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beyond survival day: reflections on australia day 2012

This post is of the kind I dread most; a subject about which I am deeply convicted, that I find hard to form into a coherent discourse, and that I know will win me few friends.

However in light of the current subject my discomfort is jovial at best, and I would do well to remember that.

January 26 is a day of celebration for most Australians, of our history, identity and future. However in remembering our history many Australians prefer to screen out those episodes that do not paint the colonisers in a venerable light.

Aboriginal Nations (Click to Enlarge)

Exactly one year ago I wrote a post entitled Happy Invasion Day, a reminder of the fact that this land was taken from its first peoples. Since then I have come to prefer the label “Survival Day”, a commemoration of the fact that despite the recent history of this land the Aboriginal people are still here. Whatever the label, I can no longer celebrate Australia Day in the same way I have in years past; I cannot celebrate only the positive aspects our history knowing the pain and suffering of innocents on which it is built. Both must be acknowledged.

I do not wish to speak on behalf of Aboriginal people, for I am aware I have no right to do so. But I am also aware that Read the rest of this entry

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bringing them home: saying sorry to the aboriginal people

Today (May 26th) is National Sorry Day, and it will be followed by National Reconciliation Week from May 27-June 3.

National Sorry Day was first observed in 1998, one year after a report was tabled concerning the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. The report, entitled as Bringing Them Home, acknowledged that these children were forcibly removed from their families and communities beginning in the early days of British occupation of the land, and that the government and missionaries were most directly responsible.

Reconciliation Week begins on May 27 with the anniversary of a Referendum in 1967 which removed clauses from the Australian Constitution that were discriminatory to Aboriginal Australians.

The week ends on June 3, the anniversary of the infamous Mabo case of 1992 in which the High Court of Australia recognised Native Title rights and overturned ‘terra nullius’ (the myth that prior to European settlement the land was empty of people and was unowned.)

Clearly this is a significant time for the Aboriginal people and for all Australians. Read the rest of this entry

what is a “fisher of men”?

Mark 1:17 and Matthew 4:19, in which Jesus calls Andrew and Peter to be “fishers of men”, is a well-trodden piece of biblical narrative, at least as heard from the pulpit.

Many a preacher has exhorted their church or audience to be “fishers of men”. This normally refers to their evangelistic efforts, whereby fishing for men means something like bringing them in to the faith, in the same way you might land a swordfish on a 30-footer (fisherman may correct my ignorance at this point…)

But let me cut to the chase – is that what Jesus meant? Read the rest of this entry

she works hard for the money?

“We read the gospel as if we had no money, and we spend our money as if we know nothing of the gospel.”

– Father John Haughey

No doubt there has been much criticism of the Church in regards to its handling of finances in the wider world over the last few decades. While the majority of the Church has probably not deserved such criticism, the fact is a few bad eggs will ruin the meal.

Such criticisms are a great opportunity, though, for the Church to re-evaluate where it does in fact stand in regards to money and wealth. Keep Reading…

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