Friday, 18 January 2008

Scientology = Creepy.

A few days ago someone released a clip of Tom Cruise talking about Scientology on YouTube - soon after it was pulled - presumably by Scientology - for reasons which become obvious when you see it. Copies have been saved here and here.

L. Ron Hubbard - Bare-Faced Messiah
Not only is it seriously weird, it's also seriously nasty; the "SPs" Cruise speaks about crushing and "making history" are "Suppressive Persons" - which is Hubbard-speak for you & me. And everyone we love.

This picture of Hubbard is from the on-line edition of Russel Miller's definitive biography of the fraud: Bare-Faced Messiah It's now out of print, but thanks to Chris Owen the work has been kept accessible here.

On the bright side, isn't it sort of cheering to be reminded that there's nastier religions out there than Matthianism/Sydney Evangelicalism?

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Covenant Eyes, snake oil, and Hustler.

Diligent Duck Noodlers may recall that last November I mentioned that Moore College would be requiring all students and faculty to install a nosey little piece of software called Covenant Eyes. This application, which may well have been designed by one of the nastier characters from 1984 creates a list of all web sites the user visits, and then mails this list to their appointed “Accountability Partner”. Who then presumably visits anywhere that sounds interesting, before “discussing” the results with the guilty party. Which in my experience of Moore College will probably be tantamount to an expulsion – and as most students are married and living with their family in College accommodation, the ramifications of this can be severe.

Thanks to a heads-up from Not The Southern Cross I’ve now discovered Covenant Eyes now have their very own professional blogger, someone named ”Luke Gilkerson”, whose job is to monitor the ‘sphere and toss in a suitably pure $0.02’s worth whenever his master’s product is mentioned. And it seems Caliban’s Dream has annoyed him enough to devote almost an entire post of his own in response.

It’s the usual fundie tactic: I get pigeon-holed as someone who is concerned about “social justice” but who ignores “the fight for purity”. In contrast Luke and his employers are urging their customers to “embrace, with the right and left hands, the fight for purity AND the fight against social injustice”.

Except Luke, like any good spin doctor, carefully avoids mentioning what I my point actually was. I have never for a moment suggested “purity” isn’t something worth embracing. Certainly, my definition of the term is a whole lot broader than his, and not centred upon the concept of gazing upon digital renderings of other people’s genitalia, but I’ve never suggested abandoning the concept. My point was and remains this: Covenant Eyes – nor any other from of surveillance - isn’t going to resolve the issues of identity, gender and sexuality that lead to someone developing an obsession with pornography. And further, that by focusing on the symptom of these problems instead of their cause products such as that marketed by Mr. Gilkerson in the long term only exacerbate the problem, in just the same way that the fixations of the sort of people pressuring others to purchase products like Covenant Eyes have kept the problem alive. But then again, admitting this isn’t going to make them any money.

Several days after his dubious exegesis of my post, Luke “I blog for Covenant Eyes" Gilkerson made this slip in another defence of what may well be his biggest customer:

“I am looking at this new initiative at Moore Theological College as an outsider. I am not an Anglican, have never been to seminary, and have never been to Sydney, Australia.”

Right. So knowing nothing about the Sydney Anglican Diocese, nor how it operates, Luke still feels suitably qualified to address those of us who've spent much of our lives fighting the appallingly cult-like behaviour that infects every aspect of the Diocesan machine. But hey, Sydney Diocese are good customers, aren’t they Luke? So how can they be too bad? And who cares if they may use your product to crush people in ways you never imagined. It’s all money, ain’t it?

Larry Flynt of Hustler magazine and the folk at Covenant Eyes have more in common than they realise. Both of them make a living out of the porno industry, and both of them are doing all the things necessary to keep their customer’s interest in porn alive. There’s one big difference, however: Larry Flynt doesn’t try to use Jesus’ life and words to support his business, which in my book makes him a person of somewhat greater integrity.

Although let’s be frank about things: I don’t like either of them. Anyone troubled by their interest in pornography should seek professional help - or at very least start by reading Boaz's excellent two articles on the topic. Just don't punish yourself by listening to the snake-oil salesmen. And please don't ever forget that God really does love you.

Sydney Harbour Bridge Thank You (whoever you are)

This morning, as I do most mornings, I drove Mrs. Caliban across the harbour bridge to her work, after which the littlest Duck Noodle and I took the dogs for their morning silliness. Then we headed back over to our side of the city after the peak-hour traffic had finished, as we always do.

Since our electronic toll beeper thingummy doesn't work any more (long story, which honestly doesn't involve a strange-looking black dog slobbering on anything) I negotiated the requisite lane changes to access one of the few remaining booths still accepting cash: there's a $3 charge on all south-bound vehicles. Pulling up, I wound down the window, checked to see the afore-mentioned black dog was strapped in and not able to leap up and attack the collector in an act of misguided protection, and reached down for my wallet.

Which wasn't in my pocket. Nor was it in the centre console, nor lying on the floor by my feet, nor on the passenger seat. It wasn’t in my laptop bag, nor the glove box, nor in the back pack in which I keep a change of toddler’s clothing, spare nappies, crayons and her lunch. Along with all the other supplies necessary to get a small girl and two crazy dogs through a day in the office.

By which time the traffic was banking up behind. The toll collector was remarkably patient, and explained that he could give me ticket to pay later. Meanwhile I was desperately searching for the wallet, which simply had to be there somewhere. When a lady jumped out of the car behind me, walked up and paid my toll. And then dashed back to her car before I could say a word.

I waved thank you, and hoped to stop next to her at the next set of lights, where I could get her details and arrange repay her. But she took another exit and was gone.

So if you’re an attractive woman who paid the Sydney Harbour Bridge toll for a stressed guy in a small green car stuffed with two dogs and a toddler… thank you. I realise the odds of you reading this blog are pretty small, but just incase you do, this song’s for you. while you did much more than just let me change lanes, but this gives the general idea of how much I appreciate what you did. Thanks.

PS. I found my wallet once we reached the office. It had slipped under the carpet next to the seat. Now if only I could find some more money to put in it.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Ponderings on Kenya...

Over the past week the blogosphere has been surprisingly quiet about the bloodshed following the Kenyan elections. Perhaps that’s understandable – there’s so much crap flying around already that the horror that’s become life in Kenya is probably more than most of us can deal with.

Fortunately +Tutu hasn’t stayed silent. He’s travelling to Kenya to mediate an end to the slaughter. God Bless him – if anyone can bring Christ to the mess that’s exploding there it surely must be him.

What’s got me annoyed though, is that +Akinola and his crew have never been reticent to criticize what they perceive as “immoral” behaviour among us folks of the decadent west. Well call me an old-fashioned liberal universalist (or any other name that feels satisfying to sling around), but, but burning people to death inside a locked church is in my book about as immoral and decadent as behaviour gets. And it’s fairly certain that the current violence is a much bigger concern to the suffering Kenyans than questions of ordination and sexuality. So where is the Coneheads' wrath and disgust now?

Jesus was pretty clear about dealing with the log in one’s own eye before debating the speck in somebody else’s. Might it then in this case be more appropriate for +Akinola to address the machete in his neighbour’s eye before condemning the loving relationship in my neighbour’s bedroom?

Friday, 4 January 2008

Great Blog Discovered!

As most people here will know, Southern Cross is to Sydney Anglicanism what Pravda was to Soviet Communism, except Pravda took itself less seriously.

In response to this journalistic nadir there's a fellow traveller called Boaz who runs a great blog called Not the Southern Cross which I've just discovered. Insightful, challenging and inspiring without ever slipping into despair and blind negativity - it's a wonderful resource encouraging anyone involved in the struggle against Matthianism and the unbiblical and judgemental nonsense currently holding sway.

Great Stuff - go there!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Back in the Emerald City

David Williamson's biting satire not withstanding, from several thousand feet Sydney looked more sapphire this morning, if this photo snapped from the aircraft window is any indication.

It's strange, because the more I look at this picture (which faces south: the Harbour Bridge is just to the left of dead centre), the more I find myself both charmed and appalled by the place. From the right angles it's undoubtedly beautiful, breathtakingly so. Yet the vast bulk of Sydney - which this picture doesn't show - is as ugly as the facade is attractive. Think East L.A. without Latino colour and Googie achitecture & signage. And hotter.

Either way, the Duck Noodle Gang is back in town. And wishing all the best to everyone for the coming year, wherever you may find yourself landing.