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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Our deepest fear....

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Taken from the 1994 Inaugural Speech of Nelson Mandela

Monday, May 29, 2006

The party's over....

The party's over. Normality is beginning to resume after visitors have gone to the airport; empty bottles have gone into the bin; the left-overs have stocked the fridge for the week ahead. Now, with the new job and all, a new blogging routine has to be established. Stay tuned. Thank you to those who have emailed or posted.

Blessings and bliss
Miss Eagle

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Miss Eagle Regrets and Life Takes Over

Dear Reader,

Miss Eagle wishes to inform you that she is taking Leave of Absence. She hopes to resume normal service in about ten days times. Real Life is invading the Quiet Life. Visitors are on the horizon with accompanying preparations prior to arrival and various jollities on arrival. In amongst this are your Miss E's birthday celebrations (26 is reprising) and Herself's best friend is being farewelled to live in England. As well, the coffers are getting a top up with a six month contract of employment - so nine to five time slots with train rides before and after will become the order of the day. Miss Eagle is happy to receive email from the sidebar and will be dropping by the sites and her Feeddemon so she will not be incommunicado altogether.

Yours bloggingly,
Miss Eagle

Thursday, May 18, 2006

An historic letter?

Davo over at Wombat's Waffles has published THE letter from Iran. You can read it there or here. Now there can be all sorts of views on the letter. Who are the Iranians to tell others what to do? Do the Iranians understand how the Americans think? Are the Iranians being sincere but naive?

Now turn that around, shall we? Who are the Americans to tell others what to do? Do the Americans understand how the Iranians think? Are the Americans being sincere but naive?

Now for the answers:
  • Both Iran and the U.S. indulge in state-sponsored violence and incursions on the sovereignty of other nations.
  • Both Iran and the U.S. need to have a greater objectivity about their history and their place in the world and among the nations. As Robert Burns said: O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.
  • Americans have some self-seeking and self-agrrandizing national myths which do not serve them well internationally. Perhaps, Iran does too. National myths without the objectivity of broad and deep knowledge can not only breed naivete when placed in a wider context but, without such objectivity, other dangers come: ignorance, bigotry, national superiority, notions about racial, ethnic, typological superiority.

George W. Bush professes Christ. Significant sectors of the American polity do too. It therefore behoves the President and all Americans to have a look at the theology of The Letter from Iran. There is much to think about. Equally, the Iranian President will need to be held to his spiritual ideals expressed in The Letter.

The Abrahamic religions do have common ground. The Abrahamaic heritage of the One God. A sense of justice. A sense of compassion. A demand for an ethical life. The facts are that so often governments operating within this heritage do not live out the ideals and demands of the heritage. We are not ignorant. Yet we build faultlines of bigotry, racism, and prejudice out of a common heritage. And then we complain when, into our self-built difficulties, comes another with a capacity to build the ultimate weapon of the current technology.

The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has outlined the basis for a closer relationship and for a common understanding. Whether the U.S. likes it or not and whether the Iranian President is genuine or using empty grandstanding rhetoric, the path has been shown which could lead to a bridge. Miss Eagle is reminded of what Maya Angelou once said that God sends pebbles into our lives. If we ignore them, he then sends a rock.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Incorrect labelling? Not a Product of Australia?

You remember, dear Reader, that American citizen, Rupert Murdoch,
and you recall that he owns The Australian. Well, this cartoon is from to-day's Australian.

Tell the Howard Govt to stop its nonsense

Kate Gauthier from A Just Australia has provided an update on the new bill which will provide for offshore processing of refugees in an insane way - excluding the continent of Australia from the migration zone. Here it is in full:

As you will have heard, the new Bill for offshore processing - Migration Amendment (Designated Unauthorised Arrivals) Bill 2006 - has been introduced both into the House and the Senate. You can find information about the bill here. This includes the text of the bill as well as the (not particularly) explanatory memorandum. A Just Australia is preparing some information for supporters to explain what the effects of this bill will be and we will forward this to you as soon as it is ready. In the meantime however, you can read our Brief on the Proposal.The Bill is listed for debate in the House for next Tuesday 23rd May. It's listed as the last bill of the day so it may well be passed over until later that week, or even be held back until the 2nd sitting week (starting may29). It's unusual for it to be debated next week because John Howard will still be overseas and will return for the 2nd sitting week. Please phone/email/fax to your MPs and let them know how you want them to vote. You can get the contact details from the APH website Senate Inquiry. The bill has been passed to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee for investigation. You can find details of the inquiry here. Submissions must be lodged by next Monday 22nd May. Its very easy to make a submission - it can be on anything you want, even just to voice your opinion as a concerned Australian. We encourage people and organisations to make their voice heard. The Inquiry will be reporting on June 13th, with the Senate probably voting on the bill in that week. Write for rights! If you haven't taken the time to contact your state's Senators, please do so over the next two weeks. Their contact details can be found at the APH website. If Parliamentarians are going to cross the floor, negotiate amendments or take other actions against this bill, they need to show proof of the community concern that drove them to take these actions. So please, if you haven't already done so, write a letter and fax or email it soon.

Kate Gauthier
for the A Just Australia team --
Kate Gauthier
National Coordinator
A Just Australia
02 9745 9727
0414 876 139
We believe that Australia's policies toward refugees and asylum seekers should at all times reflect respect, decency and traditional Australian generosity to those in need, while advancing Australia's international standing and national interests. We aim to achieve just and compassionate treatment of refugees, consistent with the human rights standards which Australia has developed and endorsed.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Australian values? Nuh, don't want any.

So the workforce is compliant, eh? Good old Australian values - which John Howard and his government want to promote - aren't good enough. They just won't cut the mustard with employers. We have to have guest workers instead of Aussie experience and Hanssen's are spruiking about Filipino workers - who they want plenty of - on PM yesterday. These workers have the Sword of Damocles hanging over their head - a one way trip back to the Philippines.

Hanssen's oughtn't to get too arrogant. Look at the Aussie men who thought they were getting an Asian doormat when they took a Filipina bride. Were they in for a big surprise! And look at all that people power they get into in the Philippines. And Miss Eagle, as a trade union official, once wondered about the Filipina brides 'invading' the hospitality industry. All she can say to employers who seek a compliant Filipino workforce, you could be in for a shock. Filipinos/Filipinas are prepared to take so much and no more. They are quite sensitive to inequity and injustice - and they are quite determined when their ire is roused.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Commensality 2: another perspective

Miss Eagle has received an email from a friend giving another perspective to the previous post.

It is pleasing to see that this sort of material is going up on a blog. Nevertheless I'm seeing it on a slightly broader canvas. I was appalled when I heard that Howard is to give such a reception, trading on the event and the media hype.

However I think he is covering himself by saying he is bringing to the reception all the people who did the work of getting the men out, to applaud their work. And he is quite cognizant of what a demanding task they undertook under so much uncertainty about what was likely to work and be safe; and done with enormous strain on their bodies and emotions. We all need to be focused on all this achievement as well as on the survivors, their endurance and their ability to keep their pecker up, knowing quite well, with the best will and action in the world they might not be found or they might not be rescuable. I just don't like Howard using it to aggrandize himself. Better, I'm sure if Howard kept out of it except to send letters of appreciation to all those who planned and executed the rescue and leave it to the ABC to let us meet all or most of these people telling their own stories on, say, Australian Story or Four Corners. Of course there is not much chance of the ABC doing a story as Seven or Nine will have tied up the Beaconsfield two.

So you see, I think the whole thing is tied up with the nature of the rescue and that it went on for two weeks as much as it is about the fantastic endurance of the survivors. I don't think that survival per se is the only focus. This is a let out clause for saying these two survivals are different, apart from who the people are.

He has a crest of a wave here and he is going to ride it, and write off giving other receptions just as he will write off giving State Funerals to other eminent people by articulating some aspect unique of the contribution of Kerry Packer.

So whilst I agree that the whole issue of industrial safety is an absolute must for enquiry and finding ways of helping people of Beaconsfield who lose their source of work if the mine is closed, nevertheless I have voted No 3. It is a mistake to have the reception at all, in and of itself.

Thank you, my friend.

Darfur on my mind

Mark Fiore's animations pack a powerful punch lest we forget - or ignore.
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"On the March"

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"Preemptive Apology"

Commensality: who will be invited to table with John Howard

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Australia has been euphoric this week because of the rescue of two Tasmanian miners. Miss Eagle has not posted on this, dear Reader, because there has been so much coverage elsewhere. But on the same day as the two Tasmanians were rescued and the media were all a-jostle with chequebook journalism, at the very tip of Australia three Torres Strait Islanders were rescued without the fanfare of the press or any sort of Winnebago village as Beaconsfield experienced. The three men from Mer (Murray Island - the island of Eddie (Koiki) Mabo) showed great endurance and resourcefulness. The two Tasmanians were underground for two weeks, blown off course by Cyclone Monica. The men from Mer were lost for three weeks. They lived on raw squid. They formed jerry cans into paddles to work their way back into signal distance for their mobile phones to be useful in calling for help.

Hours prior to the rescue of the men from Mer, Australian Prime Minister John Howard announced that there would be a Canberra reception for the Tasmanians and there would be an ex gratia payment for the third miner, who did not survive. Miss Eagle, dear Reader, was concerned at this announcement. What happens with the next survival story? What happens with the next workplace fatality? What will be available from the Prime Minister's largesse for those who come after? Then within a very short space of time there is an outstanding story of survival in a very remote part of Australia involving three black men.

John Howard calls himself a cricket tragic. He turns up at all sorts of sporting events and basks in the glory of national sporting teams. Miss Eagle thinks that John Howard is nothing less than a celebrity tragic and wants to surround himself - without it being too obvious of course - with those in the public eye. Of course, if there is a good cover story so he does not appear too crass that's great. This time compassion, concern for the miners and the town of Beaconsfield, will be the story. And the men from Mer who live within a very basic economy, who are not close to the facilities of a major town, who frequently take their lives in their hands as they cross the Torres Strait from island to island - this time to pick up a sporting team - what of them? Will they - in true Christian tradition - be invited to the banquet?

Now is a time for discernment. Now is the time to assess the values of modern Australian society. Do we only identify with what comes under the lens of a television camera? Do we only get concerned or emotionally involved when the media mediate the event? Do we think that an event has no importance if there is no media attention? Can we judge for ourselves the worth of an invent without the media telling us what to look at, what to think, what to feel?

Australia it is up to you.

Do the men from Mer turn up in Canberra with the terrific Tasmanians?

Take My Poll

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Following Jesus - 3

Following the release of the document Following Jesus, comparisons have been drawn here and here with two significant 20th century documents, the Barmen Declaration and Message to the South African People (1968). Miss Eagle thanks Steve Hayes of Notes from the Underground for his dedication in translating the Message from hardcopy to the electronic world. It is published below:



The Gospel of Jesus Christ
Is the good news that in Christ God has broken down the walls of divisionbetween God and man, and therefore also between man and man.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ
declares that Christ is the truth who sets men free from all false hope of grasping freedom for themselves, and that Christ liberates them from the pursuit of false securities.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ
declares that, in the crucifixion of Jesus, sin has been forgiven, and that God has met and mastered the forces that threaten to isolate man and destroy him.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ
declares that, in the resurrection of Jesus, God showed himself as the conqueror and destroyer of the most potent of all forms of separation, namely death, and he proved the power of his love to overthrow the evil powers of fear, envy and pride which cause hostility between men.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ
declares that, by this work of Christ, men are being reconciled to God and to each other, and that excluding barriers of race, nationality, language and culture have no rightful place in the inclusive brotherhood of Christian disciples.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

declares that God is the master of this world, that his is the mind and purpose that shapes history, and that it is to him alone, and not to any subsection of humanity, that we owe our primary obedience and commitment.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ
declares that we live in the expectation of a new heaven and an new earth in which righteousness dwells; that the Kingdom of God is present already in Christ and through the holy Spirit; and that it therefore now demands our obedience to his commandments and our faith in his promises.

2. Our Concern
This, in summary, is the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. It offers hope and security for the whole life of man; it is to be understood not only in a mystical and ethical sense for the salvation of the individual person, and not only in a sacramental and ecclesiastical sense within the framework of the Church; the Gospel of Christ in a cultural, social (and therefore political), cosmic and universal sense, as the salvation of the world and human existence in its entirety. Further, the Gospel of Christ is not only the object of our hopes; it should be experienced as a reality in the present.

For this reason Christians are called to witness to the significance of theGospel in the particular circumstances of time and place in which they findthemselves. We, in this country, and at this time, are in a situation where a policy of racial separation is being deliberately effected with increasing rigidity. The effects of this are seen in a widening range of aspects of life – in political,
economic, social, educational and religious life; indeed, there are few areas even of the private life of the individual which are untouched by the effects of the doctrine of racial separation. In consequence, this doctrine is being seen by many not merely as a temporary political policy but as a necessary and permanent expression of the will of God, and as the genuine form of Christian
obedience for this country. But this doctrine, together with the hardships which are deriving from its implementation, forms a programme which is truly hostile to Christianity and can serve only to keep people away from the real knowledge of Christ.

There are alarming signs that this doctrine of separation has become, for many, a false faith, a novel gospel which offers happiness and peace for the community and for the individual. It holds out to men a security built not on Christ but on the theory of separation and the preservation of their racial identity. It presents separate development of our race-groups as a way for the
people of South Africa to save themselves. Such a claim inevitably conflicts with the Christian Gospel, which offers salvation, both social and individual, through faith in Christ alone.

This false offer of salvation is being made in this country in the name of Christianity. Therefore we believe that the Church must enable all our people to distinguish between this false, novel gospel and the true eternal gospel of Jesus Christ. We believe that it is the Church’s duty to enable our people to discriminate more carefully between what may be demanded of them as
subjects or citizens of the State of South Africa and what is demanded of them as disciples of Jesus Christ.

3. The Gospel’s Claim
The Christian gospel declares that there is no other name than that of Christ whereby men must be saved. Thus salvation in Christ exposes the falsity of hope of salvation through any other means.

The first Christians, both Jews and Gentiles, discovered that God was creating a new community in which differences of race, nation, culture, language and tradition no longer had power to separate man from man. We are under an obligation to assert this claim and live by it. We are under an obligation to assert that the most significant features of a man are not the details of his genetic inheritance, nor the facts of his ancestry. The most significant features
of a man are the characteristics which enable him to be a disciple of Christ – his ability to respond to love, to make choices, to work as a servant of his fellowmen; these are the gifts of the grace of God at work in the individual person; and to insist that racial characteristics are more important than these is to reject our own humanity as well as the humanity of the other man.

But, in South Africa, everyone is expected to believe that a man’s racial identity is the most important thing about him. Until a man’s racial identity has been established, virtually no decisions can be taken; but, once it is established, it can be stated where he can live, whom he can marry, what work he can do, what education he can get, what hospitality he can accept,
where he can get medical treatment, where he can be buried – and the answer to multi8tudes of other questions can be supplied once this vital fact is established. Thus we are being taught that our racial identity is the final and all important determining factor in the lives of men. As a result of this faith in racial identity, a tragic insecurity and helplessness afflicts those whose racial
classification is in doubt. Without racial identity, it appears, we can do nothing: he who has racial identity has life; he who has not racial identity has not life. This amounts to a denial of the central statements of the Gospel. It is opposed to the Christian understanding of man and community. It, in practice, severely restricts the ability of Christian brothers to serve and know each other, and even to give each other simple hospitality. It arbitrarily limits the ability of a
person to obey the Gospel’s command to love his neighbour as himself.

Attempts have been made to support racial separation from Scripture. For instance, it is said to have the authority of an order of creation, which was divinely confirmed by the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel and emphasised again at Pentecost.. The fact is, however, that the event of Pentecost asserts and demonstrates the power of the Holy spirit to draw men into one community of disciples in spite of differences of languages and culture and it is thus the way by which the disunity of Babel is healed.

The Bible’s teaching about creation has nothing to say about the distinction between races and nations. God made man – the whole human race – in his image. God gave man – the whole human race – dominion over the rest of creation. Where differences between people are used as badges or signs of opposing groups, this is due to human sin. Any scheme which is proposed for
the rectifying of our disorders must take account of this essentially sinful element in the divisions between men and between groups of men. Any scheme which is claimed to be Christian must take account of the reconciliation already made for us in Christ. The policy of separate
development does not take proper account of these truths. It promises peace and harmony between the peoples of our country not by a faithful and obedient pursuit of the reconciliation wrought by Christ, but through separation, which, being precisely the opposite course, is a demonstration of unbelief and distrust in the power of the Gospel. Any demonstration of the
reality of this reconciliation would endanger this policy; therefore the advocates of this policy inevitably find themselves opposed to the Church is it seeks to live according to the Gospel and if it shows that God’s grace has overcome our hostilities. A thorough policy of racial separation must ultimately require that the Church should cease to be the Church.

Everywhere, sin corrupts God’s creation, particularly, it exploits differences to generate hostility. The policy of separate development is based on the domination of one group over all others; it depends on the maintenance of white supremacy; thus it is rooted in and dependent on a policy of sin. The Christian Gospel declares that God has acted to overthrow the policy of sin.
God is bringing us from a living death to a new life; and one of the signs that this has happened is that we love the brethren. But, according to the Christian gospel, our ‘brethren’ are not merely the members of our own race-group, nor are they the people with whom we may choose to associate. Our brother is the person whom God gives to us. To dissociate from our brother on the grounds of natural distinction is to despise God’s gift and to reject Christ.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ declares that God is love. This is not an easy doctrine. It is not ‘sentimental humanism’. It is far easier to believe in a god who is less than love and who does not require a discipleship of love. But if God is love, separation is ultimately the opposite force to God. The will to be separate is the most complete refusal of the truth. The life of separation is the most plain denial of life. The Christian Gospel declares that separation is the supreme threat and danger, but that in Christ has been overcome. According to the Christian Gospel, we find our identity in association with Christ and with each other. Apartheid is a view of life and a view of man which insists that we find our identity in dissociation and in distinction from each other. A policy of separate development which is based on this concept therefore involves a rejection of the central beliefs of the Christian Gospel. It calls good evil. It rejects as undesirable the good reconciliation and fellowship which God is giving to us by his Son. It seeks to limit the limitlessness of God’s grace by which all men may be accepted in Jesus Christ. It seeks to confine the operation of God’s grace within the barriers of human distinctions. It reinforces
divisions which the Holy Spirit is calling the People of God to overcome. This policy is, therefore, a form of resistance to the Holy Spirit.

3. Our Task
People should be able to see the Gospel of Christ expressed in the life of theChurch. They should be able to see in the Church an inclusive fellowship anda freedom of association in the Christian brotherhood. They should be able to see the power of god at work in the Church changing hostility into love of the brethren. We are indeed thankful for these signs of God’s grace where they are to be seen in the life of the Church. But, even in the life of the Church, there is conformity to the practices of racial separation; and the measure of this conformity is the measure of the Church’s deviation from the purpose of Christ.

Our task is to work for the expression of God’s reconciliation here and now. We are not required to wait for a distant ‘heaven’ where all problems will have been solved. What Christ has done, he has done already. We can accept his work or reject it: we can hide from it or seek to live by it. But we cannot postpone it, for it is already achieved. And we cannot destroy it, for it is the work of the eternal God.

4. We must obey God rather than men
The gospel of Jesus Christ declares that Christ is our master, and that to him all authority is given. Christians betray their calling if they give their highest loyalty, which is due to Christ, to one group or tradition, especially where that group is demanding self-expression at the expense of other groups. Christ is the master and critic of all of us and all our groups. He is the judge of the Church also. If the Church fails to witness for the true Gospel of Jesus Christ it will find itself witnessing for a false Gospel. If we seek to reconcile Christianity with the so-called ‘South African way of life’, (or any other way of life) we shall find that we have allowed an idol to take the place of Christ. Where the Church thus abandons its obedience to Christ, it ceases to be the
Church; it breaks the links between itself and the Kingdom of God. We confess, therefore, that we are under an obligation to live in accordance with the Christian understanding of man and community, even if this be contrary to some of the laws and customs of this country.

Many of our people believe that their primary loyalty must be to their group or tradition or political doctrine, and that this is how their faithfulness will be judged. But this is not how God judges us. Indeed, this kind of belief is a direct threat to the true salvation of many people, for it comes as an attractive substitute for the claims of Jesus. It encourages a loyalty expressed in self-assertion: it offers a way of salvation with no cross. But God judges us, not by our faithfulness to a sectional group but by our willingness to be made new in the community of Christ. We believe that we are under an obligation to state that our country and Church are under God’s judgement, and that Christ is inevitably a threat to much that is called ‘the South African way of life’. We must ask ourselves what features of our social order will have to pass away if the lordship of Christ is to be fully acknowledged and if the peace of God is to
be revealed as the destroyer of our fear.

But we believe that Christ is Lord, and that South Africa is part of his world. We believe that his kingdom and its righteousness have power to cast out all that opposes his purposes and keeps men in darkness. . We believe that the word of God is not bound, and that it will move with power in these days, whether men hear or whether they refuse to hear. And so we wish to put to every Christian person in this country the question which we ourselves are bound to face each day; to whom, or to what, are you giving your first loyalty, your primary commitment? Is it to a sub-section of mankind, an ethnic group,a human tradition, a political idea, or to Christ?

May God enable us to be faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and to be committed to Christ alone!


“A Message to the People of South Africa” is the work of the Theological Commission of the South African Council of Churches, and its publication is authorised by the Council.

The Biennial Meeting of the Council resolved “that individual Christians be invited to sign the document as an expression of their Christian commitment and that member churches of the Council be invited to give it serious consideration”. If individuals or groups sign copies of the Message as an act of identification with it, it would add to the significance of the act if the South African Council of Churches was informed. Further copies may be obtained from the Council at 10 cents per copy, or 50cents per 10 copies.

The Message is offered as a basis for study and action. Some may like to read it aloud in Church groups or to congregations and distribute copies to members of parishes.

The next task of the Theological Commission of the South African Council of Churches is to develop in greater detail the significance of the paragraph ‘Our Task’, and to work out the practical implications of this statement of faith for both Church and society.

What follows here is not part of the Message to the People of South Africa, but is an explanatory note about the background to the document.

This electronic version is being made available since the Message was an influential historical document, and forms part of the history of Christianity and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. It was part of Christian history in a particular time and place, and thus may be useful to students of church history. It may also speak to Christians in other times and places who are trying to witness to the truth of the Gospel in the societies in which they live.

The Message was released in the middle of 1968, and was one of the first public acts of the South African Council of Churches, which had grown out of the Christian council of South Africa. It was preceded by a theological conference on Pseudogospels and some of the wording in the Message came from papers read at that conference.

A Biblical Commentary on the ‘Message to the people of South Africa’ by the Revd John Davies, Anglican chaplain of the University of the Witwatersrand, was published and distributed by the Christian Institute of Southern Africa.

There was also a 64-page book, The “Message” in perspective, which had press editorials, church statements and articles on the theological issues raised by the Message.

In this electronic version, I have tried to correct obvious typos and misspellings (“thaat” instead of that, “me” instead of “be”), though I may have introduced a few of my own for which I must accept responsibility.

This electronic version typed and distributed by
Deacon Stephen Hayes
Tuesday, 09 May 2006
If you wish to suggest/submit documents
which meet the three criteria laid out in Following Jesus - 2
please email Miss Eagle on the sidebar.

Following Jesus - 2

Further to my previous post, Following Jesus, Miss Eagle has some more information in relation to the document. As well as being published in full in the previous post, it is available in *.pdf format on the Canberra Baptist Church site. Miss Eagle received her copy courtesy of Dale Hess. Miss Eagle has spoken to Jim Barr of Canberra Baptist Church, one of the contact people - along with Doug Hynd - regarding the document. Apparently, Following Jesus came out of concern by a number of people regarding ethics and morality in Australian public life. These people met to discuss their concerns at a coffee shop in Barton, the government precinct of Australia's national capital, Canberra. They refrained, Jim said with a dash of humour, from calling the document the Barton Declaration. He didn't know that Miss Eagle had already compared the document to the Barmen Declaration.

Steve Hayes, who many will know from the South African Missiological Society, can be found these days at Notes from Underground. Steve says that Following Jesus reminds him of the Message to the people of South Africa, published in 1968. This document was published by the South African Council of Churches. It was highly controversial at the time it was published but, over time, it had a significant impact on Christians in South Africa because of its declaration that apartheid was a false gospel.

Miss Eagle has not been able to locate the text of the 1968 Message to the people of South Africa on the 'net. She has, therefore, asked Steve if he can locate a link and, if not, could he locate a hard copy which could be worked up and placed on his site for people to access.

Then Miss Eagle had a think. Here were three prophetic documents in which Christians spoke out of the signs of their times in a way that was not in tune with majority opinion in their culture, in their communities; three documents which provided leadership; three documents which proclaimed that Jesus was Lord and that God was owed our allegiance and first obedience above all. Miss Eagle suggested to Steve, and he has passed on the suggestion to others already, that a collection be gathered of documents of recent memory which meet the three criteria of the other documents. How often are Christians apathetic, not zealous in matching the signs around them to the ethics and morality of the Kingdom of God? Such documents provide leadership. They are an example to us of how true Christian leadership can proclaim the active Word of God for living out in our daily lives. They make no apologies for where such Kingdom living leads. After all, where did it lead for Jesus?

Please email Miss Eagle off the sidebar if you want to submit documents.
Links if they are available, please.
For further comment on Following Jesus
please contact:
Rev James Barr, Senior Minister, Canberra Baptist Church Mobile: 0500-546-227
Doug Hynd

Monday, May 08, 2006

Using an employees rights at law

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe Howard Government, its sly and inexperienced industrial relations minister, Kevin Andrews, along with its business mates have long had a wish list to pull the teeth of trade unions and demolish rates of pay downwards to compete with Chinese and Indian workers (well - slave labour would be preferable). They have taken their opportunity with control of the Senate since July 1 2005.

The Government, with the assistance of lawyers from major law firms like Mallesons, has brought industrial relations under corporations law - an action undergirded by sheer mendacity and venality. It has sought to expose trade unions and individual employees to extreme legal sanctions - but the bite back might be coming. Individuals may try to assert their legal rights in the courts where bigger pay outs are possible - far larger payouts than under the previous industrial relations system. Now the employers who have done their best to dismantle what equity there is or was in Australia's system of of industrial are complaining. Again! Still!

Now - don't just sit there and say that's great. At least there is another avenue. If this becomes an avenue for righting wrongs for a large number of people, how long before there is legislation to close this off? The states have closed off various avenues previously available for people to mount negligence claims. The states have closed off much availability previously available for compensation for work related injuries.

Don't think that
this venal government will not close off the rights of employees to equity.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

David Hicks: citizenship and freedom

The stage is set for Australian David Hicks to become a British citizen. Hicks has been left by the Howard Government and Attorney-General Philip Ruddock to moulder in Guantanomo Bay. Currently he is being punished in solitary confinement by the vengeful United States Government.

Press Tony Blair - particularly while he is under political pressure on many fronts - to expedite the citizenship of David Hicks and, as a consequence, work to set him free as, previously, other British citizens have been. Contact details are here.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Living in a moral universe

"We live in a moral universe after all.
What's right matters. What's wrong matters.
You may keep things hidden,
but they don't disappear into the ether.
They impregnate the atmosphere." -

Miss Eagle sends a HT to Mata H for the above quote.
And three cheers for this post of hers.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Following Jesus

Miss Eagle received this by email yesterday. She has been unable to find a link anywhere on the net to shortcut you too, dear Reader, so - because it is so important - feels she needs to post in full. If anyone has a link, could they please email Miss Eagle with it.

You see, dear Reader, this document entitled Following Jesus is endorsed by some fine Christian leaders across major denominations who are based in our national capital, Canberra. What Miss Eagle finds striking about the document is the similarity of its core theme to the Barmen Declaration. Let me hasten to add that Miss Eagle is not likening the Australian Government to Hitler and the Nazis.

The Barmen Declaration, whose signatories included Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Martin Neimoller, had as its central thesis the Lordship of Jesus Christ - Jesus is Lord. Hitler rose to power in Germany in 1933. The declaration was made in 1934. The Christian church - or at least a part of it - was quicker off the mark than usual. Note: only a part of the church recognised the situation and called it accurately. The rest of the German church was off supporting the government of the day, wrapping itself in the flag, redefining national traditions and maintaining the status quo.

Following Jesus provides apostolic leadership. It tells us that our first loyalty is to God. It reminds us of our polestar in a modern world that challenges the Christian tradition on all sides. So please take the time and patience to read on. It will be worth your while.

Following Jesus

Introducing the statement:
The mission of the Christian church is to witness to Jesus Christ as God’s good news for a needy world. This includes preaching the gospel, comforting the broken-hearted and teaching the content of faith. It also entails the prophetic task of discerning the signs of the times and asking what is true, honourable, just and pure, in order that the God of peace may be with us (see Philippians 4:8–9). Our true worship is to avoid conformity to this present age and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we may discern the will of God – what is good, acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1–2). With these biblical exhortations in mind, we offer the following confession of what it means both to believe in and to follow Jesus Christ in Australia today.

Following Jesus in a World of Deception, Violence and Fear

The world is overwhelmed by violence. Families and communities across the globe have been traumatised by terrorist attacks and other conflicts that violate basic human rights. This has resulted not only in horrific loss of individual life, but also in vicious cycles of vengeance that breed cultures of retribution. Violation of basic humanitarian norms is widespread and is not confined to insurgent movements that employ methods of terror. Removal of hard-won constraints on state power is increasingly taken for granted, justified by the presumption that force will resolve the issues at stake.
In recent years, Australians have become increasingly distrustful of politicians and government. This is hardly surprising in view of the Australian government’s refusal to apologise to indigenous Australians, the ‘children overboard’ affair, treatment of asylum-seekers and others claiming refugee status, collusion in the illegal war in Iraq and half-hearted efforts to build bridges of understanding with members of Muslim communities. Australians have good reason to be concerned about the lack of public accountability on the part of those exercising political and bureaucratic power. Putting a spin on things, rather than speaking the truth, has become the norm.
What is the Christian response to all this? Jesus summoned those who follow him to work towards building communities of human wholeness, characterised by truth-telling, peacemaking and respect for the dignity of all, even perceived enemies. We affirm the abiding validity and value of Jesus’ call, moral vision, teaching and practice. We also acknowledge that in each new time and place we need to discern what it means to follow Jesus. We offer what follows to the church in Australia, as well as to others with similar concerns, as a contribution to the process of discernment in a time marked by deception, violence and the politics of fear.

Our first loyalty
A Christian’s first loyalty is to God, revealed in Jesus Christ. This loyalty is expressed by belonging to the church, the multi-ethnic ‘body of Christ’ spread throughout the world. Loyalty to God has priority over loyalty to one’s nation, government or racial group. ‘We must obey God rather than human authority’ (Acts 5:29).
For this reason, we do not accept that claims of national or ethnic identity, let alone concerns for ‘national security’, supersede our loyalty to God. Nor do they override our responsibility to make the moral vision of Jesus real in our world.

Waging peace
Jesus’ call to peacemaking commits Christians to the presumption that warfare is wrong. This commitment is strengthened by the devastating reality of war and its impact, not only on those who are paid to fight, but also on innocent families and communities as well as our fragile environment. Christians have a responsibility to be honest about the costs of war, to explore peaceful alternatives, to act on behalf of victims and to work for justice and reconciliation. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be known as the children of God’ (Matthew 5:9).
For this reason, we join with those who oppose government policies based on the assumption that ‘war on terror’ overrides human rights and the rule of law. Certain measures can never be condoned – torture, bombing of civilians and the use of weapons of mass destruction.

Telling the truth
Jesus warned against judging others and failing to recognise our own faults (see Matthew 7:1–5). No person or institution, whether church or nation, is immune from moral failure. Individually and collectively, we should be strong enough to be truthful about our failures, compromises and deceptions. ‘If we claim to be faultless, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us’ (1 John 1:8).
For this reason, we join with those who refuse to label critics of government policies as enemies of the ‘Australian way of life’. No government or nation is above criticism and the duty of accountability. Telling the truth and working for justice and peace – not deception and fear – is the true calling of government.

Welcoming the ‘other’
Jesus taught an ethic of love, but with a radical edge. He taught that to love as God loves is to love even those identified as enemies, to acknowledge their humanity and to respect their dignity. ‘Love your enemies, I tell you, and pray for those who harass you, so that you may be children of your heavenly father…’ (Matthew 5:44–45). This does not mean capitulating to evil, but it does require taking the hard road of opposing aggressive, inhumane acts while affirming the humanity of perpetrators.
For this reason, we join with those who insist that no person can be excluded from the law’s protection. We reject any rhetoric that demonises perceived enemies because this helps to create a climate of tacit approval for the abuse and victimisation of those considered different, ‘other’ or a threat. We oppose mistreatment of prisoners and detainees, regardless of supposed benefits in dealing with terrorist activities, and we call for generosity in dealing with refugees, asylum-seekers and holders of temporary protection visas.

Called to freedom
‘For freedom, Christ set us free’ (Galatians 5:1, 13). Jesus Christ calls us to freedom – freedom to serve one another and freedom from fear, whether generated by terrorist activity, media frenzy or government rhetoric. Jesus’ own freedom was expressed both by caring for those at the margins and by challenging authorities and institutions motivated by self-interest and the maintenance of power. Authentic Christian freedom is demonstrated by treating those at the edges of society as neighbours and by challenging authorities and institutions that prevent them from living life in all its fullness.
For this reason, we deny that Christian freedom is merely a ‘spiritual’ or ‘religious’ experience detached from the reality of bodily and communal life. Conforming to a culture of fear that ignores or tramples upon the needs of those who are different sabotages Christian freedom.

Looking ahead
By embracing Jesus’ call to freedom, justice and peacemaking, we join the joyful adventure of living out an alternative to a stifling and destructive culture of deception, violence and fear.

Signatories to the confession:
Rev James Barr, Senior Minister, Canberra Baptist Church
Dr Kevin Bray, Churches of Christ in the ACT
Rev’d Jane Foulcher, Senior Priest, St John the Baptist Anglican Church, Reid
Rev’d Dr Graeme Garrett, Canon Theologian, St Mark’s National Theological Centre
Rev Mark Hurst, Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand (AAANZ)
Rev Mary Hurst, Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand
Doug Hynd, Lecturer, St Mark’s National Theological Centre, and President, AAANZ
Rev Professor Thorwald Lorenzen, St Mark’s National Theological Centre
Rev’d Dr Elizabeth MacKinlay, Centre for Ageing and Pastoral Studies, Canberra
Venerable Dr Sarah Macneil, All Saints Anglican Church, Ainslie
Dr David Neville, Senior Lecturer in Theology, St Mark’s National Theological Centre
Associate Professor Stephen Pickard, Director, St Mark’s National Theological Centre
Most Rev Pat Power, Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn
Dr Heather Thomson, Lecturer in Theology and Academic Dean, St Mark’s NTC
Rev Peter Walker, Wesley Uniting Church, Forrest
For further comment you can contact:
Rev James Barr, Senior Minister, Canberra Baptist Church, Mobile: 0500-546-227

For information on Christian engagement in peacemaking and comment on issues of violence in Australia and overseas:
National Council of Churches in Australia – Decade to Overcome Violence

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

God and gas

Miss Eagle knows there are people out there, even practising Christians, who have difficulty in believing in a physical Resurrection. Now Miss Eagle finds this a bit hypocritical of them because she never hears them query what, to Miss Eagle, stretches credulity beyond belief and beyond anything else on this planet, or the universe for that matter - retail petrol pricing.

Now while Miss Eagle knew that retail petrol pricing was a great mystery, and knew that somehow it happened in some mystical environment far removed from the real world, there was something that had not dawned on her. Please forgive. There are times when Miss Eagle is a bird of little brain. God is in charge of retail petrol pricing. Whodda thunk it? God is in charge. Does he have a bevy of business analysts beavering away to come up with THE number? Does he do cutesy numbers to do this devil of a job by using a 666 algorithm?

Is that rumbling Miss Eagle hears in the back stalls? You need some substantiation of the fact that God is in charge of retail petrol pricing? Oh, ye of little faith. Here it is then. HT to SOMA! And a HT to Travis Stanley who started the whole thing.

Postscript: Miss Eagle does not think this is very funny at all. In fact, blasphemy may apply here. Taking the Lord's name in vain - and attributing to him something which is completely in the human domain. DON'T BLAME OUR SINS AND SHORTCOMINGS ON GOD! Particularly when tied up in all this is the greed of wealthy western nations, the addiction of many of OPEC's member states to huge amounts of oil dollars and the abuse by all concerned of the earth's resources.

Monday, May 01, 2006

May Day: tradition, politics and Melbourne 2006

To-day, May 1, is a day steeped in ancient culture and political history.
It is May Day.

Culturally, May Day is associated with ancient festivals to mark the return of the sun and the life and fertility of spring. This is a bit difficult to appreciate in the Southern Hemisphere. Here in the cold, wintry part at the bottom of Australia, the sun - far from returning - plays hide and seek. May Poles are not seen as frequently as they once were.

In Australia, May Day celebrations are political events. Having said that, however, there are only two regions which actually celebrate fully. These are the Northern Territory and Queensland. This year, May Day, May 1, falls on the first Monday of May. This means that celebrations will actually be held on the day. Queensland and the NT celebrate on the first Monday in May - and there is a public holiday on which to do so - which, needless to say, is not always May 1. Queensland refers to its celebrations as Labour Day. The NT celebrations carry the traditional name of May Day. Other places may celebrate but keep their marches to the weekends either side of May 1. These places have workers celebrations with public holidays on other days, which vary from state to state, under the heading of either Labour Day or Eight Hour Day.

With John Howard's new industrial regime established and May Day being the first day of operation of the newly established Fair Pay Commission it will be interesting to see the attendance numbers and amount of protest in Brisbane and Darwin.

May Day wreath laying ceremony. Thurs May 4, 5.30pm.
Eight Hour Day monument, Trades Hall, 54 Victoria St, Sth Carlton. Ph Len 0438 389 302.
Student strike organising committee working bee for May Day rally. Sat May 6, 1pm.
Resistance Centre, lvl 5, 407 Swanston St, city. Ph 9639 8622
Socialist Alliance May Day breakfast & toast. Sun May 7, 11am.
Druids House, lvl 5, 407 Swanston St, city.
May Day: Fight for workers' rights! Sun May 7, 1pm.
Trades Hall, cnr Lygon & Victoria sts, Carlton.