Tuesday, January 29, 2008

An Interesting development

The Anglican Diocese of Newcastle and the overlapping Catholic dioceses of Maitland and Broken Bay will sign a covenant of co-operation in Newcastle on April 2.
They will agree to an annual ecumenical service of worship, an annual joint clergy day, annual exchange of pulpits and exploration of possibilities for sharing church plant.
Catholic and Anglican clergy would visit each other's churches to give Sunday sermons and take part in worship services and church halls and community centres could be shared. When land developments are opened, joint facilities could be built to conserve resources.

This is good to see. Especially the sharing of property, many buildings are such a waste in declining country towns. I do not know how common it is, apparently there is another example in Australia. I remember being a youth fellowship leader way back in the mid-60's and our Rector decided we should have an ecumenical youth tea. I had to meet with the young priest from across the road to make arrangements. We decided a speaker from Alcoholics Anonymous would be safe and we just shared one prayer "The Lord's Prayer" or "Our Father" I suppose someone said grace, I cannot remember. At the end we headed off for our own evening services. It was a big development in those days. I am a bit amazed at the exchange of pulpits. I do not think Sydney would be keen on that. I know the two Archbishops of Sydney are friends, united against the queers but I think I read that Jensen refused to attend a service in the Catholic Cathedral. I note the Bishop of South Sydney merely said: "We'll watch with some interest how it works out. This is quite unusual." Jensen has said nothing, he may be gallivanting overseas with his GAFCON mates.
I have stated before that I taught for about 25 years in Catholic schools and quite happily attended Mass. I do not think it matters whether the person besides me believes in transubstantiation or consubstantiation or if it is just a memorial. I am not sure where I stand on this line. I have obviously moved from my evangelical upbringing.
I agreed with my Lutheran fellow worker that I do like to receive communion in both bread and wine. Sometimes when we had a Mass just for the staff, the wine was offered and that was the only time she participated. I was amused that sometimes the only people taking the wine were the non-Catholic staff members.
Obviously there will not be shared Eucharist in Newcastle, more's the pity.
I learnt a lot from the many sermons and talks during all those years. I was often amazed at how different they were from some of the dry Bible studies in my Anglican parishes. However I think the differences may not be so great in the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Thankyou Heath

Over the last week I have read so much. I am not very good with words. These words portray my feelings best.
"Heath gave life to a character in a storyline that few Hollywood actors had the artistic courage to portray, and did so magnificently. There will be those who say Brokeback was "just a movie" about some gay guys, but we here know it was so much more. It was the first genuine voice on this scale given to a deep, hidden pain that so many of our fellow gay people have lived through since who knows when. For the first time, many gay people saw their life experience portrayed with dignity and love, and Heath Ledger was an irreplaceable part of that."
LSky94 from the DaveCullen Forum
and from Annie Proulx who wrote the short story.
"Heath Ledger is just almost really beyond description as far as I'm concerned. He got inside the story more deeply than I did. All that thinking about the character of Ennis that was so hard for me to get, Ledger just was there. He did indeed move inside the skin of the character, not just in the shirt but inside the person. It was remarkable."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jackie and Brokeback

Just a follow-up. Jackie died last night our time. A message from her daughter-in-law about Jackie and the Brokeback Mountain Forum as related by one of the members.
"she spoke of how we all changed her life...how excited she was when she would go to the get togethers...her self esteem was zero before she met us,she never thought herself as beautiful,she was always too fat and ugly she would say.... *sigh*...the beauty she had inside...her soul that touched us all...how can she say she wasn't beautiful?....but Paula says the difference it made on her after she began getting involved with us ,how it perked her up and made her believe she was in fact a gorgeous woman..heart and soul,that's where it counts...beauty is within....we changed her life...it makes me so happy to hear this from one of her family members."

Jackie's ashes are going to be taken to Brokeback Mountain....and will be spread freely.

As I have said many times, this movie worked miracles on many levels despite the sneers of some.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sad Day

Nearly 2 years ago, I went to see a movie which has had a greater impact on my life than any other movie I have ever seen. In my previous post I mentioned that I left my last evangelical parish and moved to St James because the priest used his sermon to denigrate "Brokeback Mountain". When I saw Brokeback, I left the theatre sobbing my heart out. I am often emotional at the end of a movie but have normally recovered by the end of the credits. This time I sat in the food court at Burwood with tears streaming down my face, very embarrassing for a 60+yr old male. It seemed to release all the suffering in my life due to homophobia, the self repression, the hiding of one's true feelings. I was exactly the same age as the two main characters, Jake and Ennis, 19 in 1963. While I grew up in a totally different setting, there was not much difference in those days. I nearly married as did the two characters. I was told this would help cure me. By God's Grace I realised in time that it wouldn't but the effect on a lovely girl and 2 families was still terrible.
Anyway I searched the internet and found a group of people who had been similarly affected by Brokeback Mountain and over two years I have been part of this online community called davecullen.com forums after the guy who started it all. Members have come and gone. I regularly met with some others in the Sydney area and stopped in to have dinner and later attend church with one, Davis in Philadelphia. My plans for travel this year include staying with Jari in Helsinki and visiting Marleen in Stockholm and Martina in Vienna. Every day I check in to see what is being said in the groups that are of most interest to me.
Brokeback was the catalyst for my finding a gay accepting church, it also made me become more open with friends and I guess has led to this blog. Obviously this is much easier now that I have retired but it has made me determined not to hide my true self.

Unfortunately I missed meeting one lady from the forum, Jackie, when I was in Washington. Jackie goes by the online name of 'Painted Shoes'. Sadly I now learn that, although apparently healthy on New Year's Day, she was diagnosed with cancer and in the last 24 hours has developed liver failure and now it is only a matter of days. Although I have never met Jackie, I have received messages from her, seen photos of her at gatherings in the States and from her posts knew her as a loving, caring, smiling person. Many who did meet her speak of her wise words in times of need. Strangely in this new online world, I feel I am losing a friend and can only ask God's care on her in her last days and comfort to her family and real life friends.

While reading the many postings in the group about Jackie this morning, the news came of the death of Heath Ledger.
I enjoy movies but usually have no idea about the actors and am often wondering where I saw him/her before. I am no star worshipper. However Heath's portrayal of Ennis in Brokeback Mountain was mind numbing. It was amazing to see him bring to life such a tortured soul and portray him aging. He brought this sad story to life.
Perhaps the words of someone who knew him as a person are appropriate.
Fellow actor Noni Hazlehurst described Ledger as "one of the finest actors of his generation.''
In a statement issued through her agent, Ms Hazlehurst said the "remarkable characters he has left us in his extraordinarily wide-ranging body of work will remain as a testament to his talent.''
She said Ledger was "an artist, a kind and sensitive man, who simply wanted to do good work of which he could be proud.''
He was respected and admired for his determination to be the best actor he could rather than chasing celebrity, she said.
"He was uncomfortable with celebrity, which made him a target for fools, preferring to focus on being the best actor he could be.
"For that, he will always have the respect and admiration of those who knew, understood and admired him.
"His early death is a terrible loss for all of us, but most particularly for his family, and his adored daughter, Matilda.''

Of course the Forum has now gone ballistic, many people who had left due to other interests or lack of time are returning and many are sad to learn about Jackie as well. As the Forum says Heath is famous to the world while Jackie is famous to us. It is a very sad day for those of us who now call ourselves Brokies.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


For more years than I like to contemplate, I have attended church services waiting for a time bomb. As soon as I realised the epistle was from one of those notorious areas where Paul discusses sexuality, my hackles would rise in anticipation of the sermon. Of course, in most cases, nothing was mentioned and I would calm down, partake of the Eucharist and shake hands with the rector as I left. Every few years my fears would be realised and the sermon would condemn homosexuality and I would become the drama queen, march out and never darken the doors of that church again. The first time in the 80's I had read the epistle then sat down to hear homosexuality compared to bestiality. I wrote to the rector and we exchanged letters but I was removed from the list of readers, I have never offered to read since. The last was not long after I had been overwhelmed by the movie "Brokeback Mountain" only to hear it condemned ( I am sure sight unseen)from the pulpit. Finally I decided to take the step and try the 2 city parishes which I had been told were gay accepting although I live 80km from the city. I began attending St James, King Street where the weekly bulletin on the front page "welcomes all people regardless of age, race, sexual orientation or religion." I saw women taking a major role in the service, they never even read a lesson at my previous parish, and even preaching at times. Some were ordained women from outside the diocese, often returning as guests to the city where they grew up but where they cannot be ordained a priest. Before long I heard a sermon accepting gay people. Just like last Sunday when Michael Horsburgh preached on the Baptism of our Lord and acknowledged that Jesus was accepting his identity and then went on to affirm the identity of women and gay people as members of the church. Sermons are no longer posted on the website unfortunately . The website has just been updated so perhaps they will return later, I hope so.
Now I have been directed to the Christmas Eve sermon of Bishop Nathan Baxter of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania
You need to read the whole sermon but one passage stands out.
"when we look at our Gay and Lesbian brothers and sisters in Christ--- those who over the years have shared pew and altar railing with us---when we see their love and devotion to Christ, to the Church and its mission---and yes, to one another, we know Christ is seeking to be born once again in our midst, just as he has done many times before. Can we hear the Angel---the messenger of God---speak within, “Fear Not, this is of the Holy Spirit”? I pray we can. For to be driven by fear is not of God. Fear makes us prisoners of safety rather than agents of hope. Fear keeps us from asking with an open heart, could this be of God?"
He goes on to describe the battles in the past to accept black men (he is an African American) and women which he describes as won. Sadly not for women in Sydney.
The Episcopal Church led the way with the ordination of women and is now at the forefront of the fight for acceptance of Gays and Lesbians. The Diocese of North Carolina has made a statement in support at its recent Synod. I am praying for them in this time of turmoil and strife. I am also thankful that I no longer have to fear a condemnatory sermon one Sunday and can even expect an occasional one which is explicit in its acceptance.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Three cheers for New Zealand

The NZ province has always been far ahead of Australia, although to be fair Australia has been held behind by the log on its leg called Sydney.
They have responded to the idea of an Anglican covenant which (from what I read) would mean the Anglican communion being ruled from above, a bit like the RCs only by a committee instead of a pope.
Anyway their reply seems very sensible arising from their unique situation of 3 groupings or Tikanga. You can read it here
I particularly like the final part -
In conclusion we endorse the words of one of our Archbishops, Archbishop Moxon when he said:

“Perhaps the challenge is to transcend the old ways of fighting or leaving, to find a new way of discovering what integrity we can trust in each other by virtue of the fruits of our baptism and by how much we may be prepared to live respectfully with what diversity God has given us. It is crucial that we use a Gospel based process of discernment, rather than the litigation, trench warfare and the labelling judgements of the world. We will need to look significantly different from the ways of the world in the way we process what happens from now on to have anything different to say to the world.”

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Praise God for the Bishop of Newcastle

Thankfully the Right Reverend Dr Brian Farran, the Bishop of Newcastle is taking a stand against GAFCON .
I particularly approve:
'Dr. Peter Jensen, the Archbishop of Sydney, is one of the conservative leaders who are promoting this conference. It needs to be understood that Dr. Jensen is an organizer of this conference in his own personal capacity or possibly in his capacity as the Bishop of the Diocese of Sydney. It must be seen that Dr. Jensen has no authorization to do this as the Metropolitan of the Anglican Province of New South Wales. I am not suggesting that Dr. Jensen would act in this way as the Metropolitan of New South Wales but public perception might not be discriminating in this regard.'

'Anglicanism has long welcomed scholarship that has deepened awareness of the Holy Scriptures and offered a dialogue with other disciplines within human inquiry. Anglicanism tends not to be dogmatic but open to exploration and critical analysis.'

' if sections of the Anglican Communion bunker down with self-declared orthodoxy and refuse to meet with those of a differing view-point, what has become of the heart of the Gospel – God’s gracious unconditional gift of communion?'

'In Australia we have just emerged from the frustration and debilitation of wedge politics. The recent Federal election shifted Australian political life right out of that divisive mentality into a hopeful new sense of vision and cohesion.'

'The pursuit of the homosexual agenda by the Global South alignment tends to ignore the secondary requirements of the 1998 Lambeth Conference 1.10 resolution of listening respectfully and carefully to Gay and Lesbian Christians.'

'Catholic Anglicans in Australia – those who seek to research and theologize by the parameters of classic Anglicanism - are dismayed by the rigidity of the Global South’s methodology and by its constant return to the issue of homosexuality. However, the issue of the interpretation of Holy Scripture is a substantial issue that does require respectful and thoughtful dialogue given that Anglicanism historically has embraced a spectrum of interpretations of the Bible.'

I have been wishing the Primate, Archbishop Aspinall of Brisbane would make a statement. He seems to be walking on eggshells. Along with many whose comments I read in regard to the Diocese Of San Joaquin, I think the time has come to make a stand.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Here I stand.

I spend too much time reading all the blogs over on the right, and following links from them. By the time I finished today, the sun was shining on the area I needed to weed in the garden (and it is hot down here in Oz). I could (should?) do some housework. Naah, might as well stay at the computer. The joys of being retired.
One comment (among 100's) on "Father Jake Stops the World" I feel really needs promoting. It so much ties in with my own life experience.
My own witness:

I've been listening to the excluding, abominating and fear/hate-driven nonsense "arguments" directed against LGBT sisters/brothers, pals/parents, coworkers/fellow students, both in and outside of Church/everyday life, since I can remember.

It's mostly ALL emotionally/spiritually "damaged" and ugly/sick, frigtening and dangerous to human beings.

Earlier on I kept my mouth shut and listened, sometimes agreed to hate myself while listening to the "blanket" slander spread and directed against people like me.

At college, early 60's, I sought "professional help" (for the first time) to come-to-terms with the Gay man in me (many did and there was a secret weekly "group therapy" on campus "secret location" lead by first-rate Psychologists). We attempted to address the self-destructive/loathing aspects of actually believing/buying into the ignorance/feardriven social outcasting that was running rampant and being "expressed" around us in our everyday lives...most often we listened to that kind of demoralizing crap silently (we discovered in our "group") yet the ugly words and injustice in the demeaning/outcasting somehow sunk in and sometimes caused severe emotional difficulties and sometimes even suicide (often attempted and sometimes completed).

Afterall, LGBT people are (according to many biggoted folks both in and outside of Church) "disgusting" and it didn't matter if we were/are celibate, A or F students/sport enthusiasts or bookworms, thieves or honorable, black, brown, yellow or white, wanting to be married/committed to a single loved ONE or fallen into non-stop sexually obsessed adventurers (like many "free love" heterosexuals of our time) or rich or poor.

Moving fast-forward to now:

We, at The Episcopal Church, are finding a simple way to EXPOSE these basic and prejudiced "icky" fear/hate factor that generate discrimination and the excluding of LGBT "others" from Christs family. We've found a way out from under the demoralizing of one another.

It's time for everyone to focus on THEIR own (individual) character/sin(s) and stop yammering, with non-stop, and deadly, illwill, for the humilation, degradation and EXCLUDING of heterosexual women and LGBT people at all levels of Churchlife and beyond.

I believe a great part of OUR MISSION is to EXPOSE some "religious" actions/selective Scriptural "believing" that has inspired crimes of hate, at Church/beyond.

+Akinola and +Orombi and +Venables/others are revealing themselves to be extemely dangerous to most fellow human beings...spreading/preaching the message of hate/exclusion/intolerance and the demeaning lie of "abomination" towards LGBT Christians/others IS the core problem with Christianity. Preaching exclusion/fear/hate contaminates "believing" in many innocent Christians/others in Africa and beyond.

We've found a way to say no to discrimination, persecution and the generating of fear/hate and we'll never be religiously "contaminated" again by anyone...there is no going back.

Trust God
Leonardo Ricardo |

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


In one Catholic school where I worked as Teacher Librarian, there was a section of the English course in Year 8 titled "Heroes & Heroines" in which the students had to research and present a paper on their own choice. I saw it as a great opportunity to teach information literacy. However, I was usually horrified at the subject choices made by the students. Usually the latest film, rock, sport star, some with doubtful morals. However as I wasn't actually teaching and marking the course, just assisting, there was little I could do about it.
I was reminded of this when watching the 7.30 report on Monday night. It began with the topic that has filled Australia news for the past few days. Of course there is nothing more important than cricket. I do not know if Harbhajan Singh did call Andrew Symonds a monkey but if he did I am quite sure the Australian team had already done some name-calling of their own. I believe they like to cast slurs on the wives of the opposition members, not racism but just as childish. It reminds me of the behaviour of some of those Year 8 students I use to teach when I use to tell them to grow up. Beyond that I could not be bothered becoming involved as to who started it.
The same 7.30 report ended with a story about heart surgeons and nurses spending their leave time and own money to travel to Rwanda and operate on children with operations that are now fairly commonplace here in Australia but impossible over there. In the process they were also teaching local doctors. No secret who I think are the real heroes

Friday, January 04, 2008

It just gets worse

Does he just like to see his name in print.
From Thinking Anglicans

The Archbishop of Sydney is quoted in the Australian press on this topic:

Australian religious leaders were yesterday divided over the death penalty. Sydney Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen said official church doctrine in the 39 Articles of 1662 endorsed it: “The Laws of the Realm may punish Christian men with death, for heinous and grievous offences.”

Dr Jensen said Christians were concerned about the abuse of capital punishment for crimes that did not merit death. “But I cannot absolutely rule out capital punishment in all circumstances, since the Bible itself allows it.”

See Death row pleas for citizens only in the Melbourne Age.

Some comments from the site

'Yes, Archbishop Jensen, and of course the law of England followed biblical teaching in sentencing gay people to death between the reigns of Henry VIII and Victoria. So I suppose this will return to the statute books in the future golden age of Gafconianity?"

"How did a lovely friendly city like Sydney get stuck with such a ferocious Calvinist dinosaur? I should think +Jensen would be happier in harsh Calvinist Texas."

"The view Jensen puts most certainly lacks in any meaningful theological content, and perhaps demonstrates why his 10-year plan for the evangelizing of Sydney is behind target. The rest - outlined in another thread - is playing at pretending-to-be-primate."

"And, apparently, he can not rule out slavery altogether since the Bible allows it."

"How sad when hateful old men speak their mind. And what's with the suit and tie? Is his clerical shirt in the wash?"

"Note that Jensen's comments, like many in the separatist movement, are an example of scriptural selectivity. I wonder if capital punishment is included in the "faith once delivered to the saints" accolades he signed onto in the San Joaquin letter."

and in the interests of fairness one comment in his defence.

"In defence of Archbishop Jensen, he has spoken out for Aboriginal rights and refugees. He was never a lackey of the Howard Government. So it would be totally wrong to portray him simply as a rightwing bigot. His theological views are sincerely held, and he and his brother are often misunderstood. They love Our Blessed Lord and seek to serve him.

Listen to his talk on the internet..Why he is a Protestant. He states how he would not go to the inaugral Mass of Cardinal Pell, because " No Archbishop of Sydney goes to a Mass." ( he did go to a prayer service though) he is a man of conviction and integrity and you know where you stand with him."

True Inclusive Communion

A number of years ago, I went with my Mother and Sister to St Stephen's, Willoughby for Christmas service. We did not go to the first service of the morning as it was difficult to get my mother anywhere early. I was surprised when the priest entered in suit and tie and discovered it was not to be a communion service. As the service continued, I became more and more annoyed and finally left when we were asked to raise our hands if we were saved. My mother and sister soon followed. My mother was upset as she had never missed communion on Christmas day before but they also were bewildered by the service. It was not Anglican in any shape or form and parts were, to put it bluntly, obnoxious.
I wrote to the priest and one of his replies was to the effect that he did not believe communion should be offered to those many who only attend at Christmas and might take it unworthily. I was gobsmacked. I have just read a comment on Father Jake's site describing a funeral service for a young man after a car accident. Part of this comment follows (my bold).

When it was time for communion, the family came up first. As is often the case, we wondered if anyone else would come to the rail for communion. Then they began to approach us. Out of over 350 people in that service about 280 of them took communion. We didn't ask who was baptized and who was not. We didn't do any litmus test of their beliefs. We simply ministered to those in need. We gave them Christ's body and His blood.

As I repeated the words "the blood of Christ, the cup of salvation" over and over, I began to notice how remarkable an event I was privileged to be witnessing. We were making a difference. We were providing what these young people needed. It may not have made complete sense to them or to us, but it was what they needed. They heard the same comfort in those words that I had heard thousands of times over the years. And I recalled my own mother's funeral this past August when I heard those same words then and knew that all would be well, that all would be well, that everything would be well.

We were able to reach out to this group of distraught young people today..not by judgment, not by requiring confirmation of any creed but the Apostle's, not by hitting them over the head with words that would drive them away again. We simply provided the words of comfort and the sacrament of comfort that the church has provided for hundreds of years.

This was a group of people who we don't see in church very much. The Barna Report tells us why. They see us as being hypocritical. We don't practice the love and compassion we preach. They find us particularly hypocritical about issues related to human sexuality. Sexual orientation is not an issue for them. They just don't care about that aspect of another person's life.
We look pretty silly to them with our obsession over it all.

I'm sure some will immediately provide criticism for us having announced that God's table was open to all. Others will wring their hands and gnash their teeth over the possibility of some received the sacrament without proper credentials. To be honest, I don't really care what anyone has to say about what we did. It's far more important to me and I firmly believe it's more in accord with the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we did what we did.
We brought some folks to church today. I suspect we brought some back to church. For perhaps a fleeting moment, we touched some hearts and ministered to some critical needs.

It was a remarkable service and I was blessed to be a part of it.

I now have some friends, 2 sisters, who live in the Willoughby parish but worship at St James. They told me that they could not continue attending St Stephen's and for 6 months stopped worshipping at all until they decided to visit St James, where they can now be seen every Sunday and are involved in other parish activities. Praise God for St James, King Street where most services include the Eucharist and all are welcome.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Must I pray for Jensen?

Each week our church like all churches within the Diocese prays for Archbishop Peter Jensen. At least we usually pray for the Primate Archbishop Phillip Aspinall (Brisbane) as well ( I wonder how many other Sydney parishes do that). For years we prayed for the Prime Minister, John Howard and my prayer was for his removal as soon as possible. Finally God has granted that prayer. I think an answer to prayer for the removal of Jensen would not be very successful and the replacement would probably be worse. I can just pray for the faithful Anglicans trying to worship within the diocese.

The fact that Thinking Anglicans reports on Jensen meeting with Akinola to organise this meeting in Jerusalem next year shows what Jensen thinks of me. Akinola views on gay people are well known. If Jensen was to spout them here in Sydney, there are thankfully laws that would see him before the courts. He pretends he loves us but mention acceptance of gays to any Jensenite and see their faces contort in anger.
The report at Thinking Anglicans also shows he lacks the common courtesies that Anglican Bishops are suppose to display
The Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani has issued a press release:

Re: Global Anglican Future Conference planned for the Holy Land in June 2008

The Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, Bishop Suheil Dawani, has expressed his concern about the Global Anglican Future Conference planned for the Holy Land in June this year.

“Regrettably, I have not been consulted about this planned conference,” said Bishop Suheil. “The first I learned of it was through a press release.

“I am aware that the post-Christmas announcement that this conference is to be held here has excited considerable interest around the Anglican Communion, and has become the subject of online discussion. Yet we Anglicans who minister here have been left out in the cold.

“I also note that the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, who appears to be one of the organisers, is encouraging clergy and lay people from his diocese to attend the conference with him and his bishops. He speaks of the meeting taking place because the Anglican Communion is, he says, ‘in disarray over fundamental issues of the gospel and biblical authority’.

“I am deeply troubled that this meeting, of which we had no prior knowledge, will import inter-Anglican conflict into our diocese, which seeks to be a place of welcome for all Anglicans.

“It could also have serious consequences for our ongoing ministry of reconciliation in this divided land. Indeed, it could further inflame tensions here. We who minister here know only too well what happens when two sides cease talking to each other. We do not want to see any further dividing walls!

“I believe our Primate, Dr Mouneer Hanna Anis,is also concerned about this event. His advice to the organizers that this was not the right time or place for such a meeting was ignored.”

“I urge the organizers to reconsider this conference urgently.”

Why does this not surprise me? Ask the Bishop of Newcastle.
The Diocese of Sydney spreads way beyond the present but ever-expanding boundaries of the metropolis of Sydney EXCEPT on the north. Here Sydney's urban area is sprawling into what is known as the Central Coast which lies within the Diocese of Newcastle. What a shock for poor young families who move there for sun, sand, surf and lower prices and find not only do they have to commute to work but on Sunday their church is run by shock, horror an Anglo-catholic priest who is not a graduate of Moore College. Now we all know that Bishops are not suppose to set up churches in other dioceses without permission. Of course the Jensenites cannot openly do this but everyone knows the new churches springing up on the coast may appear to be independent but funny how they are manned by men (never women) trained in the Diocese of Sydney.
From Wikipedia.
These churches are part of a loose fellowship of other evangelical churches around Australia called The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches. Over the last five years, eight new churches have been established outside Sydney. Many of the pastors of these churches have been ministers in Anglican Diocese of Sydney and all except one has been through Moore Theological College. A number of ministers from the Anglican Diocese of Sydney are on the Board of Reference for these churches. In the Sydney Anglican synod of 2005, the links with Sydney Anglicans and the Independent Evangelical Churches was strengthened, with the possibility of the Independent churches becoming affiliated with the Anglican Diocese of Sydney
No wonder Jensen could not give a fig about the feelings of the Bishop of Jerusalem. And he has the hide to say others are splitting the Anglican communion.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Sport mad Australian Culture

To take a break from complaining about the Sydney Diocese, I will turn to another beef I have with living in Australia. Last night on the 7.30 Report there was an interview with Steve Davislim, a promising young tenor from Melbourne, who although little known in his home country, is a rising star on the international stage. Part of the interview
"These days he lives in splendour in Vienna as Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert once did. World capital of classical music, the Viennese know a talented tenor when they hear one.

STEVE DAVISLIM: I can hop in a taxi and they say, "What did you sing last night?" I mean, it's part of their culture. Their national orchestra is one of their national icons. The Vienna Philharmonic is, they have their own plane, you know, with the logo emblazoned on the tail. It's a different mindset. I think here is sport, sport, sport and there's some music somewhere, and I hope that changes at some point. That's part of the reason why, in a way, I'm in exile."

I really know what he means. In 2000, when Sydney hosted the Olympics, I went to Central Europe and attended the Opera in Vienna. In April I am returning to Vienna and as soon as my plane tickets were confirmed I booked 2 nights at the Opera in Vienna. First night will be "Der Rosenkavalier and second night will be lighter "Land of Smiles". I hope to also organise Operas and/or symphonies in Berlin, Leipzig and Munich.

I have never felt Australian as far as sport is concerned. I do watch the news and do know who is playing and who won, sometimes this is absolutely necessary to carry on a conversation, but I really could not care less.

As a child sport was torture. I have no hand/eye co-ordination and stood there blinking in surprise if I actually caught a ball. This was despite my Grandfather, a primary teacher, spending hours trying to teach me. My father displayed little interest although I know he did play cricket as a youth. He was more interested in tinkering under the car, another area in which I am sadly ignorant. As an asthmatic I could not run to save my life. Fortunately I grew out of that. The one sport in which I could hold my own was swimming and surfing but the result of that was the skin cancers that now have to be regularly treated, thankfully only once has an incipient melanoma appeared. Sport and PE lessons were always the time when I would be teased and mocked, often by the teachers who ignored the fact that I was in the top 10% academically.

In order to graduate as a high school teacher in Geography and Economics I had to do a course in sport, the only subject I failed. However, luckily, I passed the post exam in which they asked the rules of cricket rather than basketball which had been in the main exam. Most of my teaching career involved having to take sport, usually pleasant in summer as I took swimming or lifesaving. Winter usually meant soccer (football) in which I developed some knowledge and even developed some expertise and took grade (only because any sporty teacher in those days took Rugby, things are changing). However I usually talked the teacher from the opposing school into refereeing and one memorable time, the team returned to tell me they had won, only to find me fast asleep. I never understood why all teachers had to take sport but were not expected to take other subjects in which they had no real expertise eg. music or art. More and more schools are now developing integrated sport so this is no longer an imposition on all teachers.

Also the range of sports is increasing. When I went to school, the summer choice for juniors was Cricket or Learn to Swim. I was too proud of my one sporting accomplishment to join the latter although some of my friends did and splashed feebly in week one then improved greatly in week two when it was too late to send them back to cricket. In later years I was saved by joining Lifesaving.

Winter was misery. The choice was Rugby Union or Softball and as I had no wish to be killed on a weekly basis, I went to Softball despite the ridicule heaped on us as we left the assembly. Again as a senior I was allowed to go to tennis in which I was also hopeless (remember absolutely no hand/eye coordination) but I could play with a few mates, who were nearly as hopeless, in a game of "Hit and Giggle".

Today as I said, there is much more choice. Ten Pin Bowling was something I could manage and occasionally even win although when I take students there these days, they seem to spend more time feeding their faces in the cafeteria than exercising their muscles so I am not sure it is a good choice.

The one period in my life in which I took an interest in Rugby (League ) was during the early 70's when I was grappling with my same sex orientation. There was an exciting mateship in going to the weekly fixture then onto the pub with the guys. I became a mad Saints supporter and still have a red white scarf and beanie in the cupboard but obviously that was unfulfilling in the long run.

To get back to where I started, I think I would have felt I belonged more to my culture if I was born in one of the countries of Central Europe. I wish there was a little bit of balance so that Australian musicians (also painters, novelists and scientists) could be idolised as well as our sportsmen and women.