A bit too quiet for my liking. I need to find a subject to liven things up a bit. However, that’s life in the blogging world – you can’t create news. Or perhaps you can.
Anyway, what’s been happening? Cathy and I have both been busy with end of year events in the evenings. Unfortunately different ones, which mean most evenings one or the other of us are out, or, like tonight, both of us.
I’ve had some very interesting events as part of my work. Last week, on the same night as the big U2 concert, the local Turkish Muslim group, the Australian Intercultural Societyheld an event for the festival of Ashura, (which is only a festival for Sunni Muslims; for Shi’ite Muslims it is a day of mourning – history) on a cruise boat. We left from Docklands in the early evening, having done battle with the traffic for the concert at the Dome. One of the themes of the Sunni celebration of Ashura is Noah’s Ark, hence the location on a boat. We travelled out the mouth of the Yarra, out of the Port, under the Bolte and Westgate Bridge into the bay. It had been thundery and rainy earlier, but had cleared to a very calm and clear evening. I was sitting at a table with a Muslim couple, a police commander and his wife, a police psychologist and his wife and the local Liberal MP (who, following the recent change of government, is now the President of the Upper House in our State. Turns out that one of the couples at the table had once lived near where we do and had sent their children to the same school our kids go to. Moreover, one of the women at the table commented that a fellow employee in her workplace had just resigned to start studies for the priesthood. I asked his name, and was surprised to find that it was a gentleman who had been one of my students in an Anima Education course this year. Small world. As we docked back at the pier and made our way back to our cars, we could hear the concert very well. It must have been deafening to be inside. I don’t know why people paid good money to go inside when they could have heard the music just as well outside, while sitting at a café drinking a glass of wine…
Then Saturday was another interesting event: I visited the Vietnamese Buddhist temple in Springvale for a special event to mark their “Mid-Winter” Festival “?ông chí”. The event was organised by the Buddhist Council of Victoria, so there were Buddhists from all traditions present. The weather was almost tropical, which fitted well with the very Asian design of the gardens and the temple. We had a very nice vegetarian lunch, and were shown how to cook rice dumplings, the special festive food of their holiday. Musical items, a tour of the temple, and a chance to meet some new faces. I sat at a table with a man who had a very Barossa Deutsch name, but like me, he was no longer Lutheran. Unlike me, he was a Buddhist and a teacher of yoga. I’m not quite sure whether our ancestors would have been more horrified to know that they would have a descendant as a Catholic or as a Buddhist. Chances are they had never even heard of Buddhism.
Then last night was a strictly Catholic event: Theology at the Pub at the Pumphouse Hotel in Fitzroy. These events are billed as being for 18-35 year olds. I had never been to one before, thinking us oldies were not allowed past the door, but I have been told that you can come, you just aren’t allowed to ask the speaker questions! (Some older folk were there. The joke was that they were dyslexic, and thought the age range was 53-81). Any way, I went along last night because I had been invited to be on a Q&A panel. The other members of the panel were Anna Krohn (founder of Anima Education and erstwhile director of the Caroline Chisholm Library), Fr Glen Tattersall (Rector of St Aloisius and chaplain for the extraordinary rite), and Fr Robin Koenig SJ. The latter was a fill-in for Fr Andrew Keswick, who unfortunately was in hospital having his appendix out, and Fr Keswick was himself a replacement for Bishop Elliott who was unable to make it. Fr Tattersall and Fr Koenig were, I think, each pleasantly surprised to find that they saw eye to eye on most matters. One unexpected pleasure for the evening was that I got to meet Dr Joel Hodge, the new ACU lectuerer in Systematics whom I referenced with in an earlier post. He’s a great bloke, for a Queenslander, and will be a real asset for theological education at that august institution. It was a great event, and I encourage anyone who isn’t dyslexic and who is between 18-35 to make it a regular fixture on their calendar.
I gave a talk at the Caroline Chisholm Library this afternoon on Purgatory. Yes, I am still working that one over, and we will get back to that topic sooner or later. There were about 15 people there, and afterwards we had stollen, cherries and coffee for afternoon tea. A bit Christmassy.
Then tonight I was invited to the Reception for the Victoria Police Multifaith Council (yes, there is such a thing, partnered with the Vic Police Multicultural Advisory Unit). This was held down at the St Kilda Life Savers Clubhouse, a part of town I had never been in before. It was a very pleasant evening, again with lots of friends from the inter-religious networks around Melbourne. The Police here in Victoria are very serious about cooperation with all facets of the community, and this event showed that very well.
So here I am now, sitting outside smoking my pipe with the cicadas going hard at it at a deafening level. A thunderstorm went through earlier today so it isn’t as hot and humid as it was earlier in the evening. The possums are just making their way along the back fence looking for something to eat (my figs aren’t ripe yet, and I have replanted my roses out of their reach, so they can’t do much damage).
Well, as Garrison Keillorwould say, that’s the news from Casa Schütz-Beaton, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and the children are above average”.