Monthly Archives: November 2006

Jim Wallis on Iraq

From the beginning Jim Wallis has consistently opposed the Bush administration’s Iraq policy from an evangelical Christian perspective, swimming against the right wing fundamentalist tide. In Three Ways to ‘Stop the Course’ in Iraq he has much to say that is worth reading.

…There are no more enthusiastic and self-confident pep talks from the White House now. There is only a totally failed strategy, an insurgency fueled by an occupation, and a civil war that has put young Americans in the crossfire of religious and political hatred. And there is only death, for Americans and for Iraqis. American deaths now number nearly 3,000, and the killing of Iraqis seems to get worse by the week. We must also deal with how American morality has been destroyed by this war; its collateral damage now includes our international standing and respect. And let’s be clear: according to The New York Times, a National Intelligence Estimate warned that the war in Iraq has increased, not lessened, the threat from terrorism. My children and yours are far less safe, not more, because of Iraq.
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Posted by on November 30, 2006 in Current affairs, Faith and philosophy, News and Current Affairs, Religion


Watched Blade Runner (Director’s Cut) last night

bladerunnerI mentioned in May the HSC unit In the Wild which pairs Blade Runner with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. One problem I had coaching students doing this unit was my not having a copy of the movie, but yesterday (after a vain series of searches for the past two years) I managed to get one from Hum in Oxford Street for only $14.95. I had seen the original and inferior commercial release many years ago at the Valhalla Cinema in Glebe and frankly had no idea what was gong on, aside from being overwhelmed by the spectacle. Last night’s viewing made much more sense.

Earlier in the week I had seen the DVD (Surry Hills Library this time) of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and was surprised at just how close it is to being a silent movie, aside from the music track. Today the famous “Star Gate sequence” near the end looks uncomfortably like a display on Windows Media Player; it was so revolutionary at the time. Still, given 2001 is pushing forty years old now, it is an amazing piece of work.

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Posted by on November 30, 2006 in Cultural and other, Films, DVDs, TV, Surry Hills


Lunch with Malcolm (updated), and the unique Christianity of norrie mAy-welby

AIDS connects these items: Lord Malcolm is in the final stages of it*, and norrie has worked with agencies involved in AIDS work, as well as for the The Gender Centre.

I admit I was a bit shocked when I collected Malcolm from the hospice at lunch time today. He has given up smoking because, he tells me, had he continued to do so he would have been dead in a few days. His treatment at the moment is entirely palliative, and some of the more frightening manifestations of HIV in the central nervous system have been occurring. Nonetheless, we walked down Oxford Street and had a really nice lunch at a new Asian place (The Snake Bean) and a few beers at The Shift where The Empress, just back from Hong Kong, joined us. Malcolm paid me in advance for his Keating the Musical ticket — just in case, I suspect.
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Posted by on November 29, 2006 in Aussie interest, Faith and philosophy, gay life/issues, immigration, Personal, Religion


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Encounter on Intelligent Design

Last Sunday’s Encounter now has a transcript available: Intelligent Design. Or you can listen. “This Encounter surveys not so much the origins or the politics of Intelligent Design as responses to it – and you’ll hear a fascinating range from across Australian Christianity and Islam.” Participants represent a range of religious views from ones I would embrace to others, Christian and Muslim, which get totally lost in fundamentalist circularity. Most of Genesis, as far as I am concerned, is myth and legend, of interest as poetry and story and as expression of faith, but of no great use in settling questions either on the origins of the universe or even on the ancient history of the area between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean. Creation is a mystery seekers for God have speculated on, but God, who doesn’t write books, hasn’t deigned to tell us much about it. Probably we wouldn’t understand if he/she did.
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MyScribbles in Bamian

ahmadThe picture on the right is Ahmad Shuja standing where the great Buddha statue once could be seen in Afghanistan. His latest post, Greetings from Bamian, tells us what he is doing there. My first thought was that this can’t be the safest of journeys for an Afghan teenager, but he assures us “Bamian is the safest of all provinces in Afghanistan. And if all goes well, I will hopefully be back home [in Pakistan] in after a week.” Let’s hope he will be.

I note Ahmad is a Hazara. In a Diary-X entry for 30 August 2004 (saved to disk!) I wrote:

# Been reading a really good book: The Kite Runner by Afghan-American Khaled Hosseini is beautifully written and should have been compulsory reading during the “children overboard”/Tampa affair – except it couldn’t have been, having been published in 2003. But a wonderful corrective to demonisation it remains, as well as an indictment of both the Taliban and the preceding communists. One is also left in no doubt about the difficulties of the Hazara people of Afghanistan, though I suppose it is kind of comforting to know racism is not just a European phenomenon…

I wonder if Ahmad has read it. He probably has. If so, I wonder what he thinks of it.
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Posted by on November 28, 2006 in Cultural and other, Faith and philosophy, Multiculturalism and diversity, News and Current Affairs


David Humphries work in progress

Some may remember that back in September I had dinner in the studio of artist David Humphries whom I had not seen for over thirty years. We had been teaching colleagues in Wollongong at one time. Soon after that dinner I had suggested to Dorothy McRae-McMahon at church that she should interview him for the church/local paper The South Sydney Herald. She has done so and the interview should come out next week.

I had an email from David today. He has been working on a commission in Tamworth.
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Posted by on November 27, 2006 in Aussie interest, Cultural and other, Personal



To fisk or not to fisk?

To “pilger” has somewhat different connotations, if a similar genesis. Both words derive from the names of prominent journalists.The verb “to fisk” is defined as “To deconstruct an article on a point by point basis in a highly critical manner. Derived from the name of journalist Robert Fisk, a frequent target of such critical articles in the blogosphere.” I actually have considerable respect for Robert Fisk; even if he is not always absolutely correct with his facts or interpretations, he is usually nearer the mark and far more interesting than his critics. I first encountered the term “fisking” on Bruce’s and Arthur’s sites, where you may sometimes see the technique deployed and whose links take you to more information about the practice. It is Arthur’s response to being travestied (definitely not “fisked” in any sense) on another blog that has led me to think about this topic. I love the pic there.

I am old-fashioned enough to hesitate about adopting the term myself when “critique” and “deconstruction” — the latter in its popular rather than Derridean sense — already exist, but I have no objection to the practice so long as it is used for substantial critique and not just to break butterflies on wheels or to score personal points. A danger (drawing here on a reader-response perspective) is that fisking can very easily turn personal, or be seen as personal, and the fisker is always in danger of being seen as (or even being) a superior and somewhat supercilious pedant. It is all a matter of focus and tone, I suppose. Certainly I have seen many worthwhile examples of the practice, and Arthur’s original “fisking” of a rather muddled effusion on gay issues, which led to accusations of “jealousy”, was not a bad example of the art. I said as much at the time. The long-delayed response on Seeking Utopia was itself infantile**; ironic, as that seems to have been the charge against Arthur.
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