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Two passing thoughts

18 Nov

1. Small joys of blogging: right now someone in Kathmandu is reading Friday Australian poem #11: “Because” by James McAuley. Everyone should…

2. On tonight’s Compass I found myself most drawn to Inga Clendinnen, historian and atheist, and least to Jim Wallace.

Perhaps the most surprising is the non-church representative, Clendinnen. She stands out for her emphasis on values in action rather than those she describes as “aspirationally talked about”. For instance, she frequents a Melbourne hospital, “starved of funds and amazingly decrepit” in parts, but a model of multicultural, generous Australia.

“I think the major moral issue is what we are going to do with our present prosperity. What frightens me about it is that I have no reason to believe it will endure for long. And it seems to me that this society, which I value very highly, I think it is a very good society, will be vulnerable to economic depression.

“People these days don’t know how to be poor. They haven’t learned. It’s one of the advantages of being old. I grew up in a world of what? Handed-down clothes. Moral frugality. It was moral to be frugal. Therefore naturally I’m disturbed by the immense explosion of consumer goods and their distribution in all directions, and the assumption of children, particularly who’ve grown up only in a period of increasing prosperity, that they have a moral right to possess them.”

Imam Afroz Ali, founding president of the Al-Ghazzali Centre for Islamic Sciences and Human Development in Sydney, had perhaps the best quote:

Geraldine Doogue: Is there a particular verse from the Koran or a saying of the Prophet that applies here?

Imam Afroz Ali: Definitely. There are two. Firstly…I’ll cut the prophetic tradition short here. A person is making ablution. This is for worship. And he is using a little bit too much water. And the Prophet is saying to him, peace be upon him, that even if you were on the side of a river and you used much of the water out of it, this would be oppression to other people. The second statement that he makes himself. That if the end of world came and you were planting a tree, finish planting the tree. And might I also add the third Koranic verse. That God has given us this world in a balance. Keep the balance.

I will link to the program itself when the transcript becomes available.

I don’t worry as much as some do about the whole religion/politics thing here in Australia. People vote according to what they personally consider to be important, and where that comes from doesn’t matter as much as what those important things might be. Furthermore, there is no “Christian” vote really, not in my view, any more than there is an “atheist” vote. So Inga Clendinnen came closest to what I think is important… (I would see that as “Christian” I suppose…)

Tuesday morning

1. The Compass transcript is now available. I have added a little above as a result.

2. See also a new post on Oz Politics: The Australian Christian vote?

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5 responses to “Two passing thoughts

  1. AV

    November 19, 2007 at 1:03 am

    Furthermore, there is no “Christian” vote really, not in my view, any more than there is an “atheist” vote.

    I agree with the second part of this statement more than the first. Being an atheist and open about it is currently less likely to have negative ramifications for one’s political or career aspirations (unless, say, one wants to teach in a partially-public funded private religious school) in Australia than it does in the more fervently-religious US. (Heck: my local Federal MP–a Liberal–is an atheist, or so I hear.) Furthermore, given that atheism is (broadly speaking) nothing more than the simple lack of belief in deities, there is nothing inherent in atheism that would predispose one to voting for Labor rather than the Coalition. (I can even imagine an atheist voting for the Christian Democratic Party if he or she agreed with that party’s policies.)

    On the other hand, parties such as the Christian Dems or Family First would not survive for very long in the absence of a core constituency that identifies a specific set of values with a particularly narrow definition of Christianity, and hopes via such parties to shape public policy. Obviously many Christians do not belong to this constituency, so in that sense it would be mistaken to talk about the “Christian vote.” But there is certainly a Christian vote.

     
  2. kanani

    November 19, 2007 at 3:21 am

    Ah, I’ve answered your meme!

     
  3. kanani

    November 19, 2007 at 3:26 am

    I’ve heard the same sentiment here in the US, from people who grew up in the depression.

    We’re in a depression now –though no one will admit it. And I haven’t seen anyone changing their buying habits. Gasoline has gone up, and people are still driving their huge tankers around. Albeit, you look at them and laugh, knowing that maybe they’ve got 1/8 tank of gasoline in there.

    I remember very clearly when the “Christian” vote came into play here in the US. It was the Christian coalition, and they barnstormed the Republican party with help from many people within, as well as some charismatic evangelicals. The stepping stone used to gain entry was the issue of abortion, which up until then had been seen as a “catholic” issue until the Evangelicals came and used it as a way to enter the political arena.

    Interestingly, there was an article in the paper the other day that indicated that Republicans are moving away from the Christian vote. Though really, this is the US. And it’s hard for any conservative not to say, “God bless America” and make sure they have photo-ops of them at church or posing with popular church leaders.

     
  4. ninglun

    November 19, 2007 at 8:10 am

    Meme noted, Kanani. Thanks.

    AV, I have frustrated many a person behind me on polling days by insisting on filling the Senate/Legislative Council ballots in full, just so I could put the Christian Dems or (in the more distant past) Pauline Hanson last. I’d start at the bottom and work my way through all 200 or so boxes back to the top…

     
  5. AV

    November 19, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    AV, I have frustrated many a person behind me on polling days by insisting on filling the Senate/Legislative Council ballots in full, just so I could put the Christian Dems or (in the more distant past) Pauline Hanson last.

    It’s your democratic right to number every box rather than opt for the sheeple method. You have nothing to apologise for in that regard.

     
 
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