Author: Andrew Hamilton

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Richie Benaud's silent reproach to Trumpism

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 14 November 2016
    8 Comments

    Climactic events demand we give an account of ourselves. Where were you when you heard that JFK was assassinated? Where were you when the planes went into the World Trade Centre? If we can't remember, we fear we may convict ourselves of reprehensible levity. In future years when I am asked what I was doing when Donald Trump was elected President, I shall have a ready answer: I was reading Brian Matthews' splendid reflection on Richie Benaud.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Trust or bust after shattering US election campaign

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 08 November 2016
    21 Comments

    The US election, to no one's regret, is now over. It remains to wish Donald Trump well as he prepares to take up the office of president. It is tempting to see Hillary Clinton as Humpty Dumpty and ask how she can pick up the pieces of her life, when tarnished and wearied by a campaign so full of personal abuse, revelations of tawdry behaviour and a lack of grace. Yet it is not Clinton that lies broken at the foot of the wall. It is the polity of the US, shown to be bereft of the trust necessary for national wellbeing.

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  • RELIGION

    New Jesuit General's feeling for the political periphery

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 06 November 2016
    6 Comments

    Ordinarily I wouldn't dare to say political leaders have anything to learn from Jesuits. But these are the kind of extraordinary times of anxiety and flux that led ancient rulers to consult oracles, read tea leaves and look at the flight of birds. People fret because their future and pockets rise and fall on the tide of of would-be presidents. In the sour slurry of discontent and puzzlement the election of a Venezuelan political scientist as international leader of the Jesuits provides material for broader reflection.

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  • RELIGION

    Buried or burned, respect for the dead is what matters

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 01 November 2016
    29 Comments

    Last week the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued an Instruction on the conditions under which cremation is legitimate for Catholics. The starting point is the conviction that for Christians the best way of treating the body after death is through burial. Yet cremation is open to possibilities that the Instruction does not envisage. Sprinkling the ashes over the sea or a place significant to the dead person can be consistent with an informed Christian sensibility. It need not be pantheistic.

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  • RELIGION

    Heed the echoes of Mussolini's Italy in today's world

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 24 October 2016
    11 Comments

    When surveying one's world it is always dangerous to forget the past. Australian historian John Molony's recent book about Italian priest and politician Luigi Sturzo is an accounting, showing how easily democracy, freedom and respect for human rights can be surrendered both by politicians and by the Catholic Church. It invites reflection on our situation today. The Italy in which Mussolini came to power and in which Sturzo operated has haunting similarities to today's world.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Respect and relationships in forming identity

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 18 October 2016
    7 Comments

    Promos suggest you can choose your identity. Join a tour to Kurdistan and you can become an adventurer. Buy an Aussie flag, sing loudly about boundless plains, and you can become a dinky di Aussie. Identity, however, is more subtle. It is formed by relationships, to the human race, to body, to place of birth, to language, to the significant adults of childhood, to possessions, to education and work, to hobbies, religions and political parties and to all the people met through these relationships.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Western Bulldogs' example for the common good

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 11 October 2016
    5 Comments

    The best writers on sport show that it is a metaphor for life. Perhaps that is why the triumph of the Western Bulldogs in the AFL Grand Final has been so ruthlessly milked for larger significance. But I would like to exploit it once more for the way in which it illustrates the weakness of a liberal politics that assumes that all will benefit from the economic growth that unfettered competition between individuals yields. The joy of the Western Bulldogs victory lay in its challenge to these assumptions.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Identity politics and the market

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 04 October 2016
    5 Comments

    In political commentary liberal politics and identity politics are often presented as polar opposites. For supporters of liberal politics the relationship between the two is one between virtue and vice, rationality and emotion, the wise against the mob. I believe that the relationship is more complex, that identity politics shares the same stunted assumptions about personal and national identity as liberal politics, sees the self-interest of the latter, and wants to despoil it.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Vulnerable people must be at the heart of welfare reforms

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 27 September 2016
    8 Comments

    There is much to welcome in the ideals spruiked in Minister Porter's proposed welfare reforms. Who could fail to be delighted if people are helped to support themselves, and the welfare bill is reduced as people no longer need support? The question left hanging is what drives these changes. Is the human welfare of our fellow Australians the goal towards which the budgetary changes are a means? Or are budgetary savings the goal to which the treatment of our fellow Australians will be a means?

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  • ECONOMICS

    Morality is back on the economic agenda

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 19 September 2016
    4 Comments

    It is a welcome change to see budgets spoken of in moral terms. The government recently insisted on a moral responsibility to future generations to fix the deficit. And the Australian Catholic bishops welcomed on moral grounds the compromise that saw dropped from the budget measures which would further disadvantage vulnerable people. The difference was that the government's argument was focused on the budget, whereas the bishops' focused on particular groups of people.

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  • RELIGION

    Pope Francis among other disruptive leaders

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 14 September 2016
    17 Comments

    Is Francis' style of political engagement effective? It has certainly gained him a favourable hearing within church and society. His message and his personality suit the times. Whether it will be lastingly effective will depend on whether he changes attitudes, particularly those of people who will be responsible for governance in church and state. But at the very least he has stressed the ethical and religious urgency of treating refugees, the environment, and the economy with respect.

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  • RELIGION

    Rise of the celebrity pope

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 07 September 2016
    7 Comments

    Popes are politically significant because they lead a large international church that is present in many nations. The teaching, interests and opinions of popes affect the way bishops and priests act, and so influence Catholic attitudes. More recently, popes have also become celebrities. Their influence on public opinion, in wider society and in the Church, is increasingly personal. As a result the way individual popes understand and express their faith will shape the possibilities for their political influence.

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