January 8

This is another ‘Found Poem’. I have drawn phrases from a number of quotes by Tony Abbott and rearranged them into a poem of sorts. A little naughty, but I had fun putting it together.

Housewives of Australia
have a bit of sex appeal
very connected
young, feisty
I probably feel a bit threatened

We always have
Enormous numbers of women
They are different
simply doing housework
Focused on the household budget
As they do the ironing
It’s folly to think they will ever dominate
I don’t think its a bad thing at all
The most convenient exit
From awkward situations
The easy way out
To be on Team Australia’s shirtfront
A place for everything
Not everyone’s place
I don’t have any magic answers

January 5

In my attempts to find poetic inspiration, I googled poetic forms and discovered the Found poem.  It takes and refashions existing texts. For this effort, I chose Paul Keating’s famous Redfern speech delivered on the 10th of December 1992. I cannot take credit for the phrasing, as it is a cut and past of Keating’s words. Not sure if I like it or not, but it was an interesting process.

Bad History

We brought the alcohol
Took the children
Committed the murders history ignored
We simply cannot sweep injustice aside
Imagine these things being done to us
We cannot imagine

We are beginning to recognise
We are beginning to learn
We are beginning to see
That the problem starts with
Our failure to imagine
These things being done to us

It can’t be too hard
If we open one door others will follow
There is everything to gain
We can have justice out of the shadows
The basis of a new relationship
Begins with the most basic human response
Recognition they are part of us

We need to open our hearts a bit

Please dont chute the baby

I am someone notorious for lateness. Late arrivals, late returns of books, dvds. I have been fined many a time, and in the past avoided the library for years for fear of the fines that awaited me. Currently (thanks to a name change) I am in the clear. The library chute was my friend, providing a faceless opportunity to return that book that had graced my shelves for a year or so, with accumulated fines that could have bought the book two or three times over. So I am all for chutes. But for babies?

Let me explain. I read the paper today accompanied by an excellent latte at my favorite cafe in Belgrave, Earthly Pleasures. Today’s paper seemed littered with stories about unwanted children. In Perth a dead baby was found in a plastic bag, in a handbag, at the tip. I feel horrified even typing out these words. They are real, the picture devastating, but true. A couple of articles later, a five year old boy murdered by his substance addicted father. A few pages more I learned that in Germany and Italy, hospitals now have chutes for unwanted babies. They provide an opportunity for mothers to safely and discreetly deposit their unwanted babies. This saddens me greatly. Not that Germany has taken this initiative, for surely it is a better alternative than the fate of the little baby boy from Perth, but why is such a thing necessary? How can our ‘advanced’ western society have broken down to such an extent that a mother unable to care for her baby has no option but to “dispose” of the infant? I understand that there are many reasons that may lead a woman to make such a decision, and it is tragic, for both mother and baby. But even more lamentable is a society that can be so disconnected that a tiny boy can be thrown out in the garbage with no-one knowing, and no-one offering an alternative to support the mother, either in keeping or relinquishment, or caring for her if the boy was stillborn. When the church engages with the issues of mothers and unwanted babies, too often the focus is restricted to strong stands against abortion. The church (once again) is noted more for what it is against in this issue, rather than being part of the answers to the social/political/economic/psychological issues that lead to unwanted pregnancies, unwanted babies, and the need for chutes.


U2 can be a prophet…

In biblical times the prophet was a weird beast – someone who dined on locusts and wild honey, dressed in the skins of wild animals (if they dressed at all), someone whose peculiar actions made people stand up and take notice as they communicated God’s messages to His people. I believe God still speaks to us today through prophets, albeit in unlikely packages. Consider the drawings of Leunig and his remarkable insights into our culture and the struggles of humanity. Or listen a while to the sultry tones of introspect Nick Cave as he reflects on God in the house. And the modern day prophet may also wear sunglasses 24/7, singing about “when love comes to town”. Maybe calling musician and activist Bono a modern day prophet is going too far. However, love him or hate him (I am of the former since the release of the all time fave “Joshua Tree), Bono is standing up and saying a few timely words to the leaders of our nations, and the world is noticing. Check out his speech at the Presidential breakfast. Bono calls for justice not charity. A standout comment for me was his reflection on blessings. How often do we as Christians seek God to bless what we are doing? Bono brings an appropriate correction to this – lets seek to join in what God is doing – it is already blessed.

Who is my mother?

Family FirstPolitical signage is littering the roadscape as we approach election time, and I find it interesting to see how candidates promote themselves.  Suave smiling suits with catchy slogans, or not.  I spotted the text only Families First billboard – “Vote 1 for Family First – Put your family first”.  Now I probably have a slightly different perspective on the concept on account of a dramatic new addition to my life called Jemima, however, this sign smacks of individualism.  Put YOUR family first.  Not the one down the road, the struggling single mother, the manual labourer and father of three who works achingly long hours for a few cents more than unemployment benefits.  NO, this is a call to put MY family first.  Now of  course I want the best for my family.  But who is my family?  Jesus himself asked the question, and the answer encompassed so much more than Mary and Joseph.  As Christians with a political voice, surely our “family” must likewise must extend beyond ourselves.  Our “family” must include the oppresssed, the poor, the disadvantaged, single people.   Maybe they should put “PEOPLE FIRST“.

Put your money where your mouth is

Much of the thread that I commented on yesterday focuses on “pro-life”, with abortion standing out as a significant issue. One person made a comment that I think should both encourage and sober anyone who professes to hold a view on this topic. The commentor writes the following:

If you are on this comments list and you are vehemently pro-life… kudos to you… but if you do not participate in one or more of the following: adoption, foster care, helping provide babysitting for low income families and single parents… helping out pregnant teens… than frankly, your opinion is just that: an opinion. How many opinions did Jesus have without actions?”

You can read the rest of her response here. Where is the church (as in you and me) in this? Do we hold opinions and opinions alone? Where is the action?

No hint of ‘morality’

Please don’t interpret my title here to mean that I am opposed to morality. I am not. However, I do object to Christian meddlings in politics seeing morality as the beginning and end to the Christian response to what is wrong in our society. Not even morality in the broader sense of what is right or wrong, but generally fixated (a nice Freudian term) on sexual matters and unborn babies. This fixation elevates one area of human conduct above others whilst ignoring the richness of human conduct that the term should encompass. This is certainly the case in Australia. If as a Christian, I want to vote for a political party that professes to believe in Jesus, I have no choice other than to vote according to this blinkered view of morality. Surely as Christians we have something deeper, more holistic, and hopefully Christlike, to bring to the political arena.

I have been watching a blog called God’s politics, and noticed today that Brian Mclaren has joined in the debate with a conversation on values voters should consider. You can read it in full here.

In summary, Brian identifies stewardship of the earth, justice for the poor, and reconciliation with “God and neighbour and enemy”. The last is a pertinent sticking point for our society at the moment with its manic fear of terrorism and demonisation of people defined as “other”.

I don’t hear Australia’s most recent Christian party to gain recognition (Families First) going anywhere near these issues. It seems that they are still stuck in “the bedroom”, so to speak. Where are the Christians speaking out about loving our enemies? Feeding the poor? Responsible tending of the earth so that those who come after us have a fighting chance?

Processed people

There is much use of the word 'processed' in the media at the moment. Sadly, l am hearing it used in relation to people. When l think of the word, l think of cheese. That gluey stuff that binds countless burgers around the world. Or sausages, ham, or the suspiciously titled 'luncheon meat'. 'Processed' in the food world is no complement, but rather speaks of inferiority, impurity, attached to foodstuffs that would be inedible or at least unappetizing without the mysterious 'processing'.

The word 'detain' has become distasteful. We have seen the footage, heard the stories, and none of it is pretty. No, we don't like the idea of detaining all that much, especially children. So now we process them instead, offshore. Just as l am ignorant of all that is encompassed by the processing of bibs and bobs to make sausages, l, and the rest of the Australian public, will now be ignorant of how refugees are 'processed'. We don't tend to worry to much about what we don't see. Why can't we use words like 'assessed', 'assisted', 'supported' in relation to responding to the needs of refugees? l guess these words have expectations attached. Like the sausages, who knows what 'processed' really means.

Not again

I went to work early this morning so I could stop at the local coffee shop to read the paper. I found another article about a man who was deported because of mental illness, drug addiction, and associated criminal activities. Another man homeless and becoming increasingly unwell. Another decision to terminate citizenship because of issues in the "too hard basket". Interestingly, it was a decision that went against the immigration board recommendations. When will it end? We need to start dealing with the cause of societal problems, and not just simply ban problematic individuals from our country. The recent shameful events at Cronulla provide ample evidence of our need as Australians to address simmering racial tensions. I am astounded that Howard can boldly declare that we don't have racism in Australia. I did not intend this to be a political blog, but we seem to be galloping from one instance of injustice to another at the moment.