Saturday, November 13, 2010
I like movies and I'm especially fond of the Wachowski Brothers. I had only seen V For Vendetta once or twice before but had missed a few crucial scenes. One of the crucial scenes that I had not put together previously involves a nice subversive sub plot. It involves the heroine Evey who (as it appears) has been taken by the fascist regime to be tortured and placed in solitary confinement where her hair is shaved, she is in a 4 x 4 concrete cell, given the bare minimum of slop on a tin plate. She is periodically removed for intensive interrogation with waterboarding "where is the terrorist codename V." "It all ends if you give us a name." She is successfully resistant to the end however, even when faced with her immanent execution. In this darkest hour she has faced death and no longer fears it, even to the point to willingly embrace it. This overcoming of fear is the key point in the scene as she had lived under the cloud of fear and death all her life up to that point. Fear of the regime, fear of speaking out for justice. This fear the charecter V knew very well as he had to overcome it himself. Earlier Evey had longed to be free of this fear and it was this longing that V heard and acted upon. The surprise in the scene then is not so surprising as we discover that it was V himself who captured Evey and placed her in the cell and conducted the tortures and interrrogations. All with the intention to free Evey from the fear that had haunted her all her life. The scene culminates in a life change for Evey as she discovers her new self free of fear.
With this in mind I could not help but think of the story of Christ mirrored in the V character.
Would this not be a key aspect of Christ that he would want to bring out in those who chose to follow him? Would he not want his followers to be free of fear? Fear of the empires that hold power? Free to speak out against injustice without fear?
I find it sobering and disturbing to contemplate but at the same time I am more convinced of this picture of Christ. The picture of the saviour that is my friend but is the friend that loves me enough to imprison me and torture me so that I may over come my fears even unto death.
Who embraces this 'friend' with me?
Monday, July 6, 2009
I've had a lot of jumbled thoughts and a converging of ideas lately. I've been reading a book by philosopher Slavoij ZIZEK called Violence and although I know I will have to re read it a number of times to get a handle on it I did manage to pick up the general idea of 'systemic violence' he was trying to bring to the fore. In very simplistic terms he speaks about a type of violence that is not the subjective type that we see being carried out in immediate, visible, physical terms but that which occurs within dominant systems maintaining their normal or smooth (peaceful?) operation. It remains hidden because it manifests as a requirement for the status quo. A 'necessary evil' that although unpleasant is tolerated by the majority because to stop or prevent such violence would appear to unravel the fabric of the societal system. This idea seems to fit when applied to the dominant free market capital system and to contemporary media and entertainment systems.
While thinking on this I have been reminded of the history and culture of my own country, Australia. Particularly about that aspect of Australian culture we obtusely refer to as the 'tall poppy syndrome'. There seems to be an undercurrent of this 'cultural aspect' in the anglo Australian story. To illustrate this I site the Rum Rebellion by Macarthur on Bligh in early colonial Australia. Later upon the goldfields a similar revolt on the establishment occurred in the form of the Eureka Stockade. I Don't underestimate these dissident uprisings simply because they were crushed by the government at the time. Their symbolism in the Australian psyche remains to this day.
Likewise the ironic heroic Australian figure Ned Kelly seems to fit this symbol very well. Even though branded a common thief and robber and hunted by the establishment he is not remembered this way. Instead the romantic story of the harassed and victimised Kelly fighting for deeper ideals of justice against opression prevails.
Today even in our contemporary liberal society the undercurrent of the tall poppy syndrome exists faintly in the background. Like a feeling or an instinct rather than the concious argument. Even though it is looked upon as a negative aspect, tarnished with ideas of jealousy between the haves and have nots. Tall Poppy Syndrome stands in defiance. Recognising the systemic violence for what it is. Recognising that a resistance is somehow required. That there is an imbalance and an injustice. That remaining silent as the system smoothly rolls along is wreaking unseen violence on the vulnerable.
So (Aussies) when you are criticised by those with power and wealth after you have criticised that wealth and power. Remember you are simply reflecting your cultural Australian roots, desiring to set right what you feel is wrong.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
For some perspective on those who do not know Pat. He was a christian minister in the pentecostal movement in Australia for some years. I remember him best as a motivational speaker at Youth Alive Rally's in the 1990's.
I am concerned that we have not heard from you yet. This is really important so can you please take a few minutes to read this email?
There is only one opportunity this year for you to receive my ultimate gift worth over $8,000 – four days of luxury at the Versace on the Gold Coast, with myself and my personal mentors. I really want you to have this gift, can you imagine how great it would feel to receive this? Let me tell you, it would mean even more to me, because I know for me personally, the gift is in the giving.
There is only one opportunity this year for you and I to get together with some of the best entrepreneurial minds in Australia. If you don’t get in touch soon, you will miss out and that may cost you the breakthrough that I know in your heart you wish for.
My millionaire makers series bootcamps are just around the corner, there are a few seats remaining and if you register now by clicking on the link below, and come to the event, you will go in to the draw for my ultimate gift at the Versace.
I know, this is an amazing gift and an amazing opportunity, but what would you do if you were me? I am so passionate about my role as a prosperity mentor and I have to live according to my message. Abundance creates Abundance and I am doing everything I can to create these abundant opportunities for you.
But I really need your help and for to you to take action right now - here are the dates and the venues.
You are welcome to register yourself and a friend, or you can simply forward this email to them and they can register themselves.
Brisbane: Friday 21 Aug - Sunday 23 Aug 2009
Melbourne: Friday 28 Aug - Sunday 30 Aug 2009
Auckland: Friday 04 Sep - Sunday 06 Sep 2009
Sydney: Friday 11 Sep - Sunday 13 Sep 2009
P.S. My ultimate gift at the Versace includes your accommodation, food, entertainment (you wont believe the cast of entertainers!) PLUS, you will be socialising with my personal mentors and me for four days! What’s more, this event is happening this year - you may be only months away from the ultimate experience! So make sure you register now for the upcoming millionaire makers series bootcamps now.
P.P.S Don’t forget, I put the millionaire makers series events on at no cost to you, your tickets are free to ensure that finances do not stand between you and the breakthrough you are waiting for!
P.P.P.S You can not learn from the seminar you don’t attend - just one good idea from the team of entrepreneurial teachers I have lined up could change your life, but you have to be there to find out!
I guess it's a little naive of me to think that you actually read the e-mails but I'll say Pat anyway.
I wish to notify you that I emphatically decline your generous gift worth $8000 imploring you to spend this on more worthwhile causes. Investing in micro loans for the self sustainability of the world's poorest, digging life giving wells or perhaps just convincing some of your millionaire mindset friends to re think their outsourcing of slave labor to the third world so they can get back on their feet themselves.
I could not help but answer your question at the top "what would you do if you were me?" Well where to begin...?
If I were you I would perhaps:
1) Stop myself in whatever I was doing to contemplate my place in this world. Perhaps reminding myself of my connection to all people and nature on this globe and my responsibility not to rape, pillage or make war with them/it. This would necessitate a contemplation of the systemic violence perpetrated by the global free market capitalism juggernaut that sustains my own comfort and wealth.
A violence that is as faceless as the ideas, laws, corporate decisions and stock options that sit in the driver's seat of a vehicle that inspires visions that are apocalyptic in magnitude.
2) Stop and consider the number of people turned away from my self made "in crowd". As on one hand I create a financial apartheid of 1, 000 millionaires over the rest of my fellow Australians and on the other hand I strain an already flailing capitalist system forcing it to gorge even further into the natural resources and human labor of the second and third world.
Pat let us stop pretending that our huge wealth in the west is not sustained by equally huge numbers of overworked slave laborers in other countries. Let us instead recognise the system as a whole for what it is and begin to take action to right the terrible wrongs.
I implore you on this subject siting the life and words of a man I have heard you speak of in many years past. This man you would know well as one who chose homelessness for the crucial three years of his ministry. One who placed himself in the shoes of the downtrodden, the poorest of the poor, the sick, the lonely and those in prison in order that those who follow him would look after them and more than that be with them and alongside them in their suffering. One who constantly reminded his closest followers that to be the first in his kingdom required them to become a servant of all. One who constantly clashed with the ruling authorities of his day, both political and religious, leaving a template of subversion and justice against oppressive regimes for any who dared follow.
Dare you follow that man today Pat? That man who laid down a similar ultimatum to a rich young ruler in his day. Give up your wealth to be shared among us and follow me. Remembering that the rich young ruler walked...and the man with the message that matters... let him go.
Again I am not naive and I don't expect this to actually reach you but if by some miracle you read this I hope it nourishes a part of you I feel has been starved and starves a part of you that has pigged out for too long!
Best (and worst) wishes,
Sunday, March 29, 2009
I would like to draw some attention if I may, to the high esteem and somewhat overinflated value we place on that concept our society calls 'freedom'. Most of us in the west point to it as a great icon. Something to be held up and displayed in contrast to other countries' and their forms of governance. Especially those ones that happen to have a single totalitarian leader or others that we might label oppressive like the old favorite 'communism' or the new kid on the block 'taliban'. These regimes in their practical form have exhibited quite repressive ways of dealing with their people and we are quick to point out their faults. What I would like to explore here however is our own capitalist system's apparent infallibility, we are the free ones after all ... aren't we?
With this question in mind I'd like to draw a little analogy with a scene of one of my favorite flicks The Matrix. The point where Morpheus is fighting Neo in a digital dojo and after Morpheus has given Neo a decent hammering. During the pause as Neo is getting himself together for a second round Morpheus takes the opportunity to lean in close and ask "you think that's air your breathing right now?"
I love this movie the more I see it.
The point I try to make here is that with all the impulses and drives within us. With all the exterior drives and expectations from our society and environment I have to ask. How much freedom do I really have?
Let's look at some of those exterior drivers: The valued freedom to move and travel... as long as I can pay for the trip or for the car to get there. The freedom to have my own castle and plot of land... after I shackle myself to that bank for half a life. The freedom to give my kids a better education... for an additional price. The freedom to have that stuff I need now... forever linked to internal drivers like: my sense of value and meaning within my society. These always come at a cost and usually with interest!
All of this compounded by an ever present media telling us exactly what we need, what real value is, what meaning is and effectively what my purpose is in this life. Am I building enough of a Matrix picture here to show where I'm coming from?
How much of our lives are spent making sure these valued ideas mentioned above become practical?
Is this time spent wisely?
How much do we wander through our lives oblivious to the undertones. To the constant caressing invite telling us we require more?
How much does this constant barrage push us into our personalised individual space and detatch us from our community?
How strong is the drive for comfort that it causes us to push aside the needs of our neighbours?
Perhapse it's time to wake up to what's happening to us and our society and stop going into debt to buy yet another 'blue pill'. (ooh look another Matrix analogy)
Please forgive my broad brush strokes. I know I only scratch the surface of this issue.
Let's go out with some more music appropriate for the theme.
Freedom by Rage Against The Machine.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Well for any that are unaware, its all happening at South Brisbane! Look what happens when someone who has kept a mantle of tradition (or at least an appearance of one) but then through conviction is moved to challenge those traditions. Father Peter Kennedy who has been a parish priest in Brisbane's south for 28 years under Roman Catholic authority has shifted, along with his congregation, away from many of the norms of Roman Catholic Liturgy. This shift has finally come to a dramatic head as Fr Peter's efforts to 'remain under the radar' have come to an inevitable conclusion.
The Empire has inquired into what has gone on, and is displeased at what it sees. Fr Peter's acceptance of Gays into the fold, inviting females to have ministerial roles, laying down his own ministerial position to be on equal terms with his community, changing traditional practices and even seating arrangements! has all landed him in hot water.
There was a minor confrontation four years ago, people were notified and a letter was sent but ignored. Now things have been ramped up somewhat and Fr Peter has had his status as a priest revoked. He has been told to remove himself from his ministry but has refused to budge. He remains because his 1000 strong congregation stand squarely behind him. This defiance has come to a head in the last week as the ordained replacement for Fr Peter is due to arrive and take over.
Local police were called but not wanting to be the meat in the sandwich they asked for the new replacement to use common sense and stay away. At the same time the congregation gathered in a show of protest against the removal of Fr Peter. As all this was going on, just to add to the drama, someone made a phone call: a bomb threat toward the new replacement warning him off.
So the push and pull between postmodern revolutionaries and fundamental traditionalists rages to a head.
Now the latest chapter is that mediation has been called. There will be a civil hearing into the matter overseen by a QC.
Anyway I was excited about Peter and his conviction to lead his flock in this way. Following the lead of the great revolutionary who flew in the face of both Empire and the religious elite of His day. Feasting and communing with the outcast, the downtrodden with an attitude of service rather than dominance.
I was wondering how the RC Empire was expecting to win this one? It's a bit of catch 22. Can't keep up those age old traditions without losing the congregation. Will it be a matter of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.....again...?
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Danny Nalliah this barrage is for you! I don't even know where to begin with this moron. I guess I better start with his latest insensitive rant that made its way to the Age Newspaper recently.
Firstly I would like to say without any apology that I take this kind of misconception personally. I have good mates that I work with. One has lost his family to these fires and others are coming and going from the horrific scenes there with stories that eat you from the inside out. Mr. Nalliah you might need to take a walk in the shoes of some of these guys for a day or two to get some perspective on the devastation that you inadvertently played down with this B*#@$&!t political agenda of yours. What infuriates me more is that you are on a pedestal in front of many proclaiming you are a minister showing the way and love of Christ and many have lapped up this vile filth coming from your mouth without question. All the while the public watches you from the sidelines making judgements on your Christianity. I can already see what the verdict is! Anyway enough about you.
I want to give praise and admiration to a man who exemplifies true Christianity in this truly horrific event. All I know is his first name is Thomas and they had a brief story of his selfless and truly beautiful and inspirational efforts on TV last night after the news. He was one of the lucky ones living in one of the areas affected: his house and family both came through; He has a business that allows him to have access to generators and electrical equipment. He has been able to use his contacts and knowhow to restore immediate water and electricity to many of his neighbours. He has worked tirelessly since the fires to make as many in his community as comfortable as possible in the aftermath. He has opened his home to five families (the most he could reasonably fit). He intends to secure the temporary use of caravans to bring onto his property to help up to twenty more families. No one in his community are surprised at what he is accomplishing. "He was always like that. It's just him... he helps everyone... its his nature... he would do this for anyone."
His own words betray his selfless nature "Don't look at me I'm not the hero. All these folks who have lost family, lost homes walking around today with smiles on their faces... they're the real heroes. I'm just doing what anyone else would do."
If his late night torch lit Bar B Que at his home with the families staying with him is not a picture of Communion in this blackened community I don't know what is.
It's not that hard to see where Jesus is hanging out in the aftermath of this devastation.
Obviously Tom's actions are a somewhat infectious and other inspired members of communities all around are giving what they can.
Here's some video of what Bushfire Tom's up to. Just pan down and look for "Bushfire Tom" tab on the left.
Friday, January 30, 2009
When I woke up on the morning of the 29th of January, 2009 I wasn't expecting to have the worst day of my career. I was actually looking forward to seeing my 6 year old boy off at his first day at school. Little did I know that it would be the horrific premature end for another's child who was also meant to be heading to school that day. Have a read about that here to get some perspective.
So as I was at the top of the bridge and looking down and the word came through that the body laying at the bottom was actually a child, that odd process of attempting to comprehend the incomprehensible began. I Don't ever expect to make complete sense of it.
What I just wanted to mention here is that this incident should be a clear beacon. A sharp sobering indicator about the heart that is inside of every one of us and the depths that it can sink to. Not in order to look at this from afar and judge the man. There has already been an abundance of that. But to reflect and look within and perhaps recall the depths we have sunk to at times in our own lives. To be wary of and acknowledge our own internal impulses and weaknesses.
Some of the most striking parts of this story come from hearing that this man was not a monster nor was he psychotic. He was described as a loving father. He was 35, Caucasian, worked in IT and lived in upper middle suburbia. Yet a specific set of circumstances were put before him and this horrific outcome was the result.
Surely at some point should we not ask ourselves: what are my 'set of circumstances'? What would lead me to such a dark place?
I believe it's these types of questions to ourselves and this analysis of ourselves that leads us not to judge others and assists in the process of forgiveness towards those we thought we could never forgive.
This kind of forgiveness is what I think of when I contemplate the words 'take up your cross and follow me'. Those piercing words told by the one who walks the walk. The one who looks us square in the eye when we try and cop out and say "but I can't" and says "I already did!"