Occupy Faith

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Signs of the times - austerity versus providence

I often bemoan to myself the fact (is it really a fact?) that the church and its leaders do not see the signs of the times.  So I rejoice when people actually do.  

Christine Sine writes empathetically and very much to the point here in her post Austerity measures - what would Jesus do?  What I like about Christine's point of view is the way she has drawn together and listed the programs and movements that have become part of Christian life over the last decade or so.  Is this God's mercy shining through?  Are these outworkings, in the final analysis, prophetic moves in the Body of Christ to prepare us to help ourselves and reach out to others in a planetary crisis?  Are the people and ideas in all these activities God's smart ideas shining through in His people?  I suspect this just might be the case.  I hope against hope that this just might be the case. 

It would certainly be par for the course for the Designer/Creator/Father/Provider that I know and love.

Contemplative action #2

I posted on the Jesus Prayer quite a while ago here.  I want to refer to it and its references once again because I note that Andy Harnack has done an extensive post on the same topic here - which adds greatly to our knowledge of this wonderful spiritual practice.  I hope Andy doesn't mind that I have linked to his graphic as well. And relevant to this topic, is this reflection from Michael Marsh of Interrupting the Silence.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Riverina floods: reflection: entering the mindset of O'Brien’s Hanrahan

Grapegrower Steven Barbon, accompanied by Fido 
on his sodden property near Griffith yesterday, 
believes proposed water cuts will destroy regional Australia. 
Picture: Amos Aikman Source: The Australian

In Australia, the driest inhabited continent on earth, we have gone from The Big Dry of the ten to twelve years of drought to 2010 and The Big Wet.  Floods again in the Riverina.  I believe we have entered the mindscape of John O'Brien's Hanrahan - and the poem - in spite of its humour - provides much food for reflection both in terms of Earth's current ecological crisis but also our own ability to find our place in the purposes of the planet.

Lockhart, NSW - Photo from here
More pictures and 
Flood infromation from the ABC available here.


by John O'Brien 

"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
In accents most forlorn,
Outside the church, ere Mass began,
One frosty Sunday morn.

The congregation stood about,
Coat-collars to the ears,
And talked of stock, and crops, and drought,
As it had done for years.

"It's looking crook," said Daniel Croke;
"Bedad, it's cruke, me lad,
For never since the banks went broke
Has seasons been so bad."

"It's dry, all right," said young O'Neil,
With which astute remark
He squatted down upon his heel
And chewed a piece of bark.

And so around the chorus ran
"It's keepin' dry, no doubt."
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"Before the year is out."

"The crops are done; ye'll have your work
To save one bag of grain;
From here way out to Back-o'-Bourke
They're singin' out for rain.

"They're singin' out for rain," he said,
"And all the tanks are dry."
The congregation scratched its head,
And gazed around the sky.

"There won't be grass, in any case,
Enough to feed an ass;
There's not a blade on Casey's place
As I came down to Mass."

"If rain don't come this month," said Dan,
And cleared his throat to speak-
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"If rain don't come this week."

A heavy silence seemed to steal
On all at this remark;
And each man squatted on his heel,
And chewed a piece of bark.

"We want an inch of rain, we do,"
O'Neil observed at last;
But Croke "maintained" we wanted two
To put the danger past.

"If we don't get three inches, man,
Or four to break this drought,
We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"Before the year is out."

In God's good time down came the rain;
And all the afternoon
On iron roof and window-pane
It drummed a homely tune.

And through the night it pattered still,
And lightsome, gladsome elves
On dripping spout and window-sill
Kept talking to themselves.

It pelted, pelted all day long,
A-singing at its work,
Till every heart took up the song
Way out to Back-o'-Bourke.

And every creek a banker ran,
And dams filled overtop;
"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"If this rain doesn't stop."

And stop it did, in God's good time;
And spring came in to fold
A mantle o'er the hills sublime
Of green and pink and gold.

And days went by on dancing feet,
With harvest-hopes immense,
And laughing eyes beheld the wheat
Nid-nodding o'er the fence.

And, oh, the smiles on every face,
As happy lad and lass
Through grass knee-deep on Casey's place
Went riding down to Mass.

While round the church in clothes genteel
Discoursed the men of mark,
And each man squatted on his heel,
And chewed his piece of bark.

"There'll be bush-fires for sure, me man,
There will, without a doubt;
We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
"Before the year is out."

Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, 1921
This has been republished from the free e-book

Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day on WATER : Global Handwashing day - The Wiggles & Nelson Mandela

Not only for Christians, but for so many faith traditions, water and cleanliness are distinctive spiritual features. People of faith use these features in two ways usually: in relation to the body and to the spirit. Psychologically water does so much for us as well. A cool stream, the sound of water running.

I love the picture at the top of this blog. In many places this many made water would be called a dam, perhaps a turkey's nest dam. In western New South Wales, people refer to them as tanks. Without these human-made water diversions and storages animals would not be able to survive, and human beings would not be able to rest a livelihood from an arid landscape.

Yet like everything in our not-quite-perfect world these water interventions can be problematic.  Australia is only just beginning to devise a system of accounting for all our water...but some things, like this tank, for some reason best know to those devising the system will not be included.  And as those of us who are Spirit-ed know, unless we tell the whole story - not just a part or a biassed perspective - we kind of meet ourselves coming back sooner or later, don't we. 

To-day, as you can see from the post below is Blog Action Day and the theme for this year is WATER. I am trying to kill two birds with one stone so I am combining the Water theme of Blog Action Day with a little soap because to-day is Global Handwashing Day.

A little water and a little soap can make a huge difference in saving lives and helping us to ward off disease.  I love the emphasis on the kids because we want them to grow up strong and resilient, don't we.
The first Global Handwashing Day was in 2008.
Our very own Wiggles wrote a special tune.
It is catchy and easy to teach to your kids.
And here is the video for 2010

Please value water.
It is our life.
Please support the human right to water and its understanding.
In Australia, water was unbundled from land
This made water a tradeable commodity -
when once it was part of the Commons -
it belonged to all of us.
This definition of water rights comes from Wiserearth:
Definition: Water rights are the legal rights that define ownership of water and water sources (surface and subsurface), the use of water and the priority of water use. Water rights allocate water to different users and can be contentious in areas where water supplies are insufficient for the demands upon the supply, and where people are denied or deprived of access to water. The right to water is increasingly considered as a basic human right that has to be reconciled with legal water rights already in existence.  Unfortunately, privatization and commodification of water often undermine this right by cutting off supply to those who cannot afford to pay.

Related reading:
 If you go here, you will find books and other material
from Rous Water about water, including Aboriginal stories.
Rous Water is the regional water supply authority
providing potable water in bulk to the Council areas of 
Lismore (excluding Nimbin), Ballina (excluding Wardell), 
Byron (excluding Mullumbimby) and 
Richmond Valley (excluding land to the west of Coraki).  

 Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water: Reflections on Stress and Human Spirituality Revised and Expanded Tenth Anniversary Edition W

Waters of Eden: The Mystery of the Mikvah 

 Water (Quiet Spaces: The BRF Prayer & Spirituality Journal) 

 Sacred Waters: Stories of Healing, Cleansing and Renewal 

 Sacred Water: The Spiritual Source of Life 

I Drink the Living Water: Finding the Spirit in Nature with Father John B. Kirsch 

 Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the 12 Steps 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Blog action day on Friday 15 October : we’re blogging about WATER

I wanted to let all bloggers know about an important online event I'm taking part in on October 15th, called Blog Action Day.

Each year bloggers from more than 100 countries come together and blog about a single important issue, and this year's topic is clean water.

The event includes thousands of blogs - including the White House blog and The Official Google Blog - and they're looking for as many blogs to participate as possible, regardless of their size and focus. 

I hope you'll think about joining me for this event. If you want more information, check out the Blog Action Day site at http://blogactionday.change.org/. 

So to those of you  who blog - look forward to seeing your post on this coming Friday.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Earth Quaker Action Team: Faith, Creation, Environment

In case you hadn't noticed, Miss Eagle is a Quaker.  She attends Eastern Suburbs Local Meeting (part of Victoria Regional Meeting) in Melbourne, Victoria. I want to share with you what American Friends (Quakers are  properly known as the Religious Society of Friends) are up to.  Over at Huffington Post, Eileen Flanagan has written Quakers Advocate Living in 'Right Relationship' with Creation about the activities of Quakers on the front line of the mess which is coal-mining in Appalachia.  And we have our own coal-related messes here in Australia in the form of open-cut pit mining and coal seam gas exploration and extraction.

Unfortunately, Friends in Australia have been a bit slow in getting their collective act together and really moving their Meetings into concerted action.  Sure, there are individuals like mois and like Andrew Bray from BREAZE in Ballarat to whom I have done  a shout out on The Network.  But the powerful collective factor is absent from Australian Friends at this time - although there are stirrings across the States.

In fact, my own experience of faith and interfaith environmental groups here in Victoria is that they tend towards quietism on environmental matters or, not to put too fine a point on the matter, people of faith seem to be more inclined to the warm and fuzzy and personal with regard to the environment rather than getting stuck into the pointy end where decisions are made and decisions affected.  

At my great age and antiquity, I am hardly the essence of activism anymore.  Most - although not all - is done on my posterior in front of the computer.  I could never be the chain-myself-to-a-coal-facility person even in my more active days.  However, I have to be where the people are.  I have to be where those who are affected by poor decisions are.  I have to be adding to my knowledge of issues and people to ever press for community engagement and increased knowledge of community impacts.  And I find so few people of faith - any faith - there.

For me planet and people are an outworking of my faith and an essential part of my faith practice.  I firmly agree with Paul in his Letter to the Romans (1:20) where he says - For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made. And if creation so manifests the qualities of its Creator, surely it behoves people of faith to sit up straight, pay attention, and plan their next activity!  In fact (I am not wanting to sound extreme here) I think the other side of the coin is that destruction of creation, in this context, is blasphemy and sacrilege.  

You can see that I don't regard my activities - simple as they are - as warm, fuzzy, personal or self-centred.  I might not always hit my target - but, from time to time, acting in concert with others we do.  And, if I/we don't?  Well, I/we are the voice/s of the prophet/s alive in the land!

The Earth Quaker Action Team is a group of people 
dedicated to ensuring the well-being of our planet 
by using nonviolent direct action 
to stand up against destructive and unjust practices, 
This video explains the groups mission, how it came about, 
and its BLAM (Bank Like Appalachia Matters) campaign, 
It was filmed at Appalachia Rising on 9.21.10.

Monday, October 04, 2010

The day no birds would sing…

…and no bees will buzzz. 

Picture from here

It seems this week that I have a focus on the birds and the bees.  Perhaps it is just spring.  I think that’s the reason.  Spring has an expectancy, a longing.  We love to see the blossoms, we love to hear the birds coming out from the rain and singing, and we do like to know that the bees will do their vital part in the continuation of this precious cycle.

I would ask you, Networkers, to pop across to Duncan’s blog where he says

As I walked through the bush I saw and heard no birds, and failed to see the flowering shrubs and plants that used to delight the eye, and as things stand I can only see the situation getting worse with further losses of biodiversity.
Birds and plants are not the only groups suffering of course, In the sixty five years I’ve been observing nature in the local area, native mammals have disappeared, frogs and reptiles have declined, and native fish and other aquatic life have taken a big hit from reduced stream flows and the introduced European carp.

Have we done this or is this just nature doing its thing?  Is this changing climate or a change in the cycle?  Let’s not ask questions.  Instead, let’s put our energies into thinking about our behaviours, what we consume from the planet – to the extent that there is not enough water, air, food for the birds, the bees, the fish and us.  And please read Duncan’s blog.