Archive for the ‘Voices of Justice’ Category



March 16, 2019


let us go out into the wilderness
let us sit in dust
in raw heat
and hunger
let our faces be tears and sweat
and lick the threat of thirst
and wipe our brow with a stone sponge
blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice.
let us leave all that we have built up
let us leave behind the cathedral sacristry
where we raped our children
let us leave behind the place of prayer
where we slaughtered the peaceful
how can we see God there
through the semen and the blood?
We forsook God
as have forsaken love
so we are godforsaken
blessed are the poor in spirit; they shall see God
let us abandon our plots
and our plowshare weapons
let us eat grasshoppers and grubs
scratched and scorched and scarred
let us go into the wilderness
far into the wilderness
deep into the wilderness
wilderness of God
let us hold our heads in the dizzy confusion
of moral and mental dehydration
knowing only that we do not know
that we are not the clever controllers of the cosmos
that we do not understand
let us be assailed by the epiphany of our
epic epistemological failures
blessed are the meek
let us shed our single right and left wing
pretense at futile flying
ever in self-bound vulture circles
let us crouch in dust
buttocks to the ground
til our bones grind
our muscles give us hell
and no position is sitting well
let us buy out of our stocks and shares in solutions
let us dry out from our intoxication with violence
let us cry out the floods of tears it will take
to know ourselves maybe human again
let us try out the truth of this:
all humanity is equal in vulnerability
cursed are weaponised
blessed are those who mourn
oh god. oh god. oh god.
have we any humanity left in your eyes?
can we ever be your people?
send us out into the wilderness
until we are weary and wrought
wasting away and wanting
then. then. then…
haste the day that we become utterly desperate for peace
are we there yet? no.
blessed are the peacemakers

to unsettle the petal and his metal

March 26, 2018
pillowy gun art Natalie Baxter Jungle Boogie (2015)

Natalie Baxter, ‘Jungle boogie’ (2015)

Who would you like us to shoot at today
With our weapons all loaded and legal?
You know that we can - its our right to bear arms
And take life like we're royal and regal. 

Are there children in playgrounds we cannot abide?
Or students for whom we don't care?
Or the girls in caf who declined all our dates?
Or worshippers gathered for prayer?

What better way 
to make our point clear 
And show ourself 
true, patriotic,
If we are white 
they'll just wring worried hands
And declare us 
a little psychotic 

we'll grieve and we'll pray for the children you've killed
pile up flowers and light many candles
but we will not dare look at OUR culture and laws
our religion and values all scandals

Although there'll be cheers for the feisty young speakers 
whose passion and eloquence glisten
our pride and our praise for our system of schools 
sabotages our will just to listen. 

So we yet define men 
by possessing a gun 
reducing his worth to black metal -
diminishing character, 
courage and care 
as if he's a poor fragile petal

Where are the men who will lay down their guns
and roll up their sleeves to the task 
of addressing injustice and working it out
or is that just too much strength to ask? 

Where are the men who will look in the eye
The Manus and Nauru imprisonned
Face up to our guilt, our violence and greed 
And take up the tough, right decision.

Look! there are the men who lift up their heads
and see strength shown in many an arm -
in holding and healing and reaching and giving -
but not in the fake flex of harm. 


June 16, 2014
Grief stricken american soldier; Haktong-ni area of Korea, 28 August 1950

Grief stricken american soldier; Haktong-ni area of Korea, 28 August 1950













will I ever be well again?

will I ever be whole?
If I grit my teeth
and stretch and strain
will I attain such a goal?

will I ever be strong again?
will I ever be brave?
If I set my face
and I raise my chin
will I dare to come out of the cave?

will I ever be useful again?
will I ever serve the cause I believe?
If I penitent crawl
and recant it all
will the powers yet grant a reprieve?

will I ever be normal again?
will I ever come close?
if I paint my face blank
and sing the same tune
will I strike a convincing pose?

will I ever belong again?
did I ever belong before?
we are born in the like
of the God spurned and killed
and our souls with each other still war

will I ever be real again?
no – not any more real than this
for I breathe in the atoms
of rocks and of waves
and the wind that stirred the abyss

oh, Christ of the whole
the ravaged, yet real
your used flesh and cast aside bones
your sick’ning death warns
of our terrible selves
and yet, reconciles all it owns

all you assumed
is somehow redeemed
in this murderous plot of deceit?
Can our streams of bitterly
acidly tears
no longer sting but pour sweet?

Yes – when shed for another’s pain
singing laments lacrymose –
of those locked out and locked up and locked in
those crushed and crunched in cathedrals of spin
those non-conforming non-compus non-grata
enigmatically ensconced in statistics and data
those not on the black and white-pink or blue end
those on the spectrum where the colours and categories blend
those invisible, vulnerable, valuable freaks
ignored or condemned when culture speaks –

If such sweet tears upon your cheeks stain
they be shed like Christ’s blood, for those.


Hear many voices; Be many times sorry

May 26, 2014

indigenous map

Multivocality, apart from being the name of my blog, really is one of my favourite things about reality
– Bach chorales
– good conversations
– my husband’s readings of A.A. Milne
– pentecostal worship before it went mainstream and marketable
– Robin Williams’ Genie in Aladin
– the way I think

and of course, the deepest truth-telling I know – the multivocality of the Bible.

Today, on National Sorry Day, this map reminds me:
hear many voices…be many times sorry.


Who are the faithful?

March 22, 2014


Here at Multivocality, I am interested in exploring different voices, not all of them necessarily my own. It stretches me, in terms of intellect, compassion, imagination and vision as I seek the kingdom of God, to try and explore things from perspectives that are not the ‘party line’. In short, I’d rather write some things that might be arguable ‘wrong’ but thereby grow in understanding of  ways to express truth.

I have been thinking recently about how people who think of themselves as the faithful might actually seem like they lack faith to those who are typically identified as ‘unbelievers’, because of the christian culture reflex of trying to assert a positivist position of certitude. This little piece is an adventure in looking through a different lens, of ‘faith-flipping’ and asking ‘what would actual “Faith” look like?’

There they go – the every-day desperate ones.

Desperate to win, desperate to assert. Clamouring for a voice, Struggling against the sense that they are going under, and flailing about in an effort to keep head above the water. To keep a profile, and to keep safe borders. All that’s been built, all that has been worked for is under threat and and must be protected, maintained, buttressed with greater force. More space, more territory, more attention, more of the market share must be acquired. Launching new initiatives with the right hand and anchoring their right to success and entitlement to win in traditions of a privileged history.

There they go. Everyday, the faithless existence of desperation. They preach, they blog, they publish, they petition, they promote. They talk much of God, they are scandalised at efforts to righteousness, yet hammer hard the need to earn faith, have faith, invest in the kingdom, sounding like desperate economists of industry. They have nailed the market, and they have just about crucified teh gospel.

But look there.

There they go, in the midst, the everyday faithful.

Those who throw themselves defenceless upon life as it is, without a claim of authority or certainty. They say ‘I don’t know..’ and wonder a little. They say ‘Could it be…perhaps’ and keep listening. Or they switch off the distant argument and choose instead to love what is before them. They have no system, not mechanism, no proof, beyond the breath they have drawn in and expelled with a sigh for grief of a lived one gone, or a huff of exertion to the task, or a kiss of blessing over the forehead of their child, or a exhalation centring the body  in the deep peace of sustained breathing, or a fittingly silent prayer of solidarity for the voiceless.

They may barely know. They may barely know anything. They may barely know the name of God, and yet live entirely dependent upon faith that the world will keep turning, that each new sunrise will come without their effort, and face it in humble gratitude. They may barely know of the unseen kingdom and yet yearn for its justice and peace.

They do not know, but they question. They do not know, but they live what they can on the terms of faith, in hope, on a line cast into the depths beyond sight, with patience and time yet to speak its vindication.

They have no doctrine of inerrancy, infallibility; they know too well that such a reef, though pure it may be in itself, once looked upon by human eyes is subject to all manner of clouded cataract, unnerved glaucoma, misshapen astigmatism. All they hold to is held without ambit claim or assertive normativity. Just by faith.

Who are the faith-full? Who, really, walks by faith?

How might I walk in faith in the things that I faith are good and beautiful and true?

I have thrown all my wagers upon the God of Jesus.

How will living be a faith in God?

Are not the faithful those who have given up the no risk, nailed down, watertight, contracts of safety and certainty?

Are not the faithful those who have built arks and escaped to wander in deserts, hungry and thirsty like Noah and Moses? Are  not the faithful those who fall pregnant in old age or in virginal youth and live as if such a thing is of the living God – a blessing, not a curse, like Sarah and Mary?

Are not the faithful those who, secure in the traditions of their ancestors, accept blindness and disorientation on the roadside and recover to sleep with the enemy, like Paul?

This is not to eschew intellect – but to stir a faith-ing intellect that searches beyond the too-easy logic.

And not to eschew commitment – but to embrace a faith-ing commitment that signs up to love, not just to like-mindedness.

Who, then are the faithful?

“When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”


The Student’s Speech, the King’s Speech and Smoothing Speaking Spaces

November 9, 2013

There’s an Upworthy clip going around this week, that shows a young highschool student who addresses his year at school. He has been bullied in younger years, and speaks with a significantly disruptive stammer.

watch a teenager bring his class to tears by just saying a few words

The clip shows a teacher trying the ‘King’s Speech’ manouvre on him. He puts on headphones and listens to music while he speaks, and his speech becomes significantly smoother. This is not hard to understand. Our brains are so easily deceived. We know this.

It is, of course,  wonderful to see a young man at this pinnacle moment in his highschool journey being given a voice and listened to by his peers.

But I found myself in the strange position of watching this clip while another young man was finding his voice, not far from me. And the juxtaposition of these two students and speakers made for some interesting questions.

In the next room, my son was preparing a presentation for American History, assembling a slide show of powerful images from the Vietnam War, and recording a commentary of reflections on the impact these images had on the American population, and the civic and political discourse surrounding the war.

Every so often, as he was recording, his speech stumbled. It was late at night, and he was under time pressure. I could feel him rushing.  Everyone makes errors of speech in these situations.

But I also know that this young man not so many years ago, assessed by the speech pathologist, rated an average 7 stammers of speech per 10 words. That was a lot of bumpy talking.

I remember the long, painful (and expensive) process of going to our appointments every week for a year and a half, and the every day routines and exercises we did. It was emotionally expensive, trying to motivate him to go, and when I failed in motivating, having to just be that big bad momma and make him go. I remember the attentiveness it required of me as his primary support person in the therapeutic endeavor, to give him feedback on every phrase he uttered from morning to night. ‘That was really smooth…Good job…Great smooth sentence there…really smooth talking, mate…that was a bump…”.

I had to try to keep a ratio of 5 praises of smooth speech for every time I identified a ‘bump’. But I also had to try to call every bump I heard. We played therapy game after game, we made recordings of his speech, we kept a log book.

Those of you who know me personally know that I have a great capacity for intensity, which this required, but my appetite for record keeping and administrative detail is feeble, as are my skills. Nevertheless this is what we did, kept the log, did the routines, charted the stats, together. I think this process of re-learning, and transformation has shaped my understanding of human learning and change more deeply than any other pedagogy or educational philosophy. He barely remembers much of this process now, six years later, but his speech remains steady, confident, smooth.

When I saw ‘The Kings Speech’ I loved the scene with the phonograph. I loved the little colonial oasis of the Australian family in Harley Street, which stirred in me that slightly proud but mostly awkward awareness of how unmaskable my Australianism is when I am in the UK, and the complete betrayal my own speech is in that context.

But I also simply cried through the entire film, my heart most strongly connecting with Bertie’s wife (well, who doesn’t secretly wish she was Helena Bonham Carter?) and Lionel, the therapist.

It was the tensions of those who wished the King better, who tentatively, boldly and furtively acted to bring him resources for healing who were the chalk of my bone and salt of my tear. He resented, resisted and rejected them. I know how that feels in such a process.

The story of The King’s Speech’ and the story of my son who, after a year and half of intense work was charting 0 stammers for every 10 words consistently, and now records his own voice expecting a ‘journalist-perfect’ fluidity of speech, these are stories not of instant quick fixes but of committed, determined, painful, relationally demanding work, both for the individual and for their alongsiders.

Going back to the student in the Youtube clip. I wonder if he will one day have such a story. Not just this momentary window of being listened to, and wondered at, but which he cannot be fully present in, as he relies on the distraction and deception of the music in his headphones to enable it to happen.

What I wish him, is alongsiders. Not just those who will stop throwing rocks, but those who will toil with him to clear the rocks over which he stumbled. The role of the class in this student’s life, speech and capacity to find hisvoice is important. He certainly needed them not to bully him. But he also needed more than just to be left alone. He needed them, just as we all do, to be active participants in his healing and empowerment. To make a hospitable space for him.

And, to be fair and honest, others in this cohort, needed this too. The bullies needed active accountability for their speech-malfunction. The malfunction that caused hate and derision, mockery and put-downs to impede their communication of truth.

I wonder what roles we understand ourselves to have in each other’s lives? I am a very shy person. I naturally do not want to comment on anyone’s speech. I would like to sit at the piano all day and make sounds, preferably that no one will listen to. I love words, and I would like to write poetry, but preferably that no one will ever hear. I like the people-less quiet, where I can sort out the many voices in my mind.

But I live in a world of people who struggle to find a smooth path for their voice – for their real voice.

As a mother you do lots of things that are out of your comfort zone. For my son, it was an easy decision to commit to being with him in this. But I am not a mother to everyone. I need a role model for rock clearing and path smoothing for the voices of others.

Of all the Biblical characters who have been my closest friends since childhood, John the Baptist is my favourite. Wild, uncouth, weird, lonely, misunderstood, yet intriguing, passionate, truth-telling, bible-busting, counter-cultural, and he jumps at the presence of Jesus as a foetus! He’s a prophet I can take as a mentor. Sure he’s probably autistic, but that makes him all the more loveable in my book.

And he is the one who repeats the call of Isaiah as the kingdom of God is on the verge of who knows?

“Make the crooked straight and the rough smooth”. (Luke Chapter 3)

And then he goes on to outline the practical stone-shifts his society needed to clear the path for justice and salvation. Soldiers, businessmen, the poor, the rich, all called to clear for each other.

Refraining from being throwers of rocks is not enough.

Let’s be clearers of rocks.

The process of making space, a smooth way, a hospitable territory – whether it be in actual space, or in thought space, or in our speech, it’s a challenge we can respond to as we alongside one another. We can clear the road of bumps for one another as we travel, we can make space for each other as we speak. I wonder also, how we can do this in community, collectively. What would a church, for example, look like that made this rock clearing and road smoothing it’s primary task? After all, John reminds us of the claim that ‘All flesh will see the salvation of God.’ Does that alter our plans at all?




Halloween for those haunted by the holy.

October 31, 2013

It’s the eve of anticipation dancing_skeletonsof a festival
in which we gratefully remember and celebrate those dead
whom we have loved and learned from.
And who, by the grace of God,

inhabit our imaginations and the rhythms of our living so powerfully

that it is as though they are with us still.
They haunt us, not with fear,
but with the witness and whispers of wisdom, love and courage.

They reassure us that our lives may end at any age
and yet be known as complete, fruitful and honourable,
for life is not counted by an accruement of days;
each life ‘counts’ as only – yet wholly – and as holy – as one.

‘…the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body’ (Apostles Creed)

Our family has a tradition of hearing the stories of our personal saints, friends and family who have died, and also our public saints: public figures who have influenced us and stand as an example of holy, if complicated, living. We remember the defiance of Rosa Parks, the creative madness of Rich Mullins, the prolificity of Hildegaard, the imprecise passion of Keith Green, the subversion of Tyndale.

These ‘saints’, neither the public nor the personal,  were not perfect or easy people. All the more encouragement to us in our lives, which are scaffolded in anxieties, insincerity, madness, depression,  suppression, uncertainty, beligerence, laziness, awkwardness, flatness, folly.

Even more precious are the saints we have known in our everyday lives. Who we have lived with, sat in church, around the dinner table, on the beach, in class and by the bedside. To be sure, it’s a bittersweet thing to remember. For some of these names, though there is real joy in having shared their lives,  the sadness and pain is still fresh, our cheeks barely dry from the tears of grief. And others, though years have passed, the pain of loss is deep and present still.

Remembering (among others)

Saint Christina of Nunawading
Saint Ed, Val and Bill of Silvan
Saint Janet of North Fitzroy
Saint Peter of Gippsland
Saint Geoffrey of Macleod
Saint Ron of Montrose
Saint Ross of Westgate
Saint Ellie of Moffat Beach

Who ‘helpfully’ haunts you, reminding you to live well from the past, in the moment, and mindful that there is yet much to come?

You, too are welcome name your saints here, in remembrance of them and with intention to heed their call to live truly and holy in grace.