The Dog’s Bollocks

Truth is like a dog’s bollocks – pretty obvious if you care to look.

Is Pell exercising his Primacy of Conscience?

In stating that he is a climate change skeptic, is Cardinal Pell exercising the Primacy of Conscience in defiance of Papal Infallibility and the authority of Benedict XVI’s warning that climate change and abuse of the environment is against God’s will?

Or is he just indulging in a bit of the old secular relativism?

Filed under: Religion, ,

Joshua: A Parable for Pell

Cardinal George PellI have been reading Joshua – A Parable for Today by Father Joseph Girzone. My son left it here on a recent visit, as is his way. It is a parable of what might happen if Jesus appeared among the residents of conservative small town America. An engaging story for anyone with theological bent. Some might say it’s a little obvious, but hey, we are talking the life of Jesus here so you can’t deviate too far from the script. And anyway it is one priest’s insight into the mores of contemporary Christianity, and as such his fictional portrayal of Joseph is both insightful and reverential.

As Joseph becomes known and loved by all the people he meets, the Catholic Bishop is Joseph’s first unpleasant run-in with clerical authority. Given the media’s current obsession with the Catholic LoveFest in Sydney at the moment, and the unfortunate profile of Cardinal Pell, tonight’s reading was serendipitous indeed.

Joshua was visibly angry. “They are not your people,” he said sharply. “They are God’s children, and as God’s children they are free.

It is shepherds like you who have stripped God’s people of the freedom and joy they should experience as the children of God and returned them to the status of slaves, no longer free to follow their own consciences, or to listen to their inner voices, or even the voice of God.

It is shepherds like you who are so taken up with your own authority that you resent people even talking to others about the things of God without your permission.

It is men like you who have destroyed the good name of Jesus’ message and have bound up people’s lives in shackles and fear of punishment, not because you care for people, but merely to protect your authority.

Jesus taught his apostles to love and to serve, but you have never loved your people because you cannot love in the normal way men love. You rule them and force them to serve you instead.”

Couldn’t have put it better myself.

Joshua: A Parable for Today Joshua: A Parable for Today: Joseph F. Girzone: Books

Filed under: Religion, , ,

How the mighty fall – it’s as easy as ABC…

The unedifying scramble by ABC Learning‘s senior executives to unload personal shares in ABC Learning is hardly reassuring news for fellow investors, their workers, or their clients who depend on their services so they can work two jobs and pay off the sub-primed McMansions.

Eddie GrovesFounded in 1988 in Ashgrove, Brisbane’s Eddy Groves, now the Global Chief Executive Officer of the company, ABC Learning, with the aid of cheap sub-prime credit and much largess from the Howard Government has acquired around 1000 childcare centres in Australia and another 500 or so in the US and South East Asia. They were even making overtures to state governments to operate for-profit McPrivate Schools in the McBurbs — courtesy of Howard’s funneling of education funding from public schools into the private sector.

Today’s bursting of the bubble is a long way from the halcyon days when Larry Anthony, Howard’s Minister for Childcare, lost his seat and took up a lucrative directorship with his good mate from ABC Learning. Who can forget when Costello’s granting of quite generous allowances and tax discounts magically transformed into higher fees by ABC Learning wihtin weeks? Brilliant! Those were the days!

ABC Learning has clearly placed corporate growth ahead of providing quality childcare. Never a good combination in my experience. Remember when they went to court defending a negligence charge when a small child escaped and wandered off? They argued that their liability went no further than their employees. That it had nothing to do whatsoever with chronic under-staffing by low-paid, under-skilled workers? Talk about laugh!

Just goes to show that making a quick buck is not the same thing as maintaining a healthy economy. The two should never be confused, despite what the Howardians led us to believe.

Filed under: Economics, Education, Howardians, Religion

Happy Christmas me arse!

In case you missed it RockWiz tonight had Tex Perkins and Clare Bowditch doing a great rendition of Fairytale of New York by The Pogues’ Shane McGowan and Kirsty McColl. The most distinctive of Irish balladeers Christy Moore described McGowan as one of the greatest contemporary folk poets.

Here’s the original video clip.

To my loyal readers, lurkers, one and all – please accept, with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the summer solstice holiday, practised within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and or traditions of others or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2008 but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make our country great. Not to imply that our country is greater than any other country. This wish is made without regard to race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference.

Filed under: Music, Religion, YouTube

God may be a Liberal but Jesus votes Labor

SpoonerSpeaking in a Korean Christian church in his seat of Bennalong, John Howard proclaimed to the congregation that God is neither Liberal nor Labor, but quipped that He would have reason to be pleased with the Liberals policies.

On Sunday night, ABC’s Compass interviewed an Anglican priest, a Catholic priest, a Muslim Imam and a Christian Lobbyist about what they see as issues that voters should consider when casting their votes. The key issues identified included concern for losing our Australian identity as a generous nation of The Fair Go as family and community life are transformed into consumerism and maintenance of The Economy. The village Church has been replaced with the Shopping Mall.

The subtext was clearly an appeal to values more closely aligned with Labor’s essential value of social justice. Care and concern for others is at the core of Christian and Muslim values. The Lobbyist was more concerned with ‘moral’ issues – no pooftahs and no abortions. I can’t recall Jesus having much to say about either of those, yet he had plenty to say about caring for the sick, the frail and the oppressed and not hoarding wealth. He didn’t seem too keen on banks and lending money for profit either.

While Kevin)7 is scaring us with Costello and Team Howard are scaring with economic destructions by the hands of extremists, it is refreshing see Bob Brown in a TV ad for The Greens taking a an unambiguous moral stand on the Iraq War, climate change, sustainable economic development, and returning the Senate to its proper function keeping the government honest.Family First are saying vote for them because they are not the others and they are actually quite normal, like the rest of us.

So amidst the increasingly bizarre and desperate theatrics of the final week of the campaign, followers of politics are on tenterhooks waiting on the verdict of the 5.5% of swinging voters who have yet to make up their minds. Are they balancing the electoral bribes to decide on the basis of what’s in for them? Probably. Will they get Howard across the line? It would be a miracle like we haven’t seen since Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Praise The Lord and pass The Whiskey!

add to kwoff

Filed under: Australian values, Big Picture, Economics, Environment, Federal Election 2007, Politics, Religion

Oh! The compassion!

CrikeyThat nice Christian man Kevin Andrews gives us another shining example of compassion that even Jesus would be proud of.

The Avendano family from Sydney’s west who have been in Australia for 23 years, with both their 19-year-old son Rainiel and nine-year-old daughter born here, are facing deportation to the Philipines next month.

Oh goody, just in time for a Christmas family reunion.

Andrews is yet to comment publicly – perhaps he’s too busy covering has arse against legal action back at the department?

Filed under: Ass Hattery, Australian values, Federal Election 2007, Politics, Religion

Sunday Sermon – God delusion vs Material illusion

Inspired by Bruce’s excellent exposition concerning ontological arguments that seek to infer the existence of a (creator/supreme) God through pure reason and intuition, I wrote the following comment, which seems as good a reason as any to repost it here:

sriyantra.jpgI am reasonably well-versed in the theology of Vedanta and Hinduism. Bhakti yoga is considered to be the top-most practice if one desires to know God (as opposed to merely arguing for the existence or otherwise of a supreme God).

Bhakti means devotion. While there are many injunctions and regulations contained in the practice, they only serve to enhance the development of devotion through service to God. Bhaktas argue that God cannot be approached by analysis and logic, or by empirical processes. In other words, the existence of God is experienced beyond the perview of the mind and senses, and even intelligence. The simple analogy is that you cannot know the taste of the honey in a jar by licking the outside. You need to open the jar and get stuck into it.

On a more technical level, Vedanta argues that God’s existence is purely spiritual and utterly non-material. It is beyond the material world and all it contains. The material world is regarded as a temporary manifestation from the spiritual world. The spiritual world is considered causeless and eternal, without cause, beginning or end. It just is. The only way of knowing or attaining the spiritual world is through various kinds of practices, and even then, only by the grace of God, which is said to be particularly abundant if the practitioner develops devotion.

It’s a rough thumbnail, but having a scientific mind, I have always found this world view appealing. In quantum mechanics, astrophysics, molecular biochemistry etc scientists develop all kinds of descriptions and explanations for the origin of matter, time, energy, the universe, life and even consciousness. And no matter how compelling the argument, these ideas ultimately remain unknowable as reality. They are models. We cannot experience the Big Bang or a black hole. We will never really know. We accept the models because they are feasible. From my own study of Vedanta I would conclude that its models of the origin of matter, time, the universe, life, consciousness are extremely elaborate, detailed, and given that we can never truly know, they have their own compelling internal plausibility. It is certainly a more optimistic and interesting outlook than the nihilistic material science one. So it comes down to a matter of choice, disposition, experience, conditioning, and inclination, and if it is true, even karma (or reaction to previous actions).

My own conclusion is that the existence or non-existence of God cannot be resolved intellectually but only experientially and individually, and for the seeker it is a long slow dedicated process – indeed a lifetime – and you may still not know when you die. So it’s fairly pointless people going hammer and tongs at each other trying to win the argument. It will never be resolved by words. I would argue that it becomes a matter of faith – either in the existence or non-existence of God – faith in one’s belief system.

Disclaimer: I have previously written on the unfortunate tendency of human beings to become convinced they know the truth when in fact they do not, and try to inflict it on others (I would equally apply this to rabid free market economists). Even if we accept that there are genuine spiritual paths to enlightenment, religious organisations are often populated by religious bureaucrats rather than the spiritually enlightened and these bureaucrats may actually not have any spiritual realisation at all (George Pell, anyone?). This usually leads to behaviour such as persecuting non-believers and declaring war on heathens and infidel. I do not endorse such practices.

Filed under: Big Picture, Philosophy, Religion, Science

Religions have their origins as systems for spirituality

Bannerman’s musings on the events of the day inspired the following reflection on the nature of organised religion, and it’s relationship, if any, with the human urge to spirituality. So for those in pursuit of the Dog’s Bollocks I post some relevant comments here.

Organised religions have their origins as systems to attain spirituality (however it be culturally defined) but are not that actual spirituality.

Although manifold and various in abundance, the failings of organised religions are not sufficient grounds to condemn the notion of individual spiritual growth, for it is a universal tendency of humankind.

The religious systems historically have acted in concert with the governance of the State, and so become battlefields for politics and commerce, which we are now seeing on a global scale. It is no accident that Bush’s neoconservative free market US is politically dominated by apoclyptic Christians wanting to bring it on down so that the End Days will arrive, Jesus will appear, and all true believers will be raptured, youthful and whole, into the radiance of God’s heavenly realm. Equally as narcissistically insane as ‘the mad mullahs’ fighting God’s great battle to literally die by the sword, to attain 17 virgins in heaven.

But the point is that the scriptures of both these Abrahamic religious traditions should correctly be regarded as metaphors for the personal struggle for spirituality, not a political handbook. People tend to confuse the two, especially if vulnerable to manipulation by unscrupulous leaders and politicians.

As they say, you shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. And these days, there’s a whole lot more bathwater than baby.

It comes across as a bit wholesome at times, but the Compass program, The Quiet Revolution last night was interesting in this respect. Looking at some individuals’ efforts to extract the baby from the bathwater.

Filed under: Big Picture, Ideology, Philosophy, Politics, Religion

He’s not the anti-Christ, just a very naughty Pope

pope_benedict.jpgThe Vatican has claimed Christian denominations outside the Roman Catholic Church were not full churches of Jesus Christ since they do not recognise the primacy of the Pope. A case of “We will determine who comes before God and in what circumstances!”
A 16-page document, prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which Pope Benedict used to head, described Christian Orthodox churches as true churches, but suffering from a “wound” since they do not recognise the primacy of Pope.

It would seem that Cardinal Ratzinger’s earlier enthusiasm for primacy of conscience over primacy of Pope has waned now that he actually is the Pope. At least he has a clear conscience, I guess. Or on the other hand he can over ride his papal authority with his individual conscience! Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Big Picture, Nonsense, Religion

On the causes of Western Islamism

The War on Terror is portrayed by our leaders as the great clash of civilisations, between good and evil. It is a convenient narrative for both Islamic extremists bent on world domination and neo-conservative ideologues bent on, um… world domination.

The recent bungled bombings in the UK by middle class university trained young professional Muslims brings a new insight into the causes of Western Islamist terror networks. Conventional wisdom attributes the rise of Islamism to impoverished and disaffected youth angered by US foreign policy and the festering political sores of oppressed Muslim communities in Palestine, Kashmir and Chechnya.

Ed Husain provides a insider’s perspective of home grown Islamism in UK Muslim communities. Husain was raised in a traditional Muslim home in London in the 1980s. By the time he was 16, he was active in three fundamentalist organisations, including Hizb ut-Tahrir, an extremist group which advocates jihad in the name of Islam. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Big Picture, Ideology, Politics, Religion

The Dog’s Bollocks

What they say

The Dog's Bollocks: "Bollocks" is one of my favourite words, and this is now one of my favourite blogs and I've only been reading it for five minutes. – John Surname

This is the person who tried to analyse Hayek. This is actually a person who needs a shrink. – JC

Shut up slim. You’re an idiot.
Just you stay honest and keep that thinking cap on. – GMB

Insightful perspectives on politics and discussion of matters epistemological? I’m sold! - Bruce

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