Word Association

Last week, in what has variously been described as a “great day for multiculturalism in Australia” and an “absolutely sickening” “disregard [for] Australia’s constitution”, Ed Husic, federal Labor MP for Chifley, was sworn in to two parliamentary positions using a Koran. Whilst some of the commentary on this event was appropriately respectful and even congratulatory for a first-generation migrant achieving such high office, also making the news was the volume of vitriol poured in Mr Husic’s direction. The reason: that he swore in on a Koran, rather than a Christian Bible.

Of course, the entire purpose for swearing in on a Bible is not in endorsement of the values and beliefs espoused by Christianity, but rather is akin to swearing “on my honour” or “on the lives of my children” – a commitment on something that the swearer values. The whole idea of “swearing in” is a bit of an antiquated principle in itself, something that became amply clear with commenters mentioning that sworn-in witnesses to a criminal trial lied through their teeth, whilst a Muslim, having sworn on a Koran, told the unblemished truth. In a country where well under ten per cent of the population are regular church attendees (church attendance may be an unrealistic signifier of Christian attitudes, but good enough to go on), the reverence with which the other 90% of the population hold the Bible has to be open to question.

So swearing in a devout Muslim on a Koran has got to be at least as fit-for-purpose as swearing in an agnostic, atheist or non-practicing lapsed-catholic on a Bible. You might as well ask whether the specific bible in question is a King James or The Message. But let’s put that aside for now.

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An offer they can’t refuse

As 2009 draws to a close, commentators across the world will be writing articles about “Milestones of the past decade”. There will be some consensus between such lists. I’d be surprised if many such lists were published without Barak Obama featuring. In Australia, naturally, the defeat of John Howard’s coalition and the election of Kevin Rudd’s Labor will also rank highly.

One development which might not be so commonly heralded, but no less significant to those within some circles, will be the recent and unprecedented offer by the Roman Catholic Church for disaffected Anglican priests and congregations to rejoin their communion. Continue reading

MAPping a path to change

I recently was able to read the Mission Action Plan for a local Anglican church. What struck me upon reviewing the dot point list of their priorities for the immediate future was the amount of overlap with the outcomes of my home church’s Unfreeze program of five years ago. Whilst five years might seem like a long time in today’s hectic world, it’s well recognised that time within Church circles travels much more slowly, so it’s perhaps not surprising that the issues raised then are still very much current and still in need of resolution.

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