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  • Fr Justin Glyn SJ (Credit: Tim Kroenert)
    religion

    The gifts of being a priest with a disability

    • Justin Glyn
    • 17 October 2019
    2 Comments

    In some ways to be a priest with a disability is to be at a strange advantage. We tend to think about priesthood as a gift and a calling — and so it is. It is not, however, about merit, of saying 'I am better than you / uniquely gifted'. Instead, it is a call to enter the hurts and joys of other people's lives from a position of weakness, not strength.

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  • Sign marking the northernmost point of the Australian mainland (Credit: Catherine Marshall)
    australia

    Borders blur at Australia's northern tip

    • Catherine Marshall
    • 17 October 2019
    4 Comments

    It's the final outpost, symbolically, demarcating Australia from its closest neighbour, PNG. The islands beyond it are a link to the cultures and geologies that lie to the north, giant stepping stones that guide Australia's Torres Straight Islanders home. For white Australians, they're the barrier marking the country's fiercely-held border.

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  • Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations
    australia

    Sympathy for the poor or bunyip aristocracy

    • Daniel Sleiman
    • 17 October 2019
    3 Comments

    Adam Smith wrote 'no society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable'. Poverty and inequality lead to non-participation in work and inhibit social mobility, which negatively affects economic growth. The concentration of economic power is bad for democracy.

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  • Liberal backbencher Gladys Liu during a division in the House of Representatives on 16 September 2019. (Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)

    Hypocrisy and hysteria over Chinese influence

    • Tim Robertson
    • 16 October 2019
    4 Comments

    Chinese interference in Australian politics is an issue of genuine concern. But why is the hysteria exclusive to China? Like the outrage surrounding the awarding of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature to Mo Yan, accused of working within the bounds of China's censorship program, why don't we hold our own government to the same level of scrutiny?

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  • Turkish armoured vehicles escort members of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army, a militant group active in parts of northwest Syria, as they enter Syria on 10 October 2019. (Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images)

    Trump joins the game of Kurdish betrayal

    • Binoy Kampmark
    • 14 October 2019
    2 Comments

    While expecting an indefinite US presence in Syria was unrealistic as part of bargaining for a homeland, the Kurdish forces are right in feeling the sting of yet another historical abandonment. They have been more than useful fighters, a point that is also held against them. The question now is how bloody this next chapter will prove for them.

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  • Climate activist Greta Thunberg attends a press conference organised by Belgian Youth for Climate with other activists on 21 February 2019 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

    While Thunberg creates hope, Trump stymies it

    • Jim McDermott
    • 01 October 2019
    10 Comments

    When Nancy Pelosi announced the House of Representatives would open impeachment proceedings, it seemed that finally the Trump Administration would be forced to reckon with its repeated disregard for the rule of law. Except, as Saturday Night Live's Kenan Thompson says in a hilarious sketch, 'Ain't nothin' gonna happen.'

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  • Man in suit and tie sitting at desk with computer and prison bar shadows falling across him. (Credit: Fanatic Studio / Getty)

    Inmate internet access more than a prison perk

    • Nicola Heath
    • 10 October 2019
    7 Comments

    For a nation with such a significant convict history, Australians take a peculiarly puritanical approach to prisoner welfare. Punishment, not rehabilitation, is often viewed as the point of the justice system. We take a very dim view of anything that could be construed as a prisoner perk. One such perceived privilege is access to the internet.

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  • CCTV surveillance security dome camera in city center (Credit: EyeOfPaul / Getty)

    Living in Australia's social credit dystopia

    • Kate Galloway
    • 08 October 2019
    5 Comments

    If government is concerned for citizens' wellbeing, it should properly resource services — drug and alcohol support, parenting support, subsidised childcare, education and so on. Instead, it is generating a system of social credit: rewarding those who toe the line and punishing those whose 'score' falls below that of the 'good citizen'.

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  • Tauto Sansbury

    In praise of Aboriginal trailblazers

    • Michele Madigan
    • 01 October 2019
    9 Comments

    Narungga Elder Tauto Sansbury died 23 September after a lifetime of campaigning to make the criminal justice system just for Aboriginal people, among other matters. He and other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trailblazers set a benchmark to which we can all aspire in the pursuit of positive change.

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  • Child in red gumboots standing in a puddle. (Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty)

    Child safety reforms still progressing slowly

    • John Warhurst
    • 14 October 2019
    5 Comments

    The royal commission concluded that child safety, in all its organisational ramifications, raised questions of culture and governance for the church. If the Plenary Council 2020 doesn't take such issues seriously then it will be one indicator that the momentum around last year's official national apology has slowed.

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  • Image of a homeless man's shoes in Darwin, Australia. (Credit: David Lee / Getty)

    Woe to those who punish the poor

    • Barry Gittins
    • 11 October 2019
    7 Comments

    If our PM's theological name dropping rings true, his life is guided by the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. That unemployed Jewish tradie turned rabble rouser made this apocalyptic observation: 'Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.' Yet it remains a vote winner, this business of punishing poor people for being poor.

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  • John Henry Newman. Image: Catholic Church of England and Wales (Creative Commons)

    The good words of John Henry Newman

    • Andrew Hamilton
    • 09 October 2019
    16 Comments

    Of English saints the newly canonised John Henry Newman is the most intellectual and active in public life since Thomas More. When conversation turns to faith it is common to regard the gift of finding good words as no more than a decoration on the hard reasoning that faith demands. Newman stands as a reproach to that view.

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  • While two people focus on holding back a deluge of plastic bags, a small child lifts a single one to reveal green shoots beneath. Illustration by Chris Johnston

    Small impactful climate action for the rest of us

    • Katherine Richardson
    • 11 October 2019
    5 Comments

    Ruling out an individual's efforts simply because they aren't perfect seems to be a fantastic way of discouraging people from joining what is an incredibly important movement. But climate action doesn't have to be about perfectionism — it's about doing the best you can, and sometimes even small changes can make a big difference.

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  • A woman is arrested by police during the Extinction Rebellion protest in Sydney on 7 October 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

    No time to be polite about climate

    • Jeff Sparrow
    • 08 October 2019
    18 Comments

    No-one should be fooled: the politicians and commentators who condemn civil disobedience are the same politicians and commentators who attack the UN for passing resolutions on carbon; who tell scientists to get back to the lab when they speak out on politics; who do everything they can to keep climate out of the parliament.

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  • The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert

    Existential lessons from road kill

    • Cristy Clark
    • 26 September 2019
    6 Comments

    In The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert explains that we have placed animals in a lethal double bind: they have to move due to the effects of climate change and habitat destruction, but their pathways are blocked by roads or occupied by humans. Some might ask why this mass extinction should matter to us, but we ignore it at our peril.

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  • Paul Kelly performs in 2015. (Credit: Stefan Postles / Stringer / Getty)

    Paul Kelly and the lighthouse in the sky

    • Julie Perrin
    • 14 October 2019
    4 Comments

    The musicians stepped forward, heads close around one microphone. The words of the 23rd Psalm were familiar and re-cast all at once. They met us in hope and in despair in 'the middle of the air'. There was a space of yearning there; the space where artists, songwriters and psalmists send us. That is the place we can be met.

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  • Red gerbera with dew drops

    My mother the Surrealist

    • Michael Sharkey
    • 14 October 2019
    3 Comments

    The voices of two women in the train up to the highlands rise in volume and insistence ... 'Mother, they're not Germans. I said, gerberas, they're all around the farm. Just wait, you'll see them from the window of the lovely room we've set up for your stay. A field of gerberas in full bloom.' 'And are the Germans all in uniforms, then, dear?'

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  • Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability and Making Space, by Amanda Leduc

    Rewriting the fairy tales of disability

    • Justin Glyn
    • 07 October 2019
    7 Comments

    Beginning with the origins of the fairy story and with her own diagnosis with cerebral palsy, Leduc opens the question of why disability in fairy stories is a trope when, for many of us, it is just a fact of life. What follows is a fascinating exploration of how fairy stories socialise us into particular expectations — of ourselves and of society.

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