December 23, 2012 | Graham

To each their own annunciation

Today is the fourth Sunday in advent, the Sunday of Love. Which is appropriate because I’m going to dedicate this post to Love, Sophie Love that is, who gave me an epiphany of sorts about the Annunciation, which is doubly appropriate because today is the day that the lectionary mandates a reading of the Magnificat, or Song of Mary, not once, but twice.

Unchurched, or very lapsed Christian, readers may not be familiar with the Magnificat. Protestants, like myself, may also be a little uneasy with it because of what we see as the cult of Mary in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, but if we are, it is something we need to get over, because it is one of the most profound passages in scripture.

It is that song of praise that Mary speaks after being told by the angel that she is pregnant. In the King James version it starts off: “And Mary said My soul doth magnify the lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.”

I think it lacks a bit of context in the original, and I prefer to roughly precis it along these lines:

“Isn’t God great? I’m going to be a single mother in a culture where you can be stoned to death for that, but you know what, this child has the power to do anything, even overturn our social order so that the poor and rich will swap places and what people think is dumb (like this) will turn out to be wise. This is history and destiny and I’m part of it.”

It’s actually one of my most favourite pieces of scripture because not only does it sum up the Christian proposition so well, it is a proposition that most non-Christians and many Christians fail to grasp – that Christianity isn’t about maintaining society; it is about turning it upside down.

A conversation with Sophie last Sunday, when I visited her and her family on the NSW mid-north coast, showed me another dimension to the Annunciation.

Sophie said that every mother has her own Annunciation. That at the moment you find you’re pregnant you have a moment when everything is possible, and that possibility empowers the baby in your womb, and stems from it. That there is a moment, before history and the future close in, when your baby could be and could do, anything.

I’m not sure if every mother does have that Annunciation, just as I’m not sure that every father may have been as oblivious to it as I have, but it’s something that I will be thinking about during the services this Christmas.

In a way Christmas Day is a repeat of the Annunciation. Mary sensed the potential of Jesus to change the world absolutely, and nine months later he comes into the world and we all repeat that claim, even though he is a child, born in very unpromising circumstances.

And who, at the time when they were writing these accounts about Jesus, could have believed that these claims would be so spectacularly vindicated. That the baby would change the world radically, and it would be turned upside down.

We may not live in a perfect world, but compared to the world in which Jesus lived, it is Paradise. How much more paradisical it can become, who knows, but our world is the best gift that Christmas brings every year.

And according to the gospel of Sophie, that gift of radical transformation is a gift that every mother potentially gives to the world with each of her children. Making it a gift not just of Christmas, but literally a gift of every day, and maybe every minute.

Posted by Graham at 12:27 pm | Comments (8) |
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December 13, 2012 | Ronda Jambe

Australia will not have the last laugh

Associate Professor Peter Christoff has expressed the reality check we now face much better than I ever could, so I include this link to his recent article in The Age. He teaches climate policy at the University of Melbourne.

It is a marvel to me that so many commentators on postings to Ambit Gambit reject evidence-based science. Recently I’ve read a bit about the late novelist Michael Crichton’s motivations in writing State of Fear, and I share his concerns about the media-legal-political establishment. But they (in particular the Murdoch press) are the ones who are not serving us well – not the humble scientists who feel obliged to tip their hats in the directions of uncertainty and statistical range.
We owe it to ourselves to exercise the muscles of democracy to turn the coal ship around before it sinks us.
I hope you will read this and consider your options:

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 7:31 am | Comments (10) |
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December 09, 2012 | Graham

Is this why Kevin is out campaigning?

Griffith is awash in political combat. Yesterday it was KRudd, today it’s his Liberal opponent, Bill Glasson who is out on the ground.

I didn’t deliberately shoot the shot from this angle, but unfortunately for Bill, the traffic signs aren’t on his side, and I’m afraid are probably accurate.

Bill Glasson information booth in Griffith

Posted by Graham at 11:34 am | Comments (7) |
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December 08, 2012 | Graham

Happy Christmas from KRudd

Does Kevin Rudd know something that the rest of us don’t?

This photo was taken in downtown Coorparoo today. I hadn’t heard there was an election on, but you never know. Kevin has certainly been hyperactive lately.

Kevin Rudd information booth at Coorparoo December 2012

Posted by Graham at 10:15 pm | Comments (1) |
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December 05, 2012 | Graham

Smart Alex tickles up Newman

It’s a cheap ad, with low production values, but this doesn’t mean it won’t do damage to Campbell Newman.

700 of these ads are supposed to air before Christmas, and they are being partially financed by Clive Palmer.

What is the point? I’m not sure. The ads don’t have a call to action and merely state that Campbell Newman’s claim Douglas asked to be removed as Chair of the Parliamentary Ethics Committee was “untrue”, followed by an allegation that he was sacked because he was “dealing with matters that government did not like”.

Sources have told me a number of things that might help to make more sense of this.

Before the last election Alex Douglas was apparently convinced that Campbell Newman would not win Ashgrove and that he, Douglas, would end up being premier of Queensland. That’s potential motivation for Douglas, but doesn’t explain why you would give him funds for the ads.

There is strong antagonism between Jeff Seeney and Clive Palmer to the extent that it is suggested that while Seeney is Deputy-Premier no project of Palmer’s that requires government approval will get up. That is potential motivation for Palmer.

So perhaps the game plan is to destabilise the government to the extent where enough defect to leave the LNP in opposition. That might happen in a Bond movie, but surely not the Queensland Parliament.

But maybe talk of a new party is a blind. Could the real game be to cause enough havoc that the backbench and some of the ministry decides they need a change of leadership and drop Campbell Newman and Jeff Seeney?

If that happened who would replace them? There isn’t a lot of leadership potential in the LNP, which is how Newman became leader in the first place. Front runner would be Tim Nicholls, but I’m told he’s viewed as too close to Santoro, who is widely distrusted.

That really only leaves Laurence Springborg, the LNP leader who was unlucky not to win the 2009 state election. He’s performing well in his portfolio, so it wouldn’t be out of the question, although I’ve seen nothing to suggest he is actively seeking to lead the party.

If nothing else these ads could give Campbell Newman and Jeff Seeney something to ponder over Christmas.

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December 04, 2012 | Graham

Crying wolf in Doha and outsourcing emissions

I’ve been vaguely amused at the orchestrated nonsense coming out of the climate science community to coincide with the Doha Climate Change Conference, most particularly the claim that we are now on track for an increase of temperature of 4 to 6 degrees by the year 2100.

Cranking up the hysteria like this means not only are they desperate, but their message has lost traction. They also have to be approaching some end-point of hysteria. Where do the claims go from here? 10 degrees? 20 degrees?

The higher the estimate, the more it raises the question as to why it’s not hotter already. We’ve increased CO2 levels by one-third since the industrial revolution, but the increase in temperature has only been in the order of 0.6 degrees, and no-one knows what the natural fluctuation is in all that.

These recent alarmist claims are based on work by PWC (formerly Price Waterhouse Coopers) an accounting firm and the World Bank.

You’ve got to scratch your head. Most on the left wouldn’t trust the World Bank to advise a country on how to run its economy, so how have they suddenly become a reliable source of information on what the temperature will be in 88 years time?

Still, if these bankers and their advisors are right, it leads to one useful conclusion – the carbon abatement schemes in Europe and Australia are incredibly expensive, with a cost approaching infinity per ton of carbon, and ought to be scrapped.

What appears to be happening is that first world countries’ emissions are not increasing by much, but China and India have more than taken up the slack.

They are doing this because their own populations are rapidly industrialising at the same time as first world countries are outsourcing their CO2 emitting industries to them.

The total amount of CO2 embodied in consumption in the first world hasn’t changed much, only the place where they are emitted.

If you are seriously worried about global warming, then it’s time for a new approach. It’s obvious the old one isn’t working.

Posted by Graham at 6:50 am | Comments (6) |
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