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Category Archives: Multiculturalism and diversity

New taste (for me) and M’s travels

New taste

Coaching finishing a bit late last night I went to a tiny Uigur restaurant — a real hole in the wall — near the Entertainment Centre. They asked me if I wanted mild or spicy; I opted for mild — which was quite spicy enough for me. (Depends how much you like chilli.)


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Posted by on November 22, 2007 in blogging, M, Multiculturalism and diversity, my sites, Personal, travel

 

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Is Australia a Christian country?

Jim Belshaw has an interesting post on this, to which I wrote an off-the-cuff response for the sake of discussion, and Jim has replied. My answer, basically, is “No”. Except in a very broad cultural sense. One could also ask the question in the past tense, as Jim has, and one would get very many answers, as indeed Jim points out. Obviously Australia is more a Christian culture than it is a Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, Muslim, or Jewish one, yet all those are, and in all cases long have been, living traditions within Australian culture, not to mention what remains of Indigenous spirituality.

Much better heads than mine have asked the question; it disturbs me nonetheless when people like the current Prime Minister make assumptions about our being a Christian country. My argument would be that we are very much a non-religious country in very important respects, even more deeply than the fact there is not and cannot be an established religion. I would even argue that secularism has been a critical ingredient both intellectually and practically, a point I made — or tried to make — in my comment on Jim’s blog. (Didn’t Manning Clark devote a lifetime and many pages to constructing a long epic poem of a history on this theme? At least he thought it mattered, which made him a rather odd “Marxist”.)

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John Quiggin, Jim Belshaw and Bruce on the culture wars

First came John Quiggin on 15 November, then Jim Belshaw on 17 November, and then Bruce on 17 November. There is considerable comment on the first of those entries. I do not propose to examine those posts in depth, but do ask that you read them all. Each in its own way is very good.

Now you will gather from my post tags that I have a position on this; in fact this post will be the 349th under that tag! Over on Oz Politics and Big Archive you will find 326 more! There is also a page on a rather specialised aspect of all this: Revision or Ideological Makeover? HREOC’s “Face the Facts” Rejigged which traces the evolution of changes of attitude and policy — not as successful as the government planned, I would say because HREOC has not been totally abject — that I encountered as an ESL teacher from 1996 onwards.

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Welcome to our nightmare

 Orpheus Lost by Janette Turner Hospital (Australia May 2007; USA Canada October 2007):   orpheus_covers

I’ve always been intensely interested in examining ordinary human beings, people without political agendas, who are suddenly caught up in the fist of history and crisis. If someone happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, what happens to their lives from that point onwards? How do they negotiate life, history, politics thereafter?

I suppose I can trace the birth of this intense interest to something that happened to me when we were living in a village in South India in 1977. I was with my two young children in an exceedingly ramshackle taxi heading from the village to the city market in Trivandrum. It was a time of political upheaval in India. Riots broke out, and suddenly our taxi was surrounded by a mob waving the banners of the Communist Party of South India. The taxi could not move forward. Our taxi driver was very frightened and was trembling violently. The rioters were drumming on the taxi roof and windows. The children and I were in the back seat and I felt that weird and absolute calm which is actually shock. I had an arm around each child and can still vividly remember the two dominant thoughts in my head: 1) I must make the children feel safe with me and 2) No one will ever know what happened to us. In fact, the tense situation only lasted a few minutes and then the crowd let the taxi move slowly forward. Since then, I’ve been aware of how suddenly and how randomly political events of which one is only dimly aware can disrupt a life.

This has to be in my top three best reads of 2007! Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2007 in Aussie interest, Cultural and other, Current affairs, Faith and philosophy, Multiculturalism and diversity, OzLit, Reading, Religion

 

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Friday Australian poem # 14: "The Australaise" by C J Dennis

Expanded since draft posting… And as for the wrong number: oops! 😉

After watching The Sounds of Aus on ABC last night my choice this week was clear. 🙂

Hosted by John Clarke, this entertaining story about the way we sound is told through an array of illuminating interviews with linguists, historians, social and political commentators, comedians, actors, and plenty of opinionated people with genuinely hilarious anecdotes. Those featured include Rachel Griffiths, Bruce Beresford, Bert Newton, Max Gillies, Denise Scott, Mary-Anne Fahey, Santo Cilauro, Simon Palomares and Akmal Saleh.

Is our accent really the legendary broad “Strine” of Paul Hogan and Steve Irwin? Why is it so hard for others to do? Are there regional variations? Is it a bastardised version of the Queen’s English? Is it under threat from global forces? And if it is, is it worth saving?

By examining the Australian accent and discovering its story, The Sounds of Aus reveals much about the Australian psyche and our national identity. Indeed, over the last two centuries, many of the conflicts about our identity have been played out through the accent, with our vision of, and our relationship with, the world reflected in the way we speak.
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Posted by on November 9, 2007 in Aussie interest, Diversions, immigration, Multiculturalism and diversity, OzLit, poets and poetry

 

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National Coming Out Day 1

I have to confess I hadn’t noticed, but apparently yesterday (our time) and today (US time) was/is National Coming Out Day. OK, I’ll support that.


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Posted by on October 12, 2007 in Events, gay life/issues, Multiculturalism and diversity

 

Timely site find

africanoz.jpg

Update

Media Watch promises to be very relevant tonight!
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