Saturday, May 26, 2012

Newtown Parish Used to Launch Homophobic Atack

One of the downsides of living in the  northeast State of Queensland is its new politics. Another longer tradition is the experience of being left out of so called "National Tours" by celebrities. It seems that religious celebrities also miss out on the opportunity to "grace our State". The most recent example of this is the Australian Tour of Michael Voris.

Now I imagine that many readers of this blog will be scrambling to their  search engines as this is the first time I have mentioned Michael on this blog. To save you the trouble here is the all slick man himself in full flight as he launches into a tirade of homophobia outside the Parish Church of St Joseph's in Newtown,NSW.

It may not surprise readers to notice that the video clip has disabled comments. I guess Mr Voris is not keen on dialogue and conversation. A simple web search shows that the Friday evening Mass at St Joseph's is not advertised as a "Gay Mass'.

Full marks to Peter Maher, the pastor at St Joseph's who has posted a response to this video presentation. Peter makes a solid case for pastoral inclusion rather than the subtle homophobic dismissal of Michael Voris.

Mt Voris likes to add his STB to his credits,however it turns out that the  triple acronym is just a fancy undergrad  degree in Theology. When it comes to  the issue of the Church and sexuality I think I would place more cred on Peter's pastoral experience and community recognition of his professional practice.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Year of Grace Begins With Sorry

The Year of Grace is being launched this weekend in Catholic Churches throughout Australia.It is obvious that a decent budget has been set aside to promote this program of renewal which is pitched at "all" rather than many Catholics.

The online resources have been designed with social networking practices in mind. Comments and stories are welcome to various segments. However the audience to date seems to be a passive congregation. The "Knowing Jesus" video has had more than 1500 views so far but no one is taking up the invitation to respond with their favourite image of Jesus.

In my home Archdiocese of Brisbane there are opportunities to share stories of grace-full experiences. Some have already begun to contribute to this site.

The Year of Grace program begins at the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and the beginning  of National Reconciliation Week. I suggest the Australian Bishops have missed a perfect opportunity to "roll the wagons out into new territory"  with the  lack of any reference to these significant dates coinciding with the Feast of Pentecost.

This post is being written on the eve of Pentecost which this year falls on  Sorry Day.  So here is  the "quote for the day" from the Australian Catholic Bishops:

In a spirit of sorrow and forgiveness, we, the Catholic Bishops of Australia wish to record our commitment to continue the healing process for the benefit of victims of the unjust policies of the past, to support the just needs of indigenous people today and to contribute to the quest for national reconciliation. It is our prayerful hope that this commitment will help our nation grow in unity and live as one people with dignity and in peace.

I suggest the image we should all be reflecting on as we begin this journey of grace is  from  my artist friend Tony Albert:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Music Unity and Spirituality

There are times when religious and community calendars intersect to inspire and challenge us.We have such a coincidence this week.  From 18-27 May in Brisbane we  celebrate Cathedrals' Week with concerts and performances at our city Churches.  This week is also the launch of  Making Music Being Well. between May 21-27 and across the nation we are invited to join the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Brisbane is home to two wonderful Cathedral buildings with diverse styles and vibrant communities. My home Cathedral of St Stephen sits at one end of a popular city thoroughfare which runs from Central Station to Elizabeth Street. It's art work is among some of the best contemporary religious work in Australia and  the  surrounds are among Brisbane's most popular green spaces for city workers. You can view the google images of the Cathedral here One of the more bizarre moments in its recent history is an incident of a taxi driver who.managed to attempt a decent down the steps of the Francis Rush Centre in the Cathedral grounds.

At the "top end" of Brisbane is St John's Anglican Cathedral. The wikipedia entry for St John's notes that there is still work to be completed o this magnificent building including the installation of 29 life size statues on the west front and a set of cloisters on the north side of the Cathedral.Among the Cathedral's claims to fame is its organ However it doesn't seem to have a name as does the one at St Stephen's

So in tandem with great choral and classical works during Cathedral Week, there is also an opportunity to  celebrate the role of music in life by participating in the opportunities provided during Music Making for Well Being.

Music was one of the gifts my parents introduced me to in our family home. Before the TV set arrived in the lounge, we had a radiogram  and many hours were spent listening to my father's record collection of big bands, musicals and crooners. Each generation sings a new song and I discovered the protest music of the 1960s, particularly the songs and anthems of Pete Seeger. My life was changed by the music of this era and ever since I have sung the songs of freedom and justice that tell of our work to bring "wellness" to the most vulnerable in our midst.

The  Week of Prayer for Christian Unity  is not just a National event. It is also promoted by the Vatican Pontifical Commission for Promoting Christian Unity. The resources offered from the Vatican have been prepared jointly with the Commission for Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches. Perhaps it is indicative of the diversity of the Churches that the week is celebrated in different times in each hemisphere. As the Vatican resource points out:

"The traditional period in the northern hemisphere for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is 18-25 January. Those dates were proposed in 1908 by Paul Wattson to cover the days between the feasts of St Peter and St Paul, and therefore have a symbolic significance. In the southern hemisphere where January is a vacation time churches often find other days to celebrate the week of prayer, for example around Pentecost (suggested by the Faith and Order movement in 1926), which is also a symbolic date for the unity of the church".

Poland is the focus for reflection on the ecumenical movement this year and I was impressed if not surprised to see that two women were among those who prepared the worship resources. You can also access the sheet music from these resources on this site.

So what song will I chose to bring these diverse themes together for this amazing week?  I go back to the song that Pete Seeger made famous and was sung by a new generation for his 90th Birthday celebrations in 2009. We Shall Overcome is not a "soft folky song". It is an anthem of conviction that we aere gifted with amazing grace to overcome our divisions of race creed, sexuality, prejudice and fear to bring about the unity and well being that these three gatherings call us to build.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

An Online Limerick for a Bishop

We have an Archbishop called Mark
Who wants to give the Church spark
Wide is his girth
And jolly his mirth
But who listens when he says: "Hark"?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Occupy Faith members announce a new pilgrimage to Canterbury

A group of faith leaders announced on 8 May in London's St. Paul's Cathedral that a new pilgrimage to Canterbury is planned for this summer to protest unjust economic systems in the 21st century.

The group, called Occupy Faith, met at St. Paul's with the permission of cathedral authorities, in contrast to last year's four-month clash between clergy and protestors outside the cathedral. The 62-mile Occupy Faith Pilgrimage will start at St. Paul's on 7 June and end on 20 June at Canterbury Cathedral, site of Archbishop Thomas Becket's 1170 assassination and a pilgrimage site ever since.

Members of the Anglican, Catholic, United Reform, Quaker and Methodist churches will be walking alongside members of the Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Buddhist faiths. Pilgrims will stay in churches or camp on open land, Occupy Faith said.

The Rev. Paul Nicholson, chair of the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, an ecumenical charity campaigning against poverty in the U.K., said: "Any Columbian drug baron can put laundered money into London property while Londoners are squeezed out of their homes into uncertainty, debt and who knows where. We want that to stop."

Varinder Singh from the Sikh Turban Campaign, commented: "People of faith have always played a vital part in bringing social change – whether it was campaigning to end slavery or apartheid – or helping the poor and the sick. "We believe that faith groups are a progressive force for change and are instrumental in highlighting the economic and social inequalities that exist today. We hope that all communities will support this initiative."

The Rev. Kevin Snyman from the United Reform Church in Wales said he felt there was also a strong spiritual dimension in the pilgrimage. "We are at a very exciting stage in history. I believe we are in a spiritual battle at the moment ... Politicians come to power with good intentions but they cave in. What we are doing here is shining the light of prayer on the injustices taking place in the world."

How will we join this act in solidarity from June 7-June 20?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Walter Wink RIP

Walter Wink might sound like the name of a Disney character to many Australians  and perhaps other readers. However this extraordinary man of faith was one of my online mentors. His writings and witness to non-violent living and  a contemporary reading of  the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures  have been some of the cornerstone material of my own reflection and choices.

I offer this post as a tribute to his recent passing and an introduction for my friends to his witness and writings that we may continue the work God began in him.

The Wikipedia entry now carries the date of Wink's death on May 10 2012 and uses a famous image of Wink preaching at the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

Online Writings
Beyond Just War and Pacifism: Jesus Nonviolent Way
The Third Way
Homosexuality and the Bible
Easter What Happened to Jesus
Walter Wink Quotes
Theology and Ethics Web Resources for Wink
Prayer and the Powers (doc)
Response to Luke Timothy Johnson's The Real Jesus


Walter Wink: Nonviolence for the Violent

Walter Wink's explanation of the "Third Way" of Jesus. By illustrating "turn the other cheek", "offer your coat as well", and "go the second mile" with lively demonstrations, Dr. Wink puts "Do not resist evil" into a vibrant historical context with practical applications today at the Spiritual Pilgrimages of Peacemaking retreat in Princeton, New Jersey. 

Wink and the Occupy Movement
The Powers That Be: Theology For a New Millennium
A fellow Texan remembers Walter Wink

Remembering Walter Wink: Ethical Thought behind Non-Violence

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Huffington Post Biblical quiz

Editor's Note: Quiz provided courtesy of HuffPost blogger Timothy Beal, author of "Biblical Literacy: The Essential Bible Stories Everyone Needs To Know."
The Bible is everywhere. It pervades our culture, from Mozart and Mary Shelley to Neko Case and the Coen brothers. It pervades our political discourse, from environmental policy and immigration reform to healthcare and social security. Marge Simpson quotes it all the time. So does President Obama, and so does any other politician who knows better.
If you’re not hearing its resonances, you’re missing a lot of the conversation. But neither are you alone.
In fact, recent polls indicate that biblical literacy is at an all-time low –- even among Bible believing evangelicals. Whether you’re religious, non-religious, or anti-religious, it’s time for Americans to gird their loins (and Aussies to grab the budgie smugglers) and get to know the Bible. Here’s a fun little pop quiz to get you started. How many of these Bible basics do you already know?

Friday, May 04, 2012

How to Enthrone an Archbishop

Well here in sunny Brisvegas many (not all) of the Catholic population turned up for one of those religious spectaculars,the enthronement of a new Archbishop. The last show was in 1989 with John Alexis Bathersby. These ceremonies are a cross between the Melbourne Cup and the Grand Final with better dress codes and lots more music.

According to the web site of the Archdiocese of Brisbane our new man on the chair, Mark Coleridge was "installed" rather then enthroned.

I must admit to being a bit peeved at not receiving an invite to join the  festivities. It seems that due to physical constraints af the cathedral  priority seating will be offered to church leaders, civic dignitaries, Archbishop Coleridge’s family and friends, clergy, religious, parish and school representatives. I wonder why those of us who have online relationships with the Archdiocese are not included. My last google search for  "Tony Robertson Archdiocese of Brisbane" loaded 362,00 results!! The images results from this search are even more fascinating. You would expect so much cyber commitment would be acknowledged by the new media savvy Archbishop. (Check out his material on a youtube search here)

While you are watching the webcast keep your eyes peeled as the Aussie Bishops parade pass the camera to check if invites were sent to  Bishop Bill Morris and Bishop Geoff Robinson. It's quite a long viewing so you need to pack a picnic lunch if you plan to watch it all in one sitting. The quality is very poor on large screen however I expect the DVD that will soon be available will allow for more "celeb" spotting both on and off the sanctuary.

The dignitaries had front row seats and the usual suspects from Government House to Parliament House sat across the aisle from the Church and Faith representatives. Conspicuous by his absence was Graham Quirk, Lord Mayor of Brisbane who seems to be occupied with the Tent Embassy at Musgrave Park these days. One of the "quirky" elements of the Liturgy was the use of the Roman Canon. During this prayer the intercession of the saints concludes with Anastasia, which by coincidence happens to be the name of the Honorable Leader of the Opposition in the Queensland Parliament , Annastacia PalaszczukI do hope the poor Premier of Queensland did not feel left out by the absence of St Campbell!!!

Meanwhile over in "Secularland" the first  popular report of the installation betrays the garish lack of literacy among the new breed of journalists. Writing in the Brisbane Times Amy Remeikis manages to laicize both Mark Coleridge and John Bathersby. Now this may seem a moot point to the Dawkinites however it is also sloppy journalism not to know the correct titles of ecclesiastical leaders. I was  flummoxed to read that Amy has a previous life as a "Native Speaking English Teacher".

The Archbishop Emeritus was popularly known by his personal acronym ABJB which had a  nice youthy ring to it when chanted by large groups of WYD acronym practitioners. The new man in town lends himself to be tagged like our beloved 'aunty" ABC or perhaps he will adopt the ABMC which makes him sound like the compere of Archdiocesan events. Given his middle name of Mark Benedict Coleridge he could go around town as ABMBC which may be a bit of a mouthful for some proclaimers Of course  the "inbetween" Apostolic Administrator wasn't really around for long enough to collect any followers in the Archdiocese  although I imagine he will get a listing in some of the historical chronologies of the See.

As well as the  webcast  of the installation you can see our new Archbishop in Liturgical Movement here back in 2008. I wonder if he will bring some of this classy code to Brisbane?

An Online Limerick for a Bishop

We have an Archbishop called Mark
Who wants to give the Church spark
Wide is his girth
And jolly his mirth
But who listens when he says: "Hark"?