Vol 22 No 8
Pope's equivocal view of social justice
In his reflections on society and aspects of human life, Pope Benedict privileges charity. If any planning or struggle for a just society is to be effective it will depend on people's good will and generosity in the implementation. The Pope also says 'yes' to social justice. But his 'yes' is normally a 'yes, but ...'.
Religious fundamentalism is a two way street
Religious fundamentalism is a two way street
'The Anders Breivik example shows us that extremism is not one way ... We really need to think deeply about some of our prejudices.' Australian Muslim academic Mehmet Ozalp sees the case of Norwegian mass-murderer Breivik as highlighting the urgent need for interreligious and cross-cultural dialogue.
Traversing grief on the Camino
Irishman Jack's cynicism has its roots in his hurt and betrayal over the clergy sex abuse scandal within his country. Snide American Sarah's abrasive personality masks numerous hurts. The most extraordinary aspect of religious pilgrimages is the ordinary humanity of the pilgrims themselves.
Erasure of an Aboriginal temple
For thousands of years there was a temple on the banks of the Macquarie. A long avenue of trees carved with serpents, lightning, meteors and hieroglyphs led to a walled space where a giant human figure made of earth reclined. It was as important as the Acropolis or the temple of Horus. But it no longer exists.
Christine Milne's chance to scupper an Abbott Senate
To prevent Tony Abbott from having total control of the Senate after the next election, the Greens need to attract votes from otherwise non-Labor voters rather than the easier task of picking up disappointed Labor defectors. The 15 per cent of Coalition-leaning Greens is generally forgotten altogether.
The politics of suicide
Albert Camus said suicide was the one serious philosophical problem in that it poses the question as to whether life is worth living. Some suicides are a private solution to anger and despair, but others, such as suicide bombings and the recent suicide of retired pharmacist Dimitris Christoulas, are both public and coercive.
Priorities of the Press Gang
Her deep eyes glance up from the page
without perceiving me, the hidden camera trained
on her by my unbroken gaze.
A tale of two refugee movement speeches
Tony Abbott did not mention the term 'human rights' in his 3000 word speech to the Institute of Public Affairs on Friday. 'Illegal' appeared 11 times and 'asylum' once. In February, Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees gave a 3000 word speech to the Lowy Institute. A search of that speech finds 'human rights' five times, 'asylum' 21 times and no use of 'illegal'.
Rupert Murdoch an example for older Australians
There is a lot not to admire about the business practices of Rupert Murdoch, but he stands tall as an elder who is able to maintain his stature in the face of great challenge. The Federal Government's new aged care blueprint has the potential to ensure that more Australians will retain their dignity in old age.
To catch a despot
Former Liberian president Charles Taylor's conviction by an international criminal court for crimes against humanity is the first conviction of a head of state since World War II. It does little to change the fact that it remains notoriously difficult to bring heads of state to trial for grave crimes.
Schools confront the globalisation of superficiality
In 2010, Kevin Rudd asked Fr Adolfo Nicolas SJ, the international leader of the Jesuits, what he believed to be the major challenges facing western society. Nicolas replied 'the globalisation of superficiality'. Educating for depth and discernment is one of the biggest challenges facing teachers today.
BY THE WAY
Letter from a lost soldier
'I wish this war was finished for I am fed up. My dear Ann, you and the children try to be as cheery as you can. I feel all buggered up but I shall just have to carry on the best way I can ... we are on another front now and it is actually hell ...' Whatever ambiguous solace Annie could derive from Alex's letter, it was soon lost.
Dismembering the dead in Japan and Afghanistan
The publication of photographs of American soldiers posing with the body parts of dead Afghani insurgents has provoked a lively exchange of opinion in the media. Just as in Afghanistan, American and Australian soldiers fighting the Japanese saw themselves pitted against an opponent who acted by a different — inhuman — set of rules.
Gillard's Slipper misfire
Separating art from war in Iran
Sabre rattling, both by the Iranian leadership and by Western politicians and pundits, dominates the headlines and steers public discourse about Iran. A recent film, and a current art exhibition, remind us of the country's 'rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics'.
Getting personal with Anzac Day
Should I even be saying all this to people I have never met? What do I say? How far do I go? My paternal grandfather, Edgar, was not only an Anzac but among those who landed nearly 100 years ago at the Turkish cove. Even among my family his experiences are still largely passed over in silence.
Profound silence of a conscientious objector
I remember the day my older brother came back from the navy. He was 20. I was 11. He slouched in his chair, weary and dismissive and friendly. I wanted to say something amusing to make him see me but no words came. So I asked him if he wanted a sandwich. Sandwiches were a way of talking in our family.
Nuns bucked by papal bulls
Tensions between enterprising women religious and church authorities go back a long way. Last week's Vatican action against women religious in the US raises the same questions about respect and process as did the dismissal of Bishop Morris in Toowoomba. But its potential consequences are much larger.
Poets in wartime
O for a day without comrades bloody fallen, lovers in guttural grief, shrieking, sobbing, and mothers in stoic dignity, mantillas drawn tight, our heroic flame, corralled colts brazenly waiting, cruelly snuffed. Have we learned nothing my friend?
Unlocking the culture of clergy sex abuse
Victoria's parliamentary committee has much it could learn from Ireland's Murphy Report into clerical sex abuse, which identified the 'don't ask, don't tell' culture under which bishops did not talk about it even among themselves and were unaware of how widespread the problem was.
Imagining nationalism through Anzac suffering
Political theorist Isaiah Berlin argued that nationalism manifests most strongly in communities that have suffered some wound. In a period of unparalleled wealth, in which most Australians are far removed from war, Anzac Day is a way of instructing ourselves about the place of suffering in Australia's history.