Hi everyone.

As some of you may know, a few weeks back I wrote a guest post for Carla. She was focusing on different experiences of women, personal experiences. I’d meant to post it here as soon as it was posted there, but other stuff got in the way. I needed to gee myself up a bit, because it’s personal and posting it here is different to posting it to Carla’s blog. (It’s like that whole idea of degrees of separation…Carla’s is one more level removed than here…) Then I realised I needed to edit it, as I had forgot to talk about some things I ought to talk about. Finally, though, it’s here. Ta-da.

 My #YesAllWomen Story
I’ll just say the obvious – the following are musings from my own thinking, influenced by others. I have no formal training in theology, save what I’ve learned in school, at Mass and elsewhere. What I do have is a sense of discernment which has been nurtured in various ways.

I’m a young Australian woman who is both Catholic and feminist. Some would think those two don’t fit. I’m here to tell you that they do – if you reach out with understanding rather than judgement.
I’ve always been Catholic (my parents baptised me into the faith as a young baby). I’ve seen the good side of things thanks to a few well-informed priests (one in particular) and parents, other relatives and friends who have been good examples as well as being willing to discuss things with me and my siblings. I’ve heard and been sickened by the “bad side” of things, the child abuse scandals rocking the Church and stuff. How anyone could do that is beyond me. I’ve also become more aware of the inequalities and hypocrisy in the “institutional Church” (including the flaws which led to the above problem, the handling of which is institutional in many areas).
As I’ve grown up I’ve become more aware of feminism. This has led to an interesting…conflict, you could say, in some matters.
After all, there are certain stereotypes for Catholics and feminism (separately I mean):
* Catholics are (among other things) all totally immovable about rights to life, anti-marriage equality, transpeople and (in certain extremes/ various ways) the role and empowerment (sexually, especially) of women, etc.;
* Feminists are all pro-choice “no exceptions” in many things, including women’s empowerment (sexual and otherwise)…
Total opposites, it seems!
Over time, I learnt that like life, it wasn’t nearly so clear-cut as that. I’m still learning about the different nuances. It doesn’t have to be either/or. Everyone is individual, so we all have slightly different viewpoints about things. I’ve realised that each of us has to decide what we believe in.
Personally, I’m a feminist – an intersectional feminist.
That means that I think that the Church does need to, ah, grow up a bit regarding some things, like sex and women and LGBTI people. However, the Church’s teachings do resonate with me in other matters. I wish to outline a few examples below. It gets a bit wordy, as I like thinking about these things to “get them straight” in my head.
My Catholicism guides me in many ways. I believe that Jesus’ teachings and the teachings of those who follow Him are still important in many ways to our lives today. Like the message of inclusion, non-violence and forgiveness outlasting exclusion, violence and the bitterness that comes from holding onto hurt. Some great theologians (lay and religious), steeped in the Catholic tradition, have said things which resonate with me about authenticity, self-belief and finding one’s path – emotionally and spiritually in particular. I hold onto all of that. Regular readers of my blog will know that by now, given that I do write posts around that reasonably often.
There has been an institutional blindness within the Church caused by an inflexible hierarchical structure of “top-down” solutions. Recent efforts do offer encouragement that this is slowly changing, in the form of baby-steps. I hope that those baby-steps turn into adult steps – soon! If they don’t, then I think it’s highly likely that change will be forced upon them, or else the Church will become increasingly irrelevant.
For starters, the Church has a “women problem”. A lot of Church life is closed off to women, through structures which are still geared towards men. Change is being ‘forced’ upon some parishes already. As more priests retire and no traditional replacements are available, there are more stories of (religiously-trained and lay, married or not) women (and men) leading through necessity. You’ll notice, I also mentioned married men there – I think that there needs to be a rethink on the matter of how they contribute too. We are all people of God – it’d be nice if that was better reflected in what we’re “allowed” to do.
That leads me nicely into discussing LGBTI people. I’ve addressed the “marriage equality” question previously (An Exploration of Equality and Religion and Related Matters). My view is that we should be striving for authenticity as people in all aspects of our lives – including gender and sexual preference. Also, I don’t think Jesus would be that fussed, so long as we “love our neighbour” by practising compassion and mercy. As I say in the linked post above, Jesus was more clearly harsh on those who discriminated and judged others and were hypocrites than he was about their sex lives. The authenticity idea informs other examples, too.
On Carla’s blog, Jenna wrote in defence of her wardrobe. I, too, have had experiences where I’ve been told to dress a certain way. But there was never really that big of an emphasis and it wasn’t because of my gender/sex but because of the occasion (smart casual = Mass clothes usually). I used to not question the general idea. Then, some time ago, I started to. Jenna covered that area pretty well – I dress the way I like to, others’ sense of propriety (and fashion!) doesn’t factor in.
I view the issue of sexual choice and “morality” in a similar way. I’ve grown up with a certain idea thanks to the Catholic faith teachings. I’ve heard some interesting ideas about why it’s “better” to have fewer or none sexual partners before marriage. For example, an idea that previous sexual encounters “colour” the current one, affecting it in ways you don’t want it to be affected if it’s going to last. The problem, as I see it, with the Catholic view (purity and chastity) is that it can lead to shame if the “rules” are broken. This is despite many religious people then saying that we women don’t have to be ashamed – just go to confession and bam! problem solved. That may be nice to hear and feel, but in practice it isn’t always that simple. It still takes time and working through matters.
An overwhelming focus on the sexual (im)morality of certain situations means that miscommunication can result. One person can become guilty over perceived immorality, when the real worry and call for “patience/ abstinence” was actually about emotional maturity. The end result of that is a decrease of communication, followed by feelings of guilt over lying and then hurt from a lack of support/acknowledgement when that guilt prompts the admission of the fact – I’d call that the real sin of the situation, not the sex itself. Thus, the cycle of hurt continues, unless we make the conscious decision to stop and forgive.
Not to mention the issue of shame creates stigma around the survivors of sexual assault and other such trauma, because they’re blamed for “asking for it”. Even when that is also accompanied by blaming the perpetrator, the fact that we blame the survivor continues the cycle of judgement which discourages people from speaking up. It also confuses the issue because in blaming the survivor, we miss the message: no. means. no.
It would be much, much easier if there was less emphasis on the sexual and more focus on the emotional (where the emphasis is/ should be anyway). Then perhaps there might be less confusion and hurt around it. Again – less judgement and more compassion, the way it’s meant to be.
One thing that the Church and some feminists agree on about relationships however: the subject of porn and how it is not good for relationships. It creates unrealistic standards and is demeaning, involving the physical side of things without any context. On the other hand, other feminists disagree. I’m a bit of a fence-sitter on this one.
These ideas and conflicts were reinforced a few months ago, when I went to a Catholic Youth Festival. That Festival was amazing, in many ways. There were so many talks which I gained something from and made me think deeply about myself and my faith. One such talk was by a motivational speaker-type guy, talking about chastity/purity and “love vs. lust” and Catholicism more broadly. Some of the things he talked about were relevant – the emotional content, for example, about “real” love and knowing yourself. There was, however, a lot of “I don’t mean to judge, but girls – stop doing this and start doing this,” and “girls are like this and guys are like that” stuff. Blargh. There were other talks there about faith and love and authenticity which I perhaps enjoyed more – because they were freer of the judgmental talk. There was still a bit of it, but less so. Women – anyone really – should not be dictated to or shamed about their dress or habits, including from other women. It is about personal tastes.
Moving on to another contentious issue: the whole pro-life/ pro-choice thing. This has been an evolving issue for me, as it’s one of those points which many feminists (though not all – see my references) and religious people clash visibly.
Again, I think it is a matter of personal preference and understanding. I believe that by narrowing the debate down to pro-/ anti-abortion (which it often seems to be), we all lose. I believe that contraception and abortion (along with education, healthcare, childcare support, housing assistance and other forms of social welfare…etc.) should be safe and legal. I do not think they should be treated lightly. It’s a delicate balance in my mind. Some have referred to abortion as an “abhorrent form of birth control”. I believe that in the majority it’s more complex than that.
Contraception should be an informed personal choice. Some people have issues about introducing hormones and things into their body, or worry about side-effects and that’s okay. It’s also okay to choose to take them to prevent pregnancy or for other reasons. What is not okay is shaming or pressuring someone else about their choice. I believe that IVF and other supported-fertility treatments have benefits that outweigh the potential “playing with life” label that some religious people might attach, provided appropriate support and protections are given. I’m less sanguine about so-called “designer babies”, where characteristics could be chosen. I accept it on life-saving medical grounds, but I’m leery about other options.
I believe that everyone has a right to life, including the unborn, as I believe life starts at conception. I also believe that “God does not make junk” so to speak, so aborting a foetus just because of a disability, or the circumstances of its conception (and/or designing a foetus specifically to edit out a disability “just because”), is wrong. Of course, there are always exceptions based on individual circumstances. We want all people to have the best start in life. I think we need to talk about these things. My main view is that we should be working on the social reforms which “prevent” abortion by giving better options (like the ones mentioned above), while keeping it safe and legal. I think that it should be the woman’s choice but we need to (in a non-judgemental way) be sure that all lives are valued and that personal conversations are able to happen…not just “you should/not have an abortion because of x”.
Personally, I wouldn’t have an abortion myself. However, if a friend of mine became pregnant and wasn’t sure about keeping the baby for whatever reason, I’d hope that I could help by listening and for her to know that there are options. But if she did choose abortion, it wouldn’t cause a rift. (Things might be a little awkward maybe, but I wouldn’t abandon the friendship just because she made a different choice to my hypothetical one.)
I hope you’re sensing a theme. In all these distinctions and similarities between my Catholic and feminist principles, there’s a common goal: sensitivity, respect for difference and non-judgement.
There are plenty of things where it’s easy (for me) to say that Catholics and feminists agree: care of and empowerment of the poor and disadvantaged communities and care of the environment for future generations among them. Both groups just have slightly different angles.
I gain a lot of emotional support and spiritual guidance from my faith. I support and am empowered by my feminism.
The way I see it, each of us is on a journey, where we have to find our own path. Like I said earlier on, we all have to make our own choices. Just, please, think about using a little less judgement and a bit more understanding.
Below are some links to sites which have informed my views:

Christian feminism:

Baby-steps in Catholicism from the recent Amoris Laetitia document, putting the focus back on dialogue, even if there are still some awkward passages –
Download the actual document here:
Some reactions to it:
One Catholic-feminist mother’s reflection on the document:
Why it’s only a baby-step (written by a woman who writes a lot of thought-provoking pieces):

we need a theology of the body broken and violated

Dumping the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin”:

On dressing how we want to dress, without judgement and why that’s important:

Fixing traditional marriage:

A website for Catholic women – I wish I’d discovered it earlier, it’s been running since 2014:
(and article describing their mission:)

A website hosting religious blogs & things – the Catholic section: – varies from traditionalist to more progressive-but-Catholic

A feminist-Catholic understanding of Mary, Mother of Jesus:
http: //

Abortion is a complex thing:

Why there needs to be less judgement around contraception:

Transgender – not the same as transracial:

Sex-selection IVF:

A blog about faith & feminism:

Some catholic-trans perspectives:

pro-life feminists:

An LGBTI Catholic website tracking progress:

A website for young progressive Catholics:

There are many others. Take a look around the internet – you might be surprised!


Uncomfortable Compassion

The Easter period has begun. In the media (social and otherwise, especially on blogs), there are many reflective pieces. Mine will be short, as I have quite a few of those posts in my inbox already.

I had a thought, earlier today: part of the ceremony is that we use the same words, year after year and even the same songs. It is ritualistic, rhythmic, symbolic yet containing truth. An old story, passed down through the years. It is up to the priest to bring anything new to it – if they wish to. (In that light, I ought to say that a lot of the stuff I talk about below has been influenced by things I’ve heard religiously-trained people say and what they’ve taught me, as well as things I’ve researched from other religious sources.)

One thing I’ve noticed about both ceremonies (Thurs and Fri) is how explicit the text is that Jesus loved his friends. His teaching wasn’t the distant, high-and-mighty sort, after all. He was down-to-earth, empathising with those He taught. Especially with His disciples, “whom he loved” as the text says. I believe that His companions were men and women, by the way.


It’s Holy Thursday, otherwise known as Maundy Thursday. The readings tell of the first Passover (after all, Christianity developed from Judaism). Then of how Jesus took supper with his disciples and washed their feet.

Jesus knew he’d been inciting trouble from those in power by preaching the message of non-violence, compassion and forgiveness to each other. He was a rebel, in a disenfranchised community. The people in charge were greedy traditionalists who wanted everything to stay the same – it suited them, after all. They targeted Jesus and He knew it. Not that it stopped Him – He had a vision (from God, you could say) and was not intimidated by others disagreeing with him.

In the supper, Jesus offered up bread and wine as His body and blood – basically asking his disciples to not forget Him or His teachings, after He was gone. I like to imagine that, before or after that “surprise” from Jesus (depending on when exactly it happened in the meal), the group would have spent time laughing and talking and sharing stories. A true communion between good friends who shared a common purpose. I believe there were more than just the Twelve there. It would have been like a big party, with strong bonds between all.

Before supper, though, Jesus gave His disciples another example of what his mission meant. He washed their feet. In those times, people wore sandals and walked around streets that were dirty due to animal and other wastes, I believe. So one of the things that ‘important’ people would do would remove their shoes and have their feet washed when they arrived home inside. Usually, a servant (or slave) would wash the feet of the master of the house and his guests (‘her’ guests was rarer). Jesus was a Teacher and a ‘Master’ (addressed as such at points in the Bible). His disciples were like servants in a sense – certainly lesser than Him in the parlance of the time because they were learning from Him and not the other way around.

For Him to wash their feet was the greatest of role reversals – hence why Simon Peter was so adamant that “no, Lord, you will not wash my feet”. Jesus was just as stubborn, though. In the end, He washed all of their feet, with a joke for Simon Peter when he was overeager (Jn 13:10). Jesus went on to explain why he did it (Jn 13:13-:17). He was manifesting a visible form of compassion.

Another way of explaining it is this song, often played during the ceremony of Holy Thursday (while the washing of the feet is re-enacted): = The Servant Song.

Pope Francis washed the feet of refugees of different faiths this year. He’s washed the feet of prisoners and other people who are marginalised or outcast in some way. This shows what we need to do, symbolically and physically: welcome the “stranger”, even the inconvenient one, or the one we might not think to help first. Welcome them with love and compassion and leave your judgements at the door.




REBLOG: Not Doing Lent

For those who commemorate it (like me) today marks the start of Lent – Ash Wednesday. When I was in primary school, the thing that I’d always give up would be chocolate. Simple and basic, but hard at times … it got into a routine, but was good for young me. In Year 12, I forbade myself from going to certain websites which were major distractors to study. That was helpful then. Over the past few years I’ve tried to do something different instead. I try to be kinder to certain people I tend to get annoyed at, or something like that.

This year, I’ll be following the advice given below…looking at what I really love and why, then trying to do more of that and less of other things. As well as practice my sense of situational awareness.

I Don’t Want To Do Lent This Year

by Michael K. Marsh

Lent, Ash Wednesday, Matthew 6:16 16-21,  Mary Oliver, Reflection, DesertAs I write this reflection it’s the third week in Epiphany and I’ve been thinking about Lent for a couple of weeks now. I am thinking about Shrove Tuesday; the pancake supper, the palms we will burn, and the ashes we will prepare for the next day’s liturgy. I am thinking about the fragility of life, mortality, and the ashes that will mark our foreheads on Ash Wednesday. I am thinking about the Church’s invitation “to the observance of a holy Lent by forty days of self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.” The old voices in my head are asking, “What are you giving up for Lent this year?”

I’ve been thinking a lot about Lent and the truth is I don’t want to do Lent this year. Now maybe that’s something a priest isn’t supposed to say but I did and I mean what I said. I don’t want to do Lent this year. I don’t want to just get through Lent. I want Lent to get through to me. I want Lent to do me. …

Read more by clicking on the title.

REBLOGGED: Creating a New gospel


Creating a new gospel and justifying killing

by oddnygumaer

This mother, she is a Muslim. She loves her baby too. This mother, she is a Muslim. She loves her baby too.

Over the years I have made some Muslim friends.

Some of them like spicy food. Some don’t. Some of them listen to rap, others to classical music. Some of them are good at the times tables. Some of them suck. Some of them are skinny, others are a bit meatier. Some of them cover their heads, others don’t. Some are well educated; some don’t know how to read. Some sing in a choir, others play soccer.

The Muslim friends I have are as different as wild flowers in a field during summer.

Of course they have some things in common as well: They feel hunger. They get cold. They can feel lonely. They are afraid. Many laugh when they get tickled. They want to live in peace. They are happy when people say nice things to them.

There are exceptions to this rule. A few people in the world don’t appreciate it when they are complemented. But that is usually not because of their religion, but because of some issue in the past that they haven’t dealt with. There are some that don’t desire peace. But I haven’t met any of them. I have, however, met Muslims who have had to flee from the kind of people who desire to hurt and destroy.

Some Muslims decapitate their so-called enemies. Some practice other brutal forms of punishments for minor or major offenses. Some treat women despicably. They have no respect for human rights. The blow themselves and others up. These people are not my friends. I don’t know anybody who would want to be the friends of people who commit such monstrous acts.

Over the years, so-called Christians have also committed atrocities too terrible for words. I don’t consider these people followers of Christ, and their actions are as deplorable as crimes committed by other criminals.

Some times I have talked to my Muslim friends about my faith. And they have shared about theirs. Mostly I have found it interesting and stimulating. They have never rejected me because of my faith. I have never rejected them because of theirs.

Do they look like terrorists to you? Or do they look like the kind of people Jesus asked us to love?Do they look like terrorists to you? Or do they look like the kind of people Jesus asked us to love?


I am a Christian and I have no intentions of changing my religion. I believe in Jesus and I believe in His teachings. I have found that what Jesus taught was the most radical, most life-changing, most peace-making teachings there ever was. Jesus will forever be my example and my hero. He did for example say:

Blessed are the peace makers for they shall be called the children of God. (Mt.5:9)

I have quoted Mark Twain many times, and I gladly do it again. He said: It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me. It is the parts that I do understand.

Many Christians should be concerned these days. I see a lot of them creating a new gospel. A gospel where it is allowed to pick and choose who we decide to love. A gospel where it is OK to be racist. A gospel where killing is allowed. A gospel where hate is preached loudly and clearly.

I am not sure if these people, calling themselves followers of Jesus, have spent much time reading what he actually taught. How is it possible to love your neighbor like yourself and still endorse people who call for the killing and destruction of families who follow a different faith than ours? How is it that vomiting hate is an OK thing to do when it is aimed at people who follow a different faith, come from different cultures and speak a different language? When, exactly, did Jesus teach that this was all right?

In my Bible, it is recorded that Jesus said this: For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

He too was created in God's image. He too was created in God’s image.

Isn’t it interesting that Jesus didn’t say: I was a hungry Christian, and you gave me something to eat. He didn’t say: I was a Christian, not Muslim, stranger and you invited me in. No, it appears that in Jesus’ eyes, people have equal value, no matter where they are from, no matter what they believe, no matter what skin color or first name they have. It is high time we start to follow his example.

REBLOGGED: No to Occupation

Sighhhh. I think that the situation is really sad. I know people who went to Palestine/ Israel some twenty-plus years ago. The situation wasn’t like this then, though it festered still I suppose.

The Palestinians are being treated as second-class citizens – it’s no wonder they lash out. That doesn’t excuse the deaths caused….but in battles between knives and stones versus guns, tear gas and bombs, it’s obvious who will win more often.
(Deep breath) The horrors inflicted on Jews in the past does not exclude the actions of some Jews & the Israeli government now. (There, said it.)

Further links on this subject are at the bottom of the other articles.

It’s The Occupation, Stupid: Why Palestinians Are Stabbing Innocent Civilians – WRITTEN BY MICHAEL BRULL ( NEW MATILDA)

by winstonclose

(IMAGE: Gigi Ibrahim, Flickr).

(IMAGE: Gigi Ibrahim, Flickr).
By on October 22, 2015 

The Israeli occupation is the reason why so many Jews – and Palestinians – are dying, writes Michael Brull.

Why are Palestinians stabbing innocent people in Israel? Such attacks are horrendous, and deserve no moral defence. But understanding why they occur requires no great genius. Just a modicum of honesty.

Let us begin by looking at some relatively uncontroversial context. Teddy Kollek was the mayor of Jerusalem from 1965-93. In an interview he gave with an Israeli newspaper whilst still mayor, he candidly explained the institutionalised racism entrenched under the occupation:

We said things without meaning them, and we didn’t carry them out. We said over and over that we would equalize the rights of the Arabs to the rights of the Jews. [This was] empty talk . . . Never have we given them a feeling of being equal before the law. They were and remain second and third class citizens . . .

For Jewish Jerusalem I did something in the past 25 years. For East Jerusalem? Nothing! What did I do? Nothing. Sidewalks? Nothing! Cultural institutions? Not one. Yes, we installed a sewerage system for them and improved their water supply. But do you know why? Do you think it was for their good, for their welfare? Forget it! There were some cases of cholera there, and the Jewish residents were afraid that they would catch it, so we installed a sewerage and water system for cholera prevention.

The stabbings can be understood as a response to recent provocations and suspicion about Israeli intentions in relation to the Haram al-Sharif. But these should be viewed as a trigger, rather than a cause. Left-wing Ha’aretz columnist Gideon Levy put the point quite strongly:

“You thought 300,000 people would acquiesce? That they’d watch settlers invade their homes as city hall denied them minimal services amid maximal property taxes? That they’d look on while the occupier arbitrarily denied them residence status, as if they were migrants in their own city? That they would put up with Jewish gangs beating them up in full view of policemen and forgive…

Did you really think right-wing provocations on the Temple Mount would pass quietly? That the burning of the Dawabsheh family would pass with no response — and even more so the defense minister’s arrogant claims that Israel knew who the perpetrators were but wouldn’t arrest them?”

It may be thought that Levy is a somewhat radical voice, though he writes for the respected liberal paper,Ha’aretz. So consider the perspective of veteran Israeli journalist, Akiva Eldar, formerly at Ha’aretz, now atAl Monitor:

“It is time to dust off the Or Commission Report, which dealt with the events of October 2000, when 13 Arab demonstrators were killed, and immediately implement its recommendations for closing the wide gaps between Jewish and neighbouring Arab municipalities in the fields of education, health, infrastructure and policing. First and foremost, the police’s fatally trigger-happy tendencies toward Arab citizens must be addressed (since the second intifada, when 13 Arab citizens were killed,police have killed 51 Arab citizens, compared with two Jewish citizens).

A Jew who dares visit Akeb, the northernmost of Jerusalem’s neighbourhoods, bordering Ramallah, or the Shuafat refugee camp, would not find it hard to understand why youths from these neighbourhoods stab Jews and throw stones at them.”

However, Eldar is also a progressive. One of Israel’s leading journalists, Nahum Barnea, coined the term the “lynch test”, to describe Israelis who wouldn’t even criticise the Arabs when they lynched Israelis. He named among their ranks Levy and Eldar.

Yet the point they made was voiced in similar form by Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem:

“The events of recent weeks cannot be viewed in a vacuum, isolated from the reality of the ongoing, daily oppression of 4 million people, with no hope of change in sight. At present, Israelis are exposed to untenable violence, but the status quo almost all Israelis have come to see as acceptable in fact exposes millions of Palestinians to violence that is a consequence of the very regime of occupation, with its inherent features of oppression, dispossession and the trampling of rights.”

Closer to the political centre, Ha’aretz correspondent Chemi Shalev notes that it is impossible to make sense of the stabbings without having the occupation as the context:

“Ordinary Israelis and their supporters abroad have also learned to expunge the occupation, not only from their words but from their thoughts as well. Once you do that, Palestinian teens wantonly hurling themselves at unsuspecting civilians, knowing that they will face certain injury or death, turn into manifestations of unadulterated psychotic evil.”

Shalev observes that Israeli authorities “continue to manage even the minutest details of daily life for the Palestinians”, and don’t acknowledge “the social, economic and human toll of the occupation and the blind hatred that it foments.” Shalev concludes that “the refusal to countenance a link between the occupation and the violence that it breeds, despite overwhelming empirical and historical evidence to the contrary, in Israel and around the world, is a form of what is sometimes termed ‘denialism.’”

Or take the position of the entirely non-liberal Avi Issacharoff, reporting at the conservative Times of Israel. He reported that:

“To fully understand the context in which this new intifada has flared, we need to go back many more years — to the ongoing neglect of Palestinian neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem by Israeli governments over the past 48 years, despite the dire economic situation of the residents of these areas; the state of lawlessness; and the fact that a twilight zone has evolved in some of the villages on the periphery of Jerusalem since the construction of the security barrier.

Entire neighbourhoods and villages whose residents have blue ID cards, who are citizens of Israel, are not given any attention by either Israel or the Palestinian Authority.”

As a last example, consider the writing of Nahum Barnea, roughly a political centrist, who founded the “lynch test”. Barnea is one of Israel’s most influential journalists, and writes for Yediot Ahronot, one of Israel’s most read dailies. Barnea wrote:

“Israel is a bad occupier, and always has been. Instead of giving the occupied population hope, it settled among it. Instead of taking care of the people’s welfare, success, safety – it treated them with a lack of generosity and respect, refusing to either live with them or disengage. That doesn’t mean that terrorism is morally justified. Terrorism is the rotten fruit of despair, the monster it births. But it doesn’t come from nowhere: It has a mother and father, grandparents, and siblings.”

He also commented on Israel’s response to the wave of stabbings: “Escalate personal and collective punishment, oppress the Palestinian population till they hit the ground. They believe that despair can be beaten with more despair”.

Okay, Barnea and YNet might be disloyal terrorist sympathisers too. So consider Barnea’s interview with a military source. He explained: “Avoiding collective punishments contributes to quiet. Treating the populace with an iron fist increases terrorism.”

Perhaps the Israeli military source was justifying terrorism with that treacherous comment. Or, perhaps, there are sane people in the Israeli military. There is a connection between the “iron fist” and “terrorism”.

After almost 50 years of occupation, this should be pretty obvious. If that can be conceded in one of Israel’s most widely read daily tabloids, we should be able to admit that in Australia too.

Michael Brull is a regular columnist for New Matilda. He has written for a range of other publications, including Overland, Crikey, ABC’s Drum, the Guardian and elsewhere.

TO READ more articles from NEW MATILDA click on this link =


New Jewish Network Launches Worldwide “Justice in Palestine” Initiative against Israeli Occupation – WRITTEN BY MAIRAV ZONSZEIN { GLOBAL RESEARCH }

by winstonclose

By Mairav Zonszein

Global Research, October 21, 2015
+972 18 October 2015


 13  0



Group seeks to ‘reclaim Jewish identity,’ raise a global Jewish voice to ‘challenge Israel’s destructive policies.’

A new international network of Jewish groups and individuals committed to justice in Palestine released a statement over the weekend calling for an end to the killing and an end the occupation. The network, which first met over the summer and has yet to come up with a name, currently spans 16 countries — from Brazil, to Australia, to Switzerland and South Africa — and represents 15 organizations.

An action by If Not Now, When, for Tisha B’Av in New York City, where participants read the names of Israelis and Palestinians who died in this summer’s Gaza war. (Photo by Gili Getz)An action by the American anti-occupation group If Not Now for Tisha B’Av in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, where participants read the names of Israelis and Palestinians who died in last summer’s Gaza war. (Photo by Gili Getz)

According to the preface to their statement, the group seeks to “reclaim Jewish identity not as a nationalist identity but as one that celebrates our diverse roots, traditions & communities wherever we are around the world. We believe that it is essential for there to be a global Jewish voice to challenge Israel’s destructive policies, in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. This international Jewish network aims to become that voice.”

Forty Palestinians and eight Israelis have been killed since the beginning of the month. There have been over two dozen stabbing attacks against Israelis across Israel and the West Bank, with around 100 Israelis and well over 1,000 Palestinians wounded, many of them by live fire.

In times of heightened violence, specifically against Israelis, Jewish organizations and individuals around the world tend to either show support for Israel or stay silent. It is taboo to criticize Israel when there are terror attacks against Israeli citizens, as was clear during the Second Intifada. But that is precisely when it is most necessary. To both identify as Jewish and show a deep concern for what is going on in Israel while criticizing its policies is rare, making this letter is so important. 

[Read more by clicking on the title above.]
__________________________________________________________________ – a good history on the conflict of the region. – Oh, dear. This is why I hesitate to speak sometimes on issues that I’m somewhat removed from (notice I’m reblogging mostly rather than doing too much explaining?). But really, J.K. :/


I saw this last week on Eden’s website, edenland. It’s apparently the creation of Útmutató a Léleknek, a Hungarian writer. I think it’s beautiful.

Do You Believe In Mother?

A parable by Útmutató a Léleknek 
In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.” 

“Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?” 

The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.” 

The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.” 

The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.” 

The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.” 

“Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.” 

The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?” 

The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.” 

Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.” 

To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.”

After all, in my opinion an open mind is an open heart. Like that quote from Alice in Wonderland (maybe from the 2010 movie more than the book, I can’t really remember): [Alice:] “This is impossible.” [Hatter:] “Only if you believe it is.”
It is the Great Mystery….

An exploration of Equality and Religion and related matters

I feel really nervous writing this post. I know I’m potentially opening up a can of worms. But I also feel like I have to write this post. It’s tricky to write, given that I’m essentially on many levels “an outsider looking in” and in other ways vastly unqualified, so bear with me.

As I said in my previous post, as a progressive Catholic, I support marriage equality and other forms of equality. I’ve been informed by listening to others – those with more knowledge than me, or more life experience, or with a somewhat different point of view. I also listen to my own heart and conscience, trying to empathise and understand as much as possible, then compare the new information with what I knew previously. As I’ve grown up, from a young teen to now a young adult, my thoughts and views have grown and expanded, to lead me to where I stand today.

Something I didn’t mention in the post is how some people I know say they support “gay rights”, but, for example, wonder why the same-sex attracted can’t just have “something different”, equal to marriage but by another name. I think you’ll agree that that sort of distinction is just disguised discrimination, yes? After all, things change over time as our society changes and becomes more aware.

It gets a little more complicated however.

Marriage equality requires legal acknowledgment of the right of LGBTI+ people to be who they are. To live as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, etc. and not have to deny it. Of course, not every LGBTI+ person wants to get married, just as not every straight person wants to. There’s a truckload of “stuff” associated with the hows and whys of that (involving oppression, mainstreaming, etc.) which I could go into, but won’t. The fact remains that some do want to get married, meaning that this decision by the Supreme Court is a very visible acknowledgement of LGBTI+ people.

To illustrate, here is the closing paragraph in the ruling given by the majority opinion (the Yes vote) of the US Supreme Court:

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. It is so ordered.”

I think the above statement is vitally important because of the reasons given by those who have difficulty accepting anything other than heterosexuality as normal. I’m not talking about the “reasons” which can be brushed aside fairly easily, like “think of the children” (eye-roll; it’s been proven that the kids are just fine, thanks), or whether it is “natural” (how do we know that it is or isn’t?), or “what’s next? Polygamy or bestiality?” (I mean, what? Why would minds jump to that conclusion – especially the latter?); things like that.

I’m talking about reasons like “marriage being about more than just happiness” (emphasis mine) – which I saw on a Christian website. I agree with that, in a sense, but I do not see why that has to mean the LGBTI+ are left out.

Let me clarify. I have been raised to view marriage as a union in which a man and a woman two people work together and grow together, sharing some common interests (for example, a belief in God) and committed to each other for the long haul, even through disagreements and such. This doesn’t mean happiness shouldn’t be a part of marriage – that’s silly. Just the same, it won’t be perfect all the time; disagreements happen. But we are all “seekers, not saints”, as the chaplain at my uni is fond of saying. As another said, it’s better to look for an “unfinished stone block” than a “marble sculpture”.
(Of course, this does not excuse situations of abuse and violence etc. within families and marriages. If that happens, then by all means leave!)

The most perfect love, I believe, is the ideal that Jesus (and through Him, God) showed through his compassion for all, regardless of background. The Bible passage, 1 Corinthians Ch 13, Verses 1-13, says this best in Biblical terms in my opinion – there is also a song that uses these words beautifully ( We’re imperfect and must strive for that ideal. It’s not meant to be easy.

So, with that in mind, why must it (in the eyes of some) be restricted to two people of opposite sex? Why is the relationship between two people of the same sex “wrong” in their eyes?

There are Bible passages which, it is true, appear to criticise homosexuality. But taking into account the context of the passages and the times, compared to now (including the languages used in writing them and how they must be translated for us to even attempt to understand)….Do the criticisms hold? I don’t know.

There’s an American group called Soulforce (, whose founder, Reverend Doctor Mel White, has studied this. They offer the opinion that the Bible is a book about God rather than human sexuality, noting that, “only six or seven of the Bible’s one million verses refer to same-sex behaviour in any way — and [in the opinion of Soulforce] none of these verses refers to homosexual orientation as we understand today”. The pamphlet this comes from is called, “What the Bible says – and doesn’t say – about Homosexuality”, available here ( Its opinion about the Bible has been challenged somewhat by another man, Daniel B. Wallace ( But I believe the message is still important.

After all, as Rev. Dr. White says in his booklet, “Even when we believe the Scriptures are ‘infallible’ or ‘without error,’ it’s terribly dangerous to think that our understanding of every biblical text is also without error. We are human. We are fallible. And we can misunderstand and misinterpret these ancient words—with tragic results.”

Something to remember is that the words we read today are interpretations of meaning, originally meant for a particular group of people in a particular context, translated from their original language. Also, we as messy, complicated human beings bring to the reading our own preconceived ideas and understanding. Every person has a slightly different view of the world, shaped by our own experiences. Therefore, when we read the Bible – or another text – we interpret it in our own way, potentially without even realising it. This is a point to remember for reading the Bible generally, not just when looking at LGBTI+ people. A point that has been all-to-often overlooked in the past.

My personal interpretation rests on the central core of Christian teaching: “love your neighbour as yourself”. This is explained, for instance, in Luke’s Gospel, (Ch 10) with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. At the end, Jesus leads the listener to the conclusion that our “neighbour” is the one who has mercy on us, as we have mercy on them. The passage ends with Jesus saying, “Go and do likewise.”

This is important to note, given that a bunch of other behaviours are listed as immoral in the Bible, too. Apart from the often-referenced ones (sex outside marriage, divorce, etc.), others include dishonesty, greed, prejudice, cruelty, selfishness, rudeness…and judging other people.

All I can do is follow my own heart and conscience – informed by what I hear and read. I have seen the love between two consenting homosexual people who care about each other, live together and look after each other, even through the occasional disagreement. I see the hate and confusion some people have towards that kind of relationship and I feel confused myself.

I think that Jesus would want us to try and understand each other rather than piling on hate, or patronising encouragement to “change” in this regard. He extended the hand of welcome to all, even society’s outcasts. He attempted understanding without judgement, while setting up, through his teachings, an ideal world to strive for.

One with peace and unity at its core, free from the shackles of bigotry, ignorance, intolerance, arrogance and fear – on this issue and others.

That is the Christ I believe in.

So please, have a little understanding (a little compassionate love) before condemning or attempting to “change” someone. Too many LGBTI+ people, especially young people, feel isolated even today. Too many commit suicide or self-harm due to that isolation. This must change. The Supreme Court decision is not the end, but is one step on the way towards that change.


Online Hatred and Protecting the Vulnerable Against Indoctrination

Why do we have to keep going over and over the same thing(s) again and again?
Free speech versus free bigotry. Shouldn’t it just be simple?

Extract: “Freedom of speech is the bedrock of any democratic society, however, freedom of speech is not the only right that we have: People also have the right to be free from racial vilification, bullying and abuse, writes Tanya Cohen.

Here in Australia, it’s just common sense that freedom of speech doesn’t give anyone the right to offend, insult, humiliate, intimidate, vilify, incite hatred or violence, be impolite or uncivil, disrespect, oppose human rights, spread lies or misinformation, argue against the common good, or promote ideas which have no place in society. We all learned this in school, and it’s not something that’s even up for debate. Hate speech is not free speech, as the oft-repeated saying goes. Freedom of speech is something that comes with responsibility and it has to be balanced against other human rights, such as the human rights to dignity and respect. This is something that more or less everyone here agrees on, including libertarians. Journalists and human rights activists are the biggest supporters of our hate speech laws, but the laws have universal support among all sections of Australian society. Freedom of speech is a core Australian value, but it’s not the only value we have. As Australians living in a society built on diversity and multiculturalism, we simply refuse to tolerate any forms of racism or hatred. The need to protect vulnerable minorities from all forms of hate speech is something that practically all Australians firmly agree with (aside from a few racist bigots who want to incite hatred against vulnerable minorities as “free speech”, of course). Our courts have ruled multiple times that it doesn’t matter whether your statements are “true” or “balanced” or not – if the statements are likely to paint vulnerable minorities in a negative light and/or incite hatred against vulnerable minorities, then those statements are illegal in Australia, as they should be.”

Secondly – interconnected, sort of – this article:
It suggests: “This Federal Government will do nothing pro-active, when the solution could be quite simple, especially when it comes to the maladjusted and misguided youth of this country, who are a ripe potential for promises of greatness (that’s how all religions work who proselytize and want to seize converts).
The answer may well be this:

That anyone – for any reason given, should not be granted any form of visa, entry permit or travel arrangement to any WAR ZONE currently in the world.

I think it’s not as simple as that – for one thing, some genuine aid workers and such want to get into those areas sometimes, or close by them, for real reasons. It can be a start, but not the only thing.
it links with an op-ed I saw in The Age on the 24th of March:
We need to seriously look at how we can stop radicalisation.
A couple of months ago, Anne Aly wrote an article for The Guardian which I discovered recently:

So how do we go about stopping someone from becoming radicalised to the point that they would seek out opportunities to commit acts of violence against their fellow citizens? There are no easy answers. Firstly we need to understand why and how some people become violent extremists in the first place. For some, like Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who shot a Canadian soldier earlier this year, or the Kouachi brothers responsible for the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the pathway to violence involves a criminal, violent or unstable past. For these individuals, violent extremism in the name of a religion or ideology is a continuation, and escalation, of an already violent lifestyle. For others who appear to be well adjusted, stable, even well integrated individuals, the reasons for radicalisation are much more varied and complex.

Second, we need to identify where the individual is along the process of radicalisation. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to intervene when an individual is at the operational phase of radicalisation. These highly radicalised individuals have accepted violence and may be at the stage of planning for a violent act. They can only be dealt with through law enforcement intervention. But at the early stages of radicalisation, when an individual is starting to show signs of becoming attracted to violent extremism, it is possible to intervene and disrupt the process of radicalisation.

When we approach a situation where an individual is showing signs of becoming radicalised, we also try to understand what is going on in the individual’s life. Have there been some major behavioural changes? Are there any family conflicts that have not been resolved? Is there a person of influence that is introducing them to radical or extremist views? Are there issues in the individual’s personal life that have led him or her to look for ways to vent their anger or frustration? Has the individual stopped being interested in hobbies or pastimes that used to occupy them? These kinds of questions are familiar to the youth who face issues of identity and belonging, regardless of their religion.

Put simply, we need to do more. All of us, not just Muslim leaders.

I believe that we all want to believe in something – whether that be a religion, science, or simply ourselves. The trouble comes when we lose that faith, then feel that we have no-one to turn to who can answer the questions that result. That’s when scum like Da’esh step in with their slick promos, promising belonging while making war “cool”.

Where is the Compassion, Mate?

It looks like I’m doomed to keep alternating happy posts with angry ones thanks to the tripe that’s going on.

The government has attacked Gillian Triggs for speaking the truth. They are ignoring the cries for help from the children and others locked up in detention centres.
The centres cost billions of dollars each year to run – but they’re certainly not five-star facilities. They create mental anguish and despair within so many asylum seekers inside them, not knowing when they’ll be free. Labor did this too – the current guys are worse though.

Where is the compassion? The govt are so blinded by ideology. There are better solutions. Like actually having the guts to talk to other nations about a true regional solution, e,g, a multinational agreement where some of that imprisonment money would be instead used to help the countries bring their own facilities up to standard.  That could “stop the boats” humanely.

The government try to divert our attention from their slander and complicity by creating a massive beat-up around national security. In so doing, they – especially Abbott – put the focus on others in the community, like Muslims. Most of whom are law-abiding citizens who only want to live their lives in peace. Abbott and many of his cronies do not understand. They do not want to; after all, with words like “us” and “them” and “Team Australia”, it’s obvious that they’re just looking for a scapegoat.

I’m just so tired of this. Abbott and his government are not fit to be leading this county. They’ve made us go backward on so many things… his bully-boy tactics in opposition changed things – the backsliding of conscience, earlier halted, began again then, as he goaded the masses from the Opposition Leader’s chair.

His game is nearly up, now. But unlike us, his colleagues are more concerned about his lack of finesse in delivering the “message”, rather than the message itself it seems. And the other parties scent blood, posturing while letting him have all the rope he needs. But it still feels like tit-for-tat, he-said-this-but-we’ll-do-better politics.

If a spill is called; or even when (if, I suppose) Labor win the next election, what the hell then?

We’ve slid down so far already – it’s going to take people with a lot of guts to haul us back up.

Muslims are the latest in a line of scapegoats, along with asylum seekers, the unemployed, sick and the elderly, etc., conveniently used and re-used by Abbott and co. – and others – when things are looking down and they need a bit of a boost. After all, the old saying goes that “everyone” loves a government that talks tough on law and order.

Lately, I can’t help but think, when I hear that phrase, of a quote from a series of books called “The Immortals”, by Tamora Pierce: “Someday I must meet this scholar Everyone, [Daine] thought, …. He seems to have written so much, all of it wrong.”
I am not everyone.
What I wish for is a government that looks to the future for long-term investment and prosperity, instead of short-term ideology-based gains. A government that looks after the poor (-in wealth, -in spirit, -in health) instead of catering to the rich. A government that acts on the pressing problems of our time – like climate change, increasing numbers of refugees, flare-ups of conflict globally, etc. – with true vision. A government that is not afraid to speak out as well as act – but is measured in doing so, instead of hastily posturing aggressively.

A government and leader with the guts to stand up and declare that enough is enough; and begin that struggle up the slope, back towards the Australia we could be – and beyond. It will be something of a struggle; after all, as J. K. Rowling said through Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, “the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy”. A government that is not afraid to show real Compassion.

We must begin – with the first step. It’s up to us to build the Australia (and world) that we all want to see. It might be easier to stay silent – but it is not necessarily right.

The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword

Cartoon credit: David Pope.

So, I just wanted to give my own thoughts on what occurred last week.

Those men were criminals who happened to identify with Islam, their own twisted view of it anyway.
They were also idiots. As we’ve all seen over this past week, the only thing their actions have done is stirred people up in defence. It hasn’t cowed them or anything.

Plenty of people have examined what they wanted, what it means, etc.

The thing is: we’re stirred up and debating free speech and such cos the men went in with guns blazing. We’re so stirred up because of this that in some cases we risk losing sight of other things.

What other things? Well. An example of what I mean can be found in last year’s debate in Australia about “Section 18C”. It protects against discrimination based on “race, colour or national or ethnic origin”, and makes it an offense to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” another.
Some people, in the wake of the tragedy, have tried to yell, “Free speech for all, whatever is said – down with 18C!”
But that’s just conflating things and blurring issues together. Free speech is never truly free – it is about privledge. The question being, who has the most? That’s why Australia has 18 C; because free speech is not hate speech.

Why, why, why do extremists always attack with guns?

Personally, I hate mockery humour. But that doesn’t mean others shouldn’t be allowed to publish it. That people should be killed for daring to poke fun. FFS, they were journalists – cartoonists!

The issue of free speech needs to be discussed. Using words, not weapons, dammit. For it’s only by discussing things that we’re able to attempt to understand each other. Like that old song – “if you don’t listen, you’re never gonna learn”; or something like that. The alternative, violence, will never solve anything. After all, it always ends in tears.

Links I found useful:


As well as: various The Age articles – the comment section has had some great stuff.