Editorial: ageism and Australia

When my grandmother passed away just over a year ago, one of the things that gave me peace was seeing the love and care she received in her final days, from both family and staff at her residential aged care facility.

Unfortunately, not everyone is shown this kind of dignity and respect as they age.

While interviewing people for research for this edition’s feature article on elder abuse (page 9), a common theme which came up was our problem of ageism in Australia. The 2017 Australian Law Reform Commission Report, Elder Abuse: a national legal response, also names it as a problem. According to the report, Australia’s population is ageing, as we are living longer and having fewer children. In 2014–2015, 15% of our population was aged 65 or over and this is expected to rise to 23% by 2055. Continue Reading

Review: Promises and Blessings in the Book of Revelation, by Doug Rowston

Mosaic Press, 2014

“Today’s reading is from the Book of Revelation…” you can feel the apprehension… and no wonder. Like the evolution of our language from Oxford Dictionary standard to smart phone condensed, we have lost the understanding of the many codes used in the Bible, particularly those used within the pages of Revelation.

Promises and Blessings is a short (100 pages), easy to read book, which uses pen portraits of the ten martyrs who adorn the west front of Westminster Abbey as intermissions. Their relevance to the main context of the book are as examples of sacrificial, Christlike faith.

Best read alongside the Book of Revelation, its objective is to demystify much of the ancient text which was written in code to protect early Christians from punishment if they were caught reading it. It identifies the secret code as threefold: a number code, a colour code and an animal code. Continue Reading

Review: Bella’s Challenge, by Bella Burgemeister

The Book Incubator, 2016

Bella is a young girl on a mission. As a 10-year-old, she published a book called Bella’s Challenge – A Kid’s Take on the 17 United Nations (UN) Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

Bella has a deep concern for the welfare of the planet, people and how we treat each other. She found that the UN General Assembly had developed a plan  to create a more harmonious and caring way of living, but she is aware that for these changes to become a reality everyone needs to get involved, including  kids.

In this delightful book, Bella explains simply what the 17 UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development are, how they came about, and how we can make small steps to meeting these goals. Bella does this by issuing challenges on each of the goals. These challenges are positive ways that everyone can begin to make a difference for the benefit of our planet and community.

The format of the book makes for easy reading and clarity on such a weighty subject. Each page has a goal, a short summary of what it means and then lists three or four challenges that will help make these goals a reality; things that kids, adults and communities can do. Continue Reading

Review: Resurrecting Easter: How the West lost and East kept the original Easter Vision

By John Dominic Crossan and Sarah Sexton Crossan, Harper Collins, 2018.

Biblical scholars John Dominic Crossan and the late Marcus Borg conducted pilgrimages over the years to Italy and Turkey, two of which I was fortunate to attend.

We learnt that all the major events in Christ’s life are described in the Gospels but no direct reports of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Instead, many artistic impressions of Jesus’ resurrection were created, some we visited in churches, caves and museums.

The first direct image appears by 400 and is part of the West’s individual resurrection tradition. The second direct image by the year 700 is part of the East’s universal resurrection tradition named the Anastasis, Greek for resurrection.

For 15 years Dominic and Sarah Crossan travelled across Europe and Asia creating a comprehensive photographic archive of this resurrection imagery. How timely when this book with Sarah’s images, the ancient texts which inspired them and Dominic’s scholarly interpretation arrived for Easter.

The cover image of their book is from the 1300s Chora Church in Istanbul, where we gazed at this beautiful Anastasis mosaic high in the half dome of the apse of the risen Christ, enveloped by a star studded mandorla, grasping the wrists of Adam and Eve, the personification of humankind. Christ pulls them from their tombs while standing firmly on the shattered gates of hell with lock and bolts strewn around his feet. Christ is trampling down a well-trussed Hades, guardian and personification of death, who is lying prone beneath his feet. Continue Reading

Moderator’s Column: Training versus trying

A very belated Happy New Year!

As I write this we are two weeks from 1 January, the day that some of us made New Year resolutions. Typically at the beginning of a new year we start to think about some changes that might help that year go better than the old one.

According to my Google research, the big four resolutions are: aiming to be fit and healthy, vowing to lose weight, trying to enjoy life more (less stress) and spending time with people we care about.

Other standard resolutions include spending less, getting more sleep and watching less television.

I wonder if you made a resolution. Mine was not so much a resolution but a reminder verse for the year: “. . . the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10). I started to think about how this sense of the joy of God might become increasingly part of my daily life. That started me thinking about the difference between trying and training. Continue Reading

Editorial: Listening to the #metoo movement

By now you’ve probably heard all about the #metoo movement, sparked by the outing of American film producer Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment of women, over decades in the industry. Since then, numerous allegations have been made against others, some who had claimed to be supporters of the movement. Some whose work I have really loved in the past.

It’s fairly obvious that the entertainment industry has a problem with misogyny; it’s in so many of the shows and movies we watch, but many of us have  learned to just accept that’s the way it is. We’ve all seen the jokes and comments about female actresses not getting anywhere in their career unless they perform sexual acts with the men above them.

As workplaces have progressed in the way women are treated (though there is still a way to go in many) it seems Hollywood has managed to retain its  misogyny all in the name of entertainment. In some ways, I think some of these men have been given so much freedom and power that they were bound to abuse it. Obviously, that doesn’t make it right. Continue Reading

Time for a new Reformation? – Or should we just take the first one seriously?

In the October 2017 edition of Revive, John Squires noted the 500th anniversary of Luther’s 95 Theses and asked whether it might not be time “to kick off the shackles of old traditions and practices” and “reform ourselves once more”. He takes “12 references to newness, renewal or reform” in our Basis of Union as “clear pointers in that direction.”

But does a call “to kick off the shackles of old traditions and practices” point in the same direction as the Reformation or the Basis?

Reformation became possible, because Luther’s distress at his sinfulness drove him to look again at what Paul meant by “the righteousness of God.” The discovery that God’s righteousness revealed in the Gospel does not make demands or judgments, but graciously justifies the ungodly (Romans 1:16-17; 3:21-26; 4:5), increasingly informed Luther’s lecturing on the Scriptures at Wittenberg University and preaching in the town.Continue Reading

Review: Property and Progress for a Pilgrim People, by Michael Owen

Morning Star Publishing, 2017

In the Uniting Church ‘the Congregation is the embodiment in one place of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church’, ‘the primary expression of the corporate life of the Church’ and is responsible for ‘providing facilities and resources in support of the work of the Congregation’ [BoU §15(a); UCA Constitution sec. 22; Reg. 3.1.1 (c)(iv)].

In his new book Property and Progress for a Pilgrim People, Michael Owen reflects on recent policies, regulations and decisions relating to property in the Uniting Church.  A congregation’s property is held by a synod property trust for the beneficial use of the congregation.  A congregation is financially and practically responsible for its property. But to whom does a congregation’s property really belong?  The National Property Policy (2011) says it belongs ‘to God’, to the ‘whole people of God’ and to the ‘Uniting Church in Australia’. Owen argues from the Basis of Union and from the Regulations that it belongs to the congregation.Continue Reading

Review-The Men in the Window, by Judith Amey

As she sat in the pews at St Aidan’s Uniting Church in Claremont, Judith Amey’s gaze would often fall on the stained glass window on the eastern wall during Sunday service.

At the base of the window were 16 names inscribed in the stained glass, men who had died in the First World War. It was an honour roll of men from the Claremont district, many of them with families connected to the church.

Amey began to wonder who they were; what was their background, who were their families, when and how had they died in the war?

Amey decided to investigate further. Her research has resulted in a slim, but evocative book, The Men in the Window.

Typical of the 16 men was Lieutenant Gordon Gemmell, whose Irish family moved from Melbourne to Perth in 1900. Gemmell trained as a teacher at Claremont Teacher’s College and was among the first intake of students at the University of WA. Gemmell saw action at Yypres in 1917, and in 1918 was leading a charge of his men in the final assault against the Germans when he was killed by machine
gun fire.

Coincidentally, Gemmell’s 15-year-old great great niece in Queensland, Meg Gemmell, won the 2015 Premier’s Anzac Prize for high school students for her essay on her relative, which won her a trip to Gallipoli.Continue Reading