Confronting Unanticipated Consequences – Overcoming Political Superficiality.

In our most recent post we observed how the Liberal Party’s latest “rising star”, the member for Dickson (Qld.), has confirmed the Liberal Party’s well-established tactic of “getting legislation through” – by whatever means – in order to close ranks and thereby close down public debate that is an ongoing threat to party unity.

Mr Dutton seems oblivious of the fact that he, and the rest of his party, is in ongoing historical retreat from framing a comprehensive policy platform concerned with the most important economic nexus in the Australian polity. I am referring to the most productive institution in the Australian economy – the family household. Presumably he and a good number of his parliamentary fellows on “both sides” assume that offering a clear and unequivocal policy framework to ensure justice for marriage, family and household is simply too contentious to be discussed and debated openly. The Liberal Party in recent times has floated the idea of keeping such discussion behind closed party-room doors. And there is an another instance in which they are oblivious of what they are actually doing to starve electors from active participation in what is in fact debate that is vitally concerned with our own lives. He and his colleagues, and his opponents, regularly confirm the fact that their way of “doing politics” is now all washed up.

And this may be one symptom of our “crisis” in the West, but their failure to openly address it is a cause and consequence of our ongoing national political instability. And this too is why his party is suffering ongoing disunity. Disunity is to be expected when a political party strives to stay in power by transforming itself into a public relations firm.

Mr Dutton says that he believes that legislation for “same-sex marriage”/ “marriage equality” is inevitable. he thinks his side should get amongst the action to ensure that they stay in control of the consequential policy debate. In other words his entire approach is not about justice for “marriage, family and household” but primarily about defeating Labor at the next election. It is superficial nonsense. It deserves repudiation.

What we do have, it seems, is bi-partisan political cowardice. In all the parliamentary efforts to wave rainbow flags, we do not hear of the full gamut of consequential legislative initiatives that will follow the proposed change to the definition of lawful marriage. We are left without any idea of how SSM advocates anticipate dealing with the wide-ranging public and legal consequences of such a change; there is no clear explanation of how “marriage equality” will contribute to the overall policy direction embarked upon by the Australian Federal Parliament.

When critics of “marriage equality” ask about these consequences, the ritual answer is made in terms of an appeal to the children’s story “Chicken Licken”,

… in other jurisdictions where same-sex marriage has been legislated, the sky hasn’t fallen to earth!

Such a response amounts to a lamentable suggestion that opponents ought to allow the experiment to proceed, just as it has been engineered in other polities. IOW: let’s see where it goes? (Should I refer to Foxy Loxy in the Chicken Licken story perhaps?)

Yet for many of this generation’s citizens and politicians the idea that Australia might now be out of step with the rest of the “progressive” West on “marriage equality” is cause for deep embarrassment. Maybe this is what Peter Dutton is referring to when he says that, despite being opposed, he expects “same sex marriage is inevitable”. But the question is: what does he propose politically to do in response to this anticipated state of affairs? That question he needs to answer in conversation with his electors. But his party simply ducks for cover on this matter at every opportunity.

But then our concern here is this: what does Nurturing Justice propose politically to be done about this state of affairs? It’s a good question. Given the state of our political system, and the studied isolation by Christian citizens, I’m not sure there is anything specific that NJ can do apart from encouraging opened up discussion about a Biblically faithful understanding of “marriage, family and household” issues. But to do so will also mean that the full gamut of “body politics” issues (abortion, IVF, euthanasia, medical science and much more) have to be dealt with. But the focus upon “marriage, family and household” has everything to do developing a comprehensive political understanding of human birth, growth, maturation and decline. It  involves a full and elaborated view of how new human life is given to be nurtured by parents, how social life should aid and contribute to genuine maturation. And much more.

It is within that Biblical view of marriage, and all our other responsibilities, that Christians will have to develop a “way of life” that decisively side-steps the snares of mythic sexual self-liberation. And it will be from such a “way of life” that honours and respects the way God has made us that a Christian political option will arise. It will come in time. But when it does, it will also have to rely upon a sound and emancipatory Christian educational option.

In the meantime we remain at work in public policy and ethical research concerned with forming a comprehensive sociological understanding of marriage, family and household – not forgetting friendship in its authentic rainbow-rich variety.

What NJ should be trying to do, I guess, is to give wise advice to Christian parents and school teachers concerning their nurturing of a new generation. But to do so effectively we will also need a coherent and cogent historical account of what has transpired in the last 50 years.

In his response to the recent capitulation of the Church of England synod in England to a neopagan view of sexuality Revd. Gavin Ashenden discusses the malformation of pastoral care that arose from the psycho-therapy of Carl Rogers and C G Jung. See here.

BCW 25.7.17




The Rearrangement of Parliamentary Deckchairs and the Crisis of the West.

In trying to commend a Christian political option one will often meet accusations like the following:

Why are you so cynical? Why do you have to be so negative?

Over the years, my attempt to respond to such views with civic respect has led me to reply:

Well actually, I am opposed to political cynicism. But we need to discuss the cynicism we can all taste; it is a bitter part of our public life and it seems to be imbedded in all our political debates.

Neither am I wanting to be negative. I am trying to point in an alternative direction, to suggest how a greater measure of public justice might be achieved.

Of course, entering the political fray is not about “winning arguments” and I concede that often my views leave the “other guy” confused. On many occasions greater insight comes from turning my “hard hitting” rhetoric back upon my own views (Luke 6:42). And the literary effort to write Nurturing Justice blogs since 2005 has confirmed me in the view that “politics” is not a career but a dimension of all of our lives  as adult citizens. Those who claim to be seeking a career in “politics” get it wrong. “Politics” is not to be defined by what “politicians” do and achieve. “Politics” is an opportunity to respond to the God-given reality of the call to love one’s neighbour with public justice. That misunderstanding – i.e. that politics is what “they” do – may be at the root of our widespread and embedded political cynicism.

The newly installed super-minister of the newly super-merged Department of Immigration and Border Protection (embracing home affairs) is obviously revelling in his recent elevation. This weekend he has put himself forward as the promoter of bright ideas.  He claims that a postal plebiscite will get the issue of same-sex marriage resolved before the next election. But in our view his approach is evidence of deep cynicism, and a misunderstanding of Parliamentary responsibility.

What does “before the next election” tell us? Is it significant that he doesn’t say “once and for all”? Obviously, conservative defections in Liberal and National ranks are on his mind. Is not this his attempt, as a rising star through the ranks, of keeping the show on the road, the fragmenting party united. The Liberal Party’s electoral problem is that the promised “marriage equality/same-sex marriage” plebiscite hasn’t happened. He has let it be known that he believes same-sex marriage is inevitable. But he stands astride the barbed-wire fence on both sides because he is opposed to same-sex marriage. So then Peter what do you propose to do about electors, across the Commonwealth, who do not believe that a same-sex friendship can be marriage, who believe that such “inevitability” is flying in the face of reality?

Obviously Mr Dutton is not addressing that issue, and he should be. Instead he’s putting himself forward on both sides at the same time. He has been in parliament for how many years? How many times have we heard that simply getting the legislation through will solve the problem? But then what is the problem? Is there no problem with marriage, qua institution, in this polity? Or are we being presented with a fudge, a fudge that resolves the Liberal Party’s ongoing existence, or more precisely of Liberal-National “unity” on the Treasury Benches. For all intents and purposes their major political purpose is no longer what they stand for but rather safeguarding themselves and ensuring that their “side” stays in power as government?

No, this will not get the Liberal Party off the barbed-wire fence. The Liberal Party is already committed to fudging any residual political commitment it may have to marriage, family and household and has been so committed since the fudging was set in concrete, pardon the metaphor, when it gave full rein to the former PM, John Howard, to reneg on his electoral promise to his electors 16 years ago of “no legislation to enable embryonic stem cell research”. Then of course such a fudging was dismissed because it was only a “non-core promise.”

It is not only Peter Dutton MP but also that other former PM on the back-bench, as well as the current PM, who are forgetting that that fudged viewpoint is now set in concrete as an implicit part of the Liberal Party’s evolution, it is basic to its electoral modus operandi.

Mr Dutton’s attempt to show “leadership”  has an echo – “So that we can get this matter off the parliamentary agenda and get on with the rest of our parliamentary responsibilities.” What Mr Dutton and his party colleagues are ignoring is the political character of parliamentary representation itself. What about the parliamentary representation of electors who may reject this “inevitability”? Do they count? They certainly cannot rely upon Mr Dutton to represent them, not least because they do not live in his electorate. But his solution is highly questionable anyway – he wants to get the issue “out of the way”. It is an historical reprise of what the former PM said in his public resistance to the legislative opportunities of the 1992 Mabo judgement that arisen in the 1997 Wik case:

If [those opposing the “10 point plan” in the Senate] want this thing off the agenda of Australian politics, pass it before Christmas and then we can all get on with the future” (The Age 22/11/1997).

This is the Liberal Party’s view. Resolve the uncertainty and then we can all get on with the future.

This is nothing else than maintenance of political nonsense, put forward as sagacious political wisdom. When did, for instance, the needs of Australia’s indigenous population ever “go off the agenda” of public justice? Has not the needs intensified since 1998 after have of the 10-Point plan was legislated? Or, in this case, when will the Liberal and National Coalition, (not forgetting the Labor Party), face up to the fact that it is their respective failures as political parties that has contributed to the crisis in marriage, family (think of the rise in family violence), household. These are supposedly associations that have their standing in our political community because they have the public resources granted them to develop comprehensive and coherent (?) political ideology about the political future of the Commonwealth. These issues of public justice are systematically avoided by the political machines, the public relations firms of “both sides” and they are not going to go away. The way in which we already converse, as a polity, about marriage, about procreation, about sexual relations, will simply be further confused by any legislated mis-representation of marriage based upon an empirical error that says that a same-sex relationship is a marriage – this confusion will continue anyway in this polity whatever our Parliament decides and whatever some or all other “Western polities” may decide. Ironically, we are now back to the issue of our former posts on the “crisis” in the West. (Moreover, this week, will not Twitter accounts be chatting like never before as the Vatican No.3 takes his stand in the dock?)

“So we can all get on with the future” – this is nothing but a mantra of the parliamentary self-interested who no longer know how to formulate a coherent and comprehensive policy for marriage, family and household justice for its “side” of politics. Instead the aim of politics is to stay in power. The problems will be still around and exacerbated because, as the insightful juristic analysis shows, any legislated “marriage equality” is not going to remove the deep legislative and public policy confusion and ambiguity that pertains to marriage and family and household life across our Commonwealth.

If we were to have a plebiscite because the “two sides” are simply incapable of developing coherent policy on marriage – however the votes were cast – might it not be better to ask the preceding question of the voters: Should Australian law henceforth consider marriage merely as a matter of civil rights? This is an issue NJ has raised previously.

As it stands, the efforts to make Parliament into the public advocate of same-sex marriage is already lost (here and elsewhere) by persistent libertarian attempts to redesign reality by the imposition of a “politically-correct” symbolism. Mr Dutton’s suggestion is more a case of a suggestion for yet another round of Liberal Party deck-chair rearrangement.

But as far as deck-chair rearrangement goes the Liberal-Coalition “side” does not have it on their own. Almost on cue, the Labor leader sends a signal that would seemingly remove some of the uncertainty and instability about our political system by suggesting four-year terms. Yes, this is a good idea. And the PM knows it. Good ideas are needed in this context of crisis and uncertainty. BUT will it make any difference to the declining public trust in our system of government? Are the major parties going to set out on a new course and become parties again, and even willing to lose elections out of political conviction? Or will the proposal for 4-year parliamentary terms become yet another “public relations” stunt? Could this good idea dissolve into yet another example of corporate narcissism, as the major parties equate the national interest with their dominance over parliament?

BCW 24/7/17

Christianity’s Decline Amid the Crisis of the West

Eureka Street’s editor Andrew Hamilton, asks: What fuelled the crisis in the West? This is his considered contribution to the significant debate generated by Paul Kelly’s article a fortnight ago in The Australian, “Blessed be the egoistic individuals”. A post from Nurturing Justice also commented on this article. We continue our contribution here to give further elaboration to what Nurturing Justice understands concerning a Christian political option.

Hamilton’s editorial, like the articles of Sheridan and Kelly, is worth reading, as are the comments of readers  immediately after it. But I would suggest that the line of argument ignores the same issues that Kelly’s critique sidestepped although Hamilton does point out, rightfully, that Kelly has not identified the noxious root of neo-liberalism, the ideology of a system of political economy that is bowed in its piety to the sacred fiction of an “unencumbered self”. This is basic to the now ubiquitous distrust of government in the West. Here and now, representative government in parliament is undermined by behind-the-scenes capitulation to the lobbying of interest-groups and political party machinations that imply that political belief is meaningless unless elections are won. Where is the political willingness to lose elections because of political beliefs about what is good in the long-run for the public interest, for the common good? NJ continues to draw attention to how all major political parties have loosened their concern for the authentic representation of voters – party cadres form parties as public relations firms which have to win and be seen to be winning if they are to retain their jobs marketing the “party line”. Now the locus of Government power is the “party room”, the place for secret Liberal (or Labor) business.

All of this determinative political context remains outside the limits of Kelly’s and Hamilton’s analysis. Both articles, along with that of Greg Sheridan, seem to want to hold onto conventional Christian (i.e. Roman Catholic) teaching as they set forth their viewpoints. Here then is my reply to Hamilton:

Thankyou Andrew. Quite apart from Paul Kelly’s Christian-pagan longing to re-establish Aristotle as the Christian philosopher”, he has sidestepped the need for a critical exposé of how the noxious roots of economic liberalism feed the pervasive global distrust of political authority, and this you rightly point out. But Kelly’s”culture of narcissism” argument blatantly sidesteps the “corporate narcissism” generated on two prominent fronts: 1. the mass media and his own newspaper and his newspaper’s owner involvement in feeding rampant individualised celebrity as if Australians should be proud of one who renounced his citizenship in order to extend his American holdings. And 2. The disgraceful “corporate narcissism” among senior office bearers of Christian churches, exposed world-wide in recent times. Your suggestion that the resultant culture of greed “has little to do with religious belief” cannot be sustained since it is all about an idolatry, a mis-directed religious belief, that gives decisive signals of an apostasy, root and branch, of Christian churches. This should in no way be excluded from any authentic Christian political analysis of our current political co-responsibilities within the unfolding crisis of the West. Did not Rerum Novarum intimate a similar critique and Christian democratic challenge?

I suspect that my own rhetorical question: “What has Aristotle got to do with reviving Christian discipleship in the political domain?” as it appeared in the former post will cause some Christians reading this to suspect that Nurturing Justice is taking an irrational stand. Indeed such views are to be expected and here I take the liberty of paraphrasing the scholarly perspective of such an anticipated critic who will allege that Nurturing Justice has signalled support for a narrow-minded irrational dogmatism.

I was somewhat flummoxed to read: ‘What has Aristotle got to do with Christian discipleship and the task of forming a Christian public discussion?’ That sounds as if a Christian political option is not only close-minded but irrational. Can we not learn from Aristotle as to how a reasoned philosophy should be developed? Indeed hasn’t such reasoned philosophy been basic to Christian theology and for this we need to point to no other eminent scholar than Thomas Aquinas as well as 19th century Catholic Social Teaching. And after all, hasn’t Biblical studies confirmed that Platonic and Aristotelian ideas are implicit in the New Testament? Consider how the Stoic “logos” appears in John’s Gospel. So its self-evident that we need a return to Aristotle if there is ever to be a genuine and authentic return to Christian political responsibility.

Nurturing Justice is unabashed in affirming its view that the task of forming a Christian contribution to public discussion should come from Christian citizens who reckon with the inner connection between their citizenship and the teaching of Jesus and the apostles in the New Testament. That being said, there are philosophical and historical issues of profound weight that have to be addressed in any Christian scholarship even if they cannot be resolved here in this blog. Nevertheless, Nurturing Justice is not running away from the need for a comprehensive Christian political science in which such issues are addressed and answered. Here is my brief answer to the above concern.

Paul Kelly makes the connection to Aristotle as if every educated and intelligent reader will already know that Aristotle is the benchmark not only for rational thinking but also for thinking about the virtues of political practice. That, in effect, announces the dogmatic closure of discussion at that point and in my view he is apparently unaware of that closure. Can there be a Biblically-directed justification for the view that Aristotle is the (Christian’s) philosopher? Can this view be anything other than an appeal to a persistent tradition of Christian accommodation with Aristotle, as if that accommodation now should have binding normative authority among Christians?
To follow this assertion an appeal is often made to (what some scholars say is nothing but) a scholarly myth that John in writing his Gospel was drawing on the Stoic logos concept. And hence this reaffirmation of the vital necessity of Hellenic thinking (whether Platonist or Aristotelian) because from there the West has inherited the nostrum that human rationality is autonomous. “Reason” pertains to a self-sufficient reality and with such a scheme any proposed divine creator will have to share any status of non-dependency as a co-creator since it is the self-subsisting faculty of reason, manifest throughout reality, that has enabled the creator to create, giving form to matter. This is the basic dialectical “stuff” of the Greek philosophical tradition and hence antithetical to Biblical teaching.
Kelly and Sheridan in their views of the “crisis” mask a pre-theoretical disposition that seeks such Hellenic accommodation with the Biblical teaching of the imageo Dei. I am not wanting to imply that they be prevented from arguing in this way. I can hardly stop them. No “policeman’s hand” (fundamentalist appeal to a Bible verse) will enhance discussion by making an alternative dogma absolute.
Of course, the philosophy of Aristotle has been formative in the decisive shaping of Christian lives through traditions of such accommodative scholarship – the variations of that accommodation raise ongoing scholarly issues for investigation that philosophers, scientists, historians and sociologists should not avoid. But so has Plato, so has Descartes, Kant, and Husserl. So has Marx. So has Foucault, Rawls and Rorty. But to affirm that any one of these prominent thinkers has pointed the way to fulfilling the first and great commandment (“loving God with your whole heart, soul, MIND and strength”) is not only to suggest an accommodation of the teaching of Jesus and the apostles to Aristotle (or Plato et. al). It means that there is an active assumption that the writings of such non-Christian thinkers should be part of Christian scholarship for the purpose of giving emphasis to how their theories comply with Christian teaching. Biblical teaching therefore is equated with theology, and so theology is proclaimed as the Queen of the Sciences. This notion finds its origin in Aristotle and it has also made its impact upon Protestant thinking and theology (consider Beza and Voetius, let alone more latter-day luminaries). And it doesn’t take long in one’s discussion with Muslims to realise that The Philosopher’s conception of an Unmoved Mover continues to make an impact upon Islamic thought as well.

This discussion cannot stop here. It must be continued.

BCW 20.7.17


Listening to What we See!

Henrietta’s Diary 2: Listening to What we See Can Help Us Overcome Social Deafness and Narrow Vision!

[Another post from Henrietta Dubb’s Diary]

As I walk our Promenade things happen that can change my viewing profoundly.

At the point where Rip-View Carpark looks out over the entrance to Port Philip Bay a board was erected a few years ago. It simply describes the sound-scape, the variety of possible noises and sounds that will be heard as we keep watch on this part of God’s creation. Whoever initiated this project had an uncommon appreciation of our human condition.

The board is also written in Braille. It stands as a wonderful affirmation to those with impaired sight. They too are welcome to enjoy this lovely patch of cliff above the Rip and in their own way. Here is another view (thankyou “Weekend notes” also for the copy of the Board’s translation of the Braille announcement).

Discover the Soundscape of Rip View
The sounds you hear are a musical wonderland of the various aspects of our marine and coastal environment.
The South-Westerly winds are an ever-present feature of this unique coastline. Strong gusts cause only a slight rustle in the dense, low, native vegetation, which is well-adapted to this windy environment.
The vegetation leans inland and hugs the dunes and cliffs providing protection for the birds and other animals from the prevailing winds. The seabirds can be heard calling as they hover on the up draughts.
The waves crash loudly as they tumble across the rocky platforms. With the changing tide, the water trickles over small rock pools as they empty and fill. The immense tidal movements of water creates a choppy swirl known as “The Rip” between Point Lonsdale and Point Nepean. In foggy conditions, the foghorn located at the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse sounds to assist mariners navigating this treacherous waterway.
Impassible Cliffs
At certain high tides, water levels rise to the cliff face. Beach crossings should not be attempted at this time.

And for sighted folks the board can be seen and touched and so it does a service to all who chance there and we are prompted to feel deeply about what is going on in that lovely place. But more than that. The wonder of sound reminds us of what is going on around us particularly with people who may not see. And as I write this I think of the deaf who visit this place as well and who will gain encouragement, in their way, from this board. What most of us do naturally, at least when we are fully awake to do so, we are now encouraged to do so with our hearts touched by the feel of a Braille wake-up call on our finger-tips.

This board encourages us to look again at what we see and to attend closely to what we hear. We feel the sounds now with a new wonder and the experience is a maze of sight and sound mixed together with a warm feeling, a tenderness that prods us to care more gently for all our neighbours.

And what does this have to do with our political responsibilities? Much I would say. The board is a public artefact and the person who devised it possessed of a keen and caring outgoing wisdom. The braille board conveys a warm welcome to all as they come to that spot, as they pause and consider its message. Here, by our site-seeing, we are brought up short to close our eyes and experience a place of wonder as one who was site-hearing, as a blind person might do. Not only do we deepen our appreciation for those who need braille to read, who if they travel cannot but embark on “site hearing tours”, but we are reminded that our own sight is a gift, a precious gift and we give thanks to God.

As citizens, we are those engaged in giving a welcome of due respect to all visitors. The tasks involved in hospitality and extending a welcome call forth from us projects that require creativity and imagination, love and compassion for all who are brought across our paths. The project that brought the braille board into existence has enriched my sea-side township in ways unseen.

Calvin Seerveld introduces his rendition of  Psalm 19 by telling us it “declares the stunning  torah of the Lord: creational order reveals God’s merciful will for our lives.”

The heavens are telling the glory of God.
The very shape of starry space makes news of God’s handiwork.
One day is brimming over the talk for the next day,
and each night passes on intimate knowledge to the next night
– there is no speaking, no words at all,
you can’t hear their voice, but –
their glossolalia travels throughout the whole earth!
their uttered noises carry to the end of inhabited land!
(Verses 1-4a).

Reading that braille board in the context what God’s written psalm-word tells us is a stunning glory, leads us to hear it speaking loud and clear in its own glossolalia that sounds throughout the whole earth in its own way and it points to a remarkable fulfilment of the prayer by which David’s melodious psalm concludes:

Let the sayings of my mouth and the inarticulate groanings of my heart be something acceptable in front of your face.
O Lord God, my rock! the One who always come through to set me free from my bondage. (Verse 14).

We are induced to close our eyes and hear something that we may not have heard if we hadn’t come across that board. And then we open our eyes and look out over the Rip again and it is just not the same.

HD 5/2003 – posted 19.7.17

Henrietta Dubb’s Diary 1: JUST POLITICS

Just Politics is Not Just About Politics

When I write a “political” comment in my diary, I hear myself asking, over and over, “I didn’t start this diary to blow off political steam, did I?” It can be a struggle to find a positive tone even if the aim of my diary is simply to give myself an aide memoire.

Let me start where I am, where I will be today.

Why is our community such an interesting one? Is it that by living here we have found the time to appreciate the variety of ideas held by those we meet? Yes, I think so. We also have time to criticise (and often ditch) our own fancied speculations. Whether we admit it or not this local community to which I have taken time to explore, getting to know the residents, is a signpost for many on a personal road to deeper political maturity – here when we engage each other in informal conversation we learn to swim together through the tides of public debate.

We discover that political debate flourishes when discussion avoids reducing issues to two dogmatic sides: my preferred option and the view of those who will oppose me. We’ve passed that. We’ve grown up just a bit. We’re open to trying to see things, political things, from another’s point of view.

Of course we had better take note of the ongoing differences between light and dark, sweet and bitter, truth and error, wisdom and foolishness, peace and terror. But who is going to draw that line when we talk informally and insist that anything we say that has a connection to politics must sit on one or two sides?

Well, even by asking that question of myself, we know very well who says that. This bi-partisan ideology oils the two major electoral clobbering-machines. And it seems to be a global virus of many, many polities.

And these firms also also spend heaps of our money telling us in effect that a multi-party system can’t work. Translated into campaign rhetoric that reads: there is the view of our opponents which is wrong and there is ours, the only logical one to have. Take your pick!
In this way policies are defined by what is faulty in the approach of the other guy.

Does this show a lack of political courage; has it not lost perspective? Is it not deaf – and not only to others but also to itself. It avoids debate; it avoids cross-examining one’s own view. How boring. But then how demeaning; how unjust?

This dominant logic “gilds the lily” of its own self interest. It knows no self-denial in the interests of the greater public good. In bolstering this system it stifles the citizenship it needs to discover and which the country needs. Voting becomes a legal requirement by which each citizen has to choose between only two alternative forms of mis-representation.

So we enter a new way of “doing politics” – whether at Federal, State or Borough levels –  inviting the already powerful “movers and shakers” in public governance to consider looking for a new and fresh approach. What about a re-think of political representation? We will keep on talking about politics, since just politics is not just about politics.

HD 8/2004 (update 19.7.17)
Henrietta Dubb, Christian citizen of the 21st century.


Last week, walking through the village, I was hit by a frisbee. Hit is probably too hard a word. It glided into my reach with no fuss at all. The owner was with his friends from a day centre in Geelong. It was their monthly outing to Point Lonsdale – a barbeque lunch.

“Frisbee” said Johnno coming up to me. “My name’s Johnno. What’s yours?”

“Hen” I said. “Henny.”

“Henny,” said Johnno pointing. “Sausages”.

I saw the smoke rising from the barbeque.

“Smells good,” I said.

Johnno replied. “Me too. Lunch.”

Johnno’s frisbee partner came up.

“Frisbee” she said, taking the frisbee off Johnno and throwing it so that it almost cleared the hedge into the Bowls Club. It stuck in a branch. I reached up and threw it low toward where the main party had assembled.

“Good throw!” Shelley clapped happily. “My name’s Shelley.

“Lunch. Sausages.”

She grabbed me by the arm and took me over to the main group.

“What’s your name?” she asked.

“Henny” I replied. “That’s short for Henrietta.”

I smiled at the three workers, busy in various phases of picnic preparation and feeding. Shelley and Johnno were the two who spoke. I was introduced to the others – Di, Gus, Rolly and Belle.

“Hi Di. Hi Gus. Hi Rolly and Hi Belle. I’m Henny. You can call me Hen.”
“No you’re not.”

Johnno wanted me to eat a sausage.

Johnno knew something more was needed.

“This is Mary.” Johnno took my arm “and this is Bill and this is Marjorie. I’m her boy friend.”

His cheeky smile went from ear to ear.

“No you are not!”

“She loves me!” Johnno persisted looking at me impishly.

Marjorie knew her cue.

“Yes I do,” she said “very much. But Johnno you are not my boy friend!”

Johnno was smiling, trying hard to look hurt.

But he giggled. Then he threw his arms around Marjorie.

“And I love you too” he said.

Shelley piped up. “Do you love me, Henny?”

Mary, Bill and Marjorie smiled at me – they knew how Johnno and Shelley loved to make friends wherever they went.

“Yes,” I said, feeling only slightly exposed, “You all make me very happy. Thanks for coming. Come again!”

“Here. Sausage” said Shelley.

Johnno reached over for the sauce bottle and squirted some on my snack which I was trying to consume in my now greasy fingers. Not to be outdone, Shelley provided two slices of bread.

After a time, I took my leave and walked on, happy. The kindness of Johnno and Shelley stayed with me as I walked. To be alive, to play, to eat, to talk, to joke is just part of being a friend. For a brief time they had invited me to be theirs.

excerpt from Hentrietta Dubb’s Diary

First Published “Rip Rumour” September 2004.



Henrietta Dubb’s Diary began with a quote from a review of R H Tawney, a collection of essays entitled, Christianity and the Social Revolution (London. Victor Gollancz & Co 1935). It can be found in The Attack and Other Essays, Spokesman, Nottingham 1981 (Original edition, 1953 George Allen and Unwin Ltd).

“I have excerpted quotes from pages 163-166:

The watershed between creeds which this striking book suggests is not the conventional one. Whatever Christians and Communists may say and do, Christianity and popular communism – though not its official variety – are alike in holding the now unfashionable view that principles really matter. Both have their absolutes. As far as principles are concerned, the division of the future will lie, perhaps, less between different forms of political and economic organisation than between different estimates of the value to be put on the muddled soul of Henry Dubb.

“There follows a footnote to my grandfather:

H.D.: the civilian equivalent of the P.B.I, or poor bloody infantry, ie the common, courageous, good-hearted, patient, proletarian fool, whose epic is contained in the well known lines, “We go to work to earn the cash to buy the bread to get the strength to go to work to earn the cash,” etc, and who is worth, except to his modest self, nine-tenths of the gentilities, notabilities, intellectual, cultural and ethical eminences put together. I seem to remember an occasion on which a telegram addressed to Henry Dubb, Labor Party Conference, was duly delivered at the correct sea-side resort. The statement that, on the chairman inviting the addressee to claim it, four-fifths of the comrades sprang to their feet, is, however an exaggeration.

“Tawney continues:

What the rules of Germany and Italy think of him we know; and I suspect that those of Japan think much the same. The Christian Church professes to regard him as a little lower than the angels, a child of God, and the heir of eternal life. But it has shown hitherto no unquenchable zeal to ensure that, in this vale of tears, he shall be treated as what, on its own doctrine, he is. … In the interminable case of Dubb v Superior Persons and Co whether Christians, Capitalists or Communists, I am an unrepentant Dubbite. So I am in the unfortunate position of being unable to applaud my friends for their vices, which – since their shining virtues will look after themselves – is what friends usually declare. He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble and meek. Pondering that and other indiscretions of a neglected classic, I find it impossible to believe, with some Christians, that the love of God, whom one has not seen, is compatible with advantages snatched from the brother one sees every day, or that what they describe as spiritual equality, a condition which they neither created nor – happily – can alter, has as its appropriate corollary economic, social and educational inequalities which, given the will, they can abolish out of hand … A Christianity which resigns the economic world to the devil appears to me, in short, not Christianity at all; Capitalism a juggernaut sacrificing human ends to the idolatry of material means; and a Socialism which puts Dubb on a chain and prevents him from teaching manners to his exalted governors, a Socialism – if such it can be called – which has more than half its battles still before it.

“I don’t pretend to understand all Tawney writes about my grand-father. In many ways Henry is still a mystery to me. I remember being told that just before he died – a matter of days after I was born – he said that he had always been in God’s care, and that as much as he longed for Heaven, he also wanted to see Our Heavenly Father’s new earth where righteousness and justice and truth and happiness flower in their fullest. Granpa, had a Christian funeral – his hopes have lain dormant in my consciousness all these years until I recently read Tawney’s comments noting the

… good sense, pertinacity, nerve and resolution of the loveable, pig-headed, exasperating Dubb.

“Tawney concluded his review in these terms. As I have said, I don’t follow all that Tawney writes about him. But I do warm to one thing he says. I put it here to complete the record:

Since I am not a fatalist, and regard confident predictions from past history as mostly sciolism, I have not yet despaired of Henry. I consider it not impossible that he may one day wake up; make an angry noise like a man, instead of bleating like a sheep; and in England, at any rate, in spite of scales weighted against him, use such rights as he possesses, which he is more sensible than some of his intellectual pastors in thinking worth having, to win economic freedom.

“Can I contribute to the economic freedom which Tawney said was within the grasp of Henry, if only he would wake up? I don’t know. Inspired by Henry Dubb’s example, I, his Australian grand-daughter, am going to try. That means accepting my vocation as a Christian citizen of this place. How else? I’m writing this diary to wake myself up and anyone else who is interested enough to read my scribbling may be encouraged to wonder why things have gone wrong and how we can begin to find a new way to exercise the stewardship God entrusts to all who live in this place.”

HD March 2003

Here is the link to Henrietta’s Post, “The frisbee, the sausage and the barbecue” her initial Nurturing Justice contribution to the NDIS rollout.