Category Archives: Opinion

Opinion: “Vale, Stan Grant”

Thank you, Wayne Sanderson, for drawing our attention to this article by Paul Collins and published on John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations.

Stan Grant is always intelligent, insightful and provocative. He demonstrated this in his extraordinary farewell piece last Monday night on the ABC’s Q+A.

I have enormous respect for Stan Grant. Always intelligent, thoughtful and provocative, he has been an important contributor to intellectual life in Australia. His strength has been to move discussions on from the sterile economism and superficial secularism that characterises so much of our national dialogue, to the deeper philosophical and spiritual issues underpinning Australian culture.

That’s exactly what he did last Monday night on Q+A. In a three-and-a-half-minute piece to camera at the end of the show he took us to the heart of First Nations culture. Rather than bleating about racist slurs, he said that he was withdrawing from the media because “endurance is not always strength. Strength is to know when to say ‘stop’” and that, he said, is why he is pulling back from public life.

A Wiradjuri man from south-central NSW, Stan Grant said that his culture taught him to respond to the hatred directed to him and his family by drawing on “Yindyamarra”. He conceded that “it’s a word beyond translation to English because … it’s an idea … a way of living, a way of being.” It means strength in quietness, kindness and respect. “It speaks to the differences between us … [It doesn’t] shy away from the things that divide us, but looks for ways we can meet each other and see each other in each other, despite those divisions.”…………………

Go to:

Vale, Stan Grant – Pearls and Irritations (



Opinions: Does God Exist – Holland, Meyer and Murray

Thanks to Adele Nisbet for drawing attention to this interesting discussion from the Hoover Institution at our Merthyr Rd Explorers session today:

Recorded on October 17, 2022, in Fiesole, Italy.

Does God exist? Something—a being, a power—that’s supernatural? That is, an entity that we’re unable to perceive with our five senses but that’s still real? Ever since the Enlightenment, the knowing, urbane, sophisticated answer has been, “Of course not.” Now a historian, a scientist, and a journalist talk it over and reveal new threads in the debate around science and theism.

For further information:… Interested in exclusive Uncommon Knowledge content? Check out Uncommon Knowledge on social media! Facebook: Twitter: Instagram:…

Tom Holland author of Dominion: the Making of the Western Mind (previously reviewed on the UCFORUM), also known in the USA as Dominion: how the Christian revolution remade the world

Stephen Meyer author of Return of the God Hypothesis: three scientific discoveries that reveal the mind behind the universe

Douglas Murray author of The Strange Death of Europe: immigration, identity, Islam.

Get the coffee going, a quiet space and a comfy chair! Enjoy.



Opinion: The Voice and Meditation on Conflict

In affliction I am presented with a choice: surrender to the hopelessness brought upon us or to reach for hope?()

Stan Grant says:

“This Holy Week I have sat with affliction.

I have pondered the great suffering and abandonment in our world.

I think of those who know war, famine, oppression; children torn from their families; those who die lonely deaths in dark places. Those who live under the yoke of injustice.


For a First Nations person and Christian there is no more chilling prayer than the prayer of the forsaken.

The French philosopher and Christian mystic, Simone Weil, called affliction “the chill of indifference”.

It is, she said, “the metallic chill that freezes all those it touches down to the depths of their soul”.

Affliction is the cold hand of fate. The afflicted know that cold touch. First Nations people, the poor, the sick. The LGBTIQA+ people recently attacked outside a church by others proclaiming the word of God.

Simone Weil said of affliction that it “is anonymous. It deprives the victims of their personality and turns them into things.”

The afflicted cry out: Where is God? How can a God who wills all, allow such horror?”

To read the full article go to:

As we debate the Voice, I can’t think of a more profound meditation than affliction – ABC News



Opinion: Just War Theory Part 1

Thanks to Paul Wildman for this link.

from Frontline Study with Fritz Foltz

Christians have two options when it comes to war. They can either be strict pacifists, or they can espouse a just war theory. The latter is not that easy. Certainly, one of the most difficult ethical issues is drawing up moral guidelines for fighting wars. At every step, you must prevent national self-interest from trumping all other considerations.

Still, most people feel there should be some kind of accountability for actions, even in warfare. That includes rules about entering a conflict, agreements on fair conduct during it, and responsibility after it ends…..

To read the whole article and explore other topics with Fritz go to:  Lesson 5: Just War Theory (Part 1) : Frontline Study


Opinion: A (much) Wider View of the Voice to Parliament

UCFORUM subscriber: Rev Dr Lorraine Parkinson has written this article for the the UCFORUM. It is a case for looking at the First Peoples with a much wider camera lens than is usually the case.  She hopes it will make a positive contribution to the conversation around the Voice and the forthcoming referendum.


It is fair comment that history is written by the winners.  Until recently the authors of Australian history from Captain James Cook onward may well have been described as such.  Harvard philosopher George Santayana’s adage: “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”, bears repeating.  As this nation prepares to vote yes or no to the proposal to include the Indigenous Voice in the Constitution, Santayana’s axiom begs the question: are there lessons of history from which modern Australia is still failing to learn?  Where the original inhabitants of this continent are concerned, the problem may lie partially in the absence of historical records that could have been understood as such.  Before the arrival of Captain James Cook and his compatriots, apart from the odd European or Asian encounter with indigenous people, the continent of now-called Australia had not produced what in European minds could be called recorded history.  Ancient indigenous laws, art, song lines, dreaming stories, handed down traditions of daily life, could all be called a kind of history, as they speak of a mind-blowingly ancient civilization.  But who ruled it?  Where were records of the boundaries of tribes and indigenous nations?  What milestone developments had taken place in the lives of the people?   Eurocentric questions, one and all.

Non-indigenous modern Australians may think, so what?  The culture of the First Peoples is now known in sufficient detail to inform us of their lifestyle, including their deep relationship with the land.  Yet what has been regarded as ‘real’ Australian history taught in Australian schools, has until recently always begun with Cook and continued on through white explorers, federation and Australian involvement in overseas wars.  Attempts to include the First People’s story in the school curriculum are usually framed by lessons in culture, perhaps tribal and familial structures, some attention to traditional languages and, mainly for young children, spiritual resources such as ‘dreaming’ stories.  A didgeridoo player and indigenous dancers at public events, plus ‘acknowledgment of country’, are widely thought to be all-sufficient means of ‘paying respect’.  It is true that those developments are helping to bring Australia’s First People into sharper focus in the minds of contemporary Australians.  But surviving indigenous traditions differ from perceived ‘legitimate’ European history, where records of monarchs and their conflicts mark the shifting boundaries of tribes and nations.

The historical records of the colony that became Australia reveal that in the first encounters between First Peoples and white colonists, the prevailing European mindset could do no other than come to a comprehensively misguided perception.  For them, the lack of any sign of property ownership among the indigenous people meant the absence of civilisation as they knew it.  In their minds that left the way wide open to the complete (often deadly violent) appropriation of the whole continent.  As the indigenous people did not have ‘ownership’ of anything, particularly of tracts of land, it was believed to be legitimate to declare the land empty – terra nullius. 

 Or so they thought. There was no attempt to ask questions about the nature of the land itself and how the First People had regarded it in the absence of those Eurocentric property-based signs of civilisation.  The people were dismissed as primitive; apparently not worth the bother of investigating.  Only very recently have shameful massacres of indigenous people been included in Australian History.  Nowhere have the heroic efforts of indigenous warriors to defend their land in Australian wars been properly documented.  For those who survived the savagery of the colonists, the future was enforced deportation from their ancestral country into open-air prisons, otherwise known as reservations and missions.  That there still exist traditional customs, paintings and memories among Australia’s dispossessed people, brutally separated from the land that gave birth to those traditions, is nothing short of miraculous.  Yet those ancient traditions are now in danger of extinction, under the influence of racist-based alcohol-induced hopelessness in the current generations.  The disappearance of indigenous languages spoken under the southern skies for millennia is hardly disturbing the flow of modern Australian history.

Yet some understanding, or at least curiosity about the way of life the explorers and colonists found among the First People, must surely have begun with the first attempts to establish a European-style civilisation in the new land.  That process required absolutely everything apart from rocks, trees and water, to be brought across the sea.  Ship-loads of everything needed to set up farms and villages and towns had to be imported.  Ways of producing food for the settlements were invariably copied from the ‘mother’ country.  In the first instance, everyone knew that a farm has domestic farm animals – the cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens needed to establish and resource permanent dwellings and settlements.  No such creatures had been sighted by the earliest discoverers of the Great South Land.  Neither had they seen evidence of crops grown from grains such as wheat, oats, barley, rice, corn.  Nor were there potatoes, pumpkins, peas, beans, turnips, tomatoes, apples, plums, apricots, peaches, pears and so on.  All needed to be brought here.

Most importantly, how could the land be cleared for the introduced grazing animals and ploughed for crops, without the most important animal of all – the horse, or even a bullock or donkey?  Other continents had those, plus camels, elephants, llamas or alpacas.  There were no draught animals anywhere on the Great South Land.  Climbing aboard a kangaroo was out of the question, as was hitching a wagon to a dingo or a wombat.   Without draught animals, inventing the wheel was unnecessary; unthinkable, to say the least of it.  All of those foundation stones of European civilisation were highly conspicuous by their absence.  So they all arrived on ship after ship, along with dogs, cats, rabbits, foxes, deer, trees such as elm and oak and the flowers of an English garden.

Apart from the work of a few anthropologists, it is unclear that while busily recreating Europe Down Under, any intentional investigation of the ancient way of life on the land was seriously entertained by successive Australian governments.  Few people looked past the colonial perception of the First People as ‘primitive’, to ask how they lived without what the settlers regarded as essentials.  Did anyone wonder how those colonists themselves might have lived without the resources they brought with them?  If anyone did think to ask that, around them were people who could have answered such questions.

Recorded Australian history has a long way to go to reach a sense of completion in the 21st century.  That can happen only when the unique and enduring alternative civilisation that has lived and thrived on the Great Southern Land for tens of thousands of years is held up and celebrated for its own achievements.   Only then can an informed change in attitude truly overcome contemptuous inherited racist attitudes toward the First People.   When their unique relationship with the land, expressed in daily life on it and deep spiritual understanding of it, is recognised and respected, then Australia can begin to wake from its more than two-hundred-years-old sleep.

For at least 60,000 years this continent has never been terra nullius.  Beyond the understanding of the colonists, the first inhabitants of this land did have and still have, a comprehensive relationship with the plains, deserts, forests, mountains, lakes, rivers and coasts that provided them with all they needed to live and thrive as tribes and nations.  Their knowledge of the seasons of flowering and fruiting trees and plants, of the inland and ocean waters, plus the migration patterns of animals and birds, undergirded a lifestyle of moving on to where food was plentiful as the seasons went by.  For the most part a permanent dwelling was simply impracticable – out of the question.

Only lately have government departments begun to take real notice of the handed-down expertise of indigenous people in preventing big bushfires and conserving wildlife.  How much more can be learned about caring for this unique continent from those who have always known it best?  In this age of changing climate and its devastating effect on the land and its native animals and birds, the voice of the people of the land is sorely needed in the decisions of governments.  An indigenous ‘Voice’ to Federal Parliament, enshrined in Australia’s Constitution, would be one positive step in the direction of equality in living and life expectations.

Devoid of the burden of racist attitudes inherited from the Eurocentric impressions of colonists, a movement toward a wider view of history can open the way to respect and reconciliation.  The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an amazingly generous invitation from the First Peoples to all other Australians to join them on that journey to equality.  Australian history will be complete when the whole nation gathers yearly to celebrate the unique civilisation that has lasted for 60,000 years on this Great South Land.




Opinion: Getting Youth Justice into perspective

Response to the call for submissions to the

Strengthening Community Safety Bill 2023 (Q)

from Peak Care (in summary)

Given the overlap of children and young people at risk of entry to, or in the youth justice system, with those engaged with the child protection system, PeakCare has a strong interest in youth justice reform including appropriate, proportionate, effective, timely, and holistic responses and interventions for children, young people and their families which also keep communities safe. With a longstanding history in advocating for better understanding and management of the complex intersection between the child protection and youth justice systems, PeakCare’s motivation in lodging this submission reflects the following:
• the need to address both the welfare and justice needs of children and young people who have been or who are in contact with the child protection system and the youth justice system,
particularly those who are subject to dual (interim or finalised) orders
• ensuring local access to prevention and early intervention services, responses and programs
for children, young people and families to ‘nip problems in the bud’ or ‘turn their lives around’
– the right service at the right time from the right provider for the right amount of time
• children and young people’s rights and entitlements (and that of their families) to understand
and participate in administrative and judicial decision-making
• congruence in legislative frameworks and the administration of youth justice, child protection,
and intersecting service systems (e.g., education and training, youth development, family
support, housing and homelessness, legal services and legal aid, health, alcohol and substances
misuse) directly or indirectly delivered across Queensland Government departments and their
• the impacts and opportunities presented by adopting specialist and other reforms to court
processes and policing practices across Queensland
• developing specific strategies to address the disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in the youth justice system, and
• the importance of underpinning policy directions and reforms with research evidence,
undertaking appropriate evaluation and acting on evaluation findings in a progressive and
transparent manner.

Consistent with these areas of interest, PeakCare wishes to express its disappointment with the Bill which we suggest will detract from the Government’s progressive work undertaken in the past to improve the youth justice system within Queensland. We consider that provisions contained within the Bill prioritise the offender status of children and young people and do not appropriately consider the fact that the children and young people who offend are first and foremost still children – children who are still developing physically, psychologically, socially, and emotionally and already have a relative powerlessness and lack of voice in our society. We consider, in alignment to the findings of the report into the evidence-base for the Child First Justice Initiative in the United Kingdom, the prioritisation of a child or young person’s offender status in youth justice responses can lead to further criminalisation within and by the youth justice system, increased marginalisation by society, and further disengagement by the child or young person.

PeakCare strongly supports appropriate diversionary interventions and addressing the causes of offending by children and young people to take priority over punitive and inappropriate punishments, and ensuring offending is considered only one part of a much more complex identity for these children and young people.

PeakCare appreciates that the Bill has, at least in part, arisen in response to the tragic deaths of a number of Queensland citizens. Their deaths, along with the death of Jennifer Board in Townsville, the innocent victim of alleged vigilantism, prompted immeasurable grief and an outpouring of public concern about youth crime widely reported on by the media. PeakCare also appreciates that the Government has attempted to confine and target the policy objectives of the Bill towards the small cohort of recidivist youth offenders who engage in persistent and serious offending. Little commentary is included within the Explanatory Notes about how these particular policy objectives fit within or are intended to support the Government’s overarching approach to youth crime.

Nevertheless, PeakCare’s concerns are that:
• some children and young people additional to those who constitute the targeted cohort will
inevitably become ‘swept up’ in the heightened responses, thereby reducing benefits of other
elements of the Government’s youth justice strategy in diverting these children and young
people from continuing on a trajectory into the adult criminal justice system, and
• assumptions have been made about the value of a number of the proposed provisions in
deterring children and young people from committing further offences that are not sufficiently
supported by research or an evidence-base.

Lindsay Wegener
Executive Director
PeakCare Queensland Incorporated

The full submission is available from (Rev Dr) Wayne Sanderson.


Opinion: Jesus the Cornerstone


Thanks to Tim O’Dwyer for drawing us to this article from Project Plenty in the Queensland Synod of the UCA:

By Rev. Orrell Battersby, Gympie Regional Uniting Church.

“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living.

They are foundational words, words to build a life on.

If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock.

Rain poured down, the river flooded, and a tornado hit — but nothing moved that house.

It was fixed to the rock.”   (Matthew 7.24-25. MSG)

Has Church Become More Ceremonial Than Functional?

A vivid illustration of the ‘ceremony out-doing function’ occurred during an event that called for Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth to slice a relatively small cake with a rather large ceremonial sword.

As she was handed the sword, typically wielded to award knighthood, it became clear that manoeuvring the enormous blade would be far from a piece of cake’ (sorry).

For the complete article go to: Has Church Become More Ceremonial Than Functional? – JourneyOnline


Opinion: The moral importance of the Uluru Statement from the Heart

Thank you to Rev Dr Wayne Sanderson for drawing our attention to the following:

This is an edited version of Rowan Williams’s (former Archbishop of Canterbury) contribution to the collection Statements from the Soul: The Moral Case for the Uluru Statement from the Heart, edited by Shireen Morris and Damien Freeman, and published by La Trobe University Press.

The issues discussed in Statements from the Soul are not just about political rights. Properly understood, they are about some fundamental principles to do with how human beings think about and feel about their environment. Colonialism takes it for granted that land and all that goes with it — wildlife, natural resources — is a bundle of objects that can be owned. If no one is claiming to own it, or if someone else judges that a current owner is managing it inadequately, it can legitimately be appropriated.

Hence the terra nullius argument was regularly deployed in the early days of imperial expansion and was heard well into the twentieth century: there may be inhabitants around, but they obviously have no interest in the land as an asset and so cannot be said to count as proprietors. And once again, in the early days of modern colonialism, you can find a significant moral philosopher like John Locke arguing for appropriation on the grounds that, even if there are long-established populations in evidence, these existing inhabitants are not competent to be stewards of their own environment.

For the rest of this article go to: Religion and Ethics


Recorded Event: The Voice with Everald Compton

You asked for it. Here it is. The unedited video of Friday’s Seminar with our respected friend Everald Compton giving a balanced overview of the Referendum on the Voice to Parliament while declaring his own decision to vote YES.

There is a 25 second lead on the clip.

Presented by the Progressive Christian Network Queensland and the Merthyr Road Explorers at the Merthyr Road Uniting Church, New Farm, Brisbane on Friday 17th February 2023.

You may share this link with anyone. Your feedback and personal reflections are welcome. Use the Reply link on this post.

Facilitator: Dr Paul Inglis, Moderator UCFORUM and Chair PCNQ.





Opinion: Compassion and the Voice

From our respected indigenous friend and subscriber: Glenn Loughrey

Glenn has worked with young people and their families for over 30 years in various fields. He’s currently a Vicar at St Oswald’s Anglican Church, Glen Iris in Melbourne, Australia.

He’s greatly interested in the work of Thomas Merton and his impact on the 20th century. He is an indigenous man with a particular interest in indigenous issues and spirituality.

Also he is an artist — Learn more at


Matthew 5:21-37

In our continued reading of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel, we are confronted with a Jesus who crosses the line. In last week’s reading, Jesus says that he didn’t come to dismiss the law but to fulfill it. In today’s reading, he shows us what that looks like and it is not easy or comfortable.

D Mark Davis suggests that: “Jesus is quite willing ….- to take the Scriptures and recast them for a new moment. Neither Jesus or Matthew can be accused of being biblical fundamentalists when one reads the text.”

Constantly throughout this reading, Jesus says ‘You have heard that it was said‘ and follows with “But I say to you” before moving the pressure gauge up a notch or four! These are not simple acts of just doing what has been the accepted practice, this is about stepping out of our comfort zone, out of our zone of possessiveness (me and mine) into a place where simply living is costly and sacrificial. It is no longer about a sense of I belong to society because I follow the rules of the club. I am asked to make my way into a space where there are no rules except love, the custodial ethic embracing others as us and ensuring they receive more out of life, even if that means we give up our privilege.

He shifts the ethic of the law to the ethic of compassion. Jesse Middendorf writes: “It is easier to live by lists and laws than it is to live in authentic, dynamic redemptive relationship with people. Laws can be static and arbitrary. Jesus reached into the Law to reveal its objective: the valuing and the protection of others.”

Valuing and the protection of others is not a paternalistic act. We cannot do it to or for others. We can only do so if we live in “an authentic, redemptive relationship with people”, even people who have always been defined by race as the outsider, the indicator of our difference. We are defined by not who we are like but by who we are different to. That is the purpose of the myth of race. To set us apart from those who are not us and cannot be us.

Exile, self portrait of an indigenous man – Glenn Loughrey

Noel Pearson in his recent lecture series made the controversial comment that “Australians do not like Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.” People reacted and said I do. I like Aboriginal people, I listen to Gurrumul, buy Aboriginal art, and read Thomas Mayo and Stan Grant……… On a personal and superficial level, this may be so.

But the truth is Australia is Australia because it is not Aboriginal. This dynamic of difference defines this nation, a nation built on racism and exclusion right from its beginnings. The White Australia Policy was a bipartisan policy aimed at the external – those coming from somewhere else. Its lifting changed nothing for Aboriginal people because were not included as immigrants or citizens in Australian society or politics.

Australia is Australia because it was taken from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and there has been no attempt to return it. Land rights have been so decimated by various governments that it has no power or benefits for Aboriginal people. This is an example of what happens when something is left solely to legislation and why the Voice enshrined in the constitution is important.

One could argue that the Statement from the Heart is the Sermon on the Mount set in the desert.

Like Jesus, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are not fundamentalists in terms of interpreting tradition and the laws in which they live. This statement shifts the focus from them to those who came later. It reminds those responsible for the dispossession and genocide of what happened and then offers an invitation to participate in a compassionate spiritual solution. This solution offers Australia the opportunity to share sovereignty with those who have been sovereign for 65,000 years, from the dreaming and to do so in such a way it will remain for another 65,000 years or to the end of time – in the constitution.

Here is compassion in action, love that expands to include those who were and are responsible for the loss of our culture, spirituality, lore, language, and traditions and offers them the opportunity for redemption. Stan Grant is right, the word missing in this discussion is compassion. He asks for Australia to be compassionate and vote to include us in the benefits of being Australian. And that is appropriate.

Not wanting to argue with a fellow Wiradjuri man, I would suggest he is looking at this from possibly the wrong perspective. It is allowing white Australia the power to define us with a stroke of the pen. Compassion has already been extended. It is there in the invitation from our people to your people. It is not about you doing a good thing for us but recognizing despite all that has happened to us since 1788 we still have the compassion to reach out our hand and say journey with us.

Yes, part of the journey is to allow us to share sovereignty with you, in fact, to legitimize the sovereignty imposed in the constitution by including the sovereignty that remains and will always remain. This is compassion. We do not want to take from you what you have, we only seek to enhance it by including us and what defines us, our relationship with this country, in the constitution allowing us to provide wisdom and insight on matters pertaining to us based on a millennium of experience.

It is not up to white politicians, media commentators, newspaper editors, or society to make the decision or to have compassion, although that would be nice. We have already decided to share sovereignty with you and to invite you into a compassionate spiritual process that will incarnate a new kin-dom in Australia. There is no hidden detail or catches. It is what it is. All you must do is accept this invitation by saying yes, I’m in.

  • Perhaps one of the reasons people find it difficult is that it is simple, one question, one question only.
  • Perhaps another is the scepticism that is rife in our society when someone offers us something we desperately need but fear it’s not real.
  • Perhaps another is that people find it difficult to understand how people who have been so badly treated can remain so generous and compassionate that they invite us to let them bring redemption to our society.

Alan Brehm suggests: “We find freedom when we commit ourselves to do God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. We find freedom when we live our lives in harmony with God’s justice and peace and mercy. We find freedom when we embrace a way of living that is defined by love.”

We find belonging when we accept the absurd compassion of those who have no right to extend it. This is the core principle of the Christian gospel. It is the absurdity f the Statement From The Heart.

The Voice is just the beginning.