Archive for April, 2019


footscray station footscray market

There is an altercation down by the station. Shouting and swearing. It’s hard to gauge how to respond sometimes – witness, walk away, walk towards… I understand better these days that raised voices can be a mark of our desperation to be heard. What was clear to me, as observer, is that the participants knew they each felt unsafe, but couldn’t see in the moment that the other person didn’t either. Different genders, different cultures, different capacity, different experiences… The ways we are different from each other can be obvious but the ways we are the same can be subtle.

I walk towards…
All of us want to feel safe.
#safetyfirst #deescalation #pt’chang

20190406_131813.jpg

A take home message of any indigenous event such as ‘Land and Place: Indigenous Perspectives in the Era of Displacement‘ these days is that non-indigenous people need to do their own homework and help to educate their mob but it can be hard for individuals or churches to know where to start.  This is a synthesis of some suggestions that arose from the NAIITS launch sessions and yarning circles and some other resources that I’ve found useful along the way that resonated with what I was hearing…

  • Do undergrad or postgrad study in indigenous theology with indigenous teachers through Whitley at the University of Divinity!
  • Visit collections and exhibitions in national galleries and museums – like a First Peoples tour of the Bunjilaka Cultural Centre at the Melbourne Museum, a guided walking tour of Melbourne CBD through the Koori Heritage Trust, or visit Narana.
  • Folks go on pilgrimages such as the walking the Camino de Santiago, or Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem… what if we connected with the Creator Spirit right here in this place? Visit Uluru, an intentional community like Campfire in the Heart,  or just go camping in an area of native bush near you and experience the land around you… if you’re not sure where to go (ask permission and) join the mob sitting in at the Djab Wurrung Embassy protecting 800-year old birthing trees from a motorway extension that’ll save drivers merely 3 minutes.
  • Connect with the mob at Indigenous Hospitality House (IHH). The Indigenous Hospitality House is a Settler (non-Indigenous) household on Wurundjeri country in Melbourne, Australia. The residents open their home to provide short-term accommodation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who need to come to Melbourne for hospital business. They also make space for others to rethink their Settler identity and discipleship journey in light of Australia’s colonial history – they run bible study series, host regular Learning Circles,  and have published a book called Tales from the Table on their reflections and learnings from 15 years of hosting guests.
  • Explore and practice different rhythms of ritual and liturgy such as those of the Wilderness Way Community – put phones down to leave chronos time behind, take off shoes to connect with the earth, everyone is outside so you are hearing the Bible stories orally and acting them out. There are no mikes or screens or songsheets – a lot of the songs therefore are call and response or echo format…
    Everything I need is right in front of me (x2)
    Can we be manna, manna?
    Can we be manna for each other? (x2)
    See more suggestions for meditating in your watershed here.
  • Integrate daily, monthly, annual rhythms – in what you read, watch, who you follow on Facebook or on Instagram, what you do and where you go. Commit to knowing more than you did yesterday or last year. Learn significant dates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Australians and find ways to acknowledge and observe them as an individual, a family, a community, a church… as a nation. You will find art and activism, celebrations and song.

Just like Aunty Rev Patricia Courtenay said: ‘Know the past, change the future’

Thoughts on crucifixion by a doctor – it’s not the nails that kill you but exposure.
Thoughts on crucifixion by a woman whose husband has a brain tumour.
Thoughts on crucifixion by a poet. “A king who dies on the cross must be the king of a rather strange kingdom. Only those who understand the profound paradox of the cross can also understand the whole meaning of Jesus’ assertion: my kingdom is not of this world”.  (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
Thoughts on crucifixion by a friend…

A gorgeous mix of piano, story and spoken word poetry at the Maundy Thursday service at Fairfield Uniting Church making an old story new. They had me at Mary Oliver.

The lights are extinguished one by one until all light is gone, but hope is not. We carry it with us.

lit white candle maundy thursday itellyouarise

 

 

Fourth Helpings

img_3366We live in times where the focus is on those things that divide rather than connect us but as Chappo (Peter Chapman) says “You should share communion together, it has a unique power to unite beyond words.

For many years I was a co-ordinator for a local community project called Sharing Abundance, the idea behind the project was food sustainability through food rescue and food redistribution. If we noticed a home in our neighbourhood had produce growing, especially if they didn’t seem to be using it, we’d knock and ask if we could pick it and donate it on to people in need: through our local church foodbank and outreach projects offering a community meal. Mostly people were happy to get rid of it seeing the produce as something that attracted lots of birds and bats or made a mess on the lawn below.

We knew when we started that an outcome would be produce: jam, chutney, cordial… what I didn’t know was how well this would work as a shared vision for bringing people together. A chain formed where people donated fruit, some people collected jars, some people picked produce, others were available for the processing and cooking days, a jar of the finished product might go back to the donor and others out to the projects for distribution. The members of this network didn’t necessarily meet one another but often the links were special points of connection. Connection to where our food comes from, to the seasons, to place, to the wisdom of our elders, to our neighbours, to each other. We learned about reducing waste, edible weeds, what to make with 5kg of parsley, what a loquat is and how to eat it (just bite it actually but mind the pips!). No one person had it all but the neighbourhood working together created more than the sum of its parts. Share the abundance and you will know what it is to be rich.

Apricot Jam

Ingredients

1kg apricots, halved and stoned, then quartered (or 1 kg of any fruit)
juice of a whole lemon (30-40ml)
1kg caster sugar
1 tsp butter (optional)

Method

Prepare: Wash fruit well then cut into even pieces discarding any leaves, stalks, stones, etc.

Sterilising jars

To sterilize the jars in the oven start by preheating the oven to 130 degrees Celsius/ 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash the jars and the lids very thoroughly. Place the jars on a baking tray and put them in the oven for 20 minutes. In the meantime, boil the lids in a small pot full with water, drain in a colander.

Assemble: Put a saucer in the freezer to use to test the jam later. Place the apricots, lemon juice and sugar in a large non-reactive saucepan (like stainless steel or enamel). Use a large, wide pot for cooking the jam. The fruit-sugar mixture should only come one third up the sides of the pot. If you use a tall pot with a smaller diameter, the jam will need much longer until it sets.

Bring slowly to the boil, stirring occasionally. If you like use a potato masher to work the jam and sugar together — this releases moisture from the fruit and gets them cooking faster.

Boil the fruit for 15-20 minutes: Bring the fruit to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. The mixture will start with big, juicy bubbles and slowly progress to small, tighter bubbles as the jam gets closer to doneness. If foam forms on the top of your jam mixture move pot away from the heat and scoop it out with a spoon or add a knob of butter (about 1 tsp) to make it break down and return to low heat until butter is melted.

Know when the jam is done: After 15 mins, simply dribble some hot jam from the pot onto the frozen saucer and wait a few seconds for it to cool. Run your finger through the jam — if it makes a clear path through the jam and doesn’t fill in, then you have a good set. If setting point has not been reached, boil for a few minutes more, then test again.

Jar and store the jam: When the jam is set to your liking, remove the jam from the heat and transfer to the clean jars. Do not fill the hot jam in cold jars or the jars may shatter. Make sure that the sterilized jars are still hot when you fill them.

Use a soup ladle to fill the jars with the jam. Or pour some of the jam in a heat proof jug and then pour the jam into the jars. Use a wet paper towel or tea towel to clean any spilled jam from around the top of the jar and immediately place the lids on top and tighten. Ideally you want to place these jars somewhere they can stay without being moved for 24 hours cooling slowly you will hear the ‘plink’ of the lids sealing as the metal contracts as the jars cool and securely seal.

24 hours later check the jars. If the lids have sealed tight and flat, store jam in a cool, dark place. If the jar lid did not seal keep it in the fridge and enjoy straight away.

Salam Fest 2019 Artist Panel: Hanifa Deen award winning author, visual artist Ms Saffaa and Asia Hassan, creative director of ASIYAM clothing.

“A quality you forget about migrants is that you need a heart big enough to love two countries… you cannot choose between two children. We should want people to come here with hearts this big.”

Hanfia Deen

“In 2016, an image I had drawn went viral: I am my own guardian.
I didn’t want it to… I’m an accidental activist.”

Ms Saffaa

“I was visiting a detention centre, it was over Christmas and they had a Santa come in to give out presents as a human gesture. The Santa was calling out children’s numbers not their names and someone said to him, “Use their names” and he replied, “I don’t know them”.

Hanifa Deen

“There are three different kinds of Muslims who live in Australia and research indicates you can roughly break them into these kinds of categories: about a third are orthodox and they pray 5 times daily, another 1/3 fast during Ramadan and go to the mosque occasionally and another third are what we would call Muslims of the heart.”

Hanifa Deen

“I think it’s important to dispel myths about Muslim women.
Just the way that I exist asserts a different way of being Muslim.
There are 1.6 billion ways.”

Ms Safaa

“I started my own fashion label because when I was growing up I felt like my clothing bought me no joy and no particular effort went into making it, so I made my own. A learning was realising that my product is not going to appeal to everyone and it never will. It’s only really for those Muslim woman who dress like I do.”

Asia Hassan

“Muslims are not used to being a minority population
they aren’t in the country that they come from.”

Hanifa Deen

“Identity is not a singular thing but made up of many parts I’m Muslim, Australian, and a woman. We must accept people as individuals.”

Asia Hassan

“Asked where come from, sometimes I play a game with people and tell them “I’m from the desert, guess which one” and they start guessing the names of different countries and I say, “Further south, further… eventually I tell them I grew up near Kalgoorlie.”

 Hanifa Deen

“I know that “I’m a gift to the Earth.”
I’m confident and happy in the room…
I bring my positivity with me and
can share it with others.”

Asia Hassan

“It’s not my job to educate or make people better.
I exist comfortably within myself and
exude goodness in the world.”

Ms Safaa

Any advice?

“Know why and who you are before you go into battle.
Have empathy for others and move on.
Be true to yourself.”

Asia Hassan

“Don’t take permission from anyone.”

Ms Safaa

“Make alliances… you are not alone.”

Hanifa Deen

The Chapel

What words are here?

What silence?
I brought hope and fear with me
I yield both to You
And still have eveything.

we will rise (1)

Re-creation

Come. Sit here beside me.
Away from the city. Be re-created.

That is what this space is for. Re-creation.

Tune in. Listen.
Who are you now? Who were you Made to be?

Listen.

Its calling you.
Its calling you by name.

Land and Place: Indigenous Perspectives in an Era of Displacement  NAIITS

Uncle Dr Terry LeBlanc: ‘Native perspectives on Land and Place’

Uncle Dr Terry LeBlanc: ‘Native perspectives on Land and Place’

We are all related. Connected together. We touch one another with life lived on the land together. Interrelated and interdependent with the land.

NAIITS stands for North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies, partnering to become an indigenous learning community here at Whitley.

The land is not to be feared or conquered but is part of us. Adam (adamah – earth) red dust on the ground. We are dust. We are the same dust.

THEOLOGY OF LAND

The Great Divide

  • Dualism: dividing the spiritual from the material
  • The reformers also divide the spiritual from the material: spiritual and political are now separated. Political and land separated.

Invited to do a welcome to Christian and Muslim refugees in Canada and was able to say: As I’ve welcomed the 500 years of refugees represented behind me I also want to welcome you. I’m sorry you’ve had to flee violence, to lose connection to the land of your ancestors.

Place – security, growth, wonder, sights smells… experience what God has for us in this place.

Utilitarian View of Land

  • Commodification of land the breaking loose of land from people along with the loss of work – labour now becomes a commodity.
  • John Locke and the primacy of private ownership.
  • Nature is seen as an enemy to be subdued and dominated.

Colonisers saw indigenous people as godless heathen savages. We can do this to Muslims still – see them as godless people of a godless land but this isn’t truth.  This belies a faith that says God is everywhere and all are made in the image of God.

Uncle Rev Ray Minniecon: ‘Walking the Land’

Uncle Rev Ray Minniecon: ‘Walking the Land’

How as people and pastors can we operate to be authentically indigenous and authentically Christian? I ask myself these questions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. Where have I been?
  3. What do I do?

We are always in search of our people.  We meet and tell our stories. Sometimes our great, great, grandparents lived at the same mission.  Did they have other brothers and sisters? We don’t always know. People from a different family, from a different mob, from a different country might hold part of our story that hasn’t been heard.

I am confronted by racism everyday. I have learned how to have faith and to draw on the strength of the ancestors… ‘so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God’. (1 Cor 2:5). This includes church who continue to exclude us. I’m invited to speak about aboriginal issues but not to preach the gospel.  That is why I started a little congregation in community at St John’s Anglican in Glebe called ‘Scarred Tree Indigenous Ministries‘. We are grateful to work on land that has the last Scar Tree in Sydney CBD. It is a way for us to connect to our history and to the gospel. we have to confront Australia’s history as a church, neighbourhood and community. we would lose our minds, selves, souls if we don’t stand up.

TALKING CIRCLES
Someone in our group shared their story adding, “when you don’t know who you are, there are no reference points.”

Psalm 68:5-6  (NIV)
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
    he leads out the prisoners with singing

God as Father gave me a sense of who I am. Knowing this, no one is a mistake. Then I had a moment on country in a park with sunlight… I knew I belonged to the land and felt known. Mother (Nature) – living and breathing.

 

Aunty Rev Patricia Courtenay: ‘Aboriginal spirituality in an era of displacement’

Aunty Rev Patricia Courtenay: ‘Aboriginal spirituality in an era of displacement’

IDENTITY

Where did I grow up? What country is that and what language is spoken there?

ASSIMILATION

  • Displacement
  • Denial of culture and spirituality
  • Disconnection

RESPONSES

Our language is not ‘lost’, our home is not ‘lost’,  we are disconnected from them.

Why would you want to identify as aboriginal?

I am supported, protected and reminded who I am by my ancestors and totem animals. My strength is in my spirituality.

How can you identify as Aboriginal and a Christian?

I can separate the faith of the missions from Christianity.  There is a spiritual basis for this – acceptance of all – Jew and Gentile… 1 Cor 7:17-20. Live the life that the Lord has assigned… obey the commands of God in all things. You were provided identity at birth. Who were you called to be? Dualistic enquiry – I can be Christian without denying or giving up my cultural identity or heritage. Who I am is rooted in belonging and connectedness.

CULTURALLY SPIRITUAL WAYS OF KNOWING AND BEING

  • sense of belonging: Aboriginal belonging comes from story and love of the land.  Aboriginal people know and keep these stories. Are able to use these in other contexts. Able to use these for survival. We have an embedded spiritualness and awareness of sacred space.
  • holistic worldview: spirituality and culture are invisible. Our mind and body’s wellbeing are interconnected with our spirituality. An attack on one affects the other areas.
  • spirits of place: we have an oral tradition and literacy.  We have a spiritual connection to the land and knowledge generation and re-generation. Supernatural and natural occupy the same place and time.  Not mystical but mundane and embedded in the landscape. Someone might stay at a place and dream there – we learn through dreams.  This is considered a geographic source of sacred knowledge. The revelation comes to the person in the right place at the right time.  This is about identity, kinship and relationship to the land… receiving wisdom.  This wisdom is omnipresent but non-visible for no-indigenous.  Not mythfolk, lore or legend speaking of the past but continue happening now.

Aboriginal Australia still exists. When we gather and tell our stories ‘the land is speaking’. As guardians of the the land ‘we are speaking for the land’. The Creator Spirit/God’s relationship with indigenous people does and will continue to exist.  Language, world views, etc. can be shared with those willing to listen.

CREATING AN AUSTRALIAN CHRISTIAN

  • how do indigenous Australians reconnect culturally and spiritually?
  • how do non-indigenous Australians relate to indigenous Christians culture and spirituality?

‘Know the past, change the future’

 

Aunty Rev Janet Turpie Johnstone: ‘Bunjil weaves past and future in the present’

Aunty Rev Janet Turpie Johnstone: ‘Bunjil weaves past and future in the present’

Wominjeka – ‘we have come together for good purpose’

When we have shared stories and place, that goes with us when we leave.

Bunjil patterns the past and future in the present.  We’re not Animist, we don’t worship animals but are related to them and to the river.

Can we live with the land and waters so that everything has a place to live?

  • colonial invasion
  • Bunjils narratives
  • work with local elders eg. Bunjil’s Nest Project.

Reconciliation:

  • multiculturalism
  • migration
  • recognise
  • silence – denial

 

Professor Mark Brett & Naomi Wolfe: ‘Traditional Land and the Responsibility to Protect Immigrants: A Dialogue between Aboriginal Tradition and the Hebrew Bible’

Professor Mark Brett & Naomi Wolfe: ‘Traditional Land and the Responsibility to Protect Immigrants: A Dialogue between Aboriginal Tradition and the Hebrew Bible’

“You shall love the immigrant, for you were immigrants in the land of Egypt” (Deut 10:19)

But what happens when Israel arrive sin Canaan?  The oppressed become oppressors?

Indigenous mob don’t need a qualification to be who they are.  But this partnership has arisen from an international journey and collaboration.

Strangers, immigrants, sojourners… it’s the story of people who took others’ land.  If you don’t take care of the widow, orphans, migrants… you will lose your country.

Indigenous: country knows them, calls them home.  There’s a kinship system and people are looked after. ‘no one should be left behind’

Jer 26: 8-9 and Jer 26:16-19 people hated what he had to say… except some elders. Not citing Deuteronomy but oral storytelling – there moral compass is somewhere else. In the Samaritan story, who do indigenous people see themselves as in the story? Where are the settlers in the story?

We’re all Gentiles.  Settlers brought the thinking, they are the new Israel. They have the right to take the country. That’s wrong. They think they’re superior and that God is on their side. There is a theological problem with this logic.  White people are not the new Israel.

There is an idea that our liberation is bound to native title, but that’s extinct in Tasmania. So what does freedom look like for those of use from there?

  • where are we?
  • what does that look like for our relationship with settlers
  • what does that call us to be?
  • how does it call us to live?

Reinterpreting our stories:

Every identity therefore is a construction… a composite of different histories, migrations, conquests, liberations and so on. We can deal with these either as worlds at war or as experiences to be reconciled. Edward Said.

What next?

  • go back to the text
  • what does that mean for me?
  • Who am I? What’s my cultural identity?
  • how do I engage gospel? … those around me?

Reading the Bible as Israel is toxic for Gentiles.  Colonised people are colonising.

Our beliefs are already here, we don’t need yours. Our sacred land is right here. Our text is the land – we hear it with our feet and our hearts. It is broader and more inclusive.

We can have/give/build what was denied to earlier generations if we’re strong in culture.

Wonderful animation…

Bunjil The Creator: Bunjil’s Flight to the Stars