I remember when I first began to preach and lead worship – when I was a theology student, and would travel to different congregations to lead the Sunday service while their minister was on leave, or when the congregation in question needed a gap filled in their roster of lay worship leaders. It would occasionally occur that, after the service, someone would approach me, and with an apologetic smile and a whispered voice, would say: “That was very good – very good indeed. But I did think parts of it were a bit Catholic.” Continue reading “Mark 9: 38-50”
As a result of a number of recent posts on various social media platforms (or perhaps as a consequence of the cumulative effects of my posting), some people have recently asked me to “describe” my “politics”. Given that I seem to excoriate both the Liberal and Labor Parties (for non-Australian readers, they represent, respectively, the “conservative” and “progressive” wings of Australian politics, although both terms are now rather meaningless), where do I sit on the political spectrum? Or am I apolitical – or do I just write off all political parties and politicians as useless and snipe from the sidelines? Continue reading “Faith and Politics: A Reflection”
Sickened by the images of drowned refugee children who died while fleeing the ongoing carnage in Syria, and appalled by the callous and partisan response of Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, who has used this tragedy to defend the Government’s inhumane treatment of asylum seekers , I have decided that simply railing about this online is not enough.
I have started a petition to demand that Mr Abbott, and the Leader of the Federal Opposition, Mr Bill Shorten, lead a bi-partisan push to secure the phased resettlement of 20,000 Syrian refugees to Australia, as well as provide $150 million in emergency funding to the UNHCR so that they can more effectively manage this crisis.
I don’t care about the politics of this situation. I don’t care about the rights and wrongs, or who started what. The only thing I care about is that when children start drowning at sea because their parents have become so desperate and traumatised they’re prepared to risk dangerous sea voyages in order to get to safety – then is the time to act. And not by dropping more bombs on Syria, or turning back the boats, or turning our backs and saying it’s not our problem.
Please sign the petition. Please circulate it through your online and email networks. Please do something to persuade our political leaders and help this country do more to help those in desperate need. The petition can be signed here:
READER ADVISORY: WARNING – THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES OF BATTLEFIELD CASUALTIES AND DROWNING VICTIMS WHICH ARE DEEPLY DISTURBING.
On Monday evening, as I was watching the ABC’s panel discussion program Q&A, one of the panellists, Laurie Penny, responded to the notion that Australia (and other Western nations) owed an “obligation” to the people of the Middle East by participating in an aerial bombing campaign against the ISIS insurgent group in Syria, by arguing:
The idea that if the West was in any way involved with ISIS that gives us, therefore, a moral obligation to bomb Syria, that seems to me there’s several stages of logic missing from that equation. I’d say it is much more likely that the West actually, whether or not we have a moral responsibility in creating ISIS but particularly if we do, we have an obligation to take in Syrian refugees. That is where we start. You get those people out. It is a mess there and instead we’re saying, no, no, no, we turn those back. Just last year in Australia, I believe you had discussions of how to repatriate the few Syrian migrants who made it here to the offshore detention centres, how to send them back to Syria. This is monstrous. It is monstrous that more aid isn’t being sent to Jordan where there, I think, there are over a million refugees in camps in Oman. It is monstrous that more isn’t being done to help the people rather than saying, oh, we have a big moral duty to strut our stuff on the world stage and send in tanks. These people need to get out. They need help right now.
I came to the ordained ministry of the Uniting Church in Australia from a background in the trade union movement. In Australia at present, a Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption is underway. As a consequence, I have been asked more than once in recent weeks: Is there corruption in the union movement? Is the Royal Commission a political witch hunt?
My answer to both questions is: Yes. Continue reading “Trade Unions, Corruption, and Royal Commissions: A Reflection”