Category Archives: rant

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CELEBRATE WHAT WE HAVE IN COMMON NOT WHERE WE DIFFER

 Loitering and ‘being’ opens the horizons of the mind and heart, it also challenges prejudice.
Meeting people from around our world. people with who we have much in common, others who see the world quite differently from us, all make a rich and interesting tapestry.

At a Vigil held in the city of Melbourne where I work, after a tragic incident to place, I observed a diversity not always appreciated. Mostly this is often as a result of ignorance, fear and mistrust of other.

Sitting after the vigil with a man, a complete stranger to me, we held hands we chatted about what we have in common.

He a Hindu and me a white anglo-saxon commonly known as ‘a Christian”.

Both affected by what had happened, both deeply moved by the service and both saying how at times like this we need each other.

While we do love ‘our’ country, and want it to ‘be safe’ and for some just like ‘the good ol’ days’, we are called to love.

For those of us who claim to ‘love God with all our heart, strength and mind’ sometimes forget to love neighbour as self.

I don’t expect its always easy, its not for me, so together lets strive to get it, who knows we may even look back one day and claim these were the ‘good ol’ day’!!


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Love Others Radically

Love others so radically they wonder why.

This weekend it was announced by the Prime Minister that he wants to pass a law that says that anyone who has tried to come to Australia, illegally,  by boat since 2013 will NEVER be allowed to enter the country. It is being done as a “sign to the people smugglers of how serious we are” about border protection. That’s great , Mr Turnbull, but it’s not the people smugglers who are being effected by this, its the little people desperate to find a new life away from tyranny and oppression – they won’t find it here apparently. (Yes, I know that some of the boat people are trying to jump the queue and beat the system but the (documented) majority are trying to escape terrible lives. Just think, what would have to happen to you and your family to make you jump into a boat and risk your life? It’s not a decision that most of the people make lightly.)

I was listening to the radio yesterday morning and a politician (I don’t remember her name) confirmed to the interviewer that if someone has tried to come to Australia to seek asylum by boat, even if they are found to have a legitimate claim, they will not be allowed to enter the country EVER! My friend (who works for the United Nations as a lawyer) cannot work out how many U.N. statutes  and Internation Laws this new law (if passed) will contravene. Where is our nation’s compassion? Where is our love for our neighbour? When we will stop singing the National Anthem that says, in the second verse, “For those who’ve come across the seas, we’ve boundless plains to share”?

Please don’t think I’m advocating that we do away with our immigration laws – I’m not. I went through the system to be allowed to live here, it was fair to me. I am questioning the fairness and justice of a law that contravenes many International laws and treaties for those legitimate people who have been so oppressed in their own country that they have had to make the difficult decision to flee and will be denied the right I have because of the way they travel; for many the boats are the only way they can get out. (And I’m very aware of the amazing privilege I have to be able to write this blog, granted to me because I do live in a ‘free’ country.)

The sign this week speaks of the Christian value of love – that love that Jesus speaks about and shows to others. To those who, in the eyes of the government of his time, didn’t deserve love; to those that did him all manner of wrong; to those who oppressed him and, eventually, killed him.

This ‘radical’ love is what we, as Christians (I would say decent humans), should strive for; a self giving love that sees others as equals; a love (and a way of life) that doesn’t judge the worth of others by what their job is, or where they come from.

Love one another because love is from God – to quote a book a read from time to time.

A very appropriate meme!


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Irony

Christian
Non-Christian
Oh, the irony
Before I go on I must say that the person mentioned in this blog does not express the views of all Christians or, for that matter, all non-Christians.
I had the dubious pleasure this morning of listening to a prominent church leader (an archbishop, I think) chime in with his ideas on the marriage equality debate. It was an entertaining few minutes, I actually laughed once or twice. Then it sunk in that this man was representing to the radio audience the views of the whole Christian Church and that horrified me because what he said is certainly not my view nor the view of most of my Christian friends (and non-Christian friends as well.) 
The two things that will stick in my mind from his, most illuminating, speech were these – 

  • that anyone who supports the proposed marriage equality laws is not ‘a whole person.’ 

and

  • there shouldn’t be a vote in parliament on the marriage equality debate because it is too important an issue to be decided by politicians. 

I have to admit that this is not an ridiculous idea, or so I thought until the speaker followed up, answering a question, with the idea that yes, politicians have been given the mandate to start wars but not change the marriage laws, they shouldn’t be allowed to change the marriage laws as they are not qualified to do so.
If these weren’t such stupid statements I’d laugh. 

How can someone say that anyone who supports the proposed marriage equality laws is not ‘a whole person’? Does that mean that the 73 years old grandmother of 5 I was speaking to yesterday, who supports the idea of marriage equality, is not a ‘whole person’. According to a recent poll 72% of all Australians are not ‘whole people’ because they support marriage equality. 

I’ve heard the view about who is a whole person before from (primarily) Roman Catholic clergy and I’ve read the same view in (primarily) Roman Catholic publications, but it has always been aimed towards gay people. The Roman Catholic Church seems to view all LBGTQi people as not whole but never before have I heard it expressed that ANYONE who supports marriage equality is not a whole person. 

It seemed to me that I have to agree with the speaker on everything to be considered a whole person. I don’t and yet I feel quite whole but then again am I qualified to speak about that? Which brings me on to the second point.

Politicians are not qualified to make a decision on marriage equality.

What qualifications do they need? Is there a test that politicians should take to work out which laws they can change? 

They have the power to send our military away to die but they are not qualified to decide if legislation needs changing. From the way it was worded by the archbishop this morning it seems that it’s not just the marriage equality legislation they can’t change, it’s all legislation. They are unqualified. 

How does it work then? If they are able to drive a car can they debate the traffic laws (which relate to cars but not trucks obviously, unless they can drive a truck)? What about the laws on adoption and fostering – if they haven’t adopted a child should they abstain from the debate? Do they have to surf the internet to take part in a debate on the N.B.N.? They are elected to do this stuff. It’s what they do and, despite what I say sometimes, they do it quite well on the whole.
But this isn’t a blog about politicians, this is about Christians and how some of them don’t seem understand irony especially the irony about preaching one thing and yet doing another. I could go on and on about this but I’ll end with a short story and a Bible verse to demonstrate what I mean.
I have a friend in the U.S. (who happens to be gay). She works in a bar/restaurant and is given Sunday mornings off by the atheist owners to go to church because she is a Christian. One Sunday she went to one of the big churches they have over there. After the service the pastor came up to her and asked her not to come back to his church as he doesn’t want “her kind” in his church. The passage he had just finished preaching on was the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:40 – “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” 
She feels more welcome in the atheist’s bar – 
Oh the irony.


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Australia: What are we doing???

Australia: Where the Government will try and put a sick baby on a plane but won’t do the same for a sick Cardinal.

This blog is inspired by a twitter post I read over the week end.

I’d like to continue the re-working of Bible verse this week with a look at Matthew 25 40 & 45

40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these… you did it to me.’
and
45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

What would Jesus say to the idea of the government (working for the people of this country) sending a sick baby, who was born here by the way, to a detention camp? I think he would say something like, “Just as you did it to baby Asha, you did it to me.”

I don’t care what your politics are, which side of the line you sit, if you can tell me it’s right to send a sick baby to a detention camp I don’t think we’re going to agree on our views of Jesus (among other things).

For once this isn’t about Cardinal Pell or the Roman Catholic church.* This is about doing what is right – is it right for the government to try and deport a sick baby and yet not ask a sick Cardinal to come back and answer questions that he has to answer? Is it right that, in our name, the government are denying human rights to one group of people and yet defending (or at least not infringing them) in others? Are we seeing a double standard here? Foreigners are less important than Australians living overseas? Somehow Cardinals are worth more than Refugees?

Jesus never made that distinction. “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these… you did it to me.” 

I, for one, do not wish to stand before God with the deportation of baby Asha (or any of the asylum seekers) on the list of things I have done wrong – that list is long enough without adding to it. 

Australia – we are better than this! Far better. We live in the lucky country not the cruel country. Let’s tell those who have the power to make decisions that some things are just plain wrong and shouldn’t be done – not in our name.

just as you did it to one of the least of these… you did it to me!

* I have been accused of being anti-catholic and that is not true. Let me make it very clear here that I am not anti-catholic. I am anti-cover up; I don’t agree (and that’s putting it mildly) with the way some of the leaders of the Roman Catholic church seem to have covered up the systematic abuse of children in their care. If that is the case then they should have to answer for any crimes (and covering it up is every bit as bad as actually doing it in my book). I think that Cardinal Pell has a duty to answer, in person, the questions from the Royal Commission. I am not making any statement about his guilt or innocence, I don’t know anything about that – under law he is innocent until proven guilty but I think he should front up and not have the relative safety of a video link to hide behind.

If it would encourage him I point him again to Matthew 25 v. 40 and, in light of him not testifying yet, verse 45.

But like I say – this isn’t about him. He will face the Royal Commission and also a far higher judge soon enough.


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‘popup church’.

POPUP is an informal get together of people, who have faith communities, but sometimes like to to discuss, vent, encourage, be encouraged and heard in a different setting.
Today three of us spent one and a half hours drinking coffee/hot chocolate and discussing matters of faith and personal stuff.
We are quite different, rather than look for differences we share what we have in common and challenge and are challenged to think and rethink what we believe and why.
It is always good to listen and be heard, and to go away knowing we love and care for each other.
One person who is a regular, has recently moved back with partner and family after a time of separation,another is a single dad coping with all the stuff of life and who hangs out with ‘dangerous’ people, then there is me, who struggles to make sense of doubt and faith.

Together we travel this road we call ‘our faith journey’, and together discover the importance of life before death!!

It’s a mixed group, crazy group, and its sinners and saints together making sense of life


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For people who love Jesus so much that they hate YOU, we pray a lot!

“Okay, watch that step as you climb onto my bandwagon….again”

I was reading the Bible the other day, yes I do read it occasionally despite what some people think, and I found a bit I’d never seen before…

There’s this bit in the Bible called the Gospel of St. Matthew, it’s full of great things, stories and sayings and stuff. It’s split into chapters and the chapters are split into verses. In one of those ‘chapters’, 22 actually, at verse 37 and 39 there is this great bit that seems to have been edited in many Bibles. The first part seems to be there but some Bibles don’t seem to have the second bit.  The whole thing says…

Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

 
I meet lots of nice Christian people who seem to have Bibles with only the first part. Lots of loving God and Jesus and stuff and that where it ends – they miss out on the next bit, it looks like it’s been cut out of their Gospels and that’s very sad because it’s a commandment. This commandment that is ‘like’ the first one and the first one is ‘the greatest commandment’. So that second, missing one is also an important commandment – ‘love your neighbour as yourself.’ We can’t ignore that it, yet so many seem to or at least choose who they think their neighbour is.

I get emails from people and it surprises me how many are from ‘Christians’ who tell me I’m wrong for, and I’ll quote one for you, “caring for the rag heads and fags bcoz Gods sending them to hell.” So that second part doesn’t count then – those ‘people’ aren’t your neighbours, is that’s it?

I get so frustrated – why can’t people see this? – It’s not rocket science – WE CANNOT PICK WHO JESUS TELLS US TO LOVE, we don’t get to make that decision.

And yet so many Christians think we can. I’ve seen lists that ‘Christians’ have written of people that God hates – everything from authors who write about children who go to magic school to people who watch films about kids who go to magic school to people that listen to rock music to people who read C.S. Lewis (yeah that one made me laugh too). If you put enough of these lists together you can see that God hates everyone and, therefore, so should we!

Yet I see that little verse in that Matthew Gospel thingy that says, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

Let’s narrow the whole thing down to the street on which I live  – I don’t get to choose who my next door neighbour is – I’d like to but I don’t get to. I’d like Hallé Berry but, like I said, I don’t get to make that choice. So my next door neighbour is whoever ends up living in the house next to me – it could be a horrible, rich, white Christian family or it could be a nice, poor Muslim family or, well my point is it could be anyone – even you.

And here’s the steps for that bandwagon – climb up and join me as we look BIG PICTURE again  –

Guess what – Jesus says that we should ‘love our neighbour as ourselves’ – WHOEVER that  neighbour is! The ‘rag head’ or the ‘fag’, or any other of 10,000 derogatory terms you can use, do not let you escape the fact that Jesus has told you that they are your neighbour and you are commanded, COMMANDED, to love them like you do yourself.

Tough isn’t it! No one said it would be easy.


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churches should be ARMED!

(with the sound suppressed, semi-automatic pistol of the Spirit. Yours for under $2,000)

 

I will draw my Texas blog to a close – in its own way Texas was as brilliant as Denver. Where Denver was hands on, feet dirty, get in there and do it Texas was very different. And I expected it to be.

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I went there to learn social media stuff and wow did I have a brilliant teacher – Pastor David Hansen (as well as being an amazing pastoral minister (you should see the way the people in the church love him), an amazing host (with his lovely wife Megan), a very handsome man (have you seen the pictures? he reminds me of a movie star or at least someone I know I’ve seen before) – on top of all that he is also a social media guru.

A lot of my Texas time was taken up sitting in front of computers doing ‘stuff’. Twitter and Facebook are no longer mysteries to me – podcasting, pfft I can do it in my sleep now – and twitter chats – I’ve seen how the best moderates them (from an armchair, with a beer!).

But being a geek wasn’t all I did. There are just one or two little experiences I want to share before I move on –

 

Lunch with Bishop Mike –

 

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The ELCA (The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) has bishops. I had lunch with one and his family. I would just like to say thank you to Bishop Mike for taking time out of his sabbatical to come and eat TexMex with me. We had a great chat and to hear of the work and how the ELCA orders things makes our Gymanfa look very small. (I know it is but this reminded me of how small.) Bishop Mike has been quite outspoken on the situation in Gaza and we had a great discussion about balancing personal and professional social media posts. I learnt a lot (and not just how to load a taco). Thank you.

Another visit to a Christian book barn.

WOW – these places scare me – piousness and poison under the same roof. A man cannot serve two masters – its either God or money well in this place God was served a lot – every transaction was something about God but he was not the master there, this was a Christian money printing factory. I might be wrong but isn’t “Clean hands and a pure heart” hand sanitiser going a bit far?? What about “the spark plugs Jesus would use”?

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Some of the books would be funny if they weren’t serious titles – “God and Guns” was probably my favourite but there were plenty of others.

Bad breath? Jesus mints will drive out the demons of halitosis.

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God bless my gun cabinet.

A prayer to God for peace, for America and for the Marine Corps.

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It was endless – I was glad when we left and went to the gun store!

 

I had heard a lot about the gun culture in the States – the right to bear arms (but not to arm bears – it would be fairer if they did). I was intrigued to see it for myself and where better than the local, family run, gun shoppe.

 

If the Christian book store was bad I don’t know what this was. It was a temple to gun metal, and it was a very scary temple.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time around firearms, I know what they can do and I think I can use one safely. This place wasn’t a gun store though, it was an arsenal. You can get pink shotguns for your little girl; semi-automatic rifles to go ‘hunting’ with; as much ammo as you could carry; shoulder holsters; ankle holsters; gun vests; cartridge making machines – everything the wanna be gun nut could want; but the worse thing (or the best thing, depending on your point of view) was the pistol with military grade suppressor (silencer).

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Why would you ever need one? I cannot think of a legal situation that would require a pistol with a silencer. I can sort of see why you would need a semi-automatic rifle with sub-sonic, hollow point bullets – if a huge bear was running at me, all teeth and claws and menace I’d probably be glad of one, (I still think they should arm the bears to make the fight fairer though) but a silenced semi-automatic pistol.

WHY?

Not for personal protection – I’d want every criminal to know I had a gun so I wouldn’t silence it. Not for hunting – its useless as a hunting pistol and still makes enough noise to scare off any game. Not at the local gun club – you all wear ear protectors. I cannot for the life of me see why.

 

I fell in love with parts of America and with parts of the American church but there are certain things that make me glad I’m coming home to Oz – and military grade, noise suppressed, semi-automatic pistols for under $2,000 is one of them. Makes me shudder to think of it.

 

I was sad to leave the Lone Star State. I made good friends there, I saw how two wonderful churches (Spirit of Joy! (don’t leave out the exclamation mark) and Grace Lutheran) and how two truly wonderful pastors work, I met loads of wonderful people of God who are doing amazing work in his name, even a couple of decent presbyterians. But Texas really is another America though – a wild, weird and wonderful place full of strange people, spaceships, gun shops and Jeezus.

 

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Onward to Baltimore…..

 

Category : Community , News , rant , SM , Social Media , The Trip , US , Welcome


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Actions Speak Louder Than Like Buttons

It’s not so much a blog this week as a rant!

Like most people on Facebook I like people to ‘like’ my posts. It doesn’t destroy my life and equilibrium if I don’t get loads of ‘likes’, nor does it make my life better if I do but it is nice to see how many appreciate what I post.

BUT

(Did you see the big but there?) But, like the title says, actions speak louder than like buttons. We can press ‘like’ 1000 times on posts similar to the ones below but if we do nothing about it then we have wasted our time and energy.

As of 9am 6 people have liked this picture…

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And that’s great. I know most of them and I also know they will try and live out what it says.

4 people have pressed on this one…

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And I just posted this…

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All I want to say is

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN LIKE BUTTONS

Don’t just press it – live it!

Rant over.


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