|Happy birthday Pope Benedict XVI!|
Source: AP, Maundy Thursday
So I wasn't all that good at taking a blogging break, unable to resist the temptation to wave some red cloaks at the bulls. Not that any charged at me, at least on the blog, I was disappointed...
Still, what's been happening in my notional absence? Well here are a few reflections to ponder.
The demise of the Greens is nigh?
The big news of course was the resignation of Green's leader Bob Brown. I'm assuming someone finally called him on his madness exemplified by his Fellow Earthian speech at the recent Greens' Conference.
Didn't hear about it at the time? Well, that's probably because like me you mainly read the Fairfax Press and watch or listen to the ABC, both of whom largely ignored the keynote speech by the leader of the party holding our minority Federal Government to ransom.
By way of a eulogy for the retiring leader, it is the one that started like this (this is not a spoof. Really. My comments in red):
"Fellow Earthians,[Now Bob surely you know that when put through the universal translator, that comes out as 'dirtians'. Besides, everyone knows that we are known throughout this galaxy as the Tau'ri.]
Never before has the Universe unfolded such a flower as our collective human intelligence, so far as we know. [You know this sounds remarkably anthropocentric. I'm just saying you know, because in practice the Greens seem more intent on aborting and euthanizing our collective brilliance out of existence and exalting the right of every flower, whale and parrot to take precedence over us...]
Nor has such a one-and-only brilliance in the Universe [you know, most Christians would accept that there are likely to be other intelligent lifeforms out there...] stood at the brink of extinction, so far as we know.
We people of the Earth exist because our potential was there in the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago, as the Universe exploded into being. [Out of nothing. And just how do you explain that Bob?]
So far, it seems like we are the lone thinkers in this vast, expanding Universe.[Well, aside from God and the angels that is...]
However, recent astronomy tells us that there are trillions of other planets circling Sunlike stars in the immensity of the Universe, millions of them friendly to life. So why has no one from elsewhere in the Cosmos contacted us?[Umm, don't you watch tv Bob? They already have! And secret Government and non-Government organisations such as the SGC, UNIT, Torchwood, SHADO and more have been repelling invasions and making allies for decades now.]
Surely some people-like animals have evolved elsewhere. Surely we are not, in this crowded reality of countless other similar planets, the only thinking beings to have turned up. Most unlikely! So why isn't life out there contacting us? Why aren't the intergalactic phones ringing?
Here is one sobering possibility for our isolation: maybe life has often evolved to intelligence on other planets with biospheres and every time that intelligence, when it became able to alter its environment, did so with catastrophic consequences. Maybe we have had many predecessors in the Cosmos but all have brought about their own downfall.[Yep. Miraculously they all developed before us and ran out of steam before they could contact us.]
That's why they are not communicating with Earth. They have extincted themselves. They have come and gone. And now it's our turn."
And it goes downhill from there, with advocacy of lunatic plans for a democratic world government and more...
Yep, hard to see how the Greens can survive as a party without such leadership really.
The Greens under Bob Brown actively undermined the consensus that had been building in this country for genuine action on the environment in response to the well-established science base, and in the process look to have destroyed the current Labor Government (not that they needed much help along the path of self-destruction).
We can only hope they now go into extinction quickly and quietly.
Same sex marriage survey
And on the subject of the Greens, have you done that same sex marriage survey for the Parliamentary Inquiry into the draft legislation? The closing date is the 20th of April, and the latest available stats are still looking pretty bad (57.5% support for the legislation)....
Question: Why did the Cardinal go on that show?!
And the other great debate of the last week was why on earth Cardinal Pell agreed to go on Q&A with Richard Dawkins.
I have to confess I didn't actually watch it (though I've now peeked at the transcript). I was going to, truly I was. But I can't stand Tony Jones at the best of times and the format of the show encourages the rampant superficiality that is undermining sensible discourse. I'm with Paul Keating who argued that no one of substance should ever grace it with their presence.
Quite the most entertaining and insightful review of it is surely that by the always excellent Scott Stephens, over at the ABC religion and ethics site. Here is an extract, but do read the whole thing, it is an important article:
"...Just consider for a moment what the program could have been.
It could have assembled a panel of energetic, sophisticated, disarming and even counterintuitive theologians, scientists, ethicists and humanists who would recast, and indeed redefine, the religion/science/ethics debate - a debate which has long since passed the point of intellectual exhaustion.
This panel could have demonstrated, through an intoxicating and all-too-rare mix of genuine disagreement and intellectual generosity, that the fundamental questions of Life, Truth and the Good have been languishing due to the impoverishment of the public square and the flattening-out of ethical obligation into a desiccated version of individualized "well being."
In the spirit of Easter, it could have demonstrated that entrenched divisions and bigotries can, in fact, be overcome through what Pope Benedict XVI has called a shared "pursuit after Truth" - that, in other words, friendship can arise in the place of animosity.
But instead, the Q & A panel was comprised of the two most divisive and respectively reviled proponents on either side of the debate. Richard Dawkins is not only the most theologically illiterate of the non-believing ultra-Darwinists, but he is also notoriously unsophisticated on questions of ethics and moral obligation.
Cardinal Pell, on the other hand, was almost the least ideal counterpoint to Dawkins (I'll cede that place to Steve Fielding): this is both because of his recent and regrettably unsurprising remarks on the science and mitigation of global warming - which were as ill-informed as they were ill-advised, and which, along with the Church's handling of sexual abuse and outright predation on the part of some clergy, and the increasingly gaudy antics of the glorified life-coaches and pay-per-view hucksters that accumulate under the banner of "pentecostalism," have set the moral authority and intellectual credibility of Christianity in Australia back by decades - but also because his writing has become increasingly arthritic and unengaged of late (in contrast to his audacious and often quite brilliant earlier work on theology and politics, such as that gathered God and Caesar).
Given the choice of panellists, last night's Q & A was destined to be what it was: the vacillation of opposing monologues, interspersed by tediously predictable questions, and smattered with a derisive and frankly disgusting Twitter-feed. It is hard to shake the impression that, instead of genuinely informing and contributing to our public conversation, Q & A brazenly went after ratings. If that was the object, then as a stunt it worked magnificently.
But, I feel compelled to ask - perhaps appropriately given the season - "what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"...
SSPX in or out?
And finally, today Rome time is the deadline for the SSPX to sign up to an acceptable doctrinal preamble to facilitate their readmission to full communion with the Church.
Amazingly, there seem to be a lot of positive noises around this suggesting that the deal has effectively been done.
Certainly Australian John Lamont's article for Chiesa makes a pretty compelling case for why reconciliation should be possible. After all, he asks, given that so many within the hierarchy, clergy and theological community reject so many formally defined doctrines, how can the SSPX's objections to but a few teachings that have not been formally defined be justified?
Well, two wrongs don't make a right, but still, his arguments on the substantive issues in dispute are pretty interesting and convincing.
Let's hope - some Church unity would certainly be a lovely 85th birthday present for the Holy Father indeed.
What's your news?
Finally, please be patient over the next few weeks if posts and comments are slow to appear on the blog, I'm preoccupied with a few other thngs at the moment. And do please keep suggestions for posts and items of interest coming and I'll get to them as I can, as well as attempting to tie off a few loose ends....