Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Till we have faces ...

Jeff was my friend, and he died last Sunday. He’d been very sick for some time, so his passing came as no surprise, but it hurts regardless. What did come as a surprise were the comments about him posted on Twitter by Gordon Moyes. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so stunned, since Moyes is a truly loathsome huckster-for-Jesus and state politician with more dubious academic qualifications than the Rev. Dr. Troll, but I’d thought as someone professing to be a follower of Christ he would at least had the compassion to keep his poison to himself for the sake of Jeff’s family. Alas no…

You see, among other things Jeff was famous: former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam once described him in a speech delivered at NSW Parliament House as “the best attorney-general in Australian history”. How we met doesn’t matter here, and each of us found the other’s life journey almost incomprehensible – but a shared fascination for the role played by popular theology in Australian history meant we could (and did) talk for hours. Like me he'd made mistakes, but he’d also found the reality that in Christ we are more than just the sum of those mistakes. Yes, as the newspaper headlines have all blazed, and Gordon Moyes obscenely gloated, alcohol played a terrible role in those mistakes: perhaps drinking was easier than going crazy, or starting to cry and never being able to stop again. Either way there’s can be no doubt about this: Jeff Shaw drunk was still ten thousand times the man Gordon Moyes will ever be sober.

Of course what those now queuing to stick their knives into his memory never mention is his lifetime of work for those whom most lawyers weren’t interested in caring about. While silks in the big end of town were falling over themselves to represent the mining companies, Jeff’s door was always open for those suffering asbestos-related illnesses. When his driving-conviction (to which he pleaded guilty, and never attempted to deny) forced his retirement from the bench his enthusiasm for the position I and another friend found for him was palpable: he knew most of the clients in this street-level practice didn’t have a hope of paying and didn’t care, he was just excited to be once again representing those who needed his help most.

Sadly the ghosts which we all hoped would cease haunting him weren’t exorcised by the change, but that’s not for a moment to suggest that there weren’t plenty of occasions on which his sparkling wit and piercing brilliance were still very present. As was his compassion for the downtrodden, the lost and those mishandled by the judicial system of which he’d once been in charge. It’s this side of him which lives on, no matter how desperately his opponents might attempt to recall the demons which are now no more.

We’ll finish that conversation on Sydney Evangelicals and the alienation of workers in WW1 some other time, Jeff, but I promise to heed your advice to keep researching the link between the Sydney Diocese and the sickeningly corrupt Askin government of the 1960s. And thanks for all the encouragement you gave me to start thinking again about why things are the way that they are.

God Bless you mate: I miss you already.

13 comments:

susan s. said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. May he now rest in peace and rise in glory. Prayers for his wife and sons and for you dear Alcibiades.

Brian R said...

I read the Moyes article and was disgusted. I did not know him personally like you but did know a little of his good works and am pleased to see some letters to the Herald today mentioning them. It was sad to see a good man brought low by one fault. There but for the Grace of God go all of us.

Gregory said...

Jeff Shaw was a compassionate humanitarian, and strikingly distinct from the usual right wing goons or mediocre time-servers of NSW Labor.

I am impressed to know that Gordon Moyes, unlike most of us, is without sin and therefore entirely qualified to cast stones at the memory of this man whose human weaknesses were at his own cost and the cause of his own tragedy. Perhaps Mr Moyes’ “doctorates” (featured on his Parliamentary website) were awarded for “Impressive Manifestation of Christian Charity” or “Compassion Above and Beyond The Call of Duty”?

Gregory

Wormwood's Doxy said...

It is hard to lose a friend--especially under those circumstances. Prayers for Mr. Shaw, his family, and all who loved and were helped by him.

I suppose I'd better pray for Gordon Moyes too. (Sometimes I get really annoyed at Jesus for that bit of teaching...)

Pax,
Doxy

Anonymous said...

Whilst I am sorry for your loss Alcibiades... I must protest. Fr Troll and his colleagues at GAFCON, are collectively the greatest spiritual minds since Jesus and his disciples. To compare Dr Troll with Gordon Moyes is simply ridiculous! I think your grief has plummeted you into a state of confusion, but it's OK because we all know you meant this man!

http://www.blogger.com/profile/12876006684932410438

Anonymous said...

And here is a man who is really struggling with the word spirituality! http://www.sydneyanglicans.net/media/video/spiritual_things/
He doesn't seem to think the word spiritual is a noun. Well we all know Fr Troll and his colleagues are spiritual (n)!
(Religious, spiritual, or ecclesiastical matters. Often used in the plural http://www.answers.com/topic/spiritual)
I actually thought Jesus was spiritual!

Doorman-Priest said...

Ah, Christians eh? So good to model the teaching of Jesus in daily life.

Automatic Pilot said...

It is such a shame that prominent men of religion are so unkind. They present as politicans and not men of God.

Ms Dea Vine said...

Peter Jensen will be able to protest some more after he finishes with the ethics program in public schools. He can now whinge about the cuts to the Chaplaincy <a href="http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/maralynparker/index.php/dailytelegraph/comments/a_tick_for_education_from_me/>program</a>.

Rev Sidney Jensen said...

The poor man would have been perfect if only his name had been Jensen.

BooCat said...

I was so sorry to find this today when I checked by. Prayers for his family and for you, as always.

Alcibiades said...

No Brad - I haven't blocked your post because you used the name "+++Caroline Divine". It was because you were crass, boorish, narcissistic, and very, very foolish.

And because you know you can do better.

Anonymous said...

I was looking at Anglican Mainstreams using the NSW DET Internet. The site is not blocked so it's OK for teachers to view. However I noticed that towards the side of the page there was some writing so I copied it and this is what appeared...
The site http://r1rk9np7bpcsfoeekl0khkd2juj27q3o.a.friendconnect.gmodules.com/gadgets/ifr?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Ffriendconnect%2Fgadgets%2Fmembers.xml&container=peoplesense&parent=http%3A%2F%2Fanglicanmainstreams.blogspot.com%2F&mid=0&view=profile&libs=google.blog&d=0.548.6&lang=en&country=GB&communityId=03755779158934572251&caller=http%3A%2F%2Fanglicanmainstreams

When I clicked on it I got a small part of the NSW DET home page which was basically concealed and then I had to debug the computer.
Interestingly enough sites like this are not blocked or sites that constantly ridicule GLBT people and females like this one have no message down the side.

Can explain to me what is happening because a similar thing happened about 12 months ago and a group of high school teachers expressed concerns about what was happening when they logged onto a similar satirical site. Many teachers in public schools do not approve of discrimination against young gay and lesbian students. They present as the most vulnerable and often the most persecuted.