Archive for July, 2007|Monthly archive page

Inspirational Speech

In the midst of the large protests of J18, Seattle (N30), Washington (A16), Melbourne (S11), Prague (S26) , Ottawa (A20) and Genoa, the ‘anti-globalisation’ movement started it’s alternative annual meeting the World Social Forum.

Local and Regional Social Fora were encouraged and one has just happened in the US.

Michael Albert, who runs the Z magazine web site, has written a review containing the speech he wished had been given at the end of the US Social Forum. It’s quite long, but here’s an excerpt:

We are trying to win a new economy in which there are no classes. No one in the better world we seek will own workplaces, resources, or other people’s ability to do work. There will be no owners of Walmarts or Microsofts. There will be no private profits. There will be no wage slaves, working under the dictates of others. Further, no one will monopolize empowering conditions at work, as doctors, lawyers, engineers, and managers so typically do now, and on that account rule over those left only menial and obedient tasks. No one will earn inequitably whether from property, power, or output. No one will have more say over decisions than the fair share that we all are entitled to in accord with how much we are affected. There will be no top and no bottom of who decides what for whom. There will be no order giver and no order taker about production, allocation, or consumption. There will be no class responsible for decisions while another class is suppressed and responsible only to obey. We will all be elevated to use our fullest capacities and express our fullest desires, rather than most of us learning only to endure boredom and to obey orders showered down on us by the anointed masters of all that occurs. Our new economy will be classless, at last. Out with the old boss – and out with any new boss, too. We will enjoy a participatory economy, operating as one part of a participatory society.

But our project is not just about economics – we are not economistic. We realize that life is not working and consuming alone. For example…

Read the whole thing here.

Pine Gap Appeal

Just heard that the Christians Against All Terrorism have had papers served on them for an appeal.

The government is not happy with the fines handed down against the activists and is appealing, presumably to try and get prison sentences.

Follow their progress on their blog and get the word out to support them.
From their report of the initial sentencing:

Pine Gap Trial – SENTENCE Fri June 15th 2007

NO JAIL FOR PINE GAP FOUR

Four Christian pacifists are celebrating after being spared prison sentences in the Northern Territory Supreme Court today.

The Pine Gap Four, found guilty of breaching the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952, have been handed minor fines.

The public gallery erupted into song, applause, cheers and hugs and the feeling of victory and vindication was in the air.

Justice Sally Thomas noted their good behaviour and co-operation in the sentencing decision.

“All four were very genuine in the cause they sought to espouse,” said Justice Thomas, “however their actions – no matter for what cause – cannot justify the breaking of the law.”

Jim Dowling has been fined $1250, Bryan Law fined $1000, Donna Mulhearn fined $450 and Adele Goldie fined $550. They have also been asked to contribute $2500 each towards cost of fence repair.

Talisman Sabre Reports

Twenty-one people were arrested at the recent Talisman Sabre Military Exercises in Queensland and across the top of Australia.

Among those arrested were a group of five Christians, mainly from Melbourne, who walked onto the base and up to a runway, where they looked for soldiers to talk with.

Here are writings from three of them:

Simon Moyle was interviewed by RTR fm (Perth Community Radio) (3.5 mb) and Sonshine fm (Perth Christian Radio station (6 mb).

They will be having a fund raiser soon as they will need to travel back up to Rockhampton for court.

Others Actions

Activists were arrested for crossing the line and others stayed several days inside the base. I’m not sure if they were arrested. (Can anyone give me an update?)

Two people who locked on to a military vehicle will have mentions (a pretrial hearing) in the Rockhampton Magistrates Court on 13th July (in two days time). The rest will have mentions on 13th August.

For some background on Talisman Sabre have a look at this this overview by Dave Andrews where he also discusses what else the $130 million could have been be used for.

Ciaron O’Reilly in Melbourne

Ciaron O’Reilly could come to Melbourne for a week some time in the first three weeks of August if there is enough interest.

In his last three trips to Melbourne he’s spoken to every group I could find and now I’m out of ideas. So if you would like him to speak at your group, or know somewhere he could speak, contact me by leaving a comment.

Ciaron O’Reilly is a Catholic Worker who was part of the Pitstop Ploughshares who were recently acquitted for disarming a US War Plane in Ireland en route to Iraq on the eve of the War.

UPDATE: I’ve already had one positive response. A few more and he’ll be able to come down from Brisbane.

UPDATE 2: He’ll be in Melbourne late August.

Natimuk farmers market

From my recent survey of blogs I see that in the most interesting ones people relate personal details and stories of what they have been up to. So, much as I would like to just talk about politics and religion, I’ll mention what I did today in the desperate attempt to attract readers.

On the way back to Melbourne from a week in Adelaide we took a detour to look at the Little Desert National Park and ended up spending the night – last night – in Natimuk.

When we got up this morning a market was getting started and after talking to the locals we found that there is quite an artistic community around this town of 500 people. The nearby Mt Arapiles attracts rock climbers from all over of the world and many of them end up making Natimuk their permanent home. This fosters a more alternative community and hence the flourishing of the arts. There is even a recently opened art gallery (The Goat Gallery) – although they were between exhibits so all I could see through the window was a goat head mounted on one wall.

So we enjoyed their monthly farmers market (2nd Sunday of the month from 9am) sipping organic pear juice and fair trade coffee after a breakfast of egg and bacon sandwiches (the cup cakes were nice too). My partner discussed Australian painting with a local artist and my daughter found another little girl to play with.

If you would like to have a stall in the market be warned – they are hard core. No crafts, only produce; and you must have made/grown the produce yourself – no on-selling of others’ goods. Although, after our unrelenting questions the cake lady finally admitted that she purchased, rather than made, some of the decorations on her cup cakes. (In our defence against accusations of pedantry, we didn’t know about the policy until after we had asked her these questions.)

Now if that doesn’t increase my readership, I don’t know what will.

Best of the week in blogs

Having recently got into blogs, it’s just like 1991 all over again. Back then I subscribed to so many internet newsgroups that it would take half a day just to read them. Anyone out there remember aus.politics, aus.religion.christian, aus.cycling, aus.juggling? Or maybe alt.urban.folklore?

Now it’s the same with blogs. I’ve subscribed to too many. I’ve been away for a week, I come back and it takes me all night just to see what people have written. I’ll need to cull it, but at the moment I’m still adding. Only after spending a night of reading have I finally got around to posting something.

Here are the highlights of what I’ve read:

Paul Teusner has written a paper on the blogs of the emerging church in Australia. I’m glad I’ve found this so soon after starting this blog. Obviously, I was about to write my blog in completely the wrong way. Now I can copy the best of the emerging church style and ensure success! I look forward to reading further.

For a first hand account of what the Howard’s recent Aboriginal policy means, talk to an Aboriginal person. If you can’t do that then have a look at Lisa Hall’s recent posts [1] [2] [3] [4] – she’s spent the last five years living in a remote Aboriginal community and has a bit to say about what the Federal Government is up to.
Lisa’s post ends with “No these problems are not new. This is no Hurricane Katrina! This is the 200 year drought!” I think Lisa is doing what those at HOTHhacker call for when they talk of Howard’s use of ‘Hurricane Katrina’ as:

a classic case study in the kind of war of myths that Ched Myers identifies when reading the gospel of Mark. He also advocates the need for the discipleship task of interpreting of the times. In other words, first see the war of myths in the text and then see a contemporary version of the same war in our time, and interpret them against the grand narrative we know as the Way of God.

The intervention debate (as presented by our media ‘scribes’) is not exactly a war of myths between the gospel and the guvment of oz, but it does require disciples to step up and re-frame the myths in order to expose the demonic within the position of the powerful, and to defend the powerless and liberate them from being possessed by the dominant myth.

On [ hold :: this space ] (try typing that when tired) I see that Cath and Joel are one of the winners of The Age Green Challenge.

And finally, there are just too many posts about Operation Talisman Sabre, so I’ll have to mention them some other time.

The focus of SiCKO

Democracy Now reporting on Michael Moore’s film SiCKO:

It focuses not on the more than 40 million people who don’t have healthcare but on the 250 million who do – many of whom are abandoned by the very health insurance industry they paid into for decades.

What a stoke of genius. Instead of making a film about how bad the health care system treats poor people (those without health insurance), make it about the middle class who would generally have insurance.

Instead of middle class viewers thinking, ‘Isn’t that terrible what happens to poor people’, they will think, ‘Aargh! That could happen to me.’ That’s the way to change things.

However, my partner reckons, ‘They’ll fix the system for the middle class and the poor will still get nothing!’

Stopping War

Ciaron O’Reilly writes about those maintaining a vigil outside the Enoggera Military Base in Brisbane.

…We feel if everybody in Australia who seriously oppose this war made their opposition visible by holding vigil for an hour each week – at a military base, outside a government building, on their campus or in their community – this would have quite an impact on waking our society from its slumber. A society that is largely sleeping through this war as these young men and women at Enoggera are being prepared for deployment.

Here are some pictures of the vigil.

Original Sin

OK, now for an article that really annoyed me in my recent journey through blogs linked to people I know.

In the Alternatives to Empire blog, our attention is rightly drawn to the construction of a new US base in Geralton, WA (where the US will control two military satellites). But it is done in such an annoying way:

Most Americans know nothing about Geraldton, just as they know nothing about other Australian sites such as the U.S. submarine communications base at North Cape or the U.S. missile-tracking center at Pine Gap.

And just as you seem to know nothing about Geraldton’s existing intelligence station that records all of our international phone calls, faxes and email that travel over INTELSAT and COMSAT.

But there is growing concern Down Under that Prime Minster John Howard’s conservative government is weaving a network of alliances and U.S. bases that may one day put Australians in harm’s way. According to Australian Defense Force Academy Visiting Fellow Philip Dorling, once the Geraldton base is up and running, it will be almost impossible for Australia to be fully neutral or stand back from any war in which the United States was involved.

Indeed, that may already be the case.

May one day?!??
May already be the case!??!!

Ever heard of Iraq? Afghanistan? The Gulf War? Vietnam?

This way of describing new developments really annoys me. Pine Gap already puts Australia in this situation. We’ve been in it for decades.

A negative development does not require us to paint the current or recent situation as ideal.

There is no pristine innocence that is about to be lost! Australia is already fallen. Where is the doctrine of Original Sin when you need it?

BTW, Alternatives to Empire has a link to the rest of the article, which is worth a look.

Contextualisation

In my journey through blogs of acquaintances, and blogs of friends of acquaintances there was the occasional post that stood out. Some I liked and some were infuriating.

Let’s start with one of the good ones:

Blair Cameron at Bacchus Marsh Uniting writes of the congregations taking Luke’s gospel story of the woman anointing Jesus’ feet and replacing the characters with contemporary figures. With more than one congregation, there was more than one set of substitutions.

This can be a powerful way of relating the bible text to today, making bizarre biblical behaviour understandable.

It raises the question: along which lines do you draw the parallels from Jesus’ time to today? For example is a Pharisee the political leader (as one congregation would have it), the business tycoon (according to the other one) or someone else?