Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Funny Thing About Religion

My Facebook wall is usually a serious place with political commentary and invitations to events with a focus on social justice and community participation. However, when I noticed this cartoon on a friend's page I found myself guffawing loudly.  It's a bit of a hit now with up to 15,000 likes and 7,000 shares. ( If you don't do facebook check here for like and here for share)

The line from the cartoon is immortalised with a classic comeback in Forrest Gump:

I was not too surprised to find  feedback on the Facebook page which  considered the cartoon disrespectful. Some of the comments echoed the famous 1979 BBC debate about The Life of Brian which centred on whether or not the content ridiculed religion.

Humour and Religion is a recent publication with the very serious price of  $120 that explores some of the challenges and ambiguities of this often contentious partnership. Whenever people get serious about humour you will usually find something to tickle your funny bone. In this work for example most of the writers are from Northern Europe. To my surprise there is  not  one Irish writer among them. To my delight  there is an Aussie in the group!!! Coming down the home front with Chapter 14  The Fool and the Path to Spiritual Insight is Jessica Milner Davis from the University of Sydney.

Back in 2003, Jessica was one of a panel of guests on ABC Compass Between Laughter and Tears. In this program Geraldine Doogue explored" the liaison between theology and humour and how they might work together to explain the human condition". Jessica concluded the program by saying:  "...we realise that spirit has a role to play in the direction of human affairs and that spirit cannot be limited by the human judgment that this is serious and therefore is to be higher up and this is not serious and therefore is to be placed further down. That spirit will transcend all human judgements like that and therefore must embrace laughter along with tears."

‘The Significance of Islam in Modern Europe’

The Centre for the Study of Contemporary Muslim Societies at the University of Western Sydney invites you to attend the second in its 2012 Public Lecture Series:

‘The Significance of Islam in Modern Europe’
Speaker:  Professor Grace Davie, University of Exeter, UK

Date: Wednesday 14 March, 2012
Time: 13:30-15:00
Venue: UWS Bankstown Campus Building 1 Level 1 Room 119

Afternoon tea will served. Please RSVP to e.garcia@uws.edu.au by Friday 9 March.
There are now sizeable Muslim communities in many European societies.  Their presence is a major topic of public debate, often for the wrong reasons.  This paper considers the disquiet that lies behind these not very well-informed commentaries; it then places the discussion in a broader perspective.  Several factors must be taken into account if we are to understand the significance of religion in modern Europe and the place of Islam within this.  They include cultural heritage; vicarious religion (the old model); a shift from obligation to consumption (the new model); new arrivals (including Muslims); secular reactions; and a rapidly changing global context.  Each of these factors will be taken in turn.

Grace Davie is professor emeritus in the Sociology of Religion in the University of Exeter.  She is a past-president of the American Association for the Sociology of Religion (2003) and of the Research Committee 22 (Sociology of Religion) of the International Sociological Association (2002-06).  In 2000-01 she was the Kerstin-Hesselgren Professor in the University of Uppsala, where she returned for the 2006-07 academic session and again in 2010.  In January 2008, she received an honorary degree from Uppsala.

In addition to numerous chapters and articles, she is the author of Religion in Britain since 1945 (Blackwell 1994), Religion in Modern Europe (OUP 2000), Europe: the Exceptional Case (DLT 2002) and The Sociology of Religion(Sage 2007); she co-author of Religious America, Secular Europe (Ashgate 2008), and co-editor of Predicting Religion (Ashgate 2003) and Welfare and Religion in 21st Century Europe (2 vols) (Ashgate 2010 and 2011). 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Daring to be Family Conference Adelaide 2012

Uniting Network Australia is the national network for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people, their families, friends and supporters within the Uniting Church in Australia.  We proudly participate in helping the Church wrestle with issues of faith, sexuality and membership and work for greater inclusivity within the Church.  Find us on Facebook!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Essential Reading re Bishop Bill Morris

This post got an honorable mention in the CathNews Blogwatch  recently.

One bishop that Incognita hesitates to defend is Bishop Bill Morris. Holy Irritant does not venture into analysis, but in a weekend post titled “Essential Reading re Bishop Bill Morris”, he does provide some useful links, including an after the fact canonical reflection by canon lawyer Father Ian Waters. 

I originally published this post as act an of solidarity with Bishop Bill Morris and those who have supported his claim of unjust treatment. I hope readers will examine  the analysis of these documents in the articles from Frank Brennan, Andrew Hamilton and Mick Kelly. They provide  informed and theologically sound reading which is more than I could say of the dismissive ramblings of the  bog at Australia Incognito. I notice that this blogger shows a preference for the northern hemisphere rather than her home territory in her reference to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.I wonder if this an attempt to be "more Catholic than the Pope"?

The Memorandum of  Hon W J Carter QC
A clear and detailed examination of the events which show that Bishop Morris was denied procedural fairness and natural justice. ABC Radio National Interview Vatican denies Natural Justice

Canonical reflection by  Rev Ian Waters JCD PhD
 In accordance with Canon 19, the Holy See, departing from the earlier precedents for the removal of Australian bishops, could have designed a process similar to the process for removal of a parish priest, thereby according procedural fairness and natural justice consistent with the Code of Canon Law.  This was not done.  I respectfully concur with Mr Carter’s conclusion that “Bishop Morris has been denied procedural fairness and natural justice.

Inquisition's heavy hand remains ready to strike is an opinion piece published by on February 2 2012. It attracted 137 comments.

Pope 'wrong' in sacking Queensland bishop is a commentary by journalist Barney Zwartz. to which Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne offered this gem of episcopal spin:
Pope did not err

Your report ''Pope broke canon law dismissing bishop, say experts'' (February 2) regarding the removal of Bishop William Morris of Toowoomba is unfair and inaccurate.
In fact, the Holy See conducted a pastoral process of dialogue with Bishop Morris over 11 years involving senior officials of three offices of the Roman Curia, a number of meetings in Rome and a personal meeting with Pope Benedict. An archbishop of another diocese from overseas appointed by the Holy See to investigate the matter has stated that he did discuss the contents of his report with Bishop Morris while he was in Toowoomba.
In the Catholic Church, because the Pope is the Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the Universal Church, he has final power throughout the Church and can freely exercise it. This includes the appointment, transfer and removal of bishops.
Father Waters is misrepresented by the statement that the Pope has breached Canon Law and exceeded his authority.
In the final analysis, the Pope always has freedom to act for the good of the Church in the appointment and removal of bishops.
Most Reverend Denis Hart Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne

Read Bishop Bill's response and my commentary here

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/letters/more-focus-is-needed-on-unwitting-victims-20120203-1qy66.html#ixzz1lOop8iQF

Commentaries in response to these documents

For Catholic Christians who see the papacy as a crucial part of Christ's church the memorandum is also disturbing. In Catholic faith the Pope plays the same part as Peter in strengthening the faith of the brethren. Pope Benedict said that, when dismissing bishops popes are not bound by process. But the report shows that beneath this apparent absence of process in fact lay an unfair process that damaged the reputation of a good man.

For over a hundred years, civil society has seen the point of due process and protecting human beings’ natural rights. Officially the Church doesn’t recognise them and Bishop Morris is only one case of the Church’s failure to recognise them.
Until the Church does recognise them, all the carry on about social justice will sound as hollow as promises to do something about sexual abuse without a protocol for professional standards doesMichael Kelly SJ

Just because there is no legal remedy, that is no reason for the people of God not to reflect acutely on their treatment of each other in God's name. Respectful dialogue with Toowoomba's church leaders would be a good start
Frank Brennan SJ

February 15 Update: Respected religious journalist Stephen Crittenden has just published a brilliant expose : "The Inside Story of How Romes Ousted A Bold Bush Bishop"

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wisdom from Jean Vanier

An Insight from Jung
Carl Jung in one of his letters says this: I find you Christians a very good people. When you see somebody in prison, you see Jesus. When you see somebody hungry, you give him food and see Jesus. When you see someone naked, you see Jesus. But what I don't understand is why you don't see Jesus in your own poverty. Why is it that you see him in the poor that are outside of you but you don't in the poor one that is inside of you?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Research Project into Interfaith Spirituality and Young People

Vivienne Benton is  a PhD research student looking at spirituality and youth, and  hoping to enlist the help of some volunteers from Interfaith backgrounds to participate in her project. 

Participation would include answering an online questionnaire, being interviewed about your faith and other aspects of the world you see around you, and possibly participating in a public event the researcher and participants  would design together.

The study would begin in March 2012 and would require the time you take to complete the questionnaire, an hour interview and then a design phase for the event which should be covered in a workshop of 3 hours and 2 rehearsals of approximately an hour each. 

Viv is looking for volunteers in the 15 to 25 age group, perhaps a little older. She  believes this is an important study, and  would be most appreciative of your assistance. Please contact Viv via the details below:

Vivienne Benton
PhD Scholar
School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics
University of Queensland St Lucia
Brisbane Queensland

phone:03 9752 1089
mobile: 0409 438 718

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Your Brisbane: Past and Present: Holy Name Cathedral site

There are quite a number of Brisbane Bloggers recording life and history of this great city I have adopted as my home.  This post provides a snapshot of  Catholic history in Brisbane in the Duhig era

.Your Brisbane: Past and Present: Holy Name Cathedral site

The sale of Duhig's dream cathedral site proved a financial coup for the Archdiocese and in 1989 the renovated Cathedral of St Stephen re-opened to reveal one of Australia's most innovative interpretation of restoration.

In the meanwhile the Australian Bishops have improved their financial acumen. They have managed to rebuild regional Cathedrals in  Parramatta and Bunbury as well as completing major Cathedrals in Sydney and Perth,. Not so sure that Duhig would get too excited about the nice piece of real estate in Rome

Monday, January 09, 2012

Streetwise: a U2charist

a U2charist with Peter B & friends

St Andrews Anglican Church South Brisbane
Sat 21 Jan 2012 ... 7pm

A U2Charist' (also spelled eU2charist or U2 Eucharist) is a communion service, or Eucharist, accompanied by U2 songs in lieu of traditional hymns and sometimes as part or all of the service music. The music can be played from a CD or, in less common cases, performed by a live band.

The U2charist was initially started in the U.S. Episcopal Church but has been adapted by several other denominations. It is typically a liturgical service (including communion) that features the music of the rock band U2 and a message about God's call to rally around the Millennium Development Goals. The U2charist is held by supporters to be a great opportunity to reach out to people in their congregations and larger communities, especially young people, with messages of global reconciliation and justice for the poor and oppressed. Bono, U2's lead singer, has been a particularly vocal proponent of the Millennium Development Goals, and has been proclaimed as a global MDG ambassador. The U2charist seeks to raise awareness of the MDGs and call people worldwide to a deeper faith and engagement with God's mission. (Read more here)

Streetwise is a musical, narrative and spiritual stirring out of the posture of terra nullius, which occupies our silences about who we are, how we got here, where we live, and what we do here in Brisbane. As Australia Day approaches, Peter B & friends bring the music of U2 into contact with the lives and movements of all who gather at St Andrews Anglican Church on Saturday evening on the 21st January, 2012.

A local post-modern take on the age-old eucharist, The Streetwise way to St Andrews in January reveals one of the creation narratives of Brisbane city. From Brisbane City Hall, cross the Victoria Bridge. Pass the Art Gallery, up Melbourne St, and be sure to use Merivale St and Vulture St.

Come on a journey with us and you may travel these streets the same way again. This one is for U2 fans, lovers of local history, and those who still haven't found what they're looking for.