Wednesday, January 24

5 Minutes to midnight

Planet born of a universal might
Day dawned, beams of sun-light
New life was of natures ways
Water of life, born of suns rays

Earth evolves on it’s planetary spin
Conflicts the scars lie deep within
Gather apace in earthly turmoil
Conflicts of terror over land we spoil

Cities bright, moon guides no longer
Sirens of fear are much stronger
Harvest a bounty under headlights
Labour all day, harvest at night

Fly one end of the globe to the other
Sails in the sunset hear a jets thunder
Bullet Trains clatter over dry land
Satellite pictures of expansion of sand

While there’s time mankind must relate
Harmony to live on earths estate
Conquest in vain, oh foolish free- will
Reverence and wisdom yet to fulfill

Philosophers we are called to be
Destiny for lifes global family
Ethics calls for human rights
Reverence be our guiding light

Thursday, January 18

Island in the Sun

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Gary asked of photos. Your truly above with the boatman's son strumming one of his ever fresh melodies on our way to the deserted island ; above that was the landing on its pristine sandy sunny shores.
Below is Abyiang, a typical thatched hut and school children with their CanadianTeacher. My scribblings are on the blackboard as I told the story of a great flood, in Kyogle of 1954.
Living on an Island children had no concept of floods; we asked them to summarise my story as a test for English comprehension; it was good.
To read of my experiences in that disastrous flood in Kyogle click here.

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Wednesday, January 10

Oh Island in the Sun

The Sea was a deep aqua blue, more beautiful than a dark precious stone shimmering under the clear blue sky. I will always remember that colour of the sea on that boat trip from Abyiang to a nearby tropical island in the Sun.

I remember my wife sat quietly in the bow, having recovered from an earlier ordeal when she had awoke as if from a sudden nightmare to a raging shivering fever. We were then staying in a thatched hut on Abyiang, the guests of volunteer teachers from Australia and Canada. The schoolchildren upon hearing of her fever brought us coconuts, telling us the juice would soon restore her to good health. True to their word my wife was soon up and about as if the fever was no more than a bad dream, much to our mutual relief. We had arrived the day before by boat from Tarawa the most populated Island in Kiribiti, as our intended plane trip was cancelled due to a breakdown .We negotiated with locals who took us to Abyiang by boat, finally trekking across the coral reef as our boatman carried our provisions.

We arrived both hot and exhausted.

Soon the weekend had beckoned and it had been decided to visit a nearby deserted Island. The first glimpse of the island from our boat was of a pristine beach of endless white sand, crystal clear sparkling waters and a thick almost jungle like foliage hugging the foreshore.

After our landing we hacked out an open space in the thick foliage to make up a rough camp space but were interrupted by the arrival of a local family. Oh dear! The island was not deserted after all. Worse still, discussions ensued as to whether we had suitably introduced ourselves to the spirit of the Island by traversing it from one end to another.

The family finally departed amicably and we were left to explore the coral reef and its wondrous underwater sites. To our surprise the family returned again but this time with a number of large brightly coloured crayfish, which they had caught for us specially to be consumed for lunch. Furthermore after learning some of us were to soon return to Australia, they performed a special ceremonial dance of farewell in the sand. A most elaborate and complicated dance performed in a wonderful spirit of friendship, extended so generously to strangers, ones to whom they could not converse nor were ever likely to see again.

The dance reminded me of the ceremonies that must have been performed to farewell canoes long ago as they set out to populate the many Islands that now make up what is now the kingdom of Kiribiti.

Their history is recorded in the many dances and songs, words to exquisite harmonies lasting for several hours, never written down but handed down orally from the one generation to another.

Oh Island in the Sun

Monday, January 1

Chance Creation

This time each year news is usually of New Year’s resolutions and analysis of last years events. It’s the random events that now catch us surprised, unlike I suggest before agriculture established our permanent settlements. For then we roamed the earth as hunters and gather’s, adapting to an ever-changing environmentm more in tune with the elements and nature.
The Australian Aboriginal inhabited the land uninterrupted for a period of 60,000 years prior to colonisation. It’s hardly surpassingly over such a long period they developed their own rich spirituality, interwoven into every facet of their daily life which has only recently been more fully understood and appreciated.

They refer to it as “The Dreaming”, a faith derived from stories of creation, based upon the belief ancestral spirits came to earth to create landforms, animals and plants. In Aboriginal society people cannot own land; land is part of their spirit, they have a responsibility to nourish her as a mother earth. Their spirituality goes to the root of their communities, determining their rules for behaviour, form of initiation rites and ceremonies to confirm their co-existence with the land. Penalties are prescribed for any transgressors of the rules, referred to as the “Law”.

Although the creation stories may be viewed as simplistic, Aboriginal spirituality is far more interwoven within their lifestyle that those of christen religions. This rich spirituality has been obscured by chronic alcholicism and unhealthy diets which have decimated indigenous communities.

“The Dreaming” however did not end with the arrival of Europeans but simply entered a new phase as it is becomes more recognised to day. I think our own christen religions similarly need have no fear of modern day science; rather it opens up an opportunity for an interesting dialogue to embrace our new understanding.

For I believe we live in a world that represents an evolved chance creation, as explained in an article by Astrophycist Jesuit George Coyne.
George Coyne has been Director of the Vatican Observatory since 1978, an observatory which is one of the oldest in the world with roots to astronomical observations commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII as part of his reform of the calendar in 1582. In one of his articles (click here to read in full) he rebuts the idea that random evolution is incompatible with belief in a creator God.

He explains the interactivity between chance, necessity and fertility in our universe and how what is random is also bound together through the process of fertility.What is meant by this fertility?

Coyne’s article explains the birth and death of stars and the combination of chemicals and molecules that ultimately form our life as we are creations from that star dust.He rejects the notions of an omnipotent and omniscient God: the universe is not god and it cannot exist independently of God. Neither pantheism nor naturalism is true. But, if we confront what we know of our origins scientifically with religious faith in God the Creator –if, that is , we take the results of modern science seriously –it is difficult to believe that God is omnipotent and omniscient in the sense of many of the scholastic philosophers. For the believer, science tells us of a god who must be very much different from a god as seen by them.

Coyne also explores this idea for the universe in a similar way.
eg A theologian already poses the concept of god’s continuous creation with which to explore the implications of modern science for religious belief. God is working with the universe, the universe has a certain vitality of its own like a child does, and it has the ability to respond to words of endearment and encouragement.His conclusion is: God lets the world be what it will be in its continuous evolution, He is not continually intervening but rather allows, participates; loves. Is such thinking adequate to preserve the special character attributed by religious thought to the emergence not only of life bit also of spirit, while avoiding a crude creationism?

Only a protracted dialogue will tell. But we should not close off the dialogue and darken the already murky waters by fearing god will be abandoned if we embrace the best of modern science.

I think the need for a ‘Designer God” arises out of a fear that if we believe our creation arose from random evolution, (which it does) we will have no need of God. Hence many feel threatened by science and the idea of a “Designer God” is an attempt to superimpose a suitable explanation in lieu of random evolution.These fears are groundless as science is completely neutral to philosophical or theological conclusions. Coyne makes the vital link to god’s continuous creation and for me it is a far richer and more meaningful concept than that advanced by the proponents of a “Designer God” theory.

I also discount the “cataclysmic” event theorists who expect we will all be affected one day by some tumultuous prophesied event. If that be so it will be of our own making or it will occur as consequence of some giant meteorite colliding with the earth as has happened in the past. The idea of it coming out some sort of prophesy seems completely at odds with science or of a loving God of creation.

Another more disturbing conclusion from the “Designer God” concept concerns the environment. I refer to the current parlous environmental state of planet earth as a consequence of the deep wounds inflicted upon her by humanity. Those who espouse the views of a “Designer God”, one who actively intervene will no doubt feel less inclined to do something about such problems.

l like the idea we have responsibility to nourish “Mother Earth’ as espoused by our aboriginies. I also think it has a degre of commonality in thinking to Cohen’s idea of the universe as a whole, it has a certain vitality of its own that requires a type of spiritual encouragement.

I trust in 2007 we can show a more compassionate, responsible, thoughtful and active role within our environment.

Best wishes for 2007.