29.1.04

Here's my list of sites from Blogger Idol week 2.

There's no order of any sort of preference, and it was difficult to choose five. I could have chosen many sets of five to visit.

I've had a great time visiting new blogs as I follow links.

Richard

great photos

a thought provoking list

sign post. I agree with so many of these.

a mini-rant on freedom

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27.1.04

Today was the funeral of the Victorian cricket coach, David Hookes, who died after being hit by a pub bouncer and striking his head on the road. Some 15,000 attended the funeral, held at the Adelaide Oval where he had played many matches. The funeral was televised in its entirety by channel 9.

Undoubtedly his death was sad. His family and friends mourn his passing. I do question however, the coverage given to it. I think there has been something about it in the media every day for the past week. The Australian cricket team has observed a minute's silence at the beginning of several games and worn black arm bands in their matches. I do not want to seem churlish about this. That's not my intention at all. Many obviously are hurting at his sudden passing. He has been made into an heroic figure of massive proportions. I think the media has a lot to answer for in this. He was what we all are - an imperfect person.

I wonder too about the impact of all this on the trial of the security guard who hit him. Originally charged with causing grievous bodily harm, he is now facing a charge of manslaughter. What will all the publicity do to his chances of a fair trial? I think I have seen press reports from people well down the street from the commotion, all giving their version of the story.

Contrast this to another funeral, also held today. A family of four children and their parents were involved in an accident on the south coast, also a week ago. Both the parents were killed. The father was a lawyer in Canberra and his wife was a lecturer in law at a Canberra uni. Two of their four daughters were also killed. The other two were injured. The TV news showed a short clipping of their funeral. Very restrained and both girls were obviously still suffering from their injuries.

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26.1.04

Australia Day II
ferry boat raceIn Sydney, the place to celebrate Australia Day is on the harbour. While there are many events away from it, the harbour provides a spectacular backdrop to celebrations. Here we see one of our normally straightlaced passenger ferries, which usually sedately move around the harbour, taking part in the great ferry race on Australia Day. They race from Fort Denison and ther first under the Harbour Bridge wins the race. Lots more pictures and some of the events on our beautiful harbour can be seen here.

We tend to take the day quietly and often go down to the river in the late afternoon with a picnic to watch the small boats returning upstream from the big parade on the harbour. Flying flags from every vantage point, they are full of families and the small children happily wave to spectators on the banks. Today will be different. We are having a BBQ, another Australia Day tradition, for my son's birthday. He missed out being an Australia Day baby by a very few minutes.

In the past I have examined some of our attitudes and customs. I have been critical of what I see as our lack of compassion to refugees, our government's poor record in detention centres, and other similar things. I still hold all of these views, probably even more strongly than last year, but have decided to post something more positive this time.

There is much I would like to change about government policy, but I am glad I am an Australian. I am glad I live in this ancient land of sometimes harsh beauty. I am thankful for our relative free way of life. I find it hard to envisage living permanently anywhere else.

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Australia Day I
Almost without exception, every school pupil here learns this poem. Written by a homesick 19 year old, when pining for Australia in rainy, cold, London, it's been set to music as well.

My Country
by Dorothea Mackellar
(1885 - 1968)


The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes.
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins,
Strong love of grey-blue distance
Brown streams and soft dim skies
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!

A stark white ring-barked forest
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon.
Green tangle of the brushes,
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die-
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the Rainbow Gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold-
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land-
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand-
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.

Dorothea Mackellar


For more information about Dorothea Mackellar, see here

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25.1.04

freedom
This is the subject of Week 2 of Blogger Idol. To me this is not an easy subject to write about. I could use all the usual Christian clichés and write about true freedom being a myth, that freedom is freedom to serve. I could mention the redeemed slave who returned to serve his former master in gratitude for his emancipation. To me, this is just a stop gap. It doesn't satisfy me in the least. I find such remarks empty and vapid. Possibly this is due to my personal circumstances which some would say deny me freedom. I could quote examples which all but the most fundamental evangelicals would agree give me good biblical reasons to pursue my freedom. It's tempting but I haven't.

We had a property at Wollombi in the Hunter Valley bush. I remember watching a cicada emerge from its years underground. It climbed a stem of old bracken fern and gradually the shell split down the back. With a great deal of effort, the cicada pulled itself free of the confining dry shell. It held the branch and allowed the sun to dry its wings. This took quite a while and as they dried, they stiffened, becoming transparent and paper thin. The cicada was a Black Prince, highly valued by generations of school children as it was much less common than Green Grocers or Yellow Mondays. Free from its confines it stretched its wings and took flight. It has not gone ten metres when it was seized by a kookaburra on the wing, was bashed against a tree branch and devoured. All that was left was the shell, still clinging to the bracken as evidence of its short life above ground.

Was its freedom wasted? Who can say? It fulfilled its purpose of flight, although it did not mate and was unfulfilled in this aspect. It did give the bird sustenance.

Freedom to me is not a physical thing but an aspect of the mind. Many who have been imprisoned have been able to tell how, in their minds, they escaped their prison. Their imagination soared way beyond their cell. They drew on stored memories to travel in the sun. They spent time on the beach or whatever. They were able to use their minds to work over books they had read, arguments used.

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