May 5 -
May 9, 2003
Going Where Many Christians Won’t
writes about how he spoke recently at an inter-faith meeting at the
University of Swansea, together with a Muslim man and a Buddhist nun.
This is certainly a
controversial area for Christians. According to a recent article on
survey of evangelical leaders found that 77% of the nation's 350 top
evangelical leaders hold a negative view of Islam, and 70% believe it is a
"religion of violence." In addition, only 17% said they believe Muslims and
Christians pray to the same God. And despite President Bush's repeated
statements since September 11, only 10% believe Islam is a "religion of
That’s why meetings and
dialogue are so important. We need lots, lots more, at all levels of the
church. Good on you, Richard, for going where many Christians won’t.
I touched on this topic
in my book,
Living Water to Light the Journey, published a few years ago.
population is relatively small. Yet, along with many others in our
fast-growing Asian community, they hold strong views on what they see as
ethical indulgence in this country, and a breakdown in community structures
for the raising of children. Due to courtesy or shyness, their views are
seldom heard outside fairly restricted circles.
Yet it is exactly these kinds of voices that we need to
hear speaking out loudly on the pressing ethical issues confronting
Australia today: voices
that emerge from a tradition of a deep understanding of the human condition
and a firm belief in right and wrong.
It is not only Christian voices we need to hear. Much
Christian ethical teaching is derived from Judaism, especially the wisdom
literature of Jewish scripture which has been incorporated into the
Christian Old Testament. Jewish religious teachers have always regarded it
as vital to pass down their great moral teachings to the new generations. We
also have a growing number of Muslim citizens, and the Islam religion, too,
is rich in ethical teachings, along with its great traditions of culture,
learning and art.
…It seems that in the West nowadays, for understandable
historical reasons, many Jewish leaders prefer a low profile. Islamic
leaders too mainly speak out publicly on issues directly related to their
own people. I believe it would be a great service to
Australia if leaders of
all faiths could unite more often to provide moral guidance - based on the
rich heritage of their respective teachings - on all the ethical issues
troubling our society today.
God knows, we need it.
Speaking of my book
Living Water to Light the Journey, it’s out-of-print, and last year I
put it up here (rather quietly) on my website. Now that I’ve got my novel up
as well, I’ve decided to promote it more. I worked hard on writing it, and
it was commercially published but sold poorly. I can see now that’s it a bit
disjointed, but I still think it has worthwhile things to say about our
“We’re Going to Screw
In 1974, I found myself
working as a journalist on the Sunday Mercury newspaper in
England’s second-largest city.
We worked Tuesday to
Saturday, and until about Thursday we were always scratching around for
ideas for stories. The problem was that Birmingham had its own morning and
evening papers, which covered the region thoroughly, and as a big city it
also had reporters from all the
national papers. There wasn’t much left for us.
by Friday we were starting to panic at the lack of stories. And I suspect
it’s no different now.
So today, Friday, in the
interests of helping out some fellow journos, I’m giving you, free, this
Aussie Banker to Birmingham: “We’re Going to Screw You”
A director of the Australian fund that owns the Midlands Expressway - the
Birmingham bypass – has declared his intention to gouge users.
Denis Eager is director of infrastructure investment for the expressway’s
owner, Macquarie Infrastructure Group, part of Macquarie Bank.
an interview in The Australian newspaper:
“We can put up the tolls by whatever we like and, almost as importantly, we
can start the tolls on day one by whatever we like,” said Mr Eager,
confirming that Midlands is one of only three toll roads in the world with
such a generous concession....
Mr Eager described the terms of the toll road as a result of the "age of
free enterprise" when it was believed that a free road next to a tollway
would keep tolls low.
However, he admitted: "The reality is that as the free road gets more and
more congested, the toll road behaves more and more like a monopoly."
MIG believes the Midlands Expressway will be the last unregulated toll road
in Britain. "Never again," Mr Eager said. "We won't see anything like this
After investing $450 million in the Midlands Expressway, MIG has earned a 75
per cent stake, which will increase to 100 per cent when the road opens in
January next year.
"It sounds cheap, doesn't it?" Mr Eager said. "We've done well."
Last night MIG was expecting anger about the cost of the tolls – set to
start at £3 ($7.50) for peak-hour use.
"If (motorists) don't complain about it being too high, then we won't have
done our job," he said.
He also confirmed that MIG had advised local councils on how to avoid "rat
runners" by closing lanes on the adjacent A5 motorway, effectively feeding
more traffic on to the tollway. "Clearly we had our own interests at heart,"
Prophets & Loss, a Christian thriller, is now up on the website. I
know that not everyone wants to read a novel on their computers, but may I
ask you to give it a go. Perhaps you won’t be able to drag yourself away.
Here’s the opening to the
Forgiveness is the most attractive of the virtues. Until
you actually have someone to forgive.
When a young detective with bad breath and acne told
Melissa Stonelea that her born-again Christian husband Grant had been found
strangled in the bondage room of the city’s classiest brothel, his hands
trussed with S & M leathers and a page of the Bible stuffed in his mouth,
she didn’t need to hear any more of the pastor’s sermons on the healing
powers of forgiveness and reconciliation.
She needed revenge.
Why put a novel on the
Obviously, I’ve tried to
get it commercially published. I sent it to some literary agents and
publishers here in Australia, with no luck (even though I’m the author of a
dozen published non-fiction books).
One publisher told me
that local publishers aren’t interested in Christian fiction. So I sent a
few chapters to some American agents, an expensive process. Most didn’t even
reply. A few sent form-letter rejections.
I’m a professional
writer, and I have confidence in my novel. I think it’s a good read. But
getting a first novel published is hard.
Who knows - maybe placing
it on my website will attract an overseas publisher or agent? It’s worth a
Please try reading it.
And I’d love to hear your comments.
Is Australian Anglican
Primate Peter Carnley, like Bill Bennett, a secret gambler? He certainly
likes a two-way bet.
Last year he issued a
press release blaming the
Bali bombing on Australian government support for
America. Later he issued
another press release denying that he’d ever blamed the Australian
Now he’s at it again.
piled into the controversy over Governor General (and former Anglican
Archbishop) Peter Hollingworth, firstly sticking in the knife, but then
insisting he does not wish to offer an opinion -
Dr Carnley says the Prime Minister and the Governor General
should resolve the matter quickly because it is hurting the church.
"The negative publicity that's continued is not very
helpful for the church," he said.
Dr Carnley says he is only prepared to offer his opinion if
Dr Hollingworth asks for his advice.
When will the church
realise that silly statements by its leaders are also far from helpful?
The Largest Brothel in
the Southern Hemisphere Goes Public
For half-a-dozen years my
publisher’s office was in
Elsternwick, in Melbourne’s south. Just three doors away was a large, bland
concrete building that could have been a warehouse. It was, in fact, the
Daily Planet, the largest brothel in the Southern Hemisphere.
My publisher would joke,
when I visited him, that he hoped my mother-in-law didn’t spot my car parked
Because I usually visited
my publisher for lunch, there wasn’t a lot of brothel traffic. Only
occasionally would I see carloads of men wandering in or out.
Now the Daily Planet is
in the news. It has just listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, apparently
the first bordello in the world to go public. There was an appearance by
Heidi Fleiss at the stock exchange building, and the shares are soaring.
media response is
In a few days I hope to
have my novel up on this website. One of the themes is Melbourne’s legal
brothels. The main character, private investigator Johnny Ravine, is trying
to unravel the mystery of the brutal death of a born-again Christian, Grant
Stonelea, in a leading Melbourne brothel.
I reflected on the brilliance of the local state
government. It had concocted an amazing solution to the perpetual riddle of
human sinfulness: abolish it. With brothels in the state legal, prostitutes
were no longer fallen women. The Baptists and the Salvos were out of a job.
Prostitution became another career option.
And yet, somehow, it was not an option that career advisers
placed before teenage girls, or one that parents cared to recommend to their
I recalled one of the pastor’s sermons. “Take a bully who’s
trying to ride roughshod over you. If you do the same to him he’ll start
screaming blue murder about what’s right and wrong. He knows the difference.
He’s got a conscience, that’s why. He may not display it in his actions, but
in his heart he knows. God has given everyone a conscience. In their hearts
people know what’s right and what’s wrong.”
I hope I might have
whetted your taste for my novel. It’s coming soon.