Category Archives: Culture & Art

tgif (trash goes into flight): the bastardisation of creativity

Turn on the radio and you’ll find yourself bathing in the cesspool that is popular music.

Whoa, slow down there cowboy! That’s a pretty harsh way to start, you can’t open with that!

Maybe you’re right. I suppose that lots of music on the radio is actually very good. But you have to admit that a good deal of it can hardly be called beautiful.

Yes, yes, you’re right on that one. But on the other hand beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and those songs you’re talking about tend to be very popular, hence why they are on the radio. Somebody must like them!

Of course, I’m not denying their appeal. But I think the problem with these songs goes beyond their appeal.

What do you mean?

Well, I wonder what makes a song beautiful, or creative. Surely much of what appears in the music charts cannot be said to be creative.

That opens up a big set of questions. What does it even mean to be creative? Read the rest of this entry

let’s talk about sex, baby! (…and consumerism)

Many Christians are very critical of contemporary sexual culture, and rightly so. But what is the worldview behind this culture of so-called sexual liberation? Perhaps, by directly attacking modern ideas about sexuality, Christians are like people trying to scoop water out of their hallway with a teaspoon when it would be much smarter to turn off the flooding bathtub.

In their book Colossians Remixed, Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat make a very brief and powerful statement about the connection of contemporary sexual culture to our culture of consumption. Speaking about Colossians 3:5 they say:

Sexual sin, greed and idolatry – what is the relation among these? Why end a list of sexual sins with an economic sin? Because sexual sin is fundamentally a matter of covetousness, an insatiable, self-gratifying greed that has the control and consumption of the other person as its ultimate desire. Sexual sin is not sin because it is sexual but because it is invariably covetous. it replaces the pleasure and sexual enjoyment of two people in a loving relationship with a self-centred gratification of sexual longings that can never be fulfilled apart from commitment. Read the rest of this entry

confessions of a “worship” leader

For years I have been involved in playing music to help lead Christians in worship.

Music leader, song leader, worship leader; call it whatever you want. Without wanting to sound in any way conceited (I assure you, about this I am not), I earned a fair amount of praise and encouragement from people who claimed my leading helped them in some way.

In my late teenage years (I have now just turned 26) so-called “worship” and music was central to my faith journey. My identity was largely derived from my music leading, and there was a lot of pressure to conform to the image of other well-known worship leaders. I truly believed that my calling, that my purpose, was to be found in leading people in worship by way of music.

I sang a lot of songs. A lot of words. But eventually something dawned on me – all that music, all that so-called “worship,” wasn’t necessarily changing me or anyone else I was leading. Read the rest of this entry

neither refugee nor refuged: christ, empire & the unsolution

The so-called Malaysian Solution marks a terrible chapter in Australia’s immigration history.

While many people have tried to argue that Julia Gillard lied about the carbon tax, I find this argument to be wilfully ignorant of the events of the last twelve months.

Where Gillard has lied, however, is on the issue of asylum seekers. She has previously claimed that the Howard Government’s so-called Pacific Solution was, “costly, unsustainable and wrong as a matter of principle.” Read the rest of this entry

asylum seeker stories from villawood

On Saturday some friends and I went to Villawood Immigration Detention Centre to visit some Tamil Sri Lankan asylum seekers and refugees currently housed there.

I am somewhat hesitant to post this story lest it look like I am attempting to portray myself as somehow heroic. Nothing could be further from the truth since a single visit does not make me particularly compassionate or generous.

I am not going to bang on about how bad the conditions were, since visitors are confined to the visitor area and thus I did not see the living quarters etc. In saying this I think that, against my assumptions, Serco was doing a reasonable job at running the facility given that they are simply out to make a profit. My belief is that the Australian Government, with its awful policies, both past and present, is to blame for our shocking treatment of asylum seekers. I have written about this elsewhere, so back to the story.

After spending over two hours with these young men I was struck by the similarities between them and myself. Read the rest of this entry

thoughts on islamophobia and fundamentalism

Anders Behring Breivik

How easy it is for Australians to jump to the conclusion that Islamic extremists are responsible for all forms of terrorism. The latest tragedy in Norway represents a prime example of this.

(In saying this I do not mean to in any way negate the scope of the tragedy, or divert attention from the horrific 91+ deaths of mostly young people; I merely intend to discuss one aspect of the issue from the point of view of this blog’s theme.)

The New York Times claimed that initial reports focused on the possibility of Islamic militants (with, it seems, no credible evidence for this).

The UK’s Guardian suggested that, “The most tempting and immediate conclusion was that it would be a jihadist group,” (again with no credible evidence).

Australia’s Andrew Bolt put his suspicions out in the open Read the rest of this entry

walter wink on homosexuality & the bible (part 3): conclusions

This post is the third part of a series on Walter Wink’s views on homosexuality and the Bible. It is advisable to read Part 1 on the Old Testament and Part 2 on the New Testament before continuing below.

The very notion of a “sex ethic” reflects the materialism and splitness of modern life, in which we increasingly define our identity sexually. Sexuality cannot be separated off from the rest of life. No sex act is “ethical” in and of itself, without reference to the rest of a person’s life, the patterns of the culture, the special circumstances faced, and the will of God. What we have are simply sexual mores, which change, sometimes with startling rapidity, creating bewildering dilemmas. Just within one lifetime we have witnessed the shift from the ideal of preserving one’s virginity until marriage, to couples living together for several years before getting married. The response of many Christians is merely to long for the hypocrisies of an earlier era.
– Walter Wink

In this final offering on Walter Wink’s views set out in his article Homosexuality and the Bible, I will attempt to gather up the loose ends that have escaped the net spread out in the previous two posts of this series.

For Wink there is nothing more and nothing less at stake in this debate than the way we read Scripture. His view seems to be that literalistic readings will not do, given that the Bible is culturally bound (it was inspired by God through culturally-bound humans), and that our readings/interpretations are necessarily selective and culturally bound: Read the rest of this entry

walter wink on homosexuality & the bible (part 2): new testament

This post is the second part of a series on Walter Wink’s views on homosexuality and the Bible. It is advisable to read Part 1 on the Old Testament before continuing below.

The debate over homosexuality is a remarkable opportunity, because it raises in an especially acute way how we interpret the Bible, not in this case only, but in numerous others as well. The real issue here, then, is not simply homosexuality, but how Scripture informs our lives today.

Fresco from the Tomb of the Diver, c.475 BC. Paestum, Italy.

With these words of Walter Wink we launch into the second part of this series on homosexuality and the Bible. In the last post I summarised Wink’s case as presented in his article Homosexuality and the Bible in regards to the Old Testament. In short his argument could be summarised as claiming we cannot simple say “the Bible says” while holding an inconsistent approach to interpretation in which we allow some parts of the Bible to dictate our behaviour while ignoring others for no reason other than arbitrary selection (based on our own cultural preferences). In this sequel I will summarise Wink’s comments on each of the relevant New Testament passages that speak directly about homosexuality (since there are only a few). Read the rest of this entry

walter wink on homosexuality & the bible (part 1): old testament

Sexual issues are tearing our churches apart today as never before. The issue of homosexuality threatens to fracture whole denominations, as the issue of slavery did a hundred and fifty years ago. We naturally turn to the Bible for guidance, and find ourselves mired in interpretative quicksand. Is the Bible able to speak to our confusion on this issue?

These words of Dr. Walter Wink, professor emeritus at Auburn Theological Seminary, ring truer than ever as Australians engage in constant debate about homosexual marriage. Whatever our position we must recognise that this is not a simple debate, nor is it abstract; it affects real people who are made in the image of God.

This post begins a two-part (maybe three-part?) series on Walter Wink’s thoughts on the Bible and homosexuality. This series is intended for the purpose of asking important hermeneutical and exegetical questions that often go overlooked in the course of all-too-common prooftexting. Such a practice is, in my view, inconsistent; why do we accept some of the Bible’s imperatives, but not others? Surely we need deeper biblical engagement on complex issues such as homosexuality. It is for this kind of discussion that I offer these posts. Read the rest of this entry

“bogan” racism? the raquel moore episode


SBS’s “Go Back To Where You Came From” has been that channel’s most successful project this year, reaching the worldwide top Twitter trending topics list two nights in a row (with the third episode airing tonight).

The idea is creative and brilliant – a documentary/social experiment/reality show all rolled into one. It harnesses the power of story over purely cognitive rhetoric, which has seemingly failed to change minds, and generally does not wield such transformative power (a reality that articles like this seem completely blind to).

On Twitter the confronting subject matter regarding refugees is not the only thing making waves; indeed one participant has become a Tweeting topic in her own right.

Raquel Moore has appeared across the Twitterverse, often coupled with labels like “bogan”, “ignorant” and other less repeatable companions.

True, Raquel did confess to being a racist in the first episode. Equally true is that after two episodes she does not seem to have shown any indication of changing her bigoted stance.

There is however still one episode to go.

For that reason it may be too early to comment. However something should be said about the name-calling that has gone on in the last two days. Read the rest of this entry

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 615 other followers

%d bloggers like this: