Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Decade

My dear Mother always hated the television programs that at this time of the year go over all the events of the year. She was only interested in the latest news, what had passed had passed in her opinion. So she would not like this post of mine. I guess I am posting it mainly as a record for myself.

We watched the new century arrive at Mum's apartment from where we could see some of the fireworks on the harbour.  Mum had only moved into this apartment a month earlier which was next to my sister who was to spend the next few years caring for her.  The next morning I dropped in at the school where I worked to make sure the library computers had not been hit by the millennium bug. I had worked all year to transfer the catalogue from an aged program to a more up to date one and there were no glitches on January 1.

The city was eagerly awaiting the opening of the Sydney Olympics but I took advantage of the 3 weeks holidays in September to return to Europe. I did see the Olympic torch pass through my little mountain village but flew to Vienna a few days later.  I had not been to Europe since 1980 although I had visited the States and Canada  for Conferences in 1997 and 1999.
From Vienna I took a day boat trip to Bratislava then by train to Budapest (where I watched the opening of the Olympics on TV). I went on to Cracow including Auschwitz, Berlin, Dresden, Prague - all places off limits when I had wandered through Europe in the 70's. Finally to Munich for Oktoberfest and to Innsbruck from where I flew home. As we drove home from the airport, my sister was far more interested in telling me how great the Olympics had been rather than hear about my travels.

A conference saw me in Auckland, NZ, again returning after nearly 30 years when I spent three month-long camping holidays there in 67, 70 and 73.
I caught the train down to Wellington before flying home.
Of course like everyone I was transfixed and devastated by 9/11 but then another conference saw me driving to Queensland and the Sunshine Coast where I had owned land and spent many holidays in the late 60's and early 70's. Again it was a return after 25 years.

Began with bushfire passing through my garden on January 4, a frightening experience but thankfully no lasting damage.
Easter saw me taking leave to fly with a friend back to Europe, spending 2 days in Singapore then 13 days in Paris before visiting the Somme and my uncle's grave and then Ypres, Antwerp and Brussels. Alone I flew to Istanbul and went by bus to Cannakale and attended the Anzac Day Service at Gallipoli.
In October I resigned from full time work but was to have plenty of casual and temporary work for the next few years.

Again teaching in the State system after an absence of 28 years mainly working in Catholic schools.
I injured my back while gardening in late January which led to my first operation and stay in hospital in June. However it was successful and I was able to drive to Tasmania (okay involved taking the car on the overnight ferry from Melbourne to Devonport) for a conference in Hobart but I also visited the West Coast.

Work varied from very little in term 1 to full time in terms 2 and 3 until I took time off and flew back to New Zealand. However, hiring a large van was not a good idea and my dislike of driving plus Mum's increasing illness meant I only stayed 2 of the 4 planned weeks in the Northern parts of the North Island.

After working most of term 1, I decided to access my superannuation so then needed far less work for the rest of the year. A lot of time I was assisting my sister to care for Mum but I also joined the U3A walking group so widening my friends here in the Mountains.

The first half of the year was taken up with Mum although new interests in life began with seeing the film 'Brokeback Mountain' which led to new friends in Australia but even far more overseas. Somewhat linked, I fled the local evangelical church and began to worship in the inclusive St James, King Street despite the long journey each Sunday.
Mum's passing at the beginning of June was the most important moment of this year.
This blog was started in a fairly tentative fashion.

I flew to Christchurch in November and spent 2 weeks in train and bus over to the West Coast, up to Nelson and Picton, day ferry to Wellington and train back the East Coast. Then the next 2 weeks I drove to Queenstown, Te Anau, Milford and Dunedin. While most meant I was returning to places I had visited in the the 60's and 70's, it was my first visit to the city of Dunedin where I now plan to be living within a month.

I fulfilled a dream of taking my sister round the world to show my appreciation for those many years in which her life was constrained by caring for Mum.   Los Angeles, New Orleans (she is a jazz lover), Charleston, Washington, Philadelphia and New York before spending 11 days in Paris and surrounds (similar to my visit of 2002) and then our Uncle's grave on the Somme, Ypres, Brugges and a night in Bangkok.

Later in the year I was on the train back to Queensland and the outback towns of Longreach, Winton and Charleville as well as the more coastal cities of Rockhampton, Maryborough, Toowoomba and Brisbane.

I did not work at all this year but spent 2 months travelling in Europe. This has all been covered by my blog posts as I visited Munich and other Bavarian towns, Berlin and Leipzig in Germany, Vienna, Salzburg and Hallstatt in Austria, North-east Switzerland, the Baltic countries, Sweden and Finland.
In November I took my sister to Dunedin to show her where I intend to live and we also visited Doubtful Sound, Lake Te Anau and Oamaru.

Some days working back in schools and no travel as I, like most people, was buffetted by the Financial Crisis and I also prepared my home for sale. Now after almost 3 decades (28 years next Monday) in my mountain home, I prepare to move not just to a new home but a new country.

Happy New Year and hopefully a happy decade to all my cyber friends.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thoughts on Christmas

I am very conscious that my Christmas Greetings in the previous post were not in the least religious. While not at first intentional, I do not find Christmas a particularly deep spiritual experience, unlike Good Friday and Easter.

Society has made it into a time of feasting, drinking and present giving, often to excess, with only lip service to its real meaning.  Most of my acquaintances, other of course than those I know from church,  did not go near a church on Christmas day. Those who did, mostly Catholic, probably went to midnight mass so as to leave time on the day for all the other activities.  There are carols by candlelight held in most towns and cities but traditional carols are only a small part and Jingle Bells and much worse predominate. Santa is far more recognisable than Jesus. Houses decorated with lights have a large Santa but a small Nativity scene (if there is one at all).

This may be more obvious here in Australia where it is the start of the summer holidays. As a boy, our family usually spent Christmas in a beach side cottage. We went to church but in a small church bulging at the seams with its once a year Christmas surge. I remember several occasions in which my father and I stayed outside. Dad was a Methodist and at first did not take communion in an Anglican church and was not very interested either. Thankfully this changed and he was a regular communicant in the years leading to his death. In the Sydney Diocese young people do not take communion until confirmation, and in those days they did not even go to the rail for a blessing. So if the church was packed, it seemed best for Dad and me to wait outside while Mum and my sister attended.
Even when I grew older, Christmas services were nearly always in a strange church. After Dad's death, Mum and I worshipped in different parishes but my sister and I always went to Mum's church for Christmas.

Yesterday, although St James was packed, I recognised very few people. Probably the regulars were either away on holidays or had attended at Midnight. Most people attending were likely to be visitors to Sydney, such as the Prime Minister and his family, who wanted to attend an Anglican service such as they would experience in their home diocese and not the Happy Clappy service found in the Cathedral and most other so-called Anglican churches round the city.

Actually the choir sang Haydn's Missa Sancti Nicolai which must be one of the longest Eucharistic settings imaginable. Most of us oldies had to sit down before it was finished. A particularly poor choice for a packed service in which, although communion was distributed from the chancel steps, it still took close to 30 minutes. The whole service took over 2 hours so we sat down to Christmas lunch at 2pm. Probably a reason for many of the regulars to be absent.

Our family stopped giving presents at Christmas probably 30 years ago so I do not need to go near the shops in the lead up to Christmas. My sister served up a delicious dinner - Salmon and mango, Turkey, Ham and salad with baked potato and, most essential, Christmas Pudding with brandy sauce and/or cream. My brother-in-law plied me with a beer on arrival then champagne and West Australian sauvignan blanc so my two and a half hour train journey home felt a little strange but I was home in time to see the Queen's Christmas message and even to see on the news the Prime Minister leaving our church and, if I had used a magnifying glass, I would have been able to point out my sister and me on the steps in the background.

Back to the dinner, there are only 3 of us left in our family. My brother-in-law had his family over the previous Sunday. With Mum gone, I do not see much point but I have promised my sister that, if possible, I will return to Sydney for Christmas in the future. Perhaps it will be more significant when I live so far away,

Finally, I use to wonder why the Gospel for Christmas Day was John Chapter 1 which does not cover the usual nativity, shepherds, wise men etc. There is so much hype around the story and argument. There were messages in the newspaper last week knocking the likelihood that Augustus woud have held a census and, if so, it would not have been necessary for Joseph to go to Bethlehem.  I now consider many of the stories around Christmas to be nice but unimportant but the essential message that God came into the World to be the most significant fact on which I can focus and for which I can give thanks.

And I have included the Kyries from Haydn's Missa Sancti Nicolai.
They are quite beautiful sitting here at home and not standing in a packed, hot and humid church wondering when you are going to get home for dinner.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


This says it all really

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mother Mary Mackillop

The news has been full of the declaration that a second miracle has been attributed to Mary Mackillop and so she will be canonised a Saint in the new year. She will be Australia's first saint.
I am afraid my evangelical upbringing means I do not feel the need for any intermediaries between me and God but if praying to a Saint helps other people, I have no objection.  I certainly believe Saints can be used to inspire and teach us.

It does annoy me that it took 100 years after her death and a lot of kerfuffle over the existence or not of two miracles before this was achieved. I think it was the previous pope who declared the first miracle ages ago. I believe Saints should be recognised for the good they did on earth and Mary Mackillop was certainly a saintly person. 

Unlike the two popes,  Pius XII who made some very doubtful decisions during WWII and progressing him towards sainthood is hardly a diplomatic move in maintaining good relations with the Jews.  I thought John Paul II was a silly old man. No doubt he did some good but he also seemed to move the Roman Catholic church back from the enlightenment of Vatican 11 which the present idiot is furthering.  Sorry to my Roman Catholic friends but during the 20 years I taught in Catholic schools, I often considered converting as I admired much in the priests, brothers and sisters with whom I worked and I found much more acceptance than from those in the Sydney Anglican Diocese. They led me back to the God of Love. However whenever these thoughts came into my mind, it was the position of the Pope which deterred me from taking that step.

Mary Mackillop has been described as a tough-minded, astute political operator, struggling against patriarchal city-based church authorities to assist the poorest of the poor in Australia's most remote corners.
She was no passive bystander in her fate. After being briefly excommunicated by her bishop, she begged passage to gain papal approval for her order above the heads of her bishops, battled a split among her own sisters, and then drove an expansion of missions across eastern Australia.

A Jesuit priest, James Martin, author of My Life with the Saints, suggests that the excommunicated nun's imminent canonisation should give heart not only to religious women in the United States undergoing a ''visitation'' by the Vatican but for divorcees and gay women disenfranchised from the church. He playfully suggests MacKillop might be regarded as the patron saint of troublemakers, a reminder that being in trouble with the church hierarchy is no barrier for holiness and a lesson to contemporary Catholics that holiness should not be conflated with unthinking, uncritical or blind obedience.
In Australia, supporters of women priests see in MacKillop a woman who - despite restraints on her by the church - lived out the gospel message by her conscience to do great things.

Now that is what I call a saint. 

I note Fr Bosco says that Mary Mackillop is already on the lectionary for the NZ Anglican church.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Detritus of Life

I feel very sad as I have just watched a very important part of my life disappear into the Recycling truck.
When I was still in primary school, my parents probably sacrificed a lot to buy me a set of encyclopedias. I learnt so much from them and even in more recent years I would still read volumes 5 & 6 on the history of Europe up to WW11. The internet means I have not opened even these volumes in recent years.  The science volumes have obviously been of no use for many years. There was one small volume on sex which my parents kept from me until I was an adult and by that time it was of no use to me. I think I threw it out several years ago after looking up its references to homosexuality, but it was written in the early 50's.
That red set of books has taken up a full shelf of my bookcase nearly all my life and yesterday I put it into the recycling bin along with a lot of other treasured but dated books.

My lounge room floor (the photo is just a section) is covered with dishes, ornaments, tea sets, mugs, vases, pans, etc etc for a garage sale tomorrow. Many of the items were my mother's or my step grandmother's and I have never used them. I spent yesterday's extreme heat sticking coloured labels on them according to the price I am asking. Blue $1, Red $2, Green $5 Yellow $10.  There are some items priced higher including a small TV which was my mother's, all my dining chairs and 2 lounge chairs.  Two hiking friends have offered to come early and help me take the lounge chairs out. If all the chairs sell, I will be left with one high kitchen chair/stool, a night/day bed settee and my desk chair on which to sit for another month.

As mentioned, yesterday was another day of extreme heat. 42'C in the town on the plain and 36'C in the nearby mountain town. There were bushfires across the state and 9 houses were lost down south. A cool change came through about 4am and it has just begun to rain at 7am.
It is forecast to be fine tomorrow. I hope so as I only have a small carport for my garage sale.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Soaring Impulse

Maithri has excelled even his usual wonderful posts.
"Don't try to be a 'Christian' Christ-like"

Saturday, December 12, 2009

American born Premier

The new premier of New South Wales, Kristina Keneally, was born in Las Vegas and grew up in Toledo. Her Grandmother was a war bride from Australia and apparently her mother was born here but Kristina only arrived after meeting and marrying an Australian man she met at World Youth Day in Poland in 1991. She has only lived in Australia for about 10 years. Kristina is the third Premier since the last elections in 2007 as the Labor party struggles to try and win the next election in March 2011. This is very unlikely, whoever is Premier, as they have been in power too long and the State is a mess.

However I thought my readers might be interested in an article about her accent.

WE SAY "tomarto", she says "tomayto", but Kristina Keneally is not about to call the whole thing off.
Piqued by suggestions that voters find her American accent hard to accept, NSW's new Premier has fundamentally changed the ways she speaks, according to Isobel Kirk, one of Australia's top voice coaches.
"She has really changed what she's doing but not in the way you might think," said Ms Kirk,

Ms Kirk studied recordings of Ms Keneally speaking last year, in mid-2009 and after her appointment as Premier. "Strangely enough, the Premier's accent has actually become more American over that time," she said.
"In 2008, she was trying to do an Aussie accent. The 'a' in 'plan' was a short 'a'. She said 'new', not 'noo', and she was sounding out the 'g' on the end of words … which is more Australian."
The pronunciation was Australian but the vocal qualities - the pitch, tone, rhythm and speed - were American. "She spoke fast, with more words to the breath, as Americans often do, and her voice was thinner. The result was a dog's breakfast."

Ms Kirk believes the Premier has since been advised to "lean" on her accent, "to celebrate it, if anything" but change her vocal quality. In later clips, ''You'll find she is actually dragging her 'a' out: it's longer than it was and more American. And she keeps dropping the 'g' off 'openin' and 'good mornin'. But she has also started to speak slower, with more warmth and resonance, which is what Australian women typically do."

Ms Kirk believes voters have "been fooled" into thinking she sounds more Australian but she has relaxed back into her American accent while appropriating quintessential Australian inflections and intonations.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I am finally going

I accepted an offer for my house nearly 2 weeks ago which was at the top level of my expectations and they are buying both the house and adjoining block but contracts were only exchanged yesterday.  Therefore I will be moving out of my home of 28 years on January 15 and have booked a flight to Dunedin, New Zealand on January 22.

It is something I have wanted to do for a long time and believe it is right for me but also know there will be times of loneliness until I get settled.
I also suffer from nerves (not the best for a person who spent their career teaching adolescents) so need to pray for calmness as I pack up, hold garage sales and get rid of rubbish.

Photo shows Dunedin. The suburbs where I hope to live are in the hills above the city - a little to the left of centre.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


It is do as I say not do as I do for the Jensenites in Sydney.
I am indebted to Unthinking Anglicans for the following links. I really have more to do with my time than seek out the latest shenanigans of the Sydney Diocese.

I discovered that Dean Philip Jensen has been given another 5 years at the Cathedral which will take him to age 70 in 2015. Other priests in the diocese have to retire at age 65. His brother, Archbishop Peter Jensen, has also had his tenure extended past the usual date until he turns 70 in 2013.

Even more irritating is the announcement that the Reverend Peter Hayward  has been endorsed by the diocese of Sydney's standing committee to be the sixth Bishop of Wollongong.  This is a region within the diocese of Sydney. 

Now the bishops of Sydney are going apoplectic about  the election of Canon Mary Glasspool by the Diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan bishop elect. They are probably not over the moon about the election of Rev Diane Jardine Bruce either.  (I was at a dinner last month in which the speaker was Bishop Barbara Darling of the Diocese of Melbourne who pointed out that although she was born in Sydney, she is not recognised as either a bishop or a priest when she flies into her home city.)

The bishops- elect of Los Angeles were elected by the Diocesan convention of priests and lay people representing the parishes. They will not become bishops until they receive the necessary consents from a majority of the bishops and standing committees of TEC.

Peter Hayward was chosen by the standing committee of Sydney probably on the recommendation of ++Peter Jensen. The rest of the diocese had no say in it. Certainly the decision will not need approval  by the rest of the Anglican  Church of Australia.

Even when Archbishop Peter Jensen eventually retires, his successor will be chosen by Synod but whether the rest of the Australian church approves or not will not matter. 

From what I read Bishop - elect Mary Glasspool will make an excellent bishop just as Bishop Gene Robinson is.  I hold him in much higher regard than the bishops within the Diocese of Sydney. I hold them all in utter contempt.


Just checked who are the members of the Standing Committee, very interesting.

There are 23 clergy, naturally all male except Archdeacon Narelle Jarrett who is not a priest and like the other archdeacon on the committee does not have a vote unless delegated by a bishop.

There are 33 lay persons and 7 are women. 
2 were elected from the whole synod, the other 5 were elected from the 5 regions (4 reps each)  but not evenly.  
3 come from South Sydney which probably has the greatest concentration of non-evangelical churches.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

How dare they (we)?

In the Sydney Morning Herald a Canberra Anglican parish priest writes:

''My church is hosting some community carols in the local shopping centre in a week or so. To my great amusement the manager of the centre objected, because she thinks the '[expletive] Christians want to take over Christmas.' I'd always assumed that the 'Christ' bit in both words might serve as a clue.''

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Goodbye Greens

My natural sympathies lie with the Greens party but they have shown themselves to be impractical and unable to work in the political system.

In Australia we have preferential voting for the House of Representatives and proportional voting for the Senate.
I could vote for the Greens in the House and while the chance of them being elected is almost zilch, my second preference counted and the member who was elected knew that some of his/her support came from Green preferences. 
In the Senate, while complicated,  my vote could result in the election of Green senators who can hold the balance of power.

At the Local level, the Green councillors opposed the demolition of a row of dilapidated shops built in the 1920's and so helped delay the widening of the highway which was promised over 20 years ago. They lost my vote. Finally the shops are being demolished and the highway widened. Next year we can expect the Sunday afternoon traffic jams to be lessened considerably.

At the State level, the Green members opposed the removal of Moreton Bay Fig Trees in the Domain. While beautiful, they had a habit of suddenly dropping mighty branches. I have often sat under them to listen to the summer concerts. People have to be realistic, they needed replacing. The State Greens lost my vote.

At the Federal level the leader in the Senate is a partnered gay man and I was glad to give them my vote.
They have just voted against an Emissions Trading Scheme which would help in the fight against Global Warming. I acknowledge the scheme was inadequate but it was a start. It would have shown that Australia was willing to play a role in the fight against climate change. We have suffered the shame of not signing onto Kyoto for far too long (We signed in 2008).

The Government does not have a majority in the Senate. To pass legislation opposed by the Liberal/National Parties it needs the votes of the 5 Greens and the 2 independents.

A deal was struck with the Liberals which gave more concessions to the polluters. However  yesterday the Liberals  threw out their leader who acknowledges Climate Change and wanted to at least commence to reduce CO2 emissions. They have elected a right wing conservative (opposed to abortion, IVF, gay rights etc) Tony Abbott.

The vote was finally taken in the last hour. If all the Liberals and the Nationals (neanderthals) had voted against the bill, the Government needed the votes of the 5 Greens and the 2 independents (one is an evangelical, climate change denyer twit).

2 Liberals followed their conscience and crossed the floor to vote with the Government so only the 5 Greens were needed to pass the bill. The vote was lost.

As the bill was passed twice in the House but knocked back twice in the Senate, the Government can now call an early election. We do not know what Prime Minister Rudd (currently flying home from a meeting with President Obama) will do.

For the first time in about 30 years my first preferences at the Federal level will go to the Australian Labor Party. The Greens can go to hell along with the Liberals and Nationals.

If Tony Abbott were to be elected Prime Minister I would not just apply for dual citizenship in New Zealand but would happily renounce my Australian citizenship.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Vatican cannot help itself

THE Vatican has ordered a Victorian bishop to withdraw an offer to let Anglicans ordain deacons in a Catholic church tomorrow because four of the seven are women.
Bendigo Catholics and Anglicans have both expressed sadness at the decision, which comes a month after Pope Benedict XVI told Anglicans they were welcome to become Catholics and keep their Anglican identity.
Sandhurst Bishop Joe Grech offered Bendigo Anglican Bishop Andrew Curnow use of the city's oldest Catholic church for the celebratory service because the Anglican cathedral is closed for repairs.
Bishop Grech said yesterday that he had checked widely before offering St Kilian's, and had the approval of the Papal Nuncio (ambassador), Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto.
But he was ordered to withdraw the offer by a Vatican department - he did not want to say which - after a Catholic complained to Rome about the planned service.
''It had wider ramifications, and the conclusion was it was better not to have it,'' Bishop Grech said.
''I was saddened, obviously. I was disappointed I couldn't help more, but there is tremendous rapport between us and the Anglicans. They know it's not a snub, it's the doctrine of the church.''
Sandhurst Vicar-General John White also said he was disappointed. ''We believe we have a very good working relationship with the Anglicans, and there was no way we were endorsing their theological stance for the ordination of women - it was a generous offer to help when they could not use their own facility.''

Local Catholics criticised the decision and apologised to Anglicans in letters to the Bendigo Advertiser. Beryl Rokesky wrote: ''I was ashamed to call myself a Catholic … Contrary to what we were taught in Catholic schools, Catholics aren't the only ones who will end up in heaven.''
Peter Bugden wrote that the decision was evidence that the Roman Curia was concerned with power and control, and that Christianity had been usurped by Churchianity.
Anglican Bishop Curnow is on retreat with the seven ordinands and could not be contacted.
From the Melbourne Age

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pray for a Church Dog

We are thankful that Izzie has been cleared of cancer but please pray for the surgery on her back on Friday.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Christ the King

Yesterday was a very special day at St James, King Street. After 8 years as Rector, Father Peter Kurti was farewelled. Despite my age, I have never before been in a parish for the departure of the Rector.
We had a combined service of Choral Eucharist and the church was packed as we will expect on Christmas Day but different because at Christmas we have many visitors while a lot of parishioners are away on vacation. I hope it will not be as hot at Christmas. The temperature in Sydney yesterday rose to 41'C (106'F) and it is still Spring. St James has a very high ceiling but no fans.

Fr Peter asked for donations to a village water scheme in the Philippines rather than a personal gift but he was still given a framed photo of himself on top of the church spire taken a few weeks ago (the copper of the spire is being replaced so it is surrounded by scaffolding).  He is supposed to have announced that after 8 years as Rector he finally felt on top of the job. He was also presented with a copy of the cross which tops the spire made out of the old copper. This is traditional but whereas those given to previous rectors were made from the copper removed in 1890, this one was made from the copper removed this year.

The warden making the farewell speech referred to Fr Peter's habit of beginning each sermon with a recent news item but moving onto the gospel and how that was sometimes a worry as the Prime Minister is occasionally in the congregation.  I am glad Kevin Rudd was not present yesterday as Fr Peter began with references to claims the Prime Minister has been less than open regarding the recent asylum seeker situation as a lead into the Gospel where Pilate asks about Truth.

The service ended with the parishioners accepting that Fr Peter has concluded his pastoral relationship and then he received a blessing from our assistant priest Fr John.
Fr Peter then removed his cope and laid it on the altar.  I do not know if this is usual but I felt very emotional at the symbolism.

Fr John is now Acting Rector until a new Rector is appointed. This is where I am very bitter.  We are supposed to be grateful that the bishop has allowed this. I admire Fr John immensely and he is a great asset to the parish. I have found him far more approachable than Fr Peter who is very reserved. Fr John would make a great Rector. However there is a problem in this 'holier than thou' diocese. Fr John's wife is divorced. Actually Bishop Forsythe has said he would otherwise have already been snapped up by one of the other Anglo-catholic parishes in the diocese as he would make an excellent Rector. I find the whole situation absurd.

We had great hymns of praise fitting the celebration of Christ the King.
'All hail the power of Jesus' name'
'The head that once was crowned with thorns'
'O worship the King all glorious above'
'Rejoice, the Lord is King'

However, despite my reservations about Choral Eucharist and the money the parish spends on a semi professional choir, I did enjoy the setting which was Mozart's Coronation Mass and have included the Agnus Dei.

I did not go to the farewell luncheon which followed but, rather than return home to a hot house, I took a ferry over to Manly. It was pleasant sitting on the deck of the ferry on the way over but I had to return on the inside and even next to a window it was still hot. There was no seabreeze at the beach either where it also reached 40'C and I had a lunch of calamari and chips. Even the airconditioning on the train home was struggling.
There were bushfires 9km to the north and 11 km south of me but none were threatening property. Fires much further west did threaten and one house was lost.
Finally today is much cooler with rain. It has been the hottest November on record but our conservative nitwit politicians deny climate change.

Even Dunedin is 29'C today but cooler tomorrow. I just wish I could sell my house and go.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


It has been a while since I described my Musical Activities. That was "Showboat' in the first half of 1991, the year when I had very little employment and no idea what my future would be.   After such a large production in the first half of the year, we took on the much easier 'Oklahoma' for the later part of the year. I was one of the Territory folks.  I did actually pluck up courage and audition for the role of 'Jud' without success.
I enjoyed being a cowboy, in fact I had all the necessary costume in my wardrobe. Here I am in the middle. The guy on my left, also named Brian, is still in the musical society.  He took a role in 'Sound of Music ' which I saw the Society put on two weeks ago.

I am wearing my leather vest in the finale in the second photo.

I cannot resist including the hunky, sexy, Hugh Jackman singing "Oh What a Beautiful Morning'.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Catholics are better money managers

At least here in Sydney.
A letter in today's paper

Holy interest

With the recent success of the Catholic Super fund, I wonder whether the Anglicans might reconsider their investment strategy (''Back from the brink'', Money, November 11). Or would that be against their religion?

The article lists the percentage earnings of many of our Super Funds and how they have been recovering. The Catholic Super Fund is among the top 5.
Fortunately, having spent most of my working life in Catholic Schools, my retirement funds are with the Catholic Super Fund.  I am so grateful they are not being managed by the Sydney Diocese.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More on Bishop-Elect Kelvin Wright

In a comment to my previous post Rev Ivan Ackeroff directed me to a news item on Rev Kelvin's attitude to same-sex ordination.

Just before my first visit to Dunedin in November 2006, the Bishop of Dunedin, George Connor, had ordained to the diaconate a same-sex partnered man, Juan Kinnear. The local news was full of the debate. The Three Archbishops of New Zealand had opposed the ordination and there was plenty of criticism from certain sections of the New Zealand Anglican Community. It seemed to be mainly left to the then Dean of the Cathedral to support the ordination in the press.
Dean David Rice is now the Bishop of Waiapu ( centred on the city of Napier in the North Island) so his stand does not seem to have prevented his preferment.
There was loud opposition from the parish of St Matthew's which is located south of the Cathedral and is clearly evangelical. I wrote to the parish telling them I would not be choosing that parish when I moved to Dunedin. I am sure they were broken-hearted, they did not reply.

Apparently Rev Juan Kinnear was ordained a priest a year later with little if any press.
He is Honorary Priest assistant at the cathedral. I may be wrong but think he is an academic at the University of Otago. On my last visit to the cathedral in November 2008, at the Remembrance day service , he was in the clergy procession.

On my first visit in 2006 I chose an area of the city where I hoped to live. As mentioned the suburbs I have chosen are within the parish of St John's Roslyn.
I discovered the priest, Rev Kelvin Wright had a blog and I have been following it. He also uploads his recorded sermons but I have only listened to a few. In November 2008 I also worshipped at St John's and while Kelvin preached that day, a woman presided at the Eucharist.

I was not sure of Kelvin's attitude to same sex ordination but as he had not vocally dissented from the ordination of Juan Kinnear (and he had been Vicar-general of the diocese so presumably his views would have carried some weight)  and his blog showed him to be a moderate within the church, I felt he would at least be sympathetic. He has placed my blog on his blog roll and did comment at least once, so he was not horrified that an outspoken  gay man plans to move into his parish.

In the recent news article, responding to criticism from Juan Kinnear he is quoted
"From my perspective, I am not yet a bishop, have not yet had an opportunity to canvass the whole mind of our diocese on this matter, and would greatly welcome Juan's obviously well-researched opinions on this matter any time he wishes to meet with me and share them.
"Apart from that, I feel I have clearly stated my position and, at this point, do not have anything further to add."

It had previously been reported that he plans to stick to the church's policy, and observe the moratorium on the ordination of partnered gays and lesbians.
But he believed the policy "inevitably will change", as the views of New Zealand society changed.
"Social attitudes change.
I think the church will change its attitude too."

I decided to search Kelvin's archive of sermons especially those preached around the time of Juan's ordination and found on 26 November 2006. Who should be ordained? summarised as Homosexuality and the Bible, and Dunedin's recent controversial ordination.
You can listen to the sermon
Generally he argues that while the Bible condemns homosexuality in Leviticus it also allows slavery, selling one's daughter etc. Women who are not wearing hats are disobeying a Pauline instruction. He explains that homosexuality is not a choice anymore than lefthandedness and that he did not choose to be heterosexual. However at the end he asserts that while the church is so divided on the ordination of gay people it would be better to refrain.  This seems to be the stance he has taken in the press interview last weekend. 

I would ask him, why he, therefore, will presumably ordain women as the same argument can be advanced that it will upset some church members.  I presume he will argue that women now generally have the numbers but not gay people as yet. 

However they did not have the numbers when women were first ordained in the Episcopal church and I doubt the numbers were there when Penny Jamieson became the first woman to run a diocese, the diocese of Dunedin and  under whom Kelvin worked. 

Bishop-elect Wright is so far advanced to the homophobes and misogynists who run the Diocese of Sydney that  I am still happy to move to the Diocese of Dunedin. I can just hope that a time will come, not too far distant, when he will believe there is no reason why a suitable gay person should not be ordained.

Monday, November 09, 2009

New Bishop of Dunedin

Four weeks ago the electoral synod of Dunedin elected their new bishop. In New Zealand this election must be approved by the other bishops and the General Synod so I have been keenly awaiting an announcement.

For nearly 2 years I have been following the blog of Archdeacon Kelvin Wright "Available Light" It is on my blog roll and my blog is on his blog roll.  He is vicar of Saint John's, Roslyn which is the parish covering the suburbs of Dunedin where I plan to live.
My sister and I worshipped at St John's on November 2nd last year and I introduced myself to him.
When people ask if I know anyone in Dunedin, I have said "the local priest" Well, I read his blog and have followed his fight with prostate cancer and his pilgrimage to the San Camino earlier this year. We have rejoiced that he has been declared clear of the cancer after a session of radiotherapy.

It has just been announced that Kelvin Wright is to be the 9th bishop of Dunedin.
I feel a bit flabbergasted. Now when I am asked do I know anyone in Dunedin, I can say the new bishop but I am a little disappointed that I will not know the vicar of my new parish. He is to be consecrated on February 27th, 2010.  Please pray for him in this new task.

On November 22nd St James is farewelling Fr Peter Kurti who has been Rector for the past 7 years. Please pray for  the parish nominators as they choose a new rector. So many changes.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


It is three and a half years since I was slammed by the sledge hammer which is "Brokeback Mountain" I thought I had shed all the tears possible until today I saw this video.
I can never listen to "I dreamed a dream" without tearing up so combining the two sent me over the edge. How can people say gay love is a lifestyle choice? How can they vote to deny same sex marriage? How can they deny the reality of our love? How can they deny that same-sex love is also a gift of God?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

We each have our faults

Life is very difficult. About two weeks ago I was very self righteous in a comment on Wounded Bird after Grandmere Mimi admitted her late arrival at church. I had noticed earlier comments about her being late including to a doctor appointment which had me agape. Here you would generally be charged for being late for an appointment unless you had a very good excuse. This annoys me as it seems unusual for doctors not to be running late and one expects to sit for long periods in waiting rooms, they are well named.

I explained that I had absorbed from my Father that one must never be late, one must never be on time, one must always be early. This is just as well as I usually go places by train and as we only have one train per hour (half hour in peak) it is a bit disastrous if one is late for it. However I am usually waiting on the platform 10 minutes before the train. In my teaching career I was usually at the room before my students and was annoyed by teachers who habitually arrived late resulting in all sorts of uproar from their rooms. Of course there were occasional hold ups which could not be avoided.

However if I can be smug about punctuality, it is quite a different matter about tidiness. I generally discourage any person from "dropping in' on me. The knowledge that someone is going to visit leads to an orgy of tidying and cleaning.  This is such a trial that I prefer to meet friends at a cafe or restaurant. On my desks in staff rooms and even more so at home, the filing system had been - if I used it 3 months ago it will be about a foot down under the pile. My dining room table is usually covered with newspapers that I intend finishing reading sometime and when the table needs to be used for eating then the floor will take the papers.

So now that my house is open for inspection with only a 15 minute warning from the estate agent,  it is sheer agony. Everything has to be put away as soon as I have finished with it. I have to wash up after each meal instead of once per day. Vacuuming has been twice a week instead of every 2 months (and yes, Mum was right, it does not take as long if done regularly). Clothes have to be hung up or put in the wash basket instead of being left lying over the bedroom chair.

I feel like a visitor in my own home, HELP.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

House For Sale

Although I chose the Estate Agent 2 weeks ago, photos were taken and one couple inspected, our law does not allow a property to be officially up for sale and advertised until the vendor has had a contract of sale drawn up. The conveyancer delivered this to the Estate Agent yesterday and so we are up and running.

When I purchased the property 28 years ago, the previous owner was also selling the vacant land next door and it was offered to me. I was moving from a 2 bedroom apartment to a 3 bedroom house on half an acre of land and declined.  I had not long moved in before I realised the vacant land protected the views from my house.  Fortunately the couple who purchased the block, decided to build elsewhere and so 3 years later I was able to buy the land and now own slightly more than an acre on two titles. Since then I have landscaped part of the block putting in paths, lots of steps and many plants including some now very tall conifers as well as flowering fruit trees.  There is a shade house, which needs repair and a latticed arbor covered with clematis and containing a stone bench.

I do not want to sell the house but not the land. The land is very steep and it would be difficult to build a house on it. I do not want to be living in NZ paying rates but unable to maintain the block of land. Therefore at the moment I am offering the 2 blocks for sale as one at a reduced price to what I could obtain separately.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Climate is the reason

I often mention the reason for my move to New Zealand is to escape the Sydney Diocese and to live near a local church which is inclusive and welcoming. However that is not the only and perhaps not even the main reason. It is certainly not the reason I give to most people with whom I chat who have little idea of the Calvinists who run the diocese except the little they might gain from the local news if it actually gets onto their radar.

There have been complaints in our paper that October was the coolest October for 17 years. I have enjoyed the cool, damp weather. Now we are into November and it is the first Total Fire Ban Day of the season. With hot North-west winds the temperature has already, at 1pm,  reached 37'C (nearly 100'F) in the nearby town on the plains and even in the city by the harbour it is over 34'C (94'F). It is probably just over 30'C here. Not unbearable as the house has not had time to heat up, it needs a few days of such weather and while yesterday was also hot and I was forced out of the garden about 11.30am, there is a cool change due tonight and much lower temperatures forecast for tomorrow.

We actually had our first bushfire 2 weeks ago and it was uncomfortably close at 8km to the SW.  I watched the smoke develop in the afternoon and could see the red glow on the hills during the night.  Fortunately the winds were not strong and we had heavy rain a few days later.

However this is only the last month of Spring with 3 months of Summer yet to begin.

In contrast temperatures in Dunedin are forecast to reach 20'C (68'F) tomorrow before dropping back to the usual 15' to 16' of this time of year. It has been known to occasionally top 30'C in January. To me that is heaven. My legs were aching when I woke this morning after a fairly warm night.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Why New Zealand is so much better than Sydney

 From Newstalk ZB in Auckland via Madpriest although I do not understand his humour at times.

Anglicans debating gay issue

30/10/2009 7:04:01
A Maori Anglican Church report will be recommending the ordination of gay leaders at the church's two-yearly conference being held Auckland over the weekend.
Bishop Te Kitohi Pikaahu says the Commission on Human Sexuality believes sexual orientation is no barrier to ordination.
He admits there is opposition to gay ordination in the Anglican Church worldwide, but says what is important is that the issue is being talked about.
"The Anglican Maori Church is beginning to wrestle with this issue in an open way, in an open forum."
Bishop Pikaahu says there is opposition to gays being ordained worldwide and there is a long way to go before the church reaches a view it can act on, but what is important is that the conversation is even happening.

I may be wrong but I always thought the opposition to gay ordination in NZ came from the Maori Tikanga. If so, that seems to be changing, Praise God.

Meanwhile thanks to Lapinbizarre commenting at Caliban's Dream I learn that

On the final night of the 2009 Synod, the Anglican Diocese of Sydney has passed a resolution embracing the new Anglican province, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).
In the words of the resolution “Synod welcomes the creation of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) under the leadership of Archbishop Bob Duncan and notes the GAFCON Primates’ Council recognition of the ACNA as genuinely Anglican and its recommendation that Anglican Provinces affirm full communion with the ACNA. Synod therefore expresses its desire to be in full communion with the ACNA.’

My house is on the market, I have had one offer which I rejected as too low and I really do not want to move out before Christmas but other than that the sooner the better to be out of the Sydney Diocese.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mao's Last Dancer

It is not often I see a movie that has been released in Australia before the USA or UK.
Last week I saw 'Mao's Last Dancer' and I was stunned.
I knew something of the story as Li Cunxin, whose biography it is, now lives in Australia and the book is on the shelves of most Australian school libraries but, while I had catalogued it, I had never read it.
However I found it a wonderfully moving story, very well acted by comparatively unknown actors. Chi Cao who plays the adult Li is simply amazing. Chosen for his ballet ability, he is also a great actor.  His dancing is simple mind blowing. I am not a great ballet fan (which did not stop me enjoying the movie) but my sister is and she could not get over how great a dancer he is. Chi Cao is a principal dancer with the Birmingham Royal Ballet.
It opens in the USA on November 4 so if you have the opportunity, go see it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Who will rid us of this stupid archbishop?

The columnists who openly admit their atheism or agnosticism have had a field day with ++Jensen's latest address to Synod on the Financial Losses.
Mike Carlton as usual has a satirical article headed The St Jensen's Parish Newsletter

It concludes : The good news is that much of our work will continue. Dean Matthias Jensen would like to remind our menfolk that the Say No To Sodomy Supper will go ahead as planned next Friday. Mrs Hepzibah Jensen, chair of our Women's Subordination Committee, asks ladies to provide a plate for hubby to enjoy and share. More of those curried egg sandwiches, please!

Peter Fitzsimons, after referring to Jensen wondering what God was trying to say to us,  says "Was God, perhaps, punishing them for going up against the Archbishop of Canterbury on the subject of gay priests or even for arrogantly betting the farm on dodgy investmensts and borrowing money to do so?
and finishes "Or perhaps, sir, he is saying that people whose thought processes are locked into this kind of medieval superstition, shouldn't be allowed to vote, let alone be in charge of $200 million"

Our rector, in his sermon, told us that one woman from Anglicans Together had put several motions to the Synod asking that the Standing committee be called to account but they were all defeated. I am afraid I snorted in derision.
Perhaps it was a mistake to allow a woman to put forward such motions, I mean these people think women should be outside preparing the supper and they also think those of us who are "liberal catholics" should just keep quiet
They have made Christianity and Anglicanism the laughing stock of Sydney. I think the Archbishop and the rest of the Calvinist Fundies would be better being the ones to keep quiet and they would be more productive and honouring of the gospel if they went and baked some cakes and fed the poor.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Roman offer to Anglican dissidents

My small addition to this furore from our local paper.
First a letter from a Catholic priest in Sydney (not sure he will have impressed his boss, Cardinal Pell)

As a Catholic priest I shudder when I read that people might want to join the Catholic Church because they find their own too inclusive . Certainly the Catholic Church itself has a long way to go regarding inclusiveness, but the last thing it needs is more people who are anti-women, anti-gay or anti-anybody.
Father John Crothers Penshurst

and then an article from Dr Muriel Porter. Muriel is a journalist but also is a member of the Standing Committee of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia and has been a leader in the fight for women priests and bishops in the Australian  church. She is has written a book The New Puritans: the rise of fundamentalism in the Anglican Church describing the activities of the Sydney Diocese.  I have heard her preach at St James.

The Vatican finally gets its revenge on Henry VIII

It concludes (my bold) - But the emergence of women bishops has persuaded Rome to give them Anglican parishes within a Catholic world order. From the Roman perspective, it is a means of demonstrating to its own restive nuns and lay women that there is no hope of female equality in the foreseeable future. It may, however, lead to some heart-searching for Catholics concerned about the impact that priestly celibacy continues to have on their Church. How can it be unacceptable for home-grown clergy to marry but quite OK for the imports from Anglicanism?
It will be interesting to see how many Anglican clergy and laity actually go over to Rome. The Anglican Church has a much more democratic polity than the Catholic Church. Anglican vicars and parishes have a significant degree of autonomy and Anglicans have decision-making powers through diocesan and national synods. They participate in the election of their bishops. They help decide how church finances will be spent. Will they adjust easily to the complete obedience required by Papal autocracy?
Is it any wonder that the strident voices of atheism are attractive to contemporary people when churches split apart over the irrational fear of the feminine?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Calling Anonymous

A person from Sydney commented on the blog of Revd Ivan Ackeroff - Unthinking Anglicans the following comment. He has since more briefly commented here on one of my posts.

 Dear Brian, You are to be commended for speaking out about some of the Sydney Diocese's inappropriate decision making. However you seem to be a voice in the wilderness. A very noble lone wolf. There has been the occasional single Sydney voice but nothing collective. Is there any real concern amongst Sydney Anglicans regarding the economic and prejudicial decision making of the senior management? Are any Sydney Anglicans aware of the impact that these decisions are having domestically and internationally, particularly on GLBT people? I realise that a few groups exist such as Anglicans Together and MOW but they are rarely heard publicly. Are they more concerned about the image of the Sydney Diocese than the damage this diocese is doing to the marginalised? Are all Sydney Anglicans in favour of their church being affiliated with extreme right wing Evangelicals and of the decision to empower African bishops, who are involved politically in the persecution of gays? Do they realise that their policies re women's ministry translates into social injustice, particularly in 3rd world countries? Brian, have any of these Sydney Anglicans ever listen to how hurt GLBT people are as a result of church discrimination, or is their only contact the ex/post gay propaganda thing? (These post gay spruikers should be ashamed of themselves. They know the hurt they have endured and that's what forced them to turn their backs on their own sexuality/identity in order to stop the discrimination against them and gain acceptance from those who hurt them). Brian, I'm just interested to know if all Sydney Anglicans condone the prejudices that are laid out in the diocese's mission.

From a Sydney sider, who is concerned about the influence that this diocese wields within the broader community. Influence gained by masquerading as a very tolerant, compassionate moderate "old" church, when in reality its conservatism only reinforces stereotypes that breeds hatred. Thanks again Noble Wolf 17 October 2009 22:44 

Thank you Anonymous although as I said, I wish you could use a nom de plume so that I can differentiate your comments from any other anon that might comment. I guess you are the person who has often commented on other posts  by Revd Ivan Ackeroff relating to the Jensens and  the Sydney Diocese.
He, Madpriest and Rev Fr Dr Christian Troll seem to know more about what is going on in this diocese than I do but then I do not want to regularly monitor the dribble that is produced by the Diocese.

MOW (Movement for the Ordination of Women) is still going strong. The Sydney branch use to meet at St Luke's Concord, the subject of my previous post. I guess there is only so much banging one's head against a brickwall that any group can do. Most capable women in Sydney who want to be ordained as a priest just move to another diocese. Those who remain are generally restricted in their ability to relocate by family considerations. Most of the other dioceses in Australia are happy to take advantage of the ministry of these women.

Anglicans Together seems to muddle along although I do find it frustrating at times.
While, from my observation, most if not all members are inclusive in their outlook, many are more concerned with the departure from prayer book practices that are carried out in so much of the diocese.  They worship in the handful of Anglo-catholic parishes which are permitted to exist within the diocese and I often feel are not willing to raise their heads too high above the parapet. Eventually they will be searching for a new rector and the person they choose will need the approval of the Archbishop. The rule seems to now be that any new appointment within the diocese must be a person who has studied for at least one year at Moore College. I think many suitable men would need to really want work in Sydney to undergo that painful experience.  The majority of active members of Anglicans Together both lay people and ordained seem to be older.

Young people are either brainwashed into the Moore agenda or have left the church especially if they are LGBT.
There are 2 MCC churches in Sydney. One meets at Petersham and the other at Granville. From looking at their webpages I gather they are fairly liturgical which I am told is not so common in other parts of the globe. This may be due to the large number of refugees from Sydney Anglicanism in their membership.
I have often considered attending the church at Granville but am Anglican and have a personal dislike of anything resembling a gay ghetto. But this is for me personally and I would encourage any LGBT Christian to attend if they find Sydney Anglicanism impossible to stomach.

However there are true Anglican churches operating within the diocese who openly welcome LGBT people. St Marks South Hurstville featured in last night's Compass program Anglicans - Sydney Style and I was pleased to see Rev Chris Albany display and explain the significance of the Rainbow that is placed on the pulpit. To quote him.

The kind of Anglicanism at St Marks is what I would call a broad inclusive Anglicanism that would be recognisable by Anglicans from most parts of the world.

By broad and inclusive I mean that we seek to welcome anybody and everybody without any qualification in terms of the normal discriminators that are sometimes used in terms of age or race or sexual identity or gender.

Yeah we have the rainbow sitting up on the pulpit there most Sundays. It’s there to remind us of God’s promise to Noah, of his covenant relationship with his people.
And it is also a little sign if any gay and lesbian people were to come into the life of this community and to worship here, a little sign to them to say we’re a friendly welcoming community.

This is a parish that supports very strongly women being involved in all aspects of the church’s life and ministry, including its leadership and so being able to be both priests and bishops. We believe that that’s in fact quite clear from Scripture, that there is no reason why that can’t happen.

If anonymous or anyone else in Sydney emails me (and I promise the utmost discretion) I can give them the location of Anglican churches within the diocese who are inclusive although this may not be widely advertised. Within the city St James, King Street and Christchurch St Laurence certainly have GLBT members who are welcomed and in some cases play leading roles in the life and worship of the church.

Back in the early 80's I was a member of a group called 'Angays' and they once met up here in my house. It was a small but active group largely based on St Luke's Enmore.
Even in those days the situation was made clear when we met with one assistant bishop who was willing to meet and consider our case. The leader of our group mentioned his friendly attitude to a reporter. It was widely believed that this report in the newspaper was the death knell for the ambitions of said bishop.

The well known case was Bishop Watson who, while an assistant in Sydney, spouted the hardline against the ordination of women but once elected as Archbishop of Melbourne had a sudden conversion.

So, Anonymous, there are Sydney Anglicans who are inclusive. However, if they are in a position of influence, they are well aware that any hint of deviation from the accepted homophobic stance will ruin any chance they have of preferment within the diocese.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

St Luke's Concord

Today my sister and I worshipped at St Luke's Concord. It was the 150th Anniversary of the laying of the Church Foundation stone and our first visit back since the memorial service for our mother on July 12, 2006.

Mum worshipped there, firstly in her young married life,  and my sister was baptised in the church. Mum returned there not long after Dad died and attended for another 30 years although in her last 5 years she could only go, mainly to the Wednesday Senior Fellowship, if my sister drove her.  The memorial service for Mum was held as part of the regular Senior fellowship.

The church today was packed, the Governor of NSW, Professor Marie Bashir, a delightful lady was present. Our State Governors are not politicians but appointed to represent the Queen.

My sister knew a lot of the older people who had been friends of Mum and were delighted to see us there. I only went there for Christmas services with Mum.

The lady sitting next to me was there in memory of her Grandfather, baptised at St Luke's in the 1880's and she had the signed prayer book with her. He went on to become an Anglican Priest.

Some of the past rectors were present. One, Rev Feldham, officiated at my sister's wedding in a neighbouring church way back in 1961 while still an assistant. We had not seen him since and I remember him as a young handsome priest (I was only 17), oh how life has passed for us.

When the previous rector retired a year ago, I was concerned that the Archbishop might appoint an evango-fundie. I need not have worried. The new rector processed in wearing a biretta. I only know one other church in Sydney where these are worn and it is the other city church which is more Anglo-catholic than St James, King Street.

However neither ++Jensen nor the regional Bishop Forsythe attended, thankfully.

In the altar party was deacon Rev Sue Emeleus who was serving at St Luke's in my mother's time and greatly beloved by Mum. Sue anointed Mum with holy oil from Jerusalem a few days before Mum died and officiated at Mum's cremation and memorial services. I have come to know Sue much better since that time and was so pleased that Sue gave me the cup using my name. That meant that my sister received it from another person which disappointed her. Sue will always be special to us both.

Like many Anglican churches in the middle suburbs of Sydney, numbers are declining as the population is largely immigrant but the church building is also used by the Korean Presbyterians and a group of them took part in national costume, playing national instruments. They played 'How great thou art' which I love as well as 'Amazing grace' which I loathe. Some verses were sung in Korean.

A moving service for an old (by Australian standards) church which has such memories for my family.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ballads of the Bush

I have written about my time in the Blue Mountains Musical Society. There was a family involved. Ruth often took leading parts and still does, she is taking the part of Mother Superior in the production of 'Sound of Music' this month. Arthur was in the chorus with me. They had a teenage son, Gavin. Gavin moved onto bigger things taking the role of Gavroche in the Sydney production of Les Miserables and going on to even greater things as a singer, pianist and composer. He has been studying for a PhD at Oxford.

Yesterday I took my sister to a production of his titled 'Ballads of the Bush'
Gavin has set to music many of the poems written by famous Australians A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson, Henry Lawson, C. J Dennis and others. We had a wonderful time.
Even non-Australians would know Paterson's poem 'Waltzing Matilda' which was sung (the original tune, not one by Lockley) at the end of Act 1 with audience participation.

Some of the great poems I have known since primary school days.
The Geebung Polo Club still raises a chuckle.

I could probably recite Clancy of the Overflow along with them.

Henry Lawson had a more sober view of life as seen in Faces in the Street and the very sad The Water Lily depicting the harshness of life in the bush.

I am not so familiar with C.J. Dennis and find his writing in the vernacular a bit hard to follow.

The program ended with 'My Country Australia' which Gavin has written and since expanded into a symphony. It is based on the poem 'My Country' by Dorothea Mackellar which all Australians know. Hardly a dry eye in the house.
I have found on youtube Gavin's composition 'My Country Australia' with Gavin singing and conducting. My sister, who is more patriotic than me was quite overwhelmed.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Amazing escape

This happened at a railway station in Melbourne yesterday. Thankfully the 6 months old child only suffered a bump to the head. The train driver and the mother needed counselling.
The video is being broadcast as a warning to keep hold of prams on stations.


May God forgive me for my feelings.

Anglican Church slashes staff, programs

 AUSTRALIA'S richest Anglican diocese will slash staff and ministries after revealing it lost $160 million on the sharemarket - $60 million more than reported at the height of the global sharemarket downturn.

The cutbacks will be deepest at St Andrew's House, Archbishop Peter Jensen's power centre, with central funds for ministries and programs to spread the Gospel slashed by half over the next three years.

In its report to the synod, the board expresses regret for mistakes made, not only for its highly geared portfolio which exposed it to the market freefall, but for realising debts just as the market rebounded. ''We thought we would be able to ride out the fluctuations in the market and hold the bulk of our market positions.
''We did not, however, envisage the severity of the falls that occurred concurrently in the various markets due to the global financial crisis. Our diversification strategy did not provide the protection we had expected.''
As a result, distributions from the diocesan endowment fund - the main source of funding allocated by head office to support ministry and organisations outside the diocese - halved to $5.3 million.

This is in a country which is the only western country not to have fallen into technical recession and has been the first western country to begin raising interest rates as we have managed to avoid the worst of the GFC.

Perhaps it will keep ++Jensen at home and stop him interfering in the affairs of the World Anglican Communion. We can but hope.

There is a television program interviewing Jensen next Sunday night. I do not know if I can watch it,   There would be a risk to my TV screen.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Role of Women

Have been reading about the latest shenanigans in the  progression towards women bishops in the Church of England. I do not understand all the details except that it is trying to find ways for men who will not accept women to remain in the Church.

I really become very angry and have trouble seeing these men, who will not accept women as priests or bishops, as even Christian. Whether they be the extreme evangelicals like those who run the Diocese of Sydney or the extreme Anglo-catholics, I do not want to have anything to do with them.

I needed to read Davis's comment at Audacious Deviant to calm down.

We start bickering about all the details, but so often we're missing the reason for daring to be Christian. It's about love - even of our (perceived) enemies.

Love one another.

It's worth every bit of pain.
   Thanks Davis.

When I began teaching aeons ago, women had few leadership roles except in girls' schools. I taught in co-ed and occasionally boys' school and saw the gradual movement of women into leadership roles and finally become Principals.  I saw how they had to push harder than men and how men ridiculed them for being pushy. Apparently it was okay for a man to be authoritarian but not a woman. I have worked under hopeless women and excellent women but also hopeless men and excellent men.
That this argument should be still going on in the church in the 21st century angers me. How can one defend one's church when it is so antiquated? St Paul wrote in the 1st century and there are many things he writes which are just irrelevant today and I do not believe reflect the teachings of Jesus.

In Sydney Diocese some women have just been brainwashed. It is sad to read their writings. The senior woman, Archdeacon Narelle Jarrett (Arch deacon, not priest) is pathetic in my opinion.  One woman wrote about her work in her parish as a deacon and it was obvious she was seen as second rate by the male clergy and she accepted this situation. I felt like being sick.

In Australia we have 2 women bishops but neither is a Diocesan. It remains to be seen what will happen if one is elected a diocesan. If men cannot accept this they can go to the Roman Catholic church in my opinion.

New Zealand has had two women diocesan bishops. Bishop Penny Jamieson, Dunedin was the first woman diocesan in the Anglican communion and Bishop Victoria Matthews is now Bishop of Christchurch.  Two New Zealand Dioceses will be choosing a bishop this month, including Dunedin this weekend. I do not know what the possibilities are.

I would like to quote Father Ron Smith from Christchurch who commented on Thinking Anglicans. He expresses my views much better than I ever could.

It would be wonderful if the Church of England could be humble enough to take a leaf out of the book of it's fellow Anglican Provinces - who have trusted the Holy Spirit to call and equip women for the total ministry of the Church. This has been quietly going on now for at least a decade in most overseas provinces, and the Church buildings have not fallen down. Why not take a calculated risk and trust God's providence, and preserve the Church from further schism?
When I was confirmed into the C.of E., I was taught that bishops were the focus of unity. What has changed in the theology of the Church that could possibly dictate otherwise - in the modern age, where women have been accepted as equal partners with men in most other spheres of human endeavour. To create a division in the Church on the grounds of sex or gender does seem to compromise Paul's later understanding of our common (male/female) life in Christ.
The whole idea of 'flying Bishops' sounds like something from science fiction. Do we need to bring further extra-terrestrial paradigms into the serious business of getting alongside both men and women in the world of today, where there are many problems to be solved that require the different skills of both male and female clergy.
Christ was not just a representative male, he was representatively and fully human. He chose not to generate children, but rather to nurture all who came into contact with his inclusive grace and empowerment, giving men and women the equal right to become 'children of God'. AND, Mary Magdalene (a woman) was chosen by Christ to bring the Good News of his resurrection to the male apostles - who, of course, did not believe her. What's new?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dunedin is not dull

Whenever I mention I want to move to Dunedin, NZ, people think I am mad. Today there is an article in the Sydney Morning Herald. St Paul's Anglican Cathedral is on the left in the photo. 

Behind the heritage facades beats the heart of a buzzing university city, writes Briar Jensen.

Dunedin, winner of New Zealand's most beautiful city award last year, is often considered conservative. But with almost one-fifth of the city's population being university students, it is not dull. Among the beautifully preserved gold rush-funded heritage buildings are funky fashion and design stores, hip cafes and wine bars.
Despite having the world's steepest street, the central city is flat and compact and you can navigate comfortably on foot.
The Otago Peninsula is a treat for nature lovers, being home to rare yellow-eyed penguins and the only mainland breeding ground of the northern royal albatross.

If you're a discerning coffee drinker, head to Strictly Coffee in a side street just behind the Octagon city centre, where you can watch the industrial-sized roaster in action. The best way to explore the city is on foot, so start at the Octagon, overlooked by St Paul's Anglican Cathedral, the imposing Municipal Chambers, Dunedin Public Art Gallery and, in the background, the Gothic spire of First Church. Read the pavement plaques around the Robert Burns statue, which feature intriguing and revealing quotes from notable Dunedin writers and poets.

Walk down Stuart Street to the Flemish Renaissance railway station, reputedly New Zealand's most photographed building, with its Royal Doulton mosaic tiles and leadlight windows. Here you can book the scenic Taieri Gorge Railway, which runs half-day return trips to rugged Central Otago. Ditch the diet and follow the delicious smell to nearby Cadbury World for a factory tour with loads of samples.

Follow Cumberland Street to the University of Otago, New Zealand's oldest university and the first to admit women, where imposing volcanic rock and limestone buildings cluster around a tranquil, tree-lined stream.

I just want to sell my house and get going.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Long Term Plans

Not much blogging as I have been trying to prepare a 35 year old house for sale and housework is the last thing I like to do. I have been reading blogs as a break from the task. Amazing the dust that develops in hidden places where no-one would ever look unless they were considering to buy a home and I cannot just blame the recent dust storms.

However I have also been amusing myself planning a long journey at the end of next year. I do not even know where I will be living so most plans are vague except today the cost of 2 nights accommodation in Oberammergau and the tickets to the Passion play went onto my credit card. The tickets are for the performance on September 21, 2010.  If I cancel up to 6 months before I only lose 20% and 3 months before 30%. However even a year before the date I had to take a higher accommodation level than I originally wanted.

Friends from South Africa, whom I met on the train to the performance back in 1980, emailed me back in March suggesting a reunion (The play is only performed every 10 years.) However my emails to them have gone unanswered since May so sadly I am going alone. I am very worried about them in the volatile conditions in Johannesburg.

My dreams are to spend September in Europe. I have never been to Portugal and visited Spain way back in 1980. Or I could return to the British Isles which I last visited also in 1980 and have never been to Ireland. I must resist spending too much more time in Bavaria which I love so much but was there in 2008.

After the performance I am considering returning home via the USA and Canada.

My plan is to complete a loop mainly by train from Chicago to New York to New England onto Nova Scotia then Montreal, Quebec, Ottawa, Toronto and Niagara. Finally flying from Toronto with a stopover in either San Francisco or Los Angeles.

I was not sure which way to go but find I would see more in daylight on the Lake Shore Limited from Chicago to New York rather than the other way.

I want to catch the jetcat from Portland to Nova Scotia but this year it finishes running on October 12 and I have just learnt from Grandmere's blog that the leaves in New England may not be at their best that early.

I also find it is difficult to see some places on my list such as Mt Washington in New Hampshire and the Cabot trail in Nova Scotia. I either need to drive (Right hand traffic, no, no) or travel with an expensive tour, they always stay in much more expensive accommodation than I need or can afford.  Europe is so much easier than North America, or Australia for that matter, for the budget traveller without a car.

However al these details can wait until next year, I must stop dreaming and get back to housework.

Thursday, October 01, 2009


Prayers for all the natural tragedies that have occurred in Australia's neighbouring area in the last few days.
Typhoon Ketsana in Manila, Phillipines and more recently Vietnam and Cambodia
Over 300 dead.

Tsunami in Samoa and American Samoa. Latest figure is over 140 killed (including 3 Australians). Heartrending stories. Also deaths in nearby Tonga.

Now, as we wake, news is coming in of an earthquake in Padang, Indonesia with deaths in 100s more than 1000.

And on a much smaller scale but also need for prayer,  there was a story on TV last night of a 15 year old boy who is suffering from spinal muscular atrophy. Blake weighs 15 kg at 15 years of age. He cannot walk or even lift his head yet he has such a wonderful spirit. Please pray for Blake and his family.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Confused Ritual

Often, after attending church, I return home to read blogs and it is wonderful that some of them contain sermons on the same readings as I have just heard. The different slants by other preachers is very edifying.
Today I am a bit confused as our church celebrated Michaelmas or St Michael and all Angels day and so the readings were quite different. A search on Wikipedia tells me that Michaelmas is next Tuesday so I do not know why we celebrated today.
However we heard a very good sermon on angels or messengers of God  from our previous rector (before I commenced worshipping at St James) now the Bishop of Bathurst, Right Rev Richard Hurford.  There were lots of hugs and kisses at the door as we left. He even gave me a very warm greeting. I do not know if this is usual with him or he was taking insurance in case he had forgotten my face, it was 9 years ago. Our present Rector is leaving in November. he is much more reserved so I cannot imagine the same amount of hugs and kisses if he returns for a visit in 9 years time.

The children did not go out to "Kids@Church" but remained to read the lessons and the prayers of the faithful. Those too young to undertake those tasks collected the offertory (carefully monitored by adults) and formed the offertory procession.  The wine flagon was carried by a little boy not much bigger than it which had my heart in my mouth but I gather there must have been a slight accident with the equally small girl carrying the bread to the altar.

After the Eucharistic prayer and just before the ministers were to process from the altar to the communion rail, I noticed one of them moving across the sanctuary making good use of a dustpan and broom.  Not sure if there is a correct procedure for that in the Sarum rite.