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 now...it'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...