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17 April 2017 |
Last Sunday, I headed to a Buddhist temple in Springvale, in Melbourne's outer south-east. I wasn't going for a Songkran festival (Thai New Year), and it wasn't a regular part of my routine. I was going because my mother wanted to pray for her eldest sister, who had died on the Friday. My mother is a temple frequenter. I am not. But I was thankful for the immediacy with which she felt she was part of a worshipping community, even though she'd never before been to that particular temple.
16 April 2017 |
Following the passing of the Australian comedian and social commentator, John Clarke, his co-presenter Bryan Dawe talked about being on a tram in Melbourne with people nodding compassionately and knowingly at him. Bryan recalled that an old man had once commented to John, 'You know what you two do? It's a secret between you and the audience.' These are not the sorts of things we expect to hear when someone is still alive. Once they are dead, those who love and admire them recall all sorts of details about their life, finding new meaning and new depth even in the everyday things.
11 April 2017 |
Easter, for me, has always been a time to sit in the brokenness of things, to absorb the dread and devastation, and reel at the inexplicable sacrifice. Crushing humility might have characterised my experience in previous years. This year, I feel formless rage. The human drama of Easter - with its betrayals, moments of audacity and doubt, the machinations in shadow - bears the sting of injustice. The central narrative is political. Choices were made by people in power. They are still being made.
06 April 2017 |
A person with religious literacy has an understanding and appreciation of the teachings of religions in the world, is knowledgeable about the various applications and manifestations of those teachings, and understands how religious faith forms, informs and enriches contemporary human society. In a world where Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are on the rise, endangering and taking the lives of so many innocent people of faith, it is difficult to overstate the importance of religious literacy.
04 April 2017 |
It can be disconcerting to hear our family history told by a sympathetic outsider. I found Race Matthews' new book that treats Catholic engagement in public social issues fascinating in that respect. Matthews' perspective is that of a member of the Labor Party who admires Catholic Social Teaching, especially its commendation of the communal ownership of business enterprises. He sees the possibilities this presents for the reform of Australian society, particularly if adopted by the Labor Party.
28 March 2017 |
The Tempest Tossed Church will invite some Catholics to ask how they should visualise and plan for the future of the church. The Catholic challenge will be to shape pockets in which religiously literate and radical communities are formed around the symbols of faith. Its contribution to a more humane society will be made by joining other small groups in keeping alive the sense of 'something more' and by passing on the craft of finding the words, symbols and silences that catch it.
28 March 2017 |
'We need to be more focused on grace, Christ and God's word, rather than just on law, the Church and papal utterances. But today, I will draw more on law, the Church and the Pope to point us towards those more fruitful domains: grace, Christ and God's word. Our future visioning needs to focus more on the gospel imperatives including the option for the poor and the dignity of all persons, including those who are non-believers.' Address to Catholic Health Australia's Catholic Governance Symposium, 27 March 2017
16 March 2017 |
No conversation on marriage equality should begin from any place other than that same-sex attracted people are equal in dignity, and worthy of the same respect, as heterosexual people. But religion has to be included in the conversation, as marriage equality isn't just a civil rights issue, it's a biblical and theological one. People who hold biblical or theological views on marriage aren't going to be convinced by arguments that don't respect those views.
15 March 2017 |
My grandfather told me Patrick was a saint because he drove the frogs and snakes out of Ireland. He also told me if I stepped in a fairy ring while we were on our walks I'd disappear forever. So naturally as I grew older, I became skeptical. Each year in my family St Patrick's Day has marked a survival of Irish culture in Australia. Sometimes this can be in subtle ways and sometimes it means singing at the top of our lungs, enjoying a drink and having a dance.
13 March 2017 |
The debate over section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (18C) has gone on for far too long. It's time to bring it to a close. To date, I have been silent in the present debate, in part because I was a critic of such legal provisions when they were first proposed in 1992 and again in 1994. I have since been convinced that a provision like 18C could be designed to target racial vilification, leaving offensive insults beyond the reach of the law in a robust democracy committed to freedom of speech.
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