Showing posts from 2011

I walked today where Jesus walked...

I walked today where Jesus walked And felt him close to me. At least that's how the song goes. That's what you expect when you visit the "Holy Sites" in Israel and Palestine. You anticipate a religious experience. Instead, you get crowds, smells, bells, noise and constant commerce. Finding Jesus in this distracting crush is like "Where's Wally?" So, there I was, charged by a former colleague to organise and deliver the "spiritual experience" for a group of Christians most of whom were making their first trip to the places where Jesus walked. A few weeks beforehand, with the itinerary in one hand and my Bible in the other, I mapped out our route through the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. There would be plenty of material. And only a little bit of it from the Bible. There's a military occupation to deal with. There's history in bucket loads -- like those huge buckets they use in open cut mines. Was I doubtful we could d

An Eye for an Eye would be a start

Does ABC News reporting on Palestine and Israel contain bias? Here is today's news: There are fears that weapons from Libya, including sophisticated missiles that can shoot down aircraft, are being smuggled into Gaza to help arm militants there. In recent weeks, dozens of rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza into Israel. One Israeli man has been killed, and retaliatory air strikes by Israeli warplanes have killed 11 Palestinians.  Violence like this is hardly new; every few months on average there is a new round of tit for tat rocket fire and Israeli air strikes.   Read the full story here Or perhaps it could read like this? There are fears that weapons from Israel, including sophisticated missiles that can shoot down aircraft, are being delivered into Israel from the United States to help arm militants there. In recent weeks, dozens of rockets and mortars have been fired from Israeli warplanes into Gaza. 11 Palestinians have been killed, and one Israeli m

From Little Things Big Things Grow

                If you don’t know the song … click here .                  Life’s greatest satisfaction is to see how things turn out. How small steps evolve into huge leaps. How the germ of an idea turns into a powerful movement. How offering someone a job expands into a significant career.                 Again and again, over and over, I’ve had the great privilege to see little things grow into big things.                 In 1976 one of my first jobs at World Vision was to roll out a new program. We called it the 40 Hour Famine. It was a small and simple idea, borrowed from Canada. But in Australia it grew to impact generations of young people and even spawned other big things like the Oaktree Foundation.                 Too many to count are the colleagues who went on to big things. Not a few have become leaders in other organisations, or other fields. They grew because of nothing I taught them, but because they found a place in which there was enough freedom to

Bethlehem 2011

“We have hope. But still we are suffering.” The words of a new Palestinian friend who daily endures life in a land under the control of a foreign army. “I cannot wait for this to end.” The words of a 19 year old Israeli soldier serving his compulsory national service in divided Hebron, between right-wing settlers and beleaguered Palestinians. This is the land of multiple narratives. The best known is the Israeli Jewish narrative. A group of people who suffered discrimination over centuries only to find themselves the scapegoats of National Socialism in Germany. European guilt fuelled the decision to give Jews a safe place of refuge in the Holy Land. Surely they have a right to feel secure at last from victimage. There are, of course, variants to the Israeli narrative. Those who do not merely wish to live peaceably in a land with others, but those who claim divinely ordained entitlement to the whole land. Ethnic cleansing of the land is a natural prerogative for thos

The Souq

     Starbucks! Well, almost. Some enterprising Palestinian has set this up on the main drag that takes the tourists up to the Church of the Nativity. Now I know where to go for my No fat Soy Milk Two Shot Latte Mocha.      I visited the souq today. It's a market. One section like a huge garage sale of odds and ends. Someone with a whole corner of pre-loved shoes. Another selling toys and bits of toys. Fruit and vegetables galore. Such wondrous fresh smells. And butchers behind glass fronts converting carcases into cuts with energetically employed choppers that explode like gunshots. And all the time stall holders recommending their wares like imams calling to prayer. And shoppers negotiating derisively and reminding shopkeepers loudly that they too have children at home that have to be fed.      You can hear a 90 second recording of the souq sounds here. audio of souq       And now here are some pictures. You can click on pics to make them full size:      Afterward

Noisy Flushing Is Normal

     Happy Hour at some nearby facility has been going strong for two hours. I quite like Middle Eastern rap. Or is it hip-hop? I can never tell. To my Western Music trained ear, it always sounds like something is missing. Oh that's right - three notes of the scale.      I was the first of our party to arrive at HCEF Ecumenical Center for Research and Development. It doesn't look like an Inn from the outside. But then what does an Inn look like in Bethlehem? Everything is made out of the same stone. Everything is blocky. Cool, in a like not hot way.      El Al wasn't as kind to me seating-wise as Qantas. 23G was an aisle seat in steerage next to the kitchen so sleep was hardly possible with all the comings and goings. And nothing appears to have been upgraded in their 747s since purchase date, although it all still works. The TV system is one of those 1990s ones that just shows a half dozen movies in a loop. So you can watch the second half of one and then the first half

In A Plane Again

A380 leaves Sydney while I wait.      11:54pm at Home. 2:54pm in Bethlehem. Something else in Bangkok.      We’ve got about 3 hours to go to Bangkok and I am still wide awake. Ain’t the human body weird? Normally I would just be waking up momentarily to the sound of a computer shutting down in a nearby room and lights being switched on, or maybe books being taken out for a little midnight reading. Instead I am in 40G on this 747 somewhere over Indonesia. According to the flight map on my little TV screen a bit north of Bali, and a bit east of Surabaya. I’ve been to both places before, I think. Although my only sight of Bali would have been a transition through the Denpasar airport. Although maybe I am dreaming that up. I’ve been so many places, I can’t remember which ones I went to, and which ones I thought I might. Have. Went to.      You can see that air travel isn’t good for my brain. Nor are migraines. One of which I had earlier. Inevitably. Still, medication knocked it d

Mentioned In Dispatches

Judy and Jayne read the news! That famous couple, the Lord and Lady of Glencoe, were sighted in Mildura last week and mentioned in the local press as follows: Phillip (sic) and Judy Hunt sang along with the crowd to Carter and Carter's closing number, having travelled from Warrnambool to attend the Mildura Country Music Festival for the first time. "We're actually Jayne Denham's aunty and uncle," Mr Hunt said. "I used to be a radio announcer in Brisbane and played country music when it was still called the wireless, so we know a few of the songs."

Now I'm At A Restaurant

Yesterday, 7th September, or as they say in the States 9/7, was my 43rd Wedding Anniversary. By a ridiculous coincidence it was the Lady Judith's wedding anniversary too. So we went out to a new Warrnambool nightspot to celebrate. CRB is a Cafe-Restaurant-Bar. Creative name, eh? It's half-owned by Matt Ryan, former owner of a Brighton Hotel in Melbourne, but now returned to his country roots. He's brought along his Brighton chef to own the other half. Now Ryan, is not exactly a rare family name in these parts. Down here by the Southern Ocean, if your surname doesn't start with Mac, then you're probably Irish. Port Fairy was called Belfast before the Gays renamed it. And there's Ryans Removals and even a Ryan's Real Estate that is owned by the aforementioned Matt's dad who also happens to own the building in which CRB has opened. About a month past I sat next to a pleasant woman on the bus to Geelong (the slavegangs were out on the train trac

Travelling with Locals

If you want to really see a place, go with a local. So, this Father's Day, Judy and I accepted the invitation of our neighbours to visit Bannongill Station, near Skipton and open for viewing in the Open Gardens scheme. The neighbours are Locals. Like for Generations. Dairy farmers, now retired with the next generation stuck into the milking, and the retired generation building their dream home overlooking the Southern Ocean. You learn a lot when you go with locals. "What's that crop?" "Canola." "Pretty isn't it?" "Imagine how great it looks from the air." "By golly, the land looks well. I don't think I have ever seen it looking so well." "This rock is bluestone. That one is volcanic. See the holes?" "What's that tree?" "I think it's a planticylagruen floriabundelle ." "That's easy for you to say." And, of course, they know everyone . And are serious