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Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflective times : looking back into the past and ahead into the future

Two faced doll by Lauren Simonutti
This picture comes from here.
I sought permission to use this picture.
If you wish to use it, please do so as well.
Not only will you see this picture at the link above.
You will see other work by
the artist, Lauren E Simonutti
and you will find links
to her online presence.
For me ,this doll with two faces
between the pages of a book,
symbolises the looking forward and looking back
at the adventures and narratives of life.

As the year draws to its close – along with the first decade of the 21st Century - I wanted to share this post from Steve Hayes’ blog, Khanya

Steve has found himself in reflective mood – and there is much that others of us might wish to imitate at year’s and decade’s end.  Warning:: it may be good to have a tissue or handkerchief with you as you read.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The #spiritual path takes #courage


Monday, December 27, 2010

Jewish fast for Gaza. Break the silence. Lift the blockade. Pursue peace

It is good to know that there are others in the Jewish community abroad as well as in Israel who want to bring about peace in Israel and Palestine.  One Israeli friend of mine works on a volunteer basis in a Palestinianhospital.  These are the unsung heroes searching  for a peace and a justice befitting both Israel and Palestine.  I wish them all success. 
Tweet them @fastforgaza


Jesus – the Aramaic speaking Palestinian person #Jesus#Christmas

Aramaic Jesus
My thoughts are stimulated by this article.

How attractive would western-oriented Christians find Jesus to-day? For starters, he would not look like most of the pictures Christians have used to portray Jesus.  He certainly did not have blonde hair and blue eyes – not even mid-brown hair.

The pictures we have to portray Jesus are not only false but probably idolatrous or bordering thereon.

One thing they do manage to do is contradict the most basic of Christian doctrines: the Incarnation. Christian belief centres on the belief that Jesus was an historical figure, both truly human and truly God. All Christian belief is centred on this belief and it is what we celebrate at this time of Christmas – God become human.

Jesus was not a fake human.  His humanity was not pretence. Again, to believe that he was so holy that he couldn’t burp, fart, or open his bowels does disservice to the Christian faith, the Christian community in which lives have been given for this incarnational belief.

To imagine what Jesus – just another human being in appearance – looked like we conjure up a mental picture of what we know of people living at that time. He would not have been tall – people seldom were back then. He would have been swarthy in appearance. Perhaps ‘greasy’ even to Western European ideas.  His hair would have been dark and – if he was in good health – glossy.  His eyes would have been dark, probably darker than just plain ‘brown’.  It is almost certain that he, as a conforming and religious Jew, would have worn forelocks. There is a strong likelihood that his beard was untrimmed.

In short, it is possible that, to modern Western eyes, Jesus was not physically attractive at all – and the very opposite of male beauty and acceptance in Western society.

And he didn’t speak Hebrew in daily life.  He spoke Aramaic.

There are many Christian communities in the protestant tradition who are unfamiliar with the Creeds of the Church. To lose this connection is not only to lose touch with two millennia of Christian history, it is to lose connection with the basis of our faith, the centrality of our beliefs, and what we – the Body of Christ – hold in common wherever and whoever and whenever we are.

As an aide memoire to those who are not familiar with the Nicene Creed – said every Sunday in so many Christian communities – I publish it below. Next time, dear Reader, that you recite this Creed picture your historic Jesus based on the outline above and think of the Christians of Palestine – those small numbers who remain in the Holy Land – to-day.

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come
. Amen.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gaps in the Gospels: Women of means: gaps in the Christian experience #Christianity#bible#women

Jigsaw gaps

Picture from here

Leslie Cannold makes some important points in The Da Vinci sisters. However, there are gaps in her thesis.  So often these days, I think of the gaps – the gaps in the Biblical stories which do not include things that are important to us to-day and yet are not transient but have always been there.

Cannold writes about the sisters of Jesus and throws in a mention of Mary Magdalen. Clearly, Cannold’s familiarity with the Christian Gospels is minimal because she left out women – some named, some nameless – who I consider rather vital to the public ministry and advocacy of Jesus and whose type still abounds in Christian communities of all types and sizes across the world to-day.

The women I speak of are named/mentioned in Luke 8:23 – the verse following the one that names Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out.  They are Joanna and Susanna and we are told there were many others.  These women provided, we are told by Luke, out of their means for Jesus and The Twelve as they moved about the cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God.

Joanna was the wife of Chuz, the steward of Herod….yes THAT dreadful Herod.

These women have fascinated me for a long time.  They followed Jesus out of gratitude for what He had done in their lives. But their devotion went further than that.  These women seem not to be poor, penniless women. They are women with “means”.  We don’t know whether this is their own private “means” or the means belonging to their husbands.  I wonder about Joanna’s means which may have come to her indirectly from the persecuting, ambitious, collaborating, murderous Herod into the promotion of a way of life which is the very opposite of the qualities describing Herod.

I look at the women in my lifetime who keep the Christian church going through their means, their organisational skill, their energy, their love, their gratitude.  Women love Jesus – because He first loved, listened to, and respected them.  The women mentioned in Luke Chapter 8 were among the first women to have experienced this face to face, person to person. They didn’t forget and they expressed that remembrance together with their gratitude in real and practical ways.

Just like women to-day: the women who make jam for stalls to raise money for poverty stricken schools in Papua New Guinea; the women who populate the halls of peace to abolish and have removed the land mines of war; the women forbidden ordination by their tradition yet minister to whole parishes without priests; the women who have wielded the paintbrush to freshen the fabric of the church when no bloke was there to do it; the women who form communities which example for us something of how the kingdom of God might look and how it might be experienced.

Mary Magdalene and Joanna and others were at the tomb when The Twelve and other males had gone to ground. They were the eye-witnesses of the Resurrection. Not The Twelve. Women were the first to bring the Good News that Jesus lives. Church tradition refers to Mary Magdalene as Apostle to the Apostles. And yet….and yet many traditions do not open to women the fullness of Christian work and experience possible for males. Just as there are gaps in the biblical record, there are gaps between the experience of being male and being female in the Christian church.

Saint Joanna 

Picture from here

Saint Joanna - recognition

Picture from here

In the Orthodox tradition, these women are remembered for their first Easter work as the “myrrh-bearers”. I can’t help feeling, though, that this is merely a pious token of their presence at the tomb. It is high time their substantial role in the extension of the kingdom of God was recognised by extending to their sisters in Christ from henceforth every right and entitlement within the Body of Christ  that is extended to men.

Lastly, I can’t let the opportunity go by to express my gratitude to Luke, the Beloved Physician, my brother in Christ.  Luke, tradition has it, was very close to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and much of the gospel carries stories of peculiarly female experience.  I am indebted to Luke for undergirding my kingdom experience with his gospel recording.

The Queen, The King James Bible, and keeping it all together

Bible stamp
Picture from here
2011 is the quatercentenary of the British language and publishing phenomenon, the King James BibleSimon Barrow writes about The curious politics of the King James Bible.  I wonder what it might all mean in The Antipodes.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Richest Christmas Blessings

From Drop Box

Friday, December 24, 2010

When Christians leave the Holy Land will we still deem it holy #Palestine#Israel#Christians#Bethlehem

Peace on earth

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hold on.....

Hold on to what is good, 
Even if it's a handful of earth. 
Hold on to what you believe, 
Even if it's a tree that stands by itself. 
Hold on to what you must do, 
Even if it's a long way from here. 
Hold on to your life, 
Even if it's easier to let go. 
Hold on to my hand, 
Even if someday I'll be gone away from you
David Bodewadmi

Saturday, December 11, 2010

NATSIEC Human Rights Day 2010 Statement: The Intervention: Racial Discrimination Act : #Aboriginal

Human Rights Day 2010

As we celebrate Human Rights day in 2010 we are reminded of the many individuals who suffer human rights abuses around the world. We also celebrate the many people who shine a light on these abuses and whose efforts to stand up for the rights of others are often unrecognised.

NATSIEC pays particular respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their continuing struggles against oppression and attacks on culture, lands and peoples.

In 2010, Australia is a country that has much to be proud of, but we can not shy away from examining our shadow, those areas where we are failing to protect our citizens from abuse. Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are having their rights violated on a daily basis. Whether it is through racism or through discriminatory public policies the rights of many Indigenous Australians are often compromised.

Although Australia does not have a Bill of Rights we are signatories to a number of International Human Rights instruments which should guide us to protect the rights of those most vulnerable. In particular, Australia now supports the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Declaration). We now need to ensure that the principles of the Declaration are brought into Australian law and policy. No legislation that affects the Indigenous peoples of this country should be enacted unless it has been subjected to scrutiny through the lens of the Declaration.

One policy area that urgently needs to be scrutinized

using the Declaration framework is

the Northern Territory (NT) Intervention. 

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has said the Intervention continues to discriminate on the basis of race. During a recent visit NATSIEC undertook to Aboriginal communities in the NT, we heard personal stories of discrimination and racism. Rev. Dr. Djiniyini Gondarra OAM, from Galiwin'ku who had recently returned from Geneva where he talked to CERD said about the Intervention:

It's the most evil and most racist (policy) ever established.

The Government report to CERD said ok - they are happy people.

It's a lie!

One of the most discriminatory aspects of the NT Intervention was the roll back of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA), which ensured that many aspects of the Intervention were excluded from the protection of the RDA. On December 31stlegislation which is supposed to reinstate the RDA in full will come into effect. Despite the Government's repeated statements that this new legislation will ensure that the rights of NT Aboriginal people will be protected in full, we are not confident that this is true.  

There are still several areas which remain as "special measures" and there remains a distinct lack of consultation on all aspects of the Intervention. Despite Government rhetoric the benefits of the Intervention remain questionable. The means of attaining these supposed benefits are outrageous in a democratic country which prides itself on the concept of a "fair go". We have the knowledge, we have the resources, but we do not seem have the will to implement policies which will celebrate and empower Aboriginal peoples.

The media, and through them the public, often accept at face value the Government statements which tell us that things are improving in the NT while conveniently ignoring the voices of the people affected; the stories of suffering and anguish caused by these measures. We must take notice of what people are experiencing; how much longer are we going to stand by and let these things happen?

We must question the need for these special measures; we must question why Aboriginal communities are being pressured to trade land title for housing, education and health. Do they not have the right to expect Government to provide these things - as does every other Australian citizen?  We should be suspicious of the rhetoric around the "problems" of Aboriginal communities and we should fight against any attempts to diminish the capacity of Aboriginal communities to make decisions for themselves and their futures. 

People often ask me "what can I do?" There is plenty each and every one of us can do; start right here and now. Today, on human rights day we are being asked to "Speak up: Stop discrimination". To speak up it's necessary to ask questions and look beyond the superficial, listen to the people and take action...

You could start by watching an excellent film called Our Generation. This is an important film which gives voice to those people affected by the Intervention... Go to http://www.ourgeneration.org.au/ to find out when a community screening is being held in your area. If there isn't one, buy the DVD and organize one.

One of the key messages in the Make Indigenous Poverty History campaign was to Remember, Recognise and Rectify. We need to Remember the past, to know a true and honest picture of what has gone before. We need to Recognise what is still going on today; to understand that colonization and discrimination are alive and well around the country. Most importantly we need to Rectify. It's not enough to know about something, we must take action. It may be as simple as challenging an ignorant statement at a dinner party or it may be taking to the street; writing to the Prime Minister; visiting your local MP. It doesn't have to be big, but it has to be something. Nobody in Australia can say "we didn't know" - we do know and each and every one of us is responsible to take an action to help end discrimination and racism. So on Human Rights Day 2010, I hope you will join us at NATSIEC in speaking up and saying no to discrimination and yes to human rights for all.

Graeme Mundine, Executive Secretary, NATSIEC

Find out more about the RDA - 

read the NATSIEC briefing note on our website.


Monday, December 06, 2010

There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition

Precious George!

then, oh, then, I heard a voice which said,
"There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition";
and when I heard it my heart did leap for joy.
Then the Lord let me see why there was none upon the earth
that could speak to my condition, namely, that I might give Him all the glory; for all are concluded under sin, and shut up in unbelief as I had been,
that Jesus Christ might have the pre-eminence who enlightens,
and gives grace, and faith, and power.
Thus when God doth work, who shall let
And this I knew experimentally.

Please go over to Hay Quaker to find out more

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Holy Restlessness

I longed for the darkness as a wounded animal seeks the night, to either heal or die, to be re-created in the silence of God.
To be in the grip of such a longing is to be driven by a spirituality of restlessness. It is to be fired by a passion for that pure truth that cannot be known outside of its own immediate revelation. It is to be driven away from a false peace, from the false securities of settled truths, from captivity to gods who have become too small. There is a kind of Holy Restlessness that drives us into the desert, into silence, into waiting, for seasoned words require silence, and right action requires waiting. We long to know the God who is beyond our imaginings, the God who reveals Herself to us on her own terms.
Taken from: