Friday, December 29, 2006

back online...

Just had a week of no computer after some kind of glitch destroyed one of my registry files, leaving me with a Windows XP screen saying "Click your username to log in"...but there was no username to click. Finally bit the bullet and got a professional in after a week, and he fixed it within half an hour. Oh to be tech savvy.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Birthing

By Peter Edinger (published in Pace e Bene news, December 20th 2006)
A paraphrase of the Anunciation story in Luke's gospel, chapter 1.

In these days the angel Gabriel is being sent to a galaxy called Milky Way to a young planet who is espoused to a system named Solar. The planet’s name is Earth. And the angel comes in to her and says, hail Earth, you are highly favored: the Creator is with you. Blessed are you among planets.

When Earth sees the angel, she is troubled, wondering what this may mean. The angel is saying to her, Do not be afraid, for the Creator has been gracious to you. You shall conceive and bear new life, which you shall call New Creation. Earth says, how can this be, since I don’t know anyone who has the power to bring new life into my womb?

The angel answers, The Cosmic Spirit shall come upon you, and the Creator’s love shall overshadow you, therefore that which is being born in you shall become New Creation.

And Earth is saying, let it be done to me according to your word.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


So I woke up this morning (Tuesday 19th December) thinking it was Wednesday. Chelsea even asked what day it was. Is it Tuesday, she asked? It is not, I said. It is Wednesday.

So imagine my consternation when I turn up at Chadstone to meet Kim Hammond (a 40 minute trip) and realise: I was supposed to meet him on Tuesday, not Wednesday. GASP! I check my PDA: it's registering that today is Tuesday, and that I am indeed due to meet Kim now.

We met. It was good.

You'd think the madness, then, would stop there. But did it stop there? No, it did not stop there.

Not two hours later I was once again convinced it was Wednesday. To the extent that, while still at Chadstone Shopping Centre, I rang my brother-in-law in a panic, saying "Oh no! We were supposed to meet up for lunch today! I'm still at Chadstone, and..."

"No no, that's tomorrow," he said.

"But tomorrow is Thursday and I have the Urban Seed Christmas party..."

"Today is Tuesday," he said calmly.


It was at this point that I realised that I had actually missed something I had planned to do on Tuesday: namely singing anti-sweatshop carols with Fairwear Victoria in the city. A complete mental breakdown, precipitated by my simple presence in a large shopping centre, had prevented me from doing so. How ironic.

Of course, seeing this in Borders as I waited to meet Kim didn't help. It's enough to make anyone disoriented:

But I suppose it's marginally better than this, which I saw in Kmart the other day:

So, word to the wise: today is Tuesday. Tomorrow will be Wednesday. Thursday will probably follow, but I can't be sure anymore.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

christmas in the city square

I was rather delighted to find this biblical account of the nativity up in the city square at the moment. It's entirely stainless steel and is lit up at night. You can probably vaguely make out the writing, but if you click on the pictures it'll show you a larger version.

dumpster diving

Lorien and I did our first dumpster dive last night with Ross, Ash and Barry, and it was an amazing, potentially life-changing experience.

First, to what happened: We had been meeting to catch up on post-G20 stuff, and decided to just go on the spur of the moment. We drove up the street to a supermarket one suburb over around 7:30pm. We split up, Ross and Barry going to one supermarket, Lorien, Ash and I to another.

Straightaway when we got to the dumpster, Ash was pulling out chocolates, tins of biscuits, packets of chips, tins of tomatoes, boxes of washing powder, fruit and vegetables. Everything was still in its original packaging. The guys only take stuff that's packaged (except for fruit and stuff, which is washable anyway). Most things are packaged two or three times (plastic inside plastic inside plastic) so there's no need to fear contamination.

Obviously it's not just food either, it's whatever is sold at the store the dumpster belongs to. These guys got a huge gazebo from the back of Aldi, heaps of books, a generator, and just that day, a Christmas toy that appeared not to be working. We suspected the batteries had just run out, but when we got it home, we realised the tab on the battery just hadn't been pulled out. Seriously, that simple and it works fine.

So in less than half an hour we had more food than we could all carry, every bit of it perfectly good. From one randomly chosen dumpster. And this, they said, was not a particularly good day. Saturday or Sunday is best. And after Christmas it's like...well, Christmas.

It should be noted that there is no diving actually necessary in dumpster diving. In fact, you don't actually need to get in the bin at all: mostly you pick out what's on top, although there's often good stuff underneath, it's usually not worth getting because either it's been there longer, or is too much effort. When you consider that there's usually too much on top to even bother digging deeper, you realise how much stuff is actually being wasted.

So I know there will be many questions running through your mind, and they were running through mine too, so I asked them:

Me: How long have you been doing this?
Barry: Five years now, all over the world.

Me: Have you ever been sick from eating this stuff?
Barry: This stuff? No. I've been sick from eating bought stuff though.

Me: So you grab it out of the bins, then take it back and clean it and stuff?
Barry: Yeah, just give it a good wash off and it's fine.

Me: Do you ever find meat?
Ash: Yeah, a lot.
Me: How can you tell if it's off or not?
Ash: How can you tell if it's off or not when it's in the fridge? You smell it, look at the colour, etc. You can always tell.
Me: I suppose you have a point.

And this, I was to learn, is a pretty big can we ever really tell? We just trust that if it's on the shelf, it's perfectly fine. Or we look at it, and we say it's not fine. If we can tell when it's in the store, why can't we tell when it's outside? So you might get home and get a surprise that it's no good, but it's no more likely to happen to them, especially with stuff that's well and truly in date.

The waste is just staggering. If you have a bag of oranges, and one of them has even a little bit of mold on it, the whole bag is thrown out in some strange kind of economic guilt-by-association. If there's a box of a dozen eggs, and one of them is cracked, the whole lot is thrown out. It's craziness.

I mean really, what is it that makes this stuff rubbish, or at least expendable? It's an economic system that puts value on certain items in relation to other items as commodities. So a dented can of diced tomatoes is often thrown out simply because its sale value has been slightly decreased, thereby decreasing the value of the other cans on the shelf. Because if they simply write them off as a loss instead of decreasing their value, they maintain an undented can's high cash value. Some things are just absolutely inexplicable as to why they were thrown out: perfectly good food and drinks and everything, not even scratched or dented or anything.

Any other questions?

Yes: is dumpster diving illegal?
Apparently the only time it could be considered illegal is if you're trespassing; and if you're asked to leave, and you do, you can't be charged with it. Most issues with the legality of it revolve around privacy and identity issues when intelligence agencies or rival companies do it to obtain information on others. But we're talking about stuff they don't want: so who cares if you take it? In fact, you're doing the stores a favour: you're reducing their waste bill by making it a longer period between having their bins emptied.

But additionally, one has to ask the question: what is worse - that people throw out this amount of perfectly good food, or that some people are willing to take it? If there were laws to protect it, what kind of law protects this kind of rampant greed, and rampant waste? Is this a law we should obey as Christians, when our loyalty is to a different empire? Shouldn't the laws rather be against this kind of waste? We should be prosecuting shops for filling rubbish tips with perfectly good items.

Think of what this is doing to the earth. In the US (and you can bet it's little different here), it's estimated 40-50% of all food is wasted. That's another entire United States that could be fed. So the only efficacious food is about half of what is produced. In a world that is running out of resources, that's an inefficiency that should not be tolerated. If you take the case of meat alone, think of all the resources being poured into these animals, bred for people to eat, only to be thrown out again and completely wasted. That's an animal's life that was taken, literally for nothing. Even just on a pragmatic, utilitarian view, it's insane - pour a massive amount of food down the animal's throat, spend years of time and effort growing it and caring for it, and then just kill it and throw it in the rubbish. Is that not blasphemous in a world where people are dying for lack of food?

The thing is though, that our economy is actually based on this kind of waste. So long as things are still being bought, in greater and greater numbers (whether by stores or individuals from the stores) the economy keeps ticking over. Our whole society is geared towards us buying more, and if that means throwing out perfectly good things, then so be it.

Of course, the argument is always advanced that stores can't sell this stuff because they're afraid of being sued. Interestingly, it's actually not the case, and is largely the result of massive, irrational scaremongering. The law protects them to an enormous degree, to the point where unless there is compelling evidence of intentional, deliberate negligence, they are not liable.

There's a really strong ethic amongst dumpster divers of leaving things as you found it too: no mess, no throwing stuff everywhere, everything must be tidy.

I must say it wasn't easy to get over the mental barrier of taking things from the rubbish. Just approaching it felt quite strange. Walking away though, it felt amazing, and not just at the relief of not being confronted by security. It was that a whole bunch of food was now not going to go to waste. It had been rescued - maybe even redeemed? - from the greed and irrationality of our society.

As difficult as it is to get over the mental barrier that this is stuff that's been in the bin, what I found really surprising was the feeling I had finding a couple of things that I had literally bought at the shop earlier in the day. The very same items. I literally felt like a chump, a total dupe. Here was I paying out my hard earned for stuff that the shop considered worthless. I seriously wonder how we'd feel if we knew every time we turned up at the register that the very stuff we're paying full price for is probably sitting out the back, not just able to be gleaned for nothing, but considered worthless by the store.

I'm not saying I'll be doing this every weekend, but it sure made me think about my consumer habits. How much perfectly good food is going to waste every day, and I don't know about it, let alone care? How much am I being ripped off because perfectly good stuff is being wasted? Who is really the dirty crook - the one in the dumpster or the one in the suit telling us to buy more?

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Portrait of Today: my soundtrack to 2006

So I finally finished my 2006 soundtrack, and let's hope it lives up to all expectations after last year's classic "Not a Crazy Frog in Sight" went triple platinum in just four hours (might have been due to 12 year olds simply googling 'crazy frog'). Also check out my mate NFD's* blog post on compilation albums, it's a classic. Oh, and no-one does a strikeout gag like Jules, so check out her blog post on compilation albums too.

The title for this year's album comes from track one, "now the curtain opens, on a portrait of today..."

1. Joni Mitchell – Chelsea Morning

I’m no morning person, but having a child is an incredibly joyful way to wake early. This year has seen Chelsea go from calling out to us from her cot to crawling into bed with us in the morning. Even on my most tired days, it’s a pleasure to be the first to greet her and give her a hug. So every morning is a Chelsea morning for me.

2. Hothouse Flowers – Your Love Goes On
‘Into Your Heart’ is easily my album of the year. Go buy it. Buy it now. Go on, I'll wait for you, I promise. This will still be here when you get back. Go now.

Ok, now you're back, I'll continue: I saw these guys play when they were in Melbourne earlier in the year, and it was a sensational decision. I already had their first three albums (out of five) and after the show decided I had to get their new one: and I wasn’t disappointed. This song goes along with Give it Up as my theme song for the year…an anthem to God, whose love goes on and on.

3. Little Birdy – Tonight’s the Night
Their album BigBigLove is absolute pop brilliance, despite my slowness in catching on (it was released in 2004). Katy Steele has an amazing voice. Anyway, I had their album on random on my mp3 player a lot this year. This song is a standout on a really solid album.

4. Simon and Garfunkel – Keep the Customer Satisfied
Could have included many many Simon and Garfunkel songs here – this year has seen me connect with these guys in a big way. It was on the tail end of the influences kick from last year that I picked them up. This song’s a corker.

5. Bruce Springsteen – The Ghost of Tom Joad
I started work at Urban Seed late this year and for the first time I was working alongside the marginalised of our society. We can glamorise this kind of work sometimes, but not so much when you’re actually doing it. This song is a gritty reminder of the reality for a lot of people. The line “Waiting for the time when the last shall be first and the first shall be last/In a cardboard box ‘neath the underpass…” is exactly where the rubber of faith in Jesus hits the road.

6. End of Fashion – O Yeah
Yes, this is last year’s song but I only got onto it this year and as it’s a shameless piece of pop brilliance, I’m including it.

7. Hothouse Flowers – Give it Up
Probably my song of the year. I couldn’t have been more rapt when they played it as the third song in at their show. Its simple refrain of “Give it up/ Share it out/ Help who you can/ Talk about it” and the quote that’s on my blog, “Doesn’t really matter if you’re all jumbled up inside as long as you know that love is endless and the world is wide” say it all really.

8. Crowded House – Catherine Wheels
The song I had in my head the morning I found out my Grandad had died. I woke up to my phone ringing and it was Dad saying he was gone. This song will forever remind me of the finality and sadness of that moment.

9. Counting Crows – Sister Golden Hair
This is from a Counting Crows Shim Sham Club show in 2004, a show where they muck around in a New Orleans bar getting drunk and basically doing covers of all their favourite songs. I was addicted to this song early in the year.

10. Stone Temple Pilots – Interstate Love Song
On heavy rotation this year, this is an awesome song from a great grunge band at the height of Seattle’s movement. This used to remind me of my Year 11 and 12, which was the time it first came out, but now it’s just Lygon St in Brunswick, travelling to and from the city, often at half pace because of a tired battery on my mp3 player.

11. U2 – I Will Follow (Live)
I was listening to old school U2 a lot early this year in anticipation of the Vertigo tour in March. They’d been doing a whole lot of their early stuff across Europe and the US. Unfortunately 1. their tour was postponed and then 2. when they returned in November, they basically played a best of…but they did get this classic in, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Reportedly written to God after the death of Bono’s mother.

12. Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues
The day I heard country and western music wafting from Chadstone HMV, I knew Johnny Cash’s legacy had hit the mainstream. Helped largely by the movie Walk the Line, his music has been popularised this year in a way I would never have dreamed possible. You can’t go past this song for a Johnny Cash classic.

13. Hothouse Flowers – Baby I Got You
Obviously one of the highlights of this year was Ella’s arrival. The first verse here works really well after spending so much of the year not knowing whether she would even be born, being up nights and days at the hospital having tests and so on. It’s easy to forget what a difficult pregnancy it was now that we have her happy and healthy. Anyway, “now I can thank myself, baby I can smile, ‘cos I got you…”

14. Midnight Oil - Don’t Wanna Be The One
Midnight Oil confirmed themselves as worthy of listening to with or without instruments when their drummer, Rob Hirst, made an impassioned speech at their induction into the ARIA Hall of Fame that included the line, “Maybe complaint rock is still being written but ignored by an industry hypnotized by 'get-famous-fast' TV shows.” When so many bands are writing songs imploring people to dance, or to fall in love or have sex (that pretty much covers life, right?), these guys write something substantial and countercultural - about stuff that matters. The second verse pretty much sums it up: “I'm an innocent bystander caught in the path/ Waiting out the back while the corporate attack/ Assaults the senses with relentless scenes of passion and delight/ I cut up all the options and went running for my life.”

Bonus track: It's a secret.

* NFD stands for not funny david. except he is,'s kind of a postmodern ironic thing. or something.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Free Christmas

Been thinking a lot about the whole Christmas spending spree thing as a reaction to a few events and campaigns going on at the moment.

My family has certainly changed and morphed in their Christmas buying patterns over the years, largely as a result of frugality rather than any particular anti-capitalist or even charitable bent (as the family grows larger, it becomes very difficult to keep up). Admittedly we now give money to charities on behalf of the person we're buying for in a Kris Kringle type arrangement, but lately I've been thinking even further. Why do we feel the need to spend money because December 25 has rolled around?

The thinking behind the charity giving seems to be this: we need to spend some money on someone else at Christmas; the other person doesn't actually need anything; therefore let's give it to someone who does need something. Now the second two movements I have few problems with, but the first strikes me as an issue. And that's the sticking point: are we just giving money to charities because a) we feel the need to spend money (presumably so we don't look like cheapskates?) and b) we'd feel guilty spending it on ourselves? I mean, I'm caricaturing here, but I'm not sure it's that far from the truth. Plus if the whole point is to give gifts to those we love, are we even doing that by spending money on others? It's almost an even cheaper way of buying for someone - just give money - thus costing us personally very little.

Obviously the points against consuming are compelling, including:

* The massive ecological and environmental tolls
* The personal financial tolls
* The social and emotional tolls of materialism
* The very different economic ethics of Jesus

The main reason for resisting the idea of de-commercialising Christmas seems to revolve around social expectations, particularly relating to wealth and generosity. To put it bluntly: if you don't buy for people, you'll look like a cheapskate. But surely Jesus ethics put us squarely at odds with our society and its expectations? I can't help thinking that we as Christians have been sucked in pretty well.

There's also often a conflation of giving with buying - we often don't consider handmade or re-gifted things as legitimate gifts because they don't cost us money. This only further goes to prove that money is absolutely the highest value in our society - and how screwed up is that?

That's why I think this is a fantastic idea. It puts some rules on what you can and can't buy, and has well thought out reasons for those rules.

So is this.

And Buy Nothing Christmas is worth checking out too.

I just can't shake the sense that maybe it's best to go all out and just give up on the Christmas presents altogether. Then we might actually have some time and energy to focus on what's actually going on here - what we're supposed to celebrate, but actually mostly ignore, or give lip service to by turning up to church on Christmas morning.

Because what is worth celebrating more than God and humanity coming together? Or being expressed together more fully than has ever happened before or since? Our own connection to and participation in the divine?

Some detoxing might be good.

Monday, December 04, 2006

u2 - vertigo

Melbourne, November 18th

City of Blinding Lights

I Will Follow

New Years Day
Beautiful Day
Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out of
Angel of Harlem
Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own

Love and Peace Or Else
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Bullet The Blue Sky

Miss Sarajevo

Pride in the Name of Love

Where the Streets have no Name

The Fly

Mysterious Ways
With or Without You

The Saints are Coming

This was in the middle of the G20 weekend, so talk about a bizarre experience. To go from living on the street eating rice and water to the glitz and glamour of a U2 show was almost too much for my small, sleep deprived mind.

We (myself, Julie, Andrew and Jenni) arrived at about 4:50pm and started lining up, hoping that this would be early enough for us to get into the ellipse. The ellipse is the front section of general admission that only a select few are granted access to, right beside the circular catwalk that extends out from the main stage area. I thought access was randomly selected by the ticket, but apparently not: when we got in there about an hour and a bit later, everyone just ran for the front. We were some of the last people allowed in; talking to friends I saw outside the fence a little while later said they'd lined up since 2:30 in the afternoon, yet somehow had missed out. Whoops. Fate is a fickle thing. Apparently they must've come in a different (much slower) gate.

So that gave us access to the front rows, though with four of us, we didn't push it, ending up about 6 people back. Had I been by myself, I would've pushed it, but as this was Julie's first U2 experience I wanted to be with her for it.

Kanye West opened and was a bundle of energy. He's obviously a great performer, but I just don't enjoy his music. It seemed a little weird having a hip-hop guy open a U2 show, although I'll admit they've had worse openers.

By the time U2 came on, I was out on my feet. The sleep deprivation and exhaustion was catching up with me and I could barely stand. Once they came on though, all that was forgotten.

My mate Jarrod McKenna called right at the moment the opening notes of City of Blinding Lights rang out; I answered knowing there was no way we would hear each other, but that he may well be interested in hearing the song, and that when he was done he could simply hang up. He hung on for a few minutes.

It's a great show opener - the chorus just works to unite the crowd and get them jumping. In fact, the whole opening of the show was cracker - City, Vertigo, Elevation, and Follow. The tempo started to drop with New Years and never really returned, though it would've been hard to keep that level up for the whole show.

I was rapt to see Love and Peace or Else in there: it's a fantastic song, used to good effect with Bono out on the ellipse thundering away on the drums. They got a kid up on stage during Sunday Bloody Sunday, and got him to do the "No more!" bit, which was a great touch. In fact, the way they connected the social justice stuff really worked well.

The screen wasn't used nearly as well as it had been for PopMart or ZooTV, which surprised me, although it was used to good effect a few times, including to project the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Highlights: City of Blinding Lights was a great opener; in fact, the first four songs were searingly good. Miss Sarajevo was amazing - Bono doing the Pavarotti part, and just the context of the weekend with the lyrics and everything made it special. As I said, they did a sensational job of connecting their songs with social justice issues (which isn't hard given their content, but for young people who might not get the meaning behind them, it's hard to communicate that sometimes without being overly strident or overearnest). As a consequence, combining songs like Love and Peace or Else with Sunday Bloody Sunday and Pride just worked a treat. Although Bono's 'Coexist' sign (which uses the Muslim crescent for the C, the Jewish Star of David for the X, and the Christian cross for the T) struck me as the politics of low expectations. Can't we do better than co-existence?

Lowlights: Streets is normally the highlight of any show for me - the way they did it at ZooTV and PopMart was awesome with the red lights overlaid with flickering white, but they didn't do it here. The Saints Are Coming is a real disappointment - they should've ditched it for a lesser known but classic U2 song. The setlist was a little disappointing for me in my third show - I was hoping for some more obscure, or early stuff and it was basically a best of. Mind you, a U2 best of is still one of the best live shows going around, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

Overall, a sensational show. Even a bad U2 show is better than a good day anywhere else, and this wasn't a bad U2 show by any stretch of the imagination.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

more G20 stuff

Check out Christop's account of the weekend: day one, day two and day three. He's got a bunch of the news articles we're in at the end of his account too.

G20 Christian Collective info sheet

"I would contend that the witness of this Spirit in action through small, often misunderstood groups of people, from Jesus to the early church and throughout history, is that love can and will, time and time again, make capitalism impossible and communism unnecessary." --Shane Claiborne

Climate change, human destruction of our natural world and the growing gap between rich and poor are stark evidence that we are failing as caretakers of our earth and each other. We are here as a group of faith-based people who are not prepared to sit back and allow this to happen.

We are here to protest the G20 because only the high priests of economics of the world's 20 richest countries have been invited to the table. Those who most strikingly pay the price of G20 policies - the environment and the poor - have been excluded.

We are here to remind the public and those in the meetings that it is useless to discuss economic policies in the absence of representatives of the poor and the environment. And so we are here to bear a physical reminder of the excluded, the marginalised, the ignored. To symbolise their presence, even here, outside the barricades.

As Christians we believe in and work towards an alternative economy where there are no rich or poor, and all have a seat at the table.

"A G20 Christian Collective" will hold a 60-hour street vigil from 7:30am Friday 17th November to Sunday 19th November. We are setting up a "3rd World and Environment Ministers' Embassies" outside the barricades to the Hyatt hotel, where the G20 are meeting. We camp here requesting tickets to the meeting on behalf of the excluded.

Some of us will be staying overnight at the barricades and will eat nothing but rice and water for 60 hours to show our solidarity with the world's poor and to experience a little of the suffering they experience on a daily basis.

We are committed to nonviolence. A G20 Christian Collective will, however, actively confront oppressive policies by embodying an alternative, not just this weekend, but every day. We invite all people to join us - police, other protestors, G20 representatives, Christians and those of other or no faith.

Together, in love, we can make a better world.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

reflections on the g20 weekend

Wow, what an experience. I've written my reflections on the weekend, and it comes to 11 full pages. I'll post a selection here, and if you're interested in reading the full account, just email me.
I’m running late for our scheduled meeting time of 7:30am, pedalling my bike as fast as I can. As I enter the city I note, with some joy, the flashing orange signs saying “Streets closed”. I put my bike upstairs at Urban Seed and race down to arrive on the street right on 7:30. Jess, Ann, Anthony, Ross, Ash, Barry waiting there, in front of Collins St. steps, so we decide to move so as not to confuse us with Collins St or Urban Seed.

Immediately we have media approach us: first it’s a cameraman from the ABC. He asks us just to walk with sign; we say we’re not going to pose for him, but we were heading there anyway, so walk with it. Other cameramen quickly come in – channel 7. Photographers are snapping photos left, right and centre. It’s a weird, self-conscious feeling.

We cross the road at Scot’s church, aware of not jaywalking at this early stage – not wanting to give the police any reason to get rid of us. We start setting up right outside Gucci. Talking to the cops, we say we’d arranged this with John Costelloe, the G20 intelligence officer, a young guy who had been quite helpful to us. Initially wanting to partially obscure traffic, we are told to move it away from the road: we do. It takes a while to set up the tent. The media wait patiently, many of them filming. We finally get the tent up, set it up on the pedestrian crossing next to the barricade, and police immediately come and tell us to take it down. Like she’d been expecting this, Jess immediately yells at the media, “Police have said that the Third World Embassy cannot have a structure, so the Third World Embassy will have to sit out in the open.” Cameras click and whirr. We start to set up cardboard boxes on ground.

Police tell us we can’t have cardboard on the pedestrian crossing: it’s too slippery, and they don’t want us to get sued (yeah, right!). We push it back a bit; they say no, pick it up. We comply. They tell us we have to move into the corner. Jess is not impressed, but we pow wow again and decide this is acceptable: we can still see the Hyatt, and most importantly, they can still see us.

Jess is getting frustrated. Chris Duthie, the officer in charge of the operation, is being fairly antagonistic and not helpful. I’m calm, but aware of a lot of attention. We’re not wanting to back down at this early stage and give the police all the power. We make sure we’re clear on what we can and can’t do so no misunderstandings happen later.

We pow-wow (the first of many) and decide this is not the battle we want to fight. We want to maintain a long presence here. We set up our banners, saying “Jesus invites all to the table” pointing to the Hyatt and “3rd world and environment embassy” pointing to the road. By the time all is done, we have moved only a matter of a couple of metres.
The overnight shift:
I’m woken at around 3:15am by a text from Jess saying, “g20 christian collective having barricades errerted (sic) around them and are going 2 b asked 2 move. PLEASE NOTIFY MEDIA” There’s a text message from her there too, but by the time I get it and then ring her, I might as well have just rung her. So I do: she explains that they were just woken to the sound of barricades being erected around them and they are being asked to move and need to decide what to do. I suggest they check what the police situation is – whether they would arrest us for not moving – and decide then. Not worth getting arrested for. Our continued presence is what’s important.

They do check. Jess asks, “What if we don’t move?” The policeman says, “We’ll physically move you.” Jess asks, “Will you arrest us?” The policeman says, “No, we’ll just physically move you.” Three of the group refuse to move, as a form of protest to our being shifted. The police carry them down the road to the edge of the new barricades.
A God moment (one of many):

At one stage I go down the front of the party, right to the police barricades, because someone says that they’ve moved the Collins St. barriers back to where they were on the first night, and we might therefore have a chance to return there. I quickly see this is not the case, but there is a man ranting at the police, doing a clearly rehearsed spiel about masks – and how the police are the masks of the state. I recognise him even with his balaclava on, as the anarchist guy Fred I met the day before. When he finishes, he dramatically whips his balaclava off, screaming, “I am not a terrorist!!” I go over and greet him warmly, shaking his hand and saying g’day. He says he heard we got moved during the night, and this is something I am soon to hear from tons of people – how this news travelled so fast can only be put down to word of mouth from my indymedia article. I look at police, who are watching the crowd, and wonder whether there is any bewilderment in this obviously Christian guy (with Jesus on his shirt) greeting this angry anarchist so warmly, and being warmly greeted back. I smile, thinking that right here, in the embrace of the alienated, is the Kingdom of God, and head back to the others.

The ubiquitous Credo cross:

At one point when police were particularly toey, they get their crowd control officers to tell us they must take the Credo cross behind the lines: immediately I feel annoyed, but almost as quickly, excited. The Credo cross gets to go where we all can’t! This symbol of a poor palestinian jew getting in behind the lines seems wonderful. We’re given the choice between them taking it behind the barricades or us taking it to a safe place. I like the idea of it getting in too much to pass up the opportunity. It still strikes me as a remarkable symbol. There is some confusion as to where they want to put it, as we had initially agreed to it going behind the lines so long as it was visible to us. They reneged on that deal, and so I asked for it back (also so I was ready with the camera). Initially they refuse, saying that it will be safer behind the lines. Eventually we persuade them to give it back: I make sure to get some pictures of the policeman carrying the cross.

Breaking our fast:
Later we decide to break our fast around 6:30pm, ready to pack up and leave at 7:30pm. Ash goes to make some dinner, and doesn’t return till around 7:30; we decide to wait for him (“just 5 more minutes…”). We begin by inviting police to join us; not surprisingly, none of them take us up on the offer. During the meal we again get up and offer food to them; again, it is refused. That’s ok. Just asking them feels right.

It’s an entirely freegan feast, totally provided for out of the abundane of our society; a real, concrete example of the providence of God. We begin our meal with Jess telling the story of how we came to have two Picnic bars – given to us by police on Friday. This is deeply significant for us, in expressing the inclusiveness of God and there being “enough for all” – so we break these together as our communion feast. Then we share some freegan wine to finish off. And then we tuck in.

There is much talk, much laughter, and much sharing of stories. This is true community. An amazing experience of shared life, with no division, no stereotyping, no hate.

The formal part of our meal is a time which Barry leads, encouraging us to think about where we have met God this weekend. We go around the circle; people who have been here for 60 hours sharing with those who have been here for one. I begin with “I could talk for days on this…” eliciting much laughter, as my almost nonexistent voice belies my words. I get teary as I talk about the way activists have responded to our presence and actions here, and about this moment as the culmination of months of planning and indeed of a life of faith. What could be better than this moment, where we embody everything we profess to believe, a moment where all are invited to the table, where we have homeless people as much a part of us as anyone else, our enemies invited, a feast that embodies the providence of God, and the love of Christ? I share about my moment the day before with anarchist fred and the police, and about the blessing and curse of the media. I know there are things we could’ve done better, that we have not been perfect; but I know too in this moment that God has graced us with covering over those imperfections.

I thank Jess for her self-control this weekend, because I know that I’ve held her back a few times, and Julie for looking after our girls, enabling me to take part in this weekend.

As we finish the meal, we pass the peace among ourselves, and then among the police. Only one of the twenty or so refuses to shake our hand. This is another expression of what we’re about – that while we oppose what they stand for, we mean these individuals no harm, rather including them in the alternative society we have set about to create.
Plenty more where these came from.

Girard on the scapegoat mechanism

This is an extract of an interview with Rene Girard, a philosopher who revealed the nonviolence of Jesus (and therefore God) perhaps better than most. In it, he explains the scapegoating mechanism in much simpler terms than any of his books, which are amongst the most difficult to read books I've ever encountered due to the translations from French to English. This is the point we fail to recognise in our theology, that is absolutely central to understanding atonement and why there is no peace on earth.
Gardels: Is Christianity superior to other religions?

Girard: Yes. All of my work has been an effort to show that Christianity is superior and not just another mythology. In mythology, a furious mob mobilizes against scapegoats held responsible for some huge crisis. The sacrifice of the guilty victim through collective violence ends the crisis and founds a new order ordained by the divine. Violence and scapegoating are always present in the mythological definition of the divine itself.

It is true that the structure of the Gospels is similar to that of mythology in which a crisis is resolved through a single victim who unites everybody against him, thus reconciling the community. As the Greeks thought, the shock of death of the victim brings about a catharsis that reconciles. It extinguishes the appetite for violence. For the Greeks, the tragic death of the hero enabled ordinary people to go back to their peaceful lives.

However, in this case, the victim is innocent and the victimizers are guilty. Collective violence against the scapegoat as a sacred, founding act is revealed as a lie. Christ redeems the victimizers through enduring his suffering, imploring God to "forgive them for they know not what they do." He refuses to plead to God to avenge his victimhood with reciprocal violence. Rather, he turns the other cheek.

The victory of the Cross is a victory of love against the scapegoating cycle of violence. It punctures the idea that hatred is a sacred duty.

The Gospels do everything that the (Old Testament) Bible had done before, rehabilitating a victimized prophet, a wrongly accused victim. But they also universalize this rehabilitation. They show that, since the foundation of the world, the victims of all Passion-like murders have been victims of the same mob contagion as Jesus. The Gospels make this revelation complete because they give to the biblical denunciation of idolatry a concrete demonstration of how false gods and their violent cultural systems are generated.

This is the truth missing from mythology, the truth that subverts the violent system of this world. This revelation of collective violence as a lie is the earmark of Judeo-Christianity. This is what is unique about Judeo-Christianity. And this uniqueness is true.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

G20: the washup

Too much to officially cover here. Am working on my recollection of events: it's up to 10 pages already. Phew. Suffice to say it was amazing. More later.

culture jam

Someone's done some great adbusting here (no pun intended) - check out the words stuck on her leg:

This one's a bit closer:

And then this one in a laneway near Flinders Lane. It reads:
Those who speak of revolution and class struggle with explicit references to everyday life without understanding the subversiveness of love and what's positive in the refusal of constraints they have a cadaver in their mouths.

Hosier Lane poster art

In case you can't see what they say I've added the main content as a caption underneath:

The Monotony of Growth Society

This building has been chosen for immediate destruction due to crimes against architecture and humanity. It has been designated as the site of a future forest. You have been chosen to strike the first blow. Your time starts now...

No we're not. We don't and we won't. We're not generous, we don't care and we won't share. Do tell us Johnny - why the bloody hell would anyone want to come here?

The more you spend the more they profit.

Visions for a better world.

Join the war on truth. Undermining trust in society, A vote for conservatism, Will ensure your wealth.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

AAP came through for us...

"A G20 Christian Collective" media release:

Christian pacifists demand tickets to G20

At 7:30 am on Friday November 17th, a group of Melbourne Christians will set up camp outside the barricades that surround the G20 meetings at the Grand Hyatt hotel, demanding tickets on behalf of those excluded from the meetings.

While those who missed out on tickets to U2 camp outside Telstra Dome in the hope of a last-minute ticket, a G20 Christian Collective will camp outside the G20 meeting, demanding a last-minute ticket for those who have been excluded from the talks. In a 60-hour vigil from 7:30am on Friday November 17th to 6pm Sunday November 19th, they will be a presence for those who have a significant stake in the outcome of the G20 meetings, yet who are not represented: the environment, health and social ministers, and the poor themselves.

The group includes teachers, lawyers and church ministers. Many of them will stay overnight at the temporary ‘Embassy’, some eating nothing but rice and water for 60 hours to show their solidarity with the world's poor.

Rev. Simon Moyle, spokesperson for A G20 Christian Collective, says, “Discussing economic issues in isolation from the poor and the cost to the environment is a form of economic tunnel vision that must be held to account.”

"People are dying because of the ideas accepted or rejected by groups like this,” says Jessica Morrison, another member of the group. “We must do the most we can to ensure the voice of the poor are always in their ears."

Committed to nonviolence, A G20 Christian Collective will actively confront oppressive policies by embodying an alternative. “We invite all people to join us – police, other protesters, G20 representatives, Christians, and those of other or no faith,” Rev. Moyle said.

Which resulted in:


And this.

And this.

"Tomorrow, a group calling themselves "a G20 Christian Collective" will begin a 60-hour vigil outside the Grand Hyatt demanding "tickets" to the summit on behalf of those excluded from it.

The group - which includes teachers, lawyers and church ministers - will set up a temporary "embassy" and some will consume nothing but rice and water for the duration."

And hopefully more to come over the weekend.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

More Rosebud photos

Some more photos from my phone from our most recent trip to Rosebud with my family last week. My brother and sister in law had been away in the UK for almost two years, so this was a chance for us to all catch up and get to know each other again.

I love the beach, in case you can't tell.

365 Bible promises for hurting people

I found a book in an op shop in Rosebud with the above title, and immediately thought, "Wow, that's a delightfully ambiguous title. Are these Bible promises supposed to relieve people's hurt or cause it?" It wasn't clear that it wasn't a book of tools for how to hurt people.

(Interestingly, an book reviewer picked up on this ambiguity too, posting this little ripper: "I bought this book hoping to learn a few traditional, tried and true methods for inflicting suffering on others. Instead, all this is is a namby-pamby rehash of simpy Biblical homilies about being nice and crap like that. More Old Testament plagues and the like would have improved things a bit." Classic!)

But it seems to me the church, and Christians in general, are much better at hurting people than they are at relieving people's hurt.

Not to mention the way that books like this use the bible: rip a verse or three out of its context, then slap it down as a timeless, infallible, cure-all promise. Especially when it's aimed at people who are hurting, this can be incredibly dangerous.

It seems to me that, even when they're not intended to, these kinds of books often cause more hurt than they relieve.

I can't speak for this book really; I didn't buy it or read it, so Alice Chapin, I have no doubt that your intentions are pure. But I have to wonder what view of the Bible or of Christian this kind of thing comes from and perpetuates.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Richard Rohr on the contemplative stance

Went and hear Richard speak last night and it was completely mindblowingly fantastic. I made the following notes from just one-liners he gave that summarised some wonderfully tranformative points. Essentially he sees contemplation as the basis for action; that is, if we can get the contemplative stance right (for want of a better term - right isn't quite it), acton automatically follows. So here are some of the pearls he cast before this swine:

How to see is how to be.
You get a sense of the kind of seeing he's talking abou there in the Mary Oliver poem 'Snow Geese' (below). It's a kind of presentness to the moment that relinquishes judgement or criticism, and em.

Love and death are the only things worth writing about, the only things going on in the world.
See the opening line of the Mary Oliver poem below.

"What matters is that when I saw them, I saw them" (Mary Oliver). Experiencing your experiences.
He made this point via the following Mary Oliver poem:
Snow Geese
Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
What a task
to ask
of anything, or anyone,
yet it is ours,
and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.
One fall day I heard
above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound
I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was
a flock of snow geese, winging it
faster than the ones we usually see,
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun
so they were, in part at least, golden. I
held my breath
as we do
to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us
as with a match,
which is lit, and bright,
but does not hurt
in the common way,
but delightfully,
as if delight
were the most serious thing
you ever felt.
The geese
flew on,
I have never seen them again.
Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won't.
It doesn't matter.
What matters
is that, when I saw them,
I saw them
as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.
What matters is that when I saw them, I saw them. The contemplative stance, Richard says, is about seeing with more than just a critical eye. Most of the time we operate out of a dualistic mindset, which is about discrimination, good and bad, right and wrong.

Classic dualistic arguments (liberal, conservative, Liberal/Labor, etc.) are based in the idea that if you argue for long enough or persuasively enough, the other person will simply capitulate and you'll emerge the winner. But as Richard says...when has that ever happened? Instead, what we get most of the time is classic addictive behaviour - behaviour that is repeated despite nothing changing (or the situation worsening). Something needs to be transformed.

Most people don't see things as they are, they see things as they are.

Obviously, the emphases are important here. Basically, he was saying we make the world in our own image - our perspective, who we are, determines in many ways what we see. In a contemplative stance, we attempt to open our eyes to see what is really there - see things as they are, not as we are.

Religion is what you do with your pain. Whatever is not transformed is transmitted/ transferred.
The first part, Richard said, is one of his most quoted sayings. The second is the heart of nonviolence. Either our violence towards each other is transferred to another (counter-violence or the fight reflex), taken into oneself (passivity or the flight reflex), or it is transformed (nonviolence). It's classic Jung.

Nothing is wasted - everything belongs.
The idea that nothing is wasted is mindblowing. "Everything belongs" is the title of his best-selling books; he assumes this is because of the title.

God comes to us disguised as life.
I think his point here was something like: we seem to constantly engage the age old problem of evil - that is, if God is good, why is there so much suffering in the world? - and yet, in the entire Bible, God never answers this question. God is simply present in the suffering; willing healing and reconciliation, but present. In the spirit of "everything belongs" we can accept it and look for God's presence in it rather than assuming God's absence when things go wrong.

Grace is always a defeat for the ego; it is always humiliation.
Wow! What a profound thought. No wonder we reject the mercy of God so often, and make it into an "I must have to earn it!" thing, even if it's just by acceptance or whatever. The fact that God loves us unconditionally is a scary thing because we can't control it - thus grace is a defeat for the ego because regardless of what we are or do, we are loved, with a love that cannot increase or decrease.

The contemplative stance is most often experienced as a letting go. All you can do is get out of the way.
And yet how rarely we do let go!

There was some real resonance with stuff that's going on for us at the moment - talking about the cross and how Bonaventure saw it as being wedged between two extremes because he rejected (or embraced) both. This is precisely what's been happening at Urban Seed with the whole G20 thing - by embracing both ends of town, the rich and the poor, we have found ourselves wedged.

So if you get the chance to hear Richard speak, on audio tape or CD or read his books, do it.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My G20:WWJD? report

G20: What Would Jesus Do? was a nonviolent direct action training event aimed at engaging Christians in more serious and committed efforts for peace and justice.

The makeup of the group was exciting. Most of the 25 participants came from four significant but different communities, lending a diversity, balance and depth to the whole day. For every person there (with the exception of the trainers), this was their first experience of nonviolence training. Having said that, the experience levels too were diverse, with some hardened activists on the one hand and people who had never even thought about engagement in justice issues on the other. For all the diversity and difference, the one unifying factor was a desire to take seriously Jesus’ call to justice.

Jarrod McKenna (activist and nonviolence trainer from Perth) led most of the day, with Simon Moyle, Brent Lyons-Lee and Marcus Curnow from Urban Seed in support. Content ranged from exploring what violence is, to the theory and theology of nonviolence, through to planning some actions. A Sunday Age reporter and photographer turned up interested in what we were doing, and though they stayed for almost three hours (and wrote the story), it didn’t run.

The outcome of the day was two working groups; one based around prayer and liturgy and the other around the idea of representing the presence of the (excluded) poor. Details of the actions will be nailed down in the remaining few weeks, but already those groups have expanded outside those who attended the training. The sense I have is that there is a Christian activist movement building in Melbourne – people who want to take discipleship of Jesus seriously - and that this has been a catalyst for bringing that movement together.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

and this is why I love Rob Hirst...

From Midnight Oil's ARIA Hall of Fame induction speech:
"We joined forces with the millions who see the potential and the perils of the Australian destiny. 2000 came around, a rare moment of peace and goodwill. Yet even before the thrill and the smoke of the Sydney Olympics began to fade great changes were being made. Last week, George W. Bush finally admitted that Iraq may prove to be his Vietnam. But Vietnam inspired some of the greatest protest songs ever written. Not so now, surprisingly. Even when hundreds of thousands of Australians crowded our streets to demonstrate their opposition to another senseless war. Maybe complaint rock is still being written but ignored by an industry hypnotized by 'get-famous-fast' TV shows. Bless you John Butler, but you shouldn't have to do it all by yourself.

Of course, everything eventually turns around as Bush's predecessor of two centuries past Thomas Jefferson observed. He said, 'A little patience and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles.'"

Friday, October 27, 2006

woo hoo! no more work for me...

Chelsea: Where are you going, Daddy?
Me: I'm going to work.
Chelsea: [bursts into tears] But I don't want you at work, Daddy!
Me: I know, but I have to go to work, darling.
Chelsea: [through tears] Why?
Me: So we have food to eat.
Chelsea: [suddenly brightens up] But we've got food, Daddy! Look! In here! [Shows me the pantry]
Me: Hmm...

Seriously...what could I say to that?!


Went really well. Don't really know what to report about it yet...I had my head in it for so long, planning, wondering, hoping, that no matter how it came out I'd be too close to it to know what to say. We have two working groups that have come out of it doing some great work on responses at different levels. That's great. Me, I was just happy to have anyone turn up, let alone 25 people.

And that's what's exciting to me about this: introducing people to this concept that most have never heard of, let alone understood, let alone engaged with. I get the sense that there's a massive hill to climb here in getting people to engage with it. In lots of ways it's not sexy.

So the day went roughly like this:

Session 1:
1. Welcome
2. Introductions and Group Agreements
a. What would make today suck for me is…
b. What I want from today is…
c. For this to be a safe space for me I need…
3. G20: What is it? (led by Marcus Curnow)

10:30 - 10:45: Break

Session 2:
4. Violence Barometer
5. Nonviolence theory and theology

12:30 - 1:30 Lunch

Session 3:
6. Some activist options: W.E.F. 2000 (Brent Lyons-Lee)
7. ‘Making our options EPYC’ - dealing with our violent options.

3:00 - 3:15 Break

Session 4:
8. Discussion of our best options

Marcus did a good job of introducing the issues, and the violent/not violent barometer exercise always goes well. It's hard to stuff up really. Jarrod McKenna's session on theology and nonviolence was a sensational intro, although it's really hard for me to tell when I have so much other knowledge around it and therefore have categories already. Probably more time for questions would have been good, but the day wasn't rushed at all. That was one of the good things about it: not feeling like we had to race on to something else all the time.

It was certainly a challenging time for a lot of people, having their whole idea of the 'gospel' challenged and then being challenged to move forward on it. But Jarrod did an awesome job not only of explaining the alternative to which we are being called, but in leading through with humility and sensitivity. More work to be done here though: it's a quantum shift in thinking.

Oh, I forgot to say too: not long after we arrived there a Sunday Age reporter turned up - and stayed for almost 3 hours! A photographer came too, and stayed for about an hour. The story never ran, but it's given me some experience with media and stuff. They just wanted a soundbyte: nonviolence doesn't really allow for that. Or some controversy, and our workshop didn't really allow for that either. But she stayed around long enough to get the gist of what we were doing. And for her to ask stuff like, "What are you hoping to achieve?" and for me to get the chance to say, "Doesn't matter: the main thing is whether or not we're being faithful." was kind of cool. It's been an interesting few weeks with media - all the stuff we didn't want to get in got in and all the stuff we did want in wasn't run. Haha.

The afternoon was great. Jarrod's 'Making our options EPYC' is a great little planning exercise where you spend some time considering your violent options first before moving on to nonviolent ones. It's incredibly liberating at first, you get to be honest and say all the things you'd otherwise hold back; then you start considering the costs and consequences and then when you look at the likely effects of your violent options you realise how counter-productive those options actually are, even if just for your own moral integrity. Someone once said something along the lines of violence being for those who have no moral authority; and that's about right. That is, if your position is so lacking in authority that you need to use violence to make sure it happens, then you're probably not supporting the right team. So this exercise is great in bringing out the idea that violence would probably actually not get you anywhere useful. Then, having dealt with that honestly and worked through it, you can move on to nonviolence with integrity.

I think the discussion after that (which, incidentally, was totally unplanned) went really well: people were heard and respectful and compromises were reached. So the outcome is still a bit up in the air, but we've got stuff to go on with, and that's quite cool.

The great thing is, we now have a base from which to work; not just for G20, but for other stuff too. That's totally cool, and as much as we could've hoped for going in.

great work

In case you're wondering...yes, that's Peter Costello behind the sign, giving his "G20 is the way to combat poverty!" speech.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

let the light inside shine from the inside out

I've always struggled to think of myself as worth anything much. It's not just a matter of depressive personality, even though I've struggled with that from time to time; it's just my fundamental view of myself. I look at other people and think how interesting and wonderful they are, and then I look at myself and somehow have this perception that no one would find me as interesting and wonderful as I find them. Anyway, this is more personal than I've been here in a long time, but I want to record it because I realised something recently, and it's coming out of the new theology I'm embracing. My usual thoughts are along the lines of "who am I to think I could change the world?" My realisation is more along the lines of, "who am I to think I can't, or shouldn't, change the world?"

I mean, this is why I'm here on earth. This is why I, and not someone else, exist in my position, at this time in history, with my experiences, history, personality and passions. Who am I to be less than myself; less than what God created me to be?

I'm reminded of the Nelson Mandela quote:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God; your playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
NELSON MANDELA, inaugural speech, 1994
The thing I struggle with most is talking about myself, because I feel so inadequate doing it. Who am I? My story isn't interesting, let alone important. So I'm going to have to learn to talk about myself. To value who I am, and what I've done, and what I'm doing. To grasp it with both hands. Almost as if it's my life's work or something. ;)

Can't promise an overnight change. But hopefully it'll happen.
Now it's time to listen
Now it's time to meet
Your soul
This is it, it's time to meet your soul
Your crying soul
This is your soul
Set free your soul

This is it, set it free
And let the light inside
Shine from the inside out
Oh let the light inside
Shine from the inside out
Let the light inside
Shine from the inside out
-- Hothouse Flowers "This is it (Your Soul)"

Friday, October 20, 2006

you know you're on the right track when...

The (misinformed, misleading) Andrew Bolt article on Urban Seed's involvement with Stop G20 has been on my mind a fair bit since it all hit the fan about this time last week. It has provided much opportunity for reflection on protest movements, the role of the media, the way of nonviolence and the pressure for results. There has been no better reflection than that provided by Marcus Curnow's response to Andrew Bolt, that he has now pasted to his blog. It is simply some of the best public theology you'll ever see.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

just when I stop reading the newspaper...

someone sends me this article in The Age:
Ecumenical welfare agency Urban Seed is running workshops dealing with non-violent protest, with titles such as "G20: What Would Jesus Do?", while an alliance of community organisations has come together as the StopG20 collective.

"I think we have to say that we come from a faith perspective and so there's been a long tradition … with Christ himself as the non-violent protester standing up to the economic powers and religious powers of the time," Urban Seed's Brent Lyons-Lee said.

publicity that can't be bought.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

peace and all good

I spent most of last week in Adelaide with the Pace e Bene Oz crew and a few others doing the Engage Facilitator Training.

Just a few days with these people and I felt like part of the family.

I'm involved with these guys to promote the Engage program and to co-ordinate the Melbourne visit of Fr. John Dear. A heads-up for those of you in Melbourne - he'll be here March 11-14 next year. Put it in your diaries'll be worth it.

no news is good news

no, this is not about how I haven't blogged for ages. It's actually about the news. or what passes for it in our society.

I've decided to stop watching/reading/following it, as a decidedly and intentionally nonviolent act.

See it occurred to me while reading The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet that all the news does is put you in touch with, in the vast majority of cases, violent or otherwise negative events that are way outside your control. This creates in me a kind of negativity towards the world, which is manifested in a lack of trust, a pessimism, and a sense of overwhelmedness at the task we have ahead of us in building the Kingdom of God. The news is formative in that it forms our opinion of what the world is like - and the picture it presents is not real positive. And so it forms us in the same way.

Is this just withdrawal from the world then? Possibly. I like to think of it as an investment in the real world. Not watching the tv news leaves me more time and energy to invest locally - the only sphere of influence I really have anyway. What am I really losing here? Nearly as I can tell, it's nothing that's not worth losing.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


for the third time this year - NSW Blues, Socceroos, and now Storm. and this one all the more gutting for having been robbed by some blatantly incorrect referee decisions.

all I can say is...go schumi. you're my only hope left.


Dear God,

We celebrate spring's returning and the rejuvenation of the natural world. Let us be moved by this vast and gentle insistence that goodness shall return, that warmth and life shall succeed, and help us to understand our place within this miracle. Let us see that as a bird now builds its nest, bravely, with bits and pieces, so we must build human faith. It is our simple duty; it is the highest art; it is our natural and vital role within the miracle of spring: the creation of faith.


(Michael Leunig)


Gonna be a nervewracking day, but a Storm win tonight would be fantastic...

Friday, September 22, 2006


Long time no bloggage, and here's why (among other reasons):
I'm really excited about it, actually: this is the kind of stuff I want to do, introducing Christians to nonviolence and getting them actively involved.

And in case you're wondering, yes, the WWJD is tongue in cheek.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

grace in the mundane

On a wall just down the street from our house there's a new form of street art appearing amongst the spraypainting and stencil art. People simply glue pieces of paper, printed with a picture or message, to the wall. It's less permanent of course, but I guess it's quicker to apply. I've noticed the subject matter also tends to be more positive than most of the graffiti in these parts. Here's one I just noticed on the way to the park with Chelsea the other day. I'm so thankful to whoever it is that put this there - it's a beautiful, simple piece of art to share with the world (why restrict it to the rarefied atmosphere of a gallery when it can beautify a streetscape, giving us a glimpse of love, beauty and grace in the midst of the mundane and the ugly?). And that is just what it did for me. It consists of three panels, as you can see below, no more than two inches high (hence the bad resolution on my cameraphone).

"When I was a little girl"

"I thought God made the sky blue"

"because it was my favourite colour"

Thankyou, kind stranger.

we're going on a bear hunt...

We're going on a bear hunt
We're going to catch a big one

What a beautiful day!
I'm not scared

Uh-oh, grass!
Long, wavy grass!
We can't go over it

We can't go under it

Oh no!
We've got to go through it!

-- From We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
This has been my life recently. Not literally - there aren't many bears in Brunswick, so it'd be a pretty fruitless search anyway. I mean just looking at the next week, or day, or month and thinking "Uh-oh, look at everything I have to do! I have no energy to do it, I'm not going to make it!"

So reading this book to Chelsea has been a great reminder to me: I can't go over it, I can't go under I might as well just go through it. And you do get through it, of course. But sometimes you have to steel yourself.

Monday, September 11, 2006

caat reprise

What a difference ignorance makes.

I blogged on these guys back in April when I first came across their story. They've called themselves Christians Against All Terrorism and basically found their way onto the Pine Gap base to conduct a "citizen's inspection". My reaction then was just that: a reaction, not a response. As a result, I was way too flippant and dismissive of something I probably should have thought through better. That's probably the case with most of the stuff I write though.

That and I now feel like I know them and the whole system better. Moving in some similar circles has brought the whole thing together more for me - bringing me out of my misconceptions and prejudices, and personalising it. These are wonderful people who care a great deal about people, and about living out their Christian witness with integrity. They've been charged under a 1950s Cold War law that has never been applied until now. The whole thing would be kind of a farce if it weren't so serious.

So the trial goes ahead in October: I'll be keeping up to date with it on here when I can. If you get the chance, go to their website and check out their ideas and actions. And keep an open mind as you do so.