Archives For Australia

Two of the best Australian rock albums to come out of the 1980’s are 1927’s Ish & Icehouse’s, Primitive Man. Both albums, are among the unsung heroes of an era, when Australia had an actual music industry, with serious substance.

Compulsory Hero (add to this, Propaganda Machine) from Ish, & Great Southern Land from Primitive Man, being stand outs.

 

 

 

 


Related A-lists:

October’s A-List: The Fantastic Eight
November’s A-List: The Fantastic Five (better-late-than-never ed.)

Panoramics

July 13, 2016 — Leave a comment

On a recent field trip for homeschool we made some random stops at lookouts. Not only were these opportunities to rest, they gave us the opportunity to give the underused panoramic feature on the iphone a decent workout. The first image is slightly warped because the structure we were standing was flexible. It seemed to move with the wind, but did, however, definitely move when someone bounced up and down on it. Fun sky pier. All up our total kilometers traveled equaled 2010kms.

‘You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me…You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.’ (Psalm 18:36, ESV)

Sealy Lookout (Coffs Harbour, NSW):

Sealy Lookout

Big Pineapple (Nabmour, QLD):

Big Pineapple

Wildhorse Mountain fire tower looking West towards the Glass House Mountains (what remains of old Volcanos): (Sunshine Coast, QLD)

Wildhorse Mountain Fire Lookout

Montville looking East towards the pacific ocean – the Great Barrier Reef is not far off from there:  (Nambour, QLD)

Montville

 

Attention Drift

May 5, 2016 — Leave a comment

May 5th 2016 003

 

 

Drowsy Autumn warmth

Bathing concentration

Attention drift

….


(RL2016)

25th April 2016 007Anzac Day comes with a caveat.

Absent of any understanding about what causes war and the case for just-peace. Absent of the moral restraints of the message about Christ’s act and command to love God and love one another as we love and care for ourselves, Anzac day becomes a celebration of chaos, not life; a day of hero-worship, not sincere remembrance and gratitude.

We surely remember the sacrifice of our ancestors, but with it we remember God’s summons to hear the importance of His commandments that empower us to stand against the continuing brutality of war. It’s because God comes to humanity that this word can be received as true word. A word we did not speak ourselves. A word that we’re encouraged to test and try out, because God is not insecure about who He is or anxious about what He has planned.

Anzac day is for humanity to stand before the past, under God, towards the future. It’s a time to mourn, a time to recollect, a time to reconsider and lament the effect of war.  Not only on those who didn’t return, but on those who did.

Traditionally, on this day Australia and New Zealand commemorate, not war, or the sins of it, but engrave, through Christian prayer, a deep gratitude and remembrance, of and for, the freedom and life given by those who sacrificed their lives to give it.

But, Anzac day comes with a caveat.

If we jettison Jesus Christ from Anzac day, our remembrance spirals into the worship of chaos, hatred of our enemies and as it deteriorates into the empty worship of our ancestors. Without the Prince of Peace and those He represents, Anzac day has no real message of peace or hope, only war, the hype and devastation of it.

This is exemplified by the words of Anti-Nazi German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who in 1932 preached to a solemn gathering of Germans,

‘when the church observes Memorial Day, it must have something special to say. It cannot be one voice in the chorus of others who loudly raise the cry of mourning for the lost sons of the nation across the land, and by such cries of mourning call us to new deeds and great courage. It cannot, like the ancient singers of great heroic deeds, wander about and sing the song of praise of battle and the death of the heroes to the listening ears of enthralled young people. On this day the church stands here so strangely without ceremony, so little proud, so little heroic. The Church is like the seer of ancient times who when all are gathered… is wholeheartedly present but suffers because he sees something that others do not see and must speak of what he sees, although no one wants to hear it…the one who loves most is the one who sees deepest, sees the greatest danger. A seer has never been popular. That is why the church will also not be popular, least of all on days like this.’[i]

“Jesus is victor.”

Any real human victory begins in Him.

In no other way and by no other name can Anzac day be what it should be, a time and place when our hearts are directed, not towards human ideological constructs of peace, but towards the Prince of peace and therefore towards just-peace. Our memory and treatment of those who gave up their very lives for us is only enriched by this. Our mourning turns into hope, as we hear from chaplains, pastors and Christians, throughout both nations, at most remembrance services, we are asked to carry away with us the challenge of the message of just-peace.

‘Memorial day in the Church! What does it mean? It means holding up the one great hope from which we all live, the preaching of the kingdom of God. It means seeing that which is past, and which we remember today, with all its terrors and all its godlessness, and yet not being afraid, but hearing the preaching of peace […] Now pass on the message of peace, for the sake of which their death had to be, and preach it all the more loudly.’ [ii]

The one whose own broken body was laid in a tomb guarded and then, against, and to the shame of the chaos and all that stood in proud victory over Him, was resurrected from the dead.

Any real human victory begins in Him; all just-peace follows the Prince of peace who was judged become judge.

‘Where the power of darkness wants to overpower the light of God, there God triumphs and judges the darkness.’ [iii]

Any real peace follows from the one who is peace, not the one who through media, machine or human, only gives lip service to it. Or who through a mask of peace seeks through a will to dominate, only to expand a human empire.

The importance of Christian participation in Anzac Day is the reminder that peace comes to humanity from outside itself; from outside our ability to save ourselves. Through conviction, through just-justice, through covenant, through commandment the chaos is answered with purpose. It’s lifeless ‘mass, rebellion and tumult against true life is conquered, transformed as the One who ‘hovers over it speaks [and because He does, decisively acts].’[iv]

Jesus the Christ doesn’t seem to be. He is, was and will be.

That is our starting place and EVERY Anzac day what was once their march, but is now ours, must begin and end here.

For as Bonhoeffer noted:

‘wherever the word of Christ is truly spoken, the world sense that it is either ruinous madness or ruinous truth, which endangers it’s very life. Where peace is really spoken, war must rage twice as hard, for it senses that it is about to be driven out. Christ intends to be its death […] Memorial Day in the church means knowing that Christ alone wins the victory! Amen.’ [v]

Sources:

[i] Bonhoeffer, D 1932 National Memorial Day, Berlin, Reminiscere, Feb. 21,. In Best, I. 2012 The Collected Sermons of Deitrich Bonhoeffer,  Fortress Press

[ii] ibid, (p.21)

[iii] ibid, (p.17)

[iv] Bonhoeffer, D. DBW:3 Creation and Fall: A theological exposition of Genesis 1-3, (p.41) [parenthesis mine]

[v] Bonhoeffer, D 1932 National Memorial Day, Berlin, Reminiscere, Feb. 21,. In Best, I. 2012 The Collected Sermons of Deitrich Bonhoeffer,  Fortress Press (pp.20 & 21)

facade of compassion 2Positive advances in communications technology drive the functionality of information delivery like a viaduct.

Information is carried along at a fast pace. Which means that we’ve found ourselves living in an era of information deluge. Words, thoughts and opinions rain down on us from everywhere.

In this downpour, writers can be too easily tempted to reach for the fastest way to keep people reading their work.However, putting something together that’s worth a reader’s time, takes time.

In this environment, writing can be hard. Gimmicks and stunts; shock and awe, are all potential roads writers can go down.Simply because time poor people need fast facts, fast entertainment and fast news.

Selling drama buys sympathy, or in this day and age, at least a like, share or a twenty-four hour hashtag trend, triggered by a bubbly questionable logic that says, “like, wow! hashtag riots really do make a difference.”

It’s safe to say that we now live in a tabloid age. Words are thrown like darts at constructed targets of opportunity. For instance, people comment in ways they never would if the conversation they were part of was held face to face in a physical public forum. We would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t have that one “friend” on social media, who always seems to take their own level of intelligence more seriously than others.

Think of the beauty and vibrancy of the democratic process presently underway in America. To an Australian, it’s portrayed as a circus. Partly because, no doubt, some of it is. What’s not portrayed is the fact that most of this circus is concocted. It’s not real.

As a result, the vibrancy of the American democratic process is overlooked. The beauty of it is pushed to the sidelines. For sure, the system is in need of reform. But guess what? Review and reforms are part of adult life. They’re also a chief reason for why democracies still exist.

For the most part, the gratitude that should stem from an awareness of what we still have, is subsumed by a deep anxiety about what we’re told the other side wants to take from us.  As a consequence, thankfulness for having such responsible freedoms and a responsibility to uphold those responsible freedoms becomes pretty much non-existent. Apathy and abdication from the democratic process soon follows. If the people aren’t interested in Governments, Governments will govern outside the interests of the people.

Like writing, good democracy takes time and effort. Participation in a physical public forum requires planning. It involves preparing beforehand what you are going to ask, say or discuss. Unlike the psuedoisms of the virtual realm, decorum and respect would trump temptation to make off the cuff comments, concocted to perform a duty, not to the community involved in that forum, but to the ego of the person commenting.

Their words can penetrate with no real benefit, but to that of the owner of the ego. Who is, sadly, sometimes even celebrated by followers or friends who also enjoyed seeing a target hit by a cheap shot. As a result, words are reduced to noise. This noise is amplified by the commerce of Social Media and the superficial, transactional relationships upheld by it. Which is why the mechanic [for the sake of the bottom line] is programmed to sell an idea of community as if it’s the real thing.

This is something foreseen in the lamentations of Jean Bethke Elshtain[i], who, not without her critics, acknowledged in 1995 and later, 2012, that the trajectory of technology, empowers mobs via technology, to hinder participation in the democratic process.  For Elshtain, the inevitable outcome is the decline of democratic debate, authentic participation and therefore democracy. Of which there now exists numerous examples.

Elshtain was right to call this out. Wading through the density of information and navigating the sometimes manipulative statements, images, etc. Sometimes feels like wading through stagnating bloated rivers. The raft people climb onto in order to escape these rising waters, however, is dangerously overloaded on one-side.

As Elshtain noted,

‘we often hear more about the folly of the right, than we do of the left.’[ii]

Cynicism abounds. Responsible commentary is paralyzed by the attraction of sensationalism. Under the dark smile of Machiavellian logic, certain elements, through a facade of compassion seek dominance, if not total rule. Fear of offense and that fear (come commodity), is utilized by the few to control the many.

We can begin to fix this by seeing that our reliance on technology cannot replace the need for careful comment and face to face interaction. Being physically present and visible in the democratic forum upholds the democratic forum.  It is the rock of genuine relationship. All of which requires communication – the respect for representation, convention, conversation, and planning; elements that not only contribute to the idea of democracy, but are part of the very fabric of real democracy.

Democracy takes time. It means wading through the hard stuff. Asking the difficult questions and then allowing room for those questions to be answered.  If the way forward for democracy is to be taken seriously, it begins with deep gratitude, not an unruly anxiety.

As an American friend said to me a few weeks ago:

 “Well, at least we still get to vote on something.”

Source:

[i] Elshtain, J.B, 1995 Democracy on trial, (Amazon)

[ii] State of Democracy: Maxwell School of Syracuse University Lecture 2012 (Source)

See also, Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s, 1978, Harvard Speech {Transcript available here: American Rhetoric}

IMG_5137231944, C.S Lewis wrote:

‘The demand for equality has two sources; The noble: the desire for fair play. The mean-spirited: the hatred of superiority […] the kind of ‘democratic’ education which is already looming ahead is bad because it endeavours to propitiate evil passions, to appease envy. There are two reasons for not attempting this.
One: you will not succeed. Envy is insatiable. The more you concede to it the more it will demand. No attitude of humility which you can possibly adopt will propitiate a man [or woman] with an inferiority complex. Two: you are trying to introduce equality where equality is fatal.
Equality [outside mathematics] is a purely social conception. It applies to man [and woman] as a political and economic animal. It has no place in the world of the mind. Beauty is not democratic. Virtue is not democratic. Truth is not democratic […]
Political democracy is doomed if it tries to extend its demand for equality into these higher spheres. Ethical, intellectual or aesthetic democracy is death.’[i]

Lewis’ position on extreme egalitarianism is not unique. The late American political philosopher, Jean Bethke Elshtain, also brilliantly hummed her own critical tune in relation to this issue.

Writing under the heading, ‘Multiculturalism and Democratic Education’ Elshtain stated:

‘Teacherly malfeasance occurs in instances of unreflective, dogmatic politicisation. Each evades the dilemmas of democratic equality rather than offering us points of critical reflection on that dilemma. This sort of education fails in its particular and important task of preparing us for a world of ambiguity and variety. It equips us only for resentment or malicious naïveté [ii]

Lewis and Bethke come at this argument from different angles. Both add to the argument for the rebalancing of the “education revolutions” of the past decade. The area where this applies most is the coercion to meet a particular type of egalitarian compliance (e.g.: new multiculturalism; new tolerance). Slyly disguised as part of an educational standard this ‘purely social conception’ (Lewis) poses as an academic essential. Acceptance and legitimacy is only validated by an alignment with its ideology. In turn, a form of financial blackmail follows. Funding and accreditation comes by complying, or rather conforming with a particular political position.

As a political aim it succeeds in coercing conformity. However, it paralyses the academy because the academic focus is reduced to how best the education fits within a particular type of extreme egalitarian social construct. This narrowing forces everyone into the same box.  From here academic indifference and complacency replaces the energy of academic rigour. Genuine progress is held back by total compliance to an out of control quest for the implementation of “progressive” ideas of tolerance. Democratic debate and its ability to preserve the beauty of unity in diversity, dies.

Differences are unreasonably considered irreconcilable. People are then isolated. Strangers are turned into enemies and friends into strangers.  Both institutionally and clinically, in the name of new multiculturalism, each are set to stick to their own kind, where never the two should meet: Anglos with Anglos; men with men; women with women; African-Americans with African-Americans; indigenous Australians with indigenous Australians; in politics the left with the left, right with the right.  This is, in a roundabout way, the rejection of differences.

For Elshtain it flags a new segregation:

‘As a form of ideological teaching, multicultural absolutism isolates us in our own skins and equates culture with racial or ethnic identity. [In America], the new multiculturalism promotes commensurability: If I am white and you are black, we cannot, in principle, speak to or understand each other. You just won’t “get it […]. Some critics wonder how long it will take to move from separate approaches for African-American children in the name of Afro-centricity, for example, to a quest for separate schools.[iii]

Extreme egalitarianism masquerades as authentic equality. The point and purpose of equality is driven into a quagmire of sameness. Fairness is abandoned and the quest for equality ends up creating new forms of inequality. For example: anyone with a differing position or different ability is condemned, labelled and if history is allowed to repeat itself, shipped off to who knows where, under the guise of “re-education” or “resettlement.”

Nowhere is Lewis’ observation of a hatred of superiority more evident than in Australian society. Socially, our children are taught very early on to enforce extreme egalitarianism. This usually takes the form of an acceptable kind of bullying whereby the victim is labelled a “try hard.” The competency and talent of the person is reduced to meaninglessness by the majority who refuse to deal with their own sense of inferiority. Rather than celebrate the competency and talent of the person, the majority maliciously turn a complement into a put down. The benefit of difference is squashed into the box of sameness.

Most non-Australian cultures would be confused by this. For them the term “try hard” is about positive reinforcement. Those without the talent and competency cheer on those who try hard to hone their skills. The communal benefit is seen, valued and acknowledged.

Not so in Australian society. Outside athletic ability, the rule remains the same: “don’t try to, or even attempt to rise above the rest.”

Although changes are taking place, this tall poppy syndrome still rates as being a huge problem. It presents itself as the biggest obstacle to writers, artists, musicians, intellectuals, right down to budding home-buyers and homeschoolers.

The quagmire of sameness keeps people down. It mutes creativity and stifles industry.

Those who want to retain authentic democratic equality will not find resisting extreme egalitarianism easy. They face a similar hostile reaction to that of Albert Camus, who ‘was virtually excommunicated from the French Left by Sartre and his comrades because he expressed a strong disapproval of the passion for unity that saw any opposition as treason.’[iv]

For both Lewis and Elshtain, extreme egalitarianism is a ‘phony equality.[v]’  It perpetuates that which it says it opposes. This phony equality levels what it subjectively sees as uneven ground, while at the same time it sows inequality, with the tools of oppression: institutional racism, economic discrimination, legalised misogyny and misandry.

Democratic education is reduced to a list of new tolerance compliance orders. Academic standards are lowered whilst teachers are forced to obsess over appeasing the feelings and fickle sentiments of society. In not being willing to fairly recognise and responsibly discuss differences, for fear of offense or ridicule, democracy wanes. Political democracy, as C.S Lewis pointed out, is ‘doomed if it tries to expand its demand for equality into beauty, virtue and truth.’

In not being able to celebrate unity in diversity or find and maintain common ground, democracy fails. The cohesive elements of a vibrant Western society are then consigned to breakdown into the terror of fascism, the shared poverty of communism or the destructive anarchist vacuum of tribalisation.


Sources:

[i] Lewis, C. 1944, Democratic Education In Walmsley, L. (Ed.) 2000 C.S Lewis Essay Collection Harper Collins p.190

[ii] Elshtain, J.B. 1995 Democracy on Trial Basic Books, Perseus Books Group p.83

[iii] Ibid, p.79

[iv] Ibid, p.120

[v] Ibid, p.74

Evaluating ExpectationsWith time restraints and the high amount of information available, it’s unreasonable to expect a teacher or a parent to teach a child everything.

Attempting to learn all there is to know about a subject is unrealistic. Any pressure to do so only squeezes the joy out of the learning process.

For example, no one that I’m aware of expects 5th or 6th graders to write a one hundred thousand word, doctoral thesis, on Newton’s Laws of physics. What’s expected is that children might understand the three basic principles, and be able to name them.

Learning takes time and we need time to learn.  This is why most pre-tertiary and some undergraduate programs only teach an overview of a particular topic, sometimes, in repetition. The overview takes the form of an in-depth introduction to the content of the subject.

Once taught, the student is free to explore the subject further. Taking the opportunity to advance then becomes the responsibility of the student, not the teacher – “wax on, wax off.”

The same applies to homeschoolers. The overall goal is infused with the intention to create, inspire, spark interest in and give kids a love of learning.

For Homeschoolers both the world and the home are seen as being educational platforms that provide ample opportunities to empower the learning process. Effectively taking personal responsibility for their child’s early education, homeschooling parents actively involve themselves in the learning process.  They direct and engage with their child. Matching their child’s education with natural abilities in consultation, not servitude, to contemporary standards.

This overall goal begins and ends with what Christian theologians call right relationship, exampled by God, intended to be lived out in both world and home environments. This theological vantage point allows for certain benefits to be more clearly seen.

For instance:

Relationship development: Generally speaking, mum and dad work together. Both are equally responsible, contributing on multifaceted levels. Within a responsible and loving framework, there are few limits on what can be determined as an educational experience.

Community development: Helping a child understand that they are part of a community and seeking to establish what that means for them. Transparency and accountability fall into the sphere of communal participation in the educational process, often including friends, family, professionals, and/or travel.

Embracing technology and media: When it comes to technology and the media, there are parental boundaries in place that teachers don’t inherently own. A child’s learning is directed towards understanding technology, how to adapt to its many changes and use it responsibly. In addition, children are taught the concept of gratitude for access to the technological advancements and privileges on offer in Western Society.

Life affirming experiences: Applied knowledge is the aim of education. A deliberative knowing only empowers embedded knowledge when what we know is applied. Think theology and ministry or perhaps theory and practice. One challenges the other. Theology empowers ministry; ministry informs theology and both move towards becoming an integrated whole.

Humility: No homeschooler or teacher is perfect. Through our constructive response to limitations and setbacks, students learn the importance and being teachable.

Society and politicians will either reasonably support homeschool, or disempower it by coercing parents into a subtle abdication of their parental responsibilities. Whereby, a teacher, fraternity or ideology, ordained by the state, is placed, wrongfully, right at the heart of where a parent or trusted guardian should be. Something for which a blueprint and tragic history already exists[i].

Our task as homeschoolers is not to force our kids to learn, or indoctrinate them with state aligned agendas which change as easily as approval ratings.

Our task is to help our homeschoolers learn, directing them towards freedom and responsibility; towards the Creator, who in Jesus Christ freely chooses to direct us towards Himself[ii].

Following God’s example,  we choose to stand with our kids in order to show them that they can reach beyond themselves; beyond what they and others think they cannot do, inspiring them to see the possibilities of what they can do.

Whether education is based on homeschooling or on parent-teacher consultations, a realistic, achievable and holistic education, hits the ground running when parents are responsibly involved.

The objective for homeschoolers is universal:  loving parents doing their best to set their kids up for success.

‘The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. The right defence against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments. By starving the sensibility of our pupils we only make them easier prey to the propagandist when he comes. For famished nature will be avenged and a hard heart is no infallible protection against a soft head.’[iii]
C.S Lewis, The Abolition of Man, [pp. 13-14]

Sources:

[i] Germany between 1933 & 1945

[ii] Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics II/I

[iii] Lewis, C. S. The Abolition of Man HarperCollins. Kindle Ed.