Friday, 29 February 2008

This is the Sea.

Some kids grew up with brothers and sisters, or with dogs and farms and football teams, but I grew up with the ocean. I love mountains, and snow, and the great flat western plains of central Australia, where you can drive for three hours without passing another vehicle, or making so much as a single turn on a road leading straight towards the horizon; but these were never part of my childhood. We lived on a narrow isthmus that separates the northern arm of the largest deepwater harbour in the world from the southern reaches of the world’s largest ocean, and the sea in all her sensuality was always insatiably near, and never resting.

Summers meant hot west winds, and crusted salt drying on sunburnt shoulders; winters meant southerlies piercing the neoprene skin of our wetsuits as they carried swells onto deserted beaches.

Our “sport” was sailing; in those days nobody imagined that surfing would one day become a competitive activity. It was a meditation, and as important as dreaming, although often infinitely more frightening. We didn’t ride in waves crashing onto rocks, sand and sea-urchins (whose spines could take weeks to extract from a misplaced foot, or – if you were very unlucky and had been “eaten” by the wave - your face) to become world champions (although one of us subsequently did), nor because we thirsted after the rush of an “extreme sport”: the term wasn’t invented yet. We surfed because that’s what you did when you weren’t sailing, or swimming, or spear-fishing. Because the waves were there, and riding them was as necessary as breathing, probably more so given our youth.

It’s been a long time since I paddled a board through shore-break, or around the outside of Bower Reef. Maybe that’s because I’m no longer fit enough, and not really because only the very young have the hours needed to chase waves.

And we were young then, very young, although at the time we thought otherwise. Don’t we all?

This morning I had the honour of speaking with one of the most honourable men I’ve ever met: somebody who left me feeling like I’d become a better person by simply spending time in his presence. This is funny, because he was only recently paroled from prison, where he came to have a similar effect on many of his fellow inmates. As we talked I realised how glibly we speak about forgiveness, and how rarely we stop and allow ourselves to understand what it means. And how much more we can become if we can but dare to live and believe in the forgiveness of which Christ spoke…

Like me, this man has also long loved the ocean, and I know how hard the years spent away from her have been for him. But those years have been served now: he is forgiven; and so are we.

A week back MadPriest had a Waterboys song on his Midnight Jukebox: Church Not Made With Hands. Since then I’ve been devouring everything by Mike Scott and the Waterboys I can find, so this is for you MP: “thanks”. And also for the man whom I was so privileged to meet today. He’ll appreciate the words more than most of us: it’s from the soundtrack to Riding Giants.
Which sort of says it all.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Go ahead trolls, make his day...

BlackStar would like to tell the brave anonymous troll who's been threatening to pay us a visit that he's looking forward to getting acquainted.

I've explained to him that this is unlikely, since the troll's IP address shows he's not even in Australia (nobody is ever truly anonymous on the web - not even Matthian trolls claiming to know me); but having chased and bitten intruders twice before, BlackStar's developed a taste for attackers. Literally.

Friends, on the other hand are always welcome; he's really a very friendly dog if he likes you. People who wish to express opinions different to his are also fine with him, but please don't start raising your voice - BlackStar hates people shouting at his family and friends. Just don't push your luck if you think the Duck Noodle Gang can be scared into silence. We thought about the consequences before starting this blog.

Which is more than trolls ever do before clicking "send".

Well that settles it then.

The Very Reverend Dean Phillip Jensen has announced an "afternoon briefing" on Friday 14th March to discuss "the reasons for, and implications of, recent decisions concerning Sydney’s participation in world Anglicanism."

Four men are listed as speakers for the two hour event: the Dean himself, Anglican Church League President and Moore College lecturer "Duck" Thompson, former journalist turned Archbishop's "Media Advisor" Russell Powell, and lawyer Robert Tong. No women will be addressing the meeting. Nor, it appears, will any Bishops. And since diocesan attitudes towards homosexuality are at the core of these "recent decisions" there will naturally be no homosexuals sharing their perspective and insights.

But there will be a lawyer. Just to show that everyone's got their priorities sorted.

Monday, 25 February 2008

There's hope for Australian Anglicanism yet!

Living in Sydney, in the jaws of Australia's most populous and wealthiest diocese (which is the result of history and an aggressively applied political process - not divine intervention), it's easy to forget the whole country isn't afflicted with the strange gnostic sectarianism generally called Matthianism - a name referring to the Dean's former parish, back in the dark days before his older brother became archbishop and he was called to reduce cathedral congregation sizes in an appointment that (as my brave anonymous trolls repeatedly insist) had absolutely nothing to do with nepotism.

That's why the statement just released by the Bishop of Newcastle (the diocese bordering on Sydney's north) is so exciting: in speaking out against GAFCON and Sydney's hypocritical embrace of this nasty exercise in homophobia, +Farran is a encouraging reminder that the lights in Oz haven't gone out entirely. The Spirit of God is still present here after all!

Sure, the statement still has a long way to go (like how about apologising for the centuries of persecution and misery inflicted by the church on people whose sexuality and/or gender didn't fit whatever narrow stereotype the current generation deemed "Christian"?) - but it's a start. It's also great to see the "Davids" of Australian Anglicanism starting to speak out against Sydney's boastful and bullying "Goliath".

Read it for yourself here. And while you do remember that people who don't believe women should be permitted to read the Bible aloud when in the presence of men also believe this very moderate statement proves the Bishop of Newcastle isn't really a Christian. In fact more than a few of them would probably say that simply clicking on the link raises serious questions about your relationship with God. Or their God, at any rate.

Which probably isn't such a bad thing, since this vindictive "enscripturated" homophobe sure isn't the deity Jesus referred to as "Father". That's something the Gospels do make clear.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Yes! (and thank you everyone).

A week which couldn't possibly get any better just has: a woman has been elected the next Bishop of Christchurch New Zealand. The world into which our little chap has come just made an important turn towards a brighter future!

Thanks also to everyone for all your kind words - we're feeling quite overwhelmed (in the best possible way) by all the wonderful blessings of love and congratulations. We might be dancing in the dragon's jaw at the far end of the world - but we sure aren't alone. Thank you again, and God Bless you all.

... and now it's Saturday morning, and Miss Not-Quite-Two would like her Vegemite toast and "coffee" (frothed milk with a sprinkle of cocoa) before we take BlackStar & Fiver to the beach for a splash, a bark, and a run. After which we'll head back to the hospital to join Mummy and the little pelican for lunch and a nap. So I'd better listen to what she's telling me and "put 'puter away".

Life's good some days!

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Unto us a child is born.

... and our little boy came into the world this afternoon at 12:48pm Sydney time, 21 February, weighing 3.7kg (8lb 5oz) and in the finest of health.

Things got a bit complicated for a while, but thanks to the the combination of first-world health care, lots of love and prayers from around the world, and indescribably hard work from his mother - who is unquestionably the bravest and most wonderful person I'll ever know - our little fellow came through fine.

This photo was taken when he was about 5 minutes old and nestling in his mum's arms. If I never take another picture in my life it won't matter now, becausing having captured this moment it feels like I've captured them all. Or at least all the ones worth remembering.

Our new Big Sister (aged almost 2) came to the hospital for a visit this evening, and was just as proud as the rest of us. She hasn't stopped talking about her new baby since; we're about to head off for bedtime stories and winding-down is going to take a while tonight: cuddle-time will undoubtedly take longer than usual, but that's fine with me and the dogs. In fact tonight there's probably nothing finer.

Special thanks to Midwife Debi Ilsley (who's originally from MadPriest/Doorman-Priest's part of the world: they must make 'em pretty good up there), obstetricians Dr. Wendy Hawke & Dr. Stephen Coogan, and anaethetist Dr. Clive Collier (here's the link I promised Clive: ;-).
You're all the best.

And thanks to you for sharing our joy by reading this. God bless you.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

There are voices from the pews - will anybody listen?

Last Sunday morning we lurked in a very nice church: a warm, welcoming and clearly growing congregation. An Anglican church, and yes, we were in Sydney. Anywhere else the service, which featured a concrete and exegetically structured sermon and minimal ritual, would be considered unmistakably low-church, except in our strange diocese at the edge of the world this parish has a reputation for being upper-mid and “a bit liberal”.

Afterwards we were amazed to see people queuing – yes, lining up – to sign the Anglicans Together petition (the one featured on Noble Wolf’s blog) requesting +Jensen reconsider his decision to boycott Lambeth. Nobody seemed particularly interested in the machinations of church politics, and they certainly weren’t theologians. Nor did anyone appear directly involved in the struggle for GLBT equality, and in all probability most were until recently unaware of Lambeth. Yet everyone was adamant about one thing: the Archbishop of Sydney should attend.

One was a lady in her nineties; a life-long Anglican who'd always considered herself an evangelical. “Wild horses couldn’t stop me from signing this.” she insisted. “When the Archbishop has no log in his own eye then perhaps he’ll be in a position to spurn those with a speck in theirs. Until then we are all called to meet with our fellow believers.”

Like most people in the queue, she’d read +Jensen’s justifications, which were published in Sydney’s leading newspaper. And like everyone else I spoke to, she had no time for them. “If the Archbishop is right about his position then he needs to meet with other leaders and explain why they’re wrong. His complete lack of shame at ignoring this obligation suggests, however, he mightn't be as right as he tells us he is. It certainly gives the impression he doesn't listen very closely to God when it comes to making decisions.”

Signing after her was a young man; a blue-collar tradesman typical of the demographic most likely to be (to use the current jargon) “unchurched”. “I’m no poof” he said, “but if God loves and dies for someone who is then I’ve no right to knock them. Jesus wants to know everyone, and that’s why we're all here. The Archbishop should get on with his real job of telling people Jesus is real and cares about them. All this gay-bashing does is make it harder for people to see who Jesus is.”

The final word came from a retired business man. “The Archbishop has just launched 'Connect 09', and as part of that we’re all supposed to get out and invite those with whom we live and work. He must realise that isn’t easy, yet he expects us to meet the challenge as part of his call to mission. But when it comes to him talking with people who see things differently, suddenly a new set of rules apply. If that’s his idea of leadership, we’d be better off with the gay bloke from America that’s got everyone in such a fuss: at least he’s got the courage to stand by convictions.”

As I said earlier, these people aren’t ecclesiastical power-brokers; they are simply Christians who love God and enjoy expressing that love within the context of their local Anglican community. Nor (as far as it’s possible to tell) are they part of any conspiratorial “gay agenda” (whatever that is). They’re just men and women living by grace who are clearly fed up with being told what to believe by leaders grown so confident of themselves that they no longer have any qualms about being the first to grab up the nearest stone and cast it at anyone daring question their self-granted mandate to be the sole interpreters of scripture.

Sydney evangelicalism once valued lay input, and greatly respected the wisdom and understanding of the average man and woman in the pews. If +Jensen chooses to ignore the pleas of those signing this petition it will be sad evidence that Matthianism, the sect into which many Sydney clergy have tragically devolved, has now openly abandoned any notion of respect for the laity’s insight. Which will leave Archbishop Jensen and his acolytes different to the pre-reformation straw man they make of Rome in what way?

Monday, 18 February 2008

Forgiveness: a second question.

Does anyone else find something nastily inconsistent in the notion that the same God who calls us to love and forgive our enemies will torture their own enemies for eternity?

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Forgiveness: a preliminary question.

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

Did Jesus really mean this prayer for his executioners? Or was it just good PR, since He knew God wasn’t ever going the let them off the hook for this particular piece of hideous brutality.

Or did Jesus know that while they’d be forgiven for their involvement in the crucifixion, they’d still be spending eternity getting tortured for living their entire lives as godless pagans who didn’t repent and accept him as their Lord and Personal Saviour. So there was nothing to lose by showing a bit of magnamity while everyone was watching.

Or were they actually forgiven? In which case has anyone else been forgiven by God simply because they didn't understand the full ramifications of what they did? Or are these thugs the luckiest sinners in all eternity?

Thursday, 14 February 2008

On divorce. (God bless you Doxy)

The ever-inspiring Wormwood’s Doxy has posted a brilliant piece on divorce over at her place: as usual she’s left me wrestling with what it means to be alive by grace: challenged, but also inspired as she ponders a phrase I’ve also encountered across the broad spectrum of Christian discussion – “I don’t believe in divorce.”

My first reaction after reading Doxy’s work was to draw my breath and fight back tears; she raised so many of the issues that I’ve only recently begun finding enough courage to consider. Now, a few days later, her piece still touches me deeply, and I’d like to add a few thoughts of my own: The interludes are from Lou Reed’s Coney Island Baby.

“When you're all alone and lonely;
It’s your midnight hour,
And you find that your soul has been up for sale”

Generally when people say “I don’t believe in divorce” what they really mean is “I think divorce is a terrible thing which doesn’t solve anyone’s underlying problems.” Which is - just ask anyone who’s experienced divorce, irrespective of the circumstances - a lot like saying “I think that the ocean is made of water, much of which is cold and salty.” The oft-cited serial divorcee blithely jumping from one severed marriage to the next free of guilt, remorse, and any sense of shame or failure is, as Doxy points out, hard to find in reality. Like the Vanishing Hitchhiker, I’ve heard the story told a number of times in a variety of ways, but never been able to pin down any of the details for myself.

“And you start thinking again about all those things that you've done
And who it was, and what it was.
And all the different scenes you made,
And you begin to hate just about everything.”

Divorce is like testicular amputation, or perhaps undergoing mastectomy: an agonizing, excruciating pain cutting to the core of one’s very being – ripping bare your heart, sexuality, identity, soul and spirituality, and irrevocably changing your entire world. Yet sometime’s that’s better than the alternative consequences. It’s not something to be ever wished on anyone, and having survived it once I seriously doubt I could do so again. Those who have are to be respected – for they are only alive through God’s grace and mercy.

Divorce shouldn’t happen: neither should cancer, bereavement or motor-neurone disease. But it does. Sometimes people emerge from the experience as only a shadow of their former self, just as they sometimes do from the other terrors I’ve cited, and sometimes they find themselves less changed than they had anticipated. But they are changed nonetheless, and I’ve yet to encounter the person who says they are not.

“And all your two-bit friends have gone and ripped you off.
They're talking behind your back saying, man
You' ain’t never going to be no human being.”

As the wounds which are inevitably part of the experience begin to heal by God’s grace they are all too often torn open afresh by people quoting Jesus’ well-known sayings about divorce and remarriage. To which the only response I’ve until now been capable of making has been (and I refuse make an apology for the language I’m about to use, because there’s no other way I know of conveying the devastation I’ve felt at these times) “Yeah thanks, but do you really think I don’t know that I’ve fucked up eternally. Think of me when I’m in hell; the foretaste that life’s become isn’t pretty.”

After experiencing this a few times most people learn to avoid anyone or anything even remotely connected with Christianity. Who the fuck needs still more pain? And then the evangelism committees wonder why so few people in the 35 - 50 age bracket want any contact with the church...

“But remember that the city is a funny place:
Something like a circus or a sewer.
And just remember different people have peculiar tastes...”

It’s taken a long time, over ten years, but I’ve finally come to understand how much bigger God is than all that shit. Christ’s promise of forgiveness is real. And all encompassing. And not just extended to those who chose to read the Bible in ways which empower them at the expense of others.

To which I can hear people respond “Great – but what about Jesus’ words? Are you saying people should just ignore all the things he said about divorce being a wicked sin, and remarriage being adultery?” After which the Matthian trolls will add ”You really are the evil godless liberal I’ve been told you are.”

Experience teaches that the Matthians and their ilk will only hear what they’ve been told they’re allowed to believe, at least until life kicks them down and they find the machine in which they’ve been enmeshed doesn’t want to know them any longer. Which is what invariably happens, and sadly for many it comes about through their own taste of divorce’s terrible bitterness. For the rest of us there’s a few sayings of Jesus in Matthew 5 which immediately precede the famous sayings of divorce, remarriage and adultery, but which I for one have never heard considered in this context:

“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.”
“If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away”

Now of all the weird and wonderful practices embraced by the early church, there is no record of eyeball gouging and self amputation gaining popularity. There is nothing to suggest any of the disciples underwent a poke and chop. Nor do any of those who deride the rest of us for “not taking the Bible seriously” appear to be one-eyed in any sense other than the metaphoric. These passages have since the days they were first recorded and distributed been read as figurative, not literal: Jesus using hyperbole to make a point.

Yet come the very next verse conservative teachers tell us to make a hermeneutical backflip. We must, or so we are instructed, no longer read Christ’s teachings figuratively, but literally. It’s adultery folks, and we all know from elsewhere in scripture that adulterers are heading on a one-way express trip to the place where God isn’t. Permanently.

Aside from being cruel, and resulting in a theology which denies the power of grace, this is also dishonest. There’s simply no justification for this interpretive about-face. Jesus doesn’t say “If your eye causes you to sin install a licensed copy of Covenant Eyes on every computer you touch.” He says to gouge it out, and if you’re going to be a literalist and condemn everyone who isn’t then it’s high time you found a stick and started getting that eyeball out and squished for good measure. Because if you don’t you’re just being a hypocrite – and a case can be easily made from scripture that as such your end will be no different that of the adulterers.

Interestingly enough, both sections are enclosed by passages demanding relational integrity: the first saying inter-personal reconciliation must take precedence over organized religious observance, and the second calling for transparency of speech and love for others – even for those whom might be considered unrighteous.

There’s an obvious reason why the sayings on divorce have traditionally been interpreted literally: while the sayings concerning the removal of body parts in response to untoward feelings of desire apply primarily to men (or have long been understood as such), and there’s no incentive for men, who have for too long controlled both church and state, to do anything drastic about the hand that everyone knows we use for more than just shaking hands and signing cheques. Divorce, on the other hand, is something none of them wants being used in such a way as to empower women – who knows how that might upset the status quo? So things have traditionally been interpreted in such a way as to reinforce the patriarchy. Who have never given a shit about who gets hurt along the way.

Significantly, the people who most condemn the divorced are those who’ve least experience of what we've been through. But isn’t that the way with most things? It’s far easier to damn homosexuality when you so straight you won't even touch bent spaghetti - never mind the fact that in so doing you've let yourself become a judgemental hate-filled prig who alientates people from Christ every time you open your pharisaical mouth. Middle class Christians invariably find “working class” sins like drunkenness and profanity more heinous than their own materialism and pride. In the course of this hypocrisy those excluded along the way become nothing more “collateral damage” in the battle to protect one’s own dubious sanctity: “Thank you Lord, that while I am a sinner I am at least not as bad as them.”

Of all the words which can be used to describe this sort of attitude (and I’ve used enough obscenities in this piece already to throw around any more) “Christian” isn’t one of them. The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. He came to bring life, and a way forward for those with none.

Contrary to what those who insist Jesus’ words on divorce be understood literally would have people understand, He brought forgiveness. Which is something I’ll blog more about in the next few days.

“and the Glory of Love, the Glory of Love
Just might come through:
The Glory of Love, the Glory Above
Might see you through…”

If there’s a soundtrack to the journey that’s been my survival through divorce, then this song has been a key part. Don’t worry if you can’t bring yourself to listen to it: the beloved One to whom I'm now married finds it almost unlistenable. For her Lou Reed’s voice is overwhelmingly depressing, and I’ll be honest: Pavarotti he ain’t. If you’re like her don’t worry – you’ve already read the bits that mean most, and the rest is probably just further proof of my eccentricity.

Just remember that the Glory of Love really can see you through, and will.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Yes Virginia, there are great and wise Bishops.

Having just come from meeting with Archbishop Suheil of the Episcopal Archdiocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East, I’m still trying to come to grips with what he said. Granted that’s a fairly normal experience after hearing bishops speak these days, only instead of the usual wave of despair and bewilderment I’m feeling full of hope. The future isn’t as bleak as the forces of darkness would have us believe.

++Suheil’s diocese spans five countries, themselves melting pots of different cultures, religions and traditions. In some parishes, such as those of Gaza, unemployment is as high as 75% - and has been at that level for generations. He ministers to congregations for whom suicide bombers pose a daily threat, and for whom the both the victims and perpetrators of these killings are not meaningless names inside a release from AAP/Reuters, but are the people they live with: the little boy from down the road, the mother who shops at the same stores they do, or the old man who sits sipping coffee at the corner on warm sunny days. Terror, in all its forms, is second nature to his homeland.

And yet the Bishop’s message was uplifting. “Peace is possible”, he said, “if we are committed to making it so.” Through operating schools (which are open to all irrespective of their religion), hospitals (from which the military not infrequently blocks medical supplies) and a cross-cultural program called “Kids for Peace”, he sees a future written in the faces of children growing up in the knowledge that “the others” really human after all. His confidence in Christ transcends the insecurity which drives so many of his colleagues elsewhere in the world to dogmatism and hatred.

Afterwards the Bishop’s wife explained the integral role women are have in this process: to put it bluntly (which she was far to polite to do) women have more equality in the Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East than they do in Sydney.

No, GAFCON wasn’t dwelt upon. In the light of the Archbishop’s vision, and the darkness in which he and his community live, it all seemed irrelevant. There was no secret made about the fact that it’s not going to be helpful to the people of the area, regardless of the religion and/or cultural background, but in the light of where the church of the diocese wishes to go, and the mountains that must be climbed in order to reach that place, he made me realise that GAFCON will ultimately prove to be just one more brief gathering of angry wingnuts in a place which has proved historically irresistible to their ilk for millennia.

“Christians have lived in our diocese for two thousand years”, he said. “It is our land as much as it is everyone else’s. It is our calling to show how we can all live together in it, and to do so with the peace, compassion, wisdom and love of Christ.”




Tuesday, 12 February 2008

"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

Ok, so maybe Shakespeare was going a little too far, but just now I'm not so sure. This morning I attended the intentionally phallic edifice pictured on the right in response to a rather nasty summons received a while back. It’s the “new” NSW Supreme Court: a building constructed as a result of the State Government’s decision “that the Supreme Court should be accommodated in a modern court house, under one roof instead of being spread, as it was, through a series of separate buildings, ill-fitted to the work and the dignity of the Court.” No, I haven't made that up: it’s lifted dirctly from their website. So stop laughing; they’re serious.

This “work and dignity” notwithstanding, on my scale of favourite activities appearing in court ranks somewhere between having my teeth filed to points and discussing astrology with people I mustn’t offend. Not that I was on trial for anything: it was a civil matter (people arguing about money), and while it would be contempt of court for me to describe the whole affair as rubbish, the word does keep springing into my mind. Along with some other more graphic expressions best kept to myself.

Things ended almost as I’d hoped they might: everyone agreed none of the companies involved in this mess (it was purely a business matter) owes anyone anything, and claims to the contrary were dismissed as garbage. Now the only remaining problem is deciding who should pay for the time wasted in deciding this was all a waste of time. Which was resolved in uniquely legal manner: it was decreed everyone must return in two weeks and waste more time.

Surely there’s got to be a better way? I’m certainly not advocating sharia law, or anything involving spiky balls attached to long chains, but can there really not be any better way of resolving disputes? And why does everyone have to wait around all day until it’s their turn to be heard? If garbage collectors and body piercers can work to a timetable, why can’t judges?

Or does asking questions like these pose a threat to somebody’s “work and dignity”?

The Parable of the Great Afternoon Tea

... a strange example of life imitating Scripture in which Caliban has been invited to sup with Lords...

Jesus' parable of "The Great Supper" (Lk 14:15-24) features a man inviting the poor and outcast to a feast after his original invitees spurn his offer of hospitality, and tomorrow afternoon something very similar is happening to this dubious blogger!

The Right Reverend Suheil Dawani, Archbishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem is currently in town - but in true Matthian tradition +Jensen and his clique of relatives and acolytes have snubbed him for reasons they have so far not deigned to explain.

Perhaps it's because His Grace has been less than enthusiastic about GAFCON (it would have been nice to ask the host before announcing a party in his house), perhaps because his vestments aren't "reformed" enough, or perhaps it's just because he's not one of the family, but for whatever reason His Grace's hosts are finding it hard to fil up his dance card. Which means they've really gone to bottom of the barrel and invited a member of the notorious Duck Noodle Gang along for a little tête à tête.

So sorry about the short notice, but what questions would everyone here like me to ask him? You know - things like "can we get a contact in the team who'll be doing GAFCON's catering?" or "how do we tip off customs that +Akinola will be attempting to smuggle in half a side of pork?" Or maybe even some serious stuff, since I'm not good at thinking that up for myself.

In the meantime here's a picture of the good gentleman to help get us all in the mood. Wonder whether he'll be wearing his hat? And was he able to take his crook on the plane as hand luggage, or did it have to travel in the hold along with all the other potentially dangerous luggage?

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Caution Matthians: you won't like this song.

It's not exactly to my musical tastes, but the temptation to publicise anything seditious has always been more than I can resist. This little gem, called "The Ministry of 10% Pete", was passed on to me by someone who shall remain nameless:

I've honestly no idea who the composer or performer is - so if anyone does please contact me and they'll be suitably credited. Or they can stay anonymous if they'd prefer; I know what the machine's like ;-)

For those from other shores, "10% Pete" is a nickname our esteemed Archbishop has earned among certain wicked dissidents as a result of his vision of a 10% growth in church attendance over the next next ten years: we're currently halfway into the glorious vision for growth and numbers have actually declined in relation to Sydney's population. Still, praise God our diocese isn't declining like all the non-evangelicals are. They'll be soon be begging us to save them. Any day now, you can be sure. That's why everyone's devasted we're not going Lambeth, but someones got to make it clear to the world. And actually we're still growing, it's just that fewer people are coming along. Blah, blah, blah. Ad nauseum.

No, I can't follow the logic either. Judging by this song, someone else isn't buying into the Newspeak either. God bless 'em.

His Grace explains (a little) further...

Archbishop Peter Jensen has condescended to offer something by way of an explanation as to why he’s boycotting Lambeth. In a nutshell, it’s all the Americans’ fault: "We are not alone in this. Some of the largest Anglican communities in the world have taken the same decision." So we mustn’t blame Peter, ok? The big kids he's been playing with thought it all up, and Peter's just the little rich kid allowed to tag along because he buys everyone ice-creams after the game.

"We remain committed to the international Anglican communion." Right. Except for those people in the communion with whom we don’t agree, and we mustn’t go because they’re going. Otherwise people might think we support them. We’re committed, we just don’t want to be seen meeting anyone we don’t like. Or for our big friends to think we see any merit in talking things over with our opponents, instead of just hitting them like the tough kids do. But we’re committed to them. Honest we are. We just don’t want to show it.

"This is not a discourtesy to the Archbishop of Canterbury." Strange as it may sound, this part of the apologetic I can almost believe. Sure it may be as discourteous as you can get, but at least that it’s not intended as a discourtesy. When the Matthians want to show discourtesy they lay it on with a trowel – smears, insults and a sharpened carving-knife placed firmly in the victim’s back. No, the discourtesies have still to come, although some of the nastier Matthian bloggers are have already started warming their braziers.

The only real laugh is near the end: “... people, the media included, should not jump to wrong conclusions.” That +Jensen is used to media criticism is no surprise: but that he feels the need to qualify his statement to stress he really does include journalists within the broader category of “people” is telling. Remember, we’re not talking Fleet St or the National Enquirer here, but the country’s leading religious commentators. How honoured they must feel to know that, on this occasion at least, His Grace has deigned to consider them human. Now they’d better make damn sure they don’t view things differently to how they’ve been told to see it, or this new status could just as easily be revoked.

Monday, 4 February 2008

So Sydney really isn't going to Lambeth...

Among other things, ordinations are a celebration of the Church's unity. The laying on of hands is a continuation of an apostolic succession which unmistakably reminds us that we're all in this journey of faith together. Irrespective of whatever separation we may be currently experiencing as a result of time and space, in the kingdom which is both Now and Yet-To-Come we are one people.

Yet last Saturday +Jensen chose the occasion of an ordination service to announce Sydney won't be attending Lambeth this July. So much for unity: his message to the new Deacons is unmistakable: "Your allegiance is to Sydney and Sydney's dogma. Forget about any vision of the church which transcends either of these."

The machine's press release couldn't have been terser: read it for yourself if you're interested.

In response I'll be just as brief: +Jensen's timing is rude. Just sheer bloody rude. And ignorant.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Bedraggled & Slobbering... but still Laughing

Sorry 'bout the recent absence - the weirdometer was just stuck on "stun" for a little while. The littlest duck-noodle-to-be hasn't arrived yet, but we've finally move house - in the course of which: my mother developed heart problems and ended up in the intensive-care unit (she's fine now); a truck became entangled with the overhead power-lines outside our new place, pulling them down and blacking out the street (as well as converting a number of parked cars into electric chairs), Mrs. Caliban lost her Visa card (so we're going to pay for the removalist's truck how?); the phone line into my office was laid sometime before WW2 and died (so Telstra will be spending the next 3 weeks digging up the road outside to replace it); the builders we have in the office preparing for a new project we're launching keep failing to show up (thanks guys - I love spending half a day waiting for you to not appear); it's been hotter than the hell I no longer believe exists (January in Sydney - why do I do it to myself?); a car parked 50 metres away rolled out of its parking spot, down a grassy incline, across a driveway and into the side of the Auto del Alcibiades - converting it into a green metal banana with broken glass icing (nobody hurt, and everyone insured)...

I won't go on, but wow - I could. Maybe that's one of the reasons God made dogs - nobody reminds you to see the funny side of everything as well as a sandy dog. And nothing's better than letting yourself get dragged into the mirth...

PS. Happy Groundhog Day for Saturday! If anyone's ever been to Punxsatawney please let me know if it's anything like the movie.