Following Jesus – a Catholic Latin American Perspective

One of my big concerns in regard to the budget on this trip was how I would

fund reading. Books are expensive and I love to read. I figured it could add

at least $50.00/week to the costs unless I could find a way of getting good

cheap books. So to discover some gems in Op shops has been a real bonus.

The Halls Creek op shop had a number of half decent titles as well as the

usual pulp stuff and the Salvo shop in Kununurra has several books worthy of

a read. I bought 4 books for the grand sum of $7.00 which has to make a

bibliophile very happy.

As I was rummaging thru the laundry baskets of books in the Kununurra op

shop I came across one entitled Following Jesus by a bloke called Segundo

Galilea (Danelle reckons he sounds like a coffee bean) and after a brief

skim decided it was worthy of purchase. Galilea is a Chilean Catolic priest

and liberation theologian who has written a short and relatively simple book

around the theme of what it means to truly dedicate ourselves to

discipleship. I read many books of this kind, but not often from this

perspective so I figured it would be a good balance to the predominantly

North American based stuff that I find myself reading.

It’s immediately worth noting that our context has a huge impact on shaping

our theology – much more than we tend to give it credit for. The Latinos and

others from impoverished contexts gave us liberation theology and wealthy

white westerners gave us prosperity theology. I haven’t come across a name

for a theology that has its roots in suburban western life, but is not

prosperity driven. I imagine it would be something like ‘comfort theology’

or ‘security theology’ as that it what seems to form so much of our middle

class western dreams. Hence Jesus becomes the one who makes life safe and

secure for us. as if.

This is challenging because we have to admit that it’s impossible to do any

kind of theological reflection outside of a context. And because of that we

need to regularly be open to the insights of other cultures to help us get a

fuller revelation. At times this can be challenging and it may even seem

that our brothers are waaay off the mark. however reality is that we may be

the ones missing the point.

Here are 3 few quotes from Following Jesus that I thought worthy of sharing.

“We believe that it is appropriate to the religious life to call into

question or even protest against the church and society: against the church

to the extent that it I decadent or ambiguous, or has lost its radical

dynamism; against society, to the extent that it become dehumanized or

dechristianised (not sure what he means by this), and thus the source of

oppression and injustice” p.82

So. If we are leaders with any nouse then we will be protesters when we see

either the church or society lose their way. We won’t stay silent and tow

the party line, but we will have the courage to speak up – loudly. The net

result of this is that we will not be popular for long.

“A religious movement will never be authentic unless it returns to the root

of its own prophetism. Its radicalism is a sign of vitality and of its right

to continued existence. Its absence is a void that calls into question its

very reason for existence in the church and society. One of the causes of

the present crisis in religious life rests on the fact that many who have

given themselves to this life have discovered this void” p. 83

How true. When we lose our founding charism we become a social club and this

is one of the issues we are currently grappling with as the church in the


“Normally the people of greatest character, most maturity, are those who

have the greatest difficulty with obedience. This is quite normal. One does

not arrive a free obedience without passing through rebellions. Obedience

consists of a synthesis between the acceptance of the will of God and a

complete Christian freedom. It is extremely difficult. It is a work of the

Holy Spirit. And one does not arrive at this without having passed through

many crises and even through many errors.” P. 93

I thought this was insightful. A conformist finds ‘obedience’ easy. A

non-conformist or a questioner will struggle much harder to accept the rule

of another.

This book has some real gems and is worth a read.

A Few Days in Townsville

We have been in Townsville since Friday and have been enjoying being back in relative civilization – if you can call Queenslanders civilized… ?

It was a big drive across and not that interesting to say the least. The section of the Barclay Highway between Mt Isa and Richmond I am officially renaming the Barclay Track – only to be attempted with a 4WD! Seriously – someone in the Qld gov needs to have a good look at that one. It’s a shocker – like a roller coaster!

The kids were excited to get to Townsville as they were keen to stay at Caravan park they had seen in the brochures. Sam revealed the power of branding when he insisted we consider a ‘Big 4’ park next place we stay. So here we are in the Walkabout Palms Big 4 right on the edge of town and at the intersection of two of the busiest roads in Townsville! It is well set up and we have enjoyed a few days of comfort and indulgence (hot showers and electricity). The mosquitos and heat bugs that have plagued us all the way around disappeared when we got here too. Its been great to sit down at night and not be constantly swatting bugs away or waking up in the night scratching yourself… so to speak…Aside from the constant road noise that reminds us we are back in the city it has been a good place to stay.

We have been in and out of Townsville City a bit and spent a bit of time down on the Strand – the beachfront area. We have lazed around a bit and done the usual school stuff. I was finally able to download the Iphone 3.0 update which allows the phone to function as a modem, so the kids have been able to do their Mathletics and our internet hasn’t been restricted to a 3 inch Iphone screen. 3 G reception actually gives you reasonable speed and with 1 gig of download in my monthly virgin allowance we are pretty well set.

I have to say that my first impression of Qld is one of commercialism. I know we are tourists of a sort, but I have really enjoyed a ‘rougher’ Australia than we find here at the moment. I can only imagine how we will feel when we hit the Gold Coast…

As of tomorrow we begin heading north towards Cairns and the towns up that way. We don’t really know what to expect so we will just be figuring it out on the run. We got offered 3 nights in Palm Cove at a 4 ½ star resort for $200.00 which sounded tempting. It involved listening to someone drone on about Timeshare for 90 mins – which I could do with no problem and not get suckered into – but the more we thought about how we’d need to reorganize car and camper etc we decided it wasn’t worth the hassle. We are well organized in the camper now and the appeal of a luxury apartment just wasn’t enough to sway us believe it or not.

Danelle has reorganized the camper so that our storage is much more efficient. The only problem is now I have no clue where things are… It took me 9 weeks to get the hang of plan A and now I need to remember that my clothes are in the ‘bread cupboard’!

Anyway, that’s a brief update on the traveling Hamos.

Propaganda Works

Sadly… propaganda works

I wish I could easily recall a time when I heard a politician from the left side of politics actually affirm the decision of someone on the ‘right’, or vice versa. But it seems that written into the political job description is ‘except in the most embarrassingly obvious situations DISAGREE at all costs!’

It seems every time the left has an idea the right will fault it… Or every time the right do something well the left find flaws.

If life were as black and white as some politicians make it sound then it would be simple to choose who to vote for… But what you actually read is not pure information or even reasoned opinion, but ‘propaganda’ – a unique kind of perspective and one that actually insults the intelligence of the listener.

It assumes we are dumb enough to see complex questions as having simple solutions. It assumes us = good and them = bad.

It ought to be an embarrassment to the people who use it, and it should be – except that it works! People fall for the nonsense that gets said on tv and in the media – more fool us…

Let’s be honest folks – no political party has all the right answers – nor is any of them devoid of some useful insights, but the rabid bickering and arguing that seems to characterise so much of the political game is so tedious.

In fact its one of the main reasons I have never run for prime minister…

Grog & Porn

Its pretty much impossible to travel anywhere in outback Oz and not be

struck by the impact of both alcohol and pornography. All throughout the

Kimberley’s, the NT and remote Qld are large signs identifying ‘restricted

areas’ – zones where alcohol is either strictly limited or where it is

banned and where possession of even soft porn incurs a hefty fine – think


Why is this the case?…

And is it just aboriginal people who this is wreaking havoc amongst?

It has caused me to reflect deeper on how we deal with these issues in a

non-indigenous setting. I wonder if alcohol wasn’t currently legal – and if

we knew its social impact – if we would even ponder making it readily

available? I actually tend to think not. Given the amount of grief that has

been wrought in our own communities through alcohol abuse, I imagine that at

some level simple ‘common sense’ would dictate that we make it a prohibited

substance. (Yes – I know this leads to other problems / black market etc).

It seems that the impact of alcohol on aboriginal people is more visible

because they are louder, often have their disputes in public and don’t seem

to have the same concern for ‘decorum’ that we anglos appear to have. But my

observation is that the impact on middle class white folks is often not much

different. It just (usually) happens behind closed doors.

I have to say that I am a lover of red wine and I regularly enjoy a beer, so

what I am writing disturbs me greatly. I don’t write this from any

theological conviction re the rightness or wrongness of drinking – I hope

those debates have gone the way of the dinosaur – but if there were a

theological frame to slot this into it would be that of how we shape the

kingdom now and how we best love our neighbour. Is it more loving and more

in line with the shaping of God’s kingdom to abstain from alcohol and to ask

others to do likewise?…

I don’t think any politician would ever have the balls to run a prohibition

campaign – not here in Australia – so we will never go that route – but I am

somewhat perplexed by this wonderful substance that I enjoy so much, yet

that seems to be the root of so much social evil. Of course I understand

that the root of the ‘root’ is a ‘sinful nature’ that uses good things in

wrong ways, but I can’t help wondering what a community would be like in the

absence of any alcoholic drink.

Honestly – I don’t like the thought of it! I’d miss my evening glass of red,

but I was saying to Danelle this afternoon that if we actually knew that

complete abstinence was the key to a healthier society then I’d be prepared

to bite that bullet. I think the aboriginal communities have been learning

this the hard way. I wonder why we haven’t seen similar restrictions come

into white communities?… I guess its cause no one would ever allow it, but

perhaps we need to rethink this one. (he says still not really wanting to go


As for porn.

Well any moron knows that porn is evil stuff and messes with people at all

levels. Obviously the extent of child abuse in aboriginal communities has

been a catalyst for its prohibition, but I wonder why we still permit this

one in our communities? What level of porn related child abuse, female abuse

etc is acceptable? Obviously we feel that some level is ok as we don’t rail

against it. Is it just too hard?

Sometimes we just live in the world we know and don’t question the way

things are.

Many of you would have seen the ‘Truman show’. A movie in which the central

character (Truman’s) entire life is a TV show but he doesn’t know – he is

completely unaware. He has been caught in a giant studio right from birth

and every other person is an actor. It’s the ultimate voyeur television with

people all round the world waiting on his every move.

At one point the creator of the show is interviewed. His name is Christov.

The interviewer asks Christov the creator of the show, why hasn’t Truman

ever cottoned on to the fact that his life is a sham?

Why hasn’t he realised?

Its a fair question. Christov replies quite profoundly “we accept the

reality of the world with which we are presented” . How true… we accept

the reality that we grew up – our family’s reality – our local community’s

reality – we accept the media constructed reality – the world as the TV

tells us it is.

Maybe we have accepted a reality in regards to alcohol that actually needs

to be questioned.

Maybe we all need to ask more questions generally.

But – yes – sometimes I worry about where the answers would lead us.

More Random Camping Reflections


We are now 9 weeks into the trip with 19 to go…

In the last week we have been in Darwin and Litchfield park checking out the

many beautiful things there are to see. We stayed at a newly erected caravan

park called Pandanus on Litchfield and it was probably the best value we

have had thus far. Caravan parks average $38-40 / night, but this one was

$27 and came with an ensuite. Admittedly it still needed a few finishing

touches but it was one of the best value places we have come across.

Darwin was nice and actually very cold for two or three of the nights we

were there. We were rugged up and wearing jumpers around at night. The days

were still warm to hot though and often a bit muggy.

It sounds terrible to say, but I’m actually a bit ‘over’ waterfalls, plunge

pools and beautiful rugged scenery… The NT has been sensational and we

have loved everything that we have seen and done, but it seems that there

comes a time when you say ‘oh come on… not another waterfall…’

* Today we made the effort to check out Edith Falls just north of Katherine

as we headed back down and began the journey towards Qld. Yep… it was

beautiful – stunning and all those things, but it took some effort. Right

now it’d be nice to have a change of scenery. I thought I was the only

‘heretic’ and then today as we were leaving Litchfield, we bumped into Craig

and Jill (fellow travelers from Mindarie) who expressed similar sentiment. I

guess it’s the ‘too much of a good thing’ problem…

* Actually I have been ruminating (sounds painful doesn’t it?…) on a quote

from Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1. You may well be asking what the hell

does H IV have to do with anything?… But the quote (which I had to learn

for my year 12 English Lit exam) says “If all the year were playing sport,

to holiday would be as tedious as to work”. I have felt that a little over

the last week as I have experienced some tedium in the journey. I’m not

ready to come home yet, not even close, but I have to acknowledge that for a

person who likes ‘stuff to get on with’, I have felt a little too laid back

at times.

Before anyone yells at me that I am supposed to be on holidays and that it

is ok, I am aware of that, but its just one my own personality traits, to be

productive… so occasionally I will struggle with simply sitting and doing


Blogging allows me to feel like I am ‘doing something’!

* While we’re on personality traits, little Miss Homesick continues to

struggle with being away. Yesterday she reminded us that no matter how good

any of our trip was (Cable Beach, Emma Gorge, Wangi Falls etc) nothing

actually matched up to being at school… I’d so love to take her home for 6

weeks and watch her face… Its been a challenge being sympathetic and yet

also having to tell her to snap out of it because it ruins the vibe for

everyone else.

* A completely different personality trait would be that of Sam who is in no

hurry anywhere. He eats baked beans one bean at a time… and rice one grain

at a time… seriously… He is always the last one finished at any meal –

often because he just doesn’t even notice that it’s been put in front of

him. He’s a wonderful little bloke and we’ve been having lots of fun, but

meal times do take a while!

The kids have been growing in confidence with their swimming, Sam

especially. A couple of days back he swam about 50 m with me out to Wangi

Falls and back again. Its great to see them developing in that way.

* School has been rolling along quite nicely abeit repetitively! I had

forgotten how much of lower primary is doing the same stuff over and over

(and over). I find it hard not to get bored so I tend to invent new things

to do to teach the same old stuff. On days when I can’t think of anything I

almost fall asleep while sitting with them.

* It will be interesting to see what state the Jayco is in when we come

home. I think these things were made for a family to take on holidays 2 or 3

times a year and the rest of the time lock in a garage. I’m not sure anyone

envisaged a family of 4 taking on Australia with it. We have had to do a few

running repairs where seating frames have broken and odd bits and pieces

have come apart. Its not about to die yet, but we do wonder how it will look

after another 4 months.

* Miscellaneous items continues to be the bane of the budget. It seems that

every week you discover something new that you ‘need’. This week we managed

to purchase a small inverter to run a few appliances when we are in an

unpowered situation and also to power the laptop for a few movies as we do

the big drive to Qld. Danelle also saw that Woolies were offering 30% off a

6 pack of wine so spent some $$ on that. We have been surviving on el cheapo

wines and casks so to actually have some decent stuff will be a treat.

* I’m not sure I should mention it, but The Secret Seven have been the kids

nightly fodder listening to the often painful adventures of the precious and

annoying Peter and his spiffingly jolly nice friends. I remember loving them

as a kid, but they seem so dated now. The book’s language is a reminder of

how much things change… Might need to get hold of Lockie Leonard…

* Of particular note in Darwin is the daily promo for the headlines in the

local newspaper. It seems to be a challenge to come up with something a bit

wackier each day. Today’s concerned a ‘Horny Emu’ while yesterday’s was

about ‘Nude Tourists Distracting City Workers’… It’d be funny if it

weren’t the city’s main rag!

Anyway, for those who are still following my inane holiday ramblings there’s

a random collection of thoughts that reflects a little bit of my brain stew

for the past week

We are camped on the side of the road tonight as we have blown this week’s

budget and are trying to save a few $$$. There are about 20 other vans and

campers in the same area listening to the road trains thunder by.

So at 9.05 on a Friday I’m off to bed…

Intruder in Arnhem Land


On a visit to one of the cultural centres in Kakadu I picked up this book

and was sufficiently interested by the blurb on the back page to part with

the $29.00 that was the asking price. That’s a big spend from a bloke who

has been buying his books in op shops lately!

Essentially it’s a bit of a history of Arnhem Land from time before whites

ventured there right thru to today. It tells a pretty sorry story of people

dispossessed and subsequently disorientated by the changes. It traces the

various attempts to develop white settlements which were by and large a

failure until the mining companies discovered substances of value…

With the mining companies came royalties and a whole new way of life for a

group of people who were surviving just fine. While we may have looked on in

sympathy at primitive shelters and dirty conditions, the current situation

is in many ways worse.

The author – Andrew McMillan – says that in regards to white habitation of

Arnhem Land it is either misfits, missionaries or mercenaries who go there.

He is particularly harsh on the missionaries, and his invective towards

Christians in general is a bit overdone. While the missionaries definitely

made some mistakes they at least went there with noble intentions. Perhaps

the most abhorrent things the old mishos did was to try and root the

‘aboriginality’ out of the people either by separating kids from parent so

they couldn’t learn culture, or by beating them for practicing their


Of course when the mining companies came the amount of alcohol increased and

many people didn’t know what to do with the $$$ they initially received.

McMillan is quick to point out that alcohol and money destroyed a culture.

His depictions of life on Grootye Eylandt are particularly sad as they show

the violence, aggression and loss of hope that seems to depict life in these


He spend a lot of time telling the story of Galarrwuy, the bloke who

finished up leading Youth Yindi (and who has been a significant leader for

the Arnhem people. Ironically this same man spent 3 years in a Queensland

Bible College preparing to come back and share the gospel with the people

only to return, see the chaos and decide he’d had enough of the church

nonsense and that there was a more important cause to put his energies to –

that of bringing some dignity back to the people of his land. Pretty sad.

It wasn’t a super easy read, but if you have an interest in how things have

taken shape in that part of the world then its well worth dipping into. If

you’re a Christian then you’ll need to read it patiently as he doesn’t have

much time for us


As I was reflecting this week on how the old time missionaries went about

their work in different cultures there was plenty to critique – plenty that

we would do differently today.

And yet there are people alive now who still give thanks to God for the work

of those people.

I imagine some future generation will one day read about the missional

leaders of the 20/21st Century and wonder in disbelief at how we could be so

foolish or na?ve, yet the simply reality is that we do the best with what we

know and what we have. That is all we can do.

As I write this I am reminded that God works thru all Christians – even

those I might find loopy or offensive.

I don’t know why he does…

Grace is big I guess

I reckon Paul would say ‘if God can work thru me he can work thru


Some days I find that hard to swallow…

Public Service Announcment


You will notice that I’m putting the date into some of these posts now, as I

am posting via email whenever we have access rather than trying to load up

wordpress. Its quicker and more efficient and doesn’t rely on me being

online to actually do it. It does seem to lose some formatting occasionally

so if some posts look a little weird then that’s why.

Sadly pictures are also difficult to upload so if you are wanting to see

some images of where we are at then facebook is still the best option. I

completely understand if you can’t be bothered with facebook! We have found

it very useful for keeping our friends up to date with where we are at, but

it certainly can be an enormous time waster.

Because we will be travelling across to Queensland for the next week or I

imagine net access will be more intermittent so expect ‘bulk uploads’.