Monthly Archives: January 2011

Interview with Martin Luther King

Photograph of Rosa Parks with Dr. Martin Luthe...

Photograph of Rosa Parks with Dr. Martin Luther King. Rosa Parks famously refused to move to the back of the bus, sparking the Montgomery bus boycott. - Image via Wikipedia

Non-violent action, as explored by Ghandi and Martin Luther King, and inspired by Jesus, presents an important option in how the people may respond to the inaction of the LCA on women’s ordination.

Nonviolent action is a technique by which people who reject passivity and submission, and who see struggle as essential, can wage their conflict without violence. Nonviolent action is not an attempt to avoid or ignore conflict. It is one response to the problem of how to act effectively in politics, especially how to wield powers effectively. Nonviolence: An Introduction

Martin Luther King was asked if it benefited blacks (sic) by being aggressive in demanding their rights. King responded, “I think it’s better to be aggressive at this point. It seems to me that it is both historically and socially true that privileged classes do not give up their privileges voluntarily. And they do not give them up without strong resistance. And all the gains that have been made, that we have received in the area of civil rights, have come about because the Negro stood up courageously for these rights, and he was willing to aggressively press on.” Martin Luther King Jr. – Interview of the Day.

List of methods of nonviolent action.


Posted by on January 17, 2011 in politics


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Why women shouldn’t be “burdened” with the vote: 1915

The arguments against the full participation of women in society are intriguing. This anti-women’s suffrage poster, from 1915,  places full female participation in society in opposition to male participation, as if one will cause the downfall of the other. In fact, ironically, that argument is no more true than within today’s male-only ordination, which has forced many women out of the Church over many years.

The poster’s patronising arguments are not so different to those of today, when women are told that they are not made of the right stuff.

Why women shouldn’t be “burdened” with the vote: 1915 – Boing Boing.

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Posted by on January 17, 2011 in politics, sociology


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Women leaders

Major General Mick Slater, Qld Premier Anna Bligh, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Mayor of St Goerge Donna Stewart on the bank of the Balonne River on Saturday. Picture: Luke Marsden. Source: Adelaide Now

The tragedy of the floods in Queensland is underscored by the unknown number of deaths, and the grim search of homes and swamped vehicles for bodies.  The indiscriminate manner in which nature destroys life and property is stunning and sobering.  We want to ask, “Can this really be Australia?”  Our prayers go out to all those affected by the floods and those involved in the cleanup.

We have, however, reason to be proud of neighbour helping neighbour, those who make donations, volunteers selflessly doing what is possible, the management systems of the SES, other emergency services, the Australian Armed Forces and of the leadership at many levels within our democratic nation.

The photo above highlights the servanthood of leadership.  We have the PM, Premier, Mayor and Major General in conversation.  Their task is to survey the damage and needs, to be advised by their hierarchies and to facilitate the restoration of services and provision of welfare in the coming months and years.  They are our figureheads, but it’s about service. It’s about democratically elected leaders serving their constituencies.  It’s about assisting people in their hour of need.  It’s about standing alongside people and providing moral and administrative support.

Notice that the civilian leaders in this photo are women.  This is not insignificant. It could not have occurred in Australia a generation ago.  Times have changed. The photo represents our society today, where women, in the main, are not minimised or discounted.  It represents the authority and respect that women have been given by their communities to be their representatives.

In ages past perhaps some people would have seen it to be demeaning for a Major General to be subordinate to women.  Today however, such an attitude would be seen to be quaint, at best.  It is not about gender, it is about the position within which they serve.  It is about democracy, the system they represent, the people they speak for, and the trust and authority that has been given to them.  Women are given respect (in the main) across all of Australian society.  Politics today, along with industry, academia, intelligencia, police, armed forces and religion all have women at the highest levels.

We thank God for women’s leadership in this time of crisis in Queensland.


Posted by on January 13, 2011 in sociology


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Sickness and Power in the State and Church

You may have noticed the strange behaviour of many heads of state.  The experience of being in power brings about psychological changes that can lead to grandiosity, narcissism, and irresponsible behavior. A few examples: Bob Hawke’s inability to pass the reigns of leadership to Paul Keating; John Howard’s dispatching the troops without even consulting his cabinet;  Kevin Rudd’s tyrannical attempts to micromanage just about everything; George W’s slash and burn around the world; Tony Blair’s maverick ignoring of his party.

Lord David Owen, a UK ex member of parliament, and neurologist, proposes a “hubris syndrome’, akin to post-traumatic distress, to explain the behaviour.  He discusses the extent to which illness can affect the decision-making of world leaders in his book In Sickness and in Power, and was recently on Radio National.

Leaders suffering from this political hubris syndrome believe that they are capable of great deeds, that great deeds are expected of them, that they know what is best under all circumstances, and that they operate beyond the bounds of ordinary morality.  Lord Owen gives examples of leaders who have lied about their health, had a compromised judgement and made irrational decisions.

Some definitions:

  • hubris – overweening pride, superciliousness (patronizing those considered inferior), arrogance, great belief in your own importance.  It was a crime in ancient greece.
  • ‘Hubris Syndrome’ – an acquired personality disorder that develops in high office, with three characteristics: excessive self-confidence, restlessness and inattention to detail.

Now, consider President Mike Semmler of the LCA.  He is a pleasant character, and pastorally has stood beside many in their time of need. However, when it comes to power, there is a change of character and many boxes can be ticked that might indicate hubris syndrome.  As Vice-President of the LCA, standing for the position of President in 2000, he declined to inform the Church that he was booked into hospital for a heart bypass.  If his use of the Presidential flowing red cloak is any indication, he clearly considers his position and himself as highly important.  Judging from District Presidents’ comments on how meetings of the Council of Presidents are administered, and how General Synod is manipulated he considers that he knows what is best under all circumstances.

Recently it has come to our attention that President Mike Semmler is considering standing again for the position in 2012, after a period of leadership that already spans twelve years.  Like Bob Hawke and many before him, this seems to indicate that he sees himself as being the only suitable person for leadership.

Hubris syndrome may well be an appropriate description for our Church leader, never-the-less, we have to rely on the institutions of democracy and divine inspiration to correct this situation.

“Angelo Roncalli was an Italian peasant who rose to become Pope John XXIII, one of the most beloved figures in Christian history.  During his service as pope, the Roman Catholic church underwent the major upheaval known as Vatican II, a tumultuous and controversial time of reform and change.  It is said that in the midst of this volatile time, Pope John would read his bedtime devotions, say his private prayers, and then, before turning out the light, would say to himself, “But who governs the church? You or the Holy Spirit?  Very well, then.  Go to sleep, Angelo, go to sleep.”

Here is the testimony.  We are all floating in a sea of mercy and grace and providence.  So go to sleep.  In confidence and trust, go to sleep.” (Long, 2004)

Long, Thomas G. Testimony : Talking Ourselves into Being Christian, Practices of Faith Series. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004, 156.


Posted by on January 10, 2011 in sociology


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Hateful Stuff Requires Secrecy

via Making Light: I’ll change your heart into green grass, and all you love into a sheep.

“I think some of the hateful stuff requires secrecy, and that transparency is key to fighting back.”

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Posted by on January 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

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