Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Short Course on World Religions, ACU, Melbourne

Short Courses on World Religions

Want to learn about the beliefs and practices of major World Religions?

Australian Catholic University is offering an opportunity to do this in 2015:
  • 29 July: Confucianism and Taoism (Dr. Edmund Chia)
  • 5 August: Islam (Fatih Erol Tuncer)
  • 12 August: Judaism (Rabbi Fred Morgan)
  • 19 August: Hinduism (Rev. Dr. John Dupuche)
  • 26 August: Buddhism (Prof. John D'Arcy May)
Time: 6-8pm (Refreshments from 6pm, lecture starts at 6:30pm).

Christ Lecture Theatre, Australian Catholic University, 115 Victoria Parade, Fitzroy.

Fees: $80 for those requiring a Certificate of Attendance 
(Details on ACU website)
          $40 for others

Registration: Registration is essential and closes Friday 24 July 2015. 
You can register on ACU website.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Compassion and Social Justice - a conference theme for/from Buddhist women to be held in Indonesia

Dharma Nature Time

Dear friends and colleagues,

We are pleased to help share this announcement from Sakyadhita (“Daughters of the Buddha”) International Association of Buddhist Women about the

14th Sakyadhita International Conference on Buddhist Women
in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia
23 to 30 June 2015

The conference theme “Compassion & Social Justice” will be addressed through meditation sessions, educational presentations, workshops, interactive panel discussions, and cultural exchanges. As the organizing committee shared, “All voices are welcome at Sakyadhita conferences: women and men, lay and ordained of all ages, nationalities, religions, and perspectives”. Held every other year in a different country, it is estimated that 300 participants from 45 nations and hopefully 700 from Indonesia will join this 14th Sakyadhita conference.

Venue: Sambi Resort, Jl. Kaliurang km. 19.2, Desa Wisata Sambi. Pakembinangun-Sleman, Yogyakarta

For a conference brochure and information on registration, see:

Sunday, 26 April 2015

How the interfaith movement engenders mutual understanding and appreciation ....

Published on 24 Apr 2015
Dr. Brian Birch discusses how the Interfaith Movement can help address today's critical issues, and how interfaith dialogue lends itself to strengthening one's respective religious tradition, to discovering shared values and beliefs, and to gaining greater mutual understanding.

From The Editor of Beside The Creek,
interfaith understanding and appreciation
is a work of peace.
Currently the world is a mess of wars and conflicts -
human activities which will not bear good or useful fruit.
Understanding a broader humanity and what makes it tick
is not only interesting and fun,
it helps us to understanding each other's place in the world
and the contribution that each of us make to human culture.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Do you have Religious Literacy? In a secular society, have we lost the understanding of what motivates deeply religious groups, societies, nations?

What is Religious Literacy?

Get the gist of what Religious Literacy is all about
by exploring Lapidomedia.

LAPIDO MEANS TO SPEAK UP in the Acholi dialect of Northern Uganda.  Religiously literate media work helped to end a war there between 2003-5.  We were founded by journalists to advocate for greater awareness of the faith dimension in policy, governance, and conflict in the UK and abroad.
Many news stories do not make sense - whether to journalists or policy makers who feed off what they report - without understanding religion. Lapido Media is an internationally networked, British-based philanthro-media charity, founded in 2005, that seeks to increase understanding among journalists and opinion formers of the way religion shapes world affairs. 
It’s called religious literacy.  We run media briefingspublish research and essays and work with journalists around the world.  Our stringers practise on our website the kind of religiously literate journalism we wish to see, going deeper to the sources of social motivations, and providing a resource for other journalists.  And we work with civil society groups on campaigns and media strategy to improve the flow and quality of stories with a religion dimension. 

Lapido Media e-newsletter - View email in browser | Forward to a friend
HAVE New Atheism and Richard Dawkins contributed to or hindered our understanding of modern faith?

Read more here>>
AS IRAN comes in from the cold, Iranian-born artist highlighted among 47 Middle Eastern works coming to London.

Read more here>>
AS the 100th Armenian genocide anniversary approaches, initial delight in Turkey's AKP government among Christians sours amidst rising sectarianism (Al-Monitor). Meanwhile, the World Bank gets religion as its president declares 'we have to have the partnership of religious leaders' to end extreme poverty (Washington Post). Finally, to mark Holocaust Day last week, the story of a Muslim country–the only European nation to boast a larger Jewish population than it had before the war (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Presenters required for the Schools Program of the Jewish Christian Muslim Association of Australia (JCMA)

JCMA School Workshops Presenters Required

The Jewish Christian Muslim Association of Australia (JCMA) Schools Program is seeking expressions of interest for new schools presenters for the Primary and Secondary School Workshop Program. 

The JCMA schools program aims to positively counter stereotypes and religious discrimination. The workshops provide a forum to promote acceptance of diversity and difference encouraging greater understanding, respect and empathy for people different from ourselves in our schools and wider community. 

People of Jewish, Christian or Muslim faith background who are confident public speakers, dynamic and articulate are advised of this unique opportunity to share experiences of their beliefs and practices with young people.

As a JCMA presenter you will need:

  • Strong knowledge of your faith and willingness to share your story 
  • Capability to engage and connect with young audiences 
  • Knowledge to convincingly respond to questions and work collaboratively 
  • Confident presentation skills including role play (Primary Program is largely performance-based) 
  • these are paid casual positions
  • presentations are usually conducted during school hours
  • interviews for new presenters will be held afternoon of 30 April 2015.

Enquiries:  For a copy of the JCMA Schools Presenter Position Description and the skills & experience requirements please go to our website jcma.org.au/employment or call Doug Sandiford on 9287 5571 or email schoolscoordinator@jcma.org.au.

To Apply: Forward your CV by email, including a response to the skills & experience criteria, by 4.00pm, 23rd April, 2015.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Frankston Interfaith Network: bus tour to learn more about Jewish faith, history and culture

The congregation that was to be renamed Temple Beth Israel was founded in 1929, when High Holiday services were first conducted. Three Rabbis of the American Reform Movement served the congregation for brief periods, but the congregation was faltering until it appointed Rabbi Dr Herman Sanger in 1938. Rabbi Sanger, born in Germany, educated in Oxford University, was a fifth-generation rabbi, and accepted the appointment at the urging of Rabbi Leo Baeck, Head of the Reform Movement in Germany. Sanger immediately revitalised the movement, with a mixture of British Liberal and German Reform ideals. Prior to Dr Sanger's appointment the service was largely in English, but with Sanger's appointment the service grew to become more traditional in form, with minimal English. Men and women have always sat together in this synagogue, but the role of women has become more equal over the years. TBI has had women rabbis, women cantors, offers Bat Mitzvah girls the same experience as Bar Mitzvah boys, counts women in a minyam.

Frankston Interfaith Network invites you to join:
A bus tour to learn more about Jewish faith, history and culture
Date: Wednesday 29 April 2015       Time: 9.15am to 3pm
Pick-up location: Frankston Visitor Information Centre (VIC) 7N Pier Promenade
(all-day parking available southbound on Nepean Hwy)
Be welcomed at the progressive synagogue of Temple Beth Israel 
Plenty of time for discussion over a light kosher lunch.
Tickets: $10 to cover travel, lunch and entry costs

Ticketing through Frankston Vistor Center: phone 1300 322 842 or go 
online to make a booking

Monday, 13 April 2015

Muslims in Australia: a vital role in the development of Australia's Outback

The ABC program, Compass, last night and to-day, broadcast a wonderful program about the role of Afghan cameleers in opening up The Outback of Australia in the 19th century.

The program, By Compass and Quran, will be available on ABC iview until 7.30pm on 26 April 2015.

It is a wonderful insight into another world.  The cameleers married Australian women - white women, Aboriginal women.  Their descendants speak strongly and fondly of their Afghan forebears. There is also film of original mosques in which the cameleers prayed. And there is also a comment on why camels are now a plague in outback Australia.

This Q&A is now closed. Thank you for all your questions. 
Thank you very much Kuranda.-------Please give a warm...
Posted by Compass on Sunday, 12 April 2015

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Zen and the art of social movement maintenance

Prayer, Meditation, Mindfulness.  What have these to do with social justice?  What have these to do with penetrating and  putting right the structural wrongs of society?

From the Christian tradition we can take a look at Jesus himself, move forward to the seventeenth century and Quakers, and into the twentieth century where we can find that notable mystic and anti-war activist, Thomas Merton. At this point, it seems good to ask that readers contact Beyond The Creek with people of mindfulness/mysticism who were/are also social justice activists.

The title of the story is, for those too young to recall, a pun.

At the event tweeted above, Angela Davis asked Jon Kabat-Zinn a question:

In a racially unjust world what good is mindfulness?

I am indebted to my Friend, Dale Hess who is a Quaker, for the provision of this article.

A Memory
In 1985, I attended the UN Women's Forum in Nairobi, Kenya.
Angela Davis - at the height of controversy in her life and career -
turned up.
Not for Angela a formal speaking platform or workshop.  No!

I have a fond memory of sitting on the grass at the Nairobi University
below a knoll on top of which Angela Davis stood and spoke to us.
I can't recall what she said - only how I felt.
I felt amazed to be in the presence of a great mind - 
a mind clear, trained, incisive.
For a girl from a remote northern town, this was a wonder!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Caves of unredeemed nastiness and bitterness engendering disrespect of others

The material posted below concerning yesterday's rallies is posted for information and for the record. However, the Social Media Project Officer, a Christian, cannot resist a comment. 

The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is, in many Christian traditions, a sobering and quiet day. It is a day for remembering Jesus lying in the borrowed tomb after his death on Friday and before his rising to life on Sunday. 

This year, the Christian holy days overlapped with the conclusion of the Jewish Passover which marks the remembrance of the escape of the Jews from tyrannical power, a tyrannical nation. This leaves a question. Who were the noisy anti-Islamic people who were the initiators of all this noise in the public squares of Australian cities yesterday? 

I think it might be possible to rule out the participation of Muslims. Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath - so I think Jews could be ruled out. Some of the participants would have called themselves Christian. I would challenge these people. I would say that they are Christian in name only - and not in spirit. 

The true spirit of the day would not have seen public outcry and uproar. It would not have seen expressed hatred to another Abrahamic faith - because, in the Abrahamic tradition, we are taught to love and respect others as ourselves. The true spirit of the day, instead, would have been private and reflective. 

Something horrible happened in Australia yesterday. It enlivened latent bigotry and xenophobia in the Australian psyche which many of us had hoped we, as a nation, would have overcome. If yesterday did nothing else, it held a mirror up to ourselves. It showed us that all Australians are not sweetness and light and good mates - but dwell in caves of unredeemed nastiness and bitterness which engenders disrespect of others.

The post below has been cross-posted with permission from The Network

The video above and the text immediately below are from the Melbourne rally.
Violent clashes at anti-Islam protests in Melbourne
Thousands of anti-Muslim and anti-racism protesters have clashed in cities and towns across the country after Reclaim Australia group organised rallies
Violent clashes have marred anti-Islam demonstrations in Australia.

Thousands of anti-Islam and anti-racism protesters clashed today after the Reclaim Australia group organised rallies in 16 cities and towns across the country.

The group claims to oppose Islamic extremism, the "Islamisation" of Australian society, Sharia law and the Halal-certification of most meats sold in Australia.

But counter-rallies were organised by other groups, who claim Reclaim Australia is anti-Muslim.
The most violent clashes were in Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, where police struggled to hold back opposing demonstrators.

Ambulance Victoria spokesman Paul Bentley said the Victoria state ambulance service treated four people, three for minor injuries, due to assaults in Melbourne.

The fourth was treated for chest pains.

Police arrested three people after groups clashed in the city's Federation Square.
A man at the Reclaim Australia rally in Hobart was arrested and charged with assault after his group clashed with the counter-rally supporting multiculturalism.

A large rally was held in Sydney, where police were forced to remove opposition protesters who stormed the Reclaim Australia stage.

Clare Fester, who organised a counter-rally in Sydney, said Reclaim Australia was racist and divisive.

"It's quite clearly an attack on Muslims and Muslim communities in this country," she told ABC News.
"It's all about halal food, sharia law, banning the burka."

But Reclaim Australia's John Oliver said it was wrong to label the group racist.

"We're not against any particular race or any particular religion," he said.
"We're against the extremists of one particular religion."

One Nation's Pauline Hanson addressed supporters in Brisbane telling them she was a "proud Australian" who wanted to fight for "our democracy, culture and way of life".

Other rallies were held in Adelaide, Hobart and Perth.

On April 4th an organisation named Reclaim Australia has called racist anti-Muslim rallies across the country. Their core demands include banning the burqa, opposition to halal food and stopping sharia law. It has attracted support from far right organisations such as the Australian Defence League.

Unlike previous far right events this rally has attracted a large number of attendees on Facebook. Reclaim Australia is trying to win credibility by claiming it is not racist to be anti-Muslim. Our counter-protest aims to challenge this and make clear the racist nature of their event. We hope this will stop the hard core racists behind this event from building any greater support.

In Sydney they have called their rally outside the Lindt Café, where the Martin Place siege took place in December. But Man Haron Monis, an unstable individual with a history of bizarre actions, had no connection to any terrorist organisation. Even Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin has stated the siege had nothing to do with Islam. But Reclaim Australia is attempting to make a political link between terrorism, Islam and Martin Place.


Islamophobia is already being peddled in the political mainstream. Tony Abbott and the mainstream media have labelled the entire Muslim community as responsible for terrorism.

Abbott has effectively accused Muslim leaders of sympathising with violence and terrorism, saying, “I've often heard Western leaders describe Islam as a 'religion of peace'. I wish more Muslim leaders would say that more often, and mean it.”

Abbott launched a scare campaign about terrorism following police raids in the western suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, despite there being no evidence of any terror attack planned. Just one person was charged on terror-related crimes as a result.

The raids served to whip up fear and division in the community and allow the government to pass a raft of new and invasive anti-terror laws that curb civil liberties. The result has been a spate of violent attacks on Muslims around the country, especially visibly Muslim women who wear the hijab.

It is not a coincidence that Abbott has ramped up the Islamophobia while he keeps sinking in the polls. Across the world governments are using fear of Muslims, refugees and migrants to get away with budget cuts and austerity.

This is a desperate government trying to sow fear and xenophobia in the community as a distraction.


We are holding a rally on April 4th in solidarity with Muslim communities all over the country who are currently under attack.