25.1.03

Another weekend of extreme heat and very low humidity. Fires still burn along the east of Australia. Mike has an entry on the fires in Tasmania. On the mainland we often think of tasmania as "another England" with low temperatures and much more rain than many of us get up here. Tasmania and its capital Hobart have had their share of devastating fires too. Firefighters in Canberra have had some time to prepare for another possible onslaught like last Saturday. Fires are still burning in Victoria to the south, and some have gone through canefields in Bundaberg in Queensland. My own state, NSW, has an unprecedented total fireban till midnight Tuesday in place. This means no solid fuel fires at all in the open, although gas and electric BBQs are excepted. Such bans are usually imposed on a daily basis. Monday is a public holiday for Australia Day, and I imagine this also had an influence on the ban. Even the fireworks which were postponed from New Year's Eve till this weekend because of gales have been cancelled.

Now how do we make those idiots who deliberately light some of these fires understand a ban?

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24.1.03

Perhaps I' m entering this debate a bit late. I saw the post on abortion on the front page of blogs4Godyesterday when away from home and not in a position to reply. It was not a pretty sight or site for that matter either. It hit me in the gut and I imagine that was its purpose. What I write now is not a well reasoned response but it is a response. I'm basically talking on my feet.

I am older than many bloggers here. Age gives me some experience to draw from in my thinking.

I make it plain from the start that I am opposed to abortion. Not only am I opposed to abortion but I do not like seeing the constant reference to a woman's right to choice and control over her body. That control should have been exercised, one way or another before any thought needed be given to abortion. (discounting rape, medical emergencies, incest etc.) It takes two to make a baby but one of those two is often disregarded.

Over the years I have known several women who have had abortions. Most of these were because the woman felt she had no opportunity in her circumstances to raise a child. Two of these were because of medical problems with the mother. I've never been personally in that position. However, one of my sons slept with his girlfriend just once and a pregnancy resulted. I do not condone his action, but I was pleased with his reaction. He backed her in keeping the child when her mother told her to get rid of it. They now live together, again not my choice but theirs and the child is a joy.

To me, the whole attitude of yesterday's post was far from loving. We are told to forgive as we are forgiven. It seemed to me that there was little room for forgiveness allowed. We are treated with grace but do we pass that grace to others? There are some things which seem to be opposites but which we need to keep a form of tension. I'm not going to rise another storm by mentioning them here but certain doctrines spring to mind.

This seems to be the same type of thing. As I said, I believe abortion is wrong. However, I need to forgive and I need to be able to offer the promise of God's love and grace and forgiveness to others. Because I have not been tempted to do this, does not make me blameless. I'm human and therefore am a sinner too.

We need to be able to offer practical help to demonstrate god's love and grace. As James says, it is no use sayimg "be warmed" to someone and doing nothing to help.

Is blogs4God the place to be raising such posters? Perhaps not. It's a bit like preaching to the converted. We need to be out where women are hurting and unable to cope. we need to be offering services which will give them the opportunity to cary their child to term. We need to be far less judgmental.

I'm somewhat disorganised in my thoughts, but I imagine there would have been a response to this post, and I wanted to say just something of what I thought.


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23.1.03

I was thinking last night of my post on the destruction of the homes of several pastors. The message I was trying to give was that, to the general public, it would show that the so-called "church'" is participating in the general tragedy of so many people in a manner they can understand.

Those who know me, know my long held questioning of the traditional form of ordination and also know my feelings about the traditional division between pastorate and laity.

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22.1.03

7:00pm Wednesday: the national broadcaster, ABC said that the latest count of houses destroyed now stands at over 530. This includes some outlying areas not counted before.

The news showed the head of the Uniting Church in Australia praying with a Uniting Church minister. I now know of three pastors whose homes were destroyed.

Homes have also been lost now in the state of Victoria.

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21.1.03

New count of houses destroyed: 419. More extreme weather for the next few days is forecast. Other fires are still dangerous. Bushfire is a common thing here, but this is way beyond what we are accustomed to.

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There's a new Korean business opened up just down the street. Very appropriate name. "Ephphatha" It's a locksmith. Not too sure? Have a look at Mark 7:34 and read Jesus' imperative.

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No, no, no, no! Overseas commentators should have some training before being let loose on the Australian Tennis Open. It is simply not acceptable to announce on a national TV station that the crowd is "rooting" for a particular woman player. Perfectly acceptable elsewhere but NOT here. Totally different meaning given to that word here. And where is the delay button on these outdoor broadcasts? What else will slip through?

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One of my posts on 19/01 mentioned the Canadian political prisoners who were transported to NSW in the early 1800s. The local paper has a page on local history and today talks of Lepailleur, the leader of these. He arrived in 1840, aged 31, and was pardoned in 1844 and repatriated. He descirbed being given food, but never quite enough. Probably the case for many settlers too, till the colony began to be more self supporting in food. He thought the country to be well suited for farming as he saw many well fed animals. The Canadian exiles gathered shells in Canada, France and Exile Bays. These were burnt to provide lime for building pirposes. After returning to Canada, Lepailleur lived till 1891.

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East coast fire update:
Some fires in Tasmania near Hobart. Nothing about them on mainland radio, but press mentions them. Victoria still has fires which have burnt out over 100,000 hectares of land. Little property damage and no deaths. Snowy mountain resorts are closed and fires are still troublesome there. To the north of Sydney, firefighters are backburning in an effort to conatian a fire which is threatening the main road north.

Canberra is beginning to emerge. Most residents seem shell shocked, as well they may. Obviously many questions will be asked about fire management and prevention measures Now is not the time to answer these. What is obvious is that the disaster last Saturday was almost impossible to stop, given the cyclonic winds, the fires' intensity and the extreme drought conditions. Every spring there is a race to see who can spot the first use of "the state's a tinderbox." Unfortunately, this year it is all too true. Once in a century drought is helping produce once in a century fires.

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19.1.03

An update on this post on the fires which I made earlier today. Tragically the death toll has risen to four with another three people critically burnt. The number of homes lsot may not be quite as high s first feared, but will still be in the hundreds. Days of weather with temperatures in the high 30s are being forecast for the week ahead

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the more things change...

I found this earlier today when I was browsing the translation of Horace's Odes. Very apposite.


Arabian loot, an all-out war?
The still recalcitrant
Emirs of the Levant

Must bow to Iccius. Iccius leads
Home chained the terrifying Medes!



Horace, Odes I,29,1-6.

This was written after an expedition to Arabia failed in 24 BC.

How long will it be before we hear dulce et decorum est pro patria mori? I think I prefer Wilfrid Owens sardonic take on this, written in Consideration of World War I, the war to end all wars! Any number of versions of this can be found on the net. Here's one:

Wilfred Owen
Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.



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The Saturday Herald has long run a comic strip based on ancient Roman characters. It's known as little Caesar. Today's had a caricature of the Prime Minister addressing a motley crowd of supporters. "To the end of the tyrant," he shouts as he waves his sword. The cry is taken up by the supporters. "For liberty," for peace" and the cry is repeated. "and an endless supply of cheap oil for three oil-guzzling chariots per household!" The crowd's reply is "COOOOL."

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Are you listening, Prime Minister Howard?

In a poll taken last week, 30% said that there should be no Australian involvement in a war against Iraq. Only 6% supported a war against Iraq that did not have UN approval and 62% believed that we should participate only in a UN approved force.

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Tragedy
The hot dry weather and low humidity have brought more fires to this dry land. Some in Victoria and the Snowy Mountains, some in northern Sydney.

By far the worst has been the Australian Capital territory, Canberra which was hit by many firestorms yesterday and overnight.

As at 3:00pm on Sunday afternoon, just on 400 homes had been destroyed and three people killed. That is just beyond imagination, even in this land. Things happened so fast and with such intensity that little could be done.

We have several people at church who are originally from the large "parent" church in Canberra. ( large by standards here, several hundred people.) One of these was there when his parents' home was razed. The mother church has been completely destroyed and the homes of two of the pastors have also been burnt.

Fire authorities were not sure that there would not be more losses. Emergency operations are stretched to the limit. More extreme weather is forecast for Tuesday. Please pray for this situation and for all who have been affected by it.

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Went out last night to sit in the cool breeze at Canada Bay. The day had been 40 degrees celsius at home here and another 5 degrees hotter just 20 minutes drive a way. That was the hottest temperature in the state.

Canada Bay here downunder? Here's a link which tells of the political prisoners from Canada who were here in the early 19th century. So not only did we have convicts from England, but political prisoners from Canada. Canadian Convicts to Australia

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I've been having major access problems the last few days. Usually Optusathome has a very eliable cable service, hardly ever down. Lately it's been up and down. Down usually when I am in the middle of something. Seems to be OK today.

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