is love still within our reach?

September 18, 2017


stretching me

beyond me

beyond my limits

over the edge

beyond my control

because that is where

love happens.

not in the safe comfortable space

of the heart’s


the heart’s


but out

upon the cliff face

hanging by a rope

reaching out a hand

swinging past and missing

doubling back and trying again

grasping the hand

when the other won’t let go

pulling you face in

to rock

and face and fear


we are suspension

rope and fear

and love

in tension



September 14, 2017

[a dedication of one small vote in the postal survey on the legalisation of same-sex marriage]


dedicated to all the conservative christians of the past and present (and I hope no more in the future)
– who were told to pray away the gay;

– to get (straight) married on the “promise” that God would honour this with the “godly [read:hetero] desires;

– who God has failed to ‘heal’ or ‘make right’ as a God so interested and invested in heterosexuality, complementarity and salvation ought to.

– who gave their straight partners intimacy whilst their own most intimate longings remained unmet – and often even unnamed; 

– who were subjected to endless prayer ministry, healing prayers and exorcisms to be rid of their errant same sex attraction but to no avail; 

– those who lived quiet lives of lonely longing in enforced celibacy;

– those partners who lived with the secret of a gay spouse enduring their own share of suffering under the church’s twisted and unfulfilled promises;

– those who courageously have found strength for living forwards, for calling the pseudo-theological bullshit and have forfeited security, reputation and friendship

– those whose partners have broken free but have left ruptures of family and identity and resources and hearts in doing so.

dedicated to all of the children whose most loved and significant adults have been held up as ‘disgusting’ in cowardly anonymous and vitriolic youtube rants;
– whose trust and security and wellbeing lies in the bonds of two people whose very being is held open to public derision and judgement.

– whose world is shaped by an heteronormative internet and saturated with messages that call them to evaluate their worth by superficial conventions of body and fashion that is accessible and relevant to only a very small number of people anywhere on the planet.

– whose family system has been vilified and whose educational context has become a political point-scoring field, while they – actual real children – remain marginalised and voiceless.


dedicated to all of those people for whom the Bible is somehow so important,
– but who don’t know how to read the gifts of paragraphs around more than one verse from Leviticus 19 or three verses from Romans 1 or how to read the whole of Luke 7,

– and who will, despite the deep wisdom the larger conversations of scripture might hold for them, will continue to shake their heads in fear, and point their fingers in judgement and harden their hearts in ignorance, in a world in which marriage between same sex couples is already internationally a very real thing.


and to those whose lives are even more unspeakably complicated, hidden, unacceptable, unliveable whose pain now and onwards is beyond imagining…


one small ‘yes’ is all I have tonight. but it is yours dear ones.


rules of engagement

September 8, 2017
The High Court has upheld the legality of Government appropriation of funding for a postal survey of the Australian public on the matter of same sex marriage,
So here it comes – an open slather propaganda war.
put your brains in a jar on the shelf – they won’t be appealed to for a while.
put your hearts in a box under the bed – safe and out of the line of fire.
stuff your ears with beeswax and tie your principles to the mast and be not swayed by any siren’s song.
put all you know of grace in mothballs – this is about law, about winning, about right.
raise your flag; load your guns; dig in; sandbag your trenches.
whatever you do, don’t think of the ‘other side’ as having human skin or personhood
think of others only as a vote – not a mind, not a life, never as a loved or loving creature of the Most High God
Only speak of ‘the Yes/No campaign’
Use the language of ‘their agenda’
think strategy and advantage
don’t give any ground
listen to everything as an argument
maintain suspicion
presume malice
hear hatred
keep smug
escalate your righteous indignation
allow no middle
view everyone as ally or enemy
shoot all who venture into no man’s land
call the red cross
start the body count
It used to be said
there are only two feelings:
love and fear
but now
there are only two options
yes and no

Marriage Manifestos

August 25, 2017

Luther, Martin

Suddenly this week it has become ‘public manifesto week’ for christian leaders, large high profile churches and organisations. As the plebiscite on the legalisation of same sex marriage looms, and debate rages, we have seen a spate of ‘official position’ releases.
Brian Houston, Dale Stephenson, Simon Holt, Baptist Union of NSW-ACT, St Hilary’s Network, to name only a few. Some individual pastors of less high profile congregations have taken up this task in the absence of a denominational statement.
Even where public manifestos have been delivered, there have been cries from the trenches for even more specific directives. Can we believe Brian Houston didn’t communicate a ‘No’ preference strongly enough? – and yet I have seen this complaint – even of him!
This rash of manifesto statements indicates a thirst among parts of the Christian community for deliberative public declarations. Declarations,
not that Jesus is the Risen Lord of the cosmos,
nor that God’s reconciling work through the cross demolishes all claims to dividing walls constraining ethnicity, gender, class – even death its very self
nor that God’s call to humans is to love the creator and sustainer source of the cosmos with our whole being – heart mind body soul – making it impossible to restrain our love for any of God’s creation – neighbour or enemy.
No – the thirst for public manifesto declarations is for moral judgements on behaviour, for proclaiming cultural norms, for setting boundaries on the scope of human experience that will be tolerated by christian communities.
What does this tell us, coming as thickly from protestant camps, 500 years into a reformation which blew the lid off a christendom culture of making our work, our practice, our claims to morality and righteousness criteria for our relationship with God – instead reforming our faith to be utterly christo-centric, christ initiated, christ dependent.
And let’s remember – and perhaps especially those of you who are married, sexually-active clergy, remember this thankfullly – that we are 500 years on from a reformation that smashed a key sexual cultural norm – and removed the requirement of celibacy for ministering persons.
THAT was a redefining marriage moment for the christian faith, as married domestic sexual intimate procreative life was affirmed as congruent with the vocation of ministry. In the previous 1000 years, departing from New Testament norms (a bishop being the husband of one wife) marriage had come to be regarded as a hindrance to fulfilling a serving vocation in the church. The radical exclusion of sexually intimate partnering seemed to be a more ideal context for cultivating the life of purity.
For some this celibacy may have been wonderful gift of freedom. Our sense though, from the many cases of moral failure, by the celibate priesthood, this ‘gift’ was a burden that bent many out of shape.
We best think carefully as protestant christians about this redefinition of marriage, and the valuing of sexual identity as undetachable from human vocation, lest we bend a different group out of shape with denial.
The radical change in the emerging reformation movement valued the domestic life of the minister, and, let’s be honest, functioning participative sexual life of the minister. Because reformed faith affirms that communities of faith are made of sexual humans, and are best led by the spirit of God who made sexual humanity. Not by a de-sexualised class of priests.
The outcome of the plebiscite is unlikely to change very much very quickly, especially in conservative christian communities, which routinely, inattentively exclude persons of LGBTIQ identity. Regardless of the outcome legally, most christian communities who want to will practice the easy subliminal discrimination that currently exists, as well as the more overt forms. The plebiscite may lead to a change in the legal status of some gay relationships. It will not change the practices of communities that still wish to exclude from ministry or fellowship.
Still, christian communities will now need to live under the manifesto banners that they have hoisted up in this frenzied, pressured time. I wonder if they will seem so wise in 5 years – when the pastor’s daughter comes to lunch with her girlfriend; when the chairperson of elders leaves his 30 year marriage and comes out; when the best and brightest of your young adults, heading for bible college and ordination suicides, unable to face the interrogations of his sexuality…
I ask myself why it is so important to have public statements on THIS one particular issue. Why must this one consume our passion and identity as a community? Gluttons, the perpetually angry, investors in weapons and war-making business, exploiters of cheap overseas labour, tax dodgers – all of these sinners are readily welcomed in our faith community midst.
What is at stake for us?
forget the slippery slope – no one is going to choose to be gay who isn’t already just because they now might be able to get married.
forget the freedom of religion – marriage as we know it is a state matter, not a religious one. You can create whatever religious solemnisations alongside a state legal marriage.
forget the LGBTIQ ‘Agenda’ – the biological reality is that homosexual orientation has always represented a relatively small percentage of the population. More people don’t become gay through an extension of marriage. More people who have been shamed into hiding their gay identity, may perhaps be released to own their identity safely and unapologetically – though I fear that kind of cultural change will be slow, and there are still many hard times ahead for LBGTIQ people.
forget the ‘redefinition’ of ‘traditional’ marriage.
there was no federal marriage law until 1961 in Australia. Until 1942 the legal minimum age for marriage was 12 for girls and 14 for boys – hardly marriage between a ‘man’ and a ‘woman’ – and it was Tasmania that first raised it by two years, other states following in the subsequent decade. Our definition of marriage has shifted culturally, with sociological changes, and will continue to do so. It is the role of the law to keep up with protecting its citizens, not dehumanising them.
so – what is at stake? for you and me personally. For the actual community that I am a part of – not some imaginary hypothetical church, but the named known straight, single, married, gay, trans, intersex, divorced, fertile, infertile, childless by choice, disabled, unstable, homeless, cashed up-propertied, mad, educated, immigrant, stateless, temporary visa-ed, young, growing, developmentally delayed, old, declining collection of humans I live life with under the banner of reconciling, love-that-is-death-defying, grace?
what is at stake for us?
What is at stake as we gather to seek to live lives that honestly address our whole being before God – simul iustus et peccator;
All of the manifesto statements seem unhelpful to me. Even those which begin with affirmations of homosexual identity, restate the exclusive attestation of marriage between man and woman as the only context for sexual expression.
Dare I have a manifesto for even myself? I dare not speak for others. But surely, she of such passionate convictions must have some stand to take. Alright then. Manifesto for me.
here I stand, saint and sinner both.
here I stand, struggling lover of both this holy gracious God, and this broken human man.
here I stand with every person ever, with human Jesus drawing in the dust on one side and holy holders of Law with ready rocks in their hands on the other.
here I stand made in the image of God and bent out of shape by culture, abuse, my own choices.
here I stand legally claimless, but claimed by grace.

Hate-speech, Peace-speech and wicked neighbours.

August 16, 2017
Holding up my attitudes, politics, ideologies, claims of goodwill and best intentions to the light of today’s daily lectionary, Psalm 28, which speaks of
“the wicked,
those who are workers of evil,
who speak peace with their neighbors,
while mischief is in their hearts.”
tough words of suspicion interrogating any us who saying claim a posture of peace, saying
‘we don’t mean to offend/upset/hurt anyone, but…’
and I remember that the psalms express life within the community of God’s people, the faithing ones of God, the faithing ones in God, which (it often appears) include the wicked.
Hate-speech is explicitly wicked. Easy to catch. 
How do I discern wicked peace-speech? Harder to pick. 
Am I a wicked peace-speaker to my neighbours?
Am I complicit in wicked peace-speech?
What is the difference between peace-speaking (wicked)
and peace-making (blessed; Matt 5)

Emotional presence in drama queen days

July 14, 2017

What to do in these days?

These are the days of drama queen articles and posts and soundbytes on every topic of life imaginable.

How to manage all our feelings in the light of faux-news,  media manipulated overworked outrage, polarised passionate fightpicking. When we are close to compassion frustration and cynicism fatigue.

The temptation to log out emotionally is strong.

The prophets of old lived in dramatic times too. And they asked these questions.
Are these days for mourning? – yes very so.
And are these days for singing? – yes also very so.
Are these days for still sombre reflection? aye indeed
And are these days for breathing the gulp of God’s air and throwing back our heads in glorious laughter and praise? Yes! Yes!

some days be as this tune below, but starting with an old soulful hymn,
yet to break out into a rollicking reel and be dancing

Let us be fasting and feasting:
fasting from greed, excess, despair, hate and blame
feasting on whole heartedness, generosity, hope, love and lifting the broken up with our own grubby hands of grace.

Fast and feast. Mourn and make merry.

Jesus prophesies against neither of these, but rails against the generation that cares neither to sorrow nor to celebrate.

Let us weep with those weeping
and laugh with those laughing,
and let us renounce the sins of nonchalance,
and let us repent of the sins of distant detachment,
the sins of contrived objectivity,
the sins of deadpan poker-face,
the sins of whatever.

or as in Matthew 11
“It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking,
and they say,
‘He has a demon’;
the Son of Man came eating and drinking,
and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’
Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”


As in Jesus’ little parable here, children teach us to be emotionally present. Children still have to learn how to take care of their emotions – to make emotional life work healthily, but they start with an abundance. Those of us who have lived a while sometimes have learned to switch to emotional mute, to dissociate, to flatline. Managing our emotions has turned into negating our emotions.

The Law and the prophets calls us to full hearted, full minded, full bodied, full strength loving and living – Justice needs it. Truth needs it. Grace and Forgiveness need it.

The full-feeling life fuels us with God-given courage for the living we need to do today in the coming Kingdom of God.

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June 5, 2017
what time is it?
broken clock
time for terror?
time for fear?
time for outrage?
time for courage?
time to question?
time to investigate?
time to interrogate?
time to examine our lives?
time to bind wounds?
time to bind the strongman?
time to bind and band and bond together?
time to redouble our strength?
time to declare war?
time to pray for peace?
time to work for peace?
time to ask what makes for war?
time to find some heroes?
time to name some villains?
time to valorise the victims?
time to catch the culprits?
time to be sure we know the difference…
time to sort the sheep from the goats,
the wheat from the chaff
to eat the middle fruit and know good and evil?
time to know our own selves?
time for emotional speeches?
time to show compassion for the bereaved?
time to show compassion for all?
time to hug our children tightly?
time to love our enemies?
time to reread our history?
time to tell our stories?
time to check our facts?
time to check facebook?
time to face facts?
time to shake our heads in bewilderment?
time to nod our heads in certainty?
time to turn our heads and look?
time to hang our heads in shame?
time to bow our heads in humble prayer?
time to accuse?
time to refuse rumour?
not time to use humour?
time to legislate?
time to lynch?
time to listen?
time to love?
time to fortify?
time to forge ahead?
time to forgive?
too soon?
what time is it now, then?