Saturday, April 25, 2009

Anzac Day

In Australia it is ANZAC (Australia & New Zealand Army Corps) Day.
I will set this post to go online at 4.15am Sydney time. Hopefully I will then be at the Dawn Service in Martin Place.
This tradition began in Sydney which still holds it at the time the soldiers actually landed at Gallipoli in 1915. To my knowledge all other towns and cities throughout Australia and New Zealand hold it at the more civilised hours of 5.30 or 6am.

I began attending in 1996 although I have not been every year. I always stayed with my mother and left about 3am to get to the city. Special trains and buses are provided.

In 2002 I was at the service at Gallipoli. I wrote about my visit to Anzac Cove in 2002 on my webpage which I maintained at the time. Photo (before I had a digital camera) shows me on the beach.

After visiting my Uncle's grave on the Somme and other battlefields and cemeteries in that area and around Ypres. I flew to Istanbul and travelled by bus to Eceabat where I stayed for 2 nights. On the 24th I went on a tour of the battlefield and cemeteries then on the 25th I left the hotel shortly after midnight and went by bus to Anzac Cove where I joined thousands waiting for the Dawn Service at 4.15. This service is for all countries involved - Turkey, Australia and New Zealand but also the UK. The participation by Turkey, our enemy at the time, is moving and shows the stupidity of war. Considering we were the invaders, they are very gracious.

We then travelled by bus to the Australian cemetery at Lone Pine for the Australian service (2nd photo) and I walked (ran) up the hill to Chunuk Bair for the New Zealand service. Third photo shows the Sphinx (named by the soldiers who had prepared in Egypt) which towers over Anzac Cove.

Later I returned to Eceabat for dinner before catching the coach back to Istanbul arriving at my hotel at 1am. A long, emotional day.

My sister began joining me for the Dawn Services in 2003. We argued that first time as she wanted me to wear green & gold ribbons for our troops in Iraq and I would not even wear an Australian flag at that time, just rosemary for remembrance.

In 2007 we were both in New York on Anzac Day but I did take her to the Somme and Ypres later and we attended the 9pm service at the Menin Gate.

Last year I was in Austria and hopefully next year I will be in New Zealand where the service in Dunedin is at 5.30am.

I do not want my sister to attend this year as she now suffers from TIA and often is forced to sit down during our long church services, I think hot, crowded conditions bring it on. At the Dawn service in the city there will be thousands and there are almost no seats.
Thankfully she has agreed and will attend the 5.30am service in the park a block from her home.

I have decided to go to the city but from home so will catch the special train leaving at 1.25am. I hope I do not chicken out when the alarm goes. I will read my novel (see last post) each way. It will be a doddle compared to what I did in 2002.

I have found the speech by Winston Peters at the Gallipoli Dawn Service in 2008. At the time he was New Zealand's Foreign Minister. He is a controversial figure but this speech is excellent. I note, in his list of wars in which Australia and New Zealand fought together, Iraq is missing. This is one of the many reasons for my move even though Australia has now also withdrawn under our new government.

And a Hymn for Anzac Day posted by Fr Bosco Peters.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Books and reading

I guess it is a result of being a retired teacher and librarian but I have far too many books. I hate getting rid of them. Even when working, weeding the collection was not a favourite pasttime.

I now have the problem of moving to New Zealand so must reduce my collection. A few months ago I managed to throw out many of the Geography textbooks I used in the 70's as well as about 30 years worth of National Geographics. I gave away to a good home all my Librarian magazines and books on Librarianship.

In order to have my main bedroom painted I recently had to shift my collection of gay novels and fantasy books. I have kept the gay novels but most of the fantasy books are going to the local second hand bookshop to see what I can get. Mainly Robert Jordan but some Terry Brooks although I have kept his Shannara series which I loved. I do not know if I will ever get round to reading them again but you never know.
I will probably get rid of my Morris West but cannot bear to part with the Jean Plaidy.

When I retired I set about buying the two authors which I loved while in primary school. I bought, mainly on Ebay, all the Billabong series by Mary Grant Bruce and these were also read by my Mother and Sister. They are very Australian and set in the 1910s and 20's. I cannot get rid of them.
I also bought all the Arthur Ransome "Swallows and Amazons" series about children in the 1930's sailing in various areas of England. I have not finished reading them again and am currently reading "Pigeon post". They are still in print so I bought all the ones I did not have from my school days.
When I became a school librarian in the 1990's I was very amused at the different style of writing for school age these days.

I am trying not to buy any more books at the moment but just received from Amazon 'A priest's tale' by Fr Donald Dodman. I put this on my wish list many months ago and do not know how I discovered it except it was through blogs so someone may help me. I moved it from the wish list and ordered it along with "Reasonable and Holy: Engaging Same-sexuality" by Tobias Stanislas Haller.
The idea was to reduce shipping costs which can be more than 25% of the book cost to Australia but Amazon have sent it separately at no extra cost to me.

'A priest's tale' will have to wait until I finish 'Pigeon post' and more importantly "The constant gardener" by le Carre which is on loan from the local library. As an ex-librarian I could not be late returning :-)
I am not a fan of mystery but last week I heard a repeat broadcast of an interview with le Carre (David Cornwell) at the time of the publication of "The constant gardener".
I then headed to do business at the council offices and dropped into the library upstairs to see if they had any le Carre. They had one - 'The constant gardener" so I took that as an omen and borrowed it.

I have also have by my bed "When in doubt, sing' by Jane Redmont which is also blog recommended but sadly have not got very far with it. I have a bad habit of falling asleep when reading in bed and spend far too much of my other time reading the newspaper and blogs.

I recently finished reading 'Reflections in glass" by Archbishop Peter Carnley, now retired but at the time of writing Archbishop of Perth and Primate of Australia. It was full of scathing commentary on the theology and activities of the Diocese of Sydney so I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Saw this advert in the weekend magazine of our major city newspaper. Centrelink is the Government department which provides social payments. Now that I am 65, I am one of their clients.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Proud??? of the Sydney Diocese

A day or so ago I was gobsmacked to see a comment on a Madpriest joke. The joke was about Rabbits and Mixomatosis so was completely lost on the Americans. We Australians are very much aware of how mixomatosis was used to rid us of the rabbit scourge in the 50's at least until they developed genetic resistance to it.

Fr Gwilym Henry-Edwards commented on the joke and to show his location mentioned he came from Australia and was proud to be in the Diocese of Sydney.

At first I thought one of the local fundie priests was visiting Madpriest then commonsense prevailed that none of them would use the honorific 'Fr'.
Then it clicked that he is rector of St Luke's Enmore, one of the few anglo-catholic parishes in the diocese and a parish that I know to be gay inclusive.

Fr Gwilyam came from the Diocese of Adelaide to minister to the anglo-catholic deprived worshippers of Sydney.

I understand, as with my own rector, that it is wise in that position not to be too openly scathing of those in power within the Diocese but that Fr Gwilyam should freely add the comment 'proud' amazes me.

There is very little to be proud of about the Diocese of Sydney. I know there are many good people worshipping and doing good works here but the leadership can only give us cause to cringe. Like others I have learnt when visiting Anglican churches overseas to say "I come from Sydney BUT I worship at St James, King Street" and watch the change in facial expression of the priest (usually) to whom I am speaking.

Peter Jensen (I refuse to give him any Anglican titles now, his behaviour is completely unAnglican) is again on a jaunt to London as Secretary of GAFCON. It is amusing to see references to the 7 Primates and Archbishop Jensen. He has a snowball's chance in hell of becoming Primate of Australia so thinks he gains kudos by mixing with the Gafcon primates.
The fact that he continues to side with Akinola and Orombi who are actively persecuting gay people in their respective countries makes Jensen NOT my archbishop BUT my enemy. If Jensen were to make some of the statements attributed to Akinola here in Australia, I would be queueing up to lodge a complaint against him under the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act. Some radio jocks have been convicted for similar. Nothing would give me greater pleasure.
As Jensen seems to regard Akinola and Orombi as close friends, I regard him with absolute contempt.

And how Fr Gwilym Henry-Edwards can claim to be proud of the Diocese of Sydney is beyond me.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Truly Amazing

There was a brief clip of this on our news a few nights ago, now the radio stations are full of this here in Australia. I am sure any British readers will have seen it but perhaps not yet in America.
I may be a little biased as for me "I dreamed a dream" is the most beautiful song in the most wonderful musical of all time "Les Miserables".

However it also teaches us a lesson not to judge anybody by their exterior.

Embedding is not allowed but if you have not seen this, please watch.
Susan Boyle

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Two Great Videos

I think these videos are great. Most of my readers will have seen them as I pinched them from other bloggers more widely read than me but I want to have them easy to find in order to cheer me up occasionally. First thanks to Wild Reed for the following summarised version of the talk by Dr John Corvino. I am impressed by his amusing but succinct dealing with the arguments. I would like to see the whole DVD but probably it would not work in the Australian zone and I have no one to whom to show it although I can think of a lot of Anglican priests in Sydney who would benefit. However it seems nothing will get through the thick heads of some people anyway. I have never been able to understand why some people hate us so much.

And thanks to Counterlight for the next one which perhaps tells the same message in a more concise way to get through those thick heads.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Archbishops??? of Sydney

As I have noted before, Sydney is particularly cursed in its Archbishops, both Catholic and Anglican.
Cardinal Pell naturally agreed with the Pope in an interview at Easter and as reported by David Marr in Pell rides papal bandwagon of death
"They encourage promiscuity," the cardinal told Sky Television. "The idea that you can solve a great spiritual and health crisis like AIDS with a few mechanical contraptions like condoms is ridiculous."

It's hardly news but in the face of this ridicule it has to be said again: Australia waged the world's most effective war on AIDS by ignoring the Catholic Church. We did not heed the demands of John Paul II and his successor, Benedict XVI. We encouraged people to use condoms, we distributed clean syringes and we saved thousands of lives.

Of course there has been plenty of criticism from people who actually know what they are talking about like medical practitioners especially those dealing with AIDS patients.

Archbishop Jensen has not been so controversial this year but one does cringe when the TV news shows him preaching on Easter Day from the Cathedral pulpit in a coat and tie. If he is ashamed to wear the vestments of an Anglican bishop he could just resign from the Anglican Communion and make us all very happy, he would not be missed.

His brother the Dean, however, who is an even bigger twit (and was when I knew him at university in the 60's) managed to comment on the same matter by admitting Anglicans are not opposed to condoms but blaming the whole thing on Virginia Woolf who apparently brought all the evils of the sexual revolution upon us.

"In terms of adultery, in terms of divorce, in terms of grandchildren [???], yes we are in big trouble as a society because of the sexual revolution," he said.

"It came out of Virginia Woolf and that crowd (in England in the early 20th century)."

Apparently such things did not happen before then.

Have to tell that to my Great Grandmother who in 1857 at age 17 gave birth to my grandfather (Father Unknown). Of course it is all her fault that I am having trouble finding my ancestors. Apparently this was a common problem at the time long before Virginia Woolf.

I see next Sunday the preacher at St James, King Street is to be the Very Reverend Colin Slee, Dean of Southwark Cathedral. I googled him and found an interview on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission, our national broadcaster) in 2005 at the time of the furore over Canon Jeffery John.

Some of his comments are delightful.

"I think his (Archbishop Jensen) role in particular has been really quite reprehensible because for any Archbishop anywhere, to interfere in the affairs of another province, or as he did, in the affairs of another diocese, namely the diocese of Oxford, is completely out of order.

The association of independent provinces, the 38 of them around the world, has always depended upon mutual trust and freedom of action and for people from around the world, and the Archbishop of Sydney isn't the only one to have done so, to get involved in another country's activities is actually breaking with Anglican tradition and very un-Anglican. ........

the Sydney diocese is well renowned around the world as being a very maverick place where the Archbishop can appoint his own brother as dean, where he can extend his own tenure, where all sorts of strange things can happen that haven't happened anywhere else in the world."

I look forward to his sermon but guess he will not actually criticise Jensen while preaching in the Sydney Diocese, more's the pity.

However Peter Jensen is quite capable of making a fool of himself as seen in the following:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter, May the Easter Bilby visit you.

I will not wish that the Easter Bunny visits you. Well, not if you live in Australia anyway.

Here in Australia, rabbits are a menace. While some came from Europe with the first fleet, the first "successful" introduction was in Victoria in 1859. They were introduced to feed the foxes which were also introduced to provide hunting sport???
"The unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable" (Oscar Wilde)
The result has been a disaster to our grasslands and to our native animals.

For a number of years there has been a push to replace the Easter Bunny with the Easter Bilby.
A bilby is a type of bandicoot. It has a black tail with a white tip and eats insects and fruit. They have greyish fur and ears a bit like a rabbit's. Being marsupials they have a pouch for their young which, of course, can also be used to carry Easter eggs!!!

They are an endangered species because of competition from rabbits and also attack by foxes and feral cats.

Therefore I have, as usual, purchased chocolate bilbies for my sister and brother-in-law for Easter (see right) and expect to receive one in return. Our family is a no-easter bunny zone.

I have purchased my chocolate bilbies from Darrel Lea which gives a donation to Save the Bilby Fund with every sale.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Aussie Culture

When I was in Finland, the mother of my host who is a chef asked me what was the national dish of Australia. I could not really answer. I suggested a barbecue steak. It is certainly not kangaroo. I have never tasted kangaroo although I believe it is very nice and certainly low in cholesterol. When I was young, the Sunday lamb or beef roast was an essential part of the week. I rarely eat a roast now, mainly because I cannot cook ,and the ones you buy from the supermarket freezer are very bland.

Last night on the TV news there was a report on a survey of changes in Australian culture. It said the meat pie was once our national dish and it has been replaced by spaghetti bolognese. I still have a meat pie with peas one night per week and very occasionally buy one for lunch. I like spaghetti bolognese and can cook it (okay, with bottled sauce) but it is not good for my hiatus hernia so I again occasionally buy the much blander variety from the supermarket but do not really enjoy it.

I was on much safer ground with our drinking habits. Once Australians were the largest beer drinkers in the world but that has changed markedly. Wine has now overtaken beer but our most frequent drink when out is a cappuccino. Apparently Italians, from whom we copied, are horrified that we drink cappuccinos all day while they only drink it up until (I think) 10am.

I occasionally have a beer when out but do not really enjoy Australian beers. I make up for this when in Germany where I love the beer. I love to drink wine. However I rarely go anywhere without buying a cappuccino. While I drink black expresso at home, I always ask for a cappuccino when out.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

Has arrived here in Australia. I have had my first 2 hot cross buns. I absolutely refuse to eat any before Good Friday although they have been on sale in the shops since the beginning of January.

I am always bemused that Good Friday is not a public holiday in the USA. It is here and not only are all offices closed so are all large retail stores. Hotels are now allowed to open after 12 Noon. When I was young, there was a lot of fuss over opening the Royal Easter Show on Good Friday. I feel a little guilty that I must use the train to go to church. I would not go to a shop and so will have another Hot Cross Bun and coffee before leaving at 9.30. The service is from Noon to 3pm so I will probably not get home until 6pm and will fast for that time. For me Good Friday is the most sombre and holy of days and I could not imagine working.

In NSW and Queensland, shops are also closed on Easter Day. There was an attempt to open them here this year but unsuccessful. However I think this was more union rather than religious pressure. I do not see the need for shops to be open all the time. The only other days they are closed are Christmas and Boxing Days and the morning of ANZAC day. Small shops can still open so people can buy bread or milk if they run out.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Church Democracy Rules

I learnt today that the Rector announced at the Vestry meeting last week that we would continue to have 3 services most Sundays. See previous post.

7.45 Said Eucharist 9.00 Sung Eucharist and 11.00 Choral Eucharist.

Great news, I can stay at St James and probably more importantly, my sister is more likely to stay after I move to Dunedin.

Today, being Palm Sunday, we had the one 10 am service which began with blessing of palms, then processed around the block singing "Ride on, Ride on in Majesty". Followed by a choral Eucharist which, as usual, meant lots of standing and listening to the choir. The church was packed. All this meant it finished about 12.15 so I caught the 1.18 train and ate a hamburger while travelling home where I arrived at 3pm.
Not something I would want to do regularly.

However my American Episcopalian readers may be interested that the preacher was Reverend Martin Smith, Senior Associate Rector at St Columba's Church, Washington DC. He was very good and is preaching for the whole of Holy Week (He will have Saturday off) so I will hear him again on Good Friday and Easter Day.

We also got to sing (rather than listen to the choir) 3 other great Passiontide hymns
All Glory, laud and honour

Lift high the Cross

We sing the praise of him who died
(Words and Music.)

As I could not find the last on Youtube, I have included "Lift High the Cross" obviously sung as a recessional hymn on Palm Sunday with the shrouded cross. However at St James we process out in silence on Palm Sunday. I love the contrast with the entry. To a person who grew up in evangelical churches these details are so new to me and so full of meaning.

As we walked out there was a young man standing at the entrance who said to someone behind me. "This is High Church Anglican, am I allowed in?"
I felt like saying "Of course, All are welcome at St James not like in many of the low churches in the diocese."

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Why I get so angry

I have been reading posts and listening to the funeral sermon for Lee Davonport. I never had the pleasure of visiting his blog. First I read about him at Culture Choc then at Franiam. Fran led me to My Manner of Life where I read the following comment from Lee.
"For many years, I have dealt with feelings of self-loathing, primarily because I never lived up to my parents' rigid standards and, more recently, because I committed the ultimate betrayal, coming out to them as what Dad calls a "queer" in an effort to shame and hurt. But his words don't shame and hurt. He's not my judge, and neither are the people who would deny me the right to be exactly the person God created me to be."

At the same time I have been reading comments on Preludium, Madpriest and Thinking Anglicans about whether Liberals can be as nasty as Conservatives.
A particular commenter has been Obadiah Slope who I know to be from the Diocese of Sydney. I do tend to see red when the so called Anglican Diocese of Sydney is mentioned.

Much of it comes from my anger at the damage evangelical teaching has done to so many young gay people.

While Lee seemed to have a lot of problems, the condemnation of his parents was certainly one of them.

In the film 'The Bible Tells Me So' I was most moved by one lady who is now working for gay acceptance in the church but only after her daughter committed suicide. The mother had rejected her daughter.
Similarly the book 'Prayers for Bobby', recently made into a TV documentary not yet shown in Australia, tells the story of a mother who, guided by her church, condemned her son and only came to realise how wrong it was after he committed suicide.

One of my closest friends has a gay son who only came out to his family later in life because he expected condemnation from his church going parents and siblings. Fortunately he was wrong and today his father is very active in working for gay acceptance in his church but laments the fact that his son (unlike his other children) has left the church. When we were together at university, the father had been liberal in his religious views and I had worried about the state of his soul, how ironic.

I have a number of friends from my evangelical days at Sydney University who, I now know, were struggling like me with the conflict between their sexuality and their religion. One committed suicide, most of the others rejected the church.

I do not blame the parents who have learnt so tragically. I do blame and will continue to react in anger to those who continue to preach their dogmatic views.

Thankfully when I was in great conflict over my sexuality, I had the complete love and support of my Mother (I never told my Father). Many times, when I thought death would be the easy way out, the thought of what it would do to Mum held me back.
My Mother never understood and preferred not to talk about it but I know she had a long talk about me with my sister a few days before she died. She was so concerned I would be alone in the world. Her love for me overrode any teachings she heard from the church. Sadly other parents do not see things that clearly.

My prayers for Lee and his children and for all young gay people who do not receive the support of their parents.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Walking with Entertainment

My Monday U3A walking group went to a town south of Sydney called Stanwell Park. I knew this beach well when I was teaching geography and used it as a field exercise. This time we climbed to the top of the cliffs behind known as Mount Mitchell (about 250 metres a.s.l.) from where we could look down on the village and beach.

While eating our lunch at the top we were entertained by the hang gliders.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Prayer Updates

I have been waiting for Archdeacon Kelvin Wright to report on the latest results from his doctor and was a little worried at no news but he has now reported that his PSA levels are going down which is a good sign that the Cancer has been eradicated. I will keep praying as the Big C can be illusive but remove him from the list and give Thanks to God.

I am also thankful that the Doctors are very pleased with Jill's kidney transplant. I saw her a week ago and she looks much better than she has for over a year. Her sister who donated the kidney is also doing well and therefore their Mother is very happy. More Thanks.

Father Bosco Peters is blogging again about the Liturgy but I am sure he, his wife and son will need continued prayer.

The Fire Victims will need prayers for a long time. There is a flood emergency just north of me now, I live in a country of extremes. We have had torrential rain but for me to be flooded up here in the Mountains would be a flood of Noah proportions. However I have just spent over half an hour slowing down traffic on the bends near my house after a young man skidded in the wet and crashed into the power pole in front of my house. Thankfully he and his companion were only shaken but too many people think that a narrow winding mountain road should be treated like their private race track.

Father Geoff Farrow and Bishop Gene Robinson are in continual need of prayer as they represent the gay community in their respective Churches.

I will add Rance's partner Marty who needs comfort at this time.