Saturday, 16 December 2017

Commemoration of the Execution of two indigenous freedom fighters in 1842

On behalf of the Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner Commemoration Committee, I would like to invite you to attend the Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner Commemoration which will be held at the Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner monument at midday, Saturday 20th January 2018 at the corner of Victoria St and Franklin St, Melbourne.

In 1842 two indigenous freedom fighters, Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner, were the first men executed in Victoria. Since 2004 the Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner Commemoration Committee has worked towards the building of a monument in Melbourne to mark this pivotal event. The Melbourne City Council, led by Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, had the foresight and courage to support this project and funded the building of a monument at the execution site, at the corner of Victoria St and Franklin St, opposite the Old Melbourne Gaol, in September 2016. This is the first monument to the Frontier Wars that has been built in a major city in this country.

Reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians is based on the recognition tens of thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children died as a result of the colonisation of this land. On the 20th January, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Freedom Fighters Day, the Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner Commemoration Committee holds a public ceremony to honour the indigenous men, women and children who, during the colonisation process, were killed for protecting their lands, their families, their culture and a way of life they had practised for over 40,000 years.

The Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner Commemoration Committee believes your participation in this ceremony on Saturday 20th January 2018 would help to kick-start the stalled reconciliation process between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

We hope to see you on the day.
Dr. Joseph Toscano / Convenor Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner Commemoration Committee


Toronto, Canada Named Host of the 7th Parliament of the World's Religions in 2018

Toronto--acclaimed the most diverse city in the world and home to six million Canadians—has been chosen as the host city of the 7th Parliament of the World’s Religions, to be convened in November 2018. The selection of Toronto was made by the Board of Trustees of the governing organization at its April 2017 meeting.
More than 10,000 people will participate in the 2018 Parliament, which will last for seven days and comprise more than 500 programs, workshops, and dialogues, alongside music, dance, art and photography exhibitions, and related events presented by the world’s religious communities and cultural institutions.
Since the historic 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago, modern Parliaments have attracted participants from more than 200 diverse religious, indigenous, and secular beliefs and more than 80 nations to its international gatherings in Chicago (1993), Cape Town (1999), Barcelona (2004), Melbourne (2009), and Salt Lake City (2015). These Parliament events are the world’s oldest, largest, and most inclusive gatherings of the global interfaith movement. Professor Mark Toulouse, Co-Chair of the host committee, believes that “the selection of Toronto was a perfect match for the Parliament.”
He continues, “As one of the most international, multicultural, and religiously pluralistic cities in the world, Toronto provides a perfect venue for the Parliament of the World’s Religions. More than 140 languages are spoken every day, and at least 47% of Toronto’s population speak a native language other than French or English. Over half were born outside of Canada, representing more than 200 ethnic origins.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory added his support for a Toronto Parliament, saying: “Nowhere is our diversity more evident than in the variety of places of worship you can find in communities across Toronto. These institutions are an integral part of the social fabric of our city . . . [and] our faith communities help build bridges of mutual understanding and make Toronto a welcoming place for people of all beliefs.”
The exemplary effort of Canadians—and especially the people of Ontario—to welcome the stranger and immigrant, honor indigenous communities, and protect the earth with its public initiatives provides inspiration for other global cities that desire to build a better world. Parliament Site Selection Committee Chair Andras Corban Arthen says, “Toronto is a place where important conversations are taking place about reconciliation, environmental approaches, and the integration of immigrant populations. A vibrant and wide-reaching interfaith community was a determining factor in answering the question: Why Toronto? Why now?
In a May 2 press conference and reception at the Toronto City Hall, Parliament of the World’s Religions Executive Director Dr. Larry Greenfield said the 2018 event is an “extraordinary opportunity for people of the globe to engage the crucial issues of our world, such as climate change, poverty, and violence."
He continued, "We are especially encouraged by the Indigenous, women, and young people who will be featured among the international leaders coming from around the world to this Parliament."
The Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) will host the thousands of participants of the Parliament in 2018. President and CEO Barry Smith of the venue said, “We are honoured to be the first Canadian venue to host the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Toronto is proud of its cultural diversity and we look forward to welcoming delegates from around the world who stand for peace, justice, and sustainability.”
Professor Toulouse concurs, “In our time, few things are more important than developing global literacy concerning religion and initiatives seeking social justice, partnerships and dialogue among religions, and understanding between the religious and the non-religious.  The content and global relationships associated with the Parliament advances all these ends in significant ways. For me, it is especially exciting to welcome the Parliament to Toronto as it celebrates its 125th anniversary.”
In the coming 18 months, the 2018 Parliament program will be developed in close consultation with Toronto itself, as well as with religious and civic stakeholders across Canada and around the world, so that the event reflects the perspectives and priorities of multiple faiths and ideologies.
Rev. John Joseph Mastandrea, Parliament Ambassador and Interfaith Chaplain who serves on the Executive Committee of the Greater Toronto Interfaith Council, will be among those introducing the 2018 event to groups across Ontario.
He said, “more than a symbol, the Parliament is an instrument of peace. This is why the Parliament of the World’s Religions will be converging on Toronto in 2018.”
Super Saver Registration is available at, including rates exclusive to students. Group registration is coming soon. 

Friday, 15 December 2017


Commentary on a radical Christian past

New post on Khanya

Roman Catholic radicals and Orthodoxy

by Steve
Jim Forest has just written a biography of a Jesuit priest, Daniel Berrigan, who died last year.
Why would an Orthodox Christian write a biography of a radical Roman Catholic priest, and why would an Orthodox Christian want to read such a thing? Jim Forest himself gives an answer to that specific question here: FATHER DANIEL BERRIGAN, SJ: WHY SHOULD AN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN BE INTERESTED IN HIM? by Jim Forest | ORTHODOXY IN DIALOGUE:
“And just what is it,” my friend asked, “that was so Christ-revealing about Berrigan’s life?”
When he died last year, age 94, obituaries focused on the anti-war aspects of Berrigan’s life: he was eighteen months in prison for burning draft records in a protest against conscription of the young into the Vietnam War; then there was a later event in which he was one of eight people who hammered on the nose cone of a nuclear-armed missile. No one has kept count of his numerous brief stays in jail for other acts of war protest. He was handcuffed more than a hundred times.
But it raises other wider questions too.
For the last few years the "mainstream" media have focused on the phenomenon of the "religious right", but fifty years ago the focus was more on the "religious left", exemplified by people like Daniel Berrigan, protesting against the Vietnam War.
I first learned of Daniel Berrigan in 1969, through a radical Christian magazine called The Catonsville Roadrunner. The magazine was inspired by the actions of Daniel Berrigan and his brother Philip, who with several others had broken into an office containing records of military conscription and publicly burnt them. It became a legendary act of Christian civil disobedience
Ikon magazine cover, designed by Hugh Pawsey, my fellow student at St Chad's College

Jim Forest himself was involved in a similar act of civil disobedience in Milwaukee, for which he was jailed.Those were interesting times, the late 1960s and early 1970s, the age of hippies and moon landings and radical Christian protests. Inspired by The Catonsville Roadrunner I and a group of friends launched our own radical Christian magazine in South Africa, called Ikon.
So I want to turn Jim Forest's question around. Not "Why should Orthodox Christians be interested in the life of a Jesuit priest like Daniel Berrigan?" but why did so many people involved in the radical Christian scene of the late 1960s become interested in Orthodoxy?
One factor may have been that at that time Orthodoxy was peculiarly powerless.
In 1968 I visited St Sergius Orthodox Church in Paris, and there was a seminary in the crypt of the church where the students lived in humble and primitive conditions -- sleeping cubicles separated by threadbare curtains, and an open drain running down the middle of the floor. That, to me, represented the poverty of him who came to be poor among the poor, rather than the power and prestige needed to maintain a religion.
Most of the traditionally Orthodox countries were under communist or Muslim rule, and in those places Orthodox Christians were treated as second-class citizens, and deprived of civil rights. Many Orthodox Christians in the West were refugees and asylum seekers. or children of refugees and asylum seekers.
Another reason for the attraction of Orthodoxy for radical Christian activists was that Orthodoxy had a firm theological base. In the West, theological liberalism led to political conservatism and vice versa. Theological liberalism was embarked on a project to adapt the Christian faith to the modern world, and that meant adapting Christianity to support the status quo. Radical Christians wanted to change the status quo on earth, so that God's kingdom would come and God's will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
G.K Chesterton said that the modern young man would never change the world, for he would always change his mind. Christians who are always changing their theology will never change the world.
This can be seen in the media expectations of Roman Pope Francis. They are looking to him to bring about change in the Roman Catholic Church. Will he change the theology and bring it up to date? But most of the time they are disappointed, because he criticises the state of the world from the point of view of existing theology -- the wars, civil repression and exploitation that continue pretty much as they did in the 1960s.
There is much talk about "progressive" theology and "progressive" politics, but what do we mean by "progress"? As G.K. Chesterton put it, more than a century ago now:
Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to suit the vision. Progress does mean (just now) that we are always changing the vision. It should mean that we are slow but sure in bringing justice and mercy among men: it does mean that we are very swift in doubting the desirability of justice and mercy: a wild page from any Prussian sophist makes men doubt it. Progress should mean that we are always walking towards the New Jerusalem. It does mean that the New Jerusalem is always walking away from us. We are not altering the real to suit the ideal. We are altering the ideal: it is easier.
Silly examples are always simpler; let us suppose a man wanted a particular kind of world; say, a blue world. He would have no cause to complain of the slightness or swiftness of his task; he might toil for a long time at the transformation; he could work away (in every sense) until all was blue. He could have heroic adventures; the putting of the last touches to a blue tiger. He could have fairy dreams; the dawn of a blue moon. But if he worked hard, that high-minded reformer would certainly (from his own point of view) leave the world better and bluer than he found it. If he altered a blade of grass to his favourite colour every day, he would get on slowly. But if he altered his favourite colour every day, he would not get on at all.
And that is why I think that some radical Christian activists have been attracted to Orthodoxy. And that complement's Jim Forest's point about why Orthodox Christians should be interested in people like Daniel Berrigan -- because people several people who have shared the interests of Daniel Berrigan have also become interested in Orthodoxy. So by all means buy and read Jim Forest's book about Daniel Berrigan.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Paul Kennedy & Chrissie Foster --- Hell on the way to Heaven: on ABC TV tonight

One of the greatest scandals facing the Christian churches in recent times has been institutional child abuse.  There is even a movie on the child abuse in Boston in the USA. Cardinal Bernard Law, under whose reign so many children were abused, was whisked away to The Vatican. It has been suggested that Cardinal Law spends his time shopping and doing afternoon teas.

Here in Ballarat where I live, numerous cases of child abuse have at last come into the cold light of date. Across Australia, case after case; church after church has been uncovered - even by clergymen long since dead.  Cases are still coming to light.  One of the most senior cardinals in this country was given a job in The Vatican. In the line of Vatican administration, he was No. 3.  That Cardinal has now been brought back to Australia from The Vatican and his case is now before the courts.  Because of this, I am limited in what I can say.  The newspaper I would suggest you stay in touch with is The Age.

Perhaps the saddest things from all this are the deaths, the sufferings, the lives ruined.  Clocks can't be turned back.  Many of the perpetrators are dead. The graves won't give them back to face retribution.

Relevant books:

Wikipedia entry:

Please note:  The abuse of children is not confined to the Catholic Church. Many other Christian denominations are involved. Many other institutions and religions are involved. The abuse was not only perpetrated by priests but also by brothers.  The writer also knows of one case of sexual abuse that was carried out by a nun in an orphanage.  The writer wonders how it is possible to discern perpetrators. She thinks of one Catholic priest known to her and her extended family and was involved in celebratory events. One night he was spirited away from his parish.  He stood trial. Who would have thought?

Sunday, 10 December 2017


Want to better understand Islam? Do what they have been doing in Shepparton, Victoria. Speed date a Muslim.

  • Speed Date A Muslim arrives in Shepparton, Victoria. (Carlo Zeccola)
'Speed Date A Muslim' is not a romantic or social event. It's a meetup with a difference, designed to provide a safe space for non-Muslims to meet Muslims, ask questions and smash racial boundaries.
Maggie Kelly

1 MAR 2017 - 4:41 PM  UPDATED 19 OCT 2017 - 5:31 PM

What can you do to change the minds and sway the hearts of people living in a town with a reputation – true or not – for supporting anti-Islam politics?
According to a metropolitan Melbourne restaurateur and human-rights activist, you pack 22 Muslim women on a bus, send them to the location in question, and ask the locals out on a date.
The non-romantic meet-up that results is ‘Speed Date A Muslim’ and it just occurred in Shepparton, Victoria, a town located in the federal seat of Murray belonging to Pauline Hanson's One Nation party.
Since inception, these dating events have been a wild success, with requests flowing in to Assafiri from around Australia - and abroad - requesting she bring the speed dating team to their region.
Speed Date A Muslim is the brainchild of Hana Assafiri, who launched the event in 2016 from the upstairs dining room of her Brunswick cafe, the Moroccan Deli-cacy.
Born in Australia but raised in Morocco and Lebanon, Assafiri adopted the ‘speed dating’ format to provide a safe and respectful space for local non-Muslim to meet and ask Muslims all the curly questions they were otherwise too shy to. The overall aim is to provide people who want to explore, challenge or better understand their racial and religious perceptions with an opportunity to do just that.
Since inception, these dating events have been a wild success, with requests flowing in to Assafiri from around Australia - and abroad - requesting she bring the speed dating team to their region. But it was the small town of Shepparton that was to be Hana’s first stop beyond Melbourne.
Assafiri tells SBS that she has local mum and member of the Shepparton Ethnic Council, Betul Tuna, to thank for the invitation.
“Betul attended a speed dating event in Brunswick, and stood up halfway through,” remembers Assafiri.
“She said, 'for all your latte-sipping, polished approaches to race relations, things are very different for us in Shepparton. Put your money where your mouth is, and come run this event up there.'
“So we did.”
Shepparton locals partake in a spot of speed-dating a Muslim to deepen their understanding of the faith. (Carlo Zeccola)

Mixed reputations

Shepparton is a town that’s living out the age-old tale of two cities: on one hand, it has acquired the reputation as a One Nation stronghold, but on the other, is a largely multicultural region with a strong Muslim community.
Over the past year, Shepparton has found itself in the spotlight as the unsuspecting face of Australian-Islamic tensions. In July of 2016, it was reported to be home to the highest number of Pauline Hanson supporters outside of Queensland, with a local council candidate named Diane Teasdale even adopting the dubious slogan, ‘Pauline’s busy, so I will look after you in Greater Shepparton’.
In another more serious incident, a local Muslim doctor was attacked in front of her husband for no reason other than wearing the hijab.
‘‘I don’t want to be here anymore, I hate it,’’ the victim was reported to say at the time.
‘‘But if we go back to the Middle East, I’m a doctor, he’s an engineer — we’re dead, we’re targets — where else do we go?”
The overall aim is to provide people who want to explore, challenge or better understand their racial and religious perceptions with an opportunity to do just that.
Despite these events, people in the town are making genuine efforts to promote racial inclusion. 
According to the region’s Interfaith Network, the Muslim community of Shepparton is just shy of 3,000 people. The town is known for its vibrant multicultural community, with 20 per cent of its population made up of immigrants.
Greater Shepparton City Council is a major partner with the Human Rights Commission ‘Racism. It Stops With Me’ campaign.
The council proudly claims that this national anti-discrimination campaign aligns with its values and cultural diversity initiatives, from its Cultural Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and Action Plan, and Council’s Aboriginal six point Partnership Plan.
In 2015, the town was also one of the first nationwide to trial the Report Racism project in collaboration with the Victorian Police.
But, given the post-truth world in which we live - where anti-Islamic sentiment is becoming increasingly prevalent in mainstream media - Assafiri felt it was time to get her dating event on the road. And so last week, Speed Date A Muslim was held in Shepparton.
Assafiri and Tuna tell SBS they were understandably anxious on the day as they waited for guests to arrive. Tuna had been battling a swarm of aggressive Facebook trolls in the weeks leading up for the event, while Hana was unsure what to expect outside of her stomping ground in Melbourne’s Brunswick.
“I was just hoping people will be respectful and interested,” says Tuna.
But as the people of Shepparton began to file into the event, it became clear that this dating night was to be peaceful. Those attending, it appeared, had come to learn about Islam and Muslim 'others', with a proverbial olive branch in hand.
“Hopefully, we can all walk away a little more informed,” says Assafiri as she welcomed the group on Sunday, “and as a community, a little more solid.”
And thus, the ‘speed dating’ began.
“Hopefully, we can all walk away a little more informed.” 
SBS was at the event, along with 50 others in attendance. Under colourful umbrellas on local bar The Deck, Hana’s cheery crew of Melbourne Muslims fanned out among the crowd, each woman pairing off with a handful of Shepparton locals.
Of note was the heartwarming scene of interfaith couples pairing off - an older Shepparton woman in a floral frock and neatly applied makeup sitting happily by a woman dressed in the full niqab, chatting about the heat.
There were mothers and daughters, young couples, teachers, and even members of the local Indigenous community.
One young man, when asked by our reporter why he decided to attend, cited that he was Aboriginal and he believed that as such, all minorities should support each other and “ educate others.”
Speed Date A Muslim is the brainchild of Hana Assafiri, who launched the event in 2016 in Melbourne. (Carlo Zeccola)

Fighting unconscious bias

Hanife Coskun is a fourth-generation Shepparton local who describes her family as “very Aussie”. She tells SBS she converted to Islam 17 years ago. Hanife no longer wears the head covering, and says that many people are not aware she is Muslim. She says she attended the event to help bridge the social gap in her local community between the Muslim and non-Muslim families.
“When I first converted, my family were scared,” says Coskun. “The first thing mum asked me was about female genital mutilation!”
“In Shepparton, I’ve seen racism and I’ve experienced it. I’ve heard comments, usually from older white males, who say things like ‘Go back to where you came from’ directed to women wearing scarves, who are a representation of our religion.”
However, Coskun says, she also believes that the ‘racist’ tag on her local town is unfounded.
“I would say that Shepparton is an open-minded town. We’re into diversity. Shep is very accepting.”
“Shepparton is not racist. There is a very, very small percentage of the community who feel that way [against Muslims]."
Mal Ross, another long-time Shepparton local, is a careers counsellor at the local high schools. She attended the event in a bid to better understand how she can support Muslim students, who often present with very different learning and lifestyle issues than her other tertiary students.
She was paired up with university student Sajda Yakub, who had travelled from Melbourne with Assafiri for the event. Ross asked Yakub what she should avoid when dealing with young Muslim women preparing to leave school.
“Unconscious bias,” Yukub tells SBS.
“You [might not]  realise that you are being biased towards [Muslim women]. Despite the fact that they might have broken English, they can read body language really well.
"It also takes a lot for a student to tell a teacher ‘Mum won’t let me study’, or ‘Mum won’t let me work so I can look after my husband’ - and if there’s an eye roll, a step back, or a look of dislike on your face, they will retreat back into their shell again.
Ross nodded and took notes, hanging on the young law student’s every word.
As the crowds relaxed and personal stories were shared, the mood began to feel like old friends catching up. People swapped numbers, photos of their kids, Facebook friend requests. Plates of food were brought out as the local footy players began to drift in after their Sunday game. For a city apparently battling racial tension, Shepparton locals displaced strength in solidarity.
Even the two police officers in attendance were there in high spirits; when asked if they were anticipating violence at the event, they both laughed - “Nah mate,” they said, “We’re friends with Betul and are just here to support her.”
“Shepparton is not racist. There is a very, very small percentage of the community who feel that way [against Muslims],” says Constable Walker. “I would say everyone gets along pretty well... very few issues at all.”
As Assafiri looks ahead to the endless possibilities of a Speed Date A Muslim event series –around the country, she tells SBS she doesn’t want to preach to the converted.
“Social change only happens if you can walk the journey of those that you are wanting to engage,” says Assafiri. And if Shepparton is anything to go by, most Australians are ready – they’re just looking where to begin.
The Mosque Next Door begins Wednesday 8 November, 8.30pm on SBS, and continues on Wednesdays. Episodes will be available after broadcast anytime, anywhere, for free via SBS On Demand

Speed Date a Muslim is being telecast as 11am to-day on the Compass program.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Little Gidding: and T.S. Elliott, Nicholas Ferrar, Susan Grey. A tribute from Malcolm Guite.

A Sonnet for Nicholas Ferrar of Little Gidding, on his feast day

by malcolmguite

Little Gidding and Nicholas Ferrar's monument
Little Gidding and Nicholas Ferrar's monument

Nicholas Ferrar
Nicholas Ferrar

The Church of England keeps December 4th as the feast day of Nicholas Ferrar, the devout Anglican who founded the Community of Little Gidding in the early seventeenth century. Ferrar was trying to find a fruitful via media between protestant and catholic understandings of what it is to be Christian. As a member of a reformed church he and his community were devoted to reading the scriptures in their own language, to sharing their faith, and to worshipping together in the beautiful services of the Book of Common Prayer. But he was also keen to preserve and explore the Catholic heritage of community life, the daily offices of prayer, and praise, the pattern of Benedictine work and prayer, rooted in the psalms and the gospels. in holding these together he was recovering and preserving what he called. 'The right good old way'. His great friend George Herbert, from his death bed sent Ferrar the manuscript of all his poems, and it was Ferrar who published them for all of us. In the 1930s TS Eliot visited Little Gidding, and eventually enshrined the experience of prayer and awareness granted him there, in the poem Little Gidding, the last of the Four Quartets.
Ferrar died on the 4th December 1637, the day after Advent Sunday, at 1 am, the hour he had always risen for prayers, and my sonnet touches on that. Certainly the place in which he and his community kept prayer going at all times, recited the psalms, and lived out their gospel harmony, is still soaked in prayer, still, a place through which the eternal light shimmers into time, still, as the inscription on the chapel says, 'The very gate of Heaven'.
I would like to dedicate this sonnet to the memory of Susan Gray, a friend and parishioner who loved Little Gidding, both the place and the poem. When I took her last communion to her in the Hospice, she spoke the line from Little Gidding 'In my end is my beginning'.
As always you can hear the poem by clicking on the title or the 'play' button.
For Nicholas Ferrar

You died the hour you used to rise for prayer.
In that rich hush beneath all other sounds,
You rose at one and took the midnight air
Rising and falling on the wings and rounds
Of psalms and silence. The December stars
Shine clear above the Giddings, promised light
For those who dwell in darkness. Morning stirs
The household. From the folds of sleep, the late
Risers wake to find you gone, and pray
Through pain and grief to bless your journey home;
Those last glad steps in the right good old way
Up to the door where Love will bid you welcome.
Love draws us too, towards your grave and haven
We greet you at the very gate of Heaven.

malcolmguite | December 4, 2017 at 2:38 pm | Tags: AdventchristianityFerrarFour QuartetsGeorge HerbertliteratureLittle GiddingPoetrySonnetsTS Eliot | Categories: imaginationPoems | URL:    See also: