Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Social cohesion. Religious diversity. Ethnic diversity.

I have been missing in action for a while.  
Old age and ill health has been playing havoc with me in no uncertain terms.  

An interesting graph has come across my 'puter this morning 
It is interesting in our Australian context.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

God's beautiful creation ... for His pleasure and for ours

This Superb Fairy-wren has been parading around the front garden in recent days … looking, well, superb!
Superb Fairy-wren, Wyndham Street Newstead, 11th November 2018

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

The Thai Theravada tradition in Ballarat

Ballarat Buddhist Centre
Wat Thai Bhavana is a Buddhist community in the Thai Theravada tradition.

​It is a community for all people who are interested in the Buddhist way of life. Everyone is welcome, irrespective of age, colour or creed. We offer guidance to those interested in practising the Dhamma.

​The Dhamma is the teachings given by the Lord Buddha over 2600 years ago, and those teachings point to an underlying and transcendent reality which everyone can experience directly for themselves. In order to see reality as it truly is without the fetters of craving and desire, the Buddha established a series of practices taken together are referred to as the Noble Eightfold Path. This path of practice includes developing generosity and kindness, morality, and meditation, leading to the unfolding of wisdom.

Daily Chanting using the Internet

​You can listen by using the LINE app either on your smartphone, tablet device or PC. After you have downloaded and installed this app you will then have to send us an email asking for us to add you to the "Vip. Chanting"group. This may sound cumbersome, but the LINE app does not let you join a group on your own. You have to have a current member of the group to invite you.

​You can download the Line app from this website :

​Tuesday only 7.00 pm - 8.00 pm 
 Evening Chanting, Meditation, Dhamma talk (In English language)

All other days 9.00 pm - 10.00 pm 
 Special Chanting, Meditation, Dhamma talk (In Thai language)

Upcoming Events
End of Rain Retreat (Kathin) :

25 November 2018 at the Buninyong Town Hall 
from 10.00 am to 3.00 pm (309A Learmonth Street)

Monday, 12 November 2018

Ballarat bellringers are pulling their stuff at St Peter's Anglican Church at the western end of Sturt Street to mark the centenary of the end of World War 1 and the jubilant ringing of the bells of peace then.

<iframe src="…" width="560" height="451" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe>

Friday, 26 October 2018

Hasidic women in Brooklyn break through the gender barrier to establish their own ambulance service

In a new documentary, the brave work of a group of rule-breaking women in an Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn is brought to light

The women of 93Queen

The women of 93Queen. Photograph: Julieta Cervantes
For many years, Hasidic women in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Borough Park had a problem.
If they were stricken by illness or accident, or suddenly went into labour, their only ambulance option was the local branch of the Hatzolah, a volunteer emergency service set up to serve Orthodox Jews.
The Hatzolah are good; the crews have a response time of one to two minutes. But the Hatzolah are also all male – a very real issue in a religion and community that orders strict separation of genders.
It meant Hasidic women needing emergency medical attention would sometimes refrain from calling for an ambulance.
“Women were too embarrassed to call for help and then didn’t call for help,” said Paula Eiselt, the director of 93Queen, a new documentary which follows the efforts of Hasidic women in Borough Park to set up their own all female, ambulance service.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Ballarat politician, representing the Australian Labor Party, delivers an apology for the abuse of children in Ballarat

Catherine King,
Federal Member for Ballarat, 
a Labor Member of the House of Representatives
delivering an apology for the abuse of children in Ballarat
and speaking about church redress schemes.

Ballarat Interfaith Network Meeting - October : BIN and JCMA FRIENDSHIP WALK




Eastwood Leisure Centre, Eastwood St, 
Ballarat Central

Sufism, Muslims - and homosexuality

Rida Khan is a Sufi Muslim and a bisexual — and she wants to shatter some misconceptions.
Melbourne-based Sufi Rida Khan sitting in a cafe, looking out of a window.
"It's assumed that a lot of same-sex, bisexual or other gender diverse Muslims are having sex and that's actually a myth," says the 24-year-old aged-care nurse.
"It's like saying that all Muslim youth that are straight are engaging in heterosexual sex — and that's just far out, like, come on.

What is Sufism?

  • Sufism, or Tasawwuf as it is known in Arabic, is Islamic mysticism
  • Sufi orders can be found in Sunni, Shia and other Islamic sects
  • Sufi rituals, such as dhikr (devotional chanting), encourage introspection and spiritual closeness with God 
"Most of us are scared of having an aunty identify us with a guy or a girl."
Rida realised she was bisexual as a 17-year-old, but she waited a few years before announcing this to her Pakistani friends and family. She and her family are Sufis — followers of the mystical branch of Islam.
"My experience of coming out was in fact quite positive, quite different from the stories we hear in other gender-diverse communities," she says.
"But I think it does have a lot to do with the fact that my parents have lived in Turkey, we have lived in Japan, we've lived in Australia.
"When I came out it was like, 'meh, okay, you're still the same to me'."

'Not right' for the community

Not everyone supports Rida's openness about her sexual orientation.
While some progressive Muslim leaders support same-sex marriage, it is widely interpreted by Islamic schools of thought that same-sex intimacy is 'haram' or 'forbidden'.
"People think if you're bisexual, if you're homosexual … that's God testing you to prove that you can be a better person, that you can be a better Muslim and that you can rise above your so-called lust," Rida says.
"It's the women who are bullying me, the aunties who are really horrible [saying] 'Stay away from her, she's not a good person'.
"I don't know if it's jealousy or what it is, but they need to be kinder to gender-diverse women, they need to be kinder to women from Muslim minorities in this country."
'If you're bisexual, prove yourself'
But the pendulum swings both ways.
Rida says she's received just as much discrimination from Australia's LGBTQI community — because of her faith.
"It's like they constantly ridicule your religion," she says.
"They don't understand that religion can actually act as a tool for empowering you."
Faith isn't the only friction point. Rida says she's felt an expectation to fit in with Western expressions of queer sexuality.
"Not all people of colour from gender-diverse backgrounds actually relate to the mainstream sexuality, particularly along the lines of hypersexuality and self-objectification," she says.
"And we do get put down for it, like, 'if you're bisexual then prove yourself'."
Sometimes, prejudice can feel like it's coming from all sides.
"First, you're not accepted by the Muslim community because you're bisexual, then you're not accepted by the gender-diverse community in Australia for being Muslim," Rida says.
"Then you also identify as a woman of colour — so when discrimination and bullying happens, you don't know which of the three they are discriminating against you [for]."

Sexuality or faith: Being forced to choose

Siobhan Irving is an anthropologist, PhD candidate and a board member for Sydney Queer Muslims.
She converted to Islam as a 19-year-old and has spent the past five years collecting stories from gay and lesbian Muslims in Sydney and Singapore.
Ms Irving says Rida's story isn't unique.
"In the queer community — and just in general, really — many people do not understand why a same-sex attracted Muslim would still embrace their faith ... would still be proud of their religious community," she says.
"It's difficult for them to express both their identities as Muslims and as same-sex attracted people — they often feel that they must choose."
Ms Irving says last year's national plebiscite on same-sex marriage brought Islamophobic attitudes to the fore.
"People in the queer community — and elsewhere — presumed that this just meant Muslims voted against it, because the Western suburbs are known as being very much populated by Muslim communities," she points out.
In the aftermath, Ms Irving spoke to many LGBTQI Muslims who felt pressured to defend their faith in queer circles and spaces, if they disclosed it at all.

Solace through spirituality

Sufism or Tasawwuf, as it is known in Arabic, is not a sect of Islam, like Sunni or Shia, but rather a spiritual practice, and theory, that can be found in all branches of the faith.
Rida's parents, for instance, practise Sufism within the Sunni Hanafi tradition.
Meanwhile, Rida describes her faith as "Aboriginal-Sufi-centric Islam"; a practice influenced by Indigenous Dreamtime stories and her 'Baloch' bedouin ancestry.
Introspection, meditation and dhikr (devotional chanting) are core elements of Sufism.
Rida says these practises give her an inner strength to combat the external conflicts that come from being a bisexual Muslim.
"The modern Sufi community here in Melbourne looks something like a mix of hipsters [who] have a very deep intimate relationship with God," she says.
"[It's about] sitting together, discussing life issues, reading Rumi's poetry, and overall just really trying to do the best we can in a world which is largely right-wing or left-wing — we really fall somewhere in the middle."
According to Ed Husain, author of The House of Islam: A Global History, Sufi poets like Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi and Omar Khayyam celebrate an inner spirituality that can be overlooked in more hard-lined expressions of Islam.
"Their poetry ... is much more focused towards drawing to God and the divine through love, attraction, passion, hope and optimism, rather than [being] fearful of God and fussing over sins and hellfire and worrying about the consequences of whether, you know, your hair shows," he told Rachael Kohn on a recent episode of RN's The Spirit of Things.
"The fact that the Prophet Muhammad was reciting beautiful poetry was because he was internally in communication with the divine.
"And if you lose that internal communication, externality becomes ugly and rigid."
For Rida, Muslims and non-Muslims alike can gain joy from introspection.
"Sufism itself is just a practice to help you become closer to your divine," she says.
"[It tries] to get you to understand that the universe is a much bigger picture than what institutionalised religion has made it out to be."

Friday, 19 October 2018

A Hindu Temple in Sydney has been desecrated by vandals

A Hindu Temple in Sydney has been desecrated by vandals. We join our hearts to the Hindu Community and stand with them in solidarity against such hatred and bigotry.…/we-never-expected-this-to-happen-i…
It is not yet known who is responsible for the attack but given the word "Jesus" was scrawled on the inside of the temple it is not unreasonable to imagine that the perpetrates of this crime are the same kind of extreme right wing "christianist" terrorists that that have now desecrated our worship space on two occasions, and abused worshipers at a Brisbane Mosque.
This kind of terrorism cannot be tolerated in Australia and all religious leaders must stand in solidarity with the Hindu Community.
Fr Rod