not something we have invented. And *our* life as Christians means, first, obedience to *their* form of life and the doctrine that is expressive of it, even when it doesn't seem especially to make much sense to me (as is the case with the Church's teaching on sexuality).
My response: That's fine, but the saints of the past were human. They were thus capable of error and therefore have no entitlement to be obeyed beyond what is wise and true. And of course, the saints of (say) the 15th century had no way of producing theological wisdom contextualised for the 21st century. Church history has much to teach us that is wonderful, but it is riddled with mistakes, sins and errors, some of which even the Roman church has acknowledged. We cannot avoid re-reading scripture, experience and context afresh in every generation, and the challenge of uncertainty that brings.
*Christopher quoted Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan "Tradition has a vote, not a veto." and GC Chesterton, "Tradition is the democracy of the dead. It means giving a vote to the most obscure of all classes: our ancestors", before saying: It's kind of like holding these two fine lines on tradition in tension. Our ancestors in the faith have handed to us much wealth to savour and yet refining and deciding what is gift and what is not is a part of continuing in tradition, so that on a specific concern, we have to take into account how our ancestors' attitudes square with "love thy neighbor as thyself" and with continual discernment of what G-d is doing in our times in light of the Salvation Story. Our ancestors did some things we would not countenance as being acceptable, and yet, they got so much right living in their times and cultures.
Quite so. For a superb and scholarly account of the role of tradition as an agent of change, there is nothing better than David Brown's two volumes Tradition and imagination: revelation and change (Oxford 1999), and Tradition and change: Christian tradition and truth (Oxford, 2000).
In Time on 2 May 2005, Andrew Sullivan described the dogmatic system that the Pope represents as a "circular system that's immune to reasoned query"
Augustine has kept me company for more than 20 years," Pope Benedict XVI once wrote. One of Augustine's key arguments was that human beings were so profoundly flawed they couldn't begin to figure out the meaning of life on their own. They needed something transcendent to bring them up from their knees. That was the message of the New Testament, the promise of the Christ. It was, in Ratzinger's words, "a matter of announcing to man the unthinkable, novel, free Act of God, something which cannot be drawn up out of the mental depths of man, because it announces God's unreckoning, gracious decision." What decision? To save humankind from itself.
For the new Pope, faith is a gift, not an acquisition. In Christianity, he once wrote, mankind comes to itself "not through what he does but through what he accepts " The Christian identity is not made or debated or thought through. It is "received." Because it is received, it cannot be altered. "Christianity is not 'our' work," Benedict told Italian journalist Vittorio Messori in the 1980s. "It is a revelation; it is a message that has been consigned to us, and we have no right to reconstruct it as we like or choose."
Alas, the Gospels do not tell us everything. Jesus never mentions, say, abortion, homosexuality, reproductive technologies or a celibate priesthood, to name just a few of the issues confronting the Roman Catholic Church. How do we know what is "revealed" about them? According to Benedict XVI, only the church hierarchy decides that, with the Pope as the ultimate authority. Because these truths are simply received from God and are therefore nonnegotiable, don't bother asking any questions. Faith, Benedict once wrote, comes "not from reflecting (as in philosophy). Faith's essence consists in the rethinking of what has been heard." No wonder Benedict, in his former role as guardian of church orthodoxy, silenced so many theologians who had the temerity to reflect.
[. . .] Gay people are often born homosexual Benedict has argued. But they are beset by an inherent tendency toward an "intrinsic moral evil" and are of thus by nature "objectively disordered." A whole class of human beings are naturally more disposed to evil than others? Don't ask the obvious questions, just accept the answers. And if the result is enormous human suffering, as women and gays labor under discrimination, condescension and prejudice? Suffering brings them closer to Christ.
Reading Benedict for a struggling gay Catholic like me is reading a completely circular, self-enclosed system that is as beautiful at times as it is maddeningly immune to reason. The dogmatism is astonishing. If your conscience demands that you dissent from some teachings, then it is not really your conscience. It is sin. And if all this circular dogmatism forces many to leave the church they once thought of as home? So be it.
The dryness has now penetrated so deeply into the subsoil in some areas that it will take years of above average rain to recover. This many never happen. Subterranean aquifers are drying up or slowing as they have not done in decades. Much could be written about this, on greenhouse effect and many other things. One leading expert known to me suggests that in some localities, we may have to become accustomed to a virtually permanent level of water availability 20% lower than we have been used to.
The water storages of the City of Goulburn (about 100km from Canberra and the oldest inland city in Australia, with about 22,500 people) have dropped from 100% of capacity to about 22% over five years. The City is enduring maximum-level water restrictions and only bottled water is drinkable. Water for industry has been cut by a third and may soon be cut further. An emergency pipeline is to be constructed which will help a little. Some other towns in our region have similar problems.
The Cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn is in Goulburn. At one of the far-too-many meetings I attended this week, our Bishop mentioned in passing that despite the drought and the water shortages, the Mayor of Goulburn is encouraging the Synod to meet in Goulburn on 9-11 September, as planned.
Meanwhile, farmers in most of New South Wales are facing their fifth year of drought. The consequences for the land and the people are terrible. In this region, the church is just one of many institutions trying to meet an every increasing demand for assistance at the same time as the drought reduces its incomes.
God our heavenly Father
through your Son you promised
to those seeking first your kingdom and your righteousness
all things necessary for bodily welfare:
send us, we pray, in this time of need,
rain to water the earth,
that we may receive its produce to strengthen and sustain us
and always praise you for your bounty;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (AAPB, p. 205)
The researchers tested whether vaccination against the virus would decrease the incidence, severity, or both of herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia (PHN, which I still have) among older adults. The incidence and severity of shingles and PHN increase with age. In a large trial, 38,546 adults 60 years of age or older were enrolled in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of a live attenuated vaccine"
After a median of 3.12 years of surveillance of the 95% of participants who remained in the trial, a total of 957 confirmed cases of herpes zoster (315 among vaccine recipients and 642 among placebo recipients) and 107 cases of postherpetic neuralgia (27 among vaccine recipients and 80 among placebo recipients) were recorded for analysis.
In each of these trial participants diagnosed with herpes zoster and PHN, the pain and discomfort associated with herpes zoster were measured repeatedly for six months. The use of the zoster vaccine was found to reduce the burden of illness due to herpes zoster by 61.1%, the incidence of PHN by 66.5%, and the incidence of herpes zoster by 51.3%. But the vaccine may have little value for those who have already had a bout of shingles.
Religious books have emerged as the most impressive growth category in the [US] book publishing industry over the past four years and according to TRENDS 2005, the category -- including hardcover and paperback Bibles, biblical studies, testaments, histories, spiritual titles, hymnals, and prayer books, along with other titles pertaining to religion, inspirational titles, and religious fiction - recorded the biggest gains in 2004; with an 11% increase reaching US$1.9 billion in sales.Now I need to be careful in what I say here, because I buy a lot of (fairly serious) religious⁄theological books myself. But I am reminded of an article by Michael G. Einstein, "The American dream? Capitalism, literalism, and their role in evangelical apocalypticism." ARC: the Journal of the Faculty of Religious Studies, McGill University, 31:27-44, 2004. Einstein employs the ideas of French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari to deconstruct the negative influence of capitalism upon contemporary evangelical Christianity. He asks why pre-millennialist apocalypticism, such as the "Left Behind", series of novels, is popular. Einstein argues that commodification of religion supports alienation of evangelicals into imitation of popular culture and equates spirituality with consumption of 'Christian' products. Capitalism encourages a desire for consumption of such products, supposedly to enhance knowledge of God, but creates a disjunction between transcendent meaning as value and profit as value. An apocalyptic response fails as a means of transcendence and serves only to further the boundaries of capitalism, he concludes.
"The growth of religious-book sales at mainstream retailers is the key factor behind the dollar growth of 11% in the sector in 2004 and behind BISG's projections for steady growth over the next several years," stated Jim Milliot, Senior Editor for Business and News at Publishers Weekly and author of the TRENDS 2005 introductory essays. "While price increases played a part, units were up 8.5% in 2004, and BISG projects that they will increase at a better than 6% through 2007."
So it would be really interesting to know just what kinds of religious books are being bought in such quantities. I have no idea whether other Western countries are following the U.S. trend here. (Certainly in Australia and elsewhere, contemporary Christian music, about which I know almost nothing, achieves huge sales.) It would be wonderful if all these books are enhancing the personal formation and spiritual formation of their readers, increasing their knowledge and wisdom in theology and Christian life. But I fear that all too often we buy more and more books that simply reinforce our existing opinions and biases -- something I have to be careful of myself.
- use individual contracts to undercut existing rights and conditions, especially in the public sector, where union-negotiated agreements cover 80% of workers and deliver better pay and conditions than non-union agreements;
- reduce the role of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to resolve disputes and set fair minimum standards;
- give employers more control over bargaining;
- make it harder to get union support; and
- abolish redundancy pay and protection from unfair dismissals for employees of small businesses.
I'm not sure that big business wants the chaos this might cause. The Government's motivation here seems to be (a) de-unionisation and greater politicisation of the public sector and (b) votes in the small business/farm sectors.
(Mostly) Notable and quotable:
"It's a huge free kick for business and a massive kick in the guts for working people. Any pretence that the Government is a friend of the battlers has been dropped altogether. " - Greg Combet, Secretary Australian Council of Trade Unions
"The Prime Minister is dead wrong when he claims that his proposed workplace reforms will raise productivity. The major source of rising productivity is innovation, not workplace reform. " - John Legge, innovation specialist, Swinburne University
"An emphasis on fairness only leads to regulatory excess and inefficiency. " - Kevin Andrews MP, Minister for Workplace Relations, 25 February 2005
"A fundamental flaw is that [in the past] people tried to use industrial relations policy as a tool to achieve not only productivity and growth in the economy, but fairness. " Michael Chaney, Business Council of Australia, 1 April 2005
"If we have achieved economic growth like we have, low inflation, the lowest rate of disputation for decades, moderate wages growth and low interest rates, why is there such a need for radical workplace reform which has the potential to divide the nation and possibly drive wages down?" - Senator Andrew Murray, Australian Democrats workplace spokesman
"The Government is attacking the very basis of people's living standards ... Attack wages and you attack families. " Kim Beazley MP, Australian Labor Party leader
Saturday: attend seminar on ARCIC Mary document, 10am-4pm
Sunday: preach and assist minister at 10am Eucharist
Monday: Chair (bi-monthly) St. Mark's Library Advisory Committee, 5.30-7.15pm
Tuesday: attend public lecture by Nicholas Sagovsky, 7.30pm
Wednesday: take minutes at my (monthly) local parish council, 7.30-9.30pm
Thursday: attend (quarterly) St. Mark's Council, 5pm to 9pm (yes, a meal was provided!)
Friday: lunch time briefing on Diocesan Social Action plan
and ... oh yes, full time work for my employer including two meetings of a Tender Evaluation Committee, with extra work because my assistant was away ill.
OK, so I volunteer for most of this stuff, but the divine calendar is awry somehow, when it all happens in one week.
So, I'm very grateful that today begins a classic Aussie 'long-weekend' as Monday is a public holiday in honour of the official birthday (not the actual birthday, 21 April 1926) of Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God Queen of Australia and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, as she is formally 'styled and titled' in Australia. Concerning the Queen herself, I very much agree with Helen Pringle's reasons which the Queen is a person worthy of respect by monarchist and republican alike.
Private faces in public places, according to the poet W.H. Auden, are wiser and nicer than public faces in private places. Queen Elizabeth never shows her private face in a public place, it is often claimed. [. . .]Our weekend began with dinner at the Bollywood Marsala restaurant. With such a name, one need not say what style of food was enjoyed!
Queen Elizabeth is someone who is immersed in duty and tradition, and someone who takes them very seriously indeed. She suffers, if that is the word, from an almost Roman sense of duty in public service. That is, she conveys a sense that public service requires a person to subordinate her own songs and desires to something a little greater. For that I admire her.
My admiration is not for the Queen as the monarch of Australia. I am a republican. Rather I admire the Queen as one of the few upholders of the value of reticence in public life. Far too often, this reticence is read as the outward sign of a stunted emotional life, lived by a woman who has been taught from birth to repress or to silence her emotional self. [. . .]
[B]ecause Queen Elizabeth does not usually put her emotions on public view, it does not follow that she has none. On the contrary, she is to me a more interesting person for being restrained in public. When Diana died, the Queen in her message to the nation said, "We have all been trying, in our different ways, to cope".
There is something very touching and respectful in this sensibility. The implication seems to be that our intimate lives have a delicate fragility that needs some shelter of privacy in order to flourish. A further implication is that our emotions are easily corrupted by the full glare of public scrutiny, fed by those who have a passionate desire to publicise anything that comes to their mind. [. . .]
[W]e have come to gauge the emotional temperature of people like the Queen by how readily they emote in public. This seems to me to be a case of sheer emotional bullying. Public faces in private places may not be very nice, but I don't think that private faces in public places are necessarily very wise at all.
Saturday: collapse? No, better catch up with a few posts, and write some notes on . . . then read . . .
It had already been clear for some time that on at least one issue, Benedict XVI would not be an agent of change. In one of the first actions of his papacy, he condemned a Spanish government bill allowing marriage between homosexuals. On his behalf, a senior Vatican official described the bill as profoundly iniquitous. Cardinal Lopez Trujillo said Roman Catholic officials should be prepared to lose their jobs rather than co-operate with the law.
There are things in the Pope's speech that a gay Christian might readily accept. The Bible presents man as "created in the image of God, and God himself is love. For this reason, the vocation to love is what makes man (sic) the authentic image of God: He becomes like God in the measure that he becomes someone who loves," Benedict XVI stated. The expression of love through sexuality is explained, he said, in "the indissoluble bond between spirit and body: Man is, in fact, soul that expresses itself in the body and body that is vivified by an immortal spirit."
He continued: "The body of man and of woman also has, therefore, so to speak, a theological character, it is not simply body, and what is biological in man is not only biological, but an expression and fulfillment of our humanity. Human sexuality is not next to our being person, but belongs to it. Only when sexuality is integrated in the person does it succeed in giving itself meaning."
I am comfortable enough with all of this (apart from the non-inclusive language), but then we get into difficult waters.
"None of us belongs exclusively to ourselves," Benedict said. "Therefore, each one is called to assume in our deepest selves our public responsibility." [So far, so good.] "Marriage, as an institution, is not therefore an undue interference of society or of the authorities, an imposition from outside in the most private reality of life; it is, on the contrary, an intrinsic exigency of the pact of conjugal love and of the depth of the human person." [No comment, though in some societies, marriage is indeed imposed.]
"The different present forms of the dissolution of marriage, as well as free unions and 'trial marriage,' including the pseudo-marriage between persons of the same sex", the Pope said, "are on the contrary expressions of an anarchic freedom that appears erroneously as man's authentic liberation." The Pope said this pseudo-freedom is based on "a trivialization of the body, which inevitably includes the trivialization of man. Its assumption is that man can make of himself what he likes. Thus his body becomes something secondary, which can be manipulated from the human point of view, which can be used as one pleases." He added, "Libertinism, which appears as discovery of the body and its value, is in reality a dualism that makes the body contemptible, leaving it, so to speak, outside the authentic being and dignity of the person."
Anarchy is a denial of the existence of cohesive social, political, legal and religious principles, of common standard or purpose. It is nonsense for the Pope to say that civil unions and same-sex marriage are of such a character, unless, of course, anarchy is seen as anything that denies the specific set of principles held by the Roman Catholic church. There's the rub.
The term libertin was first used by Calvin against religious dissenters who wanted freedom of conscience in matters of faith and morals. 'Libertinism' has come to mean, among other things, the rejection of theology and metaphysics based in the self-revelation of God; pluralist religion and ethics; skepticism in philosophy and religion; and a view that religious creeds and dogmas are merely artifacts of human history. Once again, the Pope's argument holds only if divergence from the Roman point of view is necessarily rejection of the self-revelation of God and all that flows from it, and thus libertinism.
Benedict is a scholar of substance. He must know what he is doing when he says these things. He is reasserting the Roman perspective as universally normative, to the exclusion of all else. This is not a surprise. But it is a disappointment. Some people in same-sex relationships would be delighted to be described as anarchic and libertine! But the Pope's generalised characterisation of all people
Postscript: There is a rather better press account of the Pope's speech in The Tablet, here. I like The Tablet. Whether one agrees with the views expressed or not, it is intelligent and well written and gives an excellent window on affairs catholic and Catholic.
Statement by the College of Bishops [of the Scottish Episcopal Church] concerning future discussion of issues raised by the Windsor Report in the Province
Discussion up to the Present
Like all provinces in the Anglican Communion, we are at present sharing in two processes of discussion. In the Scottish Episcopal Church, we recently considered the Study Guide issued by the Working Party on Sexuality. Responses were collated and made available in the Province. The College of Bishops then made and circulated its own response to that material in February 2004. Similarly, the Windsor Report was considered in the Province. When responses to it were collated, the College made and circulated its own response both to it, and to the Primates' Communiqué in March 2005.
Between now and Lambeth 2008, we are committed, as a Province, to sharing in the wider debate taking place across the Anglican Communion. We must, therefore, seek in a spirit of generosity to engage with and appreciate the full range of views that have been expressed and continue to be expressed both within our Province and elsewhere in our worldwide Communion.
The Issues Now Before Us
The Anglican Communion is at present attempting to deal with three major issues on this subject:
Material for Further Consideration
- Its attitude to people of homosexual orientation, including those who are in long term same-sex relationships;
- Whether acceptance extends to ministry in general and, in particular, to ordination to priesthood and episcopacy;
- How the church can hold within a single communion those who differ in their response to this issue and believe that this is, for various and differing reasons, an issue of fundamental importance.
The members of the College of Bishops recognise that they have a teaching and pastoral responsibility. They, therefore, wish to create an environment in which passionately held views can be expressed and heard in an atmosphere of charity, acceptance and honesty.
They are aware that there is a danger that even to encourage debate on this subject is to raise concern that 'traditional' positions may be modified, that an open attitude may become more closed or that what has been an informal acceptance of difference may be made more difficult just by the process of debate. However, such a debate must take place in every province of the Anglican Communion, as we move to the Lambeth Conference in 2008.
Everyone who engages in this debate must consider a number of factors:
In all this, we must seek to be open to learning the truth of God from one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
- The interpretation and the authority of scripture -- what it says and how it is to be read;
- An examination of the tradition of faith and the documents which have been produced as part of the Anglican Communion's own examination of this issue. These most recently include the Resolutions of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, the Windsor Report and the Primates' Communiqué. Further material will arise between now and 2008, possibly as a result of the coming meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council;
- Experience of the presence and the ministry of people of homosexual orientation within the life of the church;
- Ways in which our understanding of gender and sexuality has developed and continues to develop in our society.
The College's Commitment and Invitation
The College of Bishops, therefore, affirms its commitment to the task set before the whole Communion -- to engage openly and prayerfully with the full range of issues and material which are now part of this debate. The College invites the Province to share in this process, listening to each other and to voices from other Provinces with that same spirit of generosity as has characterised our own debate so far.
I join Harley in reproducing this open letter from the NSW Teachers Federation to the Minister for Education and Training. May be the course needs some modification. I don't kow. But a knee jerk response to a tabloid newspaper is not the way to make educational policy in a sensitive area.
6 June 2005
The Hon. Carmel Tebbutt, MLC
Minister for Education and Training
GPO Box 5070
SYDNEY NSW 2000
Dear Ms Tebbutt
Re: Anti discrimination and anti homophobia programs in schools
The Federation is appalled by your decision to allow the Daily Telegraph to drive education policy in this state.
The report in the Daily Telegraph today, despite its rampant homophobia and sensationalism, actually described a program about teaching students empathy and compassion amongst other matters. The program clearly fits properly within Board of Studies syllabuses and Department of Education and Training guidelines.
Regardless of this you chose, out of fear of a right-wing media backlash, to take a "knee jerk" decision and direct that the unit be withdrawn.
I am sure that as the Minister you are aware of the number of suicides of young people who are homosexual or perceived to be homosexual. Furthermore, the bullying of young people in those circumstances is horrific.
The awful irony of your position is that, driven by the Daily Telegraph, you supported the Stand Up and Speak Out against Bullying Day. You now allow this same organisation to stamp out programs that would help alleviate bullying in our schools.
Federation asks for you to clarify your position on this matter as a matter or urgency. The Federation intends to put this letter on our website.
Maree O'Halloran, President can be contacted about this matter.