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April 02nd 2017 print

Christopher Heathcote

The Politically Correct Pulpit

To cite but one example, churches are encouraged to hang paintings from Aboriginal mythology which parishioners cannot decipher. Perhaps that innocence is for the better, as many might find the promotion of animist mythology in a place of Christian worship not merely odd but unsettling

church crumblingThe young guest minister entered from the vestry and moved along the nave much as on any other Sunday in church. He stopped before reaching the chancel, turned to face the congregation, then recited: “I acknowledge this church stands on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people. I pay respects to its elders past and present, and affirm our church’s commitment to indigenous reconciliation.” The minister then continued walking and commenced the service with the usual prayers.

This was the weekly family service in an Anglican church in suburban Melbourne. The incumbent was away and another priest was filling in for the morning. Given the circumstances, no one raised with the guest his unexpected political declaration, although there was talk among parishioners in the weeks after.

Symbolic “inclusiveness” of Aboriginal culture is a key issue in the Melbourne diocese, pressed mainly at the instigation of Archbishop Philip Freier, who is also the Primate of the Anglican Church nationally. However, there has not been discussion on what is appropriate in normal church activities, or when political agendas have no place in religious practice. Mind you, those with qualms about the direction the church is steering are reluctant to voice their private views. Who will risk being thought a white bigot?

The Diocese of Melbourne has undergone quite a transformation under Archbishop Freier, a former Bishop of the Northern Territory. The diocese now observes an annual “Reconciliation Week”. This starts each May 27, the anniversary of the 1967 referendum, and finishes on June 3, “Mabo Day”. There are prayers and readings for use by participants on each weekday (a passage by Martin Luther King is used one day). The diocese has materials for a “Sorry Day” service available for use if requested.

These initiatives do fulfil the role of a church. Other moves are questionable. The synod now starts with a “Welcome to country” address. Each year an Aboriginal elder is hired to come into St Paul’s Cathedral and, standing at the front, recites a very short passage in an Aboriginal language which no one understands. Pay cheque in pocket, the elder then exits and prayers can begin. It is proposed to book elders often for these “Welcome to country” recitations at diocese and even local parish functions. (Being Anglicans, however, no one is to say anything in Latin because it is not the common language.)

Then there are name changes in the Melbourne diocese. For decades it has been sub-divided geographically into three zones, each with its own bishop: the eastern; the western and northern; the central. These terms were clear and all knew which area in Melbourne was referred to. However, to speed reconciliation the zones have been renamed with Aboriginal terms: as explained by the media office, “In consultation with Indigenous elder Aunty Di, we have been given permission to name each area of care using the local Woi Wurrung language.” So the zones are now “Marmingatha” (which means divine, supreme being), “Oodthenong” (gathering) and “Jumbunna” (speaking out, proclamation).

There is a problem here, a mighty big one. Only the clergy seem to know which zone the designations refer to. Everyone else is in a muddle, lay people not having a clue which Aboriginal term refers to where. Common sense, and the common language, have been surrendered to politically-correct foolishness. To compound confusion there is a fourth episcopal zone, “Monomeeth” (wellness, wholeness) which is puzzlingly referred to in some church publications without any explanation of where it is. As for self-congratulatory claims that the change to diocese names greatly advances reconciliation, most privately feel it achieves nothing concrete and smacks of tokenism.

Placing Aboriginal art in churches is another issue quietly festering away. There is gentle enthusiasm for parishes to display tribal work in churches to signal commitment to reconciliation. However, advocates of this do not understand that tribal pictures, being mythological in basis, might not be appropriate for a place of Christian worship, as assorted Anglicans have commented to me. There would be quite a rumpus if a church displayed paintings from classical mythology, like Cronos devouring his sons, or Europa being impregnated by the bull. These pagan myths have no place whatsoever in the Christian communion, as everyone instantly recognises.

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Yet around Melbourne, churches are encouraged to hang paintings from Aboriginal mythology which parishioners do not understand, and cannot decipher. I know of one church with a handsome dot painting from Central Australia hanging beside the font, although there is no explanation of what the large abstraction symbolises. It is visually attractive, but what does it mean? What myth does it narrate? It may involve a violent encounter or a disturbing supernatural event. If we do not know what the piece shows, is it suitable for display in the church? A meeting room or common room may be more fitting.

This is not a new dilemma. Other Christian denominations faced similar questions in Africa, South America and Asia when efforts were made to incorporate into worship works by indigenous artists. In each instance guidelines were introduced to ensure native religious beliefs did not undermine Christian values. But, oblivious to the lessons of art history, Anglican clergy rush in where angels fear to tread.

It’s not only the laity that doesn’t readily grasp tribal art. Archbishop Freier has some good dot pictures around his office at St Paul’s Cathedral, as I discovered several years ago, each of them by tribal painters he knows personally. He had much praise for the cheery colours and decorative values, although, when I asked His Grace what myths were portrayed in the pieces he showed me, he said he did not know.

Churches must also take care due to the problem, widely known across the art scene, of bogus “tribal” paintings run off by those cashing in on indigenous art. There exists a thriving market in sham work. The chief offenders are individuals who, claiming an Aboriginal forebear or two, crank out simulated desert-dot compositions that are utterly fabricated with no legitimate origin in genuine myths or inherited values. You would think a church, given its awareness of apostolic succession, would be cautious about taking up concocted “traditional” culture. But very strange works have been occasionally seen in the Melbourne Anglican, our diocesan journal of record.

There has long been ambiguity within Christianity between religious duty and social activism. So how to approach fraught questions involving indigenous politics? Complexities about relations between settler cultures and indigenes are made the more baffling by biblical history. The reviled people of Canaan were indigenes when the Israelite tribes arrived out of the desert; later, the events in the gospels occurred when Judea was occupied by the Romans, as the Crucifixion highlights; and, as the faith spread during the Apostolic Age, there was often tension between religious splinter groups and a prevailing community. Wherever one dips into the Bible there seem collisions between dominant and subjugated peoples, with neither being automatically on high moral ground. Even the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan uses a disliked ethnic figure to make a point about ethical behaviour.

Given such a background, it’s about time the Anglican Church in Melbourne had an open, frank and mature discussion about the appropriateness of Aboriginal flags, political signs and jingoistic declarations of solidarity with Aborigines being imposed holus bolus on church buildings, publications, posters, websites and weekly pew sheets, as well as inserted into diocesan or parish meetings, and even some church services.

Take the display of Aboriginal flags. In keeping with the principle of separating church and state, the Anglican Church does not fly national or political flags. During my youth it was rare to view an Australian flag fluttering from a C-of-E flagpole, and on those rare occasions—such as the funerals of local dignitaries or former servicemen, or for Anzac Day ceremonies—no congregation was short of boys who volunteered to run the flag up and down the pole. Otherwise churches only flew or displayed either their diocese’s ensign, or the Anglican Church of Australia’s ensign.

But in 2012 it was decided that when churches in the diocese raise the Australian national flag they must display the Aboriginal flag at the same time. The reason given was this would signal the message that Aborigines were welcome at church, not only white folk.

Our national flag is still hardly sighted and the Anglican Church flag is likewise rarely displayed, but Aboriginal flags have sprouted all over—and not just on flagpoles. Besides always flying an Aboriginal flag out front, St Paul’s Cathedral has one at the base of its web page, an example followed by several suburban parishes. Some are quite enthusiastic, like St Jude’s, Carlton, which has a huge photograph of an Aboriginal flag constantly cycling across the top half of the screen. The national church, diocese and Australian flags do not appear on these same websites. What message does that signal? (The same query about signals may be asked of the snapshot of Julia Gillard on the diocese home page.)

Declarations of indigenous solidarity likewise are featured on many Anglican web pages. St Paul’s Cathedral carries the statement, “Wominjeka: St Paul’s Cathedral stands on the traditional lands of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to elders past and present, and affirm our commitment to the work of reconciliation.” Superimposed over its large flag, St Jude’s, Carlton, runs the line, “[this church] acknowledges that it gathers for worship on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations, and is committed to work for reconciliation and justice.”

Most parish web pages adopt a more modest tone, like St Peter’s, Eastern Hill, which says: “We are an inclusive and welcoming church, built on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people.” Others in an exposed position, like Holy Trinity, East Melbourne, a church neighbouring the archbishop’s official residence, make a grand gesture:

We acknowledge the Wurundjeri people as the original inhabitants of this country. Today they are still the custodians of the cultural heritage of this land. Further to this, we acknowledge there are other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have lived, worked and contributed to the cultural heritage of our community.

Similarly worded statements can be included in pew sheets for services, especially on festivals that pull a good crowd like Christmas and Easter. Some churches may slip these declarations into the printed orders of service for sacramental rites; last year I attended a baptism which began with a statement about Aboriginal custodianship and reconciliation.

The diocese is also behind an official sign displayed on external walls at many Anglican churches around Melbourne, sometimes prominently facing the street, often discreetly by the parish hall. Printed on these metal plaques are the words, “We are proud to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people as the traditional owners of this land”, with an Aboriginal flag shown beneath. And, on a noticeboard inside or near the entrance, most churches have of their own volition pinned up statements about the poor treatment of Aborigines historically and a need to work for reconciliation.

Whatever Anglican church the humble pilgrim visits today, symbolic markers for indigenous affairs are as essential to the sacred package as holy relics were in medieval times.

Questions need to be asked within the church about the process of making noise on a vexed political issue. The immediate dilemma involves what is meant by reconciliation. I have yet to sit through one of those periodic sermons referring to it which explains what must be done in practical terms. Instead, the word reconciliation is more a rhetorical stick used to beat white parishioners for sins-of-the-fathers.

Then there is the diocese’s Reconciliation Action Plan. It sounds imposing and the glossy brochure looks chic, but when you read through it’s mostly padding and waffle. Still, it does supply a definition:

What is reconciliation? There is much in human life that separates us from God; this gap needs to be bridged, or reconciled. This was achieved in the events of Easter when the death of Jesus, God’s Son, achieved reconciliation between God and humanity. St Paul puts it this way; “… God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them” [sic] (Romans 5:10).

One must ask if scripture is taken out of context here, and the quoted passage is from an unidentified non-standard translation—it resembles no Bible I have checked. So it is risky to claim that Romans 5:10 proves that what secular governments have called Aboriginal reconciliation is a “Christian principle”, is “part of being Christian” and “at the very core of our obligations as Christians in Australia”. Paul affirms that we be peacemakers, help others, and offer the loving hand of friendship. He does not command us to join political cults.

Then there is an Orwellian rewrite of national history. In his introduction to the Reconciliation Action Plan, Archbishop Freier laments “the decimation of the Aboriginal population through war …” Wars leave a gigantic paper trail. But there are no military records, parliamentary policy documents, or other evidential papers proving a war took place. Nor are there peace treaties or documents of submission concluding a war, as in New Zealand with the Maori Wars, in Southern Africa with the Anglo-Zulu War, and the United States with the Indian Wars. Morals are seriously askew when, eager to side with the underdog, the church has to make up a war—which “decimated” populations no less—that did not happen.

No one disputes the church’s duty to the afflicted and disadvantaged, or the sincerity of people wanting to act, but efforts should be fitting and properly thought out. Take signs acknowledging the Wurundjeri as custodians of the land. Why no recognition that God the creator made the land, and we all, irrespective of ethnicity, have a responsibility to care for it? And what of a new Doctrine of Atonement much forced by populists—their censorious view that white people are born guilty and must atone for past actions they took no part in, including a fictitious war!

Anglicans in Melbourne, and elsewhere, will have their own views on these matters. But a mature discussion fully involving lay members must take place, and what are political policies must cease to be imposed pontiff-like from above. A need for cautious probity was shown by the Anglican Church’s well-intentioned support in what became the Hindmarsh Island fiasco. On one other matter, too, a halt must occur. Priests, vicars, ministers, pastors, chaplains—however they style themselves—should not recite jingoistic statements as part of church services. Political cant has no place in holy worship.

Christopher Heathcote is a regular contributor to Quadrant.

 

Comments [49]

  1. AlP says:

    The reference for the passage should be 2 Corinthians 5:19

  2. LBLoveday says:

    Way back in 2000 my daughter was in R at the first combined, maybe still only, Catholic-Anglican school in Australia and the end-of-year Presentation Night was held in the oldest Catholic Cathedral in Australia. They awarded prizes for academic achievement in every class! Bet that’s gone the way of the 3Rs.
    It was not a Mass, but there were prayers and Readings. Oh, and a performance by students featuring a “Rainbow Serpent dance”. My daughter confirmed they had been taught about the “Rainbow Serpent” and my letter to the school questioning the appropriateness of teaching pagan mythology to 5yos (or indeed any age) in a Christian school and celebrating it in a Cathedral was unanswered.

    • Jody says:

      Last week I watched Jennifer Byrne’s ‘Book Show’ on ABC (yes, I watched one show on the ABC while waiting for Question Time). Up for discussion was books as “a journey; which book took you on a journey and changed your life?”. One of the guests was Noel Pearson – an intellectual heavyweight who stood head and shoulders above the others, save perhaps one woman (who writes fantasy). Noel’s great book was written “400 years ago by a blind man”. Most of us knew instantly it was Milton’s “Paradise Lost”. But under what circumstances was an aboriginal man proclaiming the genius, virtue and wonder of the ultimate white man’s text “Paradise Lost”, particularly in light of the easy and accessible ideologies of ‘the dreaming’?

      Noel is a committed Christian and says ‘the holy bible’ is on his bedside table, along with “Paradise Lost” – and that he’d read it to his family. In describing the poetry of Milton, the narrative itself and all its complexity and magnificence Noel Pearson brought me to tears. He felt it was better than Shakespeare and he was prepared to have the argument about it.

      This great man and intellectual giant is an absolute hero of mine and he represents the antithesis, it seems to me, of everything written in this article and the comments which follow.

      • LBLoveday says:

        I told my daughter to read of/from Pearson, Mundine (no, not The Mouth) and Price (the elder, the younger was not in the public picture then) for a proper perspective on Aborigines. I took her to Alice when six, and she witnessed the typical disgraceful behavior, begging, aggression, including the reverse of the conventional dv – a woman belting a man with, truly, a boomerang, and it made a lasting impression. I guess she’d be decried as racist (that’s the default position for us anyway!) but she does not denigrate Aborigines, nor praise, just says nothing (as far as I know) and avoids them at all reasonable cost. Seems a natural reaction to the fear and disgust instilled in her by her initial contact at a young age.

  3. Doubting Thomas says:

    More appropriately, John 11:35.

  4. I don’t mean to come across as a troll. But this took me back to the mid-late 80s Yes Prime Minister episode when Jim had to nominate the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

    Even 30 years ago the writers nailed that senior church officials were essentially socialists and a belief in a god was an optional extra.

    So nothing has changed and this is just further proof that organised faith is run by self promoting virtue signalled who likely don’t even share the faith of their members.

    I’m a committed atheist so none of this really bothers me but I do feel sympathy for the faithful having their dedication so cynically abused.

    • LBLoveday says:

      I’ve never understood how anyone can rationalise categorically denying the possibility of the existence of God(s).
      There are an estimated 200,000,000,000 galaxies in the Universe, one of which is the Milky Way.
      There are an estimated 100,000,000,000 stars in the Milky way, one of which is the Sun, around which the Earth orbits.
      That’s an estimated 20,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars if each galaxy has the same number of stars as the Milky Way.
      There are an estimated 20,000,000,000,000 living creatures on just the relatively puny planet Earth, of which an estimated 130,000,000,000 are mammals of which 7,500,000,000 are humans.
      Yet many of us insignificant humans categorically state there is no God, however defined, anywhere in the Universe. Even Dawkins in “The God Delusion” tried (to my mind extremely ineptly) to assign a value to the probability of the existence of God, and his answer was not zero.

      • Warty says:

        Religious belief was banned at the height of the French Revolution, supposedly replaced by the religion of reason: of course ‘the terror’ was entirely reasonable.
        Christians and agnostics alike admire the period of the Enlightenment, which fostered reason, freedom of thought and stirrings of democracy, but it was prelude to the questioning of religious faith. We can perhaps chart the decline in the influence of the church to the Enlightenment. Certainly the Church had attempted to control thought and science in the lead up to that period, and it would take a wise man to separate religious conviction and faith from the hierarchy of the church, yet the truth is they were and are separate. Deep religious conviction is transcendent,whilst the Church is very much of this world. Churchmen like Meister Eckhart and the 20th Century Bonhoeffer were a different kettle of fish altogether.
        But something else is going on in this day and age, and certainly, a number of Quadrant readers happily mention the fact that they’re atheists, but these Cultural Marxists aim to bring about the destruction of the church, with their moral relativism, their identity politics and their realisation that a good many of the clergy are so fearful of becoming irrelevant, they think they will stave off the approaching moral oblivion, not by standing up for principles, but adopting the view points of the very people who seek to consign them to the history books (not even that, as the neo Marxists will burn the books).
        While we may well need an Aussie Trump (Mark Latham, perhaps) we certainly need someone with balls amongst the clergy.

        • Rob Brighton says:

          Warty. I object to the association of Atheism with cultural Marxism and would love to hear how you have made that association other than plucking it straight our of your proverbial.

          • Warty says:

            Alright, a little heavy handed saying that atheists are cultural Marxists, but I do insist they have the same roots. An atheist, as with the neo Marxist denies the existence of absolute or transcendent truth: they both argue that one opinion is as good as another, in other words relativism. We are then just one step away from moral relativism, which is why it has become increasingly difficult to argue against homosexuality, for instance, and we have an increased trend where right becomes wrong and wrong is regarded as right.
            Now, those conservatives, who happen to be atheists, draw the line at identity politics, but for the same reason are unable to effectively argue against a Nova Perris who said, in as many words, you can’t criticise me for leaving the Labor Party unless you’re an Aboriginal. We know what she is saying, why she believes entitled to say it, but believe she is off her rocker, and know why we think she is off her rocker.
            For us, on the other side of the equation, it is simply baloney suggesting we cannot understand, or even empathise with someone of a different race without having to belong to that race, but it boils down to the old ‘who are we to judge’ stand point, and this is the reasoning of the cultural Marxists, and one that has been pretty well adopted by the community at large, just as homosexuality has, when forty, fifty years ago the overwhelming majority of the community were opposed to it.
            The way I see it (there we go again: ‘just a matter or opinion’) ‘reason’ as applied by Enlightenment philosophers, is not reason at all, but more a combination of intelligent use of logic or applied argument, whilst true reason is the finely honed intellect arrived at through study of the scriptures (or law), deep reflection (or contemplation) and the absorption of the resulting understanding into one’s being, so that one becomes a Christ, or a Buddha, or Maharishi or a Blackstone (but hopefully not a Muhammad). In such circumstances, when one speaks, one speaks the truth, because you are an embodiment of truth, but the Pharisees and the Sadducees (or their equivalents) who have studied the Torah, but have a mere intellectual understanding of what they have studied and who have not absorbed that understanding into their very being, fail to understand the ‘prophet in their midst’. Deep down they believe truth is relative, , unless, as with the Hillary supporters, you disagree with me, and then you’re appallingly wrong.

      • Rob Brighton says:

        So which god? Most state that theirs is the right one, I read somewhere that there was something approaching 3000 of them. You cannot all be correct can you? If so…how?. I am not the first to notice that if you are born in India you are likely to follow the Hindu faith, if you are born in USA you likely Christian and if you are born in Pakistan….you get the point, isn’t it amazing that all those humans are born into the one true faith?

        Out of 200 billion galaxies god is interested in one insignificant planet orbiting a sun on the outskirts of galactic central? And what appears to be of sufficient import that hours are spent discussing his view on his interest in who we have sex with, what we eat, and what fibers we mix.

        The hubris it burns.

        Your understanding of another world view does not make their world view wrong….just different is the minimal position. For mine, as an Atheist the issue is that the alternate view is not supported by any evidence at all.

        Whilst Dawkins could not assign a probability value to the existence of god, he couldn’t assign a probability to the existence of fairy’s either. I would be interested to know how many fairies are in your garden?

        • Warty says:

          Perhaps this is addressed to me, I’m not sure, because such is the formatting of this site, it seems our responses end up in strange places. If this is not addressed to me, forgive me for being so forward.
          It doesn’t matter which God. Whether it is Hindu fundamentalism or Christian, each tend to be rather ugly in denigrating the other. If this is part of your reason for being an atheist, then you’ve been grievously misled: ugliness has little to do with faith.
          Now, what if one were to say that God, if you prefer that word, is interested in us at all. Such a concept is closer to primitive anthropomorphism. What if you were to consider the glories of the universe to sprung from him (that anthropomorphic bit again, damn)? I don’t know whether you write at all, other than here on this Quadrant site. I wonder whether or not you’ve ever sung in a choir and have not only found yourself uplifted, but found a voice that goes way beyond your own? And when writing, to find something that appears on the page that quite simply astounds you (because you know you simply could not have written it as a Warty or a Rob)? And Jody, who posts her Bach Youtube clips, because she find the music uplifting in the quiet of her sitting room. Strangely, she hasn’t ever posted Bach’s Magnificat, or Mozart’s Mass in C Minor or his Requiem, all of which have the ability to move me from the turgid slug my poor wife has to put up with. Each of those compositions can be analysed till the cows come home, but the transformative nature of the music goes beyond words. If one were to ask somebody to give ‘evidence’ of the transformative nature of such music you’d simply have to looks askance at him: it cannot be explained but only experienced, but not everyone can experience it either. The bloke who loves his rap music might well find Bach’s Magnificat physically and emotionally painful, and the same imaginary character would probably disagree violently that they are two quite different ‘orders’ of music, with rap being close to the bottom of the barrel. It is a tricky thing this ‘evidence’ bit. Can anyone give evidence of the existence of the emotion FEAR? He’d probably point to the manifest physical symptoms, the shaking, the starring eyes but the actual phenomenon fear is unmanifest, though a little child knows it exits. A child can also experience a deep sense of awe with so many of the things we adults take for granted, and simple though those child-like experiences may seem, I’d call them spiritual.
          We can only pin our faith on those things within our experience, but not all of us are granted the same avenues of experience. Being acquainted with the raw experience of death, for instance, cannot be fully explained to someone who hasn’t been there with you, and again words fall short were one to try; but its impact on the individual can be particularly profound. For me three of them, particularly the last one, last February, mark major points of transition, in one’s own life. And this can’t be explained, only experienced.
          I’ve probably said more than I ought, so I understand if your eyes are beginning to glaze.

          • Jody says:

            I’ve just read your comments in full, Warty. I’ve seen the Bach “Magnificat” performed in Vienna with Concentus Musicus and the late Harnoncourt out front.

            Mozart was entirely over-rated, IMO, and that’s why I never quote any of his works. I liked them when I was in my early 30′s, but one never ventures too far from Beethoven and Bach. Mozart, not so much.

        • LBLoveday says:

          Quote: “Whilst Dawkins could not assign a probability value to the existence of god”.
          But, as I said, he did just that – the book has been “lost” in my moves, maybe given away, but from memory, so I can be wrong, it was either 7% or 14%. But I am not wrong about him calculating a probability.
          Maybe “God” is an alien who has created us somewhat as we create living creatures, somewhat like the computer game Sims.
          As to “which one”, there may be one, none, many – I don’t know, for sure. Of course there may be many, just as many children have their own Sims world, as farmers have their own farms and create new breeds. I don’t know, but I do know the arguably greatest, certainly best known, natural physicist ever had this to say: “I am not an atheist, and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist” and his more recent challenger for that title ended the book I read with “Only then will we know the will of God”, while Australia’s Paul Davies wrote in a regular column in the SA Advertiser/Sunday Mail, and I paraphrase from memory, that he knew no natural physicist who denied there was a God. Good enough for them to reject atheism, good enough for me.
          A wise judge of an Islam Religious Court explained it to me by pointing to Manado and Jakarta on a map and showing different methods of travel – boat, plane, road + boat/plane, different airline/bus/shipping companies, and different routes – and saying it was the destination that matters not the means. Islam, Christianity and Judaism have the same God as the basis of their faith – the “God of Abraham”. That they comprise the majority of mankind does not meant their monotheistic beliefs are true, but to reject them as impossible, along with every other belief in, or possibility of God(s), is a position I cannot understand being rationally arrived at.

        • whitelaughter says:

          [sigh] There is *one* God in Hinduism; the Supreme Being. That god is three(Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma); just as in Christianity and Taoism (the Taoist version being the Three Pure Ones – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Pure_Ones). The other Hindu ‘gods’ worship the Supreme Being.

          Claiming that God doesn’t exist because different peoples have described Him differently is absurd as a blind man claiming that the Moon can’t be real because the descriptions by sighted people are of different shapes.

      • Ian MacDougall says:

        LBL:
        “I’ve never understood how anyone can rationalise categorically denying the possibility of the existence of God(s).”
        Let us for the sake of discussion accept those stellar numbers.
        We must also accept the Bible; that the original people were Adam and Eve, and that God set up a temptation trap for them: the fruit which a talking snake persuaded Eve to pick off the tree and feed to Adam. And that all the misery and suffering since resulted from that. And the God, while being omniscient, never saw any of that coming. And made the rest of the Universe. And set up quantum mechanics and all the laws of nature.
        Sorry, but it’s a bit of a long stretch. But a probability slightly on the positive side of 0 is acceptable. Just.

  5. Ray50 says:

    We seem to be stuck on one aspect of a three-part process. Having had a Sorry Day, we now need a Forgiven Day and this followed by a Forgotten Day. In all of life, no “sorry” ever works without the other two. When one party says sorry, and the other party forgives, there is never the need for an annual anniversary of the “sorry”. To continually bring up the “sorry” means that there has not been forgiveness, without which there will never be reconciliation.

    • David Palmer says:

      Exactly, that was the problem with Mr Rudd’s apology. Where were the Aboriginal elders who were required to stand up and formally accept the apology so that we (Aboriginals and post 1788 Australians) could move on.
      Apology freely given requires forgiveness equally to be given and then accepted.
      I’m not at all sure these aboriginal ceremonies at the start of cultural events have anything to do with reconciliation at all.

      • Ray50 says:

        Indeed. Had we had some aboriginal elders, whose grievances may well be deep and very painful, stand that day and accept the apology and in turn offering forgiveness, we might have sensed that the apology was what was really wanted. And we would have had a real step towards healing. Alas, it was not to be and so perhaps the apology was not what was wanted after all? Hence the perplexity of so many of us who really, really want this wound – one in which we may not have been personally, directly complicit – to be healed.

    • Warty says:

      And then there is the teensy-weesy question about whether there ever was a stolen generation in the first place, or simply an appalling abuse of children who desperately needed to be rescued in the way they still do to this day.
      I just thought I’d mention the matter, in case it might be relevant to Rudd’s national apology.

    • Ian MacDougall says:

      Spot on.

  6. David Palmer says:

    I wonder what aboriginals think about all of this? Has there been a noticeable movement of Aboriginals into Melbourne Anglican churches?
    The Bible quote, as noted in the above comment is from 2 Corinthians 5:19 and is, Mr Heathcote, an accurate translation from the Greek.
    Romans 5:10 is also about reconciliation.
    However, Mr Heathcote does have a point.
    The context of both texts is about the reconciliation between God and man that results from the atoning death of Christ.
    If Biblical warrant is required for reconciliation at a human level, maybe the parables of the Prodigal Son or the Good Samaritan should be cited, or Matthew 5:24, “be reconciled to your brother” could be pressed into service. Citing 2 Corinthians 5:19 or Romans 5:10 is in effect devaluing the intent (and magnificence!) of both texts.

  7. Salome says:

    If there are any uncomfortable or disaffected Anglicans reading this, the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia offers old time religion–BCP language, decent hymns and, at its national pro-cathedral in Melbourne (on the corner of Kooyong Road and Jupiter Street in Caulfield South, even an important old Australian pipe organ. We’re small, poor (for example, the pro-cathedral is an old Methodist chapel-of-ease rented from the Uniting Church), but happy to be free of the nonsense written about above, as well as much more nonsense besides. Sunday services in South Caulfield are at 9.30 (Holy Communion without music), 10.30 (when Mattins is read) and 11.00 (Holy Communion with music). All welcome!

  8. Lacebug says:

    I would venture that no Anglican church in Australia is as politically correct as the one I was attending in Sydney. The minister was obsessed with Islam and Syria, insisting that both topics be dropped into every sermon, organising fund raisers to send himself and his boxing troupe to Syria, and holding frequent dinners where we could get together to break bread with local Muslims. It got that way that many people (myself included) left the church

    • LBLoveday says:

      I stopped going to OLSH Catholic Church in Randwick for a similar reason (10 years ago) – but in this case the obsession was with telling us what wonderful, peaceful people the African Muslims were. So may be the Balinese, the Inuits …. but it did not seem to me to be a topic suited to Mass, let alone a constant refrain.

      • Jody says:

        It sounds like they really DO want to do it the hard way!! Sorry, but I find that amusing. Clergy probably think they’re going to increase church numbers by being inclusive. That IS a hoot!! On the other hand, it’s entirely Christian to ‘love thy neighbour’ and I suspect that worship is really entirely about self-interest; preserving a place in the hereafter!!

  9. Tricone says:

    It never ceases to amaze me the number of sophisticates who will drone on mockingly forever about the illogicality of Christian belief and then go all warm and runny over some rainbow serpent mythology.

    • ianl says:

      Well, yes but saying that will not supply a “social licence” for you to keep drilling for geological information.

      Note also from the article that the opening liturgy in the Anglican Church of suburban Melbourne starts: “I acknowledge this church stands on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people … ”

      Yet the church lands and buildings are *not* subject to Native Title, courtesy of the unctuous hypocrisy of the High Court.

    • Warty says:

      Any religion, other than those that formed part of the backbone of Western Civilisation, will readily engender these ‘warm and runny’ feelings of virtue signalling. On the other hand they are also rather effective emetics.

    • Jody says:

      They do it because it’s easy and not because it’s hard (like faith). In short, a complete inversion of John Kennedy’s famous comment.

  10. Bill Martin says:

    The events detailed in this article are truly cringeworthy and nauseating. It is very disheartening that clergymen, supposedly intelligent, educated people could behave in such idiotic fashion. Their actions and utterances must be an embarrassment to fairminded Aborigines, rare as they might be. One can begrudgingly understand the virtue signalling of “progressive” social justice warriors but no such indulgence is due to men of the cloth. Apart from the utter inappropriateness of their behaviour, they could well be accused of “cultural appropriation” for displaying articles of a culture other than their own. That would be poetic justice.

  11. Jody says:

    For what it’s worth, this following 15 minutes of music is worth TEN TIMES AND exponentially MORE of anything currently on offer in any church. If you read music, so much the better. Below this link please read what Johannes Brahms said about this staggering work! (I feel sorry for people who don’t get it!!)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fu-9frVpssg

  12. Ian MacDougall says:

    All religions have their myths and legends. Moses parted the Red Sea; Christ walked on water and raised the dead; Mohammad rode off into the sky on a winged horse…

    Wars leave a gigantic paper trail. But there are no military records, parliamentary policy documents, or other evidential papers proving a war took place.

    There are wars and then there are wars.
    What is referred to above is regular, conventional warfare. Guerrilla warfare is irregular ‘anything goes’ stuff, and though there are manuals on it, paper trails may or may not be left in its wake. For a while there in 1942 it looked as if Australia might be occupied by the Japanese, and that there would have to be recourse to guerrilla warfare by locally-based irregular units.
    The Aborigines tried to defeat the European settler influx by what can only be described as irregular methods: surprise raids, hit and run; that sort of thing. They certainly had no intention of a continental ‘welcome to country’. Common European practice over the years between 1788 and about the 1890s was to raid Aboriginal camps, and to kill as many of the men as possible; young and old, leaving just women and children. The women became concubines and mistresses of settler men, often reluctantly. The result: today ‘fullblood’ Aborigines are found pretty well only above the Tropic of Capricorn. Everywhere south of that line those identifying as Aboriginal are almost completely of mixed-race ancestry.
    The formal ‘welcome to country’ is very sad in its own way. There is no way that the Aborigines could have carried on their traditional ways of life much beyond 1788. The French (La Perouse, d’Entrecasteaux) were cruising around looking, and possibly would have beaten the British in the race to colonise but for the eruption of the Icelandic volcano (Laki 1783) and the resultant food shortages that brought on the revolution of 1789. If not the French, then the Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Belgians, Germans, Arabs: there was no shortage of starters. But at the same time, no European asked Aboriginal permission to settle, change the ecology, clear the landscape, slaughter the wildlife and any Aboriginal man who offered resistance; which was a large number if not most of them.
    Today in the Australian bush there is a de facto apartheid. Whites and Blacks do not mix socially.

    • Jody says:

      I’m not sure what you are arguing since your opening line (exposition) had nothing to do with your argument and conclusion.

      • Warty says:

        My impression is, I may be mistaken, but the myth bit is being continued from ‘The Aborigines tried’ . . . to ‘Which was a large number if not most of them’. So to be fair to Ian, he is being consistent there, and a strong link to the main theme (‘myth’) is indeed being maintained.

        • Ian MacDougall says:

          The Aborigines tried to defeat the European settler influx by what can only be described as irregular methods: surprise raids, hit and run; that sort of thing. They certainly had no intention of a continental ‘welcome to country’. Common European practice over the years between 1788 and about the 1890s was to raid Aboriginal camps, and to kill as many of the men as possible; young and old, leaving just women and children. The women became concubines and mistresses of settler men, often reluctantly. The result: today ‘fullblood’ Aborigines are found pretty well only above the Tropic of Capricorn. Everywhere south of that line those identifying as Aboriginal are almost completely of mixed-race ancestry.

          So, Warty: what specifically is wrong with that?

      • Ian MacDougall says:

        You have hit the nail on the head, Jody. My comments always follow the classical sonata form of exposition, development, and recapitulation. This piece is headed ‘The Politically Correct Pulpit:’ the link between politics and religion. So I ‘exposed’ that right at the start.
        Then I developed the theme further, and I concluded with my own personal observation from where I live (in rural NSW) that “today in the Australian bush there is a de facto apartheid. Whites and Blacks do not mix socially.”
        If Jesus Christ were to somehow reappear today, I think he would weep over that reality, but at the same time understand it; him being omniscient and all.
        But let me emphasise. The apartheid comes from the Aborigines, who want nothing to do with white society.
        Noel Pearson has his critics, and most of them are Blacks.

        • Jody says:

          Noel is phenomenal! I can see why the Aborigines are critical; they don’t get it, which is why they still are where they are today.

          Your exposition, development and recapitulation must be from contemporary art music; perhaps John Cage’s “4.33″!!:-)

    • ArthurB says:

      Ian: your remarks about Aborigines may apply to some of the British colonies in Australia, but they do not apply to nineteenth century Western Australia. In all the reading of primary sources that I have done on the interaction between colonists and Aborigines, I have never seen any evidence at all to suggest that the Aborigines waged co-ordinated guerrilla warfare against the colonists, in the first 20 years or so there were sporadic episodes of violence between Aborigines and colonists, but the number of deaths is comparatively small. Also, I have never read of any raids by Europeans on Aboriginal camps in which male Aborigines were murdered and their womenfolk forced to become the concubines and mistresses of white settlers. I note that in the settled areas of Western Australia, full blood Aborigines had disappeared by the end of the 19th century. When you read the accounts of how the Aboriginal women were treated by their menfolk in tribal society, you can understand that the women preferred to cohabit with white men.

      • Ian MacDougall says:

        I note that in the settled areas of Western Australia, full blood Aborigines had disappeared by the end of the 19th century. When you read the accounts of how the Aboriginal women were treated by their menfolk in tribal society, you can understand that the women preferred to cohabit with white men.

        Did they ALL prefer that? Or is that yet another rationalisation to excuse reality?
        When the WA countryside was being ‘cleared’ of troublesome ‘Abos’ they were typically marched in lines chained together at the neck. All males. No females in the lines.
        It would appear that other (ahem) arrangements had already been made for those women. And the ones who went voluntarily would not have been the first women in history to seek shelter in the camp of the victorious enemy.

  13. Keith Kennelly says:

    It’s called ‘non-sequiturs ‘ Jody.

    Thank Toastmasters.

  14. Keith Kennelly says:

    Hi Bill

    It never ceases to amaze me that people think educated and idiotic behaviour are not compatible. I think it the norm.

    Take marriage for example.

    Voltaire said two relevant things about marriage.

    1. God invented sex. Priests invented marriage.
    2. Marriage is the only adventure ute available to cowards.

    I wonder why educated people require Givernments and/or priests to sanction their relationships.

    But then again I’m not formerly educated.

  15. Keith Kennelly says:

    Deliberate spelling mistake stake, as a little joke.

  16. Jody says:

    Here is another element of my ‘cross and garlic’ when it comes to politically correct pulpits – though I don’t agree with that last chord:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FiZc7kbrWw

  17. Keith Kennelly says:

    Your attempt at humour lacks the ‘ring of reason’

  18. whitelaughter says:

    In answer to what is the legend of the dot paintings – none, the dots are there *to*blot*out* the legend.

    Dot paintings, btw, are not ‘ancient Aboriginal art’, they were developed during the 1970s under the guidance of a white school teacher, Geoffrey Bardon: http://www.nma.gov.au/collections/highlights/papunya-collection