Monday, April 28, 2008

Beautiful, Beautiful Hallstatt

I have found a new candidate for the most beautiful place in the world, Hallstatt in the Salzkammergut of Austria.
Luckily I arrived in brilliant sunshine. Usually you have to travel to the town by ferry from the railway station but due to trackwork (doesn't that sound like home) we had to alight at an earlier station and travel by bus for about 10 minutes through a gigantic tunnel which cuts into the mountain behind the town. It was a fairly easy walk to the BrauGasthof where I was staying. This hotel has been built in the old brewery and had some strange knooks and corners and rather treacherous stairs. I had booked a single room but due to some mixup, the room was occupied and so Frau Lobisser gave me the double room next door with a tiny balcony at the same price. You can see my balcony in the middle. The view was to die for.
I spent the afternoon snapping photos in all directions thankful for digital cameras, as I am sure I often took the same photo twice just to be sure.
After a lunch of wurst and wine, I went on the ferry round trip and while I was waiting heard that distinctive accent and was able to enjoy the trip with a couple from Austinmer (just south of Sydney).
After we returned to the town, we went up to the Catholic church with its unique graveyard. Every 15 to 20 years, the bones are dug up, labelled and stored in the Beinhaus at the back of the yard. The ferry captain told us this custom has been discontinued but it was still being done in the 1990's. I will spare you the photos of the skulls. The graves are well decorated and cared for.
Luckily I took lots of photos as Friday soon turned grey and drizzling. I thought it was clearing a little and bought some fruit juice, fruit and chocolate and set off to hike up into the hills behind the town. However I was wrong and by the time I had returned 3 hours later, my trousers and shoes were soaked but the Kathmandu jacket I purchased before leaving Sydney protected the top half of my body. I was a little nervous as some of the path was slippery and there were no other silly fools to be seen but the scenery continued to astound especially a gorge into which several waterfalls came crashing down.
I returned to my hotel for a hot chocolate then to my room to change and eat the fruit in some comfort. After a rest I went to the town museum and discovered this small town has given its name Hallstatter era to a whole period of pre-historic culture. While salt mining, a huge gravesite was discovered with thousands of bodies interred with many artefacts that archaeologists are still studying. The museum is fairly new and one experiences the fire of 1750 and the landslide that destroyed the town.
That evening I had some of the Lake trout for dinner and again met some Australians from north of Sydney (Bateau Bay) who were staying one night in the BrauGasthof and so I also joined them at breakfast.
Saturday was still very overcast but there was little rain. It was the first day of the tourist season and the Seilbahn (cable car) began to run. I was in the third trip up and walked along an information path to the Salt Works. These are still in operation but some of the worked out levels are open to tourists and I joined 2 Korean girls and an Israeli couple for the first tour of the season. We had to wear overalls, walked through hundreds of metres of narrow tunnels, down two wooden slides (on the second we were photographed and clocked - I reached 28.4km/hr, faster than the others but they went in tandem, the guides clocked in the 30's.) I did buy the photo but it is hardly flattering. The processes of mining salt were explained both in history and today. Finally we boarded a little train in which we sat astraddle and were whizzed through the tunnel (the roof seemed to be just above my head) to the entrance.
I did not go down the cable car but walked down a zig zag path to the town.
The sun came out about 4.30pm but by that time the town was in shadow. However the next morning was clear blue sky again and as the trackwork was complete, I boarded the ferry to cross the lake to the station and travelled by train back through Salzburg to Munich and of course took a few last photos.

Prayer Request

Just a break from my travels to ask your prayers for my sister. In our youth here in the hot sun of Australia we use to sunbake relentlessly, thinking we were not beautiful unless a dark brown. We are paying for that now. My sister has to be checked every 3 months and just before I left, she had a suspicious spot taken from her back. She has emailed me that it was a melanoma. I do pray they caught it in time. All I know is the doctor wants to check and may carry out a further operation in 6 weeks before I return home. Please pray it has not spread. Thanks.

Austrian Adventure

The heavy rain with which I concluded my last blog was a portent of the week to come. At least I did not have any more heavy falls but the weather has been fairly damp all week.
Thankfully it was not actually raining as I made my way across Vienna by tram on Tuesday morning to the South Station. I was a little nervous before as it was 8am and peak time, not the best time with luggage, but I must have been travelling against the peak as the tram was almost empty.
I spent the day(over 7 hours) in two trains travelling south to Villach near the border with Slovenia then north -west to Salzburg. Fortunately there was some sun as we passed through a mountain range south of Vienna This is a world heritage area and was the first Mountain pass to be crossed by a mainline railway in 1854 with 15 tunnels and 16 high stone viaducts in 42 km.
However it was rather grey passing some lakes near Villach.
I then changed to a train coming from Slovenia to pass along the Tauernbahn with some spectacular valley views and the longest tunnel at the summit which is 8370 metres.
I arrived at Salzburg in rain so splurged on a taxi to my hotel in the Altstadt and did not appreciate the driver giving me a guided tour which often meant he had no hands on the wheel and was either looking at me or the feature he was describing rather than the traffic.
My full day in Salzburg was wet which meant more time spent in museums and less in parks which I prefer. The photo below shows the Fortress above the city seen from the Mirabell gardens. I left the fortress to the afternoon when the rain was lighter because there are good views from the top but the mountains, which I know were snow covered when I changed trains there the previous Sunday and again today, were hidden for my stay. I visited Mozart’s birthplace with some of his early instruments and details about the life in Salzburg at the time. The audio guide provided many samples of his music but I would rather sit and listen to such beautiful music rather than stand staring at a musical instrument with an audiophone to my ear. The Residenz was the home of the Archbishops who ruled Salzburg for many centuries but unfortunately the State rooms were closed for a special function and I had to be satisfied with the adjacent art gallery which had mainly Austrian artists, none of whom I recognised though I admit that does not mean much. There was an interesting display on the use of the colour red by artists through the centuries including how the colour was made at different times.
After visiting the Salzburg town museum which was very modern and having lunch, I went up the funicular railway to the Fortress and toured museums of marionettes, armoury and war as well as torture dungeons and the history of Salzburg and walking along the ramparts, climbing to the top tower before returning to the city and a visit to the cathedral.
It was great to see the sun return on Wednesday allowing me to take the trolley bus back to the station. I headed back by train towards the Austrian Alps and a region called Salzkammergut which I will cover in my next blog probably in a few hours.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Waltzing in Vienna

Well not really waltzing but I did recognise some Strauss waltzes at the Opera
Actually I have now arrived in Salzburg but will leave that till later. I will only send messages when I can use wifi and my own computer, grappling with a German keyboard (the z & y are opposite and whenever I try to use shift key I end up with a <) is too difficult ) I also forgot in my last message to thank those of you who have sent me good wishes, much appreciated. Caught train on Friday morning to Berchtesgaden and it was great to see the mountains appearing covered with snow not long after leaving Munich. My hotel was as expected, with the room having a terrace with the view seen in the photo below
It was too cold to sit long on the terrace but I had the same view from within the room and from the Breakfast room. The train station can be seen at the bottom and yes it was a hard slog to drag my case up all that way, much easier going back.
Having settled myself and had lunch in a courtyard in the town, I went back down to the station and caught a bus to Obersalzburg which is up a very winding road, glad I was not driving, cars had to stop on bends to allow the bus to take the full road.
I had some difficulty finding the Dokumentation Center, not many tourist this early in the season and most do not arrive by public bus. This is a fairly new museum devoted to Hitler’s time in the region and the horrors of World War 2 . I only had an hour and a half before closing and the audio guide takes 2 hours. The top floor was about the development of Obersalzburg before Hitler chose it as his summer residence and the houses he and his mates built. He at least had good taste in something. Houses were built not just for Hitler but also the other usual names like Goering and Goebbels. Even here their character was displayed as those locals who did not want to sell their homes were sent to prison. Downstairs are the displays of the many atrocities of the Nazis and then a long corridor displaying the history of World War 2 in all theatres including maps until you finally enter the bunker system built into the hill which is huge. I knew Hitler’s holiday home “Eagles Nest” would not be open until May. There was still some snow beside the road even at this lower elevation. Apparently it was a present to him but he was not overfond of it as he suffered from height sickness, good.

I was the only passenger on the bus back into town. My hotel had dinner in a beautifully decorated Bavarian room, sorry about the deers whose antler decorated the walls. The hotel is old but I was in the new section so had the best of both worlds.

On Saturday I headed by another bus to Königsee for a boat trip on the lake. I took this trip back in the 70’s on a day trip from Munich and was looking forward to going further up the lake but sadly discovered the summer season began the next day so again only made it to St Bartolomai’s Chapel (next photos). At least an excuse to come back. The boat captain plays the horn at one point and a faint echo can be heard even on my camera recording. However it was possible to do some hikes from this area and so after a hot chocolate I set off up to what was signposted as the Ice chapel. It was very steep although steps and grade much more even than found in the Blue Mountains near home. After about an hour, including many stops on the thoughtfully provide seats, I reached the snow and was told by a couple coming the other way that they had turned back as the snow was too deep over the path and they did not have snow boots. So I also turned back. The deciduous trees are still bare at this height but there were several lovely little flowers growing. The German lady named one as anenome but only knew the the German name for the other translated as “Keys to Heaven”
Back to the wharf and to the town of Königsee where I had wursten and coffee and the bus back to Berchtesgaden . Went for a walk through the town with it's beautifully decorated buildings but it got colder and began to sprinkle (there had been some light showers while hiking) so I returned to the hotel for a rest and was glad it had an excellent restaurant as it was pouring down by dinner time. Was surprised after ordering a Vienna schnitzel to be served a salad only. The meat and potatoes came later and I discovered this is normal to serve the cold dishes while the other is being cooked.
The next morning the view from my room was completely white so glad I had seen it the day before with the sun rising on the snow caps. Blue sky began to appear as my train left just after 9am.

With a change at Salzburg, I reached Vienna about 1.30. I had stayed in this hotel in 2000 so was not disappointed at a tiny room with no view, in fact the only window was glazed. You pay for location here.
At 5pm I was due at the StaatsOper for a performance of Der Rosenkavalier by Strauss. I received rather a shock when I opened the envelope collected from the ticket window to find the ticket for Monday nights opera. Fortunately it was fixed up, so much for the expensive agency I used. However the performance was booked out so I could not have waited until arrival. The building is as important as the performance , beautiful to wander around at interval although they do not spoil it with crass signage which made finding one’s seat a little difficult. Unlike Sydney, everyone is well dressed but I did not feel I was the worst in a shirt and tie but jumper no coat. They have to allow for tourists.
Each seat has a small TV screen before it, beautifully finished in red to match the decor and you choose your own language.
I saw Der Rosenkavalier in Sydney probably 30 years ago and was not overly impressed but this time I found the music beautiful. I do not really understand why Strauss made the hero, Octavian, a woman. I guess it helps when she masquerades as a maid for much of the opera and is only suppose to be a 17 year old youth anyway.
The programmed singer, Angelika Kirchslager was sick and the part was sung by Daniela Sinhran and she was very warmly applauded. Other main characters were Ricarda Merbeth, Wolfgang Bankl and the conductor was Donald Runnicles. At 4 hours including 2 twenty minute intervals it is rather long but this time I found the music wonderful and there is something about watching an opera in the city in which it is set and by a composer who lived in the city. The Viennese are rightly proud.
Also at interval, I found the gallery contained many display cases of photos and programs from Von Karajan’s time at the StaatsOper since one performance in 1937 and then many from the 1950’s. This month is the centenary of his birth.

On Monday I wandered around the centre of Vienna, past the Hofburg, a quick look into St Stephen’s Cathedral and also through some of the gardens. I spent 3 days here in 2000 and did not want to spend money revisiting the museums so soon.
However in the afternoon I met another internet contact, Martina for coffee and strudel in an historic coffee house. We had a very pleasant few hours getting to know the real life person and then Martina took me walking through the town showing me some things I missed until we parted near her home so I could return to my hotel for a rest before the next opera or rather operetta.

At least I now had my ticket, guess Sunday’s ticket was at the Volks Oper but I did not bother to check. I had been to this opera house in 2000 so knew the way. It is reserved for lighter material and in 2000, it was in Italian with German surtitles which only gave me a slight idea of what was happening. I knew Lehar’s “Land des Lachelns” was in German so was pleasantly surprised to find the songs had English surtitles and there was a brief English description of the rest of the action. Of course the jokes were beyond me.
I knew to expect “You are my heart’s delight” which I love and was pleased to hear it is reprised but found I also recognised a lot of the other music as well so again had a very enjoyable evening. At least it was shorter just 2 and a half hours with one 20 minute interval
I came out of the theatre into pouring rain and joined the stampede for the U-bahn station, glad my hotel was near the entrance at the other end of the journey.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Grüss von München

Don't worry, I will write the rest in English, just showing off my rather poor German anyway. In fact I was given the 3rd degree coming through customs, which I have never received in Europe before and Rodney with whom I am staying tells me they probably thought because I spoke in German, I just might try to get work while here.

Not a lot to relate yet. At least the flight is over and I can try to forget for 8 weeks that I think it is a modern form of torture to put humans in a metal tube and send them through the air for hour after hour and pay for the privilege.
We had individual tv screens for the 9 hours from Sydney to Bangkok and it took me nearly half the movie "Golden Compass" before I learnt how to work it, even saw about 20 mins in German and no my German is not that good. So I decided to watch it again right through in English without interruption then, having got the knack I planned my films for the second flight of 12 hours from Bangkok to Munich only to find the plane had not been upgraded and we just had one screen up front over several rows of heads and the first film as, you guessed it "The Golden compass" so I gave up and read my book with a few short snatches of sleep.

More pleasant have been the dinners, Monday night with my sister and brother-in-law in City Tattersalls in Sydney, Tuesday night with internet friends Tony and Somphong in Bangkok. Somphong ensured I experienced Thai food without affecting my stomach as spicy food is prone to do. Part of my journey is to meet people in real life who have only been internet acquaintances up to now. Last night (Thursday) I had dinner with my host Rodney who was one of the students when I was teaching at Benilde back in 1976 but has lived here in Munich for over 20 years.

Today in Munich I took it easy, as expected my body cycle is completely out of synch (I am typing this at 3am), and did some rail bookings that could not be done on the internet, bought some English novels to read (my luggage was already over the limit) and took a movie of the Glockenspiel at the Town Hall (photo above - the movie will have to wait) which I have seen several times before but is fun.
Probably more funny was the teenage I saw out of the corner of my eye with a banana up to his eye taking us all off to amuse his friends. We tourists are a funny lot.
Also visited Die Frauenkirche with an impressive huge crucifix dominating and the burial site of lots of the kings of Bavaria including the mad king Ludwig who built those marvellous castles. Went to enter another church called Alte Peter but a service was going on so I went to the food markets and bought a Bratwurst bun instead. Thought about a half liter of beer but decided not a good idea with my state of jetlag and it was very cold even at midday to be sitting too long in the open.
So of on the first of many train journeys to Berchtesgaden tomorrow but I may not have as good internet connection for a while. Rodney does much of his work by internet at home so it is very good compared to mine.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

True Anglicanism

I am indebted to Rev Susan Russell for the link to the article in the Church Times by the Ven. Mark Oakley, Archdeacon of Germany and Northern Europe. (the area where I will bespending the next 2 months) titled "An issue! An issue! We all fall down"
It is an excellent statement of what I believe and cherish in the Anglican Church and which those who dominate the Sydney Diocese are doing their best to destroy.
Just some sections I particularly like-
there are Anglo-Catholics, Evangelicals, conservatives, liberals, radicals, and everything in between — all knowing where they stand, but, in generosity of spirit, acknowledging the different but faithful approaches to the Bible, tradition, and reasoning that there are legitimately other than their own. These people believe that the Church is a Noah’s ark, where every animal has to budge over in the straw to let someone else nestle down. This is a Church where friendships count for more than sound-bites, and which understands that something of God is shadowed every time a believer forgets that Christian faith is an exercise in humility. This has been the Anglican spirit at its best — with a resistance to over-definition of doctrine, in preference to worshipping together in common prayer.

The Anglican tradition has sought to be a scholarly, reflective, and intellectually honest one. It has therefore known that reading the Bible as a community and taking it seriously — honouring the many genuine historical and interpretative questions that are simply there — will inevitably lead to more than one conclusion. It is not so much that the Bible neatly answers all our questions, as that it questions all our answers. Its treasures are not yielded up overnight, at whim, or as ammunition. The only ultimate uniformity on offer is the constant fidelity of God towards us all.

A little self-reflection might be important. I cannot be the only person who, since my confirmation at the age of 11, has found himself changing thoughts and opinions on almost everything as the years pass. In those years, though, the Church of England has been large enough to be my home — a spiritual compass, not a dictator telling me with whom I cannot meet or pray.

Hear! hear!

My travels begin

As hinted several times recently, I leave home tomorrow for two months of travel in Europe. I hope to fill you in with some details as I go.
After a night in the city, I fly out at 10 am on Tuesday to Bangkok where I will spend the night. Flying for about 22 hours straight through is my idea of torture so I prefer to break it into a 9 hour and a 12 hour sector. Even so I will be glad to see Munich on Wednesday night.

I would appreciate your prayers while I travel. I did not plan well for attending church. I am not visiting England so need to find Anglican churches on the continent which are only in major cities.
My only real chance is Riga on May 18. I will say a private prayer when visiting some of the glorious churches along the way.

If some of you are kind enough to comment please do not be offended at any delay in approval. I will only be blogging when I have WIFI connection.

Hope to follow some of the blogs on the right when I get a chance.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Ring the Merry Bells

When I checked Caliban's blog just over an hour ago I was greeted with the greatest news. Australia is to have its first woman bishop as an assistant bishop in the Diocese of Perth. Archdeacon Kay Goldsworthy will be consecrated on May 22. She was one of the first women priests in Australia in 1992 when she was ordained by the then Archbishop of Perth, Peter Carnley. He was never forgiven by the Jensenites even when he became Primate. They tried to stop the next ordination which was in the Diocese of Goulburn which is in the Province of NSW by going to court. They obtained an injunction which forced a delay but did not prevent the inevitable. I attended that ordination and it was one of the most joyful services I have ever attended. I pray that the consecration of Kay Goldsworthy in May will be equally joyful. Her choice is an answer to my prayers, praise God.
Bishop Forsyth of South Sydney has commented (why is it always him who speaks to the press?).
He said it would create "difficulties" in keeping the church together. If it means we get rid of Jensen and his mates, who cares. The true inclusive Anglican church will remain.
As Boaz says they are bringing discredit to the Christian church and driving people away with their silly antics.

Letters to the Herald re Justice Kirby

I will copy here the letters criticising the Rev Lane. I will not besmirch my blog by copying those in support, 2 from his classmates at Moore College where the Gospel of Hate is taught. Any readers who want. can go and find the ravings of these pharisees for themselves
The good reverend: Pharisee or God's messenger?
However the link will not work after a day when the letters are archived.

As a member of the Anglican Church and a recently elected member of the synod, the abuse of Justice Michael Kirby saddens me ("Admit your sins to the Lord, priest tells gay judge", April 10). The Reverend Richard Lane's attack, as reported, is the language of the Pharisees, whom Christ drove from the temple. Unfortunately these attitudes and language are typical of the Sydney archdiocese, as seen in the recent letter of the bishops justifying them not going to Lambeth. Long known for its patriarchal and implacable opposition to the ordination of women, the Anglican Church in Sydney under its current leadership has become obsessed with matters of sexuality and sexual preferences. The church should focus on its real mission of love, compassion and dialogue, extending Communion and the faith to all.
Geoffrey Sherington Willoughby East

I read about Justice Kirby and the Anglican rector - then checked my diary, to confirm not the date, but the century. I thought I must have had an accident on the way to work, suffered a Life On Mars episode and woken up in the Middle Ages.

Harvey Sanders Paddington

As absurd as the entire concept is, I'd rather spend eternity in hell with Michael Kirby than a minute in heaven with Richard Lane. Homosexuality was not invented. It is real and has been around for much longer than religion. Such intolerance is sickening.

Sean Woodland Forestville

Richard Lane should skip calling upon Michael Kirby to "repent" his gayness and urgently beg forgiveness for his own hubris. Somehow, a century of biblical analysis and social observation seems to have passed Sydney's evangelicals by, leaving one wondering about the future of this extremist rump of Christian anachronism. Their obsessions and irrelevancies grow odder by the day.

George Pugh Redfern

Justice Kirby, take consolation in the knowledge that you are a wonderful human being, a gifted jurist and a great Australian. If there is a god, and I greatly doubt it, she will be far more critical of those who preach hatred in her name than those who she obviously made gay.

John Norris Longueville

The thing I find extraordinary is not the ignorance and bigotry of Richard Lane, Peter Jensen and George Pell. It is that someone with the intelligence and wisdom of Justice Michael Kirby would want to be associated with them.

Brad Parry Culburra Beach

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Justice Kirby's Accuser

Today's Sydney Morning Herald has a report on the meeting with Justice Kirby described in my previous post.
Admit your sins to the Lord, priest tells gay judge
The priest is the rector of St Stephen's Church in Bellevue Hill, the Reverend Richard Lane.
Never heard of him and certainly do not want to visit that church - very snooty area anyway.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

In conversation David Marr and Justice Michael Kirby

Last night at the St James Institute I heard a conversation
between David Marr,Journalist and writer and Michael Kirby,
Justice of the High Court of Australia.
Both men are openly gay.

David grew up in the wealthy North Shore suburbs of Sydney
and went to one of the leading Anglican schools. He also has
a law degree. However he rejected Christianity and any belief
in God while at University apparently as part of coming to terms
with his homosexuality. Michael grew up in a middle class
suburb, went to State schools and has maintained his faith in
God and is a member of the Anglican church. The contrast in the
area in which they grew up was the source of some banter between

I have a particular interest in Justice Kirby as we grew up in
the same suburb, he is 5 years older than me. We went to the
same 2 primary schools (his brother, also a judge, was in my
class) and high school (Fort Street) and then onto University
where his trajectory far eclipsed mine. I learnt last night that
he went to the neighbouring parish to mine as we lived on the

I want to stress that I did not take notes and David Marr taped
the conversation as both men have been the subject in the past
of scurrilous attacks by right wing persons. These comments are
from memory and not to be taken as literal quotations.

The existence of the tape also caused some amusement as in a
discussion of the monarchical system (Michael Kirby is also a
monarchist, another point of comparison with me) David described
our present Governor-General as bland and while Michael
disagreed he referred to the problem when a Governor-General
becomes too activist by just pointing to one of the many photos
around the wall of the Banco court of past Presidents of the NSW
Court of Appeal rather than commit to tape. My Australian readers
will be well aware of the name of the Governor-General to whom
he alluded. Justice Kirby believes that a monarchical democracy
is one of the best forms of government where the head of state
who swans around in limousines opening activities and buildings
has no real power. No argument from me there.

There was discussion of the influence religion would have on
the determinations of a judge and Michael said he could not
divorce his general religious beliefs from his decisions but it
would be wrong for him to impose any narrow denominational
belief. Remember he is working with constitutional laws and on
cases where appeals have already progressed through the other
courts of the land and so he works on the cutting edge of the

However of most interest to me,naturally, was the discussion of
religion and homosexuality. Michael Kirby considers it a good
thing that the world Anglican church is involved in discussion.
I am not sure he is fully aware of the angst and heartbreak
that it is causing but I guess it is better than pretending it
does not exist. David began by asking his opinion as a judge on
a case where a younger son (call him Jacob) deceives his blind
father (Isaac) to steal his older brother’s birthright. Wasn’t
this an obvious case of fraud which the Bible does not condemn.
Michael wanted to move straight to Galatians 3.13 where Paul
states that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law. His
belief was that the new covenant had removed the old. He stated
that almost no-one believes the earth was created in 6 days a
bit over 5,000 years ago as we must use our modern scientific
knowledge and rational thought in our bible study. David
retorted with the sermon on the Mount where Jesus said that
“not one jot or tittle of the law will pass away”. I did not
feel that anything was solved theologically but these were
lawyers not theologians. Michael did stress that the law cannot
just deal with words alone, they must be put into context.

David accused Michael of hiding his gayness in his
conservativeness. Michael pointed out that while he did not
openly declare his gay status until after he became a High Court
Judge, it was no secret in the profession. He has had the same
partner for 39 years and they were seen together, he never
committed the ruse of attending functions with a token woman.
He said he had been hurt when he hadbeen told some of the gossip
going the rounds of the profession. Although he thinks his
progression was slowed, he feels a young lawyer would not find
his gay status a barrier today. I am not so sure.

He stated he has regular correspondence with Archbishop Jensen.
He sends a polite letter to which the archbishop always replies
politely and he then replies in turn politely. I guess this is
to be expected between two men at the top of their very
respected professions. However after a question from the
audience by a gay man, David Marr read out a letter sent last
December by a leading Anglican clergyman in the Sydney Diocese.
Michael had not given permission for the author’s name to be
revealed, which I found disappointing, except tosay he is the
Rector of one of the wealthiest parishes in the diocese.

The letter would have done justice to Phelps and his mob
stating that Justice Michael Kirby need to repent of his sinful
ways or face the fires of hell etc. etc. The full letter was not
read out, just as well, as I am sure my blood pressure was rising
in anger and shame that this should come from an Anglican

Justice Kirby had passed this on (without revealing the writer’s
name) to Jensen who replied that while strong the writer
probably meant well and there might be something for Justice
Kirby to learn from it.

Justice Kirby continued his polite approach and hoped that people
would leave room for discussion even as Jensen goes to Jerusalem
for GAFCON. He claimed his good health is because he does not
bear grudges.

If I was more confident in public I would have liked to comment
that, while such a letter can be treated with disdain by a
learned High Court Judge, what effect would such an attitude
have on a young person worshipping in that man’s parish who is
struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. He might,
like David Marr, reject his faith. He might, like me, after many
years of unhappiness and stress find that is not the Christian
truth and somehow manage to keep his faith and his sanity. Or
he might like one of my friends at university decide to take
his own life unable to reconcile his faith and his sexuality.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Women Bishops

The Anglican Bishops of Australia are meeting this week. Apparently there will be over 50 present. (I wonder how polite they are to each other :-)) One of the items is how to provide alternative oversight to those who will not accept a woman as their bishop.
Under the draft provisions still to be negotiated by the church's leaders, a male bishop would be deputised to carry out ceremonial duties including confirmations or ordinations, but he would not assume the authority of the woman bishop for whom he would be standing in.

Furthermore, an archbishop could absent himself from leading the consecration of a woman bishop if he objected. This could, for example, allow a woman bishop in a NSW diocese to be consecrated without the presence of the Sydney Archbishop, Peter Jensen, a strenuous objector to women bishops.
A retired male bishop or one from a neighbouring diocese could be invited to stand in for a female bishop, where conservative church members refuse to accept women ministries.

There are 2 possible vacancies which may be filled by women in the next few months- assistants in Melbourne and Perth. I will pray that at least one may be chosen.

I see the church in Wales narrowly defeated women bishops after an amendment to allow such alternative arrangements was dismissed. Good on them. The concept fills me with disgust.
If these men (and strangely even some women) cannot accept a woman in authority over them let them find somewhere else to worship. I have only utter contempt for the Archbishop of Sydney but unfortunately cannot ask for alternative oversight.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Turner to Monet

As this blog will soon change from ranting about Sydney Evangelicals to describing my wanderings around Europe I might as well begin with my visit yesterday to the National Gallery of Australia to see the Turner to Monet Exhibition. It only began about 2 weeks ago and will be finished by the time I return. It is not visiting Sydney. Therefore I drove the 600km in one day to see it. 7 hours driving and 2 hours at the Gallery with another 2 hours at war memorial and lunch. Sometimes I think I need my head read.
When I went to school we had the choice of music or art and I chose music so I always feel a bit at a loss when describing art especially when I know that my good friend Davis will be reading. He uses his blog Audacious Deviant to give us the most informative description of religious art which is spiritually uplifting and educational. I will wish he was by my side as I visit art galleries in Europe.
My first degree major was in Geography which I taught for 25 years so Landscape art is particularly appealing. I was a bit disappointed with Turner's later works which are more abstract. I liked the detail in his earlier works such as "Crossing the Brook" on loan from the Tate.

I have been in love with Monet's art since visiting his garden in 2002 and again last year. Even his more abstract art impresses me. Morning Haze is one of two artworks on loan from the Philadelphia Museum of Art so is probably familiar to Davis.Australian works were also included with some by overseas artists who lived here for a while
Particularly terrifying to me considering I live on the edge of the bush was
Eugene Von Guerard Bush fire between Mt Elephant and Timboon 1857