21. Scripture demands, and Christian history has traditionally held, that the standard of life, belief, doctrine, and conduct is the Holy Scripture.
29. The unscriptural innovations of North American and some western provinces on issues of human sexuality undermine the basic message of redemption and the power of the Cross to transform lives. . . .
Rather, it could be said, the provinces in question have upheld scriptural standards and exemplified the message of the gospel by insisting that God excludes no one who acknowledges Jesus Christ as Lord.
These departures are a symptom of a deeper problem, which is the diminution of the authority of Holy Scripture. The leaders of these provinces disregard the plain teaching of Scripture . . .
It is simply an assertion, not a cogent argument, to say that American and some western provinces have disregarded "the plain teaching of Scripture." At least as far as homosexuality is concerned, there is no "plain teaching of Scripture". Else why would the present disputes be so difficult and some many complex exegetical arguments be used, on both sides of the debate?
. . . and reject the traditional interpretation of tenets in the historical Creeds.
I don't believe the creeds say anything about sexuality, or Scripture either, for that matter.
At titusonenone, a posting of the text of the Communiqué attracted 146 comments. I commented as I have done above and the following discussion resulted. I copy it here mostly to illustrate yet again the attitudes that make conversation difficult and those that make it worthwhile.
Beacon: Brian, you contradict yourself. First you say 'the provinces in question have upheld scriptural standards' about sexuality, then 'At least as far as homosexuality is concerned, there is no "plain teaching of Scripture"'. If so, there can be no 'scriptural standards'. But the vast majority of the Church in every age doesn't agree with you.
Second, it is not true tout court 'that God excludes no one who acknowledges Jesus Christ as Lord'. Jesus warns us at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, 'Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven' (Matt 7.21).
Third, you say 'I don't believe the creeds say anything about sexuality, or Scripture either, for that matter.' The Creeds are not a 'body of divinity' but summaries of the biblical-patristic faith and trinitarian definitions. The reference here is not to sexual ethics but to the deeper heresies in ECUSA, of which sexual ethics is only a presenting issue (but certainly the canary in the mineshaft). "(The Holy Spirit) has spoken through the prophets" is a creedal reference to the Scriptures.
The statement from the Global South is genuinely global, embracing many of the profound concerns that face Christians there. It is bracing, faith-filled and mission-focused. Note, among other things, the encouragement to follow Uganda's lead in combating Aids through lives of sexual purity and faithfulness.
Brian: Beacon, you say I contradict myself. If there is no "plain teaching of Scripture", you argue, "there can be no 'scriptural standards'." That simply doesn't follow. Of course there are many scriptural standards -- justice, peace, humility, etc., etc.
Second, you argue that it is not true "that God excludes no one who acknowledges Jesus Christ as Lord". You quote Jesus who warns us at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, "Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matt 7.21). Well, yes, but in speaking of one who acknowledges Jesus Christ as Lord I intend to mean the acting out of Jesus' Lordship in one's life, not simply the verbal assent/lip service that is criticised in Matthew 7.21
In response to my observation, that I don't believe the creeds say anything about sexuality, or Scripture either, you comment, "The Creeds are not a 'body of divinity' but summaries of the biblical-patristic faith and trinitarian definitions." Quite so.
"The reference here is not to sexual ethics but to the deeper heresies in ECUSA, of which sexual ethics is only a presenting issue (but certainly the canary in the mineshaft)." But what are they? And if this is so, why is it mentioned in the context of sexuality and not some other alleged sin, of which every church has many?
You also note that "'(The Holy Spirit) has spoken through the prophets' is a creedal reference to the Scriptures." Perhaps so, I don't know the history fully and thus may stand corrected to a degree. Nonetheless, I would say that there is a distinction between the (inspired) speaking of the prophets and the enscripturation of their words in text.
"Note, among other things," you say, "the encouragement to follow Uganda's lead in combating AIDS through lives of sexual purity and faithfulness." I agree that this is a good thing, as far as it goes. I'm not arguing for promiscuity! It is quite possible for homosexual people to live lives of faithfulness and, I would argue, of purity. But almost all of the spread of HIV (not AIDS) in sub-Saharan Africa is due to promiscuous heterosexual behaviour by males. Abstinence would be commendable, but every possible avenue of defence against HIV should be employed, including education, use of condoms, etc.
Bob: The gist of your post, in my humble opinion, seems to be that you are asking that if accepting/blessing homosexual lifestyle is not the only real big problem, what are the big problems? I do not have the resources at hand to lay out the 40+ year litany of liberal/reappraiser innovations in detail at this time, but you really already know all the issues because you have been hanging around here for quite some time and injecting your point of view on various topics. Nitpicking intricacies may distract, but you already know that accepting and/or blessing homosexual lifestyle is the straw that broke the camel's back. Ignoring and/or revising the meaning of scripture and tradition are some pretty good starting points for the resistance reappraisers are currently encountering.
In reply to the unscriptural act of North American provinces, you said ". . . the provinces in question have upheld scriptural standards and exemplified the message of the gospel by insisting that God excludes no one who acknowledges Jesus Christ as Lord." Show me a passage or reference in scripture that says accepting/blessing homosexual lifestyle (not the person, but the lifestyle) is something Jesus or the Apostles commanded us to do. I'm not looking for silence on the subject, but affirmation.
Brian: Bob, you say to me that, "Nitpicking intricacies may distract, but you already know that accepting and/or blessing homosexual lifestyle is the straw that broke the camel's back." I have no idea what 'homosexual lifestyle' means. What broke the camel's back was the acceptance or blessing of committed monogamous homosexual relationships between believers. If that is what the writers of the Global South Communiqué meant (as I agree they may well have done), they should not exaggerate by saying that such blessings "undermine the basic message of redemption and the power of the Cross to transform lives" and that the "leaders of these provinces . . . reject the traditional interpretation of tenets in the historical Creeds." These statements are simply not true.
You comment, "Ignoring and/or revising the meaning of scripture and tradition are some pretty good starting points for the resistance reappraisers are currently encountering." No one can change the meaning of scripture, although it has great richness and variety of meaning. We seek, rather to understand what scripture does in fact mean and not to be enslaved to ill-founded prejudicial interpretations. As for tradition, it is entirely possible that a tradition is simply wrong, or at least no longer relevant. Tradition is not to be held uncritically. Differing aspects of tradition have precedence over others. I argue simply that the primary values in our tradition must be love, justice, peace, righteousness, etc., and that other aspects of tradition must be criticised in the face of these values.
struggling in diocese of Mass.: Brian, if you really read the gospels, it is clear that Jesus is equally rigorous about our sexual lives as our corporate lives. I used not to think that Jesus was far more upset about our inattention to social justice than to sexual sin but ultimately (and truth be told, reluctantly at first) changed my mind. What we do with our bodies is as important to our discipleship as what we do with our money and how we manage our power. And the "high bar" of chastity is rigorous for all of us, and even those of us in committed and happy heterosexual marriages regularly fail to reach the mark, in thought if not in actual deed. We are all sinners in need of grace.
Bob: I believe I now understand your point. Scripture and tradition are most likely not valid, are not to be held uncritically, must be criticized in the face of these changing politically correct views of today's society. The only sin remaining is to believe in the faith handed down from the Fathers of the Church. I guess that rules out committing ourselves unconditionally to the saving grace of the Lord, and the faith handed down from the Fathers of the Church. Yep, it's past time for the Covenant. Bring it on.
Brian: Bob, you deliberately misconstrue what I wrote. I hope that merely sarcasm was intended. I neither said nor implied that scripture and tradition are most likely not valid. Nor did I say that the basis of criticism is to be "changing politically correct views of today's society." I did suggest that tradition is to be criticised in the face of eternal (and scriptural) values.
And concerning scripture I said, "We seek, rather, to understand what scripture does in fact mean and not to be enslaved to ill-founded prejudicial interpretations." This in no sense implies that Scripture is invalid, merely that sometimes our interpretation of it is wrong. That's plain enough. If plain meanings cannot be read plainly, it is small wonder we cannot even begin to conduct a sensible conversation.
Brian: "Struggling. . . ", I entirely agree that the Gospels set high standards for sexual integrity and that we are to use our bodies in a way that is holy (being the 'temples of the Holy Spirit'). (That, in part, is why I am very strictly monogamous and committed to one person for life.) And yes, we are all sinners, in need of grace. However I cannot see that this negates my point that the writers of the Global South Communiqué are exagerating when they imply that blessings of monogamous committed same-sex relationship "undermine the basic message of redemption and the power of the Cross to transform lives". How could this be so?
MJD_NV: Brian, why does being "very strictly monogamous" matter? Where in Scripture is monogamy a requirement? And how does following something not explicitly required in Holy Writ while practicing something specifically condemned follow the Gospels' "high standards" for sexual morality?
Brian: MJD_NV, the monogamy is simply an expression of faithfulness to the person to whom I have committed myself. I had supposed that faithfulness to one partner and the keeping of one's promises was a chaste and godly thing.
Bob: Brian said "If plain meanings cannot be read plainly, it is small wonder we cannot even begin to conduct a sensible conversation." It is strange that you would put that statement forward about plain meanings and sensible conversations. When reasserters use the plain meaning of scripture argument, they get jumped on for being simplistic and worse. Duh!
Brian: Bob, I entirely favour the acceptance of "plain meanings" in scripture and elsewhere when they are available. However, there a scholars aplenty on both sides of this debate who would accept that in respect of faithful, same-sex relationships (as distinct from promiscuity) the meaning of the New Testament is far from plain. See Homosexuality, Science, and the 'Plain Sense' of Scripture, edited by David L. Balch, Eerdmans 2002. There are, of course, plenty of other points in the New Testament where the meaning and application is contested - ministry by women being a contemporary case in point. What option have we but to make conscientious decisions and then rely on the grace and mercy of God?
Priscilla: ". . . there are scholars aplenty on both sides of this debate who would accept that in respect of faithful, same-sex relationships (as distinct from promiscuity) the meaning of the New Testament is far from plain." No informed and responsible modern scholarship says this. "Faithful, same-sex relationships" are no better than "faithful, incestuous" or "faithful, adulterous" relationships. We are talking about the authority of Jesus our Lord, and the plain meaning of Biblical Greek and Hebrew. See, as a way into sound scholarship, http://nwnet.org/~prisca/Brief.htm and the associated references; and other documents under http://nwnet.org/~prisca/Spirit&Sex.htm
Brian: Priscilla: Your comment is an example of how subtly a negative value judgement can creep into this discussion. No "informed and responsible modern scholarship", you observe, agrees that in respect of respect of faithful, same-sex relationships (as distinct from promiscuity) the meaning of the New Testament is far from plain. This has the immediate effect of branding those scholars who do say this as being ill-informed and irresponsible. It would seem that you too readily cast judgement on conscientious, scholarly and prayerful people, conservative and progressive alike, who have given much to the study and exposition of the Scriptures. Ill-informed? No more than anyone else. Irresponsible? I think not.
"Faithful, same-sex relationships" you say, are no better than "faithful, incestuous" or "faithful, adulterous" relationships. I understand what you are trying to say, but an adulterous relationship is unfaithful by definition. If we could just get away from calling others 'irresponsible' and 'unfaithful' and stick to the facts, there might be some hope of progress. That is my earnest prayer.
Struggling in diocese of Mass: Brian, point taken re: faithful same-sex relationships (as opposed to promiscuity). I do agree that one can believe in chastity and also believe that a faithful same-sex relationship can be blessed by God. This is no longer what I believe (the recently-departed Pope's "theology of the body" had much to do with changing my mind), but I know and respect people who believe as you do, and I do not assume that you (or they) take your discipleship cavalierly.
Brian: 'Struggling . . . ': Thank you. I truly appreciate your courtesy. I am slightly aware of Pope John Paul II's "theology of the body". Would you care to recommend one particular statement of it, please?
Clinton: Brian, (1) The message of scripture on homosexuality and how the Church down through the ages have understood it is plain. The only way out is to suggest that Scriptures is fallible and likewise the interpretation of the Church. (2) The Global south encounter, I believe, focus not so much on sexuality issue but the deeper values that has lead up to, for the first time, a confessing, practicing divorcee being consecrated as Bishop. Notwithstanding his ability to pastor, lead etc - it is an incredible innovation, won't you agree? Obviously, it is a culmination of the many steps taken to depart from the "faith once received" that has led some in the church to think this is 'alright.'
All the same, all of us need God's grace and I won't dispute that. I am just simply saying that those who are on the 'orthodox side' (including well informed Catholic and Methodist theologians) are not as 'unthinking' as some of these posts here may suggest. It is just founded on different premise. And looking at it objectively, history, tradition and scripture is on the side of the 'orthodox.' One has to revise, - and do so deeply at that - to make a case for what is happening in ECUSA for so long, of which Gene's consecration is just symptom of that.
Struggling in diocese of Mass.: Brian, truth be told, I read the "short" version of the Pope's magisterial work, and have lent it out--but the gist of what changed my mind was the proposition that gender matters enormously in our consideration of ourselves as sexual beings, as human beings, and hence--unavoidably--in how we view marriage. It would be hard to pull out one passage, just as it doesn't work well to pull out only one passage of Scripture. This notion that "gender matters" is something I've always resisted, and I am still struggling with its implications (hence my screen name!). Though I have been happily married for nearly thirty years, I have often felt that my marriage works well precisely because both my husband and I are somewhat more androgynous than average! And speaking more theologically, I have not yet heard a convincing answer to the question of why, if the Trinity consists of three "he's," a male-female pairing would necessarily best reflect the imago Dei. So those of us on the "reasserter" side of this issue are no more monolithic than those on the "reappraising" side--an important thing to remember even as we lament the fact that the Current Unpleasantness forces us one way or the other.
is this rush to the neon altar really what gay men and lesbians want, and is it the best institution that civil partnerships can be?This is very much my concern. Present laws in Australia do not allow full sharing of property, benefits and entitlements between members of same-sex couples in the way they do for opposite-sex couples, married or de facto. And there is essentially one man preventing that--Prime Minister John Winston Howard.
There is a great risk that the answer to both these questions will turn out to be no--for reasons that have to do with the individual, the commercial and the philosophical.
Talking to friends in same-sex relationships who are thinking about civil partnership, I sense a profound hesitancy. Gay men and women are still often wary of public declarations of affection; the tone of the debate may have changed beyond recognition since the 1980s, but there is wisdom in caution when the world opens its arms to your love. I suspect that many may sign the forms, just to make life (and death) easier, but they probably won't ring the bells. [. . .]
So what kind of relationship could civil partnerships be an expression of? The heart of the matter is, I think, that relationships between gay men and women are different from those between married couples. [. . . ] [I]t is about social history and the way in which the personal is political. In marriage, this is still caught up with notions of possession, for all that many would have it otherwise. Witness the persistent nostalgia for acts like the father giving away the bride.It would be wonderful for such ceremony to be available for those who seek it. But I don't feel a great need of it myself. I'm not sure that ceremony of itself makes commitment truly stronger.
For gay couples there is little sense of this. For example, gay men and women routinely remain friends with former lovers in ways that would be thought dodgy, even treacherous, in the married world. And I am much more likely to do something without my partner, like go on holiday, than my married friends are.
So what is the best model for civil partnerships? In a word, friendship. If erotic love is about having another and them having you, friendship is about knowing another and being known by them: close friends become "one soul in two bodies", as Montaigne put it--rather different from the nuptial notion of two bodies becoming one.
If this philosophy of friendship is right, it begs the question as to what ceremony is appropriate to express it. In the medieval period the church, ironically, provided the answer: so-called sworn friendship was a religious vow, made during mass. Clearly, the social recognition this afforded would not carry today. But the old practice stretches the imagination as to what is possible now.
This might not only benefit homosexuals. Consider the contemporary decline in the institution of marriage. If people's ideal relationship today could be called sexual friendship, then it is notable that this is an element far from explicit in the older, possession-oriented institution. If civil partnership ceremonies can resist looking like maudlin imitations of weddings, they would show that friendship is worthy of public commitment. Contrary to what conservatives have said, they may even contribute to the reinvention of marriage.
It could be argued that to base civil partnership on friendship would be to push it back into the closet, since friendship is largely a private affair. However, friendship is itself coming out of the closet in our networked days and mobile lives. Civil partnerships could be an opportunity to shape, and not merely be shaped by, this trend in society too.
Mark Vernon is the author of The Philosophy of Friendship
My few but faithful readers will have noticed my preoccupation and concern with the Australian Government's determination to curtail civil liberties through the introduction of anti-terror laws. Dull mutterings only avail so much. Better to pray. I commend this ancient prayer of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, 1348.
|O God, Almighty Father, King of kings and Lord of all our rulers, grant that the hearts and minds of all who go out as leaders before us, the statesmen and women, the judges, the people of learning, the people of wealth, may be so filled with the love of your laws, and of that which is righteous and life-giving, that they may serve as wholesome salt to the earth, and be worthy stewards of your good and perfect gifts; through Jesus Christ our Lord.|
Adam and Alexander won their 'Group Final' last night and will now go on the the Grand Final in a few weeks!
The other competing couples danced finely, but Adam and Alexander were audience favorites. Their dancing, though not flawless, was brilliantly energetic and meticulously rehearsed. But more importantly, they were wonderfully entertaining and good fun.
|In the Grand Final, Adam and Alexander, energetic as always with 44.7 points of a possible 50, were second.|
Athena and Lawrence, beautiful and skillful, were deserving winners on 45.6.
Now I am grumpy that the ABC has apparently scrapped Strictly Dancing, perhaps thinking that three seasons are enough.
The Tablet concludes that "The current [British] debate is right and necessary, for the balance between security and liberty is not for governments alone to strike, but the whole community. It rests on public understanding and consent, and the limit of that is as far as the Government should go."
The Australian government would do well to take note.
The Commonwealth Ombudsman, Professor John McMillan, says that a considerable number of Australian citizens and permanent residents (legal migrants) have been illegally held in immigration detention and warns that there is nothing to stop the same thing happening again. On ABC TV (26 Oct.) Professor McMillan, said that, of cases he's investigating, 23 people were held for more than a year and two were detained for more than five years. He condemned the treatment of Vivian Solon as "catastrophic" and is now investigating more than 220 cases where the Department of Immigration and Ethic Affairs believes it might have detained people illegally, although it is still unclear whether any of them are still in detention.
There are at least a few cases in which Australian citizens were detained. In all of the cases it is understood that the person was an Australian citizen, a permanent resident or otherwise lawfully in Australia. More than half were held for a week or less. But 23 people were held for more than a year and two detained for more than five years. Seven of the cases being investigated involve children and 11 others are people who may have had mental illness.
There is nothing to stop further illegal detentions. The law requires that a person must be taken into detention if an officer "reasonably suspects" the person is an unlawful non-citizen.
Great concern has been expressed this week about the Government's new "Anti-Terror" legislation. While I am appalled by the thought of terrorism in our country I ask how much new legislation is necessary!
Surely a crime is a crime but if it has not been committed it is not a crime! Yes there are situations where crimes and acts of terrorism are detected in the planning and by careful observation, surveillance and intelligence gathering the conspirators can be brought to account. Conspiracy to commit a crime or act of terrorism is in itself a crime but there are surely sufficient legal structures in Australia to deal with conspiracies and criminal acts. I am very concerned that we are digging a very deep dark hole of fear in this country and threatening the freedoms we so cherish. I recall reading at a dawn service one ANZAC Day the motto of the Returned Service League. It says The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Yes! Increase the resources of our intelligence networks but let us be very wary of some of the measures proposed in this "War on Terror."
I heard someone say that "Terrorism did not begin on 9/11" although some would have us think that! In fact terrorism was around in Northern Ireland and the UK, in the Balkans, South and Central America, in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, in South Africa and many terrorists had very just causes! Often thewy were motivated by great injustice, deprivation and inequality! I cannot help but believe that our country's involvement in the war in Iraq and the general misunderstanding and suspicion of Muslims in our society has helped to dig that deep dark hole of fear.
I am proud to be part of the Australian National University Chaplaincy which has become a model for interfaith chaplaincies in universities around Australia. During the month of Ramadan Muslims break their fast at sunset. On one of the days this month the Muslim Students' Association will host an interfaith meal at sundown in the chaplaincy.
Let us stop the construction of the deep dark hole before we fall into it ourselves and are lost forever! Just as Jesus confronted the Pharisees, the Herodians, the Sadducees and the Lawyers (note how all facets of authority are represented) with their misreading of God and humanity so must we. Did Jesus come to construct a superior religion called "Christianity"? I don't think so! What he did call for was a true acceptance of a humanity in need of relationships with each other and with God.
"It remains the very strong view of the Government [says John Howard]- it's a view I believe that is very strongly supported in the community - that the best weapon in the fight against terrorism is good intelligence." He's absolutely right. And the 900 fresh staff ASIO [the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation] recruits over the next five years will be trained to gather that intelligence. Note: intelligence not evidence. The two aren't the same. They have different disciplines, different weight and different purposes. [. . .]
The faults of Howard's bill have been fiercely condemned, yet there's been little focus on its underlying purpose. It has nothing to do with gathering good intelligence. It's essentially about punishment--not on evidence tested before a court, but on intelligence in the hands of police and ASIO officers.
Howard is selling his bill as if it were designed just to keep an eye on troublemakers. But a fortnight's "preventive" detention in the slammer is punishment in anyone's language. And the control orders Howard has in mind have a precedent in NSW where home detention and electronic shackles exist as an alternative punishment to prison--but only after trial and conviction.
Howard's anti-terrorism laws provide no such old-fashioned formalities. Home detention--perhaps indefinitely--will be imposed without any trial at all. And because they will never necessarily know why their lives have been turned upside down, the detainees will never be able to contest their punishment effectively. Everything will be decided behind their backs. [. . .]
Our courts won't use evidence extracted by torture. Hearsay is the lifeblood of intelligence services all over the world, but that sort of second- or third-hand testimony is almost useless in court. [. . .]
None of these rules prevent intelligence--foreign and local--being used to protect Australia from terrorism. But they do protect Australians from unjust punishment. [. . .]
[I]t says something that the only lawyers defending Howard's plans are those employed by the Government. And where are Labor's lawyers? Pathetically silent.
"The government has agreed to changes to ADF policy that will extend the conditions of service which apply to members with dependents and members with dependants (separated) to include ADF personnel in interdependent relationships," the ADF memo said.This is progress. But are superannuation benefits included?
"ADF members who are in interdependent relationships will be able to apply to have their relationships recognised by the ADF for the same range of conditions of service as members who are currently in recognised relationships."
[. . . ] The Defence Gay & Lesbian Information Service says the decision, which is expected to take effect on December 1, will help about two to three per cent of the ADF's personnel.
[. . . ] Under the changes, it appears partners of gay ADF personnel will have access to death and injury compensation for the first time, but it is not guaranteed.
Meanwhile, after making at least some provision for "interdependent" relationships (which are hard to prove) in private sector superannuation and Defence force benefits, the government still does nothing to recognise same-sex couples for benefits (including superannuation) due to its civilian employees.
Describing the Government's decision to grant same sex couples access to defence force entitlements as a reluctant first step, Greens Senator Kerry Nettle congratulated the Gay and Lesbian community for their successful campaign and at the same time urged the Government to go further with same sex law reform.
In September 2003 the United Nations Human Rights Committee found that the Federal Government was in breach of article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights for its refusal to grant a veterans' affairs pension to the surviving spouse of a 38 year same sex relationship; So it's disappointing that the Government has taken so long to respond to this international condemnation.
The Government should do the right thing by backdating these entitlements to same sex couples who have previously been denied pensions by the Department of Veterans' Affairs. If the Government is serious about same sex law reform they should repeal all laws that discriminate against people on the basis of sexuality. The Government also needs to put more effort into ensuring that Gay and Lesbian military personnel are not bullied or harassed in the military and elsewhere in the community. In 2005, it's surely time for these homophobic attitudes to be consigned to the dust bin of history.
Dr Aspinall also told the Brisbane Courier-Mail that he would work to prevent a split within the Australian Anglican Church between liberals and conservatives. "I don't think it will happen and I'm working hard to ensure it doesn't happen," he said. "There is a large centre in the church, and then on the edges there is room for differences of view and opinion, and disagreement does not mean disintegration."
Dr Aspinall also said that it was "pretty inevitable" that women would be consecrated as bishops given that just under two-thirds of Anglicans in Australia believed it was right to consecrate women.
Meanwhile, Julia Beard, a member of Sydney synod from 1994 to 2001, has written in the Sydney Morning Herald (20 Oct 05) that "Churches need diversity more than unquestioning allegiance.
Forget Team America. Team Sydney is the one coming to take over the world. You might not see clerical gear swapped for khaki, but Archbishop Peter Jensen is a lot smarter than George Bush.But we did notice!
The similarities between the foreign policy of the Sydney Anglican Diocese and the United States are uncanny though: both fuelled by a disdain for secular culture and a fear of those who think differently, a belief they are the only ones on a divine mission, and a desire to free people whom they believe to be captive to errant ways of thinking, such as support for gays and lesbians, and women priests for example.
The Sydney diocese is gripped with a cold-war mentality--fighting liberalism as the Americans fought communism, with various offensives, covert operations and targeted support directed to those in foreign lands who agree with them. A little bit paranoid, a little bit clumsy, but clever, concerted and fierce.
This is why this week's synod--the annual gathering of Sydney Anglicans, much like their parliament - was so interesting.
On Monday night, the Sydney Dean, Phillip Jensen, won a decade-long battle to have churches planted in other parts of the country given official recognition, by affiliating them with the Sydney diocese. Sometimes the most significant victories can slip through unnoticed.
These churches don't have to be Anglican, they can be independent, or renegades from other denominations. The pastors will be licensed by the Sydney diocese and receive financial and administrative support.Good luck to them, I say, if more people are reached with the Gospel.
It's a move bound to lodge firmly in the nostrils of other bishops and denominations, as the Sydney Soldiers--many boomer priests who are still smarting from the secular cultural sweep of the 1960s and 1970s--march beyond their geographical boundaries.
In 1994, the synod passed a motion moved by Phillip Jensen to recognise that "planting and developing new churches is an effective way to reach our nation with the Gospel".I happen to agree, but there's plenty of room to do this within one's own Diocese.
The former archbishop Harry Goodhew refused to license Sydney clergy to work in other dioceses, however, because the structures of the Anglican Church did not allow it. Defying him, some Sydney ministers still set up independent churches elsewhere.I wonder which Canberra church she means?
We are witnessing a movement from Anglicanism to a non-denominational evangelical Christianity. Yet those behind this movement have the history, wealth and weight of the hierarchy of the Anglican Church at their disposal. There are three major paradoxes in Sydney:
First, the lawyer-driven, traditionally Calvinist Sydney synod is seeking to defy and redefine the constitution and the laws which govern it while using these same tools to get what it wants. Writing in 2000 about the need to plant churches outside diocesan boundaries, Phillip Jensen said that "the future of evangelicalism lies in brave hearts who will take action and not be constrained by the traditions of men--the lines that men have drawn on the ground, the rules that men have made about who conducts church how, when, where and by whose authority".
Second, the radical evangelicals who have long defied the authority of those in the hierarchy when they disagree with them, and are encouraging others to do the same, are now shoring up their own as they hold the power. The congregationalists are looking a lot more like centralists.
Third, they are, as seen this week, obsessively concerned with supporting their own--the churches they have planted around the country including on the Central Coast, in Brisbane, Orange, Bathurst, Canberra . . .
. . . and now Perth--as well as those in dioceses overseas which object to the ordination and marriage of homosexuals, and to women priests. They align themselves with Africans, or any persecuted conservatives, and chastise the British and Canadians.It is surely possible to do both.
But the mark of true leadership is not how you treat those who support you, or with whom you agree, but those who disagree. The Anglican Church should not be all about aggressive expansion, but nurturing its own and allowing for difference.
A glance around the synod theatre this week revealed an almost total absence of the progressives who fought the battles of the 1980s and 1990s--judges, doctors, academics. Gone.Where are they?
Team Sydney has efficiently cleaned out local rebels. Year by year, the progressive priests and parishioners trickle out.
This week, the Redfern rector, John McIntyre, was appointed Bishop of Gippsland. Just months ago, his nomination to be the new rector of the wealthy parish of St John's Darlinghurst was, surprisingly, knocked back by the diocesan nominators in a matter of minutes. They were not required to give a reason and did not. The only hint McIntyre--a powerful advocate for Aboriginal ministry and women's ordination, member of the synod's inner cabinet, its standing committee and a friend--was given was that, after years of battling in another inner-city parish, he had "no proven capacity to grow a church".Yet, numbers account for something -- see Acts 2. But in Acts 2, there was diversity among the many converts.
So a blow for the diversity of Sydney is a gain for Gippsland. For a lot of us, it's not all about the numbers.
Coloratura? For a bass-baritone? Yes, I discover, a coloratura is not only the fat lady before whose singing it ain't over, but, according to Wikipedia "an ornate, flowery style in classical singing."
The term is correctly applied to any passage sung in this manner by any voice type, but it is also commonly used as a noun to describe operatic soprano roles characterized by flexibility and embellishments such as runs and trills, with a strong head voice including abilities in the whistle register, or the female voice that sings such roles (coloratura soprano).
Although most often associated with the soprano voice, the term coloratura as such does not say anything about the colour or range of the voice. There are coloratura parts for all voice types in different musical genres.
In the bel canto era, all singers had to be coloratura specialists, that is, they had to be able to add ornamentations to the written music.
- Mozart's Allelujah (from Exsultate, jubilate) may be arranged for and sung by a properly trained contralto, mezzo soprano or soprano.
- The aria Every Valley Shall be Exalted from Handel's Messiah is an example of a coloratura piece for tenor.
- Osmin, a character in Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio, is a coloratura role for a bass.
In a new Division 105 Preventative detention orders, proposed to be inserted into the Criminal code by the new anti-terrorism legislation, is a section 105.32, allowing detained persons to contact family, employers and business partners.
Contacting family members etc.The same-sex partner of a terror suspect is recognised by the Government--but not the same-sex partner of a public service officer, a federal police officer, intelligence officer of member of the armed forces. The Howard Government's refusal to acknowledge same-sex couples extends to superannuation, taxation, veterans' entitlements, immigration, Medicare, health insurance and, of course, marriage.
(1) The person being detained is entitled to contact:
(a) one of his or her family members; and [. . .]
(2) In this section:
family member of a person means:
(a) the person's spouse, de facto spouse or same-sex partner; [. . .]
Yet the government must acknowledge the reality of same-sex partnerships when considering the personal relationships of potential terrorists!
National Greens leader Senator Bob Brown told Sydney Star Observer the move was "sadly typical of John Howard". "He wants to recognise same-sex couples only when he suspects them of terrorism," Brown said.
When the bill goes before the Senate next month, the openly gay Brown said he would attempt to attach an amendment to it that would see same-sex couples recognised under all other pieces of federal legislation. "That should be an interesting exercise," Brown said.
David Scamell, co-convenor of the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, described the situation as "ludicrous. The government is willing to recognise the same-sex partner of a suspected terrorist but not the same-sex partner of a federal police officer or one of the troops serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Every state except South Australia has recognised same-sex couples in some sort of comprehensive legislative reform, and this federal government hasn't done so because it's playing politics. It's chosen to pursue a socio-conservative agenda and it's at the expense of gays and lesbians across the country."
Same-sex relationships are alluded to in other areas of federal law, such as superannuation and immigration, but instead of being named explicitly they come under the definition of "interdependents", a form of relationship which can be difficult to prove.
A spokesperson from the office of Attorney-General Philip Ruddock told the Star the term "same-sex partners" was used in the anti-terror bill because the section was referring to spousal arrangements only. "The term same-sex partnership is much more specific. Interdependency applies to a much wider range of relationships," said the spokesperson, who would not be drawn as to why the term is not used in other legislation.
A spokesperson for shadow attorney-general Nicola Roxon echoed, "It's been our policy for a long time to go through all the federal statutes and remove any discrimination that exists,: the spokesperson said.
Gay rights activist Rodney Croome said the situation was "worse than a double standard, it's demonisation. Someone who knew nothing about Australian society except what they read in the statute books would rapidly come to the conclusion that the only people who have same-sex relationships in this country are the kind of people you suspect of being terrorists."
Now its own President, the redoubtable Barry Jones, has made scathing criticisms of his own party. Dr the Hon Barry Jones AO is a man of great intelligence and wit and a highly respected public figure. He is not one to make vacuous attacks.
The Age reports Jones as saying that the ALP is doomed to fail at the next federal election unless it undertakes major structural reform. He says the party is suffering "policy anorexia" and has been taken over by "factional warlords". According to press reports, the critique, published in the latest newsletter of the Australian Fabian Society, highlights 13 problem areas that Mr Jones says federal Labor must overcome if it is to win in 2007.
While not criticising Mr Beazley's leadership, Mr Jones attacks the party for failing to realign itself politically and for its "small target" policy strategy after 1996 -- the year Mr Beazley was first elected.
Mr Jones also savages the current make-up of Mr Beazley's front bench and notes that Labor's previous two returns to national government from opposition occurred under charismatic leaders. "The common elements when Labor won nationally in 1972 and 1983 were charismatic leadership, major party debates on policy and a serious attempt to engage the community."
Complaining of a long-standing lack of policy conviction in the party, Mr Jones says: "The last ALP national conference which made a significant impact on public policy was in 1981. It is difficult to recall any significant debates on public policy at national conferences in 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2004. The party dropped out of policy making federally between 1983 and 1996, when many policies were adopted top down and imposed on a reluctant party -- and after 1996, with the 'small target' strategy, we never resumed the practice of active policy formulation."
Describing the takeover of the party by "factional warlords" as "the elephant in the room" problem, Mr Jones says ideology has become irrelevant in the modern ALP and the "property theory of politics" has taken over.
Mr Jones highlights a lack of incentives for people to join modern Labor. "People once joined the party because of opposition to the death penalty and Vietnam. Did anyone join us because we sold Qantas or were silent on Tampa or David Hicks?"
With the party confused between notions of strategy and tactics, Mr Jones says the ALP had adopted a "lucky envelope approach to policy announcements" and is even confused about its core beliefs. "The 'democratic socialist' objective, last modified in 1981, is still in the ALP's national constitution. When was the last time we spoke to it or acted on it? Is there any policy that we would not give up, if asked nicely?"
I like and respect Barry Jones, but for the moment I'll maintain my support of the The Greens who at least are idea-driven in what they advocate, whether noble or nonsense.
In a recent address on "Rethinking progressive ideas in Australia.", Dr David McKnight, author of Beyond Right and Left, argues that:
the problems the Labor Party in Australia today is facing--its deep crisis of vision and meaning--arise from the inability of its ideas and vision to explain a raft of changes in society and to promote an appropriate and inspiring set of values. The idea and vision on which Labor was founded arise from a political tradition which went under various names such as socialism, social democracy etc. What we are witnessing is a historical shift in which the 150 year old tradition of socialism and its offshoots has collapsed. And this the collapse of socialism is not confined o the Labor Party -- it extends to the Left outside the ALP."In a more positive way", McKnight says, "the rise of the Green politics is in part due to its ideas--which constitute a new way of seeing the world--a vital but half formed philosophy based around human dependence on natural world. These ideas respond to very real issues and problems we all face.
The current attack by the Howard Government on working Australians is also a matter of ideas, McKnight says.
It is founded on the ideological and philosophical notion of choice--the primacy of individual choice in a market place. His [Howard's] vision is one in which individual employees will sit down and negotiate working arrangements which suit them, with their employer. These arrangements will be flexible, they will be tailored to personal needs and will expressed in an individual contract. In analyzing what's going on here it's important not to be blinded by our own hostility to this nonsense. These ideas of individualism and of choice are grounded in a philosophical vision which is usually described as economic liberalism, neo-liberalism or corporate libertarianism. The rise of the political ideas associated with economic liberalism are one of the most significant political changes of the last 25 years. They are significant because they are deeply appealing notions to many people today--they are built on a material abundance and choice which we call consumerism--and this combination partly explains the success of the kind of politics Mr. Howard represents.The Australian Labor Party, and the left generally, must come up with some strong and convincing ideas and must do so quickly.
Collapsing the boundaries between preventive action and anticipatory self-defence is symptomatic of a deeper malaise within the international body politic, which invokes a politics of fear to justify repressive and regressive policies that in other circumstances would be unacceptable. History is full of examples of the use of a perceived emergency to generate fear, and for fear to destroy the restraints that protect democratic societies from totalitarian remedies. The fact that fear makes populations tolerant of extreme remedies provides opportunities for the unscrupulous to create 'emergencies' so as to allow them access to 'emergency powers'.
The Third Reich began as a democratic response to an 'emergency' facing the German nation. Thereafter, whenever Adolf Hitler required more power he created emergencies, real or imagined, so as to justify the democratic suspension of democratic safeguards. Military coups in Africa and Latin America were all mounted on the basis of a 'national emergency', and to the extent that they received popular support, they were based on disillusionment with a democratic politics that had descended into chaos and the fear that things could only get worse.
While it is evident that Western democracies are built on substantial foundations, it is equally clear that 9/11 represents a real and major escalation in the threats to such societies. The lesson following the terrorist attacks on Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005 is that the threat of terrorism is continuous and ongoing. The first responsibility of any government is to safeguard the lives of its own citizens. Nonetheless, if the twentieth century is full of examples of such seizures of power, there is no doubt that the current century is already producing, under the guise of the 'war on terror', a series of reductions in civil liberties. The language of 'protecting the rights of the law-abiding majority' and of 'rebalancing the criminal justice system in favour of the victim' has wide appeal. Just as the purported threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction led to the waging of a war, so the increase of fear creates a population ready to accept the accretion of powers to the state. A tally of the new statutes that have found their way to the statute book since 9/11 and those anti-terrorist measures that look likely to be introduced to Parliament following the terrorist attacks on London in July 2005 testify to the power of fear to direct government policy and secure popular consent to a new 'balance', favouring security over civil liberty. A change in the balance might be right but continued vigilance is required to ensure that such a balance does not lead to a diminution in civil liberties.
None of this happens without protest. Each proposed erosion of civil liberties has been greeted by a negative response from lawyers and civil liberties groups. These protests have in turn produced concessions. The protest that greeted the proposal to oust the courts from reviewing asylum appeals produced a solution which, while less draconian, still reduced the capacity of asylum-applicants to appeal against deportation. The proposal to imprison without trial foreign citizens suspected of terrorist connections was modified in the light of a Law Lords' judgement so as to allow house arrest of British and foreign subjects--and that in turn has produced protests which will no doubt produce modifications. However, the process by which measures are proposed so as to meet what are perceived to be popular fears, and then modified in the light of protests, still engenders a steady erosion of liberties and an increase in the powers of the state. This is dangerous. It is also potentially counterproductive in the manner in which it sustains a breeding ground that supports a victim leading to martyrdom mentality amongst many terrorists and their sympathisers.
One argument perhaps insufficiently brought out during the recent debates over the British Government's counter-terrorism legislation was that there is a danger of contaminating the criminal justice system itself if legislators stretch it beyond what it can bear. The attempt to give judicial respectability to what are executive actions can be misplaced. There are circumstances in which it is better for the separation of powers and the integrity of the justice system to allow executive detention to stand or fall on its own merits for a limited period, testing the argument that the nation faces a wholly abnormal threat.
Such developments as these are the inevitable by-products of the politics of fear, and the creation of a war mentality, in which we are prepared for more and more 'tough' remedies against the danger which it is claimed that we are facing. Into such an environment the most repeated of all the Biblical injunctions comes with undiminished vigour: 'Fear not'. That command is not an inhuman requirement that we lose our fearful reactions when confronted with danger or shirk the taking of necessary precautions; rather it is an injunction not to act out of fear, but to let the power of love work its way with our fears. The history of Israel in the Bible is a history of prophets warning against false alliances and false divinities whose hold over the people was based on fear. We should warn our generation also that fear makes a bad basis for the ruling of a society.
"After a week grappling with the detail of the Government's workplace changes, I am puzzled at how someone with Howard's understanding of the Australian people could produce such a one-sided reform, says Tim Colebatch. Because if you ignore the spin, the "WorkChoices" are in fact choices that workers already have under existing law. Aside from some minor exceptions, these reforms change the rules "in one direction only," removing rights, protections and bargaining power from 7 or 8 million Australian workers and handing them over to employers. One could see a case for this legislation if wage discipline had broken down and Australia was facing an inflation crisis -- but Australia is not in immediate peril. The problem is that "a cult has built up around Howard that treats him as infallible." When he is wrong, supporters don't tell him. But make no mistake, says Colebatch. What Howard is proposing is "the kind of change that costs governments elections, and flings parties into the wilderness." Australians will judge these reforms by what happens to them and their family in the workplace." This affects people's rights, "their ability to make ends meet, and their sense of fairness and satisfaction."
Draft anti-terrorism legislation made public today confirmed the worst fears of the community. This legislation is anti-democratic and attacks our fundamental freedoms. Such legislation should not be introduced in a democracy like Australia. The proposals for preventative detention and control orders undermine the fundamental legal tenet that people are innocent until proven guilty. Under this legislation Australians will be able to be held under house arrest for up to 12 months. The legislation also allows bans on people from communicating with each other, attending their workplace and using telephones or the internet. Such draconian measures have no place in Australian society. Federal Police will be able to hold people for 48 hours on the basis of a suspicion of a terrorist risk, and up to seven days once States enact enabling legislation. State and Territory Labor Governments need to reconsider their support for this legislation. It should not be passed. Human rights should not be trampled on in this manner.
But Jon Stanhope, Chief Minister of our small Australian Capital Territory, has continually raised questions and now has made public the draft bill that was supposed to have been confidential. This happened only only a day after the Federal Government had used its numbers in the Senate to limit its proposed inquiry into the legislation to a few days. The pre-emptive release of the draft bill at least gives time for longer informal public debate.
Angrily responding to the high-handed way that the Government is dealing with Parliament, Greens Senator Bob Brown said (14 Oct.)
The Prime Minister's latest laws on terrorism were withheld from parliament this week to avoid one month's scrutiny by a senate committee. When Defence Minister Robert Hill moved yesterday for a senate committee which must report by 8 November but not sit in October, the bills were in his back pocket. The government set out to cheat democracy. The Australian public's established fear of a terrorist ambush is being complicated by its different fear of the government's assaults on democracy. The Prime Minister will continue to erode this nation's time-honoured civil and human rights while ever he is in office.Many Canberra people--a left-leaning lot, generally--will praise Jon Stanhope for his actions, including me. Today's Canberra Times (17 Oct) said "Jon Stanhope acts for free speech"
ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope has done a politically dangerous thing in making public draft legislation supplied to him by the Commonwealth, but he is guilty of no impropriety, and has indeed done the public a service. A service the greater because the Federal Government is engaged in a strategy to severely limit discussion, debate and time for analysis of the legislation, involving the most draconian shift in ordinary balances of human rights since 1939, and, arguably since Australia became a nation in 1901. And all the more so since the Federal Government's reaction to concern or criticism of the legislation consists mostly of saying "trust me", and because most of the Labor state leaders have abdicated any concern about the human rights balances lest they be smeared, as, on the Prime Minister's form, they would be (and Jon Stanhope will be) as "soft on terrorism".Cartoon: Canberra Times 17 Oct 2005.
Stanhope risks his "discourtesy" being somehow characterised as giving aid and comfort, or perhaps advance warning, to the terrorist community, or akin to the premature publication of sensitive commercial information or negotiations in process. Such analogies are false. The late working draft of a public law could only be improved by public discussion. But in practice, the Government may use it as an excuse to deprive Mr Stanhope, and thus the public, with other information or details of its plans.
The most worrying aspect of the new draft involves efforts to "update" old sedition laws. Such laws--that protect the state and groups within it from violent attack--are not, of themselves, objectionable, even if they have not been needed for more than 50 years. But they must carefully balance rights to freedom of speech, of freedom of assembly, and of a right to hold, even to propagate, views deeply hostile to a status quo, provided that one takes no active role in putting one's views into effect. In the context of the terror scare, for example, there is, or ought to be, no crime in being sympathetic to Islamist causes, rejecting Western civilisation, or believing that Western military intervention in Muslim countries is foolish or wrong. Holding such views may make you a legitimate person of interest to the security authorities--so that they can reassure themselves that you are not doing anything representing a basic violence to our system, our country, our laws or our men and women engaged in carrying out our Government's will--but should not, of itself, be illegal. Nor indeed should mere demonstration, perhaps even involving loud words or minor disorder, go into the sedition zone and be regarded as unlawfully confronting our system. Our system has, and was designed to have, broad shoulders and considerable scope for political dissent.
The draft makes passing reference to the human rights counter--balances, but, rather than putting them to the fore, makes them matters of defence. Assumption has shifted both towards a prima facie illegality of "disloyal" conduct, and to the serious risk of criminalisation of ideas and thoughts. And it overlooks the very real difference between public dissent and secret and unlawful conspiracy: it is, for example, very easy to imagine that anti-Vietnam or anti-Springbok protesters, those who protested in the streets for Croatian nationalism in the 1960s, or East Timorese nationalism in the 1980s and 1990s would have fallen within the ambit of this law.
Even assuming--with little real evidence advanced--that the actual danger from terrorists and their sympathisers is now so great as to justify detention without trial, movement laws, and compulsory questioning, it is clear that the regime of checks and balances on political abuse of the powers is quite unsatisfactory.
[. . .] And those who ought to be fearful should be anyone who has ever entertained an unpopular view, even one straight out of Western liberal tradition.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Fasting, almsgiving, and prayer have a long foundation in the Christian tradition stemming from our Jewish matrix. This triple counsel calls us to share signs of tangible grace with one another, reminding each of us to live in such a way that our very lives declare "God is gracious and bountiful, generous and merciful."
Our holiness is found in loving our neighbor as ourselves. Many saints past knew this. Fasting was not simply a matter of individual piety, but a matter of personal responsibility to sisters and brothers with whom we are intertwined. And so we find St. Catherine of Sienna fasting and giving her meals away to the hungry. We find Desert Elders selling their woven wares to purchase food not for themselves, but for those without sustenance.
In the last few weeks, a series of natural disasters have ravaged the earth, striking brothers and sisters far and near. Some leaders within the Christian community have taken this as a sign of God's wrath, singling out one or another sort and condition of human being for blame. Others are speaking up about taking care of our own first.
Rather than seeking to lay blame, to raise dividing walls for deciding who is our neighbor, or to get caught up in speculation about the end of days, we choose to discern in the signs of the times, that now is always the time for solidarity with those who are suffering. The signs of the times call us to live graciously as our Heavenly Father is gracious toward us.
To this end, we pledge to be signs of God's generosity through fasting, prayer, and almsgiving in solidarity in a particular way with our brothers and sisters: To begin each day with the Lord's Prayer, remembering that the Bread of Heaven at Holy Eucharist is intricately tied to striving so that all shall have daily bread; to abstain from a meal or simplify our eating habits each day; and to give the cost of this meal or savings from simplified eating to Episcopal Relief and Development) or equivalent relief organizations (in Australia, Anglicord--Anglicans Cooperating in Overseas Relief and Development) for the work of disaster relief amongst our sisters and brothers both far and near.
At a time when our Communion is impaired by conflict and many search far and wide for signs of God's tangible grace, we invite you to join us in the work of Christ, living into our Baptismal Covenant as we seek to serve Christ in all peoples, loving our neighbor as ourselves.
lux Christi vobis,
*Christopher and Annie
As a sign of your solidarity, consider cutting and pasting the letter above into a post to publish on your blog as an explanation, and place one of these icons on your sidebar, and consider providing a direct link to Anglicord or the equivalent Anglican relief organization from your province in the Communion. If you wish, you may circulate this letter beyond the blogosphere in your parish, diocesan office, wherever you feel the Spirit is calling you to point us again toward Christ, our compass and our guide.
Australia's loss to England in the "Ashes" series in September caused much pessimism about the future of Australian cricket. But there was great praise for the quality of the games and the sportsmanship of both sides. Commentary in the British press extended even to a religious paper, The Tablet which, in its 17 September issue, described the series as a "Masterclass in sportsmanship", comparing cricket and cricketers favourably with the state of football and the behaviour of some highly paid fottballers.
Given the British habit of inventing games and sports for others to beat them at -- cricket, rugby, soccer, golf, to name but a few -- [tennis? badminton?] England's hard-won triumph in the Ashes series against Australia looked out of character. But that is to misread the English. They can rise gloriously to the occasion, on the battlefield as well as on the playing field, but only when they care enough and usually after things have started badly. England began the recently concluded series of Test matches against the team universally regarded as the best in the world by letting themselves be thrashed. Since then they have won two and drawn two, and even in the latter cases they out-played the Australians. Much eulogising about cricket and the national character has occupied the newspapers and television channels since, and large crowds turned out just to glimpse their heroes. In a welcome touch not before seen in English cricket, the England women's cricket side, who also have just beaten the Australian women after a similar long drought of victories, were given equal prominence in the festivities.The Tablet even finds a moral dimension to the story.
The nation's focus lasted for game after game, not least because England's tactics were to be as aggressive as the Australians traditionally are. Aggression brings excitement: in this case it meant almost unbearable tension, not least on the final day of the final game.
English cricketers, asked to say how they felt, repeatedly preferred to praise their team colleagues and their Australian rivals than to bask in personal glory. On the field, an exemplary degree of courtesy and care towards their opponents was manifested by both sides. These cricketers did not dispute the umpires' decisions, nor did they play-act to trick them into unfair verdicts. Even the highly partisan English crowd made clear how much it admired the amazing cricketing skills of the visitors. That was sportsmanship at its best.
The "spirit of cricket" may defy definition, but it has a high moral content. The discipline it demands is primarily internal. Though cricket has famously reversed the decline in public interest the game was suffering from,[in England; it has long been the most popular game in Australia]
success brings its own dangers. While it would do football immense good to study and emulate English cricket, it would be a wise cautionary move for English cricket to study the other national game -- and be warned.As the world's best team, Australia was challenged to play a 'best of the rest' international side, which it thrashed 3-0 in a series of one day games ending yesterday. Now for a five day test match.
The length of a cricket game (one to five days) makes it impossible to watch or listen to all of it on an ordinary work day. But cricket on the radio is a popular national institution!
The survey covered 12 categories of institution, including police, universities, parliament, the public services and the churches. Only 35% of Australians expressed confidence in the churches, down from 43% in 1995.
"There has been a lot of negative publicity surrounding the church, particularly on the inappropriate behaviour of members of the clergy and this must have eroded a lot of confidence," Professor Clive Bean said.
Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic church does not seem to be doing much to improve the situation. As neither a Roman Catholic nor an American, I have been reluctant to refer to the inquisition now beginning in the American seminaries, but this piece that Topmost Apple found in the Boston Globe has a wider international application and echoes my thoughts on the matter. Small wonder Australians are losing their trust in the churches (and of course we Anglicans aren't blame free either!)
"A Catholic moment of truth" by James Carroll Boston Globe (3 Oct. 2005).
ROME. To be a A Roman Catholic in Rome this week is to remember, among so much else, the way in which leaders of this church have squandered their moral authority in recent years.
In 1968, it was the disastrous anti-birth control encyclical "Humanae Vitae," which opened a gulf between the hierarchy and the laity and which lately has the church on the wrong side of the global fight against HIV/AIDS. The coterie of American bishops chosen by Pope John Paul II failed their greatest test by protecting abusive priests instead of the children who were their victims. Now, church authority stands on the edge of yet another act of moral self-mutilation with a coming ''instruction" banning homosexuals from seminaries. Such a policy threatens to turn an imminent program of "apostolic visitations" of US seminaries, which overtly targets "heresy," into a full blown sexual witch hunt.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have had direct and indirect contact with well-connected Catholics here -- hardly a hotbed of liberalism -- and the coming instruction is regarded as a catastrophe in the making. With boards of Vatican-appointed investigators poised to swoop down on American schools in which new priests are trained, interrogations of candidates and loyalty tests for teachers already betray a nostalgia for the bygone era of thought-control and snitching. A formally licensed obsession with homosexuality will push the investigation into a realm, as one senior priest put it to me, more of Joseph Stalin than Jesus Christ.
Instead of asking hard questions about the root causes of the priestly sex abuse scandal -- facing problems of the clerical culture itself, including celibacy, authoritarianism, discrimination against women, the immaturity of church teachings on sexuality -- Rome is preparing to scapegoat homosexuals. The idea is astoundingly foolish, based on fantasies of sexual deviance. Supposedly aimed at seminarians, the new discipline is an attack on the priesthood itself, especially on those openly gay men who have proven themselves as faithful servants of the church. It is an invitation for such men to return to the closet, a retreat into psychological imprisonment. Such demonizing of homosexuals is profoundly unjust.
But the policy, combined with the investigation's threat against all nonconformity, infantilizes every present or would-be member of the American Catholic clergy. During the abuse crisis, the ineptness of bishops brought stern challenges from the middle ranks of clergy. Are bishops now attempting, with this ruthless discipline, to eliminate the capacity for independent moral thought that made those challenges not only possible but necessary? [ . . . ]
Will it work? The people I talk to here think not. There are gay bishops in the church, some of whom will feel forced to support the new scapegoating. What happens when, in return for their hypocrisy, they are "outed"? Theologians, whose work of rational inquiry requires a free play of the mind, will reject the strictures of a heresy hunt. Gay priests will refuse to be closeted again, and their straight brothers will not participate in the denigration. Religious orders will defend their members. When the grand inquisitors arrive at seminaries, candidates for the priesthood who have any self-respect will simply walk away. The Catholic people will not allow their good priests to be insulted further.
Can the church be spared this disaster? As of now, the power to avert it rests with one man. The new policy has not been formally promulgated. Pope Benedict XVI could call it off. Whether that is likely to occur is not the point. The world has been awaiting the revelation of his capacity for moral leadership. It is here.
Yes, more people die in Iraq almost weekly and thousands more have died in the war of terror. But why do the bombers kill and injure local people by the score (and only a few tourists) at a pleasant beachside eating place that should not offend anyone? Is it because the Balinese are mainly non-Muslim and, to a fundamentalist, more pagan than the tourists they entertain?
In Australian terms, this would be similar to membership of the right-wing faction of the Australian Labor Party (which we would mark as 'red', and the conservatives as 'blue'). I'm actually a member of the Australian Greens, who are more socially liberal, and economically left-leaning. My result on this test is similar to my result from The Political Compass, which I prefer.
Collins' essay draws attention to something critically important to our faith-development, formation, and growth as a human being and as a Jesus-follower -- the nurture and growth of our 'true selves' -- to be at home with whom we were created to be. I think something of St. Augustine's sense that we are all "restless until we find our rest in God" has something to do with our not-at-homeness, our not being at home with how we are known and loved by God.Recently, I outed myself to my regional church community. But it has taken too long to get to be a bit confident about my 'True Self' in the way that Collins, following Merton, describes.
Thomas Merton: ". . . I must . . . know myself, and know both the good and the evil that are in me. It will not do to know only one and not the other: only the good, or only the evil. I must . . . be able to live the life God has given me, living it fully and fruitfully, and making good use even of the evil that is in it . . . To live well myself is my first and essential contribution to the well-being of all [humanity] . . . To live well myself means for me to know and appreciate something of the secret, the mystery in myself: that which is incommunicatable, which is at once myself and not myself, at once in me and above me . . ."
Collins notes that we are all in search of our unique, God-created identities . . . ours is an 'evolving humanity'. . . Full spiritual maturation is unattainable from a closeted environment . . . The process of 'coming out' relates to what Merton called the journey from the false self toward the True Self within each person . . . We need, on that journey to learn to stop looking primarily outside of ourselves to find our true identity and the truth of who we each uniquely are. Being and identity are discovered on the difficult but necessary interior journey. Many never make that journey; many remain their whole lives in the fragile, unsettled position of having their identity defined for them by what they do and how others see them; their spiritual maturing and growth remains stunted; their life is always other that life God invites them to live freely, fully and fruitfully.
Merton, as highlighted and utilised in Collins essay, is a helpful guide to a growing humanity, whether you're gay or heterosexual. (Prodigal Kiwi's emphases)
Work, years ago, with the AIDS Action Council of the ACT, Inc was a wonderful early step. When I arrived in Canberra in 1986, as well as growing my career and church life, I wanted to do some kind of community work, and ended up with the local AIDS Council. This was helped my 'coming out', as for the first time I met and worked with other gay and lesbian people on a common project. I did quite a lot of quasi-legal and other work, and was on the Board for a few years. But I haven't had the time to do much recently. A few days ago, as I do every year, I attended the Annual General Meeting and was astonished to be awarded a life membership - Fabulous memberships they're called!
In this unflattering picture, taken at the AGM, I'm posing with Richard Allen (centre), recipient of the 2005 President's Award and the incoming 2005-06 President, John Guppy (right).
Australia has done well in the struggle against AIDS and Canberra's small local AIDS Council has done some pioneering work. But, worryingly, the rate of infections is again increasing slowly. The Australian Government has at last, belatedly released the Fifth National HIV/AIDS strategy, 2005-08. It's a well-written document, but makes little commitment to funds or resources.
Australia can be proud of its network of HIV/AIDS primary care providers, its specialist referral centres, its world-class research, its innovative health promotion and education and its active and engaged community sector. Australia has also made HIV/AIDS treatments available that have significantly increased the survival rates of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). These things did not appear by accident but through the deliberate planning that followed the development of a national strategy for action.
The job is not over--HIV/AIDS has not, and will not disappear from Australia while the HIV epidemic continues. Rises in new HIV infections in recent years have shown the need for a revitalised approach to HIV/AIDS in Australia by adapting to the changing epidemiological and social features of the epidemic. In formulating this Strategy the following issues have been of major importance:
-- National HIV/AIDS Strategy: revitalising Australia's response 2005-2008. Introduction p.1.
- From the low levels achieved in the late 1990s, the number of new HIV diagnoses has shown increases throughout Australia, still principally in gay and other homosexually active men and more recently among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Rates of sexually transmissible infections (STIs) in gay and other homosexually active men have shown marked increases in the past five years.
- Individuals who were born overseas are overrepresented in new HIV diagnoses.
- Although another blood borne virus, hepatitis C, is endemic in those who inject drugs, that population has avoided a significant HIV/AIDS epidemic. This may be explained by the fact that needle and syringe programs (NSPs) were introduced before HIV/AIDS became endemic in this population of injecting drug users. Should the emphasis on harm reduction and peer education diminish, there remains potential for HIV/AIDS to spread among injecting drug users.
- The lifespan of individuals infected with HIV/AIDS has increased since the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy in the mid 1990s. This has led to a change in the focus of HIV/AIDS management from acute intervention for opportunistic infections to chronic management of therapy related side effects and non-infectious complications of HIV/AIDS (such as lymphoma, metabolic disturbances and neuropsychiatric disturbance).