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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The joy, the gift of books

Readers of Desert will note my penchant for adding further details of books, media, netlinks to posts where possible.  This is part of my aim to make this blog a true resource base for those interested in desert spirituality and topics connected to that interest.

The other day while posting on the passing of Elise Boulding, I discovered the book pictured above.  This caught my attention for two reasons: matters monastic are usually appropriate to Desert and, of course, this would be a perfect fit for my food blog, Oz Tucker.

And then, while resourcing this post about my friend Avraham's new radio show, I discovered this book. As an environmental campaigner, I wanted to know more and better about this topic I had come across from Jewish friends previously.  So.......

.....to the wonders of the used bookshops of the USA. 
 Now, let's be clear and honest upfront. I am a book addict - a barely in control junkie!  In these days of my great antiquity, a limited budget and bookshelf limitations keep me in check - somewhat.  I rarely buy a new book - but an exception was made for Shane Howard's Lyrics. Mostly second hand stuff and usually that is related to water issues and natural resource management.  I use libraries and inter-library loan systems.  (BTW, forgot to mention that I was formerly a librarian!)  These books qualify for their keeping qualities, their utility, and their blog-relatedness and resourcefulness.

I regularly order from the used booksellers who advertise and link with Amazon.  The quality is superb, the prices are highly competitive (i.e. low) which means that when postage to Australia is added the books are still reasonably priced and, usually, I am getting the standard of a brand new book at less than brand new prices.

And then there is the method of delivery....

My daughter does regular clothes and homewares purchasing from catalogues.  We are used to the rat-tat-tat on the front door about 7 to 8am and opening the door to parcels on the step as the white van with an anonymous Santa Claus drives away.  

And that's how I feel when the bookseller parcels turn up - gifted.  My presents have arrived!  Sometimes a note is inside.  Often nothing.  Packaging always excellent.  And this morning REALSIMPLEDEALS of New Haven, Missouri wrote on the package in black texta a cheery and encircled Thank You!

So stay tuned.  Snippets from my purchases will almost certainly end up in a post as I share my gifts with you, dear Readers.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Shane Howard : Spirit of Place: Spirit's Rest

On Friday night, I spent an inspirational evening in the company of Shane Howard and 299 other people.  You can read all about it over on The Network.  To get a handle on Shane's spiritual thoughts, please go to the bottom right of the post to "further read" and seek out the links to his recent conversation with Jon Cleary.  You will find reference in the post to Spirit of Place.  In tribute to this concept, I am re-publishing on The Network my essay, Spirit's Rest.


Rainbow on The Barkly
life is one of presence to the desert, presence to God. 
For the desert is an empty and vast symbol of the unknowable God.

William Johnston in The Wounded Stag

The Barkly is a distinct region extending across the Queensland and Northern Territory border, not too far from the centre of Australia. While the region itself is distinct in geology, geography, and culture its boundaries are blurred, difficult to outline definitively.

One can enter upon The Barkly without knowing. There is no sign to provide direction or tell of arrival there. The one sign - sacrament even - is a highway, The Barkly Highway. It travels laterally through the region in a more or less straight line for not quite a thousand kilometres. It penetrates a land of legend yet travellers who are not familiar with the resource, cultural or historic richness of The Barkly feel they are in a barren and desolate land.

A traveller may unknowingly pass one of the greatest pastoral holdings in the world, through country traversed to this day by people of traditional and diverse language groupings without anything to draw attention to the fact. Occasionally, evidence of the region’s geological richness is seen in towns and mining superstructure.

On the NT side, The Barkly covers approximately 250,000 square kilometres with a population of approximately 6,000 people. People of the continental fringe ask “Why do you live there?” They have a picture of stagnation and boredom and isolation. They do not understand that life here is one of “presence to the desert, presence to God.” This is a place to be present to people and their cultures.

What does this “presence” mean? Our Australian interior is old country and it is palpably so. Come upon The Barkly just east of Cloncurry, Queensland. Travel through the Argyllas. To one whose spirit belongs in The Barkly, and who has travelled gradually from the urbanised coastal fringes of the continent, the spirit sings on arrival.

This is home. This is rest for the body, soul and spirit. Here is healing. To travel eastward from Mount Isa to Cloncurry, one has a vista of vast ages imposing the elements on a continually worn landscape.

Travel across the vast distances between Tennant Creek and the Queensland-Northern Territory border and one is conscious of humanity’s place in the scheme of things. Distance, vastness, isolation, and extremes of climate are overwhelming here. The traveller is not in a comfortable landscape. Here the landscape not only surrounds utterly, it penetrates one’s being.

There are no huge trees. There is abundant flora which does not grow tall. Much of it hugs the ground, staying close to make the most of what little moisture there may be and to present a low profile to the desert wind.

In making one’s life present to the desert, it is possible - as in all things - to see positive and negative results. For those whom the desert has adversely overwhelmed, the spirit may be left barren, parched, and cracked. Unable to give forth life.

For those who have allowed themselves to be open to the desert, who have absorbed its beauty as well as its harshness, there is abundant life. The secret waterfilled places are known. The rich lodes of quartz hanging on tightly to precious gold are treasured in deep places. There is food from the grassland and language and culture to allow expression, celebration and remembrance.

The Barkly appears flat and unchanging but there are the high places. The patriarchal literature of the Old Testament tells of the worship of El Shaddai on the high places. These are places of vista. In The Barkly, suddenly, one may find oneself alone gazing out across the vastness from stunning vantage.

There is a place when travelling east on The Barkly Highway near Alexandria where suddenly there is the realisation of a high place. I once came to this place in the early evening of a long summer twilight. A 240 degree vista of golden grassed plain was before me. Above it hung a heavy storm-grey sky filled with lightning dancing from horizon to horizon: a timeless theatrical performance from the drama of eternity.

When I travel north from Tennant, the road to Renner Springs provides high places to lift my spirit and cause it to rejoice. I look across expanses of countryside without a sign of anything that has to do with a human being. It is truly wilderness without habitation.

Presence to the desert, presence to God? The former permits the latter. Being present to the desert takes one from a zone of comfort. It shatters and remoulds preconceived ideas. It relies on the experiential not the idyllic nor the theoretical. It calls forth the tangible into the spiritual and allows the spiritual to inform earthly reality. It means exposure to elemental force. It becomes an incarnation of spirit and matter as real as the Christian theology of God became Man and dwelt among us.

To place one’s self in the desert is to place one’s self in the presence of God. It is stepping into the place of vulnerability. No longer the doer but the done to. No longer the knower but the seeker. No longer the lover but the loved. No longer owning but sharing. From here, the place of spirit’s rest, becomes the place of spirit’s growth.

© Brigid O’Carroll Walsh 2000


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Anglo-Catholicism: is it out for the count?

Over at Khanya, my long-time internet friend (goes back further than blogs) Steve Hayes has written an excellent post about Anglo-Catholicism and its diminution if not yet complete disappearance.  I commend this post to Desert readers.  I have also commented on the post.

I believe it raises deep questions relating to history and culture.  Do we expect such a rise and decline of the expressions of faith?  Are we so tied to our culture that we can only express and respond to faith in contemporary ways that are condemned to rise and decline throughout human history?   

Many people of faith hold to a certain absolutism of key areas of faith in season and out of season.  Certain expressions of faith - take for example Desert Spirituality - never quite go out of fashion or season.  Sometimes, like in recent years, they become more widely known and practised and at other times such expressions gain the interest of only a few.  

These are just a few questions that could be discussed - and not least of these issues is that of mission: of the Christian community's Christ-given task to take the good news into the world and the response or lack of response our implementation of the mission might receive.  Comments welcome.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

TIKKUN OLAM - Repairing the earth - Healing the earth - starts on radio tonight

My friend Avraham is itting the airwaves to-night on what, I think, is Melbourne's newest radio station, Lion FM 96.1   Here is his programming info:

I am proud to announce that I'll be hosting an hour-long radio program on "Tikkun Olam" (Healing the World) every Tuesday night, 9.00 pm, on the new frequency, Lion FM 96.1, starting TONIGHT - Tuesday 13 July! For now, the frequency can only be heard in the Melbourne area, but eventually Internet-live listening - and podcasts - are hoping to be available.
Tonight's show will focus on Indigenous issues, and feature interviews and music dedicated to Yorta Yorta activist William Cooper (1861-1941)Boonerwrung Elder, Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir, will Welcome us To Country (through the medium of radio!), some William Cooper stories from era 1938 will be narrated - and then I will interview Uncle Boydie Turner, of Shepparton, the 81-year-old grandson of William Cooper himself! 
Sydney author Lisa Sarzin, who recently co-wrote with her mother Dr Anne Sarzin, Hand-in-Hand, which tells the story of about 80 Jewish and Indigenous Australians working together, will discuss her book, and read a selection from it - and one of the other people featured, Rabbi Chaim Rosenthal, will discuss why in his Orthodox Synagogue he insists on reciting an "Acknowledgement of Country" at every Sabbath service.
If all goes to plan (technically - as this radio station is brand new!), music featured will include selections from Indigenous musicians YothaYindiand Kutcha Edwards. Tonight's music was selected by William Cooper's great-grandson, Kevin Russell.
The show may be repeated at other times, as the new radio station has not yet received enough volunteers to produce programs 24 hours a day, 6 days a week (it is not producing content for the Jewish Sabbath, resuming broadcasts on Saturday nights). 
For further information, please look at the still-developing websitehttp://www.lionfm.org - and please encourage anyone you know who may be interested (in the MELBOURNE AREA) to tune in tonight at 9pm, future Tuesdays, or in fact, 24/6 - to 96.1 fm.  Future shows will discuss a broad range of themes/topics/guests - and I am keen to receive suggestions that fit in to the "Healing the World" mission of this radio program.
I'd love to get your feedback on tonight too, as I'm pretty nervous initially on-air!
Hope you enjoy! 
Related matters:
The Way into Tikkun Olam: Repairing the World

Tikkun Olam Recycle Kids Baseball Jersey

The Jewish Approach to Repairing the World (Tikkun Olam): A Brief Introduction for Christians

Tikkun Olam SATB a cappella

Tikkun Olam

Tikkun Olam: Social Responsibility in Jewish Thought and Law (Orthodox Forum Series)

Hand in Hand: Jewish and Indigenous people working together


Monday, July 12, 2010

Vale Elise Boulding: good and faithful Friend: may peace be with us because of you

Elise Boulding
Elise Boulding, 89, a sociologist who was instrumental in establishing peace studies and conflict resolution as an academic discipline, died June 24 of complications from Alzheimer's disease at a nursing home in Needham, Mass.
Dr. Boulding, a Norwegian-born Quaker, taught at the University of Colorado at Boulder before retiring from Dartmouth College in the mid-1980s. As a matriarch of the peace studies movement, she emphasized the role of women and families in creating a less violent world.

"Elise Boulding was to peace studies what Rachel Carson was to conservation and Margaret Mead to anthropology," Colman McCarthy, a peace activist and former Washington Post columnist, wrote in an e-mail. "She gave academic legitimacy to the study of pacifism as both a moral force and a practical alternative to violence -- all the way from military violence to domestic violence."

Dr. Boulding raised five children long before she entered academia, and her experience as a mother convinced her that people can be taught to wage peace just as they are taught to wage war.
Lessons learned around the dinner table and on school playgrounds inevitably mold a person's method of dealing with conflict, Dr. Boulding thought. She wrote about the importance of educating children to become diplomats instead of aggressors and also about finding ways to raise children "to be sufficiently alienated from society, so they won't accept things 'as they are.' "

"We still don't know much about producing children who will irrepressibly dream about a better society than the one we have, and obstinately work for its realization," she wrote in notes unearthed by her biographer, Mary Lee Morrison. "Most of our writing about educating children for peace is concerned with helping children to become peaceful, rather than how to spur them to the rugged, often lonely task of peacemaking."

Much of Dr. Boulding's scholarly work was grounded in what she called the underside of history -- the people and ideas that have been largely overlooked in narratives of the past. She wrote about important, little-heralded contributions by women from the Paleolithic period through modern times. As a counterpoint to studies of past wars and conflicts, she examined peaceful eras and cultures.

In her book "Cultures of Peace: The Hidden Side of History" (2000), Dr. Boulding said that peace is a daily and dynamic activity rather than a dull, static state. "Pacifism, which literally refers to the making of peace," she wrote, "is often mistakenly understood as passivism."

Elise Marie Biorn-Hansen was born July 6, 1920, in Oslo. She moved with her family to New Jersey when she was 3. Growing up, she came to know her native country through her mother's homesick tales, and she thought of it as a refuge untouched by the rest of the world's tragedies. Then Hitler's army invadedNorway in 1940.

"And that was when I realized that there was no safe place on earth," she said. "And I knew that I had found my life's mission."

She graduated from what is now Rutgers University and joined the pacifist Friends Church, where she met her future husband, Kenneth Boulding, a Quaker poet and internationally renowned economist.

As the couple moved frequently for his academic career, Dr. Boulding established an early reputation as a skilled networker. While living in Tennessee in the 1940s, she created a newsletter to connect Quakers living in the South; later, she created another newsletter to unite women against nuclear testing.

In 1949, she received a master's degree in sociology from what is now Iowa State University.
When the family settled in Ann Arbor, Mich., she worked toward a doctorate and volunteered at the University of Michigan's Center for Conflict Resolution. She recalled going through the garbage at the center to rescue letters sent by researchers detailing their work in the nascent field of peace studies.
In Dr. Boulding's hands, that correspondence became the foundation of the International Peace Research Newsletter. That publication led to the formation of the International Peace Research Association, and she served as its secretary-general.

In the late 1960s, the Boulding family moved to Boulder, where Dr. Boulding headed the Women's International League of Peace and Freedom. In 1969, when her youngest child was a teenager, she received a doctorate in sociology from the University of Michigan. She spent much of 1973 on sabbatical in an isolated mountain cabin, writing the foundation of her 1976 book "The Underside of History: A View of Women Through Time."

She taught at the University of Colorado until 1978, when she joined the faculty at Dartmouth. There, she headed the sociology department and helped establish a peace studies department. In the course of her career, she wrote numerous articles and more than 10 books.

Her husband died in 1993. Survivors include five children, Christine Boulding of Wayland, Mass., Russell Boulding of Bloomington, Ind., Mark Boulding of Englewood, Colo., Philip Boulding of Olalla, Wash., and William Boulding of Durham, N.C.; 16 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

Dr. Boulding said one of her most important tasks was challenging people in workshops held across the country to envision a world in which quarrels are settled without threats or weapons.
"We cannot achieve what we cannot imagine," she wrote.

Source from the Washington Post.

Related reading:
Cultures of Peace: The Hidden Side of History (Syracuse Studies on Peace and Conflict Resolution)

Building a Global Civic Culture: Education for an Interdependent World (Syracuse Studies on Peace and Conflict Resolution)
One Small Plot of Heaven: Reflections on Family Life by a Quaker Sociologist

From a Monastery Kitchen: A Practical Cookbook of Vegetarian Recipes for the Four Seasons Complete from Soups to Desserts with Breads

Into Full Flower: Making Peace Cultures Happen

Biography - Boulding, Elise (Biorn-Hansen) (1920-): An article from: Contemporary Authors