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THE GREAT

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Election 2015

Passionately Moderate MLC Candidate, Ramsay Nuthall gives a voice to people of every faith and none to stand against the forces of fear based hatred; bigotry and hysteria that threaten to tear our nation apart in this age of competing extremes...

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If Religion is the problem, What is the solution?

“(Religion) has two faces: one the face of truth, the other the face deception” - Arthur Schopenhauser “There are some forms of religion that are bad, just as there’s bad cooking or bad art or bad sex, you have bad religion too!" - Karen Armstrong

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Moderates ChallengeListen to Mother

“Australia is the most successful multi-cultural society on earth” - Malcolm Turnbull With both passion and moderation, this will still be true in 100 years

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The Aboriginal Gift to our Nation.

Our Aboriginal people have lived in biological and spiritual unity with this great land of ours since time immemorial. Deep in the indigenous soul is a gift for us all: a gift that can help us be reconciled to each other and live in peace.

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Edge of the Church: Centre of Town

 

As Australians, we have a deep connection with ministry to young offenders – going back to the arrival of the First fleet.  On Sunday 3rd February 1788, the first Christian church service in the Colony of New South Wales was conducted by Anglican Chaplain Richard Johnson in the presence of Governor Phillip, officials, marines, servants, wives and children and more than 750 convicts – as well as one stow away!

 

The youngest male was nine-year-old chimney sweep John Hudson - transported for stealing clothes and a pistol and the youngest female was thirteen-year-old clog maker Elizabeth Hayward - transported for stealing a linen dress and silk bonnet. Hard times for these youngsters and their elders who were left to the merciless attitudes of the times so uncomfortably carved on the Australian soul in the image of ‘The Flogging Parson’, chaplain and magistrate, our very own Rev’d. Samuel Marsden.

 

Both Johnson and Marsden were at the centre of both Church and Civic life, yet the present day chaplain often feels, and is often regarded as being ‘on the edge’ of the Church. This of course is not an all bad place to be, for as the 20th Century American author, Kurt Vonnegut wrote; 

 

“I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the centre”.

 

It is, however, on more than one occasion that I (and I dare say my fellow chaplains to the incarcerated) have experienced the feeling that those close to the centre think that we really have little to offer in terms of perspectives on the present life and sad predicament of the church, an attitude that I would like to challenge.  

 

With probably close to 160,000 convicts arriving on our shores between 1788 and 1850, it is fair to suggest that the descendants of these ‘foundational’ Australians (a lot of us) hold many of the attitudes regarding the church which may well be the legacy of the Rev’d. Samuel Marsden et al. As chaplains to our ‘present day convicts’, it could be fairly argued that we may have a clearer view of and connection with the wellsprings of the Australian spirituality than many.

 

One writer was both sufficiently unkind and truthful to write of Marsden;

 

His “zeal for sniffing out sinners and his harshness as a magistrate (led) the convict population … to observe among themselves that:

" He sentences the prisoner on Saturday, admonishes him from the pulpit on Sunday, and flogs him on Monday; the Lord have mercy on you, for his Reverence will have none".  

 

I believe that then, as now, our Australian soul resonates with the sentiments of Thomas Aquinas –

“Through compassion, human beings imitate God. In every work of God, viewed at its primary source, there appears compassion.”

Our love of the Gallipoli image of the humble and courageous acts of Simpson and his donkey gives credence to this. 

 

No pomp: just hands on, no nonsense compassionate works that highlights the true faith of and in Jesus as Lord and personal ‘salvager’.  

 

Australians remain suspicious of authority that insists on itself and wields power that seems not to ‘up-lift’ those who may be called the ‘least, the last and the lost’: thus our national commitment to the concept of ‘a fair go’! , One sees this more clearly from the edge! 

 

Offenders, young and old, and we Australians in general, so often hold a profound grief for justice in our heart: expressed as cynicism for the ‘Sin sniffing, flogging parsons of the world’. Are we a Church of ‘sin sniffing, flogging parsons’? 

 

Sadly, those in the wider community would often say yes! 

Rightly or wrongly, that is the perception: and has been since 1788.

 

What then, do we do to change this negative perception? Seek the wisdom of those at the ‘centre’?

The old problem, five people, fifteen opinions!

 

Or do we listen for the unheard voices from the ‘edge’ of the Church, from the centre of town? They are very hard to hear and say the silliest things: silly things like:


“ Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteous like an everlasting stream.” (Amos 5: 23-24). 

 

Hafiz – The Persian Sufi Poet (c. 1320 -1389) wrote:

 

Love wants to reach out and manhandle us, 

Break all our teacup talk of God …

The Beloved sometimes wants 

To do us a great favor:

Hold us upside down

And shake all the nonsense out.

But when we hear He is in such a "playful drunken mood" 

Most everyone I know 

Quickly packs their bags and hightails it Out of town.


 

The call to the Church from the edge, from the Australian soul and from all who crave the love and compassion of Christ is surely this;  ‘shake all the nonsense out and hightail it back to town’ where the action is and Live.

Live the compassionate Gospel of Jesus in the centre of a town full of suffering humanity seeking ‘the way, the truth and the life’. This is the call to ‘deep change – deep transformation – deep resurrection’.


No one, of any faith or none, could possibly object to this!