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Can Satan cast out Satan?

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Lyle Shelton, spokesblogger for the Australian Christian Lobby wrote:


"New totalitarian rainbow law in Canada has decreed that parents who disagree with their child changing gender are guilty of “abuse” and could face having the state remove their child by force."
So what's wrong here? This might be the truth as ACL sees it. Trouble is, it is simply not accurate. And not fair reporting. The "new law" for which Lyle generously provides a link, makes no such decree. I've read it all the way through. Please point out what I missed. Lyle goes on: "Parents who are concerned that transitioning is not in their child's best interests are automatically classified as “abusive”, according to Ontario’s Minister of Children and Youth Services Michael Coteau." Really? Automatically? Couldn't find that in the Act. Lyle suggests that this is what the Ontario Minister of Children and Youth Services says. I'd better check that out. Oh. Lyle hasn't given m…

My Brief Career as a Recording Artist

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It is a matter of record that my career as a recording artist spanned more than a decade. Four songs. Three records. Total royalties: less than $1. No reason to be jealous.
It began accidentally in about the late 1960s. Here's the cover of the EP. And here's the back cover.

"Nobody Knows" was later used to lull rowdy teenagers to sleep at Gold Coast Secondary School Camps run by the Methodist Church. Doubtless, my soporific performance enhanced sleepiness.
Also on this EP is a recording of my big sister's group, The Goldenway Three. Judith, the aforementioned Big Sis, is the lead and two other sisters (not mine), Janet and Heather Bishop, do the harmonies. I can be heard playing the piano on "Go Tell It On The Mountain".
Following this brilliant start was my venture into country music with a song about a horse. Not any horse. Gunsynd, the Goondiwindi Grey. 
When Gunsynd ran his last race, a couple of established artists wrote songs about the horse. At …

Religion doesn’t cause Violence. It’s the other way round.

This is SO counter-intuitive. It’s really hard to get your head around. It seems plain common-sense that much of the violence we see in our world is caused by religion. And here I am trying to tell you that it’s the other way round? That violence causes religion? It’s like saying UP is DOWN.
Exactly. Up IS down. That is a reality that was kindly explained to me by that nice Indian optometrist at Specsavers.
“You know that our eyes actually see the world upside-down,” he explained in his emollient tones.
“Eh?” I replied. I could feel a stupid look on my face. In a moment I would look like a heavy-browed Neanderthal and be saying “Wha(t)” without pronouncing the ‘t’.
“Yes,” Mr Specsavers continued amicably as if addressing a small child. “The lens in the eye inverts what it sees, and projects it upside-down onto your retina.”
This sounded vaguely obscene, so I just said, “Oh.”
“So your eyes see the world upside-down. But fortunately our brains are smart enough to turn it right side up for us,…

Why my Church is wrong on same-sex marriage

I'm a Presbyterian. Pray for me.

     In 2013, the Presy General Assembly of Australia affirmed the biblical definition of marriage as a “lifelong union of one man with one woman, voluntarily entered into, excluding all others…”
     The proposition is not unreasonable. Marriage, according to the Bible, is one man and one woman. It's possible to debate if this is what the Bible says, of course. It's not hard to point out that lots of polygamists are splattered about the early part of the Christian Bible, but, well, nobody was perfect then.
     Anyhow, let's now cavil. This is, as I say, a very reasonable position. The Church is certainly entitled to say it. And to believe it. Indeed, I rather like it myself, probably because Judy and I entered into such a relationship almost 48 years ago. And we're still in it. So, if the Church wants to say it's the proper definition, that's perfectly fine. For the Church.
     This week, my Church's Moderator-Genera…

Memoir #2: 11 Church Street

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The people responsible for house numbers confused me at our second house. I am certain it was 11 Church Street, Parramatta. But apparently it had earlier been number 7. How these house numbering officials imagined that there could be six building sites between Boundary Road and our house tests credulity. I am sure that I could pace along to the corner in fewer than 50 steps. Where were these six buildings?
On the corner was the grocery where Mum did most of her shopping. It was a convenience store simply because it was convenient. I remember it being tiny, and since I was myself quite tiny then, it must have been Lilliputian. The counters were high of course, and Mrs Kerfoops who owned the shop, lived upstairs. If there was a Mr Kerfoops, I don’t recall noticing him. And there were certainly no little Kerfoopsettes because they would have played in our back yard like every other child on the strip.
So Mrs Kerfoops lived over her shop at Number 1 Church Street, I suppose.
Next door to th…

Memoir: Early Homes

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We lived at number 5. Or was it 3? There’s the trouble about writing a memoir. The memoir machine isn’t reliable. Memories get made and remade. Every remembrance of a memory writes itself over the old one. So was it number 5 Herbert Street or number 3?
   I went back in 2013 to have a look. The suburb was Merrylands. It used to be 15 miles west of Sydney, but they changed the measurement and the old money got fixed as a memory. Change can be useful like that.
   Woodville Road seemed wider and lots busier than 1953. I came upon Herbert Street too quickly, missing the chance to see if Glenys Davidson’s house was still there. She isn’t there, except in memory as my first teenage crush. I think I was her boyfriend for about a month before she dumped me. With reason. Ask me about it later.
   For now, I was looking for the old house. The one we lived in until I was about six. Memory tells me it is two house blocks from the corner. But that memory is based on how far we had to walk to …

On the Collapse of Civilisation

Among the many waves in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, is a trenchant and rather abstruse contribution from Guy Rundle of crikey.com.au (you may be able to read the entire piece here, if the link takes you beyond the paywall).

Allow me to quote a small part:

"The Right is falling apart as a political formation so fast you’d need stop-action photography to catch the process. ...TheHebdomassacre brought all these contradictions [of the Right] to the fore.Hebdo’s nihilism is actually culturally corrosive, as conservatives charge such obscene desacrilising with being. Conservatives know that a viable culture is a closed system to a degree, and unless it has pinion points -- usually religious -- which are not themselves, by matter of custom, subject to a general back-and-forth, then it is quickly in trouble. This week, sundry idiots have been suggesting that "free speech is part of our cultural tradition". "What nonsense. "Until the 1960s, hundreds of books…