Month: May 2023
All One in Jesus Christ
Out of hospital, appeared to have survived temporarily. Our stays on planet earth are temporary. Thanks by the way to those who sent their best wishes in their comments on my last piece. Unexpected. Greatly appreciated.
My Anglican minister, who visited me, asked whether I would like to be included in prayers in the upcoming Sunday service. Definitely I said. We need God’s help, sick or well. For my part, I hobbled to a chapel on the hospital grounds at which a Mass is held each Sunday at 4 pm. The priest welcomed me, notwithstanding my Anglican affiliation. I followed the service as best I could, which was well attended by people obviously experienced in the order of service and responses. Mumbling got me by when all else failed.
Where is this going, you might ask. It’s going to how we apply Christian faith to decision making. Those of you who are not Christian are not really left out. Certainly those brought up in Australia, or in western countries more generally, are inheritors of Christian traditions and values which, implicitly, if not explicitly, beneficially mould and guide thinking.
The decision in question is the Voice. The Voice aims to give those who have some Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander ancestry an additional say in the design and implementation of laws which bear on those with such ancestral links. There are a number of practical and conceptual difficulties with this proposal, which I’ll get to first before trying to apply a Christian perspective.
First, all Australians tend to be affected to some extent by all laws. True, laws often fall more heavily on one cohort than another. Pension-related laws on older people, for example. But we all get old eventually. And taxpayers young and old must foot the bill for pension increases. In other words, most legislation bears on us all to one extent or another. Thus the legitimate ambit of the Voice is not at all clear. And, depending on how it is legislated, how it sees itself operating, how from time to time the High Court sees it operating, it could well operate sparingly at one point in time and very expansively at another. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, it doesn’t seem to be a good idea to put a shapeshifting entity into the Constitution.
Second, it’s not clear who the Voice representatives will actually represent. There will be no voting. It would be too difficult (as I explain here) to determine who is sufficiently indigenous to earn a vote. Voice representatives will ‘emerge’. How on earth are they to reflect the different views and perspectives of hundreds of thousands of indigenous people facing starkly different circumstances? That’s a problem for all parliamentarians, you might say. Yes it is. But they have to subject themselves to votes of their constituents. It’s an imperfect process but a process which informs and disciplines representation. Who informs and disciplines Voice representatives?
Third, on its face, it is anomalous and discriminatory that any section of the population should obtain constitutional status and privileges denied to others. Laws apply differentially. That’s true. Aboriginal Australians are already eligible for benefits and preferment not available to others. Whatever the right and wrongs of that, it is not constitutionally enshrined. That’s important. It means that as circumstances change, applicable laws can potentially change. Look at it the other way. Preferment in the constitution is tantamount to assuming that the cohort in question will always need help. It is paternalistic. Analogous to the crippling effect of permanent sit-down money.
What is a Christian to make of it? There is no shortage of priests in support. Game set and match. Not so fast. Opposition to the “enlightened” views of Pope Francis in the Catholic Church and the schism in the worldwide Anglican communion point to deep divisions at the heart of faith. I’ll focus on Anglicanism. The breakaway group GAFCON (the Global Anglican Futures Conference) was joined in August last year by a group of Australian clergymen, in forming the Diocese of the Southern Cross. Former Sydney Archbishop Glenn Davies is its first Bishop. I covered it here. What’s It all about? The issue is the authority and relevance of the Bible in today’s Christian world.
The belief of those who’ve broken away is that the Bible is the sole, defining and immutable authority on which Christianity is based. It anchors the faith. It is the faith. It can’t be remodelled to suit prevailing fashions or lifestyles. It is tremendously inconvenient. It’s fair to say that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, which he convenes, representing the established Church, is not as wedded to a literal reading of the Bible.
Let me give my view of the difference. One follows God’s law so far as it can be determined from the Bible. The other panders to fashion. The latter is a feel good religion. “Who am I to judge,” the Pope said of homosexuals within the Church. True, Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead. We should all avoid judging other people. But there is ample biblical authority to condemn fornication. Perhaps the Pope should have juxtaposed his remarks about judging other people with a clear statement about the rights and wrongs of particular sexual behaviour. Then, that wouldn’t have been de rigueur, would it?
The lax approach to human sexuality finds expression across other aspects of modern life. A pale milquetoast imitation of Christianity is applied to undermine efforts to protect Judeo-Christian civilisation. Apparently we have to be doormats to be Christian. Meekly accepting every offence; every assault. That misunderstands Christianity. It is not following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. E.g., at judgement day: “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”( Matthew 25:41, KJV) Not so cuddly and appeasing. An educated guess. There will be a one-to-one correspondence between milquetoast priests and support for the Voice.
To cut to the chase, a biblically-based Christian (the only anchored kind) would perhaps consider Galatians 3:28 as being definitive on the matter of the Voice.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female [there is neither Aboriginal nor non-Aboriginal]: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (KJV)
I took the liberty of including a square bracketed insertion to make the point, without harm at all to the substance of the original. QED
Open Thread – Weekend 27 May 2023
What’s in a name?
To commemorate the Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous round in the AFL this year, three teams – Melbourne, Fremantle and Port Adelaide – will change their names to an aboriginal “in-language” name, with Port Adelaide announcing that their “new” name will be a permanent feature of the round. But what maybe undertaken as an enhancement to a wider purview – in this case the AFL’s reconciliation process – in no way assures an improvement to the odds of a team win this week or any other, and after all, wins and losses is what really matters at this level of sport.
At the outset of his term at the helm of the Sydney Swans, Tom Hafey, the legendary Australian rules coach, was asked for an anecdote about the funny side of football. Hafey replied tersely – “there’s nothing funny about football”. To this tenet of professional sporting doctrine may be added that validly the apex of all professional sport is to win; everything else is surplusage.
But football teams may not turn winning into a habit if they lack a strong and loyal support base, for the two tend to go hand in hand. And for those clubs whose success is neither sustained nor celebrated widely in the form of a robust fan base, fate, aka the AFL bean counters, have been known to organise a relocation elsewhere. So the binding of the one to the other – of fan to club – is of real importance. But how to do that; how does the fan stay tethered to his/her footy side regardless of the on-field performance?
Like any knitting together of a people, one must look to that group’s cultural artefacts to understand their loyalty. In football, it is adherence to a team’s colours, song, and name, that both inspire the triumph of success and equally compensate for a fruitless season. Though the team song maybe rarely sung, the banners seldom held high and only muted barracking from the terraces be heard during a lean season, the fans still know that they and their team exist and one day renown will return. These are the things, of which the name and colours are paramount, that binds the fan to the team.
Over the last decade or so, some major Australian sites have been given the name change treatment as the acknowledgement of aboriginal culture is being encouraged. Places like Ayres Rock – Uluru -and more recently Fraser Island – K’gari – are two examples. A few months ago I saw Kel Richards – the wordsmith – on Peta Credlin’s Sky News show discussing this phenomenon. Richards pointed out that these choreographed names changes are not entirely necessary. All over the country there are thousands and thousands of aboriginal place names, which despite European settlement have remained in place and are still in use. Consequently, the recognition of aboriginal presence in Australia has been accepted from the beginning of settlement. One more name change is neither necessary or certain to inspire further acknowledgement of the reality.
But this policy to acknowledge the aboriginal presence in Australia pre-settlement is today everywhere. The AFL’s significant support of this position mirrors other organisations such as the ABC and SBS. But playing guernseys and WtC/AoC ceremonies are one thing, team name changes, even their temporary use, hold an entirely different point of tension. So while the former has been given prominence during the round, apart from the initial announcements by the clubs of their changes of name, there has been little if any further reference to the latter.
In irony of ironies the names are as lost now as they were at the time of European settlement. There are no listings in the TV guides, nor are they heard from in the match commentaries and no voice carries their vocalisations in the barracking crowds, which shows that the AFL and the Clubs know the entire thing is a bridge too far for the fans and is nothing more than a shallow gimmick. Were the names to have been taken up with the same gusto that the ABC and SBS have similarly embedded in their programming, then it could be asked legitimately whether the Melbourne, Fremantle and Port Adelaide football clubs still exist as actual AFL teams; the result of which would be what ties their supporters to these clubs?
Today in Australia all political, cultural and social roads lead to the voice and the AFL is a vocal part of this massive band wagon. But as Paul Keating famously acknowledged when he took on Bob Hawke the first time for the leadership of the ALP and hence the prime-ministership, he only had one shot in the locker. The voice is in similar territory. If it goes down the country would have dealt with it both democratically and in finito. Yes, in some quarters there will be tears. The country will survive. But unlike politics and constitutional change, a nation’s cultural heritage and artefacts, of which national sports are a major feature, are entirely something else. Consequently, using a team’s members, supporters and their artefacts of identification as cultural appropriation for a political ends is too cute by half.
WolfmanOz at the Movies #72
Damn you all to hell !
In the year 1968, two movies came out that changed modern day science-fiction films forever – Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey has been the most celebrated out of the two (and my all-time favourite movie), but Planet Of The Apes stands on its own ground and has become a classic that is universally acclaimed. The original Planet Of The Apes is still far superior to any of the sequels and remakes that has been subsequently made.
Planet Of The Apes is based on a 1963 French novel, La planete des singes, by Pierre Boulle, most famous as the author of La pont de la riviere Kwai (1952), which became the 1957 film The Bridge On The River Kwai.
Rod Serling did the first drafts of the screenplay, simplifying the plot by fitting it into the mold of his Twilight Zone TV series and introducing an anti-nuclear war theme not present in the Boulle novel. Because of budget constraints the modern ape civilization had to be reduced to a less technological one, something more reminiscent of ancient Greece. In fact, after Michael Wilson was brought in to do the final script drafts what emerged was a political allegory more akin to an Aesop fable than a Voltairian satire.
Charlton Heston was the perfect choice to play the arrogant and dislikable American astronaut George Taylor, where he, and his doomed colleagues, find themselves stranded on a distant planet where it seems to be inhospitable with no life. However, after travelling throughout the place they discover that man’s role as the superior life form has been reversed with the apes.
As simians, Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter, as Cornelius and Zira, and Maurice Evans, as Dr. Zaius, enjoy some of the best performances on the screen, bringing the then-innovative makeup design of John Chambers to life under the intelligent and stylish direction of Franklin J. Schaffner. Also excellent is veteran cinematographer Leon Shamroy’s Panavision lensing, which makes great use of remote areas of southern Utah around Lake Powell to suggest an alien world, and Jerry Goldsmith’s avant-garde musical score, which has become a landmark, cannot be emphasised more for contributing to the eerie mood of the movie. Rarely has a movie score so fit like hand-in-glove than this one.
Once Hestons’ character, Taylor, is captured by the apes his mere existence throws the existing order of ape society into disorder. Their sacred texts do not allow for the evolution of ape from man, and they often speak of man being brutish, untamable beasts. Taylor, who would have agreed with Dr. Zaius in the beginning if talking about humanity as a whole, must fight the idea that he is of that same race, prone to the same violence. He always wanted to be apart from humanity, giving him the reason for his deep space adventure in the beginning, but faced with the reality that he’s being judged for humanity’s failings and he’s going to pay for them, he has to fight back and stick up for the humanity he ran from.
So, Taylor has made his defense of humanity at an archaeological site that showed ancient humanity’s advances over ape, and he walks away still confident of his race’s superiority. Dr. Zaius immediately has the site destroyed, confident of his own beliefs in humanity’s faults and that Taylor would find the truth of humanity’s history out there beyond the Forbidden Zone.
Of course the ending is justly famous where Taylor promptly discovers his destiny, and the truth. Man is indeed the harbinger of death, and by the megaton. The final image is laden with symbolism, and the scene is a visual scream.
Today, the film’s makeup may pale in comparison to the performance capture of the recent reboot movies but in terms of performances, script, wit and audacity, the original film towers over them all.
The film was a box office smash in 1968, but if ever there was a movie that was more a victim of its own success it’s this one. Four sequels, two TV series, numerous novelizations and comic book adventures, a lamentable remake in 2001 and a reboot in 2011 have been spawned by its popularity, most of which has been so inferior in quality to have tarnished the reputation of this classy, intelligent and superbly made science fiction landmark film.
Planet Of The Apes really has stood the test of time, and it’s not because it has some memorable quotes or a great twist ending. It’s well anchored by a great central character and journey, elevated by Charlton Heston giving a surprisingly committed performance whilst dressed in rags. It explores its themes of racism, class structure, animal abuse, tribalism, genocide and religion with intelligence and irony whilst treating its character’s path with surprising cynicism and cruelty, one of the traits of 60s and 70s science fiction that I find quite appealing. It’s a movie classic for all-time.
and the tease for next weeks post . . . One flew East . . . One flew West !
Open Thread – Tues 23 May 2023
Abandon All Dignity Ye Who Enter Here
Life took a turn last Monday morning at 3 am. All unheralded I woke with acute pain in my abdomen. Was it wind I thought and tried every position imaginable to rid myself of the morbid affliction. Nothing worked. Felt nauseous. Threw up. Unexpectedly did a number two. Normal enough. No relief followed. Living alone alas I grew ever anxious as the pain continued. Finally, having worried at it for three hours, at 6 am I decided to call an ambulance. Dialed triple 1. Not thinking straight. Finally dialed triple 0.
The ambulance only took about twenty minutes to arrive. Very supportive. Walked me down. Put warmed blanket on me. Pain robbed me of my senses, and I travelled to the Royal North Shore Hospital sans phone charger, laptop, change in clothes, deodorant, etc. Obviously, implicitly, expecting to be turned around tout de suite. Numbers of pain killers, which didn’t work at all, and two MRIs later I was under the knife at 1 pm. The procedure entailed cutting out a piece of strangulated bowel and joining the two resulting lose ends. Don’t want to big note but they called it serious surgery. Apparently, it lasted 2½ hours.
Was fooled by the immediate operation aftermath. No discomfort or pain. False dawn. Not so long before I thought this must what it feels like after being kicked repeatedly in the stomach by a couple of steel-booted thugs in a dark alley. Very unpleasant. Hooked up with a catheter and assorted tubes. One tube annoyingly through my nostril down into the well of my stomach with an attached bag using gravity to suck out and catch the contents. Nil by mouth until the Friday. Physio said I must cough and breathe deeply lest be struck down with pneumonia. She gave me a folded towel to press on my stomach to lessen the pain of coughing and deep breathing. Helpful? Yes, but not enormously so.
After a day or two, two doctors, part of the theatre team, who visit me briefly each morning, said that they couldn’t remove the stomach tube until they knew my bowels were working. Apparently, they go into down-(s)tools mode, when mucked about with in surgery. I explained that with no food, and to the point, no porridge, prunes, Metamucil, and regular jogs, there was no way my bowels would perform. Wind will do they said. This opened a new vista. I became anxious to expel wind. And when I finally started, I felt free to do so whenever and wherever I wanted. No more embarrassment. I had license and incentive.
Why share this personal tale of woe? Too many to count suffer much worse for much longer. Get it. First, I reflect on the way hospitals change social etiquette. Abandon all dignity ye who enter here. My first shower, tubes and all, drew the assistance of a young female nurse. I can tell you that one’s modest manhood is not assisted by trauma. Pathetic, I know. But I thought of George Costanza’s “shrinkage” (Season 5, Episode 20). Also, one’s scrupulous cleaning of one’s private parts (clearly anything but private anymore) and bottom is completed in a much less thorough fashion when under the watch of a detached young woman, nurse though she be.
Second, again I am mightily impressed with the medical care received in this first world city. I wonder what Aboriginal societies left to themselves would have made of a strangulated bowel in 2023 or 3023. Of course, primitive societies making glacial if any progress century after century have no answer to strangulated bowels. The victims simply die in agony and distress. Something for the black armband brigade to suck on.
Third, I am amazed at how hospitals think that they are only in the medical business. Not in the catering business. Not in the business of providing secure and fast intent connectivity. I mean three-star hotels are primarily in the staying business, but they pay attention to food and to internet access. Hospitals are single-focused. Or, at least, that’s my experience for the second time in three years. The first in September 2020.
Fourth, and back to primitive man in a way. It sure pays not to be in Woop Woop, “come the wet ass hour.” (Phrase courtesy of Al Pacino in Sea of Love.)
Guest Post: Wally Dali – Archibalds 2023
We are approaching a point of Cultural Totality in the West. Soon, instant match media and the forces of promotion and censorship which leverage it will present the watching proles with an ever-present circus where approved musicians are granted exhibition space for visual art, endorsed politicians have their DJ setlists available for download on streaming services, and paperback writers are rotated through panel shows to expouse upon their political cures for the sins of civilization. As a visual backdrop, healthy bodies and natural families are banned from billboards, every man on TV advertisements is plump, dumb, unshaved and unbuttoned, and the top 10 music videos on the kid-friendly slot of Saturday Morning Rage are a parade of sexual deviancy and gender mash-ups. Just as the only political expressions given uncritical reign are calls for deliverance on personal entitlement and indulgence of group gripes, the only artistic efforts which are deemed axiomatically safe enough to headline festivals and be projected upon the Opera House are infantile and homogenous… when they’re not deliberately ugly.
Artists are celebrities, youth embarking on a lifetime of state support are political ingenuex, musicians are children’s book authors, sportsmen are bronze icons. Art is increasingly about the feelz of the artist, not their efforts with mastering their media or their struggle to communicate with and about their subject. And the subject is increasingly famous only for being politicized and oikophobic- culturally critical of their home. There is no irony in the art world any more. There is not even any need to deliver to the commercial market- the State and their subsidized portfolio of Festivals, prizes and grants is rich pickings, entirely predictable and surprisingly easy to satisfy. If there is, anywhere on Earth or at any time in history, any safer or more supported place to be an artist than in the West in the 21st Century, then I don’t know what planet we’re on.
Open Thread – Weekend 20 May 2023
Roundup Autumn 1990
In the Centre for Independent Studies quarterly Policy magazine.
DE Soto. Only about 5 per cent of Peruvians belong to labour unions and more than 60 per cent are operating as entrepreneurs in the informal or black ecoqomy. Informal operators do not regard themselves as either the private or the public sector because they see the former as the beneficiary of privileges handed out by the latter.
Hook. Serious moves are under way to politicise the study of the humanities in the United States. These tendencies are reflected in the social studies texts proposed by some education reformers. Traditional texts are to be replaced or supplemented with books composed by women, coloured people and other representatives of the ‘oppressed classes’. Special courses will be provided by members of these disadvantaged groups. This amounts to a massive program of historical revisionism and cultural affirmative action.
The debate hinges on a blatant extension of the term ‘political’ to include any difference of opinion whatever. Consequently, people who suggest that
history and literature texts do not need to be studied as essentially political documents are accused of covering up their own political interests in the status quo. Hook identifies this as a part of a sinister tendency to politicise the truth itself, as though truth were decided by power and influence. Unfortunately, corrective action will need to have a political dimension the radical reformers have successfully captured positions of political power and influence.http://www.the-rathouse.com/Rafe_s_Roundup_1989-91.pdf
Michael Novak. Novak identifies several valuable moral traditions that were called forth by democratic capitalist institutions in the early American colonies. These include civic responsibility, personal economic enterprise, creativity and a certain kind of communitarian living embodied in a myriad of voluntary associations. On a more sombre note, he reminds us that capitalism depends on a moral framework that is under threat from relativism in the intellectual realm and from social engineers in the political and social arena. ‘It would only, take a generation of citizens who have forgotten their founding principles and all the lessons of experience to set in motion a precipitous and calamitous slide’.