Author: Andrew Hamilton

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  • AUSTRALIA

    No one wins as public discourse thins

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 28 February 2017
    18 Comments

    It is a commonplace that our political discourse is much impoverished. Speeches are built around sound bites. The Trump administration is experimenting with letting go of speeches and communicating within the limits set by Twitter. In such a world there is little space for more complex rhetoric, for cultural reference, for reflection on historical precedents, or for wondering. Our politicians' words leave no echoes. It is worth musing on what may be lost in the thinning of public discourse.

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  • RELIGION

    Clarity beyond clericalism: Bishop Long at the Royal Commission

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 21 February 2017
    70 Comments

    The 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.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Uprooting toxic inequality

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 13 February 2017
    19 Comments

    In 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.

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  • RELIGION

    Demystifying 'God's Rottweiler'

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 07 February 2017
    18 Comments

    The inflated image I once had of Cardinal Ratzinger, and that many Catholics have of cardinals and other authority figures, was shaped by fear. Fear hands over to the human beings behind the image a power they do not possess. Conversations always turn to them and inhibit the free and constructive living of faith. In helping to demystify such images Last Testament, the autobiography (written with Peter Seewald) of Pope Benedict XVI, serves us well.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Sifting the scat of Trump's first ten days

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 31 January 2017
    23 Comments

    The shape Trump's presidency is beginning to be discernible. The likely deepening of inequality, the disregard for universal human rights and for the international and national responsibilities that flow from them, the contempt for the environment and for evidence based research, and the debasement of political speech promise a more divided society in a more divided world. In such a noisy and staccato atmosphere the beginnings of an appropriate response lie in not responding to every tweet.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Don't pick the scab of meaning from our national holidays

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 23 January 2017
    16 Comments

    The enjoyment of the holidays did not soften the mayhem and malice of the public world and the people whose lives and happiness are so destroyed by them. It held in mind the images of death and diminishment, but set them on a canvas of thanksgiving for the ways in which kindness and humanity are embodied in people's lives, for the strength and delicacy of relationships that we take for granted, and for the gift of a beach holiday that is an impossible dream for so many Australians.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Obama's shining light in sombre times

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 17 January 2017
    12 Comments

    In an otherwise sombre start to the year Barack Obama's final speech has been a shining light. He celebrated what he saw as the successes of his administration without sneering at his political opponents. He spoke graciously and decently, and evoked hope for the future. Obama is right in insisting that empathy is the necessary starting point for reconstructing a broken economic framework. It enables a global perspective from which the good of individuals and groups is set within the flourishing of the whole community, and especially the most disadvantaged.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Christmas story trumps the games that power plays

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 15 December 2016
    11 Comments

    TS Eliot's 'Journey of the Magi' ends with the ambiguous line, 'I would be glad of another death'. If we set alongside one another the birth of a new and sour political order and the birth that is central to the first Christmas story, we are challenged to resolve the ambiguity. We may give up our hopes for a just and peaceful world, retire from it as gracefully as we can, and accept the victory of power and brutality. Or we can return to the Christmas story and to the hope that is central to it.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Christmas blighted by child detention obscenity

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 13 December 2016
    7 Comments

    This year International Migrants Day has called for children to be released from detention. It is appropriate that an event held in the shadow of Christmas should advocate for children. For they lie at the heart of Christmas. The insistence in the Gospel stories on the obligation to respect and nurture children is not exclusive to Christians. It is echoed in the attention to children and concern for their growth into responsible adults shared by other religions and cultures.

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  • RELIGION

    Tackling porn and alcohol key to family violence responses

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 29 November 2016
    11 Comments

    One of the weaknesses in our society is its lack of effective regulations governing the marketing and availability of alcohol. A second is the ready availability of pornography, as many young men learn how to behave towards women from sadistic and explicit pornography. In the case of the lack of restrictions on the availability of both, churches concerned to respond to domestic violence will need to meet the libertarian objections to regulating profitable business and individual behaviour.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Khmer stories illuminate our world's present brutality

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 28 November 2016
    3 Comments

    I spent some summers in the border camps around the same time as Healy. This was life-changing: it made me subsequently look at policies from the perspective of those affected by them. But on reading these stories told by from the perspective of the Khmer people I recognised how much of their life I had not noticed. This gap between perception and reality may be pertinent to reflection on how we are to respond to the startling recent shifts in our world and to the brutality that runs through them.

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  • RELIGION

    Larger fears fuel cardinals' divorce beef

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 22 November 2016
    30 Comments

    Four cardinals wrote to the Pope demanding yes or no answers as to whether his reflection Amoris Laetitia was faithful to Catholic tradition in its treatment of the reception by divorced Catholics of communion. On not receiving a reply they published their letter, and one followed it up with murmurs about impeachment. The incident prompts reflection on the propriety of cardinals questioning a pope in this way and the reasons why discussion of communion for the divorced should raise such passion.

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