Archive for July, 2010

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And, on the topic of the election…

July 30, 2010

I just inadvertently came across some interesting, hateful, anti-Christian material regarding the Australian election. I don’t normally read this stuff, and believe everyone’s entitled to their opinion… Yet, I do wonder where the logic lies in the argument that Christians should not be  given a voice in politics.

We (as in, my family) pay our taxes, work hard, care about social issues (particularly social justice), and  yet it would appear that some fellow Aussies can’t think of anything better to say than “Oh, those right-wing conservatives are daring to influence politics.”

Despite stereotypes that have presumably been forced on the Australian conscience by the over-influence of American culture in our media, to be Christian is not the equivalent of being a fundamentalist right-wing, gun-toting nutcase who forces Bibles on the unwilling masses and herds them into church buildings like mindless cattle. I distance myself from any such caricature.

I am green conscious, vegetarian, anti-hunting, anti-whaling, and I care about issues such as the rising violence in Australian cities, the suffering of the homeless, the breakdown of family relationships, hospital waiting lists, road congestion, public transport, the quality of life for Indigenous Australians, the treatment of refugees, the unfair lack of services for rural Australians, the shocking statistics on child abuse, the need for high educational standards across all types of schools, the freedom of choice for parents to raise their children in their chosen cultural context, the fight on shameful racist violence… How are these the concerns of some redneck yokel?

I certainly can’t answer for all Christians and won’t deny that some of them hold different views to the PC accepted “norm” but then, so what? Isn’t that what we get when for living in a democracy? Everyone gets a say, and a vote. Including Christians, and representatives of other religious belief systems. It’s not just the non-religious who should get a say in the running of this nation.

Is it a surprise that some Christian citizens take the matter of politics seriously? I don’t think so. Some of us are trying to be good citizens, and it’s not in the name of some conspiracy theory hate-filled attack on minority groups. I can’t believe that it even feels necessary to point out these things.

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Australian Election: Resources for Christian Voters

July 30, 2010

Here’s a few links (all accessed 30 July 2010) on the upcoming Australian Federal election. Some Christian ministries have spent a lot of time and effort in trying to “demystify” the different positions of some of the political parties and it is well worth looking at their materials. As far as I can tell, none of these ministries promotes one particular party over the other, seeking to provide a straightforward comparison of the parties’ positions on issues that may be meaningful to Christian voters.

http://www.christianvalues.org.au/check_list.html

http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2010/07/29/christians-and-the-election/

http://australianchristianlobby.org.au/make-it-count/

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413. Light on Stormy Sea

July 30, 2010

Felt tip marker on paper, October 2009.

I get a lot of enjoyment out of drawing with felt tip markers. Nothing quite beats their bright colours and strength.

http://flokot.redbubble.com/sets/107560/works

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Books: A Profound Weakness: Christians & Kitsch

July 23, 2010

A Profound Weakness: Christians & Kitsch (2005, B. Spackman, UK: Piquant)

I’ve been reading this excellent book on and off for a few months. Each time, I am once again amazed by its intelligent exploration of Christianity and the arts (and kitsch). It’s very challenging, too, and there’s a good chance that a lot of Christian readers might even feel insulted or uncomfortable by the text. Not that feeling bad is a problem: sometimes the truth hurts! It has taken me so long to read, simply because it is so big, so deep, that I can only absorb it in small doses. However, it addresses several important issues of Christianity, and I highly recommend it.

It is for anyone who has ever stopped to ask about the meanings (both overt and hidden) behind Christmas card imagery, Jesus statues, graveyards, motherhood and Mary, Christian t-shirts, Bible verse embroidery, multimedia presentations in church, church buildings, What Would Jesus Do? bracelets, icons, relics and several other similar areas. The insights regarding Christian art, particularly in the pressure upon artists to deliberately incorporate deliberate Gospel messages in their work, is especially important. I have enjoyed the process of being confronted by this powerful illustrated text.

I just wonder how I can get all the Jesus bumper sticker types at my church to read it! (Before you ask, I do not have any Christian bumper stickers on my car. My theory is that, unless I’m a brilliant and consistently courteous, careful driver, I probably shouldn’t be turning people off Jesus by inadvertently irritating them. What is it with the crooked parking, lane-cutting, unexplained sudden braking driving habits of people with ‘Fear God’ bumper stickers*, anyway?!)

(Links accessed 23 July 2010.)

More information:

http://www.amazon.com/Profound-Weakness-Christians-Kitsch/dp/1903689139/

http://orders.koorong.com/search/product/view.jhtml?code=1903689139

http://word.com.au/details.aspx?ProductID=546404

http://piquanteditions.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=10

*generalisation for humourous purposes only

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412. Suburban Evening

July 23, 2010

Ink fineliner and pencil shavings on paper, February 2010.

I love blackbirds singing in the evening. I love the feeling of connectedness that comes from seeing street lights shining in other parts of town from the windows at the back of our house. I love the bats.

I was trying to capture that sense of both belonging and the fall of night. I get this strange feeling that I’ve posted this illustration before!

http://flokot.redbubble.com/sets/107560/works

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Thoughts on Australian politics

July 20, 2010

At the risk of inadvertently turning this into a political blog, I want to highlight the important issue of chaplains in Australian schools.

In recent times, chaplains have been made available in many schools to help students work through their issues. I have, as a parent, even employed the services of my children’s school chaplains when one of my kids was struggling with some issues. The chaplains responded quickly and provided excellent standards of counselling and assistance for my child, who subsequently saw a great improvement in social relationships with other children at school.

Some politicians (particularly the left wing, though some of those have supported chaplaincy) have suggested that the widespread religious education programmes in Australian public (Government-operated) schools and chaplaincy should be replaced in favour of non-religious “ethics” classes and psychologists.

While I understand the arguments in favour of this position, I personally believe that the holistic care of a chaplain (not just mental and emotional but also spiritual) and the opportunity for children to learn about the spiritual/ religious foundations of many Australians’ lifestyles are important and significant.

For fellow Australians who are interested in learning more about what chaplaincy is about, and who want to see it continued after the next election, please look at these websites:

National School Chaplaincy Association (with information on contacting your local representative in support of chaplaincy)

Access Ministries – chaplains and religious education teachers

Here are some articles on how chaplains and religious ministers have helped in the aftermath of the Black Saturday crisis, in early 2009 when bushfires claimed the lives of hundreds of Victorians.

“Parishes, chaplains step up to help fire victims”

“A Chaplain’s Story”

“The Firefighters”

National Research Findings on Chaplaincy in Australian Schools (Link to a PDF)

“Responding to the Bush Fire Tragedy”

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Australian Election 2010

July 19, 2010

So, another Federal election is around the corner.

One interesting issue that has been highlighted in the Australian media is the problematic reluctance of young Australians to enrol to vote. Perhaps they  (the 17-25 year old age group) do not realise that enrolling to vote is a legal requirement for all eligible citizens aged 17 and over?

I’m sure that they’re not, on the whole, politically apathetic. Perhaps it seems like such a hassle – getting up on a Saturday morning once every couple of years, lining up for a few minutes at one of the many polling centres around the country, and getting one’s name ticked off the list? The lure of the standard sausage sizzle that is found at a lot of voting centres mustn’t be strong enough!

I guess I can’t speculate on the reasons why a lot of young people are moralising and justifying their deliberate avoidance of enrolling to vote. I’m not much older than the above-mentioned demographic, and yet I cannot understand the desire to avoid voting. Politics affects our daily lives.

I, for one, want a say in how my country is run.

Here’s a few suggestions from my end:

learn some of the history of the struggles faced by different people groups, including socio-ecnomic groups, ethnicities and genders, in securing the right and freedom to vote. Maybe you’ll realise what a privilege it is.

– refusal to participate in democratic process surely negates the right to complain about the process.

– get educated. Learn the broad policy overviews of the different political parties. It’s not that hard. The Liberals and Labor are similar, yes, but sit on opposite sides of the political fence. The Australian Liberals are more conservative, the Labor party more left wing. Family First and the Greens provide alternative viewpoints. There’s a heaps of other minor parties too. Find an issue you care about and see what the parties are saying about it.

Homelessness? Taxes? The breakdown of the family unit? Environment? Health care? Marriage and divorce? Social justice? Refugees? Racism? Crime?

(On the issue of how Australian politics is affecting the needs of the homeless, go have a look at the Swags for the Homeless website.)

Have a look at the ACL Make It Count website to see some of the issues addressed by the two major parties.

After all that, Enrol to Vote as soon as possible!

There are lot of political parties in Australia, and here are links to a few of their websites. I am listing them alphabetically and not making any references to my own preferred politicians. Feel free to add more in the comments section.

Australian Democrats

Australian Labor

Christian Democratic Party

Family First

Liberal Party of Australia

The Greens

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