Monthly Archives: October 2010

The inspiring story of Pete Eckert

Pete Eckert is a blind photographer—yes, you read that correctly. His story inspires awe in me; read it here.

Here are two of his images:



See more of his work here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, film

Reaping what you sow

From The Drum on ABC News, regarding town meetings that are producing far more heat than light in this land of Oz. What should the churches be saying and doing?

We seem to be reaping what our political process has sown here, a process that has pushed the hard calls to one side while actively nurturing the division and anger as a potent political fuel.

In the absence of hard decisions we’ve grown a culture that instead fosters opposition, fear and resentment, and turns all three to political capital. Now, as the rubber of serious intractable issues hovers, spinning, above the bitumen, we see just how much that short-term opportunism has sold us short.

Read it all.

Leave a comment

Filed under Church & world

Anomie, accidie, tristesse—have we lost the words for sadness?

Is sad so bad?

As a person with chronic depression, I can only say “What a good question!”

While we have an increasing grasp of depressive illness and can treat it these days (and am I grateful for that!), Mary Kenny asks whether we have lost some of the rich vocabulary of sadness or “forms of low mood”, and says,

Depression may also be melancholy: it may be discouragement, disappointment, abandonment, sadness, sorrow, mourning, rejection, regret, anxiety, grief, obsession, introspection, loss, separation, loneliness, isolation, alienation, guilt, loss of hope, temperamental woe and simple, pure, unhappiness.

Read it all here, including the comments.

h/t Bridges and Tangents

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal, reflection

Not before time

According to the ABC, “the Federal Government is preparing to announce plans to release of asylum seekers from detention and allow them to live in the community while their applications for asylum are being assessed.” Read the full article here.

Uniting Church President Rev Al Macrae comments:

This is a long overdue common-sense decision, given all that we know about the devastating effects of the detention environment on the mental health of asylum seekers, especially children.

We are pleased and relieved that the Government appears to be re-committing itself to uphold the Immigration Detention Values statement it adopted early on in its first term.

Housing children and young people behind fences, without adequate freedom of movement or opportunities for education and play, while under constant guard, has caused tremendous unrest, misery and depression.

Today’s announcement will provide a great relief for parents who will regain the right to raise their children in a safe and suitable environment. It will also go some way to rebuilding our international reputation as a decent and hospitable country.

The Uniting Church will do all it can to support the Government’s plan to house minors and children with families in the community. We will also continue to work for improvements to the reception and processing systems for people who come to Australia’s shores seeking our protection.



Leave a comment

Filed under Church & world, Uniting Church in Australia

Praying in weakness

On holidays at the moment, so no sermons… I’ve been re-reading Henri Nouwen’s With Open Hands, an absolute gem of a book on prayer. I love this section, which speaks of the necessity of praying always from within our weakness. I take it as commentary on 2 Corinthians 12.9:

[The Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

We males especially have to listen to this; I think the first few words apply to males more than humans (my copy is from the 70s, and the language is exclusive; I’m sure the latest edition will have changed this).

In the thinking of modern, active, energetic man, praying and living have come to be so widely separated that bringing them together seems almost impossible. But here lies the central problem: How can your prayer be truly necessary for the welfare of your fellowman? How could it be that you should “pray always” and that prayer is the “one thing necessary”? The question becomes important only when it is posed in its most exacting form. The question of when or how to pray is not really the most important one. The crucial question is whether you should pray always and whether your prayer is necessary. Here, the stakes are all or nothing! If someone says that it’s good to turn to God in prayer for a spare minute, or if he grants that a person with a problem does well to take refuge in prayer, he has as much as admitted that praying is on the margin of life and that it doesn’t really matter.

Whenever you feel that a little praying can’t do any harm, you will find that it can’t do much good either. Prayer has meaning only if it is necessary and indispensable. Prayer is prayer only when we can say that without it, a man could not live. How can this be true, or be made true? The word that brings us closest to an answer to this question is the word “compassion.” To understand this, you must first examine what happens to a man when he prays. Then you can comprehend how you can meet your fellowman in prayer.

The man who looks prayerfully on the world is the man who does not expect happiness from himself, but who looks forward toward the other who is coming. It is often said that a man who prays is conscious of his dependence, and in his prayer he expresses his helplessness. This can easily be misunderstood. The praying man not only says, “I can’t do it and I don’t understand it,” but also, “Of myself, I don’t have to be able to do it, and of myself, I don’t have to understand it.” When you stop at that first phrase, you often pray in confusion and despair, but when you can a so add the second, you feel your dependence no longer as helplessness but as a happy openness which looks forward to being renewed

If you view your weakness as a disgrace, you will come to rely on prayer only in extreme need and you will come to consider prayer as a forced confession of your impotence. But if you see your weakness as that which makes you worth loving, and if you are always prepared to be surprised at the power the other gives you, you will discover through praying that living means living together.

Leave a comment

Filed under books & reading, Personal, Prayer, reflection

Keep going, “they” say…

How often does life feel this way?

From the admirable Dave Walker:


Leave a comment

Filed under humour

The passing of a wonderful man

Who was Charlie Chaplin’s favourite clown? Who was mobbed on holiday in Moscow in 1963? Who was personally invited by Mao on a month-long tour of China? And who became a cult figure in Communist Albania of all places, where his were the only western films shown under the regime of Enver Hoxha?

If you guessed Norman Wisdom, go to the top of the class.

He was one of my favourite comedians as a child; sadly, he died on Monday 4 October (St Francis’ Day—how appropriate!) at the age of 95; here is the BBC report. RIP, Norman Wisdom.

A cheeky chap!

(What? You’ve never heard of him? You can be forgiven if you’re under 40… Read his Wikipedia entry.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal

“Looking through bars hurts. Amnesty International”

Aung San Suu Kyi appears behind bars in this optical puzzle called “Looking through bars hurts. Amnesty International.” Aung San Suu Kyi has been under house arrest in Myanmar (Burma) for 14 out of the last 20 years since a military coup overruled the results of democratic elections.

Aung San Suu Kyi

Big h/t to The Inspiration Room. For more about Aung San Suu Kyi, see here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Church & world, Lord have mercy

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 3 October 2010)

Singing forgiveness songs

Psalm 137

The Bible pronounces ‘blessedness’, or happiness, upon a number of people. The Bible says,

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted…
Blessed are the meek…

Such wonderful and lofty thoughts! But the Bible also says:

O daughter Babylon, you devastator!
Happy shall they be who pay you back
what you have done to us!
Happy shall they be who take your little ones
and dash them against the rock!

Blessed are the meek…Blessed are they who dash your little ones against the rock.

That the Scriptures call ‘happy’ those who kill babies in such a barbaric way is a horrifying thought. And today we said, ‘The word of the Lord—Thanks be to God’. So we need to look at it carefully. What was happening there? How is it the word of the Lord to us?

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under church year, RCL, sermon