Worth a Fight?









Recently my old mate Scott posted this image on his Facebook page and took some heat for it. We had coffee that afternoon and he mentioned to me that he hadn’t seen the words at the top of the image, just the sentiment on the bottom. Maybe he did lose some friends over it. Certainly the comments on his post suggested his views weren’t welcome and a pastor he should know better.








Then just last week another friend posted a link on Facebook to this article with the accompanying disclaimer ‘No I’m not a bigot’. It takes the other point of view and she also copped heat from people who declared her narrow minded.

It seems that whichever side of the debate around gay marriage you sit on, you risk losing friends. You have to face the reality that your point of view on this one issue is going to bring conflict and possibly even the end of a relationship.

What an unbelievably stupid response…

I want to say ‘Really?… Seriously?… You would dismiss me as a friend because on a non essential issue I read the Bible differently to you?’

This is another in a long line of boundary marker issues that seem to be used to decide who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’. In times gone by it was inerrancy, as certain people were demonised and harangued for refusing to subscribe to one particular view of scripture, or perhaps you encountered the same shunning over your views on creation, or women…

These are all issues that can still generate a little heat here in Oz, but let me change your perspective for a minute.

My aunt visited from Ireland a couple of years back and I asked her what was the pressing issue for the church in that part of the world. Do you know what she said?


Yep – hats… HATS!

People are fighting one another over whether they keep their heads covered in church… I was speechless, but managed to utter some completely insincere words of concern.

People are losing friends over hats… 

You probably find that sad and absurd. Bizarre even, but in another part of the world that is still more ‘christianised’ than Australia, this is a serious issue.

In 20 years time when the heat has gone out of this debate around gay marriage you will probably view it like you do creation, or inerrancy or gender. Its not that its a storm in a teacup. Its a real question that needs a thoughtful response. We do need to grapple with these issues as Christians, but we don’t need to lose friendships over them.

That is DUMB!

I get the clear sense we would be far more comfortable with a friend suggesting a non-divine Jesus, or many ways to God, than we would be with someone having a divergent view on gay marriage. We could more easily tolerate a compromise to our core convictions than we could someone holding the ‘wrong’ view on a hot topic.

Time to grow up a bit folks.

And – no – I haven’t presented my own view on this issue on here, because I’m not writing for that purpose. I’m more than happy to tell you what I think, but only if you promise not to ‘de-friend’ me…

If that’s too hard it might be time to get a grip of what Jesus said was really important






Beyond Words

downloadIt’s not often I’m  lost for words – or when the only words that will fit are strong and obscene – but the developments with asylum  seekers since  the Abbot  government  have been in power have increasingly left me irate. I haven’t said much on here or in social media because I often feel that ‘liking’ a facebook page, ‘sharing’ a status update, or signing a petition is a less that minimal response. It requires nothing of me beyond being another angry voice in a small crowd.

As I was praying  this morning  I considered handing in my citizenship as a way of saying ‘count me out of this bullshit.’ But that’s pretty drastic and takes me out of the equation completely when it comes to influence. Not that I feel I have any…

That said, I know many Australians want to disassociate themselves from the actions of their government. Many of us feel a deep sense of shame and anger coupled with a disturbing impotence at what we see and hear.

But I keep coming back to the belief that this must actually be what the majority of Australians must want.  There must be a stack of votes in this baby for the government to ride it so hard. We have gone from being average to below average at showing needy people compassion to now being a model of oppression and persecution. We flout international laws on asylum seeking, produce offensive propaganda and then con our own people into believing there is such a thing as a ‘queue’ and an ‘illegal’.

I can accept that some of the media may be biased either way. Those supporting asylum seekers will highlight the atrocities. The government will highlight the ‘dangers’. But even if we take the polemic out of it, and try to be objective we can’t help but see a tragic absence of care for those who need it most.

Sure – we have been involved with some of these people and have been close to it, so there is a personal element to the conversation for us, but I sense that this is what is needed if we are see people rather than ‘illegals’.

The latest piece of propaganda created to deter potential refugees is beyond belief in what it communicates. The latest news and images from Manus island are also frightening in that it shows the volatility of the camps these folks are in. The decision by the government to round up those without permanent visas and send them home has some sinister overtones too.

Hope-less is the word that comes to mind all the time. Even those in prison have hope – they will be released – they will have a life. But for those who have been beaten and tortured and given up everything to escape and seek protection they are simply locked away out of sight until they can stand it no longer and would prefer to go home and die.

That seems to be the strategy. Get asylum seekers to the point where they can no longer handle the bordeom, hopelessness and poverty of their lives and where to go back seems like a better option.

What do we do? What do I do?…
That’s the problem I am feeling. I don’t like being unable to do anything at all. I don’t want to be seen as just a ‘lefty, refugee lover’ because I know its easy to look like that.
But I am angry – angry at a government that was voted in to ‘stop the boats’ and has taken that as a mandate to make sure no-one ever seeks asylum here in Australia.
I recently read The People Smuggler, the graphic story of an Iraqi refugee who to this day has not received a permanent residents Visa in Australia. If you want to understand some of the tensions involved then read this book. It tells a tragic and horrible story where the key word is ‘survival’.
I’m afraid this may have just turned into a rant, but I’m going to put it out there anyway. I’ll be looking for something creative to do that will make a difference. I’m just not sure where to put my spade in right now.

I’ll Give You The Tip

Two years ago my good mate Kent got me into footy tipping (picking who’d win each week – for the benefit of USA readers) and despite my complete lack of football knowledge I managed to do ok last year, even winning the SUWA office comp.

This year I have lobbing along in the top few tippers but haven’t been able to crack the number 1 spot. All was looking lost until last weekend when Broady (the hottest tipper) had a bad week and I had a beauty.

Suddenly we are level pegging with just one round to go… both with 111 correct tips.

So this is a big week.

A lot at stake…

Of course poor old Morgs is languishing near the middle of the pack and now owes me another bottle of red. Can’t wait for 2009… 🙂

Its funny how something as inane as footy tipping can bring out the competitive beast in me!

Broady if I were you I’d be feeling scared…

download laramie project the online

Starting a Mega-church

I was chatting with a friend last night and in our frivolity we discussed planting a ‘mega-church’. I have been pondering the idea further…

It got me wondering what would happen if:

– we set aside a couple of million dollars for seed capital, (this was the first obstacle 🙂 )

– hired a team of brilliant professional musicians

– embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign thru every newspaper in the state as well as TV and radio

– hired the sweetest most comfortable venue in the city

– planned 6 months of absolutely sensational inspirational church services with state of the art technology and amazing comunicators

– hired professional caterers and greeters (hey Bunnings do it!)

You get the idea.

I genuinely wonder what would happen if we threw everything we had into a project like that what would develop…

What do you think would be the outcome?

Would people come?

Of course the other temptation for me would be to run the marketing campaign, try and pull as many people in as possible and then on that first grand Sunday simply stand up and tell them all to get back home to their current church and stop being seduced by the next great thing.


I remember year 8 well… for all the wrong reasons!

I was an absolute turd of a kid, always getting into trouble and once got kicked out of class 8 times in 8 periods for my poor behaviour. When I was 20 I actually threw out all of my lower school reports because they were so terrible, but somehow this one slipped thru my grasp and dad gave it to me yesterday.

The good news was that I got 3 ‘A’s and a ‘B’… but funnily enough my folks still weren’t real impressed with the report. These were the first 4 pages, but it didn’t get any better…



“fooling around during class’ Me?!…


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‘A dismal semester’s work…’ What? I got a B!!


I just didn’t like school that much… in fact as much as I enjoyed the social component I hated the work and wanted out. Year 8 & 9 were fairly similar in that I mucked up heaps, got good grades, but was the bane of every teacher’s life. By year 10 I was growing up a little and by year 11 & 12 I was actually semi-human.

In that fateful year 8 I once wagged a whole week of school – Monday to Friday – in year 8 and didn’t get caught. The two guys I was with did get found out by their dad. He rang our home, spoke to me and asked me if I was with them for the whole week… Needless to say I was crapping myself. ‘Um… yep…’

That was all he wanted to know. He never did tell my parents. What a guy!!

When your school has ocean views and the surf is pumping its pretty hard to hang in. If I wasn’t at school I could usually be found at the beach.

I remember in year 10 my dad shoved me into taking business principles (bookkeeping etc) an one of my ‘options’. (“It’ll be good for you…”) So while everyone else was off doing woodwork, metalwork etc I was stuck in a classroom with the girls doing ledgers and accounts…

That class was held on the infamous ‘last two on Friday’ so it was always a 50/50 shot as to whether I would hang around after lunch just to get bored to tears. It was also very funny seeing Mrs Partridge’s face (her real name) when I did front… As something of a visitor and occasional attendee I am not sure she knew what to do with me. Needless I say I now don’t know much about accounting…

My favourite wag was the day Mohammad Ali fought Joe Frazier – the ‘rumble in the jungle’. The fight was scheduled for periods 4 & 5 , the session between recess and lunch. It would have been a nice clean break except that on the day we had metalwork periods 3 & 4…

We weren’t missing the fight for anything so it just meant that Mr Vaughn’s metalwork class had 30 people in period 3 and only 4 or 5 in period 4 as 25 of us shot off to a friend’s house to watch the fight. The beauty of it all was that no teacher could be bothered busting all 25 of us so it was a ‘stern warning’ (actually not that stern because I think Ross Munro thought it pretty amusing too) and then back to business as usual.

I rarely got caught wagging and never once forged a note.

My dumbest wag was in year 12 when I had just got my license and took dad’s XT Falcon to school. I skipped a class and shot off down to the beachfront in the days when the pinball parlours were still in vogue (crikey that is a long time ago…) and proceeded to lock the keys in car. As if that wasn’t bad enough I also left the motor running… Thanks God for quarter panel windows and brute force!

Ironically this was the school I later returned to teach at, a school that has now been carved up into some of the best real estate in the Scarborough area.

As much as I didn’t like school I had some great times there and was very sad to see the old place get bulldozed. School days the best days of your life?…

Hmmm… maybe!

A Very Helpful Question Indeed

Kevin Miller at Out of Ur asks a very helpful question: Who is more spiritual? Emergents or Traditionalists?

I have offered my comments over there so I won’t repeat them here.

On second thoughts I will have to because apparently my comment was too lomg for the Ur fellas. So here it is:

Well of course the emergents are more spiritual. Absolutely no bloody contest!

Everyone knows that, but no-one is willing to say it. So – there – I have.

Now before you traditionalists get your big black King James all bent out of shape hear me out.

Emergents win on number 1 because have a huge range of spiritual practices that extend well beyond the daily quiet time (does anyone actually do it DAILY?!). They actually ‘practice the presence of God’ every minute of every day (which surely is much more spiritual than 10 mins in the morning) and they welcome every tradition as a way of expressing their spirituality. No contest.

The fact that emergents don’t actually do many of the things they write about is not a fair reason to dismiss them. They do like the ideas very much.

As for social justice, well who could call gazillions of dollars worth of buildings ‘just’? Traditionalists just don’t have a clue on this front. Billions die for lack of food, but we have comfortable new seats, 3 big screens and staff for every conceivable need or is it ‘want’?.

OK – so traditionalists were the ones who responsible for establishing hospitals, schools, overseas aid agencies and mercy ministries, but what about a ‘cup of cold water in Jesus’ name’ or visiting the prisoner?… Oh ok prison fellowhship came out of trad churches too?


Emergents kick butt on mellowness of spirit. Those crusty old traditionalists who frown at every teenager who wears a baseball cap in church could really learn a thing or two from gracious emergents. Just go read their blogs and see how ‘mellow spirited’ they are. (Actually email me first so I can give you a suitable selection..) And if they sometimes seem angry then traditionalists just need to know that its righteous anger – usually fuelled by traditionalist critiques.

When it comes to community its still no contest. ‘Emergent emergent emergent’ the crowd chant down the back straight. Is sitting in rows at 10.00 each week community. Where are the couches? Where is the coffee? The beer? The wine? The party?

I could go on but I won’t…

Nonsense questions like these really do bring out the less mellow side of me because they only serve to polarise a discussion that at times has hope of being helpful and mutally informing, but can also degenerate into the drivel I wrote above.

Come on Kevin. Please…

If we’re to be the church and love each other then posts like these really don’t help anyone’s cause.

Who Needs Enemas?

In reference to the previous post I offer a well known quote:

“Who needs enemas when you’ve got friends like mine.”

Last week while I was staying at the Hirsch’s place in Melbourne I used Al’s laptop to blog and forgot to log out of my wordpress site…

Of course once he discovered it then it was only a matter of time before he had some fun!

So – yes I do love Hirschy – but this time I am saying it 🙂