Category : Australia / NZ

(NYT) Why Australia Bet the House on Lasting American Power in Asia

When Scott Morrison became Australia’s prime minister three years ago, he insisted that the country could maintain close ties with China, its largest trading partner, while working with the United States, its main security ally.

“Australia doesn’t have to choose,” he said in one of his first foreign policy speeches.

On Thursday, Australia effectively chose. Following years of sharply deteriorating relations with Beijing, Australia announced a new defense agreement in which the United States and Britain would help it deploy nuclear-powered submarines, a major advance in Australian military strength.

With its move to acquire heavy weaponry and top-secret technology, Australia has thrown in its lot with the United States for generations to come — a “forever partnership,” in Mr. Morrison’s words. The agreement will open the way to deeper military ties and higher expectations that Australia would join any military conflict with Beijing.

It’s a big strategic bet that America will prevail in its great-power competition with China and continue to be a dominant and stabilizing force in the Pacific even as the costs increase.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Australia / NZ, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, France, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(SA) Sydney Diocese: No tolerance for abuse

All Anglicans should be deeply grieved by the study released this week by the Anglican Church of Australia on domestic and family violence.

“Like my predecessor, I want to state clearly that all forms of domestic abuse are incompatible with Scripture and Christian faith,” said the new Archbishop of Sydney, Kanishka Raffel. “Nothing justifies violence or coercion. Christian relationships are to be marked by love, gentleness and respect.”

The report, outlined here, indicates the prevalence of family abuse was the same or higher than in the wider Australian community. The report will be studied to determine ways to further strengthen responses to domestic abuse and family violence within church communities and a ten point commitment has been enacted by the General Synod, as well as work already undertaken in the Sydney Diocese. “There is much work to do and our shock and sadness should stir us into further action,” said Archbishop Raff

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Sexuality, Violence

David Ould–Bishop of Gippsland supports Synod motion endorsing extra-marital relationships

The Gippsland Anglican reports in its June edition:

One of the Bishop-in-Council motions was to add a preamble to Section 7 of Faithfulness in Service so that a member of the clergy or church worker in a committed and monogamous relationship is not considered to be breaching two clauses therein “because that relationship does not have the status of a marriage solemnised according to an Anglican marriage rite.” The clauses in question refer to “chastity in singleness and faithfulness in marriage.”

In his presidential address, Bishop Richard said, “… for years, we have been expecting people who are in faithful, committed relationships that either do not constitute marriage, or do not correspond with our church’s doctrine of marriage, either to sign [up to Faithfulness in Service] with their fingers crossed, or to walk away. Why should their conscience bear that burden?”

Read it all and make sure to take the time to read the bishop’s full address.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(ABC Aus.) Michael Jensen–Sydney’s almost unnoticed Archbishop-elect: The challenges facing Kanishka Raffel and the Anglican church

He must lead his churches, then, in a concerted effort in prayer and repentance. There can be no priority higher than this. It would be a grave mistake to put evangelism above this, since evangelism is powerfully effective when there is evidence that people really live as if the gospel is true. In the past, we’ve been too triumphalist, too presumptive. The grace of our message has not always been matched by the grace of our welcome.

Kanishka must lead them in a return to the Word of God. Martin Luther once said, with typical exaggeration, “the ears alone are the organ of the Christian”. The Christian church is a listening church. It is found wherever the Word of God is preached. Where Jesus is declared to be Lord, and where people gather to hear it, there you find the Spirit of God active — not only there, but certainly there. When the people of God are seeking the voice of God in the pages of the Bible — when they hear themselves addressed by him from above — then there is hope.

The Archbishop must encourage us to be local communities of loving welcome. The “action”, as it were, is not in the bishop’s office or in committee rooms. The faith is not a matter of reports by theologians. It lives in the congregations that gather Sunday by Sunday, worshipping God and hearing him address them. Archbishop-elect Kanishka has written of a visit he made while holidaying to a small congregation, unimpressive by normal standards and few in number. And yet, he wrote later that he saw there “the stunning beauty of the gathered people of God”. It is my experience that people who are you might think the least likely to find a spiritual home in an Anglican Church in Sydney do so when they find that the hospitality they experience is for real.

But there must also be a courageous and prophetic engagement with post-Christian culture. The great Swiss theologian Karl Barth once said that sermons should be written with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. The Bible gives us eyes to see what is really in the newspaper. But it is also the case that news may help us to see better what is in the Bible. The mistake that many American evangelicals have made is to imagine that political and cultural means are the way to pursue or to defend the kingdom of God — mostly in alignment with the political right. That is a fool’s errand. It leads to an idolatry of political power, as was seen the Trump’s presidency. It shows no faith in the ultimate Lordship of Jesus, who is the church’s only Lord.

But neither should the church simply follow the spirit of the age. Its calling is not to provide a chaplaincy to contemporary narcissism. It finds laughable talk of “getting with the times” or “history being on our side”. It does not pursue relevance, as if that were anything worthwhile. It outlasted Rome: it will surely outlast Atlassian.

Read it all.

Posted in Adult Education, Anglican Church of Australia, Australia / NZ, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(AP) Novak Djokovic eases past Daniil Medvedev to claim 9th Australian Open title

Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open dominance is intact — nine finals, nine championships.

And he keeps gaining on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the Grand Slam standings, now up to 18 overall, two away from the men’s record shared by his two rivals.

Djokovic used superb serving and his usual relentless returning and baseline excellence to grab 11 of 13 games in one stretch and beat a visibly frustrated Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 on Sunday for a third trophy in a row at Melbourne Park.

The 33-year-old from Serbia improved to 18-0 combined in semifinals and finals on the hard courts of the Australian Open.

Looking at the bigger picture, Djokovic has won six of the last 10 major tournaments and is assured of remaining at No. 1 in the rankings at least through March 8. That will give him 311 weeks in the top spot, breaking a mark held by Federer

Read it all.

Posted in Australia / NZ, Men, Sports

(BBC) Vienna shooting: Austria hunts suspects after ‘Islamist terror’ attack

A gunman shot dead by police has been identified as a 20-year-old “Islamist terrorist” who was released early from jail in December.

Two men and two women died of their wounds after gunmen opened fire at six locations in the city centre on Monday evening.

Twenty-two people were wounded.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the four who died were an elderly woman, an elderly man, a young male passer-by and a waitress. Witnesses described how the gunmen had opened fire on people outside bars and chased them as they fled inside.

It was clearly an attack driven by “hatred of our way of life, our democracy”, the chancellor said. He earlier spoke of a “repulsive terror attack”.

Read it all.

Posted in Australia / NZ, Judaism, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

(C of E) Global investors engage top mining companies on Indigenous community rights & social licence

Australia, London, – a group of 64 investors and their representatives with USD $10.2 trillion in Assets Under Management have today written to the Boards of mining companies operating in Australia and internationally to seek assurances about how the sector obtains and maintains its social license to operate with First Nations and Indigenous communities.

The investor group of long-term institutional investors is considering the implications of what occurred at the Juukan Gorge on the wider mining sector to support alignment between best-practice and company action.

The investor group is seeking information on the action companies are taking to understand and manage the risks. The group is clear that although the example of the destruction of the Juukan Gorge has arisen in Australia, the principles apply to projects across the world.

The letter from global investors states:

“As responsible investors and their representatives, we are committed to working with the mining sector to support verifiable outcome-oriented processes and standards that ensure that such events are not repeated. To do so, we need to better understand your approach to management of the cultural heritage and First Nations and Indigenous community relations.”

Read it all.

Posted in Australia / NZ, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stock Market

(ABC Aus.) Rodeo bronc rider to Christian leader, Keith Christie celebrates church’s 20 years

Before Pastor Keith Christie joined the church he was a rodeo-going bronc rider with what he described as a “pretty bad attitude”.

Standing in Mount Isa’s Christian Outreach Centre, it is hard to draw any parallel between the Pastor Keith who stands before you and the photos of the bronc rider on his office walls.

Pastor Keith reopened the Christian Outreach Centre two decades ago and celebrated the milestone last month.

Read it all.

Posted in Australia / NZ, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Bloomberg) Australia’s Water Is Vanishing

The early afternoon sun was pounding the parched soil, and Gus Whyte was pulling on his dust-caked cowboy boots to take me for a drive. We’d just finished lunch—cured ham, a loaf of bread I’d bought on the trip up, chutney pickled by Whyte’s wife, Kelly—at his house in Anabranch South, which isn’t a town but rather a fuzzy cartographic notion in the far west of New South Wales, a seven-hour drive from Melbourne and half as far again from Sydney. I’d been grateful, as I pulled off the blacktop of the Silver City Highway to cover the last 10 miles or so, that I’d rented the biggest 4×4 Hertz could give me. I was on a dirt road, technically, but the dirt was mostly sand, punctuated with rocks the size of small livestock and marked only by the faintest of tire tracks.

We climbed into Whyte’s pickup, and I reached instinctively over my shoulder. “Don’t worry about seat belts,” he said, amiably but firmly. “I know it’s a habit.” His Jack Russell terrier, Molly, balanced herself on his lap as he drove.

Whyte, who has reddish-brown hair, sheltered his ruddy, sun-weathered face beneath a battered bush hat. He raises livestock, mostly sheep and some cattle, on nearly 80,000 acres. Normally he’d run about 7,500 sheep, but he was down to 2,000. There wasn’t enough water for more. “I can’t remember it being this dry,” he said. “It’s disheartening to see a landscape like this. You hate it. This is where I was born and grew up, and it means the world to me.”

He kept driving, rattling off statistics about rainfall (down) and temperatures (up). Every so often he’d stop and get out to check on one of the storage tanks dotting the property, which held what little water he had. After a while we pulled onto the crest of a small hill, and Whyte pointed out Yelta Lake, a kidney-shaped landmark that’s colored, on maps, in a reassuringly cool blue. In real life it was the same dun color as everything else. “It hasn’t had any water in it since 2014,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in Australia / NZ, Climate Change, Weather, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology

Archbishop Glenn Davies of Sydney’s 2020 Easter message

The leader of the largest Anglican diocese in the country, Sydney Archbishop Glenn Davies has spoken of the hope Jesus brings in declaring that the joy of Easter will not be extinguished by the coronavirus.

“I was asked by a television reporter recently whether COVID-19 is the virus that killed Easter,” Archbishop Davies said in his annual Easter message. “My answer was a resounding no!”

“Like you, I am astounded by what I am seeing as each day passes. We have never experienced a crisis quite like this before. We have so many fears – unemployment, loneliness, the safety of our loved ones. Of course, the greatest fear of all from this virus is the fear of death. But the message of Easter is that death has been conquered.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Australia / NZ, Easter

(Aus AP) Few Australian Anglican Submissions back blessing same-sex marriages

Australia’s most senior Anglican, Melbourne Archbishop Dr Philip Freier, referred that decision to the church’s internal appellate tribunal in September.

The tribunal was asked to consider whether the regulation was consistent under the church’s national constitution and valid under canon law.

The tribunal then called for submissions on the matter.

A second referral – to be considered concurrently – asked the tribunal to decide more generally if blessing services other than for heterosexual unions should be allowed.

In her address to the Wangaratta synod in August, which forms part of the diocese’s submissions to the tribunal, Reverend Dorothy Lee argued the blessing of same-sex Christian couples “seems a small thing to ask”.

“There are no theological grounds for refusing to bless civil unions,” Rev Lee said.

“On the contrary, faithful and loving Christian couples, whatever their sexual orientation, gender, race or class, should be able to ask for and receive the church’s blessing.”

However, of the 33 other submissions to the tribunal, just four support blessing same-sex marriages.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Congratulations to Novak Djokovic, 2020 Men’s Title winner of the Australian Open

Posted in Australia / NZ, Men, Serbia, Sports

Congratulations to Sofia Kenin, 2020 Women’s Title winner of the Australian Open

Posted in America/U.S.A., Australia / NZ, Sports, Women

(Church Times) Australian bishops respond to bushfire crisis

Bishops of the two regions most affected by the current Australian bushfire crisis have issued pastoral letters to their congregations.

The Bishop of Gippsland, Dr Richard Treloar, in a letter read in churches across his diocese on Sunday, wrote that “our hearts and hand go out” to the people in the fire-ravaged areas of east Gippsland. Two people have died and hundreds of homes and other buildings have been destroyed.

He continued: “We commit ourselves to a sustained relief effort, working within and beyond our churches with people of good will to support those most affected by the fires and their aftermath, and to rebuild hope where hope has been lost.”

The Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, Dr Mark Short, has also written to all parishes in his diocese, which extends to the south coast of New South Wales. Some small towns in the south coast region have been virtually obliterated, and at least one church was burnt down.

“We grieve with and for those who have lost property and loved ones”, Dr Short wrote. “We groan with and for creation as it waits for rescue. We long for quenching rain and relief. . . Please join with me in thanking God for every act of courage and kindness.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Australia / NZ, Police/Fire

(ABC Aus.) Controversial religious discrimination bill overhauled as Australia Government releases new draft

The Federal Government has overhauled its proposed religious discrimination laws in an effort to win over faith leaders who rebuked the Coalition’s earlier attempts.

Attorney-General Christian Porter outlined 11 changes to the draft bill, which the Government opted against introducing to Parliament last month after facing criticism from religious and groups advocating for racial and sexual equality, and for those with disabilities.

As flagged, the new bill will allow religious bodies — such as hospitals and aged care providers — to continue to hire people on the basis of their religion.

The other changes include defining the word “vilify” as inciting “hatred or violence” and exemptions to allow religious camps and conference centres to take faith into account when deciding to provide accommodation.

Read it all.

Posted in Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(NYT) Suddenly, the Chinese Threat to Australia Seems Very Real

A Chinese defector to Australia who detailed political interference by Beijing. A businessman found dead after telling the authorities about a Chinese plot to install him in Parliament. Suspicious men following critics of Beijing in major Australian cities.

For a country that just wants calm commerce with China — the propellant behind 28 years of steady growth — the revelations of the past week have delivered a jolt.

Fears of Chinese interference once seemed to hover indistinctly over Australia. Now, Beijing’s political ambitions, and the espionage operations that further them, suddenly feel local, concrete and ever-present.

“It’s become the inescapable issue,” said Hugh White, a former intelligence official who teaches strategic studies at the Australian National University. “We’ve underestimated how quickly China’s power has grown along with its ambition to use that power.”

Read it all.

Posted in Australia / NZ, China, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(NYT) First Comes Snapchat, Then the Bachelor and Spinster Ball

“It’s hard finding love,” Rippy said, noting that his wife of 30 years was somewhere nearby. “I’d hate to be single again. It’s scary, dead set.”

But that’s why the balls matter, he added. Along with the awkward singles, the free-flowing beer and the backfiring pickup trucks, or “utes,” turned on and off to create fiery explosions called key bangs, there are people who connected at balls and come back to socialize.

“Who here is a couple?” Rippy yelled, meandering through the crowd.

Within a minute, Jess and Matt Chown emerged. He works on sheep farms; she works at an aged-care home for veterans.

“We met at a ball in 2011,” Ms. Chown said. “I laid eyes on him and it was love at first sight.”

“You know why I come? To do things I can’t do in church,” Mr. Chown said. Standing at least 6-foot-3 and wider than a tree cut for timber, he kicked a trash bin, making a loud clang.

Everyone laughed, including his wife.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Australia / NZ, Marriage & Family, Men, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Women

(David Ould) Newcastle Synod Decision Pushes Australian Anglicans to Precipice

There does appear to be an inconsistency here. Bishop Stuart rightly notes that only an ordinance that has received assent can be referred to the tribunal. But in his pastoral letter he told us that “I have communicated with the Primate and he has indicated that he will refer the Ordinance to the Appellate Tribunal.” Yet how can the Primate refer the Ordinance and have an opinion on it issued if Bishop Stuart has not yet given assent? Make up your mind, please.

So where to from here? Newcastle now has an ordinance in limbo that effectively states that marriage between a homosexual couple is perfectly ok. It is, by any assessment, an attempt to introduce a de facto change in the doctrine of marriage without having the courage to just say “we’re changing the doctrine of marriage” or having provided anything like the necessary theological justification. Given the deep debate over this topic in the recent years (not to mention the repeated motions in General Synod affirming what the church’s doctrine of marriage – not least that it is between a man and a woman), those that claim this is not a change in the doctrine of marriage can only be understood to be disingenuous. Or utterly ignorant of the current debate. The latter is simply impossible. But the bishop is is signalling that he won’t give it assent and so the Appellate Tribunal cannot consider it, even though that’s just what Bishop Stuart wants them to do in order to provide him cover to give assent.

And so Newcastle, led by its bishop, has pushed us further to the cliff edge.

What will the Appellate Tribunal say? Will they even ever meet? Will the Primate publicly back the position of General Synod and call on revisionist bishops to cease their deeply damaging actions? What will happen when the bishops meet in Melbourne next month?

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

Jay Behan consecrated a new bishop in Christchurch New Zealand

Jay Behan has been consecrated as the first Bishop of the Diocese of the Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa/New Zealand this morning in Christchurch.

Bishops from across the Tasman and around the world took part in the service.

ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach and Chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council presided, and former Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen preached.

The event was live-streamed, and a recording may be seen via the ConfessingAnglicansNZ Facebook page (a Facebook account is not needed). Audio starts about 12 minutes into the recording, just as the service proper begins.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Australia / NZ, GAFCON

(David Ould) Diocese of Perth approves extra-marital sex for clergy and church workers

davidould.net understands this change was the subject of significant debate in the legislative committee for several months prior to synod but liberal voices were insistent.

The revised standard, which now means that sexual activity outside marriage is now considered appropriate for clergy and church workers, was adopted on the voices by synod.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Sightings) Peter Sherlock–Religious Discrimination: The Australian Debate

Most submissions in response to the consultation draft of the bill agree that discrimination on the basis of religious belief—or its absence—should be prohibited. In this respect, the bill simply gives effect to article 18 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, that everyone should have a right “to manifest … religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” Moreover, in Australia, the national Constitution was written in the 1890s with a view to preventing religious interference in the making of laws. While Parliament still opens each day with the Lord’s Prayer, there arguably is a need for legislative protections against religious discrimination.

Several submissions, however, indicate significant opposition to the bill as it stands because its religious protections would facilitate other forms of discrimination. This includes, for the first time in modern Australia, the introduction of religious exemptions in discrimination legislation covering race and disability, paralleling those in sex discrimination legislation. Furthermore, the bill does not go far enough for some religious groups, who argue it would open them up to what the Catholic Church has described as “lawfare” in relation to employment practices at faith-based schools or agencies. The Sydney Anglican submission, for its part, dramatically argues that, as it is presently drafted, the bill would force the church to make its campsites available for hire for satanic black masses.

All the same, the debate surrounding the bill has largely overlooked two aspects of religious liberty. The first is religious harassment. This is a concept found in other discrimination laws, such as measures to define and prosecute sexual harassment. What will happen when conflicting religious beliefs and behaviors come into contact, including not only religious speech but religious dress, sounds, or rituals? How can the rights of people of no religion be protected? What are the limits of accommodation and respect?

The second regards the nature of power. We can glimpse this point in a unique provision of the bill: companies with a turnover greater than $50,000,000 would be prohibited from preventing its employees from expressing religious views that discriminate against others unless it can prove that such expression would lead to serious financial harm for the company. Discrimination which may lead to the harm of others is acceptable, in other words, unless it is going to cost a business a great deal of money. In modern Australia, money equals power; the widow and her mite would appear to have no protections whatsoever.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Australia / NZ, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

The Archbp of Sydney Responds to a vote by the Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta

From there:

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, has issued a statement in response to a vote by the Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta to authorise a service to bless civil marriages. The Bishop of Wangaratta has claimed this service would allow for a blessing of same-sex unions and that he personally intends to use it for that purpose.

Archbishop Davies said “It is highly regrettable that clergy and lay people in the Diocese of Wangaratta have chosen to follow their Bishop rather than the clear words of Scripture concerning God’s design for human sexuality (Matt 19:4-12).

The doctrine of our Church is not determined by 67 members of a regional synod in Victoria nor is it changed by what they may purport to authorise.

Time and time again, the General Synod has affirmed the biblical view of marriage as the doctrine of our Church. To bless that which is contrary to Scripture cannot, therefore, be permissible under our church law.

The circumstances of this event are reminiscent of the actions of the Diocese of New Westminster in Canada in 2003. It is now universally acknowledged that those events were the beginning of the ‘tear in the fabric of the Anglican Communion’.

Moreover, to claim the authority of our Church to carry out a service of blessing contrary to the biblical view of marriage and the doctrine of our Church will certainly fracture the Anglican Church of Australia.”

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(David Ould) Wangratta Motion Passes in Australia, the Anglican Church There Faces a Crisis Moment

The Diocese of Wangaratta has passed their motion calling for the blessing of individuals who have taken part in a same-sex wedding. The voting, reported by prominent supporter of the motion Ven. John Davis (Archdeacon Emeritus of the Diocese), was that 67 for, 18 against and one abstention.

Davis has published his speech in support of the motion….

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(ABC Aus) Israel Folau launches court proceedings against Rugby Australia, NSW Waratahs over unfair dismissal claim

[Israel] Folau claims his contract was unfairly terminated because of his religious beliefs.

Legal experts have said the coming court battle is a “test case” that will establish what holds sway before the courts — an employer’s rights via an employment contract or their employee’s freedom of religious expression.

It is expected to set a precedent for anyone who posts to social media something that is in conflict with his or her code of conduct, be it with an employer or another organisation such as a university or sporting club.

The burden of proof in this case will lie with Rugby Australia to establish that it did not terminate Folau’s contract based on his religious beliefs, but rather that the decision was purely an employment matter.

Read it all.

Posted in Australia / NZ, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Sports

(Guardian) John Marsden on the ‘toxic’ parenting pandemic: ‘I’ve never seen this level of anxiety’

[John] Marsden says that this contemporary crop of teenagers is outperforming generations past in terms of academic achievement, political engagement and so on – but he is fearful about their emotional health, borne out by statistics on the prevalence of mental health issues among the young.

“The scale of the problem is massive. The issue of emotional damage is pandemic,” he tells the Guardian. “The level of anxiety is something I’ve never seen before, and I don’t know how it can be improved.”

Marsden says that much of the anxiety among parents and children springs from concern that the world is a dangerous place, with traditional “safe” authority figures no longer to be trusted. That, coupled with an infantilisation of children as pure, helpless creatures, leads parents to cosset and fret over their offspring, and demand much of the same from educational institutions.

“Part of that is a fear, in particular, of physical injury,” he says. “Of course, all reasonable parents are concerned about physical injury to a child, but if that overrides everything else then what you have instead is a kind of slow death by emotional damage which is so awful to witness.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Books, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

(PS) Peter Singer–Rugby Australia’s “Own Goal”

If Rugby Australia had existed in the first century of the Christian era, and Paul had had enough talent to be a contracted player, Rugby Australia would presumably have ripped up his contract once his letter to the Corinthians became public. That makes it quite bizarre that Castle should have justified [Israel] Folau’s dismissal by saying, “People need to feel safe and welcomed in our game regardless of their gender, race, background, religion, or sexuality.” Did she mean that you can feel welcomed in rugby, regardless of your religious beliefs, as long as you don’t express them in public? That looks a lot like telling homosexuals that they can do what they want in the privacy of their bedroom, but they must not show their affection in public because some people might find it offensive.

As this example shows – and as John Stuart Mill argued in his classic On Liberty – once we allow, as a ground for restricting someone’s freedom of speech or action, the claim that someone else has been offended by it, freedom is in grave danger of disappearing entirely. After all, it is very difficult to say anything significant to which no one could possibly take offense. Mill had in mind restrictions imposed by the state, but when employers dismiss employees who make controversial utterances, that is also a threat to freedom of expression – especially when the employer has a monopoly on the employment of workers with special skills, as Rugby Australia does.

Rugby Australia would have a stronger basis for its decision if Folau’s post had expressed hatred toward homosexuals and could have been interpreted as an incitement to violence against them. But the post no more expresses hatred toward homosexuals than cigarette warnings express hatred toward smokers.

If that analogy seems implausible, that’s because you do not take Folau’s beliefs seriously. Granted, for anyone outside that particular faith, it’s hard to take such beliefs seriously. But try putting yourself in the position of someone with Folau’s beliefs. You see people on a path toward a terrible fate – much worse than getting lung cancer, because death will not release them from their agony – and they are blind to what awaits them. Wouldn’t you want to warn them, and give them the chance to avoid that awful fate? I assume that is what Folau believes he is doing. He even tells homosexuals that Jesus loves them, and calls on them to repent so that they can avoid burning in hell for eternity. That doesn’t sound like hate speech.

What should Rugby Australia have done about Folau’s post? It might have just said that people are entitled to express their religious beliefs, and that would have been the end of the story….

Read it all.

Posted in Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Sports

(The Age) Mobile phones to be banned in Victorian state primary and secondary schools

Mobile phones will be banned from Victorian state primary and secondary schools under strict new rules aimed at tackling cyber bullying and distractions in the classroom.

The Victorian government has adopted one of the world’s toughest stances on mobile phone use in schools and from the start of next year, students must switch off their devices and store them in lockers during school hours.

Students from prep to Year 12 will not be allowed to use their phones during recess and lunchtime.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino said teachers and parents regularly raised concerns about mobile phones’ effect on students.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Science & Technology

((BBC) Sperm donor is child’s legal father, Australian High Court rules

The 49-year-old man and the child’s mother, who was single at the time, had been friends when he agreed to donate his semen in 2006.

They arranged to raise the child together but the pair later had a falling out, his lawyers said. The woman’s lawyers argued he was not the father.

However, the man was identified as a parent on the girl’s birth certificate and she called him “Daddy”.

On Wednesday, the High Court of Australia ruled that he had the legal status of a parent, effectively preventing the family from moving to New Zealand.

The judgement said: “To characterise the biological father of a child as a ‘sperm donor’ suggests that the man in question has relevantly done no more than provide his semen to facilitate an artificial conception procedure on the basis of an express or implied understanding that he is thereafter to have nothing to do with any child born as a result of the procedure.

“Those are not the facts of this case.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Men, Sexuality, Women

Congratulations to Ashleigh Barty Who Today Won the French Open for Her First Grand Slam Singles Title


A cricketer no more, Ashleigh Barty on Saturday confirmed the wisdom of her decision to return to professional tennis by winning the French Open, her first Grand Slam singles title.

She capped her comeback to the sport with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Marketa Vondrousova, an unseeded 19-year-old from the Czech Republic.

On paper, it was a surprise that Barty, a 23-year-old Australian, ended up the champion in Paris. She was seeded No. 8 and has played comparatively little on clay, arriving at Roland Garros with only a 15-13 career record on the surface.

“Today, I just kept telling myself: ‘I may never get this opportunity ever again. Try to grab it with both hands,’” Barty said.

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Posted in Australia / NZ, Sports, Women

(B+C) [From 2015] Alan Jacobs on Les Murray–The Consecrated Heretic, Down Under

Among the truly great poets, the handful of absolute masters, the most neglected is Horace. This was not always so, but when the study of Latin fell away so too did Horace’s influence and reputation. He does not yield readily to translation: his poetry combines colloquial ease and extreme concision in a way almost impossible to imitate in other tongues. (David Ferry’s marvelous versions don’t even try to be concise, but they capture much of Horace’s distinctive and inimitable charm.) In the last hundred years, two major poets in English have understood themselves as heirs to the Horatian tradition. One of them is W. H. Auden, and the other is Les Murray.

Michael O’Loughlin has named this tradition “retired leisure,” a retreat from the vortex of social and political life not simply to repudiate it, but to save yourself from being torn apart by it, to see it more clearly, to bear vivid witness to its absurdities—and perhaps to exemplify better ways to live. Horace’s friend and patron Maecenas bought him a farm near modern Licenza—the poet called it his “Sabine farm”—and from there he watched with tolerant wisdom the follies of Rome, and wrote his beautiful poems. Les Murray’s place in little Bunyah, up the North Coast of New South Wales, is his Sabine farm.

Because there’s plenty of room in the countryside, the view from the farm is a sprawling one, and Murray is an advocate of sprawl. To sprawl is to ease past boundaries, cheerfully, without aggression. “Sprawl gets up the noses of many kinds of people / (every kind that comes in kinds),” but sprawl doesn’t worry too much about this.

Sprawl leans on things. It is loose-limbed in its mind.
Reprimanded and dismissed,
it listens with a grin and one boot up on the rail
of possibility. It may have to leave the Earth.
Being roughly Christian, it scratches the other cheek
And thinks it unlikely. Though people have been shot for sprawl.

The poem I’ve been quoting from, “The Quality of Sprawl,” is one of Murray’s most famous ones, and widely cited in Australia. It does not appear in the New Selected Poems. (Neither does the marvelous Centurion poem.) Murray offers no explanation for this, indeed offers nothing here but poems: the collection bears no preface or introduction or acknowledgments, not even dates, so it’s impossible to tell what order the poems have, if any. Such insouciance is itself a kind of sprawl.

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Posted in Australia / NZ, Poetry & Literature