In a centrefold satirical take of the year 2007 in the Sydney Morning Herald (does not seem to be online). "Sydney began its preparation for a papal visit at Royal Randwick racecourse, chosen for its ample experience in dealing with small men in ridiculous sik clothing. The NSW Parliament also made last minute amendments to smooth his visit: banning protesters and advertising(True), and re-legalising homosexual vilification."
In reading the sad affairs at the Mission of St Nicholas in the Diocese of San Joaquin at Southern Cone Attempts to Remove Episcopal Vicar, I was struck by the message from the ex-bishop's lackey "Reserved sacrament will be provided by the Rural Dean, Fr. Ron Parry, or by me if necessary." Excuse me but did I not read that the Diocese of Sydney had sent messages of congratulations to the ex-Bishop of San Joaquin. Yet anyone in Sydney knows that the reservation of the sacrament is illegal in this diocese. But then we all know that the Diocese ignores the lay presidency that occurs illegally in this diocese as well.
I am also disgusted to read that ++Peter Jensen was at the meeting of the bishops et al. in Africa recently to organise what they are calling ‘Global Anglican Future Conference’. His idea of the future of Anglicanism and mine are radically different. I do not consider myself beholden to hypocrites like ++ Peter Jensen and his fellow rats.
A friend, who is not an Anglican, often directs me to Father Dave's site. I sometimes have some difficulties as he is a keen boxer, calls himself Fighting Father Dave and I loathe boxing. I also wonder at his support of Ray Williams a man jailed after the collapse of HIH (a major insurance company) in which many lost their savings. I do not know much about him (perhaps Alcibiades can enlighten me) However his sermon on Matthew 11:2-6 'Have faith in what you see and hear' is interesting. Part of it states I look at my own spiritual pilgrimage up to this point and it seems to be a constant struggle of the Lord Jesus dragging me forwards to recognise the presence of the Spirit of God in places where I didn't expect it!
Years ago I would have thought that God would never be involved in any union between a man and a woman that had not been blessed by the church and then ... you find love, joy, health and peace in a home - all the signs of the presence of the Spirit of God - and you have to rethink things!
Certainly I once believed that if you were homosexual you had obviously turned your back on Christ and all things belonging to God, and then, by the grace of God, my best friend turns out to be gay and yet I find that that Spirit of God is alive and well in him and ... I have to think again.
Certainly the biggest personal spiritual challenge I have experience of late has been through my friendship with Sheikh Mansour - an Islamic cleric. And if I knew anything about the Spirit of God it was surely that She could not operate through the life of someone who was a representative of Islam, and yet ... God seems to be dragging me forwards to rethink things again!
I am one of those people who send out the annual Christmas letter. I know some make fun of these but for a number on my list, it is my only contact although in my past they were usually fellow workers or students who were very important in my daily life. I like to discover what they have been up to during the year and hopefully they enjoy my missive. I now have a number of friends for whom I have no snail mail address and, as I use a Macintosh and do my typing in Appleworks, are unable to open any attachments I send them. Therefore I have posted my 2007 letter at http://home.pacific.net.au/~brianralph/christmas2007.htm Please feel free to read it and take it as a personal message to you. Merry Christmas and Happy 2008 to all.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, arguably one of the most respected and recognizable members of the Christian Church, has apologised about his religion’s treatment of gay people in an exclusive BBC Radio Manchester interview. The programme, broadcast last night but still available over the net, tracked Tutu down to his Cape Town home to get his thoughts on why he believes the church is “obsessed” with homosexuality.
In response he apologised directly to Byrne, stating: “I want to apologise to you and all those who we in the church have persecuted.
“I’m sorry that we have been part of the persecution of a particular group. For me that is quite un-Christ like and, for that reason, it is unacceptable.”
He added: “May be even as a retired Archbishop I probably have, to some extent, a kind of authority but apart from anything let me say for myself and anyone who might want to align themselves with me, I’m sorry.
“I’m sorry for the hurt, for the rejection, for the anguish that we have caused to such as yourselves.”
I have been following the developments in the Diocese of San Joaquin as the bishop and most of the parishes have seceded from the Episcopal Church of the USA. I do feel for the remaining faithful churches and members who now form the real if rather small remaining Diocese. Those who have left can no longer be regarded as Anglicans. It may be uncharitable but I do love the words of one of the remaining members who said "The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin is very much alive, despite what everyone thinks. We're going to be growing in fertile ground now that the weeds are gone." It so reminds me of our Diocese of Sydney where there seems to be so few true Anglican plants growing, or is there? Yesterday I was asked by one of the members of my musical group about the times of services at St James, King Street which he had heard me mention. It was so sad to hear him say. “We sometimes go to Christchurch, Springwood but it is not what we are use to, not the type of service we grew up with.” He and his wife are about 80 and he cannot walk far so it is unlikely they will make more than an occasional visit to St James especially the way our City Rail loves to cause disruption by completing trackwork on weekends. How many people there must be in the diocese who are unhappy with what is happening but too polite and too restricted in their choices to make a fuss. I do not object to people worshipping in whatever way suits them but the Jensenites have changed most churches in our diocese so that they no longer resemble Anglicanism. I wish they would all leave, we would be left with a much smaller but an inclusive church serving those who want to worship in their traditional Anglican way and accepting all who want to worship with them. I wish the remaining churches of the San Joaquin diocese all the very best and my prayers are with them as they maintain the Anglican traditions of inclusiveness. It is uplifting to visit their website and read the messages being sent to them.
A friend of mine from Austria has sent me the following: 'Every December, our village is transformed into a life-sized advent calendar. Every evening, another family decorates a window of their house with an advent theme - the village then meets when the window is lit, we pray, read stories and sing and afterwards, the family serves hot wine and cake to the visitors and we chat and have a good time. It is a wonderful tradition and if you walk through the village in the evening, you can see all the beautiful windows....
Yesterday, at our gathering, our resident gay couple turned up. They have purchased a house here not long ago, and they are open and friendly, obviously wanting to become part of the community. Well, what happened ? They got a warm welcome and were invited to come the next day (to my family's gathering - today it is our turn to decorate a window) and the day after and so on.
I'm very proud of my village, good people are living here.'
I will also include the lovely story her family used for her family's window lighting.
'A man was told by God that God would come for a visit. The man panicked a bit because his house was not ready for a visitor and started preparing. Suddenly a friend knocked on the door and wanted to go and play tennis but the man declined because he had to prepare for God. Then his mother called, she was elderly and asked him for help with shopping but the man excused himself because he had so many things to do before God's arrival. Then the neighbor knocked, she needed help with a blocked pipe in her house but again, the man declined, because he was waiting for God. Finally, he was finished with all his preparations and he was sure everything was ready for God. He waited, but God didn't turn up. In the evening, he got impatient, and by midnight he was pissed. He exclaimed: "God, where are you ? I have prepared myself, I have declined my friend's wishes - see how many burdens I have taken upon myself to prepare for you and now you're not coming!" "Friend", answered God, "I have tried to visit 3 times today - but you have never let me in."'
Farewell Bernie. I am sure God has greeted you with the words "Well done , good and faithful servant". A true Australian hero. In the words of our new Prime Minister. "When so many were prepared to cast you to one side, Bernie Banton, you have been a beacon and clarion call for what is decent and necessary in life and I salute you." For my friends overseas who may not have heard of this remarkable man the Sydney Morning Herald Obituary
I have not posted my views of the election as I was working as a polling official and should maintain my neutrality (though all my friends know my views :-) ). One elderly lady asked me how to vote for Mr Howard and I told her to read the ballot paper (if she does not know he is Liberal, who cares). Another elderly lady asked me for help as she had left her glasses at home and wanted to vote Labor but her husband voted differently so would not help. I gladly assisted :-) I do not think Labor is the answer to prayers - sadly I never trust a committed Christian like Rudd and I vote Green - but it is a vast improvement over the Howard led Liberal/National Government. I hid my Australian flag when Australia invaded Iraq. Am trying to find it again. However, sadly, the Liberals did not lose due to this abominable action, most Australians no longer seem to care. It seems to have been achieved by the unfair Work Choices legislation that showed Howard in his true light, no real friend of the battler despite his claims over the years. Hopefully people also saw he had no vision for the future, blind to Climate change and the need for developing infrastructure and education. Hopefully also people were sickened by his treatment of refugees and Aborigines. He pretended to be changing at the last but this was only an attempt to save his miserable neck which thankfully did not work. As I left for work at the Polling booth, the newspaper polls showed a swing back to him and I was deadly afraid, people were believing the scare mongering. My booth traditionally votes Labor and in 2004, we knew Labor had lost as even that booth had voted for the Liberals. This time I had heart as I saw Labor were way ahead and was happy to see my feelings confirmed when I arrived home and turned on the TV. How I hope Bennelong goes to Maxine McKew and Howard is completely kicked out. Hopefully we will soon say goodbye to the pompous ass Alexander Downer(Minister for Foreign Affairs), the buffoon Kevin Andrews (Immigration) and the disgraceful Philip Ruddock (Attorney-General). At least they will no longer be able to do any harm to Australia's reputation. So it is a day of celebration and cautious optimism but my bags are still being prepared for the move to New Zealand.
I have had such an exciting day. I set off to hear Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion. First I heard him preach at Choral Eucharist at 11am. Then I wandered the city for a few hours and prided myself that I avoided the temptation to buy any books although I spent over an hour browsing in bookshops. Finally at 3pm there was a session in which Canon Kearon was to be interviewed by Julie McCrossin who has been a radio interviewer and makes no secret of the fact that she is a lesbian with a partner and children. I expected and did learn a lot about the developments in the Anglican Communion. However at the beginning it was announced that the 2 men sitting just along from me, visiting in an unofficial capacity were Bishop Gene Robinson and his partner. I nearly fell off the chair. At the end I introduced myself to Bishop Gene and told him how much I admired him. I gave him a potted account of my intentions as a young man to enter the ministry but luckily God showed me, by seeing my parish priest have a nervous breakdown due to his homosexuality, the problems that would develop. Standing with us was our lay preacher and Synod representative from St James who had already told the meeting of the anger he received in Sydney synod as a straight man supporting gays. The Bishop hugged me and asked me to continue praying for him. During the session Canon Kearon put forward the idea that the World Church needs to have some consensus and that improvements should not come from individual dioceses going on their own. He did regret that discussion had not begun way back in 1978 which would have meant we were now further along in the process. However speakers pointed out that the ordination of women priests and women bishops had occurred by Dioceses going alone. For those unfamiliar with Australia, the Diocese of Perth was first, closely followed by the Diocese of Canberra-Goulburn. The Sydney Archdiocese tried to prevent (and did delay) the ordination in Goulburn by taking them to court. I attended the ordination in Goulburn, a highlight of my life. Of course Sydney has no women priests, objects to women bishops and will do anything to stop ordination of gay persons. Perhaps my prayers should be for the Diocese rather than the wonderful Bishop Gene Robinson.
At last Australia can have a woman bishop but the Sydney contingent have pushed for alternative oversight "a man on standby for those unable to accept the woman". Can I have someone on standby because I have no respect at all for the current Archbishop of Sydney and would happily replace him?
Three cheers for this wonderful woman. She has organised for the stories of 4 gay clergy to be read to General Synod Anglicans 'fearful' on gays The Sydney delegates must have blocked their ears at evidence of such sinfulness. Sad these people could not speak for themselves. From discussion with friends in the United States, it seems gay people are more visible in the church there but almost completely hidden in politics and public life. In Australia we do have Bob Brown and Justice Michael Kirby and a few in State parliaments while Dorothy McCrae-McMahon is the only name I know in church life. When Dr Porter preached at St James over a year ago, I had the opportunity to personally thank her for her defence of gay men in the Diocese of Sydney. Unfortunately I was in Queensland when she returned this year and gave the Cable lecture. Her book "The New Puritans" with its outline of all that is wrong with the Sydney Anglican Diocese is a very important part of my library.
Just heard the news of her death, and read the following "What has happened in 50 years? How did we go from Deborah Kerr, Vivian Lee, Merle Oberon to disasters like Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears? American cinema and entertainment is a bad joke." How True. and "Man how times have changed with actors & actresses. Ah, the good old days with Tracy, Hepburn, Gable, Davis, Harlow, Garbo, Grable and others. Wish we could have them back. Rest in peace Deborah Kerr. May God bless you in the palm of his hand. From here to eternity it's now off to eternity. He is waiting for you." My sentiments too.
In the last 2 weeks there have been 2 programs on TV which have interviewed gay persons. How I wish there could have been such programs when I was young but then homosexuality was never mentioned in polite circles. Anyway, on Sunday the Australian 60 minutes had a section on Dads Coming Out One guy is now happily partnered and still is friends with his ex-wife and accepted by his teenage children. He is very lucky but he talks about being brought up in a homophobic family and society which was the pressure on him to get married. His father's view was 'Gays, poofters, just should not be allowed to live — they should be wiped off the face of the earth'. 'All poofters should be put on a boat, dragged out to sea and sunk'. That is what I lived with my entire life. Since he has come out his father no longer speaks to him.
What a contrast to the interview on Talking heads with Jonathon Welch an Australian tenor and choirmaster who has become well known due to a program "the Choir of Hard Knocks" which created a choir out of homeless persons.
He came out to his family at the age of 18. He related: 'I can remember it was a Christmas Day, and I said, "I think I'm gay." And my sister said, "I've known that for years." And I went, "Oh. Well, why didn't you tell me," you know? But my family has been wonderful, you know. They've just loved me and accepted me for who I am. I'm very loved. Very fortunate.'
How much misery is caused by homophobia. How different it could all be.
What a wonderful article written by a young gay student We're here, we're queer, we're still in high school So different from when I was at school , there was no internet and homosexuality was never discussed and unfortunately it is even different today from some church schools which are suppose to provide a caring environment judging from some of the comments. In my occasional work at state schools, I have seen openly gay teachers chatting about their situation with their students. Of course anti-discrimination and support is the official stance in state schools and the teachers' union but I am not sure if it is always the case in practice. I was able to be completely open in a senior Catholic school in the 80's but it was difficult. However I still receive some messages of thanks from gay students of that time. Some I knew and could counsel, others remained hidden and only now are able to speak openly of their situation. The comments are also interesting. Only a few show anti-gay prejudice.
Thanks Davis for recommending Father Jake's Blog and through (encouraged by Davis' comments on another forum) there I was led to the stand being made by Gay Lutheran pastors this week. Please read their stories at A Place Within My Walls. I can only pray for my Diocese as one of the pastors prays "I pray fervently for the day when we will be fully welcomed and embraced by the Church for the gifts we are and for the gifts we bring." Sadly I believe that will be a long time in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney.
"His membership of that steadily dwindling band of veterans of the war to end all wars has earned him audiences with the Queen and the French Legion d'honneur. A few years ago he was taken to meet a German veteran who had fought opposite him in Flanders. "Nice old chap. A pacifist. Same as me. Why did they suffer, those millions of men?"
The afternoon is wearing on and Patch is tired. He pauses to listen to the children playing. What does it feel like to be the last of those millions, that army of ghosts? "I don't like it," he says. "I sit there and think. And some nights I dream - of that first battle. I can't forget it. "I fell in a trench. There was a fella there. He must have been about our age. He was ripped shoulder to waist with shrapnel. I held his hand for the last 60 seconds of his life. He only said one word: 'Mother'. I didn't see her, but she was there. No doubt about it. He passed from this life into the next, and it felt as if I was in God's presence.
"I've never got over it. You never forget it. Never."
Also a comment in the movie :”History Boys” seen this week that all the memorials to the dead of the First World War were to salve the consciences of those who started that dreadful unnecessary war. Pity some of our politicians today still do not understand that war solves nothing.
Three cheers for the Dean of Southwark who concludes an article in the Guardian
Will the Anglican communion fall apart without a covenant? The communion is voluntary - let the independent provinces choose to belong, or not; but let none of us dictate terms to one another and determine who's in and who's out; let the church be as mature as the Commonwealth and accommodate differences of opinion in something more durable than toleration: love.
From the Sydney Morning Herald "Pell plans fidelity oath for principals" especially worth viewing for the cartoon. Principals will have to publicly commit to a "vow of fidelity" by adhering to church teaching on homosexuality, birth control and women's ordination. In the 80's I was a teacher in a Senior Catholic Boys' College within the Sydney Archdiocese and my sexuality was common knowledge. A very few boys approached me for counselling , a lot made life difficult, a few stated they had formed different views of homosexuality as a result of being in my class, the Principals at the time (religious Brothers) were probably uncomfortable but supported me. Occasionally I receive an email such as the following from an ex-student (now with a PhD) "although not apparent as a young guy it was important to have people like you in the school. Made life a little easier. Anyway won’t go on, just wanted to say hi and let you know that there are people out here who appreciated knowing you." Eventually I moved to a different school with younger children and decided life would be easier if I was more discreet. It makes me angry to think that young people struggling with their self identification are still prevented from observing role models. Fortunately I have been in State schools and heard Gay teachers being quite open with their senior students. I can inform Pell that it will not stop young men discovering and hopefully accepting their homosexuality. Just from looking at class photos of the 70's I can list many young men I later met in gay bars. Not many of them, however, would still be found attending the church despite attending Catholic schools for their whole primary and secondary education ..
This site will not work with my old version of Safari. I need a new computer (coming) before I can upgrade Safari. Have been using Netscape but it now crashes continually so I am testing Opera. Not much use blogging if I cannot link so if this does not work, then my blogging will have to wait until new computer arrives. I really feel for people my age without the finances to upgrade their technology. My favourite newspaper is the Sydney Morning Herald
Quote from the editorial in today's Sydney Morning Herald. "Instead of looking like a statesman bolstering the Washington link, he (John Howard) looks like the reverse - like a partisan politician meddling in another country's election for his friend and ideological ally, George Bush." My only addition is that this idiot has never and could never look like a statesman. Barack Obama had his number quick, pointing out he is all rhetoric and no action. Our actual contribution to the war in Iraq is piddling and would never be missed. Howard, however, is clever. He knows his reelection would be in jeopardy if (like in the USA) lots of our boys started coming home in body bags. Thankfully our only loss has been a guy who fooled around with his gun and shot himself. In the last election Australian's were more interested in their own mortgages and interest rates than what might be happening in the world. They wrongly believed Howard's lies and as a result I am now ashamed to be an Australian. Hopefully they are now waking up. They can see Howard struggling to reverse his statements about Climate change and are becoming angry about the treatment of Hicks in Guantanamo Bay. Most are also turning against the war in Iraq. They are beginning to see that contrary to Howard's views, Al Quaeda see Bush's attack on Iraq as being a gift to their recruitment campaign. The cartoon in today's paper shows Howard with all the chickens coming home to roost - oh if only it can only be true. I long to see the day when he faces the media, not with his usual self-satisfied grin, but to announce that he has lost the election. I will be delirious with joy. The only thing I would miss would be watching him eat humble pie as he has to deal with Obama as president but no, I cannot wait that long.
Great article in Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald 'Room for Religion as Moral Compass' by Rev Tim Costello. He is a Baptist and brother of our Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer though that has not stopped him criticising the Government. He is also chief executive of World Vision Australia. He was quoted by our Lay Reader Assoc. Professor Michael Horsburgh who as usual gave a great sermon this morning. I will link to it when it becomes available online. He managed to move a sermon on the Baptism of Jesus to a discussion of Church and State by linking via the stance John the Baptist made to Herod Antipas. Michael quoted from Tim Costello " It is striking that the textbook for Christian faith, the Bible, has some 3000 verses urging us to care for the poor and marginalised, and only a handful of verses on two of the topics that the religious right trumpets as its main values criteria: homosexuality and the family." We need Christians to apply their faith to politics by standing up for the minorities and applying values of social justice to refugees and Hicks to mention two, not trying to enforce their own personal piety and private values on others.
A retired teacher librarian who loves travelling especially by train and wastes a lot of time on the Internet.
An Anglican who knows God loves me as a gay man.
Moved at the beginning of 2010 from the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia to Dunedin, NZ.
One of the best things I ever did.
I became a New Zealand citizen on 2nd March 2016
I will always be an Aussie by birth but am proud to be a Kiwi by choice.