Vol 27 No 3

12 February 2017

Malcolm Turnbull sits in a burning house and says 'This is fine'. Cartoon by Chris Johnston


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REVIEWS

Faith is torture in Scorsese's Silence

6 Comments
21 February 2017 | Tim Kroenert

It is the story of two 17th century Portuguese Jesuits who travel to Japan to locate their former mentor, who is said to have renounced his faith, and to spread Catholicism. They find the local Christian populations have been driven underground, under threat of torture and execution. The lesson they come to learn against this fraught backdrop is that the living out of religious faith and the strengths and limitations of ordinary humanity cannot be considered in isolation from each other.


INTERNATIONAL

Scorsese misses the depths of the 'Japanese swamp'

7 Comments
21 February 2017 | Jeremy Clarke

Andrew Garfield and Japanese actor in SilenceWe are treated at length to Rodrigues' reflections upon the face of Christ, yet the beautiful inculturated image 'Madonna of the Snows' passes us quickly by. There are haunting local hymns yet the missionaries speak halting Japanese. The local church is served by a respected un-ordained head, who leads his fellow villagers in prayer and good works. The survival of the Japanese Catholic community rested on the feeble, faith-filled shoulders of the local women and men who kept praying even unto death.


AUSTRALIA

Netanyahu visit drives the Palestine wedge deeper

15 Comments
21 February 2017 | Andra Jackson

Benjamin NetanyahuIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Australia this week is having precisely the opposite impact to what he no doubt intended. Instead of shoring up support for Israel's flagrant disregard for United Nations resolutions condemning its continual annexation of Palestinian land, it is driving a deep wedge into what was previously unflagging bipartisan Australian political party support for Israel. Australia's connection with Palestine actually predates the creation of the state of Israel.


RELIGION

Clarity beyond clericalism: Bishop Long at the Royal Commission

70 Comments
21 February 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

Bishop Vincent LongThe most thought provoking testimony given during the Royal Commission's Catholic 'wrap up' was that by Vincent Long, Bishop of Parramatta. It was notable for its directness, honesty and the awareness it displayed of the importance of church culture. Bishop Long grew up in the Vietnamese Catholic Church and was afterwards chosen to lead the Australian Church. In his responses he focused particularly on clericalism and its role in giving license and cover to clerical abuse.


CARTOON

Spot the difference

4 Comments
21 February 2017 | Fiona Katauskas

Dirty coal comes out clean from the PR machine. Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas

This week's offering from Eureka Street's award winning political cartoonist.


CREATIVE

We will never be free of all our debts

4 Comments
19 February 2017 | Sandra Renew

SpiderObserving the decades long incident is unbearable - although they have fallen beautifully time is not on their side, their ideals are consigned to fire. But do we care so little that when the fates convene and humans fail sumo-sized jelly fish and yellow crazy ants and ubiquitous spiders will be all that's left? Do we care so little and think we are free of all our debts? Did we think we were never so needy as to sell our dreams?


AUSTRALIA

Trump's 1984 is Turnbull's Animal Farm

14 Comments
19 February 2017 | Brian Matthews

Pigs from Animal FarmIn these duplicitous times it's not surprising to find Nineteen Eighty-Four cited. In Airstrip One, WAR IS PEACE; FREEDOM IS SLAVERY; IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH - a Nineteen Eighty-Four equivalent of a Tweet with plenty of character space left to add insults. And all facts are alternative, as in the news, 'Oceania is at War with Eurasia', which becomes before your very eyes, 'Oceania has never been at war with Eurasia.' For events closer to home, Orwell's Animal Farm is disturbingly apposite.


Making space for diversity in the cultural square

1 Comment
19 February 2017 | Tseen Khoo

JLF Melbourne logoRecognising the necessity of initiatives and events in which you would not participate but that others find exciting and worthwhile is partly about social generosity. It's also about acknowledging that the public culture that surrounds you is not - and should not - only reflect you and your priorities. Ideally, it would involve knowing about, and potentially advocating for, the presence of groups and voices that are currently absent or misrepresented.


Catholic voices against runaway capitalism

20 Comments
19 February 2017 | Michael Walker

Finance Catholique by Antoine Cuny de la VerryèreThe presidency of Donald Trump should bring a renewed focus on the dangers of unbridled capitalism. The Catholic Church has a rich trove of teachings on the subject that have been missing in action for the past 30 years. Now is the time for a well-articulated Christian message addressing such issues as widening wealth inequality fuelled by stagnant wage growth, the privatisation of public services, the financialisation of the economy (which fuels both of those trends), and tax justice.


Hansonism is normal and everything is not fine

10 Comments
16 February 2017 | Tim Robertson

Pauline HansonThis is not the beginning of the normalisation of Hanson and One Nation: it's the end. In a piece for The Monthly, Dominic Kelly highlighted how large swaths of the rightwing commentariat have embraced the 'more mature', 'disciplined' and 'principled' Hanson 2.0. Despite this rhetoric, for the Right, appeasing One Nation has always been a balancing act. They're guided by one question: How much racism is permissible before it has to be condemned?


RELIGION

Language, power and harm in clerical sexual misconduct

64 Comments
15 February 2017 | Stephen de Weger

Woman in confessionalThree years ago I began my research Masters into clerical sexual misconduct involving adults (CSMIA). I have now completed that study. It revealed highly relevant and crucial information towards the understanding of CSMIA. One conclusion based on my and other studies is that three major aspects need to be included in any discussion of CSMIA, in order to reach a fuller understanding of how CSMIA is able to occur, how it is interpreted, how it affects people's lives, and how it is dealt with.


AUSTRALIA

We all benefit from having migrant workers

9 Comments
15 February 2017 | Fatima Measham

Migrant workersThere's not enough jobs because foreigners are stealing them. Wages aren't going up because foreigners drag them down. Graduates aren't finding positions because skilled worker visas are being given out too easily. Such answers are potent in pockets of Australian society that would rather blame outsiders than demand their government create new jobs, lift the minimum wage, improve work conditions and training, and mediate skills transfers from industries that are contracting, such as mining.


INTERNATIONAL

Swedish politicians' veiled let-down of Iranian feminists

4 Comments
15 February 2017 | Azadeh Davachi

Swedish Trade Minister Ann Linde in the hijabSweden's feminist Trade Minister Ann Linde has come under sharp criticism from some Iranian women's rights activists after she and her female colleagues wore hijab and long coats in their meetings with the Iranian president and other delegations in Tehran. Later Linde maintained she did not want to violate the law in Iran where it has been mandatory for women to wear headdress since 1979. This flies in the face of the Swedish government's position on women's rights.


REVIEWS

Space race saga's Black history through White eyes

1 Comment
13 February 2017 | Tim Kroenert

There's a gag about sitting in the back of the bus, the realities of segregation dismissed with a giggle; references to university sit-ins and firebombings come via the eyes of a cartoonishly earnest character. Meanwhile the White characters are either the object of contrived sympathy, or too thinly drawn to invoke genuine menace. Accusations of 'cultural appropriation' might be uncharitable, but the short shrift given to the real, continuing hardships of Black experience raises questions about objectives and authenticity.


AUSTRALIA

Aboriginal custody inquiry means little without action

7 Comments
13 February 2017 | Kate Galloway

Dark skinned hands grip barsThe Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry into Indigenous incarceration in Australia recognises and validates widely held concerns. On the other hand, it also represents the abject failure of successive governments around the country to pay heed to what we do know about the incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, including the failure to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.


Uprooting toxic inequality

19 Comments
13 February 2017 | Andrew Hamilton

Bottle of poisonIn itself inequality is not harmful. It is part of the diversity proper in any human society. But the inequality that is now in question is toxic because it is extreme when measured by any scale, and because it is programmed to increase. It is self-perpetuating and self-intensifying. The increase of wealth of the few entails the marginalisation and impoverishment of others. Inequality is the enduring root and not the transient blossom of the plant of social division.


CARTOON

The perils of Pauline

3 Comments
13 February 2017 | Fiona Katauskas

Malcolm Turnbull pours gasoline on Pauline Hanson shaped fire. Cartoon by Fiona Katauskas

This week's offering from Eureka Street's award winning political cartoonist.


CREATIVE

Down syndrome in and out of love

12 Comments
13 February 2017 | Gillian Bouras

Baby with Down syndromeA school mate of mine had a sister called Edith. I wondered why Edith didn't go to our school. 'Edith doesn't look like us,' I told my mother. 'No,' agreed mum, 'that's because she was born different from most people. But she's quite happy, and her family loves her. Babies bring their love with them.' Edith had Down syndrome. I know now my mother had a point: such children as I have observed in the long years since I knew Edith have been happy and loved. But it's not always the case.


RELIGION

The Catholic wrap-up at the Royal Commission

73 Comments
12 February 2017 | Frank Brennan

Cardinal Pell with paper titled Sexual AbuseLast Monday, the Royal Commission commenced its three-week forensic examination of the causes of child sexual abuse and cover up in the Catholic Church in Australia over the last 60 years. The statistics were horrifying. Every case represented a person who claims as a child to have been abused by a person of authority in a Catholic institution. Whichever way the statistics are interpreted in comparison with other institutions, they are appalling. We need to hold the victims clearly in focus.


ENVIRONMENT

Artists paint the truth of SA nuclear la la land

9 Comments
12 February 2017 | Michele Madigan

National Day of Action Rally, No Dumps, Parliament House Adelaide, October 2016 (Kath Whitta)'It will be your artists: the poets, painters, actors, dancers, musicians, orators - they will be the ones to lead the changes.' It was one of the many international invited guests, a Maori woman speaker, who made this prediction to the huge 40,000 strong crowd that marched to Hyde Park, Sydney, on 26 January 1988. In South Australia almost 30 years later, this prophecy continues to unfold in the high-stakes battle for country that surrounds the proposed nuclear waste dump.


CREATIVE

St Patrick's Ballarat

6 Comments
12 February 2017 | Tony London

St Patrick's BallaratThe chimneys of various shapes and sizes on the priest's houses next door, have not spumed since the winter, and in and around St Patrick's things like that might seem symbolic. Will fires ever be lit there again - lest the people speak - the ribbons spliced up and down the wrought iron railings, rattle in the brisk autumn breeze, telling stories of love, suffering and endless disharmony, broken trust, send messages to those in the passing traffic  ... better the devil you don't know ...


AUSTRALIA

Close the gap between public and private mental health care

9 Comments
09 February 2017 | Naomi Fryers

Anxious looking womanIn my mid-20s, I sectioned under the Mental Health Act into the public inpatient system. The experience is so etched in my mind that it wasn't until recently, half a decade on, that I finally managed to shake the residual anxiety. A single admission to the public mental health system saw me crippled by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. By contrast, I've never had an inpatient admission to a private psychiatric hospital where I haven't been discharged in comparative good health.


INTERNATIONAL

Trump, masculinity and class

15 Comments
09 February 2017 | Colin Long

Donald TrumpMuch commentary on Trump's victory has veered between two explanations: either there is large proportion of the electorate with 'deplorable' attitudes to women and minorities; or economic dislocation has produced an angry white working class eager to punish political elites. These explanations are not mutually exclusive. The willingness to ignore or welcome Trump's misogyny is a symptom of the undermining of a deep sense of masculinity that, for some men, is their primary identity.