Author: Ben

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  • RELIGION

    An atheist's take on the virtue of forgiveness

    • Ben Pobjie
    • 02 August 2018
    41 Comments

    I am not a fan of Christianity. For years I have been what some might call a 'militant atheist': the type who is far more likely to catalogue the pitfalls of faith than to highlight the benefits. But more and more I am enamoured of one element of Christianity that I consider its most striking, and most laudable, feature.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Letting go of bicycle grief

    • Ben O'Mara
    • 02 June 2016
    7 Comments

    I found the remains of my bicycle on the carport wall. They were broken and twisted, like the body of a victim left to rot in a serial killer movie. The police officer told me it was strange. So strange that his partner took photos and dusted for prints. I couldn't make sense of the robbery. While sturdy, my bicycle was seven years old, and had seen better days. It wasn't worth much money. Who would buy worn leather and a few scratched bits of metal on eBay? Or risk being caught for second hand parts?

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  • ENVIRONMENT

    The boat people from paradise lost

    • Lyn Bender
    • 22 April 2016
    7 Comments

    Ursula Rakova told how the sea that had been the friend of her people, was turning against them. It had crashed through and divided her island in two. Coconut palms were collapsing at the new shoreline. Food gardens were lost, as the soil was increasingly rendered infertile by salty tides that washed over them. The land that had been handed from grandmother to daughter, would bequeath no legacy to the granddaughters. The homeland of generations was disappearing before their eyes.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    New radicalisation on display at fundraiser protest

    • Lyn Bender
    • 12 April 2016
    27 Comments

    The chants were thunderous and sustained, as the suited and elegantly coiffed guests began to arrive for the Liberal Party fundraiser at Docklands. Initially there did not seem to be a significant police presence, as if the need for security was not considered high. As the chanting rose to a crescendo, chaos ensued. The mounted police arrived; but there seemed no plan of crowd control. It was a small protest but it was locked into a contained area with only one entrance. Then the wounded started to emerge.

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  • ENVIRONMENT

    Hope lies beyond latest climate shock therapy

    • Lyn Bender
    • 08 February 2016
    11 Comments

    News about climate change can be depressing. But it was downright shocking to learn that budget cuts to CSIRO have led to the decimation of the agency's climate science. Australia is one of the worst global emitters, yet Australian citizens have outsourced responsibility for climate protection, as they have for refugees. The ease of bipartisan agreement on such crucial dilemmas confirms the point. A dormant electorate creates a negligent, sleeping, self-satisfied and corrupt government.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    We are shaped by how we choose to view violent crimes

    • Lyn Bender
    • 17 January 2016
    18 Comments

    In the early hours of a brand new year, two small boys had their lives extinguished by a purportedly depressed father. For me this event brought to mind two cases from a past life, when I was the manager of Melbourne Lifeline. One was a woman who disclosed that she had killed her two small children a decade earlier. In a second case, a belligerent suicidal man expressed rage towards his former partner, who was about to remarry. I asked pertinent questions. Would he harm his children? 'Yes.'

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Toleration must include understanding

    • Benedict Coleridge
    • 23 October 2014
    7 Comments

    The repeal of the burka ban in parliament followed woeful comments from ignorant senators and an obvious lack of real government consultation with Australia’s Muslim communities, spotlighted an embarrassing level of illiteracy with regard to Islam. We need to move beyond a token religious ‘tolerance’ that is paired with incomprehension of the religious other, towards promoting a more engaged understanding that entails some comprehension of how religious and other cultural traditions fit together. 

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Shooting hoops for the health of it

    • Ben O'Mara
    • 14 October 2014
    6 Comments

    At 6:30 am I pull on my compression tights, lace up my black and bubble gum blue boots, throw on a crumpled, old t-shirt, and join the early risers to play basketball at my local sports and aquatic centre. This twice weekly ritual has helped me realise that sport heals when I play it on my own terms.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    I am Gaza, I am bleeding

    • Lyn Bender
    • 14 August 2014
    9 Comments

    In the last month, an estimated 2000 Palestinians including 400 children have been killed and 10,000 injured.  Much of Gaza is reduced to rubble and rendered uninhabitable. It was a 30 degree day in Gaza as our small band of around 20 kept vigil in the cold night rain at Melbourne’s Federation Square. A Muslim girl recited a poem, ‘I am Gaza I have a dagger in my heart. I am bleeding’.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Australia's asylum seeker holocaust

    • Lyn Bender
    • 17 March 2014
    37 Comments

    The BBC's John Humphrys admonished Julie Bishop over the Coalition Government's off-shore processing centres, which he said 'have been described as 'breeding grounds for rape, riots, malaria and mental illness, that bear the look of concentration camps'. Alice Herz-Sommer, believed to be the oldest survivor of the Holocaust, died recently in London. Her story contains salient lessons for Australia's border protection regime.

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  • AUSTRALIA

    Abbott-whacking Greens senator's emotional politics

    • Benedict Coleridge
    • 06 March 2014
    7 Comments

    Greens Senator Scott Ludlam this week excoriated Tony Abbott, homing in on Abbott's politics of fear. Whatever you think of the speech, its implication was that politics includes a struggle over the cultivation, control and directing of public emotions. While our instinct is to think of our politics in terms of discussion and consensus, the public sphere also includes forms of expression beyond speech, such as ritual, recognition and mourning.

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  • ENVIRONMENT

    How to cope with climate change grief

    • Lyn Bender
    • 02 March 2014
    24 Comments

    I grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust and have spent years in therapy coming to terms with the murder of my relatives and the destruction my parents' world. I now find myself confronting a future potential holocaust of gigantic proportions. Al Gore has warned us of the danger of moving from denial to despair, while omitting hopeful or determined action. Our only hope is to face the reality.

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